William and Helen Taft leaving
the Capitol to head the inaugural parade, March 4, 1909
Courtesy of Library of Congress
The manner in which a new president arrives at the Capitol to take
the oath of office and then returns to the White House is decided
with great care. Every gesture and decision will be analyzed by
the public and the press.
Should the party follow traditions or set a new precedent? Should
the carriage be fancy or plain? Should the dress be conservative
or fashionable? Should the president ride back to the White House
in regal splendor or walk as a man of the people? The impression
made sets the tone for the next four years in office.
S. Grant purchased this carriage from Meeks Carriage and Wagon
Repository during his first term in the White House and rode in it
to his second inauguration in 1873. Meeks bought back the carriage
after Grant left office, and it was used in several parades and historic
celebrations before being donated to the Smithsonian in 1968.
Gift of Fearson S. Meeks
of Franklin Pierce's inauguration procession along Pennsylvania
Avenue, March 4, 1853.
Buchanan's inauguration procession, from Frank Leslie's Illustrated
Newspaper, March 21, 1857.