If he succeeds, he will become only the fourth president to regularly boycott his successor and the first in more than 150 years.
Two other presidents have regularly failed to swear in their heirs, Martin Van Buren and Woodrow Wilson. The reason for Van Buren’s absence is unknown, but it is not considered malicious by historians, while Wilson is for health reasons.
CNN turned to a number of presidential historians to give context to this unusual event.
- John Adams did not attend the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801.
- John Quincy Adams did not attend the inauguration of Andrew Jackson in 1829.
- Andrew Johnson did not attend the opening of Ulysses C. Grant in 1869.
Barbara Perry, director of presidential research at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told CNN that refusing to attend the inauguration of an heir was “an unfortunate precedent set by Adams that was not copied again until his son did so in 1829.” d. ”
For both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson, the political landscape is defined by an “unusual dose of enmity” between the parties, according to Elaine Camarque, a senior fellow in the institution’s Brookings administration program.
Other outgoing presidents are known to miss some or all of their successors.
Van Buren did not attend the inauguration of William Henry Harrison in 1841. Balcherski told CNN that some accounts said Van Buren was riding in a separate carriage behind Harrison to the Capitol, and historians did not know why Van Buren missed the event. Richard Mentor Johnson, Van Buren’s vice president, was present.
In 1921, outgoing President Wilson, suffering from the effects of a stroke, rode with his successor, Warren G. Harding, but did not stay for the event.
Andrew Phillips, curator and director of museum operations at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, told CNN that Wilson had informed his successor that he would not be present because the stairs to the platform were too steep for him. “He joked about it, saying, ‘The Senate dumped me before and I don’t want to fall now,'” Phillips told CNN, citing the Senate’s defeat in the League of Nations plan and the Treaty of Versailles.
Phillips added that at the time, the Washington Herald reported that “for the first time in a century, the outgoing president did not witness the installation of the incoming CEO.”
After Nixon resigned, he left Washington about an hour before Ford was sworn in at the White House.
Perry told CNN that although Nixon did not attend the swearing-in ceremony, Ford’s farewell to him illustrated “the symbolism of a peaceful transfer of power, even in the most difficult circumstances,” the president’s resignation.