|Date||March 4, 1869|
|Location||United States Capitol,|
|Participants||Ulysses S. Grant|
18th president of the United States
— Assuming office
Salmon P. Chase
Chief Justice of the United States
— Administering oath
17th vice president of the United States
— Assuming office
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
— Administering oath
The first inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant as the 18th president of the United States took place on March 4, 1869, at the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. This was the 21st inauguration and marked the commencement of the first four-year term of Ulysses S. Grant as president and the only term of Schuyler Colfax as vice president. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administered the presidential oath of office. Outgoing president Andrew Johnson did not attend the inaugural ceremonies, as he and Grant refused to sit with each other in the carriage going to them. Johnson also refused to go in a separate carriage. Instead, he was in the White House signing last-minute legislation. This was the fourth time an outgoing president boycotted his elected successor's inauguration, an event that would not occur again until Donald Trump boycotted Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021 after failing to overturn the results.
Grant's 1869 inaugural parade was grander than any of those before him: special tickets were required for admission to the Capitol on inauguration day, eight full divisions of soldiers marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, and windows overlooking the parade route sold for very high prices.  That evening, a ball was held in the Treasury Building.
Grant's inaugural address
There are three main points that President Grant put forward in his Inauguration Address, which he had entirely written on his own. Grant started off his Inauguration Address by discussing how the laws should be enforced and what an ideal executive branch should look like,
On all leading questions agitating the public mind I will always express my views to Congress and urge them according to my judgment, and when I think it advisable will exercise the constitutional privilege of interposing a veto to defeat measures which I oppose; but all laws will be faithfully executed, whether they meet my approval or not.
I shall on all subjects have a policy to recommend, but none to enforce against the will of the people. Laws are to govern all alike--those opposed as well as those who favor them. I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.
Grant then went into the Civil War and reassured the American citizens that he would fight to retire the debt from the war.
A great debt has been contracted in securing to us and our posterity the Union. The payment of this, principal and interest, as well as the return to a specie basis as soon as it can be accomplished without material detriment to the debtor class or to the country at large, must be provided for. To protect the national honor, every dollar of Government indebtedness should be paid in gold, unless otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract. Let it be understood that no repudiator of one farthing of our public debt will be trusted in public place, and it will go far toward strengthening a credit which ought to be the best in the world, and will ultimately enable us to replace the debt with bonds bearing less interest than we now pay. To this should be added a faithful collection of the revenue, a strict accountability to the Treasury for every dollar collected, and the greatest practicable retrenchment in expenditure in every department of Government.
Lastly, Grant fully endorsed the Fifteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1870, granting African Americans suffrage rights.
The question of suffrage is one which is likely to agitate the public so long as a portion of the citizens of the nation are excluded from its privileges in any State. It seems to me very desirable that this question should be settled now, and I entertain the hope and express the desire that it may be by the ratification of the fifteenth article of amendment to the Constitution."
Reactions to the inaugural address
Grant's inaugural address was well received by the American press and citizens. The address was recognized to be "brief, clear, emphatic, and to the purpose." The American public gained faith in Grant's administration as they believed that Grant had a full sense of responsibilities, but without misunderstanding or fear of what was in front of him.
European congratulatory telegrams
When Grant reached his headquarters after the inauguration, the following table telegrams were placed in his hands.
Berlin, March 4th.
President Gen. Grant, White House, Washington, D.C.:
My cordial congratulations on this solemn day.— (Signed) BISMARCK
To President Grant, Washington: In honor of the man and the day, three cheers for the president.— Members of the Berlin Exchange, FRITZ MAYER
Inauguration observances in other cities
Following are some inauguration observances published in other American cities, more can be found through the link in the footnotes.
Indianapolis, March 4
"A prayer meeting, under the auspices of the Young Men's Christian Association, was held at Masonic Hall to-day from 12 to 1 o'clock, invoking Divine blessings on the incoming Administration, all Christian denominations uniting."
San Francisco, March 4
"A salute was fired and the public buildings and the principal streets of the city were decorated with flags to-day, in honor of the inauguration of GRANT."
Nashville, March 4
"Grant's Inaugural address was circulated here at 3:30 pm today. It was sought for and read with avidity to suffrage is regarded as obscure; otherwise the address gives general satisfaction."
- Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
- Second inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant
- 1868 United States presidential election
- "The 21st Presidential Inauguration: Ulysses S. Grant, March 04, 1869". United States Senate. Archived from the original on 2017-01-20. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
- "Trump Is Not the First President to Snub an Inauguration". The New York Times. January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
- "U.S. Senate: 1869 Ulysses S. Grant". www.senate.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
- "Ulysses S. Grant: First Inaugural Address. U.S. Inaugural Addresses. 1989". www.bartleby.com. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
- "Grant's Inauguration (Reason): American Treasures of the Library of Congress". www.loc.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
- "Ulysses S. Grant: Inaugural Address". www.presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
- "Gen. Grant's Inaugural" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-05-15.
- "INAUGURATION; Commencement of the New Era of Peace and Prosperity. Ulysses S. Grant Formally Inducted Into Office as President. He Delivers a Brief and Characteristic Address. Speedy Payment of the Public Debt in Gold Insisted Upon. Economy and Faithful Collection of the Revenue Demanded. Installation of Schuyler Colfax as Vice-President. The Ceremonies Marked by Unprecedented Display and Enthusiasm. The National Capital Thronged with Visitors from All Sections. A Magnificent Reception and Ball in the Evening. THE INAUGURATION. Inauguration Observances in Other Cities" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-05-15.
- Times, Special Dispatches To The New-york (1869-03-05). "INAUGURATION; Commencement of the New Era of Peace and Prosperity. Ulysses S. Grant Formally Inducted Into Office as President. He Delivers a Brief and Characteristic Address. Speedy Payment of the Public Debt in Gold Insisted Upon. Economy and Faithful Collection of the Revenue Demanded. Installation of Schuyer Colfax as Vice-President. The Ceremonies Marked by Unprocedented Display and Enthusiasm. The National Capital Thronged with Visitors from All Sections. A Magnificent Recepition and Ball in the Evening. THE INAUGURATION. Inauguration Observances in Other Cities". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-15.