Inauguration of William Howard Taft

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Presidential inauguration of
William Howard Taft
DateMarch 4, 1909; 114 years ago (1909-03-04)
LocationUnited States Capitol,
Washington, D.C.
Organized byJoint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
ParticipantsWilliam Howard Taft
27th president of the United States
— Assuming office

Melville Fuller
Chief Justice of the United States
— Administering oath

James S. Sherman
27th vice president of the United States
— Assuming office

Charles W. Fairbanks
26th vice president of the United States
— Administering oath
← 1905
1913 →

The inauguration of William Howard Taft as the 27th president of the United States was held on Thursday, March 4, 1909, at the Senate chamber inside the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., instead of the regular East Portico due to blizzard. This was the 31st inauguration and marked the commencement of William Howard Taft's only term as president and James S. Sherman's only term as vice president.

As Sherman died 3 years, 240 days into this term, the office remained vacant for the balance: he was the last vice president to leave office intra-term prior to the ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967 (excluding Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, who ascended to the presidency after the deaths of their predecessors), which constitutionally allows for filling a vacancy in the office of vice president, and as of 2023, is also the most recent vice president to die in office.

Inaugural ceremonies and festivities[edit]

Due to a blizzard the night before that covered Washington, D.C., with 10 inches of snow, the inauguration was moved indoors, into the Senate chamber. The presidential oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Melville Fuller, who was doing so for his sixth and final time. The Chief Justice flubbed his lines.[1] The new President took his oath on a century-old Bible belonging to the Supreme Court, which he used again in 1921 to take his oath as the Chief Justice of the United States. Despite the adverse weather conditions, the inaugural parade was not cancelled. 6,000 city workers used 500 wagons to remove 58,000 tons of snow to clean the parade route.[2] For the first time in inauguration history, the incoming First Lady (in this case Helen Herron Taft) joined her husband in leading the parade from the Capitol to the White House. Probably during the parade, the choral march "Our Country" by Arthur Whiting was played.[3]

An inaugural ball that evening was held at the Pension Building. It was the last official inaugural ball until 1949, as Taft's successor as president, Woodrow Wilson, asked the city of Washington not to hold it, thereby putting a temporary end to the practice. The tradition of inaugural balls was revived in 1949 as part of the second inauguration of Harry S. Truman.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rosen, Jeffrey (2018) William Howard Taft Times Books, Henry Holt & Co.: New York, p. 51
  2. ^ "The 31st Presidential Inauguration: William H. Taft, March 04, 1909". United States Senate. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  3. ^ "Whiting, Arthur". Clippings file. Music Division. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
  4. ^ Inaugural Ball Archived 2016-02-25 at the Wayback Machine, The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

External links[edit]

The full text of William Howard Taft's Inaugural Address at Wikisource