Second inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant

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Second Presidential Inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant
Grant taking the oath of office.
DateMarch 4, 1873; 146 years ago (1873-03-04)
LocationWashington, D.C.
United States Capitol
ParticipantsPresident Ulysses S. Grant
Vice President Henry Wilson

The second inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant as President of the United States was held on Tuesday, March 4, 1873. The inauguration marked the commencement of the second four-year term of Ulysses S. Grant as President and the only term of Henry Wilson as Vice President. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administered the presidential oath of office. This was one of the coldest inaugurations in US history, and the inaugural ball ended early when the food froze. Wilson died 2 years, 263 days into this term, and the office remained vacant for the balance of it. (Prior to ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967, no constitutional provision existed for filling an intra-term vacancy in the vice presidency.)

Inaugural ceremony and parade[edit]

The day's festivities included the inauguration ceremony, a parade review, a fireworks display, and an inaugural ball.[1] Prior to the parade Grant was received by a custom made black carriage and was greeted by three senators who were already aboard. Grant's wife Julia, followed in a separate carriage, accompanied by Vice President elect, Henry Wilson.[2] It was the coldest inauguration in history with temperatures of sixteen degrees and an estimated windchill of -15.[3] The parade largely consisted of military companies and bands.[1] The grand Marshal of the inauguration ceremony and parade was William Farquhar Barry, with William Denison Whipple as assistant grand marshal and William Dickson as deputy grand marshal.[4]

After the parade, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administered the presidential oath of office.[5] Grant requested the bible be open to Isaiah, chapter 11, a chapter about "Christ's Peaceable Kingdom", which was symbolic to Grant's view of post-war America. The passage also referred to the stem of Jesse, a tribute to Grant's father, Jesse Root Grant.[6] At the ceremony, Grant sat in the same chair that George Washington used in the 1789 ceremony. Grant's inaugural address began with a defense of his policy in the south, gave a statement of support for black freedmen, and celebrated the success of reconstruction.[5] He also praised technological advances and spoke against his political enemies.[7] Grant's address was the first time he endorsed Senator Charles Sumner's proposed Civil Rights Bill, with Grant endorsing civil rights for blacks.[3]

Inaugural ball[edit]

In 1873, the District of Columbia enacted a law guaranteeing equal treatment at businesses for black and white customers, and Grant's White House set an example, with black congressmen attending the inaugural ball and black guests dancing together with white guests.[8] This did not pass without criticism in the press.[9] The ball was adorned with a $1,000 floral arrangement contributed by Kate Chase Sprague, daughter of chief justice Chace.[3] The ball was catered by Maison Torrilhon, a restaurant run by Jean-Georges Torrilhon.[10]

The inaugural ball was not successful. It was held in a temporary structure built on Judiciary Square. The building was not heated, and this was disastrous. Guests danced in their coats, deserts congealed and drinks froze, musicians struggled to play, and canaries which were to be part of the entertainment died in their cages. The room was designed for 6,000 guests, but only half that number attended. The president and cabinet arrived at 11:30 P.M. but stayed for a short time before moving on to a private, heated room for supper and by midnight the event was over.[1]

The inaugural series continued when a masquerade ball was held on March 5 in the ball building, although the president did not attend.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Skvarla and Ritchie 2006, p.295
  2. ^ Chernow, p.754
  3. ^ a b c Coffey 2014 p228-229
  4. ^ Washington Evening Star, March 3, 1873, p. 4
  5. ^ a b White, 2016, p. 540
  6. ^ Lane 2008, p6
  7. ^ Lane 2008, p7-8
  8. ^ Green 2015, p109
  9. ^ Miscegenationists at the Inaugural Ball, New York Daily Herald (New York, NY) March 24, 1873, page 7, accessed October 19, 2017 at
  10. ^ Shields 2017, p229
  11. ^ The Masquerade Ball. National Republican (Washington, DC) March 6, 1873, page 4, accessed October 19, 2017 at


  • Chernow, Ron (2017). Grant. London: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-5942-0487-6.
  • Coffey, Walter. The Reconstruction Years The Tragic Aftermath of the War Between the States. AuthorHouse, 2014
  • Green, Constance McLaughlin. Secret City: A History of Race Relations in the Nation's Capital. Princeton University Press, 2015.
  • Lane, Charles. The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, The Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction. Macmillan, 2008.
  • Shields, David S. The Culinarians: Lives and Careers from the First Age of American Fine Dining. University of Chicago Press, 2017.
  • Skvarla, Diane K., and Donald A. Ritchie. United States Senate Catalogue of Graphic Art. Vol. 109, no. 2. Government Printing Office, 2006.
  • White, Ronald C. (2016). American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-5883-6992-5.
  • "The Inauguration". Washington Evening Star. March 3, 1873.

External links[edit]