Thursday, April 29, 2010

A late Inauguration

As the semester winds down and the days get longer, I find that I’m not as motivated to do the end of the year projects I have due for school. This also translates into not writing my blog, and after saying I’ll catch up from my missed week three weeks ago, I now find I’m behind even more. So, for the sake of school, I will put these two off until this summer, and will make up for them then.

So, with that being said, I will continue on for this week. As I was scanning my possibilities I found several from the Civil War (West Virginia seceded from Virginia in 1861 and six years later Louisiana was the last Southern country to complete Reconstruction), but since I did that subject for my last post I think I need to do something from a different time period.

There are also the possibilities from WWI and WWII, but I’m not feeling that either. I think I wanted something from the Middle Ages, but I guess those didn’t appeal to me either. Thus, I’ve decided on something from early American history.

On April 30, 1789 George Washington was inaugurated as the first American President. Washington not only served as the first U.S. President, but also as the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

In 1781 when the British surrendered the United States was created under the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. government. The Articles of Confederation did not last long because of several weaknesses associated with it, mainly a weak federal government without the power to tax or print money, and 13 separate state governments acting like 13 individual countries. In addition for any laws to pass nine of the 13 states needed to pass the law, which proved to be very difficult.

The problems with the Articles of Confederation did not go away, and eventually the Founding Fathers decided a new government was necessary, one with a strong central government.

In 1787 Washington met with other state delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. At the convention the Constitution was drafted and signed, forming the government that is still in place in the U.S.

Washington was voted president unanimously by the Electoral College and served two terms as president, setting the informal president for presidents through Franklin D. Roosevelt who served four terms.

April 30 seems to be a late date to inaugurate a president, and it was. March 4 was the inauguration date of Washington’s second term, and March 4 remained the inauguration date until F.D. Roosevelt’s second term in 1937. The two exceptions were the inaugurations of James Monroe (March 5 because March 4 fell on a Sunday) and Rutheford B. Hays (March 3 because March 4 was again on Sunday).

However in 1937 the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, changing the inauguration date to January 20. In the early years of the nation the four-month waiting period was justified because of the communication lag and difficult transportation. However, as technology advanced the lengthy “lame Duck” period was not as necessary, so the Twentieth Amendment changed the inauguration date to January 20.

So, there is a bit of history about inauguration in the U.S. and the early political landscape. And now, I fear I must return to those end of the year papers. Only two weeks until summer! Happy history all.

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