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Andrew Jackson's Inauguration in 1829 Was a Very Unruly Celebration

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Jackson's Inaugural Reception

Andrew Jackson's Inaugural Reception was Notoriously Unruly

Library of Congress

Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828 as a rough war hero and a man of the people. And when he first took office in 1829, the inauguration festivities were appropriately unruly.

Enormous crowds gathered at the Capitol building as Jackson, surrounded by supporters, walked to the ceremony. There was a fear of people being injured in the crush, and a ship's cable was stretched across the Capitol steps to keep the crowd back.

As the ceremony concluded, the exuberant crowd did rush Jackson, and he had to be protected by marshals and rushed into the safety of the Capitol building.

Later that day a public reception was held at the Executive Mansion (now called the White House), and the celebration got raucous. Jackson supporters, fueled by pails of liquor, packed rooms on the first floor of the mansion. Furniture was broken, china was smashed. Men with muddy boots stood on damask furniture, hoping to get a glimpse of the new president.

Jackson himself managed to escape and flee back to his temporary quarters at a Washington hotel. And when the crowd got so large that it was feared the Executive Mansion might actually collapse, liquor was supplied out on the lawn. The crowds rushed outside, relieving some of the stress on the mansion's groaning floorboards.

This illustration of Jackson's reception for the public shows the event to be chaotic, but not nearly as bad as some written accounts portrayed it.

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