Day By Day

Thursday, March 04, 2010

This Day In History

Today is "Hug a GI Day", so go out there and show a GI just how much you appreciate all that he or she has done for all of us. Of course, this is assuming that "GI" does not refer to the medical abbreviation for "gastro-intestinal".

On this day in 1789 the first Federal Congress met in New York and immediately adjourned because not enough members were present to constitute a quorum. However the meeting marks the moment when the Federal Constitution first went into effect.

And on this day in 1861 Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States [photo above]. Seven States had already seceded from the Federal Union in protest against his election. For weeks rumors of assassination plots had been rife and threats had been issued not just against Lincoln, but against anyone (including military personnel) who dared to protect him. As he proceeded to the Capitol to be sworn in, Lincoln's carriage was surrounded by marshals and cavalrymen and buildings along the route were lined with sharpshooters with orders to fire on anyone heading toward the carriage. Julia Taft, watching the procession passed by heard a woman say "There goes the Illinois ape... he will not come back alive".

The swearing-in ceremony was extremely awkward. Defeated Democrat candidate, Stephen Douglas, sat on the platform next to Lincoln and, when the President-elect rose to speak and could find no place to put his top hat, came forward like an attendant to take it. He held it through the rest of the ceremony. Outgoing President James Buchanan sat stiffly on the stage staring fixedly at the ground through the entire ceremony. Some feared he had fallen asleep. Horace Greeley, who had the misfortune to be sitting directly behind Lincoln was in a constant state of anxiety convinced that at any second he might hear the crack of an assassin's rifle.

At last Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney administered the oath of office. Lincoln then bent and kissed the Bible, and a loud cheer rose from the crowd. Lincoln was President.

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