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The First Inauguration after the Lame Duck Amendment

January 20, 1937
The First Inauguration after the Lame Duck Amendment Image courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Democratic presidential nominee Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his vice presidential running mate, former Speaker of the House John Nance Garner of Texas, are featured in this 1932 New York parade.
On this date, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn into office at the U.S. Capitol for a second term as President. The inauguration of Roosevelt and Vice President John Nance Garner, the Speaker of the House during the 72nd Congress (1931–1933), was the first to occur after the passage of the 20th Amendment. Nicknamed the Lame Duck Amendment, it moved the inauguration date from March 4th to January 20th. The amendment also changed the opening date of a new Congress to January 3rd, thereby eliminating extended lame duck congressional sessions. Despite cold, soaking rain, a large crowd assembled in the nation’s capital to witness the first January inauguration. Nearly 250 Representatives from the 75th Congress (1937–1939)—the first new Congress assembled in the month of January—met in the House Chamber before Roosevelt arrived at the Capitol. Majority Leader and future Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas led the House delegation in the absence of Speaker William Bankhead of Alabama who traveled with the presidential party. “He [Bankhead] asked me to lead you out there,” Rayburn remarked amid laughter from his House colleagues. “I’m going to try to do that. But I can’t make you stay.” Rayburn and Kenneth Romney, the House Sergeant at Arms, directed the procession of Members to the inaugural stand on the East Portico of the Capitol. Those who braved the bad conditions observed a historic first as Garner was sworn in as Vice President on the same outdoor platform as the President—previously the Senate Chamber served as the location for the vice presidential oath. President Roosevelt’s speech and the 1937 inaugural proceedings were broadcast nationwide on the radio.

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