1st to 19th Congresses
(March 4, 1789 to March 3, 1827)
1The oath of office was administered to George Washington outside on the gallery in front of the Senate Chamber, after which the Congress and the President returned to the chamber to hear the inaugural address. They then proceeded to St. Paul's Chapel for the "divine service" performed by the Chaplain of the Congress. Adjournment of the ceremony did not occur until the Congress returned to Federal Hall.
2The House convened in its chamber in Congress Hall in Philadelphia. Once assembled, the Representatives somberly proceeded to the city's German Lutheran Church to attend a memorial Joint Session for former President George Washington.
3Because of a tie in the electoral vote between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the House of Representatives had to decide the election. Thirty-six ballots were required to break the deadlock, with Jefferson's election as President and Burr's as Vice President on February 17. The Twelfth Amendment was added to the Constitution to prevent the 1800 problem from recurring.
4During most of the period while the Capitol was being reconstructed following the fire of 1814, the Congress met in the "Brick Capitol," constructed on the site of the present Supreme Court building. This Joint Session took place in the Representatives' chamber on the 2d floor of the building.
5The Joint Session to count electoral votes was dissolved because the House and Senate disagreed on Missouri's status regarding statehood. The Joint Session was reconvened the same day and Missouri's votes were counted.
6While this occasion has historically been referred to as the first Joint Meeting of Congress, the Journals of the House and of the Senate indicate that Lafayette actually addressed the House of Representatives, with some of the Senators present as guests of the House. Similar occasions, when members of the one body were invited as guests of the other, include the Senate address by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands on Aug. 6, 1942, and the House address by General H. Norman Schwarzkopf on May 8, 1991.
7Although Andrew Jackson won the popular vote by a substantial amount and had the highest number of electoral votes from among the several candidates, he did not receive the required majority of the electoral votes. The responsibility for choosing the new President therefore devolved upon the House of Representatives. As soon as the Senators left the chamber, the balloting proceeded, and John Quincy Adams was elected on the first ballot.