Opinion: These three presidents skipped their successors' inaugurations
November 11, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.
Thomas Balcerski writes that history provides some indication of what Inauguration Day 2021 may look like. John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson refused to attend their successors' inaugurations. In all three instances, the incoming president went on to run highly popular administrations and win two terms in office.
In the past, three outgoing presidents -- John Adams in 1801, John Quincy Adams in 1829 and Andrew Johnson in 1869 -- refused to attend their successors' inaugurations.
In highly polarized times, in which the results of an election are called into question, an outgoing president's refusal to attend the new president's inauguration has yielded surprisingly beneficial results for the country.
Incumbent John Adams sought a second term, but he faced a powerful challenge from his own Vice President, Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson dined amicably with John and Abigail Adams at the White House that January.
Adams chose not to attend his successor's inauguration, departing the nation's capital at 4 a. m. on March 4, 1801.
The resulting peaceful transfer of power from Adams to Jefferson was ironically dubbed the "Revolution of 1800. " After delivering a conciliatory inaugural address, Jefferson began the now venerable tradition of marching from the Capitol to the White House.
In another parallel to his father's relationship with Jefferson, Quincy Adams had once been a political ally of Jackson.
With the election at stake, the Clay electors switched their support to Adams, and the House of Representatives voted to make Adams the next president.
Like his father before him, Quincy Adams attempted cordial relations with the incoming president, though to little avail.
Instead, Quincy Adams left the White House on the evening of March 3, the day before Jackson's inauguration.
Looking back, these three examples of recalcitrance from presidential incumbents should be taken with a grain of salt, since every other outgoing president whose term expired has attended his successor's inauguration.