In 1873, more than 150 canaries were provided for the inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant. But it was so cold that day that they froze to death in their cages (also, the strings of the orchestra’s instruments snapped).
In 1973, planners for Richard Nixon thoughtfully applied a chemical called Roost-No-More to the trees along Pennsylvania Avenue. The chemical was supposed to give the birds itchy feet so they wouldn’t sit around and poop on the crowds (or the President, for that matter). Instead the birds ate the chemical and died en masse, their corpses littering the parade route.
Still more on dead animals; the 1993 Clinton inaugural was likely the first procession in history to have an official road-kill patrol. From Jefferson’s Monticello to the Capitol, the Virginia DOT swept the roads clean of “polecats, possums and flattened squirrels.”
James Madison told a friend at his Inaugural Ball, “I would much rather be in bed.”
In 1953 Texas-born Dwight D. Eisenhower was lassoed in the reviewing stand by a Hollywood cowboy who rode up to the viewing platform on horse.
Ronald Reagan’s two inaugural oaths were the warmest and coldest in history; 55° and 7° respectively. Taft had the most snow (10″) in 1909 and FDR had the most rain (1.77″) in 1937.
James Monroe was the first to deliver his inaugural address outdoors in 1817, thanks to a feud between the Senate and House of Representatives. Politicians were fighting over which chairs would be used for the ceremony, so Monroe moved it outdoors – and they all stood.
In 1853, Franklin Pierce recited his entire address from memory.
The words “So help me God…” are not part of the Constitutional oath. Chester Arthur ad-libbed it in 1881 and it has been added by nearly every president since.
Theodore Roosevelt wore a ring containing a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair to his inauguration in 1905.