Trivia

President Richard M. Nixon: Inauguration and First Term

About the inauguration and first term of Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States.

Term of Office: January 20, 1969...

The 56-year-old Nixon was sworn into office by Chief Justice Earl Warren at ceremonies on the east plaza of the Capitol. His inaugural addess was distinguished chiefly by its haunting reminders of John Kennedy's inaugural address in 1961. Among the most striking parallels (Nixon's words in italics):

Let the word go forth, to friend and foe alike....

Let this message be heard, by strong and weak alike....

Let every nation know....

Let all nations know....

To those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace....

Those who would be our adversaries, we invite to a peaceful competition...

We dare not tempt them with weakness, for only when our arms are strong beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed....

But to all those who would be tempted by weakness, let us leave no doubt that we will be as strong as we need to be, for as long as we need to be....

We observe not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom....

In the orderly transfer of power, we celebrate the unity that keeps us free....

At one of the inaugural balls that evening, Nixon forgot to introduce the First Lady and broke a tradition as old as the ball itself. At the next ball, he 1st introduced his daughters, his son-in-law David Eisenhower, and then he finally remembered his wife. "I just assumed that everybody knew the lady I was with," he said. Later, as he was about to step into his limousine to go to the next ball, Nixon had to be reminded by an aide that he had left Pat back at the ballroom, standing by herself. He sent a Secret Service man back to fetch her.

As he moved into the White House the next day, Nixon ordered a crew of wreckers into the Oval Office to destroy any trace of his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. Furniture, portraits, bookshelves, rocking chairs, even utilitarian news tickers, television sets, and a console of telephones were carted away and consigned to oblivion. The rug was stripped from the floor and the paint from the walls. This was Nixon's way of announcing to all those around him that a bright, new day had dawned in the White House.

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