Inauguration of Ronald Reagan
By Patrick Mondout
Ronald Reagan, the one-time FDR democrat, former head of the actors
union (Screen Actors Guild), the radio, television, and movie actor, and
former Governor of California finally fulfilled the dreams of the
ultra-conservative "Goldwater" wing of the Republican Party by
taking the presidential oath of office on January 20, 1981. Reagan's oath
of office was administered by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.
The inauguration of a new president is almost always the lead news
story for the day, but this day also saw the release of the American
hostages from Iran. The timing of the release, coming just a few hours
into the Reagan administration, raised some eyebrows and was the subject
of Gary Wills' 1991 book October
Surprise (Wills, who was ultimately unable to prove his
allegations, served on the National Security Council under Ford, Carter, and
Whether the release of the hostages was coordinated conspiracy or just
good luck, the Reagan administration was off to a great start in the minds
of many Americans having accomplished something President Carter was
unable to do.
You can read
President Reagan's inaugural address here.
There were a number of firsts at this inauguration:
- Outdoor band concert was held on the West Front lawn on the day
before the inaugural.
- First inaugural held on the West Terrace of the Capitol.
- First time that room EF--100 was used as a holding room.
- First closed-captioning of television broadcast for the hearing
impaired. (Washington Post, 12/22/1981)
- First post-inaugural luncheon held in Statuary Hall.
- Post-inaugural luncheon was partially televised.
- Nine Inaugural Balls were held.
- A record $100 was charged for tickets to the Inaugural Balls.
- First time that an inaugural ball was held in a legislative building
(Rayburn House Office Building).
- Balls were transmitted by satellite to 32 ballroom sites across the
country. (Washington Star, 12/19/1981)