Trump would be the fourth president to skip an inauguration if he refuses to attend Biden's ceremony

If Mr Trump refuses to attend the inauguration, it will make him the fourth president to do so

Graig Graziosi
Friday 04 December 2020 19:22
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Joe Biden said he hopes Donald Trump will attend his inauguration in January.  

The president-elect said Mr Trump appearing for the formal transfer of power ceremony would help prevent a further rift from developing in the country.  

“It is totally his decision.” Mr Biden said during an appearance on CNN Thursday. “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.”

Mr Biden said that a president refusing to be present for a transfer of power ceremony is what happens "in tin-horn dictatorships."

He believes Mr Trump attending the event would set an example for other nations. 

If Mr Trump did choose not to show up, he would not be the first president to do so.  

John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson all refused to attend the inaugurations of the president-elect replacing them.  

During the 1800 election, John Adams ran for a second term against his vice president, Thomas Jefferson. Mr Adams was unpopular over his support for the Alien and Sedition act of 1798, which throttled freedom of speech, the press, and clamped down on the freedoms of foreign nationals in the US.  

The election resulted in a tie between Mr Jefferson and his own running mate, Aaron Burr. Prior to the adoption of the 12th Amendment, voters in the US voted for two individuals. The person with the most votes became president and the person with the second highest became vice president.  

Due to the tie, the election went to the House for a vote. Mr Adams refused to influence the vote, even though he had a cordial relationship with Mr Jefferson and they frequently dined together. The race was eventually called for Mr Jefferson, and Mr Adams skipped the inauguration, instead opting to the White House on 4 March at 4am.  

A little less than 30 years later, John Quincy Adams - the son of John Adams, - followed in his father's footsteps by ducking out on an inauguration.  

After a contentious election against numerous opponents in 1824, Mr Quincy Adams defeated several opponents - including Andrew Jackson - for the presidency. Mr Jackson actually won the popular and electoral vote, but he did not reach a majority in either group, and was subject to the whim of electors. Several electors tossed their support to Mr Quincy Adams, and the House voted to make him president.  

Mr Jackson was understandably frustrated by the turn of events and vowed that he would return again in 1828. He did, and Mr Jackson won handily. Mr Quincy Adams attempted to maintain a polite relationship with Mr Jackson, but the president-elect was not receptive. As a result, Mr Quincy Adams chose to follow his father's lead and depart the White House the day before the inauguration.  

Forty years later, Andrew Johnson would also choose to skip out on an inauguration. He replaced Abraham Lincoln after the 16th president was assassinated in 1865.  

Mr Johnson was the only sitting senator from a southern state that did not join the Confederacy. As a result, Mr Lincoln brought Mr Johnson onto his ticket to run as a running mate in the hopes of establishing national unity following the US Civil War. Once Mr Lincoln was dead, however, Mr Johnson immediately moved to thwart the efforts of that era's Republican party, prompting Congressional Republicans to override him. That back-and-forth between the White House and the Capitol became so common during Mr Johnson's presidency that he was eventually impeached in the House.  

Mr Johnson did not gain the nomination of the Republican Party for his re-election in 1868, and ran against General Ulysses S. Grant, who he despised. Mr Grant defeated Mr Johnson by a substantial electoral margin, but only by 300,000 in the popular vote. That 300,000 is often attributed by historians to be the efforts of freedmen in Southern states voting for the first time.  

Mr Johnson refused to attend the inauguration, and instead stayed in the White House and signed legislation. He then left the White House and returned to Tennessee.

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