US President Donald Trump on 8 January announced that he would not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration
Donald Trump's absence will be at least the fourth example of a President who did not attend his successor's swearing-in amid
Following his defeat in the US Presidential Election 2020 and then instigating an insurrection at the US Capitol, US President Donald Trump on 8 January announced that he would not attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration was the latest example of the President defying precedent.
Vice President Mike Pence said he would attend the 20 January event.
According to a repor in the Time magazine, Donald Trump's absence will be at least the fourth example of a President who did not attend his successor's swearing-in amid a polarised political climate or after a contested presidential election, following Presidents John Adams, the second US President; John Quincy Adams, the sixth President; and Andrew Johnson, the 17th President and the first to be impeached. All three were also one-term Presidents.
The incumbent president's absence at the Inauguration may violate recent social norms, but it does not violate the US Constitution. The Constitution doesn't require an outgoing President to attend an incoming President's Inauguration. But the presence of the outgoing president has come to be seen as important because of what it represents.
Here are three notable times when the President of the United States did not attend his successor's inauguration.
John Adams (1801)
The election of 1800 marked the country's first contested presidential election and the first time an outgoing President did not attend an incoming President's inauguration.
Back then, the person who got the most electoral votes became President and the runner-up became Vice President, and the US House of Representatives would decide in the event of a tie.
Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of electoral votes, leaving the US House of Representatives to decide the outcome. It was a tense time as Virginia and Pennsylvania militias threatened violence if Jefferson, who was declared the winner, wasn't elected.
Adams left Washington shortly after 4:00 am in the morning of Inauguration Day on 4 March, 1801.
John Quincy Adams (1829)
Tensions were high between John Adams' son John Quincy Adams, the sixth president who served from 1825-1829, and Andrew Jackson, who ran in 1828 after believing that he was robbed of the presidency four years earlier.
In that four-way 1824 presidential election, Jackson had won the popular vote but none of the candidates won a majority of electoral votes, leaving the US House to decide another presidential election. Jackson and his supporters were enraged by what's called the "corrupt bargain" in which one of the 1824 candidates Henry Clay became the Secretary of State in the new administration after he was believed to have encouraged congressmen to vote for John Quincy Adams.
A nationally-coordinated effort in the states successfully rallied voters to elect Jackson to the highest office, in what would become a precursor to modern party organisations.
John Quincy Adams was offended that Jackson did not visit him in the walk-up to the inauguration, so he followed on this breach in decorum with his own breach in decorum, leaving Washington on 3 March, the day before the Jackson's inauguration.
Andrew Johnson (1869)
Andrew Johnson, the first US President to be impeached, was also the last President to skip his successor's inauguration, 152 years ago.
The US House of Representatives voted to impeach Johnson on 24 February, 1868, alleging that he violated the Tenure of Office Act by firing Secretary of War and Lincoln appointee Edwin Stanton. But the firing was also the latest in a series of efforts — from vetoing the Civil Rights Act and a bill to create a Freedman's Bureau to aid freed enslaved peoples — that reflected a larger political disagreement between the President and Congress over the direction of Reconstruction.
The President's decisions reflecting a more limited approach to social reform in the South than the Republican-led Congress envisioned. The Senate came within one vote of removing Johnson from office in May 1868, but he was able to stay in office.
He wanted to run for President that year, but the Democrats wouldn't nominate him, and his political rival, Republican Ulysses S Grant, won the presidency.