When did Inauguration Day change from March to January?

Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated this week, making him the 46th President of the United States.  

With coronavirus restrictions limiting the size of the celebration, some might be wondering why they just don’t wait to inaugurate him when things could be more normal.

However, for over 70 years, the inauguration has taken place on the same date – January 20.

What is the reason for this?

Why does the inauguration take place in January?

Since 1937, the president has taken the oath of office at (or around) noon Eastern Time on January 20.

This officially marks the first day of the president’s new term in office.

The reason for this can be traced to a ratification – or a change – to the Constitution of the United States.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States, dictating how the nation will be governed and outlining the frameworks, principles and laws that are to be followed.

The Constitution originally set a president’s term to start on March 4 the year after they won the election.

As the decades wore on, this time was shortened. This was mostly because the transition of power was made easier by technological advancements, and America gaining independence in the 1700s – so they could essentially govern themselves.

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1933, officially shortened the time between the election and inauguration from four months to two.

This meant that, since Franklin D. Roosevelt took his oath of office for his second term in January 1937, every president’s new term has begun on January 20.

Even on the three occasions this date fell on a Sunday, the president was privately sworn in at this time, before hosting a public ceremony held the day after.

Are there any exceptions? Have any presidents been sworn in outside of January?  

The only time an inauguration will happen outside of this is if there is an emergency, such as if a president dies or resigns.

Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in on August 9 1974 after Richard Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal.

Lyndon B. Johnson was inaugurated mid-air on board Air Force One in November of 1963 after the assassination of JFK.

Harry S. Truman also took the Oath of Office on April in 1945, the same evening that Roosevelt died.

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