1953 Presidential Inauguration
Dwight David Eisenhower took the oath of office on Tuesday, January 20, 1953. The oath was administered by Chief justice Frederick Moore Vinson. Before delivering his inaugural address, the President offered a prayer, the text of which follows:
"My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads. Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the Executive branch of Government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere. Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling. May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen."
Dwight D. Eisenhower taking the 1953 Presidential Oath
photo 68-350-30 / National Park Service - public domain
The two and one-half hour inaugural parade was witnessed by an estimated 1 million persons, of whom 60,000 were in the grandstand in seats ranging in price from $3 to $15, according to location. About 22,000 service men and women and 5,000 civilians were in the parade, which included 50 state and organization floats costing $100,000. There were also 65 musical units, 350 horses, 3 elephants, an Alaskan dog team, and the 280-millimeter atomic cannon. It was the most elaborate inaugural pageant ever held.
Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower wave to the crowds
photo 68-352-79 / National Park Service - public domain
President Eisenhower being roped by Monty Montana
photo 68-350-25 / National Park Service - public domain
Kansas Highway Patrol and Governor Arn of Kansas
photo 68-350-11/ National Park Service - public domain
In addition to a governors' reception for 3,000 invited guests, there were two inaugural festivals, one at the Uline Arena for 11,000 persons, and one at the Capitol Theater for 3,500 persons. Tickets ranged in price from $3 to $12. Forty stars of stage, screen, and TV participated in the celebration. In the evening two inaugural balls were held, one at the National Guard Armory and the other at the gymnasium of McDonough Hall at Georgetown University.
Crowd at one of the two 1953 Inaugural Balls
photo 68-350-35 / National Park Service - public domain
Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower with guests at Inaugural Ball
photo 68-350-34 / National Park Service - public domain
1953 Inaugural Trivia:
• The first time an entire official family attended church services with an incoming President was on January 20, 1953, when President-elect Eisenhower and his staff attended a pre-inaugural service at the National Presbyterian Church on Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C. The Reverend Edward L. R. Elson, pastor of the church, conducted the service.
• Eisenhower broke with custom by reciting his own improvised prayer instead of kissing the Bible.
• The oath was administered by Chief Justice Frederick Vinson on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol.
• The temperature was 49 degrees with cloudy skies.
• The Bible was open to Psalm 127, Verse 1 and Second Chronicles Chapter 7, Verse 14 during the 1953 inauguration.
Materials Available - Documents, Photographs, Essays, Video
A Collection of approximately four hundred items or two thousand digital files relating to inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to the present. This presentation includes diaries and letters of Presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music.