Inauguration Day, 1829

This painting suggests the crowds that swamped the building now called the White House after Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in March 1829. Jackson took the oath at the East Front of the Capitol, and had some difficulty making it to his new residence. So many people filled the ceremonial rooms that the new President had to be wedged out again with the help of friends.

He spent the night at a nearby hotel, although in the long run his raucous inauguration became a symbol of his advocacy of the common man. Less well noted was another man in Washington that day, and probably at his inauguration. John Ross, the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, was staying at a hotel near the executive mansion. He was seeking Federal help against the state of Georgia, which was insisting on its right to govern Cherokee land. Federal help was not forthcoming. As shown in Jacksonland, Ross did not seem to realize, at first, just how much his world had changed with Andrew Jackson’s election.