Woodrow Wilson took the oath of office for his first term on March 4, 1913, on an overcast day at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. According to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, he wore a frock coat, a rose colored tie and a silk top hat. He used the same Bible used for his swearing in as governor of New Jersey years earlier. The Bible was open to Psalm 119:43-46.
It was the first time the Inaugural Ball was canceled since 1853, and Wilson called it off because he found it inappropriate for the solemn occasion.
In his inaugural address, Wilson, who moved to Augusta at age 3 with his family and lived in a home on Seventh Street until he was 13, talked about the change of government that had come with the shift to a Democratic Congress and how the nation must use that party for a definite purpose.
He said the country has built up great material and industrial achievements but has to address the waste created and the lives, natural resources and spiritual toll squandered in the process. He said the government should be used to better the lives of the people and uphold the rights and health of the nation.
“These are some of the things we ought to do, and not leave the others undone, the old-fashioned, never-to-be-neglected, fundamental safeguarding of property and of individual right. This is the high enterprise of the new day: To lift everything that concerns our life as a nation to the light that shines from the hearthfire of every man’s conscience and vision of the right.
“It is inconceivable that we should do this as partisans; it is inconceivable we should do it in ignorance of the facts as they are or in blind haste. We shall restore, not destroy. We shall deal with our economic system as it is and as it may be modified, not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to write upon; and step by step we shall make it what it should be, in the spirit of those who question their own wisdom and seek counsel and knowledge, not shallow self-satisfaction or the excitement of excursions whither they can not tell. Justice, and only justice, shall always be our motto.”
MARCH 4, 1917
During the oath of office for his second term on March 4, 1917, Wilson became the first president to take the oath on a Sunday.
A public inauguration was held the following day, and it marked the first time women participated in the Inaugural Parade.
His wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, was also the first first lady to accompany the president to and from the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony.
For the 33rd Inaugural Ceremonies, Wilson wore a morning coat, striped trousers and a silk top hat. The weather was a chilly 38 degrees as he took the oath at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington.