Today, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the nation's 44th president in a ceremony filled with tradition. Test your knowledge of ceremonies past.
1. Of whose inaugural speech did wordsmith H.L. Mencken say: "It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it."
a. Herbert Hoover
b. Warren G. Harding
c. Calvin Coolidge
d. Franklin D. Roosevelt
2. Which of the following bird-related inauguration incidents did not happen?
a. In 1873 at Ulysses S. Grant's second inaugural ball, temperatures were so cold that 100 canaries brought in as decoration froze to death.
b. In an effort to keep pigeons away from his open-top limousine, Richard Nixon had the inaugural committee spend $13,000 to spray Roost No More, a chemical bird repellent, along the parade route in 1973. The poison left dozens of birds dead in the streets.
c. During the traditional 21-gun howitzer salute from the Presidential Salute Battery for Ronald Reagan's second inaugural in 1985, two of the numerous white doves released moments before were accidentally shot and fell into the crowd.
3. William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech, at 8,445 words. A month later, he was dead of pneumonia, an illness many attributed to the bitter cold in Washington when he delivered his address at an outdoor podium. About what percentage of his time in office did Harrison spend giving his speech?
4. Match the president to the passage of the Bible on which he placed his hand while being sworn in.
__ Bill Clinton
__ Theodore Roosevelt
__Franklin D. Roosevelt
a. Galatians 6:8. "For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption...";
b. Isaiah 2:4. "... And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
c. Corinthians 13. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
d. No Bible
5. For a period before George Washington's inauguration, nobody knew how to address him. Which of these titles were in consideration?
a. His Mighty Lordliness.
b. His Excellency
c. His High Mightiness
d. His Most Benign Highness
6. In 1817, the Capitol Building was still being renovated after being destroyed in the War of 1812. The inauguration was supposed to be moved to the House of Representatives. Instead, it was moved outside. Why?
a. An early prototype toilet overflowed, resulting in an evacuation of the building.
b. James Monroe felt he was suffering from sunlight deficiency and opted for fresh air.
c. So many people showed up that they could not be accommodated inside. When the crowd grew unruly, events were moved outside.
d. Members of the House would not allow the senators to bring their armchairs into their chamber, something the senators considered imperative to their comfort.
7. Which of these things did not take place on a day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office?
a. Reagan flipped the coin at the Super Bowl.
b. The Iran hostages were released.
c. Single-digit temperatures in Washington.
d. Reagan served a full pancake breakfast to his staff.
8. Which of the following things did William Howard Taft, who weighed in excess of 300 pounds, eat after his inaugural ball?
a. Chicken consommé
b. Terrapin à la Baltimore
c. Cotelettes Périgourdine
d. Green peas
e. Quails à l'Estouffade
f. Salad of season
g. Fantaisie, glace
h. Peaches melba
i. Fancy cakes
j. Bonbons fourrés
k. All of the above
9. A 1901 inauguration program came with a list of predictions for the 2001 inauguration. Which of these was not a prediction?
a. Ontario, Canada, would become a state.
b. Nations would have come together to form a world governmental body.
c. Presidents would have eight-year terms.
d. There would be 118 states.
10. Which of these slogans were not painted on the body of streakers Joan Roney or Matthew Power at the 2001 inauguration?
a. No mandate
b. No democracy?
c. Nudists for Gore
d. Ricky Martin, how could you?
e. One person, one vote
11. Which elected president gave his inaugural address without having received the majority of either the electoral vote or the popular vote?
a. John Quincy Adams
b. George W. Bush
c. Rutherford B. Hayes
d. Benjamin Harrison
12. Which of the following things did Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner say about the speech Andrew Johnson gave after his swearing-in as Abraham Lincoln's vice president?
a. "At least we can all be proud that the country didn't elect him."
b. It was "the most unfortunate thing that has occurred in our history."
c. "Surely this man will someday be impeached."
d. "Only a drunken farm animal could have been more incoherent."
1. b; 2. c; 3. a; 4. Nixon-b, Clinton-a, Theodore Roosevelt-d, Franklin Roosevelt-c; 5. a; 6. d; 7. d; 8. k.; 9. b; 10. c.; 11. a; 12. b
Ben Terris is a freelance journalist in Boston. Ben.Terris@gmail.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times