Inaugurate Taft amid blizzard, parade anyway

WASHINGTON, March 4, 1909 (UP) - The administration of President Taft was ushered in Thursday with a baptism of snow and slush accompanied by a 75-mile-an-hour gale.

One of the worst blizzards in the history of the national capital descended Wednesday night and raged through the morning.


For 12 hours Washington was cut off from all outside communication. Miles of telegraph poles on the lines leading north were thrown down by the storm.

Trains were delayed from four to 10 hours. Fifteen hundred incoming strangers were compelled to sleep in the union station, unable to reach their hotels or rooming houses. Street car traffic was impeded and trees were uprooted in various parts of the capital.

Despite weather conditions, the inauguration parade, or, rather a portion of it, was held. Probably not more than one-tenth of the men who came to parade appeared in the line of march.

The sun broke through the clouds at 11:35, though a light snow was still falling. All the streets were filled with snow and slush, ankle deep, by noon, but thousands of visitors, almost forced out of the hotels by the crowded condition, surged through the streets. Decorations and spectators were equally bedraggled and disconsolate looking.


The storm was so severe that the inaugural ceremony had to be held within the capitol. President Taft took the earth of office at 12:55 p.m. Then he delivered his address. The parade moved at 1:43 p.m.

The new administration was born amidst scenes of turmoil, so far as the elements are concerned, that have never been equaled in the history of the republic. But it was launched with great enthusiasm.

Snow, sleet, rain and high winds were defied by thousands upon thousands of patriots who cared little about pneumonia or anything else so long as they could have a part in welcoming the twenty-seventh president in a fitting manner.

The day was the worst in the memory of the oldest inhabitants. The storm, which began in rain, had changed to sleet and then snow during the night, and when day dawned, the snow that filled the streets was being whirled hither and yon by a 70-mile-an-hour gale that carried away decorations, blew down poorly constructed reviewing stands, blocked trains and surface railways and generally tore things up.

Many persons were reported to have been injured by being struck by limbs of trees that had blown into the streets or by slipping and falling on the pavements.


At 10:45 a.m. President Roosevelt and the president-elect left the white house in the executive carriage. Two secret service men sat on the box, and the windows of the carriage were all up, so that no one was able to catch a glimpse of the occupants.

They were driven rapidly to the capitol, and were hurried at once to the president's room, in the rear of the senate chamber, where President Roosevelt got down to the last work of his administration, signing a number of bills as they were brought over from congress.

There were many necessary changes in the elaborate program that had been arranged. The formal swearing in of the president, which is nearly in every instance has been conducted on the east front of the capitol, in the shadow of the armed statue of liberty, was transferred to the luxurious shelter of the senate chamber. The chief justice of the supreme court of the United States administered the oath on the rostrum usually occupied by the vice president.

This ceremonious formality was witnessed by a chosen few, who crowded every available inch of space and who by virtue of political influence, position of diplomatic prominence or office holding preferment, were able to secure the necessary tickets of admission.


This was the first time in many years that the public has not had the opportunity to see the president-elect take the oath and there was much grumbling on the part of the thousands that had defied the elements and stood in the slush for hours to see, if not to hear.

Meanwhile those who had tickets admitting them to the capitol building were being ushered to the places reserved for them.

Vice President-elect Sherman, accompanied by his family, went into the house first and later went across to the senate and took refuge in the vice president's room, where he remained until noon.

The retiring president wore an overcoat of medium weight, but president-elect Taft, who followed him, was bundled in the heavy fur garment he brought from Russia.

In the face of an almost blinding snow the presidential cavalcade proceeded down Pennsylvania Ave., Troop A of Cleveland, leading, and the veteran organizations of the civil and Spanish wars following on foot.

Mrs. Roosevelt and Mrs. Taft remained behind at the white house while the president and president-elect went to the capitol. Mrs. Roosevelt turned the keys of the mansion over to Mrs. Taft shortly before 11 a.m.


Meantime the sixteenth congress was gradually expiring.

The last appropriation bill of the session was finally disposed of in the house during the morning.

The sale of tickets for the inaugural ball at $5 per pair of tickets for the stands and for various concessions, always more than equal the amount of the subscriptions, and it is a poor inauguration that does not return all the subscription money to the business men and give them neat profit in the way of enormously increased trade.

The amount raised this year has not yet been announced but at last accounts it was over $65,000, all of which was returned to the subscribers.

This year's Chairman was Edward J. Stellwagen, president of the Union Trust Co.

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