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Presidential Inauguration

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Inaugural Balls - Presidential Inauguration
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy at the inaugural ball January 20, 1961

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy attend the inaugural ball January 20, 1961 in Washington, DC.

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Inauguration Day ends with the inaugural balls. The first official inaugural ball was held in 1809 when Dolley Madison hosted the event for her husband's inauguration. Almost every inauguration day has ended in a similar event since that time with a few exceptions. Franklin Pierce asked that the ball be canceled because he had recently lost his son. Other cancellations included Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding. Charity balls were held for the inaugurations of presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The inaugural ball tradition began anew with Harry Truman. Starting with Dwight Eisenhower, the number of balls increased from two to an all-time high of 14 for Bill Clinton's second inauguration.

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