Analysis: Inaugurals Throughout History | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Analysis: Inaugurals Throughout History

Play associated audio

Today's inaugural brings to mind many before this one. For some historical context WAMU's Morning Edition Host Matt McCleskey talked with Paul Dickson, a local historian and author of several books, including Words from the White House: Words and Phrases Coined Or Popularized by America's Presidents. You can listen to the full interview above, or here are some highlights:

On history's coldest inauguration ceremonies: "The coldest on record was probably Ronald Reagan's on Jan. 20, 1985. It was 7 degrees, and they had to move the parade into the Capital Center where the bullets played," Dickson said. "Runner-up for the coldest was March 4, 1873, Ulysses Grant, where it rose to only 16 degrees. Thousands of people left the stands or deserted the parade, it was so cold."

Notable words and phrases that have been coined by presidents, some of them during inauguration: "Thomas Jefferson set the tone when he used the term 'entangling alliances,' meaning he thought the U.S. should stay out of entangling alliances with other countries," said Dickson.

Others include Franklin D. Roosevelt's 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,' and the 'good neighbor policy,' Woodrow Wilson's "legalized larceny," which referred to any extra money that was taken in taxes, George W. Bush's "1,000 points of light," Dwight D. Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex."

On the significance of these phrases presidents have coined: Especially early on, said Dickson, it was extremely important. "The early presidents, it was a mission on their part, they were creating an American language, consciously," Dickson said. "When Thomas Jefferson creates the word belittle, he drives the British crazy."

NPR

John Lydon: The Foul-Mouthed Yob Sets The Record Straight

"After reading so much rubbish written about me over the years, it became obvious that I had to just tell it like it is," Lydon tells NPR's Arun Rath. Lydon just wrote his memoir, Anger Is An Energy.
NPR

'Into The Wild' Author Tries Science To Solve Toxic Seed Mystery

Jon Krakauer has long been haunted by how Christopher McCandless died in the Alaskan wilderness. In a scientific journal, he and a chemist show that the seeds McCandless consumed can contain a toxin.
NPR

5 Things You Should Know About Carly Fiorina

The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard once had a stint filing and typing for the company. She also dropped out of law school, survived breast cancer and once ran a campaign ad featuring demon sheep.
NPR

3-D Printers Bring Historic Instruments Back To The Future

You just can't stick a modern mouthpiece on an antique saxophone and get the right sound. The answer could be in the lab.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.