2021 Presidential Inauguration: Lessons of the Past, Informing Our Future

Inauguration Day. A day of rituals and traditions that honors and recognizes the will of the people, having chosen their leader through free elections. A day focused on the peaceful transfer of power, revered as a hallmark of a truly free democracy. A day to reflect on the country's past and its future. Purdue wants you to be a part.

We invite students and others to learn more about Inauguration Day's significance today and at various moments in U.S. history by joining us here for the following livestream events on this page.

News and Events on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

The Inaugural Red Carpet: Presenting and Reflecting on Presidential Inaugurations

Joel Ebarb Capricia Marchall David A. Reingold
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Watch the recording on YouTube

  • Joel Ebarb, professor of visual and performing arts
  • Capricia Penavic Marshall, Purdue alumna (1986), ambassador-in-residence, Atlantic Council; former chief of protocol, U.S. Department of State
  • David A. Reingold, dean, College of Liberal Arts

How did Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Oleg Cassini influence the look of all future first ladies on Inauguration Day? How are the seating arrangements determined for some of the most powerful people in the world?

Join us for a look at the grand pageantry, customs, event planning and traditions of inaugural celebrations — from parades, balls and fashion to the inauguration itself — with a Purdue alumna who has been part of the party.

Inside the White House: Election Day through the Inauguration with Bush 41, America’s Last One-Term President

Andy Manner David A. Reingold
10:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Watch the recording on YouTube

  • Andrew Maner, Purdue alumnus (1991); CEO, Avantus Federal; staff member for President George H.W. Bush
  • David A. Reingold, dean, College of Liberal Arts

From a loss to leaving Washington, D.C., for Texas, Maner was at the elbow of the president. Hear his perspectives on the particular grace and respect with which President George H.W. Bush handed leadership of the country to President Bill Clinton. What was on the post-election agenda? How did the leader of the free world transition to private citizen? Maner will share his thoughts on these questions and the lessons in leadership the experience offered in his first handful of years out of Purdue.

Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States

C SPAN logo
11:20 a.m. - 1:20 p.m.

Watch the C-SPAN archive clip

Contested Elections of 1796, 1824, 1876 and 2000: Transitions of Power

Randt Roberts Kathryn Brownell Connie Doebele
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Watch the recording on YouTube

  • Randy Roberts, 150th Anniversary Professor of History
  • Kathryn Cramer Brownell, associate professor of history
  • Connie Doebele, managing director, Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement

The United States created a practice of a free citizenry choosing its leader, shifting and breaking from the domination of tyranny and monarchy, giving the modern world its first peaceful transition of power based on popular election. But has every election been decided on Election Day?

Augmented with video from the C-SPAN Archives, this panel's presentation will explore these notable contested U.S. presidential elections:

  • In 1796, the young nation saw its first presidential election in which political parties played a dominant role.
  • In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected with the most electoral votes, though his opponent, Andrew Jackson, won the popular vote.
  • The disputed election of 1876 saw the highest voter turnout of any in U.S. history (82%) and was decided by a single electoral vote.
  • In 2000, the election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was followed by a 36-day political and legal debate over how to resolve an extremely close election.

Peaceful and Orderly Transitions of Power and American Statesmanship

Lamb Brian Lee Hamilton's image Andy Card Edna Greene Medford
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Watch the recording on YouTube

  • Brian Lamb, Purdue alumnus (1963) and founder of C-SPAN
  • Lee Hamilton, former U.S. representative, Indiana, 1965-1999
  • Andrew Card, White House chief of staff, President George W. Bush; deputy chief of staff, President George H.W. Bush
  • Edna Greene Medford, associate provost for faculty affairs and professor of history, Howard University.

What defines and separates a free society from a totalitarian regime? It is the peaceful and orderly transition of power. It requires cooperation and represents American tradition at its finest. What matters? Working for the benefit of the nation. What’s next? Managing the transition of power for the staff involved.

Join us for a conversation about peaceful transitions of power and the centrality of statesmanship in the best of American politics. A long-term and respected member of Congress, Hamilton is recognized for his willingness to work across the aisle. Card helped lead two White House transitions of power in his roles with President George W. Bush and President George H.W. Bush. Medford specializes in 19 th century African American history and teaches on the Jacksonian era, Civil War and Reconstruction, and African-American history to 1877. She also has significant scholarship related to Abraham Lincoln.

Can We Be One Nation Again?

Jonathan Rauch's image President Daniel's image
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Watch the recording on YouTube

  • Jonathan Rauch, senior fellow – Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
  • Q&A with Purdue President Mitch Daniels

Rauch will discuss his forthcoming book, "The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth," in which he describes how Americans can help defend objective truth and free inquiry from today’s war on facts.

He is the author of six books and many articles on public policy, culture and government.  His 1993 book,  "Kindly Inquisitors: New Attacks on Free Thought," which has been republished in an expanded 20-year anniversary edition, is widely viewed as one of the best (and most prescient) books defending free speech and exploring issues surrounding attempts to limit it.

Rauch is a contributing writer of The Atlantic and recipient of the 2005 National Magazine Award. His award-winning column, “Social Studies,” appeared from 1998 to 2010 in National Journal. He has also written for The New Republic, The Economist, Reason, Harper’s, Fortune, Reader’s Digest, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, Slate, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Public Interest, The Advocate, The Daily, and others.

His Brookings publications include the 2015 ebook "Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy." In 2013, he published "Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul," a memoir of his struggle with his sexuality, brought out as an ebook from The Atlantic Books. He also is the author of "Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America," published in 2004 by Times Books (Henry Holt).

Rauch was a founding member of the board of Braver Angels (formerly known as Better Angels), a citizens organization formed after the 2016 election to unite red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America.

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