Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
How much do you really know about what’s going on in D.C. today?
If there’s one thing Americans can agree on, it’s that the inauguration of a new president is a time to put aside partisan political passions and come together to witness the peaceful transition of power in the nation’s capital.
Or maybe not. Many historians are reminding us now that Andrew Jackson’s inaugural festivities in 1829 included drunken brawling among the incoming president’s supporters and despairing soul-searching from the departing occupant of the White House. Inauguration events have long been steeped in tradition, pomp, protest, and the occasional chaos and violence.
What will we see today, as we watch Donald Trump take the oath of office and become the 45th president of the United States? What happens on the day after (OK, first thing Monday) when the new chief executive gets to work? And how prepared are you to experience all that awaits us? Take this quiz and find out.
1. Who was the first U.S. president to be sworn in in Washington, D.C.?
- George Washington
- John Adams
- Thomas Jefferson
- James Monroe
2. Whose inauguration was the first to be televised?
- Harry Truman
- Dwight Eisenhower
- Richard Nixon
- Gerald Ford
Answer: If you said Truman, right on!
3. Which president died 31 days after his inauguration?
- Zachary Taylor
- William Henry Harrison
- Alexander Hamilton
- George Clinton
Answer: Of these beloved leaders, only William Henry Harrison’s work was cut short. It is widely believed that his death in 1841 was the result of a cold he caught while delivering his 8,445-word inaugural address. Rather, his pneumonia was likely brought on by toxic exposure to “night soil”: fetid water from a field used as a sewer not far from the White House. Ain’t history grand?
4. Which was the only presidential couple to walk the whole parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue since the invention of the automobile?
- Barack and Michelle Obama
- Millard and Abigail Fillmore
- Sid and Nancy Reagan
- Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
Answer: You guessed it: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. A small-business owner, President Carter sold his peanut farm in order to avoid any conflict of interest in office. A model for all of us!
5. To which president did the composer John Philip Sousa dedicate this march, which debuted during inauguration ceremonies on March 4, 1881?
- With everything going on in the world, is this quiz really appropriate?
- I mean, North Korea may launch a nuclear missile test this weekend.
- Here at home, Donald Trump wants to bring back stop-and-frisk. Returning to discredited policing policies feels like a sincere step backward.
- Oh, fine, I don’t know—Garfield?
Answer: Wow! Sousa wrote only dedicated marches to two presidents, and James “Boatman Jim” Garfield was one of them. You really know your stuff!
6. What are these citizens protesting?
Under siege by revolting hateful people. pic.twitter.com/YPuQkFhp4T— Little Red Fox (@littleredfoxdc) January 19, 2017
- A child-prostitution ring led by high-ranking Democratic Party officials associated with former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and conducted out of the basement of a family-friendly restaurant called Comet Ping Pong and other businesses along Connecticut Avenue NW as well as through art galleries and lobbyists’ homes across the nation’s capital
- Gun stuff
Answer: Definitely C, but it could be all three. That’s the magic of inauguration!
7. Which one of these artifacts is a Horcrux?
- The Blue Room Sofa (1817), acquired by James Monroe from the Parisian furniture-maker Pierre-Antoine Bellangé to refurnish the White House after the Burning of Washington in 1814
- George Caleb Bingham’s The Verdict of the People (1855), a painting that will hang as the backdrop to the inaugural luncheon
- John Adams’s Sheffield Tea Urn (1785–88), a silverplate, neoclassical vase–shaped urn used by Adams for serving tea or coffee and inscribed with three mysterious letters: "JAA"
- The Seymour Tall Case Clock (1795–1805), a mahogany clock by Boston father-and-son cabinetmakers John and Thomas Seymour, with clockwork mechanism attributed to James Doull of Charlestown
Answer: Good news, you art-history buff, you: It’s Bingham’s painting! Writes The Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott:
Last week, a little-known tradition of modern presidential inaugurations brought unwanted attention to the St. Louis Art Museum. Since Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985, an American painting has served as a backdrop during the inaugural luncheon, at which members of Congress play host to the newly installed president. When Donald Trump is made the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, George Caleb Bingham’s “The Verdict of the People” will be the chosen painting, hanging on a partition wall behind the ceremonial head table in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
[ . . . ]
This year’s painting, however, breaks with precedent. It isn’t simply a famous portrait of a Founding Father, or an appealing landscape, as in the past. Rather, it is a politically charged representation of one of the darkest moments in American history.
[ . . . ]
“Bingham is a Whig Painter, using these images to depict a Democratic victory,” says Adam Arenson, associate professor of history at Manhattan College in New York, and an expert on Missouri history. As a Whig, Bingham was anti-slavery while the Democratic Party, at the time, was either proslavery, or complicit in status-quo acceptance of it. “The Verdict of the People” was painted just as Congress passed the disastrous Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which put a future of slavery in Kansas to a popular vote. Thugs from Missouri got in the fray, crossing the border to attack abolitionist settlers. One of the state’s senators, David Atchison, called on his supporters “to kill every Goddamned abolitionist” if necessary to secure Kansas as a slave state.
Who knew President Trump was an art lover?
8. Какой фильм я должен следить чтобы соответствовать моим текущим состоянием экзистенциального отчаяния?
A. Кошмар на улице Вязов
В. Рассвет Мертвецов
Г. Красная Заря
Ответ: Американцы, конечно. Я действительно люблю Кери Рассел!
9. Which Friends cast member best captures former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin, President Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary?
- Rachel, from that one episode where she foreclosed on 60,000 homes
- Chandler: “Could I be failing to disclose more financial assets?"
- Monica, that time when she threw an offshore tax haven–themed surprise birthday party for Ross
- Joey, every time he says, “How you doin’?”
Answer: Trick question! Mnuchin is obviously a total Phoebe.
10. What am I looking at here?
- Making America Great Again: The Ride
- The “Trump Unity Bridge,” a trailer created by Detroit resident Rob Cortis and the reported culprit in a collision with a D.C. school bus
- One more reason why I’m not going into the office today
- It doesn’t look like anything to me
Answer: It doesn’t look like anything to me.
11. How many of the six forms of mortal sin described by Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiæ are personally exemplified by President Donald Trump?
Answer: It’s B! President Trump is good on presumption, ignorance, envy, impenitence, and obstinacy—but not so much despair. Sad!
12. What could possibly go wrong?
- . . .
- . . .
- . . .
- . . .
Answer: This could be just his first inauguration.