Today in 1863, Union General Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac began an offensive against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia following the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 13, 1862.
The attack bogged down as several days of heavy rain turned the roads of Virginia into a muddy quagmire. The “Mud March” was abandoned three days later. The operation was a complete fiasco, and on January 23 Burnside gave up his attempt to, in his words, “strike a great and mortal blow to the rebellion.” The campaign was considered so disastrous that Burnside was removed as commander of the army on January 25.
The line separating country from rock and roll was particularly blurry during Jerry Lee Lewis’ rise to fame, when songs like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” rose higher on the country charts—all the way to #1—than they did on the pop charts.
Today in 1973, Jerry Lee put the full complexity of his musical background and colorful personality on display with his invitation to the Grand Ole Opry. “I am a rock-and-rollin’, country-and-western, rhythm-and-blues singing [expletive]!” Lewis declared from country music’s greatest stage before launching into a set that included all of the late 50s rock-and-roll classics he’d promised Opry officials not to play.
Today in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated for the second time as president, beginning the second of four terms in the office. His first inauguration in 1933 was on March 4.
Originally, the terms of the President, the Vice President and the incoming Congress began on March 4, four months after the elections were held. While this lapse was a practical necessity at the end of the 18th century, when any newly-elected official might require several months to put his affairs in order and then undertake an arduous journey from his home to the national capital, it eventually had the effect of impeding the functioning of government in the modern age.
The 20th amendment establishing the beginning of the president’s (and vice president’s) term of office on January 20 was ratified January 23, 1933. The 20th amendment also establishes the term of a senator or representative beginning on January 3.
The 22nd amendment limiting the president to two terms of office was ratified March 21, 1947.
Since 1933, Americans have witnessed, either through radio or television, the swearing-in ceremonies of more than ten presidents. Some have been more memorable than others.