January 20, 1949
THE DAY WAS CHILLY, BUT A BRILLIANT SUN SHONE OVER THE ELECTION FESTIVITIES. The crowds in Washington that day were overwhelming: over a million people gathered to take part in the most elaborate inauguration in history. The first inauguration ever broadcast on national television was an elaborate one; an estimated ten million Americans viewed the celebration via television, with one hundred million more listening over the radio.
The Republican Congress, so sure of its return to presidential power in 1948, had allocated an unheard of $80,000 for the festivities; in their celebratory fever, the Democrats decided to spend every penny of it.