Foul Weather Spoils Inauguration

Good weather was expected for the inauguration of President Taft in 1909. Carlisle Indian School students had been a staple of inaugural parades for some time and began making preparations for the parade as early as late November of the previous year when The Carlisle Arrow announced that the tailoring department was to make 350 cadet capes for Taft’s inauguration in early March. (Yes, inaugurations were held about six weeks later in those days.) Later issues monitored the status of the cape production. But when the inauguration came and passed, The Carlisle Arrow had nothing to say about it. How could this be when the Carlisle contingent had been so prominent in Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade?

The answer, it appears, has to do with the state-of-the-art of weather forecasting at that time. High winds and 10 inches of snow where what Washingtonians got instead of the fair weather that was predicted. Cold temperatures that accompanied the blizzard caused the swearing-in ceremony and the speechifying that are part of it to be relocated to the Senate, but didn’t cancel the parade. The parade was held but was smaller than expected. Newspaper coverage, like that of the Carlisle Indian School publications, contained no mention of the Carlisle contingency marching in the parade. News reports on the weather described how the snowstorm shutdown transportation in and out of the Capital. Trains from all four directions were blocked by the snow and couldn’t get into town. West Point cadets got a lot of press for actually marching in the parade, enthusiastically at that, after getting off their train in Baltimore and marching 40 miles to get to the parade route.

It seems likely that the 350 Carlisle boys were on one of those trains that didn’t make it into the city and missed the parade. The March 12 issue of The Carlisle Arrow related, “Several of our students had the satisfaction of seeing the inaugural parade at Washington.” Those students most likely weren’t part of the contingent who were to have marched.

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