Reelected using the slogan “he kept us out of war,” Woodrow Wilson used his second inaugural address on March 5, 1917, to prepare the nation for entering World War I.
“The currents of our thoughts as well as the currents of our trade run quick at all seasons back and forth between us and them,” he said. “The war inevitably set its mark from the first alike upon our minds, our industries, our commerce, our politics and our social action. To be indifferent to it, or independent of it, was out of the question.”
Less than a month after his inauguration, on April 2, 1917, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany.
Since the real inauguration day fell on a Sunday, Wilson was the first president to be sworn in privately the day before the public ceremony.
The event was also a historical one for women and first ladies. Edith Galt Wilson, the president's second wife, was the first first lady to travel with the president both to and from the ceremony at the Capitol. It also marked the first time women participated in the inaugural parade.