Published: January 18, 2013

As the rest of Washington looks forward to the next four years, BackStory is looking back — at the last 224 years of presidential transitions. On today’s show, the History Guys focus in on several of the most high-stakes presidential inaugurations, and ask what these moments tell us about the social and political forces at work around them.

Why was Washington’s voice trembling when he took the Oath of Office? Why did Lincoln’s contemporaries greet his now-famous second inaugural… with a shrug? What incoming president in the 1870s feared the specter of a rival inauguration by armed opponents? And in the larger scheme of things, why do inaugurations really matter, anyway?