The Library of Virginia
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper Since 1851, Virginia's governors have been elected by popular vote to a single term. Most of Virginia's early governors took their oath of office in simple ceremonies in the Capitol. Custom held that parades, balls, and other public events were unseemly to the dignity of the office. A justice administered the oath. To celebrate the occasion new governors frequently received guests at the Executive Mansion or in the Capitol. Frederick W. M. Holliday had very different ideas about his inauguration on 1 January 1878. Newspaper accounts described the event as "an imposing pageant" with "interesting and unusual ceremonies." Under bright skies, the gubernatorial party was escorted from Main Street to Capitol Square in a circuitous route that snaked through downtown Richmond. Among those in the procession were the Richmond fire department, Richmond police, and military units, including the Band and Drum Corps from Holliday's hometown, Winchester. Holliday and his colleagues entered the Senate chamber for the administration of the oaths of office before Governor Holliday delivered his inaugural speech from the south portico of the Capitol to a crowd estimated at ten or twelve thousand. Holliday's successors reverted to quiet ceremonies without large public displays, although Fitzhugh Lee's inauguration concluded with an inaugural ball.


Engraving courtesy of The Library of Virginia