Such an event did not become tradition until 1809, when Dolley Madison hosted a gala at Long’s Hotel in Washington DC, after the first inauguration of her husband, James Madison, the 4th US president. A total of 400 tickets were sold for $4 each.
By 1833, two balls were held for the second inauguration of Andrew Jackson and in 1841, a third ball was added for the inauguration of William Henry Harrison. For the inaugurations of Zachary Taylor in 1849, James Buchanan in 1857, and the second inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant in 1873, temporary buildings were constructed at Judiciary Square.
In 1865, a ball was held for Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration in the Model Room at the United States Patent Office, the first ball held in a government building, while in 1869, Grant during his first inauguration, was honored with an inaugural ball held at the Treasury Building. Between 1885 and 1909, inaugural balls were held at the National Museum Building (now the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building) and the Pension Building (now the National Building Museum).
Words of Wisdom
Discarding the somber Quaker dress after her second marriage, Dolley chose the finest of fashions. A chronicler wrote: She looked a Queen ... It would be absolutely impossible for any one to behave with more perfect propriety than she did.