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Transition of power, throughout the years: Most cases peaceful, some awkward

What has the transition looked like after an incumbent president lost his re-election bid? We’ll show you

Bill Clinton receives a hug from wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea, following his inauguration into the Presidency. Pictured in the background is outgoing president George H.W. Bush, who Clinton defeated in the 1992 election. (Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis
Bill Clinton receives a hug from wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea, following his inauguration into the Presidency. Pictured in the background is outgoing president George H.W. Bush, who Clinton defeated in the 1992 election. (Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis (Getty Images)

Transition of presidential power isn’t always easy.

When President Donald Trump lost November 2020′s election, it marked just the 11th time in U.S. history an incumbent president was beaten in a re-election bid.

On the surface, it seems like it might be an awkward transition -- in which the current president vacates his office and is forced to witness the inauguration of his successor. But a majority of the transitions throughout history have been peaceful.

Here are the 10 previous times an incumbent president lost a re-election bid:


1800

John Adams was defeated in a re-election bid by Thomas Jefferson, and while he loathed Jefferson and didn’t attend his inauguration, Adams ceded the office peacefully, according to History. In the middle of the night before the inauguration was scheduled to start, Adams departed Washington, D.C. and started his post-presidential life.

1828


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