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Inauguration of Joe Biden

09-12-2021 · The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States took place on January 20, 2021, marking the start of the four-year term of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president. The 59th presidential inauguration took place on the West Front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Biden took the presidential oath of office, before which Harris took the ...

09-12-2021
59th United States presidential inauguration
Biden oath of office.jpg
Presidential inauguration of
Joe Biden
Joe Biden takes the oath of office as the 46th president of the United States.
DateJanuary 20, 2021; 10 months ago (2021-01-20)LocationUnited States Capitol,
Washington, D.C.Organized byJoint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Inaugural CommitteeParticipantsJoe Biden
46th President of the United States
— Assuming office
John Roberts
Chief Justice of the United States
— Administering oath
Kamala Harris
49th Vice President of the United States
— Assuming office
Sonia Sotomayor
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
— Administering oathInaugurational Seal of Joe Biden.svg
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The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States took place on January 20, 2021, marking the start of the four-year term of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president. The 59th presidential inauguration took place on the West Front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Biden took the presidential oath of office, before which Harris took the vice presidential oath of office.

The inauguration took place amidst extraordinary political, public health, economic, and national security crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election, which incited an attack on the United States Capitol; Trump's second impeachment; and a threat of widespread civil unrest, which stimulated a nationwide law enforcement response. Festivities were sharply curtailed by efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the potential for violence near the Capitol.[1][2] The live audience was limited; members of the Congress attended with one guest of their choosing, resembling a State of the Union address.[3] Public health measures such as mandatory face coverings, testing, temperature checks, and social distancing were used to protect participants in the ceremony.[4]

"America United" and "Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union"—a reference to the Preamble to the United States Constitution—served as the inaugural themes.[5]

Context

Main article: Presidential transition of Joe Biden

The inauguration marked the formal culmination of the presidential transition of Joe Biden, who had become president-elect after defeating Donald Trump on November 3, 2020.[6] The victory of Biden and his running mate, Harris, was formalized by the Electoral College vote, which took place on December 14, 2020.[7] In accordance with Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution, Harris resigned her seat in the U.S. Senate effective noon on January 18, 2021.[8] Trump repeatedly falsely disputed the legitimacy of the election, but committed to an orderly transition of power exactly two months after losing.[9]

Upon his inauguration, Biden became the oldest president at 78 years and 61 days, older upon taking office than Ronald Reagan, who left office at 77 years and 349 days. He also became the first president from Delaware, the second Catholic after John F. Kennedy, and the fifteenth former vice president to serve as president.[10][11] Harris became the first woman to hold a nationally elected office, first African American, and first Asian American vice president.

Organizers

Joint Congressional Committee

The swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris was planned by the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a bipartisan committee composed of United States Senators Roy Blunt (chairman), Mitch McConnell, and Amy Klobuchar, and United States Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Kevin McCarthy.[12][5] The committee is overseen by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.[5]

On December 8, 2020, Republican members of the committee voted against a resolution that would have publicly recognized Biden as the president-elect and Harris as the vice president-elect.[13] After Biden's win was certified by the Electoral College, Blunt and several other Republican senators finally acknowledged him as the president-elect, stating that he will facilitate communications with Biden's presidential inaugural committee to prepare for the inauguration.[14]

Presidential Inaugural Committee

The 2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee organized several other inauguration‑related events at the direction of the President‑elect and Vice President‑elect of the United States. The committee was led by Jim Clyburn, Eric Garcetti, Cedric Richmond, Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Gretchen Whitmer (co-chairs), Tony Allen (chief executive officer), Maju Varghese (executive director), Yvanna Cancela and Erin Wilson (deputy executive directors), David A. Kessler (chief medical adviser), and Adrienne Elrod (director of talent and external affairs).[15] The committee hired Stephanie Cutter and Ricky Kirshner, who produced the largely virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, along with Glenn Weiss to organize the inaugural programming.[16]

Theme and programming

The Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies chose the inaugural theme "Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union" to highlight the inaugural ceremony as a "hallmark of American governance and democracy" and stress the peaceful transition of power.[5]

Allen, Biden Inaugural Committee CEO, said the events would "look different amid the pandemic" but maintain inaugural traditions while engaging Americans in a safe manner.[15] This included several virtual concerts and events hosted by celebrities, featuring live musical performances and speeches that spanned five days—Saturday, January 16, 2021, through the evening of Inauguration Day.[17] The committee's inaugural theme was "America United" and its official YouTube channel and other social media featured exclusive content related to the ceremonies.[18]

Planning

On September 3, 2020, the Capitol Police Board announced that public access to the West Front of the United States Capitol would be restricted from September 7, 2020, to February 28, 2021, to "allow for the safe and secure construction of the Inaugural platform, stands, and other infrastructure necessary to support the event".[19] Construction began on September 29, 2020.[20] The traditional "first nail ceremony" commemorating the start of construction of the inaugural platform was not held because it coincided with the death and state funeral of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice.[21] The platform can support 1,600 spectators. However, far fewer were permitted for this event, due to attendance restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[4] Another 1,000 people, often choirs and musical guests, are traditionally situated on risers above the platform, but these were not used at full capacity for this event.[5]

Costs

Compared to past inaugurations, the drastic reduction in crowd size at Biden's inauguration was expected to reduce costs.[22] Typically, presidential inaugurations cost about US0 million.[22] In September 2020, prior to implementing attendance restrictions, costs were estimated to exceed US.9 million, with the District of Columbia's costs incurred in connection with the event being reimbursed by the federal government.[23] However, the storming of the Capitol two weeks prior to the inauguration on January 6, along with threats of nationwide unrest, significantly increased the need for security.[24] John Sandweg, a former Homeland Security Department official, remarked that the United States Secret Service likely has a surplus of funds because of lower-than-usual expenses during the 2020 campaign season, when presidential nominating conventions were mostly virtual and the travel of presidential candidates was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[22]

Inaugural platform at the United States Capitol

Security and counter-terrorism efforts

Main article: Security preparations for the inauguration of Joe Biden
Further information: 2021 United States Capitol attack
The inaugural platform occupied by pro-Trump rioters during the storming of the United States Capitol, fourteen days before the inauguration

The storming of the United States Capitol on January 6 raised concerns about the security of the inauguration.[25][26] However, Biden chose not to move the ceremony indoors, indicating that he believed a public, outdoor ceremony was necessary to demonstrate strength.[27] In response, organizers and officials made an unprecedented effort to secure the Capitol during the ceremony and deter people from visiting Washington, D.C., during the week of the inauguration over concerns of political violence. While several individuals were arrested near the Capitol in the days preceding the event for carrying illegal weapons,[28] disobeying police,[29] and trespassing,[30] and a fire near a homeless encampment prompted an evacuation of the grounds,[31] the ceremony proceeded without incident.[32] A heightened security presence remained in the city through the end of the month.[33]

Security operations

Troops resting on the floor of Emancipation Hall inside the Capitol

The inauguration, like all ceremonies since the first inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001, was designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE).[24] However, following the attack and reports of subsequent threats to disrupt Biden's inauguration and incite nationwide unrest, the Secret Service launched a security operation that surpassed any in modern U.S. history.[25][34] The Secret Service established a Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC) to coordinate security—formed six days earlier than planned—composed of agents and representatives from many government agencies (such as the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Defense Department, Park Police, and D.C. Metro Police) and private companies (including a gas company, CSX railroad, and Amtrak).[25] Combined efforts included:

  • Activating more than 25,000 National Guard forces into the city—which may have been the highest since the American Civil War[35]—as a part of Operation Capitol Response, with members arriving from all U.S. states, three territories, and the District of Columbia itself.[36]
  • Installing "non-scalable" seven foot-high crowd control barriers and jersey barriers with razor wire atop around the perimeter of the Capitol grounds.[37]
  • Deputizing up to 4,000 local law enforcement officers from across the nation via the Marshals Service.[34]
  • Strengthening aviation security at the three D.C.-area airports, increasing the use of random gate screenings, explosive detection dogs, and federal air marshals,[35][38] and tightening D.C. airspace restrictions.[39][40] Many major airlines also banned incoming travelers from checking firearms on board flights.[41]
  • Assigning 750 active-duty military personnel to specialized units (including CBRN defenses, bomb squads, logistics and communications personnel, and medical personnel),[39] and aircraft and watercraft, including U.S. Coast Guard cutters and U.S. Air Force fighter jets.[39]
  • The House Oversight Committee asked 27 transportation and hotel companies, including Avis, Hertz, Marriott, and Hyatt, to implement screening procedures to prevent the use of their services by domestic terrorists targeting the inauguration.[42]
Security-related site restrictions in and around the National Mall, Southwest D.C., Capitol Hill, and downtown Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day

Travel restrictions and site closures

  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged tourists not to visit the city,[43] and the Office of Personnel Management asked federal agencies to allow federal employees to work remotely.[38]
  • The National Mall, which served as a non-ticketed viewing area in past ceremonies, and Washington Monument at its geographic center, were closed to the public.[44] Much of the surrounding downtown area near Capitol Hill, Union Station, the Lincoln Memorial, and White House came under significant parking restrictions and road closures.[45][46]
  • Many Metrorail stations,[47]Metrobus routes,[48]Amtrak,[49]MARC,[50] and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail service lines were modified or suspended.
  • Airbnb canceled all reservations in the city,[51] and a local hotel workers' union called on hotels to restrict guests to those providing inauguration security.[52]
  • The U.S. Postal Service temporarily removed or locked public post boxes and suspended mail collection in Washington and several major U.S. cities to "protect postal property, employees, and the public".[53]
  • The State of Virginia closed four bridges connecting to D.C.—Theodore Roosevelt, Arlington Memorial, Interstate 395, and 14th Street.[54] A stretch of 10 miles (16 km) of the Potomac River between the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge was closed to marine traffic.[55]

Pre-inaugural events

America United inaugural welcome

On the Saturday before the inauguration, America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America's Changemakers, opened the inaugural program through a series of musical performances and political speeches.[56][17] The live-streamed event opened with an original performance of "Everybody Deserves To Be Free" by the Resistance Revival Choir, a group of female and non-binary protest singers,[57] featuring a lead vocal by soul artist Deva Mahal.[56]

The Pledge of Allegiance was then led by members of the Girl Scouts. Mexican American producer Cristela Alonzo hosted the program, remarking that Biden's inauguration will be "the beginning of the next chapter" in American history.[56]New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland then recounted the history of America's indigenous peoples, and introduced Quechan Indian tribal nation leader Claudette White, who joined in the performance of a traditional song.[56] After the performance, several female political organizers appeared and discussed the significance of Harris's election as the first female vice president.[56] Alonzo then introduced actor Nik Dodani, who emphasized the importance of Biden's inauguration, and civil rights activist Janet Murguía, who spoke of the political successes of women of color in the 2020 presidential election.[56] International, national, and local union leaders, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and National Education Association president Rebecca S. Pringle, along with leaders representing firefighters, government and service sector employees, steel, auto, postal, food, and communications workers then hailed Biden's win as a success for workers in their respective industries, citing his support of their causes, such as the Fight for .[56]

Actress Whoopi Goldberg then appeared and said she feels "optimistic" for the nation under Biden's and Harris's leadership, and actor and musician Darren Criss then performed a cover of "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher".[56][58]Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Georgia, an early endorser of Biden's 2020 campaign,[59] then joined, saying Biden "will ensure that all Americans ... have their voices heard".[56] Musical group the Black Pumas then performed their song "Colors" and said they are "looking forward to a new sense of optimism, unity and peace" for all Americans.[58] Concluding the event, New York Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced Harris, who said that she "stands on the shoulders" of those who created opportunities for women, particularly African-American women, to participate and lead in politics.[17][56]

Official musical playlist

The Biden Inaugural Committee released an official musical playlist of 46 songs (symbolizing Biden as the 46th president) that was curated by disc jockey D-Nice and music label Raedio,[60] created by actress Issa Rae.[61] The playlist was part of the committee's efforts to have Americans participate from home for the inauguration.[62] The playlist, released on all major streaming platforms, included Biden, Harris, and their spouses' "walk-on songs", which were played when they appeared on stage at campaign rallies.[60][62] According to Rolling Stone, Biden's "walk-on song" was "We Take Care of Our Own" by Bruce Springsteen; Jill Biden's was "You Make My Dreams (Come True)" by Hall & Oates; Harris's was "Work That" by Mary J. Blige; and Emhoff's was "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals.[60] Committee CEO Allen remarked that the musical selections "reflect the relentless spirit and rich diversity of America" and served as the "score to a new chapter" in American history as Biden and Harris begin their "important work to unite [the] country".[60][62]

"We the People" virtual concert

On the Sunday before the inauguration, Biden's inaugural committee organized the virtual "We the People" concert fundraiser co-hosted by actor Keegan-Michael Key and actress Debra Messing.[63] Attendees of the live-streamed event had to donate to the Biden Inaugural Committee to be allowed entry.[64] The concert opened with Biden and his wife, Jill, thanking supporters of his campaign and acknowledging the lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic; Biden remarked that it is the "honor of [his] lifetime" to serve as president.[64]

Musician Ben Harper was the first musical performance of the night, playing his song "With My Own Two Hands".[65] Singer Michael Bivins made a video appearance and thanked viewers for their donations. Band AJR then performed their song "Bummerland".[65] Singer Barbra Streisand then joined to congratulate Biden and Harris, calling for them to "restore the health" of the United States and world; she also performed her rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again", an American standard.[65][64] Messing introduced actor and former Barack Obama administration member Kal Penn, who reflected on the importance of the inauguration and hope of a "brighter future".[65] Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, then joined via video link to thank supporters and list the issues they will face in leading the nation.[64]

Rapper will.i.am then performed "American Dream",[65] a charity single supporting his fundraising initiative for the i.am Angel Foundation to expand STEM education for underprivileged students.[66] Actress and activist Sophia Bush later appeared to thank donors to the inaugural committee, and musician Carole King performed her Grammy Award-winning song "You've Got a Friend".[67] Mexican actor Jaime Camil then delivered a short address on immigration, and James Taylor performed "America the Beautiful", which he also played at the 2013 inauguration.[68][69] Actress Connie Britton reflected on political unity and the time she met then-Vice President Biden at the 2016 United State of Women Summit.[68] Musical act Fall Out Boy performed their song "Centuries" in a pre-recorded video.[65]Cher then addressed Biden's and Harris's win, saying that she is "thrilled" and "optimistic" for them to lead the nation; she then performed a cover of Miley Cyrus's song "I Hope You Find It".[64] In concluding the event, DJ Cassidy addressed viewers and sampled music.[65]

National Day of Service

A social media graphic from the Biden Inaugural Committee regarding the National Day of Service

Two days before Inauguration Day, January 18, 2021, was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal holiday that recognizes Dr. King's birthday. Biden and his inaugural committee encouraged Americans to engage in acts of community service and organized more than 2,500 virtual or socially distant volunteer events in 56 U.S. states and territories in partnership with AmeriCorps.[70] The committee recommended several volunteer activities aimed at improving people's economic, health, and social well-being,[71] including writing cards for those recovering from COVID-19, knitting sentimental items for the homeless, serving at "contactless" food and clothing donation drives, and participating in community cleanups.[72] Biden and his wife volunteered at Philabundance, a non-profit food bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by helping box canned goods.[73] Harris and her husband volunteered in Washington, D.C.[74]

United We Serve online event

On the evening of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Biden inaugural committee celebrated Dr. King's commitment to community service through virtual speeches and music in United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service.[75][76] Co-hosts Sean Patrick Thomas and Lynn Whitfield introduced the event and commended the acts of volunteerism Americans participated in during the day of service; both Harris and her husband, Emhoff, appeared and discussed the importance of the inauguration and community service.[76] Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King III, daughter-in-law, Andrea, and granddaughter, Yolanda, discussed community service; his youngest daughter, Bernice King, then spoke at a pulpit and remarked on her late father's practice of nonviolence.[75] Musician Aloe Blacc performed his song "My Way";[77]cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed Air and Simple Gifts, a composition he also performed at the 2009 inauguration in the presence of then-Vice President-elect Biden;[78]Andra Day performed her song "Rise Up"; BeBe Winans sang Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech;[79]Alejandro Fernández and band Maná performed "Decepciones";[80] and Chesca and Diane Warren performed "El Cambio", which was frequently played during Biden's campaign. Additional speakers included Al Sharpton, NAACP president Derrick Johnson, National Urban League president Marc Morial, Senators Cory Booker and Tammy Duckworth, Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids, actress Rosario Dawson, and several other academics and civil rights activists who spoke on the legacy of Dr. King.[77]

The National Mall covered with flags representing inaugural attendees who were unable to attend in person

Field of Flags

Across the National Mall to 13th Street, a public art display composed of 191,500 U.S. flags and 56 pillars of light (representing the 50 U.S. states, D.C., and the five permanently inhabited U.S. territories), were installed, representing those who could not attend the inauguration in person due to the attendance restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[81][82] The field was lit the evening of January 18.[83]

Lincoln Memorial lighting

Biden, Harris, and their spouses at the Lincoln Memorial lighting ceremony

On Tuesday, January 19, Biden departed his home state of Delaware in a send-off ceremony at his late son Beau Biden's namesake Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle;[84] the event included remarks from Delaware Governor John Carney, Biden, his wife Jill, and a benediction by Rabbi Michael S. Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington.[85] Later that day, Biden, Harris, and their spouses participated in a nationwide lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.[86] Inaugural organizers invited communities around the United States to light buildings and ring church bells at 5:30 p.m. ET on the eve of the inauguration in a moment of "unity and remembrance" for those lost to the pandemic.[86] The Lincoln Memorial lighting was held simultaneously, providing a moment of national reflection to help Americans find the spirit to rebuild after the pandemic.[87] Cardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, delivered the ceremony's invocation; gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang "Hallelujah" and Michigan nurse Lori Marie Key performed "Amazing Grace". Both Biden and Harris, in their addresses, emphasized the importance of national grieving, with Biden saying it's "how [Americans] heal".[84] Several national landmarks participated in the lighting ceremony, including the Empire State Building, Space Needle, and buildings in major U.S. cities and on tribal lands.[87]Washington National Cathedral tolled its bells four hundred times, each one in memory of a thousand Americans who had died, thus far, in the COVID-19 pandemic.[88]

Other virtual events

Asian American and Pacific Islanders

Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were celebrated in AAPI Inaugural Ball: Breaking Barriers, a partnership between the inaugural committee, and advocacy organizations IMPACT and RUN AAPI.[89][77] The event featured remarks and musical performances from Neera Tanden, Congresspeople Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Andy Kim, and Raja Krishnamoorthi; former Olympian Michelle Kwan; actors Kal Penn, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani, and Chloe Bennet;[90] and musical performances by Japanese Breakfast,[89] Ari Afsar, Raja Kumari, and others.[77]

African Americans

African Americans were celebrated in We Are One, hosted by Terrence J, through "inspiring stories and entertaining performances".[91] Politicians Stacey Abrams, congresspeople Jim Clyburn, Cedric Richmond, Joyce Beatty, Senator Cory Booker, and Senator-elect Raphael Warnock appeared.[77] Actors and actresses, including Leslie Jones and Kim Fields, were also featured; musical acts Tobe Nwigwe, DJ D-Nice, Frankie Beverly, The O'Jays, Rapsody, and Step Afrika!, among others, performed.[77] The event also included a Battle of the Bands, featuring several historically black college marching bands from around the nation.[77][91]Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority president Glenda Glover and Howard University president Wayne A. I. Frederick delivered remarks.[92]

Hispanic and Latino Americans

Hispanic and Latino Americans were celebrated in Latino Inaugural 2021: Inheritance, Resilience, and Promise, hosted by Eva Longoria, in partnership with many Hispanic advocacy groups, including the Hispanic Federation.[77][91] Entertainment figures John Leguizamo, Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, Ivy Queen, and Becky G appeared along with many civil and voting rights advocates and U.S. senators Ben Ray Luján, Bob Menendez, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Alex Padilla (Harris's senatorial designate).[77] Musical performers included Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gaby Moreno (featuring David Garza), who performed "Fronteras",[77]Lin-Manuel Miranda and Luis Miranda paid tribute to Puerto Rico through the song "En Mi Viejo San Juan",[90] Mariachi Nuevo Santander, who performed American folk song "This Land is Your Land"; and All-Star Tejanos United, an act from Roma, Texas, performed "America the Beautiful: A Salute to the Latino Imprint".[93]The Wailers performed the Emilio Estefan production "One World, One Prayer", featuring relatives of Jamaican musician Bob Marley.[91]

Train ride

Biden originally planned to travel to Washington, D.C., from Wilmington, Delaware, on an Amtrak passenger train, which he routinely took during his time as a U.S. Senator. However, on January 14, this plan was canceled due to security concerns.[94] On January 20, 2017, after completing his tenure as vice president, Biden departed the city on an Amtrak Acela train bound for his namesake station in Wilmington.[95]

Inauguration Day morning

Biden and his wife spent the night of January 19 at Blair House, the President's Guest House—a custom for incoming presidents.[96] Traditionally, the president-elect meets with the outgoing president at the White House on the morning of their inauguration after a church service. Since Trump did not attend the inaugural ceremony—becoming the first outgoing president to not attend since Andrew Johnson in 1869[97]—and did not communicate with Biden directly since the second presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, this tradition was not upheld.[98] Before each of his inaugurations as vice president, Biden attended a Catholic Mass celebrated by Kevin O'Brien. In 2013, this service was at the vice president's residence.[99] Biden and his wife, along with the second family attended a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by O'Brien at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington.[100] Biden extended invitations to the four congressional leaders from both parties—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—and all four accepted.[101]

Trump greets a crowd of supporters during his farewell ceremony

Trump departure ceremony

Trump departed for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the morning of the inauguration out of Joint Base Andrews aboard Air Force One.[102][103] Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, landed on the tarmac in helicopter Marine One.[104] Cannons fired in salute, after a military band played "Hail to the Chief", in front of a modest crowd of a few hundred aides and other loyalists.[105] Trump's White House had issued invitations for the event to many present and former administration officials. Several invitees who have been critical of Trump, such as Don McGahn, John F. Kelly, and Anthony Scaramucci, declined to attend.[106][84]

Trump was only the fifth outgoing United States president not to attend their successor's inauguration, after John Adams in 1801, John Quincy Adams in 1829, Martin Van Buren in 1841, and Andrew Johnson in 1869.[107]

Before departing, Trump delivered short remarks at a podium bearing the presidential seal, telling his supporters "we will be back in some form."[104][103][108] A number of songs played as he boarded the airplane, many of which featured prominently at Trump rallies; this included "Macho Man" and "Y.M.C.A.", as well as "Fortunate Son", "Funeral for a Friend", and "Billie Jean".[109] As Air Force One lifted off, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played—the song Trump and his wife danced to during his inaugural ball four years prior.[103]

Trump delivered his official farewell address, a recorded online video, the day before the inauguration. Without naming Biden, he referred to the "inauguration of a new administration", saying that "we pray for its success at keeping America safe and prosperous."[110][111] In keeping with tradition, Trump left Biden a letter of support in the Resolute desk.[112] When asked about the letter, Biden said it was "generous", but refused to provide details.[113] Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence attended Biden's inauguration, then departed for his home state of Indiana, where a group of supporters, including his brother, Indiana Congressman Greg Pence, welcomed him.[84]

"Our White House" online event

Beginning two hours before the outset of the inaugural ceremony, actress Keke Palmer hosted Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans, a livestream aimed at engaging youth in the day's events.[114] Jill Biden addressed viewers in a pre-recorded message, and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erica Armstrong Dunbar discussed the ceremony's significance; a Nickelodeon special on White House pets and PBS NewsHour student interviews aired, along with other curated educational content.[114]

Inaugural events

Presidential communications

The transfer of power included the transition of official administration Twitter accounts, @POTUS and @VP. Members of the Biden administration also assumed ownership of a number of institutional accounts, including @WhiteHouse, @FLOTUS for First Lady Jill Biden, @SecondGentleman for Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, and @PressSec for White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.[115] New executive branch websites were initialized; previous administrations' websites reside in the National Archives.[116]

COVID-19 public health measures and attendance

Most traditional inaugural festivities were conducted virtually, primarily modeled after the 2020 Democratic National Convention.[117] The ceremony took place outdoors on the West Front of the United States Capitol, the site of every inauguration since Ronald Reagan's in 1981. While members of Congress, in previous years, would receive 200,000 tickets to distribute among constituents, on this occasion, each member was allotted one guest ticket,[118] with many taking their spouses.[119] Only about three thousand people were to be permitted into the secure perimeter areas,[120] and the total live attendance for the scaled-down event was to be just over a thousand,[121] with guests seated both on the inaugural platform and in front of the platform.[119]

The decision to limit attendance was made by the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies based on consultation with public health experts.[118] According to historian Jim Bendat, COVID-19 prevention and security measures instituted for Biden's inauguration would make it the smallest ceremony since Franklin D. Roosevelt's fourth inauguration in 1945, when the inaugural was held at the White House before an audience of just a thousand people due to Roosevelt's poor health and the ongoing world war.[122]

Outgoing President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump did not attend the ceremony, the first time an incumbent skipped their successor's inauguration since Andrew Johnson refused to attend the first inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant in 1869. Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama (whom Biden served under as vice president), along with respective former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama, attended. Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter did not, as they were unable to travel.[123] Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence also attended.[124][125] Apart from Pence and Biden himself, Dan Quayle was the only other living former vice president who attended the ceremony.[126][127] For the first time in more than two decades, not every U.S. Supreme Court justice attended: Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito, the oldest members of the Court, opted not to attend in light of the COVID-19 health risks, while the other six justices attended.[128] Other attendees included the family members of Biden and Harris,[119]Biden's Cabinet nominees,[119] various ambassadors to the United States,[129][130] and other dignitaries.[131] For the first time, the representative of Taiwan in the United States (the country's de facto ambassador) was invited to attend a presidential inauguration, with Hsiao Bi-khim attending the ceremony.[132]

Ceremony

File:Lady Gaga performsPlay media
Lady Gaga performing the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner"

The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets played ruffles and flourishes. The U.S. Marine Band (nicknamed "The President's Own") played a medley of patriotic music by Sousa, Bagley, and others; heralded the entry of dignitaries to the inaugural platform, including the performance of "Hail, America" to introduce then-President-elect Biden; performed "Hail, Columbia" (the official anthem of the vice president) to introduce then-Vice President Pence and after Harris was sworn in, and "Hail to the Chief" (the official anthem of the president) after Biden was sworn in. The band had appeared at every presidential inauguration since Thomas Jefferson's in 1801.[133][134] Courtney Williams, Senior Chief Musician and concert moderator for the U.S. Navy Concert Band, returned as the platform announcer for his fourth consecutive inauguration.[135]

Poet Amanda Gorman recites "The Hill We Climb"

Senator Amy Klobuchar opened the ceremony with a short speech, saying the storming of the Capitol two weeks prior "awakened us to our responsibilities as Americans"; she declared the inaugural day "the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation".[136][137] Senator Roy Blunt, chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the master of ceremonies, delivered a short speech expounding the Constitution's Preamble, noting that unlike the Articles of Confederation or the Magna Carta, it roots and establishes law and authority in "We the People". Blunt remarked that the endeavor to create a "more perfect Union" is a continuing project and "we are more than we have been and we are less than we hope to be."[138]

Leo J. O'Donovan, a Catholic priest and former president of Georgetown University,[139][140] invoked the "gracious and merciful God" in praying for Biden and Harris to "care for the common good with malice toward none and with charity for all", and quoted Archbishop John Carroll, Pope Francis, and the Epistle of James.[141]Lady Gaga then sang the national anthem,[142] wearing a custom design gown and brooch by Schiaparelli.[143] The Georgia firefighters' union leader Andrea Hall led the Pledge of Allegiance, using American Sign Language in addition to speaking. Jennifer Lopez performed her renditions of "This Land Is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful", and during the bridge she translated the last stanza of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish: "¡una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos!"

After the inaugural address (see below), Garth Brooks performed "Amazing Grace" (including the verse "When we've been there ten thousand years"), and asked the public to join him in singing the final verse; and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recited her poem "The Hill We Climb".[144][145][146] At 22, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet.[145] Silvester Beaman, a Methodist pastor of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and a friend of Biden, delivered the benediction paraphrasing Isaiah 11 by replacing both in the messianic role of the "shoot from the stump of Jesse", and in the yet-to-be-reconciled role of the "wolf" and "lamb", with references to "We the People"—saying, for example, "We will not kill or destroy on all your Holy Mountain," and "We will not learn hate anymore."[140]

Biden was sworn in on a Bible that has been in his family since 1893—the same one he used during his senatorial and vice presidential swearing-in ceremonies—held by his wife.[147] It is a late 19th-century edition of the Douay–Rheims Bible, with commentary by George Leo Haydock.[148] The Bible is large—five inches (12.7 cm) thick—and has a Celtic cross on the front.[149] Biden's inauguration marked the first time a Catholic Chief Justice administered the oath to an incoming Catholic president.[150] Harris was sworn in on two Bibles held by her husband, one belonging to Regina Shelton, a person important to her and her sister Maya Harris, and another belonging to former Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.[151]

Oaths of office

Harris takes the oath of office, administered by Justice Sotomayor
File:Joe Biden takes the presidential oath of office.webmPlay media
Biden taking the oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Roberts

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath of office to Harris at 11:40 a.m. Sotomayor became the first woman to administer an inaugural oath twice after she administered Biden's at his 2013 swearing-in.[151] Harris recited the following:

I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.]

Chief Justice John Roberts then administered Biden's oath of office at 11:47 a.m., with 13 minutes remaining in Trump's term.[152][153] Biden recited the following, as prescribed by the Constitution:

I, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. [So help me God.]

Upon completing the oath, the U.S. Army Band ("Pershing's Own") played four ruffles and flourishes, but a 21-gun cannon salute was not rendered, which caused a brief delay in the proceedings before Biden was able to deliver his inaugural address. The 21-gun cannon salute for President Biden was later rendered at the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.[154]

The presidential nuclear football, which can authorize a nuclear attack while away from a command center, was discreetly given to military aides of the new administration during the ceremony; however, Trump's absence did not change the automatic deactivation of his and Pence's nuclear access and activation of Biden and Harris's.[155]

Inaugural Address
Inaugural address of Joe Biden (31:44)
File:The Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States-q5iCPKDp4V4.webmPlay media
Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address on January 20, 2021.

Inaugural address

Wikisource has a transcript of Biden's inaugural address:
Joe Biden's Inaugural Address

The inaugural address was 2,514 words long and took 21 minutes to deliver, between 11:52 a.m. and 12:13 p.m. President Biden's inaugural speech was regarded as laying out his vision to unite the nation prefaced by the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic strife, climate change, political polarization, and racial injustice.[156] Biden composed the speech with the assistance of speechwriter Vinay Reddy, senior advisor Mike Donilon, then-incoming Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and chief of staff Ron Klain.[157] His speech was described by the New York Times as a "direct rebuttal" in tone to Trump's inaugural address (in which Trump spoke of "American carnage"), as Biden called for an end to the "uncivil war" of political, demographic, and ideological American cultures through a greater embrace of diversity.[158] In the speech, Biden repeated his campaign pledge to "fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did".[159][160] Focusing on the struggles of American citizens, Biden expressed sympathy, but stressed that distrust and fighting amongst one another would not better their conditions.[161] He cited the Civil War, Great Depression, world wars, and September 11 attacks as moments in American history where citizens' "better angels" prevailed, saying that the solution—unity—must again be invoked to rise from the "cascading" crises of the present; this unity, he proclaimed, exists in the "common objects" that define America: "opportunity, liberty, dignity, respect, honor, and ... truth".[161][159]

Biden delivers his inaugural address to a socially distant crowd

Biden vocalized his opposition to disinformation and politicians who seek to gain from its weaponization—a passive reference to Trump, who frequently made false or misleading statements while in office.[158] He explicitly decried white supremacy and nativism, calling them an "ugly reality" of American life he vows to defeat that clouds the "American ideal" set out in the U.S. Declaration of Independence—that all Americans are equal.[158][159][162] Biden pledged that the United States would "engage with the world once again"; "repair our alliances"; and act as a "trusted partner for peace and security".[163] His decision, for example, to reinstate American participation in the Paris Agreement via executive order, which Trump withdrew from, signaled his commitment to a global policy on climate change.[164]

Biden also discussed the historical significance of Harris's ascension to the vice presidency, recounting the movements for civil rights and women's suffrage that permitted African Americans and women to participate in politics; he celebrated their inauguration as a "triumph" for democracy, affirming a peaceful transfer of power exactly two weeks after the violent storming of the Capitol.[160][159] Near the conclusion of his speech, Biden held a moment of silence for those who died in the COVID-19 pandemic.[161] Quoting the Gene Scheer composition "American Anthem",[165] he implored Americans to consider their legacy in answering the "call of history" to protect "democracy, hope, truth, and justice", "secure liberty", and make America a "beacon to the world", insisting that generations of their descendants will judge them on their actions.[161] In closing his speech, Biden promised to "always level" with the American people and govern exclusively in their interest.[161]

Post-inaugural events: "America United"

Biden, Harris, and their spouses, participate in a Pass in Review

After the swearing-in ceremony, Biden, Harris, and their spouses participated in a Pass in Review on the East Front of the United States Capitol featuring members of the United States Armed Forces. Traditionally, before the Pass in Review, the new president would escort the outgoing president to a helicopter, Marine One, where they would officially depart Washington, D.C.[166] However, Trump's decision to not attend Biden's inauguration and rather depart prior to the event's outset broke this custom. The congressional luncheon, a tradition witnessed since the 1897 inauguration of William McKinley, was canceled due to public health concerns, the first time since the 1977 inauguration of Jimmy Carter.[167] However, Biden and Harris were presented several gifts in the Capitol rotunda, including Landscape with Rainbow by Robert S. Duncanson, two lead Lenox crystal vases cut by Peter O'Rourke, two flags that had been flown over the Capitol during the inaugural ceremony, and portraits of them taking their oaths of office.[168]

Later in the afternoon, Biden participated in a signing ceremony, proclaiming the day a National Day of Unity and declaring his nominations for Cabinet and sub-Cabinet positions to Congress.[169] In the evening, Harris performed her first vice presidential duty by swearing in Senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock who, respectively, won the January 5 regular and special Georgia Senate runoff elections that yielded a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, along with Alex Padilla, who was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to fill Harris's vacated seat.[170]

Wreath laying ceremony

Biden and Harris lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

Following the Pass in Review, Biden and Harris, along with former presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and all their spouses, participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.[43] Presidential historian Timothy Naftali noted that the ceremony was significant because Congress had decided on Inauguration Day in 1921, almost a hundred years prior to Biden's, to bury an unidentified soldier who died in World War I at the spot.[171] Naftali additionally remarked that the gathering of Biden and former presidents to honor the unknown soldiers who died in war served as a "visual message of unity, at a time of anxiety, pain and suffering in [the] country".[171]

Parade Across America

The inaugural parade procession passes the White House
The presidential motorcade carrying Biden travels to the White House

Following the wreath laying ceremony, a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, NW escorted Biden and Harris to the White House which included every branch of the U.S. military, along with drumline bands from Biden and Harris's alma maters, the University of Delaware and Howard University, respectively.[172][173] The Virtual Parade Across America, organized by the Biden Inaugural Committee, was hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn, reflecting the "diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country" in the event's musical acts, poets, dance troupes, and more.[174][172] Viewing stands outside the White House that were originally constructed for members of the public were dismantled because they were ultimately deemed unnecessary for the revised plans.[175] The live parade was announced by Charlie Brotman, who has served as the inaugural parade announcer during almost every ceremony since former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's second inauguration.[84][176]

Comedian Jon Stewart, musicians Andra Day, Nile Rodgers, and Kathy Sledge, along with several choirs and athletes (including former Olympians Nathan Chen, Allyson Felix, and Katie Ledecky) appeared in a "virtual roll call".[172][177] The parade included 1,391 virtual participants, 95 horses, and nine dogs.[84] Frontline healthcare workers and several distinguished students and educators who helped their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic were honored as "heroes" during the ceremony.[172] Choreographer Kenny Ortega led a dance featuring 275 recorded segments from participants around the country;[173] the Ryan Martin Foundation, a "wheelchair basketball program", joined the parade virtually.[172] Musical act New Radicals reunited for the first time in two decades to conclude the parade with their hit song "You Get What You Give".[178] The song was used by Harris's husband, Emhoff, during 2020 campaign rallies, and was referred to by Biden in his autobiography, Promise Me, Dad, as his family's "rallying "theme song"" during his late son Beau's terminal battle with glioblastoma.[178] The band's leader, Gregg Alexander, said he hoped the group's performance of the song was a "tiniest beacon of light in such a dark time".[178]

Celebrating America special

Main article: Celebrating America
Fireworks during the finale of "Celebrating America"

Celebrating America was a television special hosted by Tom Hanks that aired the evening of the inauguration across most major television networks and other cable and streaming outlets. The event featured many musical guests and celebrities, including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Dave Grohl, Tim McGraw, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Legend, Demi Lovato, and Katy Perry.[179] The Biden Inaugural Committee raised over .8 million for the event from various companies, unions, and individuals.[180]

National Prayer Service

At 10:00 a.m. on the morning of January 21, the National Prayer Service took place at Washington National Cathedral. A virtual service, Biden and his family participated from the White House. More than thirty religious leaders of various faiths participated; William Barber II preached, calling for a "third reconstruction" of America in his homily.[181]

Protests and demonstrations

Main article: 2021 United States inauguration week protests

A series of protests and counter-protests related to the results of the 2020 presidential election began in December 2020.[182] After the storming of the Capitol, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested the Interior Department to cancel city demonstration permits and reject demonstration applications during the inauguration,[43][183] but the agency declined to do so.[183] The National Park Service designated two adjacent areas—portions of the John Marshall Park and Navy Memorial—exclusively for "First Amendment activities" (protests).[38][184] The U.S. Park Police limited demonstration attendance to a maximum of one hundred individuals in each location and required participants be screened via magnetometers.[184] The left-wing groups ANSWER Coalition and D.C. Action Lab were granted permits and staged demonstrations within attendance limits.[183]

The scale of protests and armed militia marches that intelligence reports indicated would occur near the U.S. Capitol and at state capitols on Inauguration Day was vastly overestimated, both in size and in scope.[185] Nationally, few people demonstrated at state capitols. At the New York State Capitol, a lone Trump supporter reportedly visited with the intention of protesting—the demonstrator had expected a "massive protest".[186] On January 17, three days before the inauguration, some members of the Michigan Boogaloo Bois openly carried weapons outside the state's capitol, but never became violent.[187]NPR attributed the lack of violent protests to several factors: the Justice Department's targeting of rioters from the storming of the Capitol; protest organizers warning of "false flag" events staged by law enforcement to "gather people for potential arrest"; and the banning or removal of social media profiles, groups, pages, and applications, such as Parler, associated with political extremism and fringe movements.[185]

Viewership

Nearly forty million people watched Biden's address on the combined major cable news and broadcast network television stations.[188] More than 21 million people watched the prime time Celebrating America special.[188] In 2017, a combined 38.3 million viewers watched Trump's inaugural address across the same networks,[188] according to Nielsen data, representing a 4% increase in raw television viewership.[189]CNN was the ratings leader throughout the day. Compared to the previous inaugural ceremony in 2017, Fox News's viewership fell 77%, while CNN's tripled and MSNBC's quadrupled.[189] The figures below, Nielsen data sourced from Adweek,[190] do not include streaming figures.[189]

Legend
Cable news network
Broadcast network
Total viewers
11:45 AM to 12:15 PM EST
Network Viewers
CNN 9,994,000
ABC 7,655,000
NBC 6,885,000
MSNBC 6,528,000
CBS 6,068,000
FNC 2,742,000
UNI 1,500,000
Total viewers
11:00 AM to 4:00 PM EST
Network Viewers
CNN 7,737,000
ABC 5,370,000
MSNBC 5,326,000
NBC 4,714,000
CBS 4,133,000
FNC 2,166,000
UNI 1,300,000
Newsmax 428,000
Total viewers (prime time)
8:30 to 10:00 PM EST
Network Viewers
CNN 6,677,000
MSNBC 4,413,000
NBC 3,863,000
ABC 3,658,000
FNC 3,207,000
CBS 3,044,000

International reactions

Biden and Harris's assumption of their respective offices was met with congratulations from many world leaders, including prime ministers Scott Morrison, Alexander De Croo, Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau, Mette Frederiksen, Sanna Marin, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Narendra Modi, Micheál Martin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Giuseppe Conte, Yoshihide Suga, Jacinda Ardern, Erna Solberg, Imran Khan, António Costa, Pedro Sánchez, and Stefan Löfven; presidents Sahle-Work Zewde, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Emmanuel Macron, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Moon Jae-in; European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and Pope Francis.[191][192]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Chinese government hopes Biden will restore bilateralism.[191]Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Trump a "tyrant" and urged Biden to return to the Iran nuclear agreement, which Trump withdrew the United States from, saying Iran will then "fully respect" their "commitments under the pact".[192]Hamas called Trump "the biggest source and sponsor of injustice, violence and extremism in the world", calling for Biden to "reverse the course of misguided and unjust policies against [their] people".[192]

See also

  • iconPolitics portal
  • flagUnited States portal
  • Presidency of Joe Biden
  • Presidential transition of Joe Biden
  • Timeline of the Joe Biden presidency (2021 Q1)
  • 2020 United States presidential election
  • Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign
  • Bernie Sanders mittens meme

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  183. ^ a b c Knickmeyer, Ellen; Khalil, Ashraf (January 15, 2021). "Trump supporters among those seeking Jan. 20 protest permits". Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 17, 2021. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  184. ^ a b "Record of Determination for the Partial Temporary Closure of Areas within and around the National Mall in Response to Threats to Visitors and Park Resources—National Mall and Memorial Parks (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. January 19, 2021. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  185. ^ a b Chappell, Bill; Allam, Hannah (January 20, 2021). "No Large Protests In D.C. As President Biden Is Inaugurated". NPR.org. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  186. ^ "At NY Capitol, a Lone Trump Supporter Protests". NBC New York. January 20, 2021. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  187. ^ Wisely, John (January 17, 2021). "Lansing protest over the presidential election proves to be a dud". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  188. ^ a b c Koblin, John (January 21, 2020). "Biden's Inauguration Scores Bigger TV Ratings Than Trump's". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  189. ^ a b c Lahut, Jake (January 21, 2021). "Over 1 million more people watched Biden's inauguration than Trump's". Business Insider. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  190. ^ Katz, A.J. (January 21, 2021). "Inauguration Day 2021 Ratings: CNN Is the No. 1 Network During the Inauguration of Joe Biden". adweek.com. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  191. ^ a b Axelrod, Tal (January 20, 2021). "World leaders congratulate Biden on becoming president". TheHill. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  192. ^ a b c Reuters Staff (January 20, 2021). "How world leaders are reacting to Joe Biden's inauguration". Reuters. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joe Biden 2021 presidential inauguration.
  • Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
  • Biden Inaugural Committee
  • 59th Presidential Inauguration website of the District of Columbia government
  • 59th Presidential Inauguration website of the United States Army Military District of Washington
  • Official video of inauguration from Biden Inaugural Committee
  • Presidential Proclamation—"A National Day of Unity"—inaugural proclamation at the White House website, January 20, 2021
  • Trump White House Archives—Briefings and Statements
  • Trump White House Archives—Remarks

Coordinates: 38°53′23″N 77°00′36″W / 38.8898°N 77.0101°W / 38.8898; -77.0101

Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Inauguration_of_Joe_Biden&oldid=1059456637"
Inauguration day: Why presidents must wait 2 months to ...

15-01-2021 · While 10 weeks may seem like a long wait, past presidents had to contend with a much longer delay before taking up the mantle, historical …

15-01-2021

More than two months after he was elected to be the 46th president of the United States, Joseph Biden will be officially sworn in to office on Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. But if votes are cast in November, why does so much time elapse between the election and the inauguration ceremony?

While 10 weeks may seem like a long wait, past presidents had to contend with a much longer delay before taking up the mantle, historical records show.

This year's 59th inauguration ceremony will be only the 22nd ceremony held in January. Prior to the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1933, every new president was expected to take office on March 4. There were exceptions however, such as if a vice president took the oath after the death of a sitting president. 

Related: Inauguration forecast: Frigid. (But it's been colder.) (opens in new tab)

The Continental Congress (the country's governing body prior to the first elections)  set the first Wednesday in March to be the date of the first presidential inauguration, in 1789, which happened to be March 4, according to Jim Bendat, author of "Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013" (iUniverse, 2011). But this was a logistical decision based on the the need for both Congress members and presidential transition teams to relocate to the capital. 

"Back in the early days of the country, it took a long time to travel, particularly from the West Coast to Washington, D.C.," Bendat told Live Science. "So, they needed a long period of time between the election and swearing in of the president to get everything in order."

Related: The 6 strangest presidential elections in US history (opens in new tab)

In fact, that first inauguration, in 1789, did not take place until April 30. Bendat said Congress couldn't get enough of its members to show up for the inauguration of George Washington (opens in new tab), so the ceremony was pushed back to the end of April.

Following Washington's inauguration, Congress decided to keep March 4 as the date for all future ceremonies. In research for his book, Bendat said, he found that part of the explanation for this choice of date (beyond the time needed for the transition between presidencies) was that Congress' study of future calendars revealed that this date was least likely to land on a Sunday. This was important because the most religious of politicians wanted to avoid official business on Sundays whenever possible, Bendat said.

Aerial view of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

Aerial view of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Image credit: Bloomberg/Getty images)

Today, if the inauguration date falls on a Sunday, there is a private swearing in on Sunday and a public ceremony on Monday — as was the case for Barack Obama's second inauguration.

By the 20th century, advances in technology and transportation meant people could travel around the country more quickly, and there was no reason for the "lame-duck" period between Election Day and the inauguration to be so long. Also, in times of national turbulence, the lame-duck period proved to be too long a wait. 

Related: The 15 Weirdest Presidential Inaugurations in US History

This long delay was particularly difficult during the middle of the Great Depression, said the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law's "Exploring Constitutional Law." During President Herbert Hoover's lame-duck period in 1932, Hoover and then-President-elect Franklin Roosevelt barely communicated, leaving the country waiting on the government to take action to curb economic devastation. In response, Congress proposed the 20th Amendment.

"There was a debate on when to change it, because it was decided pretty universally that four months was too long to wait," Bendat said. "The Senate originally wanted to change it to Jan. 15, and the House of Representatives suggested Jan. 24, and Jan. 20 was reached as a compromise."

Therefore, the 20th Amendment dictated that the president's term would begin at noon on Jan. 20.

Additional resources: 

This article was originally published on Jan. 19, 2017 and was updated on Jan. 15, 2021 by Live Science reference editor Kimberly Hickok. 

Explained: Why Kamala Harris is 49th V-P but Joe Biden is ...

03-09-2021 · For over 150 years since the founding of the US, the numbers of presidents and vice presidents were the same. The change occurred during the 32nd Administration of the US, which began in 1933, when Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took charge as the 32nd Commander-in-Chief, and John Nance Garner, a former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, became his Vice …

03-09-2021

Kamala Harris made history on Wednesday by becoming the first woman, African-American and South Asian Vice President of the United States.

Harris is now the 49th to enter the nation’s second-highest office, even though Joe Biden, the new President, is the 46th chief executive. The Biden-Harris administration is also considered the 46th elected government since the first administration was led by President George Washington and Vice President John Adams from 1789 to 1797.

Why is Kamala Harris the 49th US Vice President, but Biden the 46th President?

Put simply, this is because there have been more vice presidents of the United States than presidents.

https://images.indianexpress.com/2020/08/1x1.png

For over 150 years since the founding of the US, the numbers of presidents and vice presidents were the same. The change occurred during the 32nd Administration of the US, which began in 1933, when Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took charge as the 32nd Commander-in-Chief, and John Nance Garner, a former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, became his Vice President — and the nation’s 32nd second-in-command.

Roosevelt, commonly known by his initials FDR, was the longest occupant of the White House, serving 12 years — he won four general elections during this period and lead the country during most of World War II.

In that era, most vice presidents were largely ceremonial, and did not have any major influence on the president’s policies. However, after the FDR-Garner pair was elected a second time in 1936, major disagreements erupted between the two over a range of important issues, such as FDR’s New Deal policies and push to “pack” the US Supreme Court.

Also in Explained |Who is Amanda Gorman, poet at the inauguration ceremony?

So, in the 1940 Democratic primaries, Garner broke with FDR, and sought to become the party’s nominee for president. FDR, though, was able to defeat Garner easily, and chose his progressive Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace as his running mate for the 1940 elections.

After the Democrats again won in 1940, Wallace became the 33rd Vice President, serving under FDR, still the 32nd President. As second-in-command, Wallace is remembered as the country’s first “modern” Vice President, who took on key responsibilities in the FDR administration. However, a combination of factors, including Wallace’s open criticism of racial segregation, religious views and pro-USSR statements led him to be dropped at the Democratic National Convention of 1944, where he was replaced by Harry Truman as FDR’s running mate.

After FDR won a record fourth time in 1944, Truman became the 34th Vice President, increasing the difference in numbers of the top posts to two.

Then in 1945, Truman succeeded FDR as president upon the latter’s death in 1945, and became the 33rd US President. As this transition took place, Truman’s second-in-command, Alben Barkley, became the 35th Vice President.

The difference of two continued until 1973, when Spiro Agnew, the 39th Vice President under 37th President Richard Nixon, stepped down after being implicated in a tax fraud case. Nixon then appointed House Republican leader Gerald Ford as Agnew’s replacement, and Ford became the 40th Vice President while Nixon was still commander-in-chief, thus increasing the difference to three.

As Biden and Harris are inaugurated 76 years later, this difference between the numbers of presidents and vice presidents remains the same.

People also ask
  • What happens at the inauguration of the 46th President?

    Celebrate the inauguration of of 46th president—virtually—as President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris take their oaths of office at the U.S. Capitol during a historic ceremony that includes vigorous health and safety protocols.
    59th Presidential Inauguration - Joe Biden and Kamala
  • When is the 59th Inauguration Day?

    This year's 59th inauguration ceremony will be only the 22nd ceremony held in January. Prior to the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1933, every new president was expected to take office on March 4.

    More than two months after he was elected to be the 46th president of the United States, Joseph Biden will be officially sworn in to office on Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. But if votes are cast in November, why does so much time elapse between the election and the inauguration ceremony?

    While 10 weeks may seem like a long wait, past presidents had to contend with a much longer delay before taking up the mantle, historical records show.

    This year's 59th inauguration ceremony will be only the 22nd ceremony held in January. Prior to the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1933, every new president was expected to take office on March 4. There were exceptions however, such as if a vice president took the oath after the death of a sitting president. 

    Related: Inauguration forecast: Frigid. (But it's been colder.) (opens in new tab)

    The Continental Congress (the country's governing body prior to the first elections)  set the first Wednesday in March to be the date of the first presidential inauguration, in 1789, which happened to be March 4, according to Jim Bendat, author of "Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013" (iUniverse, 2011). But this was a logistical decision based on the the need for both Congress members and presidential transition teams to relocate to the capital. 

    "Back in the early days of the country, it took a long time to travel, particularly from the West Coast to Washington, D.C.," Bendat told Live Science. "So, they needed a long period of time between the election and swearing in of the president to get everything in order."

    Related: The 6 strangest presidential elections in US history (opens in new tab)

    In fact, that first inauguration, in 1789, did not take place until April 30. Bendat said Congress couldn't get enough of its members to show up for the inauguration of George Washington (opens in new tab), so the ceremony was pushed back to the end of April.

    Following Washington's inauguration, Congress decided to keep March 4 as the date for all future ceremonies. In research for his book, Bendat said, he found that part of the explanation for this choice of date (beyond the time needed for the transition between presidencies) was that Congress' study of future calendars revealed that this date was least likely to land on a Sunday. This was important because the most religious of politicians wanted to avoid official business on Sundays whenever possible, Bendat said.

    Aerial view of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

    Aerial view of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Image credit: Bloomberg/Getty images)

    Today, if the inauguration date falls on a Sunday, there is a private swearing in on Sunday and a public ceremony on Monday — as was the case for Barack Obama's second inauguration.

    By the 20th century, advances in technology and transportation meant people could travel around the country more quickly, and there was no reason for the "lame-duck" period between Election Day and the inauguration to be so long. Also, in times of national turbulence, the lame-duck period proved to be too long a wait. 

    Related: The 15 Weirdest Presidential Inaugurations in US History

    This long delay was particularly difficult during the middle of the Great Depression, said the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law's "Exploring Constitutional Law." During President Herbert Hoover's lame-duck period in 1932, Hoover and then-President-elect Franklin Roosevelt barely communicated, leaving the country waiting on the government to take action to curb economic devastation. In response, Congress proposed the 20th Amendment.

    "There was a debate on when to change it, because it was decided pretty universally that four months was too long to wait," Bendat said. "The Senate originally wanted to change it to Jan. 15, and the House of Representatives suggested Jan. 24, and Jan. 20 was reached as a compromise."

    Therefore, the 20th Amendment dictated that the president's term would begin at noon on Jan. 20.

    Additional resources: 

    This article was originally published on Jan. 19, 2017 and was updated on Jan. 15, 2021 by Live Science reference editor Kimberly Hickok. 

    Inauguration day: Why presidents must wait 2 months to
  • Where has the President's inauguration been held before?

    Most presidential inaugurations since 1801 have been held in Washington D.C. at the Capitol Building. Prior inaugurations were held, first at Federal Hall in New York City (1789), and then at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1793 and 1797). Each city was, at the time, the nation's capital.
    United States presidential inauguration
  • What happens if the inauguration date falls on a Sunday?

    Today, if the inauguration date falls on a Sunday, there is a private swearing in on Sunday and a public ceremony on Monday — as was the case for Barack Obama's second inauguration.

    More than two months after he was elected to be the 46th president of the United States, Joseph Biden will be officially sworn in to office on Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. But if votes are cast in November, why does so much time elapse between the election and the inauguration ceremony?

    While 10 weeks may seem like a long wait, past presidents had to contend with a much longer delay before taking up the mantle, historical records show.

    This year's 59th inauguration ceremony will be only the 22nd ceremony held in January. Prior to the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1933, every new president was expected to take office on March 4. There were exceptions however, such as if a vice president took the oath after the death of a sitting president. 

    Related: Inauguration forecast: Frigid. (But it's been colder.) (opens in new tab)

    The Continental Congress (the country's governing body prior to the first elections)  set the first Wednesday in March to be the date of the first presidential inauguration, in 1789, which happened to be March 4, according to Jim Bendat, author of "Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013" (iUniverse, 2011). But this was a logistical decision based on the the need for both Congress members and presidential transition teams to relocate to the capital. 

    "Back in the early days of the country, it took a long time to travel, particularly from the West Coast to Washington, D.C.," Bendat told Live Science. "So, they needed a long period of time between the election and swearing in of the president to get everything in order."

    Related: The 6 strangest presidential elections in US history (opens in new tab)

    In fact, that first inauguration, in 1789, did not take place until April 30. Bendat said Congress couldn't get enough of its members to show up for the inauguration of George Washington (opens in new tab), so the ceremony was pushed back to the end of April.

    Following Washington's inauguration, Congress decided to keep March 4 as the date for all future ceremonies. In research for his book, Bendat said, he found that part of the explanation for this choice of date (beyond the time needed for the transition between presidencies) was that Congress' study of future calendars revealed that this date was least likely to land on a Sunday. This was important because the most religious of politicians wanted to avoid official business on Sundays whenever possible, Bendat said.

    Aerial view of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

    Aerial view of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Image credit: Bloomberg/Getty images)

    Today, if the inauguration date falls on a Sunday, there is a private swearing in on Sunday and a public ceremony on Monday — as was the case for Barack Obama's second inauguration.

    By the 20th century, advances in technology and transportation meant people could travel around the country more quickly, and there was no reason for the "lame-duck" period between Election Day and the inauguration to be so long. Also, in times of national turbulence, the lame-duck period proved to be too long a wait. 

    Related: The 15 Weirdest Presidential Inaugurations in US History

    This long delay was particularly difficult during the middle of the Great Depression, said the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law's "Exploring Constitutional Law." During President Herbert Hoover's lame-duck period in 1932, Hoover and then-President-elect Franklin Roosevelt barely communicated, leaving the country waiting on the government to take action to curb economic devastation. In response, Congress proposed the 20th Amendment.

    "There was a debate on when to change it, because it was decided pretty universally that four months was too long to wait," Bendat said. "The Senate originally wanted to change it to Jan. 15, and the House of Representatives suggested Jan. 24, and Jan. 20 was reached as a compromise."

    Therefore, the 20th Amendment dictated that the president's term would begin at noon on Jan. 20.

    Additional resources: 

    This article was originally published on Jan. 19, 2017 and was updated on Jan. 15, 2021 by Live Science reference editor Kimberly Hickok. 

    Inauguration day: Why presidents must wait 2 months to
Biden Inaugurated as 46th President - The New York Times

20-01-2021 · President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. In his inaugural address, President Biden focused on the challenges facing the nation and called for unity.

20-01-2021

WASHINGTON — Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, assuming leadership of a country ravaged by disease, dislocation and division with a call to “end this uncivil war” after four tumultuous years that tore at the fabric of American society.

Mr. Biden sought to immediately turn the corner on Donald J. Trump’s polarizing presidency, inviting Republicans to join him in confronting the nation’s dire economic, social and health crises even as he began dismantling his predecessor’s legacy with orders to halt construction of his border wall, lift his travel ban and rejoin the Paris climate agreement.

The ritualistic transfer of power ended weeks of suspense as the vanquished president waged a relentless bid to hang on, only to be rebuffed at every level of government, clearing the way for Mr. Biden to claim his office. With his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Mr. Biden recited the 35-word oath administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at 11:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the constitutionally prescribed noon hour.

Vice President Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in a few minutes earlier by Justice Sonia Sotomayor using a Bible that once belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and Supreme Court justice. Ms. Harris thus became the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States and the first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to hold the nation’s second highest office.

The drama of the moment was underscored by the sight of Mr. Biden taking the oath on the same West Front of the Capitol seized just two weeks ago by a marauding mob trying to block final ratification of Mr. Trump’s election defeat. Without ever naming Mr. Trump, who left the White House early in the morning for Florida but still faces a Senate trial for provoking his supporters, Mr. Biden said that the United States’ democratic experiment itself had come under assault by extremism and lies but ultimately endured.

“Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge,” the president said in a 21-minute Inaugural Address that blended soaring themes with folksy touches.

“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,” he added. “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

Already abbreviated because of Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, the transition that ended Wednesday was like none before, not just from one party to another but from one reality to another. A president who came to Washington to blow up the system was replaced by one who is a lifelong creature of it. A president who seemed capable of almost anything at any moment was dislodged by one who fits comfortably in the conventions of modern politics.

Mr. Biden’s broader message was conciliatory yet challenging, as he called on Americans to put aside their deep and dark divisions to come together to confront the coronavirus pandemic, economic troubles and the scourge of racism.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” Mr. Biden said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say, just for a moment.”

Mr. Biden used the word “unity” or “uniting” 11 times, saying that he knew it “can sound to some like a foolish fantasy” but insisting that Americans had emerged from previous moments of discord and could do so again.

“We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature,” he said. “For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”

A historic moment, but also a surreal one. Unlike most inaugurals suffused with joy and a sense of new beginning, the nation’s 59th inauguration on a chilly but sunny day served to illustrate America’s troubles. Amid fear of further violence, Washington was transformed into an armed camp, with 25,000 National Guard troops joining thousands of police officers in blocking off a wide section of downtown.

With the pandemic still raging and the death toll topping 400,000, Americans were told to stay away, leading to the eerie spectacle of a new president addressing a largely empty National Mall, filled not with people but with flags meant to represent the absent crowd. Mr. Biden and most of the participants wore masks through most of the activities.

ImageFlags on the National Mall represent the crowds that could not attend the inauguration because of the pandemic.
Flags on the National Mall represent the crowds that could not attend the inauguration because of the pandemic.Credit...Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Many inaugural customs were scrapped because of the virus, including a lunch with congressional leaders in Statuary Hall, a full-scale parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and the gala evening balls where the new president and his wife typically dance.

Instead, Mr. Biden reviewed military units at the Capitol and later proceeded to the White House escorted by military marching bands as well as drum lines from the University of Delaware and Howard University, the alma maters of the new president and vice president.

Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, his son Hunter Biden and his daughter Ashley Biden, as well as a passel of grandchildren and other relatives, emerged from the motorcade to walk the final blocks to the White House, but it was a gesture aimed more at cameras than the crowd because there were more police and National Guard troops than spectators.

Still, one tradition that went forward left an impression. Amanda Gorman, 22, a self-described “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” became the youngest inaugural poet in American history and drew raves for her powerful words:

“Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed

“A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”

In characteristic fashion, Mr. Trump defied custom by leaving Washington hours before the swearing-in, although Mike Pence, his vice president, did attend. In remarks to supporters before boarding Air Force One, Mr. Trump still could not bring himself to mention Mr. Biden’s name but said, “I wish the new administration great luck and great success.” He did leave the traditional note for his successor, which Mr. Biden later called “a very generous letter.”

Mr. Biden expressed no regret about Mr. Trump’s absence but sought to project common cause with Republican as well as Democratic leaders in the Capitol in a chummy gathering after the ceremony with none of the animus that characterized Mr. Trump’s era. He even tried to persuade them to still call him Joe.

“No, Joe,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, corrected him. “You’re ‘Mr. President.’”

“He makes me call him that, too,” Dr. Biden joked.

“Marriage is about to get rocky, I can tell,” Mr. Hoyer laughed.

Then, in a laying on of hands of sorts by the world’s most exclusive club — a club that never accepted Mr. Trump, who likewise shunned them — three former presidents from both parties, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, joined Mr. Biden in placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. (Jimmy Carter, at 96, was unable to attend, but spoke with Mr. Biden by phone on Tuesday night.)

If the pomp and circumstance were constrained by the challenges of the day, Mr. Biden’s determination to get off to a fast start unraveling the Trump presidency was not. In the Oval Office, where he had Mr. Trump’s portrait of Andrew Jackson taken down and one of Franklin D. Roosevelt put up, Mr. Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations aimed at reversing major elements of the last administration, a significant repudiation of his predecessor and a more expansive set of Inauguration Day actions than any in modern history.

Among other things, Mr. Biden issued a national mask mandate for federal workers and federal property, sought to extend an eviction pause and student loan relief, suspended construction of Mr. Trump’s border wall, lifted the travel ban on certain predominantly Muslim countries, barred discrimination by the federal government based on sexual orientation or gender identity and imposed a moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Some of the orders were more symbolic than substantive, and enduring change will still require legislation. To that end, Mr. Biden unveiled an immigration overhaul providing a path to citizenship for 11 million people living in the country illegally that will have to be approved by Congress in what is sure to be a contentious debate.

Commanding attention in Congress will be a challenge, with Mr. Trump’s trial most likely consuming the Senate for days or weeks. As it stands, the Senate confirmed only one of Mr. Biden’s nominees on Inauguration Day, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, another breach of custom. Mr. Trump had two of his cabinet secretaries confirmed on the day he took office, while Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush each had seven.

With Ms. Harris’s inauguration and the swearing-in of two new senators later in the day, the Senate, evenly divided with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, flipped to the Democrats thanks to her tiebreaking vote as the chamber’s president. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, became the majority leader and hoped to create two parallel tracks so the Senate could consider nominations and legislation even as it conducted the Trump trial.

But some Republicans signaled resistance, or at least skepticism. “I hope that the words can be transmitted into action, and we’ll have an opportunity with the Covid package and other things to see how much bipartisanship we can actually have,” said Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. “Let’s hope that the spirit of the moment translates into real action.”

Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris congratulating each other after Ms. Harris was sworn in.Credit...Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Mr. Biden began working on his Inaugural Address before Thanksgiving in a process run by his longtime adviser Mike Donilon. He received help from Jon Meacham, the historian who is serving as an informal outside adviser, as well as from Vinay Reddy, his speechwriter, while also relying on his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, who has long been an important sounding board.

He was particularly determined to call out the forces of “political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism,” as he put it, implicitly faulting Mr. Trump’s relentless bid to overturn the election with false accusations of widespread fraud — baseless claims that fueled the mob that ransacked the Capitol.

“Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson,” Mr. Biden said. “There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit, and each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”

In many respects, Mr. Biden could hardly be more of a contrast to the president he succeeded. A longtime senator, former vice president and consummate Washington insider, Mr. Biden prides himself on his experience working across the aisle and hopes to forge a partnership with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and other Republicans.

Garrulous and loquacious, known for an incandescent smile, a sometimes overly familiar shoulder rub and a proclivity for gaffes, Mr. Biden practices the sort of feel-your-pain politics of empathy mastered by Mr. Clinton and the call-me-anytime politics of relationships exemplified by the first President George Bush.

At 78, Mr. Biden is the oldest president in American history — older on his first day in office than Ronald Reagan was on his last — and even allies quietly acknowledge that he is no longer at his prime, meaning he will be constantly watched by friends and foes alike for signs of decline. But he overcame the doubts and the obstacles to claim the prize of his lifetime nearly 34 years after kicking off the first of his three presidential campaigns.

Mr. Biden arrived at the pinnacle of power with a tailwind of public support. Fifty-seven percent of Americans view him favorably, according to Gallup, a higher rating than Mr. Trump ever saw in office. But in a measure of the impact of Mr. Trump’s drumbeat of false accusations of election fraud, 32 percent told CNN pollsters that they did not believe Mr. Biden won the election legitimately.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris bring new diversity to the top echelon of government. Mr. Biden is only the second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy. Ms. Harris, 56, a former senator and state attorney general from California, broke multiple gender and racial barriers in winning the vice presidency.

“Here we stand, where 108 years ago, at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote,” Mr. Biden said. “And today we marked the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office: Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.”

President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, made their way into the White House on Wednesday.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

To honor those who defended the Capitol, Ms. Harris was escorted to the swearing-in by Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer and Black man who was captured on video facing down members of the mostly white mob and diverting them from the Senate chamber.

Performing at the Capitol ceremony were Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks, while a host of other famous entertainers participated in a virtual “Parade Across America” livestreamed from 56 states and territories.

Instead of the formal dances, the new first and second couples took part in a 90-minute televised evening program called “Celebrating America” hosted by the actor Tom Hanks and featuring stars like Kerry Washington, Bruce Springsteen, Eva Longoria, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Demi Lovato.

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.