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The inauguration of the president of the United States is a ceremonial event marking the commencement of a new four-year term of a president of the United States. The day a presidential inauguration occurs is known as "Inauguration Day" and occurs on January 20 (or 21st if the 20th is a Sunday). (Prior to the Twentieth Amendment, the date was March 4, the day of the year on which the Constitution of the United States first took effect in 1789; the last inauguration to take place on the older date was Franklin D. Roosevelt's first one on March 4, 1933.) The most recent public presidential inauguration ceremony, the swearing in of President Barack Obama to begin his second four-year term in office, took place on Monday, January 21, 2013.
The only inauguration element mandated by the United States Constitution is that the president make an oath or affirmation before that person can "enter on the Execution" of the office of the presidency. However, over the years, various traditions have arisen that have expanded the inauguration from a simple oath-taking ceremony to a day-long event, including parades, speeches, and balls.
From the presidency of Andrew Jackson through that of Jimmy Carter, the primary Inauguration Day ceremony took place on the Capitol's East Portico. Since the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the ceremony has been held at the Capitol's West Front. The inaugurations of William Howard Taft in 1909 and Reagan in 1985 were moved indoors at the Capitol due to cold weather. The War of 1812 and World War II caused two inaugurations to be held at other locations in Washington, D.C.
When George Washington was inaugurated, the oath was administered by Robert Livingston, Chancellor of New York State, in 1789, and by William Cushing, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, in 1793. Since Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth swore in President John Adams, no chief justice has missed an Inauguration Day. When Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday, the chief justice has administered the oath to the president on the Sunday privately and then again the next day publicly.
When a new president takes over mid-term due to the death or resignation of a president, the oath of office is administered but formal, public inauguration events have not been held.
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The inauguration for the first U.S. president, George Washington, was held on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City where he was sworn in by Robert Livingston, the Chancellor of the State of New York. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first to be sworn in as president in Washington, D.C., which officially became the federal capital only on June 11, 1800. Inauguration day was originally on March 6, four months after election day, but this was changed to noon on January 20 by the Twentieth Amendment in 1933.
The inaugural celebrations usually last ten days, from five days before the inauguration to five days after. However, in 1973, the celebrations marking Richard Nixon's second inauguration were marred by the passing of former President Lyndon B. Johnson two days after the inauguration. The celebrations came to an end as Washington began preparations for the state funeral for Johnson. Because of the construction work on the center steps of the East Front, Johnson's casket was taken up the Senate wing steps of the Capitol when taken into the rotunda to lie in state. When it was brought out, it came out through the House wing steps of the Capitol.
Inauguration Day is a Federal holiday observed by only the federal employees who work in the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland; Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, and the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax in Virginia, and who are regularly scheduled to perform non-overtime work on Inauguration Day. There is no in-lieu-of holiday for employees and students who are not regularly scheduled to work or attend school on Inauguration Day. The primary reason for the holiday is to relieve traffic congestion that occurs during this major event.
The U.S. military have participated in Inauguration Day ceremonies since George Washington's, because the president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Since the first inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, that participation has been coordinated by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (now called the Joint Task Force-Armed Forces Inaugural Committee).
The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) is the legal entity that raises and distributes funds for events other than the ceremony, such as the balls and parade.
All but one of the inaugural ceremonies were held at the Capitol Building. Washington gave his first address at Federal Hall in New York City and his second address in Congress Hall in Philadelphia. Adams also gave his in Congress Hall in Philadelphia. Jefferson gave both of his addresses at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. and all addresses since then have been given there, except for Franklin D. Roosevelt's fourth address, which he gave at the White House. Depending on the weather, the ceremonial swearing-in is held outside or inside of the Capitol building.
Outdoor ceremonies were traditionally held at the eastern front of the U.S. Capitol. Ronald Reagan broke with this precedent at his first inauguration in 1981, requesting to face west, toward his home state of California. All outdoor inaugurations since have taken place on the Capitol's western front.
Public inaugural ceremonies have been held on five different calendar dates in the year: April 30, March 4 and 5, and January 20 and 21. Washington gave his first address on April 30, 1789, and his second one on March 4, 1793, which was the commencement date for presidential terms. This March 4 date was changed to January 20 by the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
From the 1793 to 1933, the inaugurations were held on March 4 with only four exceptions. Because of March 4 falling on a Sunday, Presidents Monroe (2nd inauguration), Taylor, Hayes and Wilson (2nd inauguration) each gave an address on Monday, March 5. Since 1937, addresses have been given on January 20 with only three exceptions (other than following a premature end to the presidential term): Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, and Obama each gave an address on Monday, January 21 (2nd inauguration for each). The most recent inauguration day that fell on a Sunday was January 20, 2013; the next will be on January 20, 2041.
In addition to the public, the attendees at the ceremony generally include Members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, high-ranking military officers, former presidents, living Medal of Honor recipients, and other dignitaries.
The outgoing president customarily attends the inauguration, barring those cases where succession was due to his death. There have been four exceptions:
Richard Nixon left Washington, D.C., before his resignation took effect and did not attend the swearing-in ceremony of Gerald Ford, who had no inauguration.
Video of the First inauguration of Bill Clinton.
audio only version
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Since 1937, the vice president-elect takes the oath of office at the same ceremony as the president-elect; before then, the vice presidential oath was administered in the Senate. The vice-president-elect takes the oath first. Unlike the president, the United States Constitution does not specify an oath of office for the vice president. Several variants of the oath have been used since 1789; the current form, which is also recited by Senators, Representatives and other government officers, has been in use since 1884:
|“||I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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.||”|
At noon, the new presidential term begins. At about that time, the president-elect takes the oath of office, traditionally administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, using the form mandated in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution:
|“||I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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.||”|
According to Washington Irving's biography of George Washington, in the first inauguration, President Washington added the words "so help me God" after accepting the oath. This is confirmed by Donald R. Kennon, Chief Historian, United States Capitol Historical Society. However, the only contemporaneous source that fully reproduced Washington's oath completely lacks the religious codicil. The first newspaper report that actually described the exact words used in an oath of office, Chester Arthur's in 1881, repeated the "query-response" method where the words, "so help me God" were a personal prayer, not a part of the constitutional oath. The time of adoption of the current procedure, where both the chief justice and the president speak the oath, is unknown.
There is no requirement that any book, or in particular a book of sacred text, be used to administer the oath, and none is mentioned in the Constitution. With the use of the Bible being customary for oaths, at least in the 18th and 19th centuries, a Bible was generally used. Several presidents were sworn in on the George Washington Inaugural Bible. On some occasions, the particular passage to which it was opened has been recorded, as below. Only one president, Franklin Pierce, is definitely known to have affirmed rather than sworn by using a Law Book; there are conflicting reports concerning Herbert Hoover, but the use of a Bible is recorded and suggests that he swore in the usual fashion. Barack Obama used the Lincoln Bible for his swearing in.
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The presidential oath has been administered by 15 chief justices, one associate justice, and two New York state judges (including only those administered at the inauguration).
Immediately after the presidential oath, the United States Marine Band will perform four ruffles and flourishes, followed by Hail to the Chief, while simultaneously, a 21-gun salute is fired using artillery pieces from the Presidential Guns Salute Battery, 3d United States Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard" located in Taft Park, north of the Capitol. The actual gun salute begins with the first ruffle and flourish, and 'run long' (i.e. the salute concludes after Hail to the Chief has ended).
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Newly sworn-in presidents usually give a speech referred to as an inaugural address. Until William McKinley's first inaugural address in 1897, the president elect traditionally gave the address before taking the oath; McKinley requested the change so that he could reiterate the words of the oath at the close of his address. Four presidents gave no address: Tyler, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, and Arthur. In each of these cases, the incoming president was succeeding a president who had died in office, and was not elected as president in the next election. Gerald Ford addressed the nation via broadcast after taking the oath, but he characterized his speech as "Not an inaugural address, not a fireside chat, not a campaign speech—just a little straight talk among friends." Fifty-four addresses have been given by thirty-seven presidents. George Washington's second address was the shortest (135 words), and William Henry Harrison delivered the longest (8,495 words).
Since 1937, the ceremony has incorporated two or more prayers. Musical works and poetry readings have been included on occasion.
Since 1953, the president and vice president have been guests of honor at a luncheon held by the leadership of the United States Congress immediately following the inaugural ceremony. The luncheon is held in Statuary Hall and is organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and attended by the leadership of both houses of Congress as well as guests of the president and vice president. By tradition, the outgoing president and vice president do not attend.
Since Thomas Jefferson's second inaugural on March 4, 1805, it has become a tradition for the president to parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. The only president not to parade down Pennsylvania Avenue was Ronald Reagan in his second inauguration in 1985, due to freezing cold temperatures made dangerous by high winds. Reagan paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue during his first inauguration, in 1981, amid the celebrations that broke out across the country because of news just minutes into his term that the 52 American hostages held in Iran for the previous 444 days had been released. In 1977, Jimmy Carter walked from the Capitol to the White House, although for security reasons, subsequent presidents have walked only a part of the way.
Following the arrival of the presidential entourage to the White House, it is customary for the president, vice-president, their respective families and leading members of the government and military to review an Inaugural Parade from an enclosed at the edge of the North Lawn. The parade, which proceeds along the 1.5 miles of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the stand and the Front Lawn in view of the presidential party, features both military and civilian participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia; this parade largely evolved from the post-inaugural procession to the White House, and occurred as far back as the second Jefferson inauguration, when shipmen from the Washington Navy Yard and musicians accompanied Jefferson on foot as he rode on horseback from the Capitol to the White House. This was expanded in 1837 with horse-drawn displays akin to parade floats being paraded with the president, and the 1847 inaugural ceremonies, including the procession, parade and festivities, were the first to be organized by an official organizing committee. However, the 1829 inauguration of Andrew Jackson saw serious overcrowding of the White House by well-wishers during the "Open House" held following the inauguration. The 1885 inauguration of Grover Cleveland saw the post-inaugural Open House evolve into a presidential review of the troops from a grandstand in front of the White House. Since 1885, the presidential review has included both military and civilian contingencies. The 1953 Parade was the largest, longest and most elaborate ever staged. The presidential review has also made milestones, with the 1865 parade being the first to include African-Americans, the 1917 parade being the first to include female participants, and the 2009 parade being the first to include lesbian and gay participants.
A tradition of a national prayer service, usually the day after the inauguration, dates back to George Washington and since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the prayer service has been held at the Washington National Cathedral. This is not the same as the Inaugural Prayer, a tradition also began by Washington, when on June 1, 1789, Methodist Bishops Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke, Rev. John Dickins, the pastor of Old St. George's (America's oldest Methodist Church) and Major Thomas Morrell, one of President Washington’s former aide-de-camps called upon Washington in New York City. This tradition resumed in 1985 with President Reagan and continues under the auspices of a Presidential Inaugural Prayer Committee based at Old St. Georges.
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The security for the inaugural celebrations is a complex matter, involving the Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service (DHS-FPS), all five branches of the Armed Forces, the Capitol Police, the United States Park Police (USPP), and the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC). Federal law enforcement agencies also sometimes request assistance from various other state and local law-enforcement agencies throughout the United States.
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Beginning with George Washington, there has been a traditional association with Inauguration festivities and the production of a presidential medal. With the District of Columbia attracting thousands of attendees for inauguration, presidential medals were an inexpensive souvenir for the tourists to remember the occasion. However, the once-simple trinket turned into an official presidential election memento. In 1901, the first Inauguration Committee on Medals and Badges was established as part of the official Inauguration Committee for the re-election of President McKinley. The Committee saw official medals as a way to raise funding for the festivities. Gold medals were to be produced as gifts for the president, vice president, and committee chair; silver medals were to be created and distributed among Inauguration Committee members; and bronze medals would be for sale for public consumption. McKinley's medal was simple with his portrait on one side and writing on the other side.
Unlike his predecessor, when Theodore Roosevelt took his oath of office in 1905, he found the previous presidential medal unacceptable. As an art lover and admirer of the ancient Greek high-relief coins, Roosevelt wanted more than a simple medal—he wanted a work of art. To achieve this goal, the president hired Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a famous American sculptor, to design and create his inauguration medal. Saint-Gaudens's obsession with perfection resulted in a forestalled release and the medals were distributed after the actual inauguration. However, President Roosevelt was very pleased with the result.
Saint-Gaudens' practice of creating a portrait sculpture of the newly elected president is still used today in presidential medal creation. After the president sits for the sculptor, the resulting clay sketch is turned into a life mask and plaster model. Finishing touches are added and the epoxy cast that is created is used to produce the die cuts. The die cuts are then used to strike the president's portrait on each medal. The most recent Presidential Inauguration Medal released was for President Obama in 2013.
This is a list of the 57 inaugural ceremonies. For a list of the 73 instances when the presidential oath of office has been taken, see Oath of office of the President of the United States.
|Date||President||Location||Oath Administered by||Document Sworn On||Inaugural Addresses|
|April 30, 1789||George Washington||Balcony of Federal Hall|
New York, New York
Chancellor of New York
|Washington Bible opened at random to Genesis 49:13 due to haste.||George Washington's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1793||George Washington||Senate Chamber|
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
|Unknown||George Washington's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1797||John Adams||House Chamber|
|Oliver Ellsworth||Unknown||John Adams' Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1801||Thomas Jefferson||Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1805||Thomas Jefferson||Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||Thomas Jefferson's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1809||James Madison||House Chamber, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||James Madison's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1813||James Madison||House Chamber, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||James Madison's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1817||James Monroe||In front of Old Brick Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||James Monroe's First Inaugural Address|
|March 5, 1821||James Monroe||House Chamber, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||James Monroe's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1825||John Q. Adams||House Chamber, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||A book of US law||John Quincy Adams's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1829||Andrew Jackson||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||Andrew Jackson's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1833||Andrew Jackson||House Chamber, U.S. Capitol||John Marshall||Unknown||Andrew Jackson's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1837||Martin Van Buren||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Roger B. Taney||Bible open to Proverbs 3:17||Martin Van Buren's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1841||William H. Harrison||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Roger B. Taney||Unknown||William Henry Harrison's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1845||James K. Polk||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Roger B. Taney||Unknown||James K. Polk's Inaugural Address|
|March 5, 1849||Zachary Taylor||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Roger B. Taney||Unknown||Zachary Taylor's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1853||Franklin Pierce||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Roger B. Taney||Law book||Franklin Pierce's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1857||James Buchanan||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Roger B. Taney||Unknown||James Buchanan's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1861||Abraham Lincoln||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Roger B. Taney||Lincoln Bible opened at random||Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1865||Abraham Lincoln||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Salmon P. Chase||Bible open to Matthew 7:1, Matthew 18:7, Revelation 16:7||Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1869||Ulysses S. Grant||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Salmon P. Chase||Unknown||Ulysses S. Grant's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1873||Ulysses S. Grant||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Salmon P. Chase||Bible open to Isaiah 11:1-3||Ulysses S. Grant's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 5, 1877||Rutherford B. Hayes||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Morrison R. Waite||Bible open to Psalms 118:11-13||Rutherford B. Hayes's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1881||James A. Garfield||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Morrison R. Waite||Bible open to Proverbs 21:1||James A. Garfield's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1885||Grover Cleveland||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Morrison R. Waite||Bible opened at random by Chief Justice to Psalms 112:4-10||Grover Cleveland's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1889||Benjamin Harrison||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Melville W. Fuller||Bible open to Psalms 121:1-6||Benjamin Harrison's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1893||Grover Cleveland||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Melville W. Fuller||Bible open to Psalms 91:12-16||Grover Cleveland's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1897||William McKinley||In front of Original Senate Wing|
|Melville W. Fuller||Bible open to 2 Chronicles 1:10||William McKinley's First Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1901||William McKinley||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Melville W. Fuller||Bible open to Proverbs 16||William McKinley's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1905||Theodore Roosevelt||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Melville W. Fuller||Bible open to James 1:22-23||Theodore Roosevelt's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1909||William H. Taft||Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol||Melville W. Fuller||Bible open to 1 Kings 3:9-11||William Howard Taft's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1913||Woodrow Wilson||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Edward D. White||Bible open to Psalm 119||Woodrow Wilsons First Inaugural Address|
|March 5, 1917||Woodrow Wilson||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Edward D. White||Bible open to Psalm 46||Woodrow Wilson's Second Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1921||Warren G. Harding||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Edward D. White||Washington Bible open to Micah 6:8||Warren Harding's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1925||Calvin Coolidge||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||William H. Taft||Bible open to John 1||Calvin Coolidge's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1929||Herbert C. Hoover||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||William H. Taft||Bible open to Proverbs 29:18||Herbert Hoover's Inaugural Address|
|March 4, 1933||Franklin D. Roosevelt||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Charles E. Hughes||Bible open to||Franklin Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1937||Franklin D. Roosevelt||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Charles E. Hughes||Bible open to I Corinthians 13||Franklin Roosevelt's Second Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1941||Franklin D. Roosevelt||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Charles E. Hughes||Bible open to I Corinthians 13||Franklin Roosevelt's Third Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1945||Franklin D. Roosevelt||South Portico, White House||Harlan F. Stone||Bible open to I Corinthians 13||Franklin Roosevelt's Fourth Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1949||Harry S. Truman||East Portico, U.S. Capitol|
*First inauguration to be televised
|Frederick M. Vinson||Bible open to Exodus 20:3-17 and Matthew 5:3-11Matthew 5:3–11||Harry S. Truman's Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1953||Dwight D. Eisenhower||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Frederick M. Vinson||Washington Bible open to Psalm 127:1 and a West Point Bible open to II Chronicles 7:14||Dwight Eisenhower's First Inaugural Address|
|January 21, 1957||Dwight D. Eisenhower||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Earl Warren||West Point Bible open to Psalm 33:12||Dwight Eisenhower's Second Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1961||John F. Kennedy||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Earl Warren||Closed family Bible||John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1965||Lyndon B. Johnson||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Earl Warren||Closed family Bible||Lyndon Johnson's Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1969||Richard M. Nixon||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Earl Warren||Bible open to Isaiah 2:4||Richard Nixon's First Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1973||Richard M. Nixon||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Warren E. Burger||Bible open to Isaiah 2:4||Richard Nixon's Second Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1977||Jimmy Carter||East Portico, U.S. Capitol||Warren E. Burger||Bible open to Micah 6:8||Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1981||Ronald Reagan||West Front, U.S. Capitol||Warren E. Burger||Family Bible open to 2 Chronicles 7:14||Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address|
|January 21, 1985||Ronald Reagan||Rotunda, U.S. Capitol||Warren E. Burger||Family Bible open to 2 Chronicles 7:14||Ronald Reagan's Second Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1989||George H. W. Bush||West Front, U.S. Capitol||William Rehnquist||Washington Bible opened at random in the center and a family Bible on top opened to Matthew 5||George H. W. Bush's Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1993||Bill Clinton||West Front, U.S. Capitol||William Rehnquist||Bible open to Galatians 6:8||Bill Clinton's First Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 1997||Bill Clinton||West Front, U.S. Capitol||William Rehnquist||Bible open to Isaiah 58:12||Bill Clinton's Second Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 2001||George W. Bush||West Front, U.S. Capitol||William Rehnquist||Closed family Bible||George W. Bush's First Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 2005||George W. Bush||West Front, U.S. Capitol||William Rehnquist||Open family bible; same one used in 1989 and 2001 open to Isaiah 40:31||George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address|
|January 20, 2009||Barack Obama||West Front, U.S. Capitol||John G. Roberts||Closed Lincoln Bible||Barack Obama's First Inaugural Address|
|January 21, 2013||Barack Obama ||West Front, U.S. Capitol||John G. Roberts||Lincoln Bible and a Bible owned by Martin Luther King, Jr.||Barack Obama's Second Inaugural Address|
|Date||President||Location||Administered by||Document Sworn On||Inaugural Addresses (Texts from Wikisource)|
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