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The Long Campaign
President Barack Obama
(AP Images/

In Focus
Transcript of the Inaugural Address (in German) Inauguration
Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

The 2009 U.S. Presidential Inauguration (eJournal USA)
Barack Obama: 44th President of the United States
President Obama in His Own Words
U.S. Presidential Transitions (eJournal USA)

U.S. Senate: Inauguration Day Events
PBS: Inaugural Fashion
The Presidential Inaugural Committee
Inauguration: Facts and Firsts

Historical Inaugurations (Photo Gallery)
A Day of Celebration (Photo Gallery)
Witnessing History -- Inauguration 2009 [ Video; 1:43 min.]



“The citizens of the United States enthusiastically celebrated the inauguration of their 44th president in January 2009. The peaceful transfer of power always renews faith in the strength of democracy, but in 2009 the rise of an African-American to the nation’s highest office also gave reason for pride at the nation’s repudiation of the segregation and slavery in its past. President Barack Obama called it a day when Americans chose “hope over fear.” (eJournal USA: The 2009 U.S. Presidential Inauguration)

The Presidential Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony took place on the West Front of the Capitol at noon on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

Amendment XX to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified January 23, 1933, set the President's term of office to expire on January 20 at noon.

The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin. Amendment XX, Section1)

The purpose of this inauguration is to honor the incoming president with formal ceremonies, including:

Presidential Swearing-in Ceremony
an Inaugural Address
an Inaugural Parade.

President-elect Barack Obama took the oath of office, which states the following:

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The Inauguration celebrated the continuity of the American Democracy. When Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009, it marked the 56th time that a U.S. president has been sworn in for a four-year term since 1789, when George Washington first took the same oath. Many inaugural events have been added during the past 220 years, but the steps that the president-elect follows to take the constitutionally mandated oath of office, the central event of the inauguration, are essentially unchanged. The oath was be administered at the U.S. Capitol, in a ceremony on the west front of the building, overlooking the National Mall, as it has been since 1801 when Thomas Jefferson was sworn in there. (


See also:
About the USA > Government > Executive Branch

Inaugural Poetry

Three times in U.S history, poetry has been read at presidential swearing in ceremonies. Robert Frost read his poetry for John F. Kennedy in 1961. Bill Clinton asked Maya Angelou to read her work for his 1993 inauguration. In 1997 Clinton again asked a poet, Miller Williams, to read for the inauguration. Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, essayist, playwright, and a professor at Yale University, was selected to compose and read an original work at the inauguration on January 20. She will delivered her poem after the inaugural address.

Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander
Text (transcript of the inaugural poem, as provided by CQ transcriptions; supplied by the New York Times)
Podcast (Listen to Poet Elizabeth Alexander speak at Obama’s inauguration)

NYT Article: The Intersection of Poetry and Politics
Elizabeth Alexander’s Homepage
Printable Versions of Elizabeth Alexander’s Poems
TeacherVision: Inaugural Poetry

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Created: March 10, 2009