Presidential Elections

Inaugurations and the First One Hundred Days

What is Inauguration Day?

Inauguration Day marks the beginning of a president’s new term. The Oath of Office is the main focus of the day, and the only activity required by law. As mandated by Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, the president-elect recites the oath, “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.” George Washington added the words, “so help me God,” and most presidents have followed suit. President Washington also set the precedent of kissing the Bible after taking the oath, although not all presidents have followed this custom (most notably Franklin Pierce, who preferred simply to place his left hand on it, and Theodore Roosevelt, who didn’t use a Bible at all but an upraised hand). Washington also followed his swearing-in with the nation’s first inaugural address, a tradition most presidents have adopted. Since the early days of Washington, each president has added his own stamp on the day’s events, so Inauguration Day reflects the personality and tastes of the incoming chief executive.


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