January 20th 2009: Inauguration of Barack Obama
On this day in 2009, eight years ago, Barack Obama was sworn into office as the 44th President of the United States.
That day, Obama made history as the nation’s first African-American President, having successfully defeated Republican candidate John McCain in the 2008 election. January 20th
has been the official presidential Inauguration Day since the
ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933; previously, new presidents were sworn in on March 4th. Obama’s inauguration was one of the most observed events in global
history, with millions watching in person, online, or on television. The day’s
theme was ‘A New Birth of Freedom’, which derives from President Lincoln’s
Gettysburg Address, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. Obama was sworn into office by the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, who administered the
oath of office required by the Constitution in Article Two, Section One,
Clause Eight. However, the oath administered to Obama strayed slightly from the exact words specified in the Constitution, and he thus retook the oath the next evening. Obama was re-elected to office in 2012, defeating Republican Mitt Romney. The Obama presidency will be remembered primarily for the historic passage of the Affordable Care Act, the normalisation of relations with Cuba, and his appointments to the Supreme Court. His years in office were also marked by increased partisanship and division in America, and continued instability in the Middle East. Obama leaves office today, to be replaced by Republican Donald Trump, with high approval ratings, leaving a legacy of grace and statesmanship that will not be soon forgotten.