Inaugurating a President


After we learn about candidates and issues, watch political conventions and debates, and cast votes for President, it’s time for the Inauguration!

GenerationNation provides a variety of hands-on activities to help students learn while watching, reading about, analyzing and discussing the Inauguration.

Themes include:

  • Electing a President
  • All levels and branches of government
  • Roles of citizens and leaders
  • Democracy, political process, elections and voting
  • Civic participation and leadership
  • Current events and public policy issues
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Media literacy
  • Reading and analyzing information
  • Writing to communicate information, ideas, facts and opinions
  • Communicating a position, listening to others, debating a topic with civility
  • And more!

About the Inauguration

The President is sworn into office at 12:00 Noon on January 20th. This date and time is determined by the United States Constitution Amendment XX, which outlines the terms of presidential office. In 2017, the 20th is on a Friday.

On Inauguration Day, several events celebrate the peaceful transfer of power between Presidents and when Presidents begin their second terms.

What happens on Inauguration Day?

Events change in different years. Here are some of the most common:

  • Morning Worship Service
  • Procession to the Capitol
  • Vice-President’s Swearing-In
  • President’s Swearing-In and Inaugural Address
  • Inaugural Luncheon, Inaugural Parade and Inaugural Ball

Swearing-in the President

While it may sound like a strange activity, the “swearing-in” is when a person officially becomes the President. In being sworn-in, the Oath of Office is recited.

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. —Presidential oath of office, Article II, Section 1, United States Constitution

A Bible is used for the swearing-in. The bibles are often chosen to be symbolic. For example, in 2013, Barack Obama was sworn in using 2 bibles: belonging to President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Supreme Court Chief Justice usually administers the Oath of Office.

Learn more

President Obama 2013 Inauguration Day swearing-in and address

President Obama text of Inaugural Address

President Trump Inaugural Address 1/20/17 VIDEO

Trump Inaugural Address text

video and text to be posted after January 20

Watch PBS film about President Trump and find other informational resources

Watch Inaugural videos
Article II of U.S. Constitution
Information about Presidential Oaths of Office (1789-2013)

Inaugural Address

In the Inaugural Address, the President outlines his vision and goals for America. This is an important speech that will be viewed, and analyzed, worldwide now and for years to come.

Learn about past Inaugural Addresses (George Washington – Barack Obama )

View videos of Inaugural Addresses

Harry Truman (1949) | Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953) | John F. Kennedy (1961)
Lyndon B. Johnson (1965) | Richard Nixon (1969) | Jimmy Carter (1977)
Ronald Reagan (1981) | George H. W. Bush (1988)| Bill Clinton (1993)
George W. Bush (2001) | Barack Obama (2009)

Learn more
Joint Committee for the Inauguration

Office of the President, watch film about Donald Trump and more resources

Tags: events and holidays, executive, history, news and media literacy, president, primary sources, reading information

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