Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th US President on Wednesday 20th January. Mr Biden’s oath of office was presided over by the Chief Justice John G. Roberts.
The inauguration ended at the Lincoln Memorial that night, where Mr Biden issued an address to the nation in an attempt to unite the American electorate, asking them to “come together in common love that defines us as Americans.”
Officials closed off large sections of Washington D.C. for the day, following fears of a repeat of the pro-Trump attack on the Capitol Building on 6th January. The Security Service took control over security arrangements, deploying 25,000 National Guard troops and mobilising the police force.
Speaking about the attack, which he himself called an “insurrection,” Mr Biden said: “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Because of you [the American people], democracy has prevailed.”
Two days after the attack, the outgoing President, Donald Trump, announced on social media that he would not be attending the inauguration. As promised, he was absent from the proceedings, the first US President in over a century not to attend the swearing in of his replacement.
Only three other Presidents in history have made this decision: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson.
Instead, Mr Trump left behind a letter for Mr Biden, which the incoming President described as “generous,” though refusing to share its contents until he had spoken with Mr Trump.
Many of the former president’s supporters who believed the election was rigged against him, despite a lack of evidence, planned to host a virtual inauguration for him at the same time as Mr Biden took office. More than 68,000 people on Facebook registered as going to the event. However, Facebook intervened, removing the event on the grounds that it violated the company’s policies.
Despite the former President’s absence, the outgoing Vice-President, Mike Pence, attended. His successor, Kamala Harris, has made history as the first black, and the first female Vice-President in US history, as well as being the first Vice-President of a South Asian background.
Within hours of the new administration taking office, Mr Biden had signed 17 executive orders, taking charge of the nation’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and reversing certain policies of the Trump administration. Notable among these reversals were President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, as well as his controversial travel ban on citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries.
In his address to the people, President Biden admitted his administration faced a number of challenges going forward, not just the pandemic and issues of climate change, but also the fallout from the recent Capitol attack, and issues of racial injustice taking the spotlight after last year’s killing of George Floyd, leaving the population yet more politically and socially divided.
“The question is, are we up to it?” he said. “Will we meet the moment like our forebears have? I believe we must and I believe we will… I’ve never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day.”