On January 20, 2009, the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama, was inaugurated. In a ceremony on the steps of the United States Capitol building, Illinois Sen. Obama was sworn in as the 44th president by Chief Justice John Roberts. It was a peaceful transfer of power from the 43rd president, George W. Bush.  

It is estimated that more than one million people filled the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to witness the inauguration. Obama took the oath of office on the same Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration in 1861. This symbolically represented the journey of African Americans from slaves to holders of the highest offices in the United States.

Abraham Lincoln

(1809-1865) 16th American president.


official building used by the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C.


activities to celebrate or commemorate an event.


to make a formal beginning or start.

National Mall

national park composed largely of grassy lawns, stretching roughly between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

oath of office

public promise a person makes before taking a job or responsibility.

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