• Exploring American History

Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States

In January, following a presidential election, the inauguration of the new President takes place at noon on January 20th, generally outdoors at the U.S. Capitol. The crowning moment occurs when the President takes the oath of office. The words for the oath are contained within Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution:


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.”


Rumor has it when George Washington took the oath, he added the words, “So help me God.” Other presidents have since done the same.


Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration was the first to take place in Washington D.C. (The city became the capital in 1800). During his second inauguration, Jefferson rode from the Capitol to the President’s House on horseback, accompanied by a band and numerous well-wishers. This became the first inaugural parade.


Originally Inauguration Day took place on March 4th. In 1933 with the ratification of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the date was changed to January 20th. In 1985, the 20th fell on a Sunday, so Ronald Reagan’s public inaugural ceremony for his second term was moved to January 21st and held inside the Capitol Rotunda, due to bad weather. This was the first time the presidential oath of office was taken there.



Though numerous past presidents have taken their oath with their hand on a closed book, several have chosen to be sworn in on Bibles open to specific passages they have chosen — presumably some passage that holds a special meaning to them for that momentous occasion. Here's a list of scripture passages used by some of them:


Theodore Roosevelt – 1905

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in the mirror.

James 1:22-23


Woodrow Wilson - 1917

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble . . .

Psalm 46:1


Franklin D. Roosevelt - 1933

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal . . .

I Corinthians 13:1


Gerald Ford - 1974

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6


Ronald Reagan - 1981 & 1985

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

II Chronicles 7:14


Bill Clinton - 1993

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but that he soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:8


Donald Trump - 2017

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Psalms 133:1

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