Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. and Kamala Devi Harris took the oath of office at a Capitol still reeling from the attack of a violent mob at a time when a deadly pandemic is still ravaging the country.
WASHINGTON — Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, assuming leadership of a country ravaged by disease, dislocation and division with a call to “end this uncivil war” after four tumultuous years that tore at the fabric of American society.
Mr. Biden sought to immediately turn the corner on Donald J. Trump’s polarizing presidency, inviting Republicans to join him in confronting the nation’s dire economic, social and health crises even as he immediately began dismantling his predecessor’s legacy with orders to halt construction of his border wall, lift his travel ban and rejoin the Paris climate agreement.
With his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Mr. Biden recited the 35-word oath administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at 11:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the constitutionally prescribed noon hour. Vice President Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in a few minutes earlier by Justice Sonia Sotomayor using a Bible that once belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and Supreme Court justice. Ms. Harris thus became the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States and the first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to hold the second highest office.
The drama of the moment was underscored by the sight of Mr. Biden taking the oath on the same West Front of the Capitol seized just two weeks ago by a marauding mob trying to block final ratification of Mr. Trump’s election defeat. Without ever naming Mr. Trump, who left the White House early in the morning for Florida but still faces a Senate trial for provoking his supporters, Mr. Biden said that the United States’ democratic experiment itself had come under assault by extremism and lies but ultimately endured.
Published: January 20, 2021