Presidential Inaugurations Throughout History: Take a Look Back at Barack Obama, George W. Bush, JFK and FDR’s Swearing-In Ceremonies

On Friday, January 20, President-elect Donald Trump will make history as he is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Watch the video above and take a look back with Us Weekly at memorable inaugurations throughout American history!

Over the years, America’s presidents have uttered some of their most memorable words of wisdom at their inaugurations, often reflecting key issues of their times. In 2008, a then-Sen. Barack Obama was sworn in for his first term in the White House amid a financial crisis and economic downturn that would later be dubbed the Great Recession.

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” President Obama said on that fateful day in 2008. Obama's predecessor George W. Bush spoke about the importance of the ceremony in his first inaugural address in 2001.

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after his speech at the ceremonial swearing-in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC.
President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after his speech at the ceremonial swearing in during the 57th presidential inauguration on the west front of the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Scott Andrews-Pool/Getty Images

“With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings,” he said. “Where so many of America’s leaders have come before me, and so many will follow.”

Other particularly memorable inaugural speeches include John F. Kennedy’s 1961 swearing in, when he famously implored his fellow Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served as the 32nd president and led the nation through the second World War, reminded citizens around the globe during his first inauguration in 1933 that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Though it is not yet clear what Trump’s message will be at the inauguration on Friday, details of the big day suggest that it will be along the lines of the real estate mogul’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” (Despite claims to the contrary, the phrase originated with Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980.) On Wednesday, January 18, Trump tweeted a photo of himself writing the speech, and his spokesperson has also said that the former Apprentice host will be talking about his vision.

Trump’s inauguration has been clouded by controversy over everything from who will perform at the “Make America Great Again” concert, on Thursday, January 19, to a boycott by lawmakers — as of Wednesday, January 18, more than 60 Democratic lawmakers announced they are skipping the event in protest.

Watch the video above to see some of Trump’s predecessors take the presidential stage at their inaugurations.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!

Close popup

Welcome to In Motion

Bring photos to life with Us Weekly's exciting new mobile experience!

What's In Motion? Tell me more

What's In Motion?

Go back

How to Use In Motion

What's In Motion? Tell me more