In the culmination of his extraordinary rise to power over a tumultuous election year, Donald John Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States in Washington, D.C.
From the time he kicked off his presidential campaign in June 2015 at his namesake Trump Tower in New York City, Trump seemed an unlikely candidate for the nation’s highest office.
But with his brash promises to crack down on illegal immigration, bring back jobs for working class Americans and overturn the political establishment, the endlessly controversial real estate mogul and reality TV personality triumphed amid a crowded Republican primary field. He then pulled off an upset victory over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the general election in November 2016.
On a rainy Inauguration Day, a crowd of supporters—many of them wearing Trump’s distinctive red “Make America Great Again” caps—gathered to watch the inaugural ceremonies, held on the West Front of the Capitol Building.
Though crowd experts estimated that between 300,000 and 600,000 people attended Trump’s inauguration (around a third of the crowd on hand for the 2009 inauguration of his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama), the White House and Trump himself disputed that assessment, claiming the media deliberately underestimated the crowd total.
After Associate Justice Clarence Thomas swore in Vice President-elect Mike Pence and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed “America the Beautiful,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered the presidential oath of office to Trump.
For his swearing-in, Trump placed his hand on two Bibles held by his wife, Melania Trump, a Slovenian native who became the first foreign-born U.S. first lady since Louisa Adams, the British-born wife of John Quincy Adams. One was Trump’s personal Bible, which his mother had given him when he was a child; the other was the Bible used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration in 1861, and again by Obama in 2009 and 2013.
At 70, Trump became the oldest man to assume the presidency, and the first to have no previous record of government or military experience. In his inaugural address, which at some 16 minutes was the shortest since Jimmy Carter’s in 1977, he stuck close to the dark, ominous message he relied on during the campaign, referring to grim images of inner-city poverty and “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones” across the national landscape. “The American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he intoned, in one of the most striking lines of the 1,433-word address.
Calling himself the protector of the “forgotten men and women” in America, Trump struck a clear populist note in his speech, reportedly drawing inspiration from the inaugural address given by Andrew Jackson in 1829. Like Trump, Jackson had triumphed thanks to a populist movement among Americans who embraced his anti-establishment, anti-elite message.
Trump also sounded a nationalistic tone in his address, repeatedly using the term “America first” to refer to the economic policies his administration planned to implement. Worried observers of the speech noted that “America First” was also the name of the movement founded by Charles Lindbergh in the 1940s, which worked to keep the United States from going to war against Nazi Germany.
After the inaugural ceremony, President Trump attended a traditional inaugural luncheon held in National Statuary Hall in the Capitol, then followed the inaugural parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. The new president and first lady ended their evening by attending three official inaugural balls.
On the following day, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington, a mass protest of the Trump administration, the Republican-led Congress and their stances on reproductive, civil and human rights. In all, more than 2.5 million people reportedly joined the protest, marching in cities across the United States and around the globe.
“Trump becomes 45th president of the United States,” CNN, January 21, 2017.
“Donald Trump Strikes Nationalistic Tone in Inaugural Speech,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2017.
“Donald Trump is Sworn In as President, Capping His Swift Ascent,” New York Times, January 20, 2017.
“There’s no evidence that Trump’s inauguration was the most-watched in history. Period.” Washington Post, January 23, 2017.
“‘America First’: From Charles Lindbergh to President Trump,” NPR, February 6, 2017.