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  United States Presidential Inauguration

The swearing-in of the President of the United States occurs upon the commencement of a new term of a President of the United States. The United States Constitution mandates that the President make the following oath or affirmation before he or she can "enter on the Execution" of the office of the presidency:

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.

The newly elected or re-elected President traditionally adds "so help me God" to the constitutionally mandated statement.

The swearing-in traditionally takes place at noon on Inauguration Day at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., with the Chief Justice of the United States administering the oath. From the presidency of Martin Van Buren through Jimmy Carter, the ceremony took place on the Capitol's East Portico. Since the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the ceremony has been held at the Capitol's West Front. The inauguration of William Howard Taft in 1909 and Reagan in 1985 were moved indoors at the Capitol due to cold weather. Until 1937, Inauguration Day was March 4. Since then, Inauguration Day has occurred on January 20 (the 1933 ratification of the Twentieth Amendment changed the start date of the term).

Since Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth swore in President John Adams, no Chief Justice has missed a regularly-scheduled Inauguration Day swearing-in. When Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday, the Chief Justice has administered the oath to the President either on inauguration day itself or on the preceding Saturday privately and the following Monday publicly. Eight presidential deaths and Richard Nixon's resignation have forced the oath of office to be administered by other officials on other days. The War of 1812 and World War II forced two swearings-in to be held at other locations in Washington, D.C.

From 1789 through 2005, the swearing-in has been administered by 14 Chief Justices, one Associate Justice, three federal judges, two New York state judges, and one notary public. Though anyone legally authorized to administer an oath may swear in a President, to date the only person to do so who was not a judge was John C. Coolidge, Calvin Coolidge's father, a notary whose home the then-Vice President was visiting in 1923 when he learned of the death of President Warren G. Harding.



Inaugural ceremonies

The inauguration for the first U.S. president, George Washington, was held on April 30, 1789, in New York City. Inauguration Day was originally set for March 4, giving electors from each state nearly four months after Election Day to cast their ballots for president. In 1937, the day of inauguration was changed by the Twentieth Amendment from March 4 to noon on January 20, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term in 1937. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first to be sworn in as president in Washington, D.C., which did not officially become the federal capital until that year.[1]

The President of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America and is the highest political official in the United States by influence and recognition. The President leads the executive branch of the federal government; his role is to execute the law as created by the Congress, in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. Article II of the Constitution establishes the President as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and enumerates powers specifically granted to the President, including the power to sign into law or veto bills passed by both houses of the Congress. The President also has the power to create a cabinet of advisers and to grant pardons or reprieves. Finally, with the "advice and consent" of the Senate, the President is empowered to make treaties and appoint federal officers, ambassadors and federal judges, including Justices of the Supreme Court. As with officials in the other branches of the federal government, the Constitution restrains the President with a set of checks and balances designed to prevent any individual or group from taking absolute power.




The Treaty of Paris in 1783 left the United States independent and at peace but with an unsettled governmental structure. The Second Continental Congress had drawn up Articles of Confederation in 1777, describing a permanent confederation, but granting to the Congress—the only federal institution—little power to finance itself or to ensure that its resolutions were enforced. In part, this reflected the anti-monarchy view of the Revolutionary period, and the new American system was explicitly designed to prevent the rise of an American tyrant to replace the British King.

However, during the economic depression due to the collapse of the continental dollar following the Revolution, the viability of the American government was threatened by political unrest in several states, efforts by debtors to use popular government to erase their debts, and the apparent inability of the Continental Congress to redeem the public obligations incurred during the war. The Congress also appeared unable to become a forum for productive cooperation among the States encouraging commerce and economic development. In response a Constitutional Convention was convened, ostensibly to reform the Articles of Confederation, but that subsequently began to draft a new system of government that would include greater executive power while retaining the checks and balances thought to be essential restraints on any imperial tendency in the office of the President.

Individuals who presided over the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary period and under the Articles of Confederation had the title "President of the United States in Congress Assembled," often shortened to "President of the United States". The office had little distinct executive power. With the 1788 ratification of the Constitution, a separate executive branch was created (President of the United States).

The President's executive authority under the Constitution, tempered by the checks and balances of the judicial and legislative branches of the federal government, was designed to solve several political problems faced by the young nation and to anticipate future challenges, while still preventing the rise of an autocrat over a nation wary of royal authority.

After World War II, the United States' status as a superpower transformed the President into one of the world's most well-known and influential public figures. The appellation "leader of the free world", frequently used in reference to Presidents since the Cold War, symbolizes the President's elevated role in world affairs. The official presidential anthem is "Hail to the Chief"; preceded by "ruffles and flourishes", it is primarily played to announce the President at state functions.[1]

Head of state is the generic term for the individual or collective office that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchic or republican nation-state, federation, commonwealth or any other political state. His or her role generally includes personifying the continuity and legitimacy of the state and exercising the political powers, functions and duties granted to the head of state in the country's constitution and further legislation. The head of state is often thought of as the official "leader" of the nation-state.

Charles de Gaulle described the role he envisaged for the French president when he wrote the modern French constitution, stating the head of state should embody "the spirit of the nation" for the nation itself and the world: une certaine idée de la France (a certain idea about France). Today many countries expect their head of state to embody national values in a similar fashion.

This series is part of
the Politics series

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[edit] Constitutional models

In protocolary terms, states are distinguished as monarchy or republic depending on the style (and usually mode of accession, see below) of their head of state, a typical constitutional provision, but as such this is not defining for the actual political system, which often evolves significantly within either or can remain unaltered in other respects despite a transition from monarchy to republic (or, rarer, vice versa).

Different state constitutions (fundamental laws) establish different political systems, but four major types of heads of state can be distinguished:

  1. the non-executive head of state system, in which the head of state does not hold any executive power and mainly plays a symbolic role on behalf of the state;
  2. the parliamentary system, in which the head of state possesses executive power but the exercise of this power is done on the advice of a cabinet;
  3. the presidential system (sometimes called 'imperial'), in which the head of state is also the head of government and actively exercises executive power; and,
  4. the semi-presidential system, in which the head of state shares exercise of executive power with a head of government.

[edit] Non-executive heads of state

Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, is an example of a non-executive head of state.

One form that the head of state role takes can be loosely called the non-executive head of state model. Its holders are excluded completely from the executive: they do not possess even theoretical executive powers or any role, even formal, within the government. Hence their states' governments are not referred to by the traditional parliamentary model head of state styles of "His/Her Majesty's Government" or "His/Her Excellency's Government." Within this general category, variants in terms of powers and functions may exist. The King of Sweden, since the passage of the modern Swedish constitution (the Instrument of Government) in the mid 1970s, no longer has any of the parliamentary system head of state functions that had previously belonged to Swedish kings, but still receives formal cabinet briefings monthly in the royal palace. In contrast, the only contact the Irish president has with the Irish government is through a formal briefing session given by the Taoiseach (prime minister) to the President. However, he or she has no access to documentation and all access to ministers goes through the Department of An Taoiseach (prime minister's office).

[edit] Parliamentary system

Queen Elizabeth II, one of the world's best known and longest serving heads of states.

In parliamentary systems the head of state may be merely the nominal chief executive officer of the state, possessing executive power (hence the description of the United Kingdom monarch's government as His/Her Majesty's Government; a term indicating that all power belongs to the sovereign and the government acts on Her Majesty's behalf, not parliament's). In reality however, due to a process of constitutional evolution, powers are usually only exercised by direction of a cabinet, presided over by a prime minister, or President of the Government, who is answerable to the legislature. This accountability requires that someone be chosen from parliament who has parliament's support (or, at least, not parliament's opposition - a subtle but important difference). It also gives parliament the right to vote down the government, forcing it either to resign or seek a parliamentary dissolution. Governments are thus said to be responsible (or answerable) to parliament, with the government in turn accepting constitutional responsibility for offering constitutional advice to the head of state.

A monarchy is a form of government in which supreme power is absolutely or nominally lodged in an individual, who is the head of state, often for life or until abdication, and "is wholly set apart from all other members of the state."[1] The person who heads a monarchy is called a monarch. It was a common form of government in the world during the ancient and medieval times.

There is no clear definition of monarchy. Holding unlimited political power in the state is not the defining characteristic, as many constitutional monarchies such as the United Kingdom and Thailand are considered monarchies. Hereditary rule is often a common characteristic, but elective monarchies are considered monarchies (the pope, sovereign of the Vatican City State, is elected by the College of Cardinals) and some states have hereditary rulers, but are considered republics (such as the stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, or the Great Council of Chiefs in Fiji).[1] A 1914 edition of Bouvier's Law Dictionary states that "Monarchy is contradistinguished from republic," and gives this definition:

We cannot find any better definition of monarchy than what this is: a monarchy is the government which is ruled (really or theoretically) by one person, who is wholly set apart from all other members of the state's (called his subjects); while we call republic that government in which not only there exists an organism by which the opinion of the people, or of a portion of the people (as in aristocracies), passes over into public will, that is, law, but in which also the supreme power, or the executive power, returns, either periodically or at stated times (where the chief magistracy is for life), to the people, or a portion of the people, to be given anew to another person; or else, that government in which the hereditary portion (if there be any) is not the chief and leading portion of the government, as was the case in the Netherlands.[1]

Currently, 44 nations in the world have monarchs as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth realms that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Elizabeth II also holds a variety of other positions, among them Head of the Commonwealth, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Duke of Normandy, Lord of Mann, and Paramount Chief of Fiji.



[edit] Etymology

     Absolute monarchy     Semi-constitutional monarchy     Constitutional monarchy     States in personal union with a constitutional monarch, such as many Commonwealth realms     Subnational monarchies (partial)

The word monarch (Latin: monarcha) comes from the Greek μονάρχης (from μόνος, "one/singular," and ἀρχων, "leader/ruler/chief") which referred to a single, at least nominally absolute ruler. With time, the word has been succeeded in this meaning by others, such as autocrat or dictator. In modern use the word monarch generally is used when referring to a traditional system of hereditary rule, with elective monarchies often considered as exceptions.

[edit] Characteristics and role

Part of the Politics series on
Crown of St. Edward
Politics portal

Today, the extent of a monarch's powers varies:


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