Former Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States in a somber, yet peaceful ceremony Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Biden, who placed his hand on a large family Bible.
The 59th presidential inauguration was significantly scaled down, due in part to the ongoing pandemic and also because of deadly violence at the Capitol two weeks ago.
Biden noted the violence and said the peaceful transfer of power represented a victory for democracy. He called for unity in a country beset by major challenges.
“We must meet this moment as the United States of America,” Biden said, putting emphasis on United. “Without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”
Biden urged Americans to “start afresh” and learn to listen to each other again.
“We must end this uncivil war,” he said.
Biden asked all Americans to give him a chance, but he said the right to disagree peaceably is a hallmark of American democracy.
“Disagreement must not lead to disunion,” Biden said. “I will be a president for all Americans. All Americans. I promise you I will fight just as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
Biden said his first act as president would be a moment of silence for the 400,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19, then paused with his head bowed.
Biden invoked the Bible’s declaration that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy will come in the morning” and said the country will emerge stronger: “We will get through this together.”
After Biden spoke, country singer Garth Brooks led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace.”
Earlier in the ceremony, Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office, becoming the first woman and the first person of color to ever hold the position.