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On January 20, 2009, on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama took the oath of office and became the 44th president of the United States. Given the complicated and often cruel history of African-Americans in the United States, Congressman John L. Lewis, a veteran of the Civil Rights movement, described the event as "bewildering" and "almost too much, too emotional."
"Barack has lifted people," Lewis told New Yorker editor David Remnick after the inauguration. "Old people, young people, children, black and white. Look out on the Mall here. You can see it in their walk, can’t you?"
Today, as the president takes the oath of office once more, the palpable hope and excitement of Obama's first inauguration has waned. The realities of Washington slammed the buoyant president in his first term, and he may find himself reflecting on the words President Lincoln chose to begin his second inaugural:
"At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first," Lincoln said, on March 4, 1865. "Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years…little that is new could be presented."
Of course, Lincoln's second inaugural address is now considered one of the greatest speeches in all of American history. He followed his tentative beginning with a soaring oration on slavery and a hopeful prayer for reconciliation at the end of the Civil War. He would be assassinated six weeks later.
Kenneth C. Davis, author of "Don't Know Much About American History" and "Don't Know Much About American Presidents," explains that few second inaugural addresses live up to Lincoln's shining example. He explores the history of second inaugurals, and discusses the expectations for President Obama.
For more, go to: http://www.thetakeaway.org/2013/jan/21/second-inaugurals-lincoln-obama/