The Long Shadow of Barack Obama’s Inauguration

My Inauguration Day column begins like so:

President Obama was officially sworn in yesterday for his second term as chief executive and, this afternoon, he’ll be ceremonially sworn in with all of the usual Capitol fanfare and speeches. While not as historically striking as his first inaugural, I couldn’t help but to rewind back to January 20, 2009, and the thoughts that were spinning through my head as I watched the first African American family enter the White House as President, First Lady and First Daughters.

Needless to say, it was an electrifying day.

Earlier, in 2008, HBO released their phenomenal mini-series John Adams, and there was a particularly poignant and extended sequence in which the second president, having just been defeated by Thomas Jefferson, arrived at the still-under-construction White House for the first time — his new office and home for the remaining months of his term. As John and Mrs. Adams traveled by carriage toward the iconic North Portico, the couple observed with noticeable disdain that slaves were busily finishing work on the grounds, streets and actual construction of the executive mansion. [Watch the video here.]

As well as giving us a glimpse at a primordial Washington, DC and White House, the scene primarily highlighted the hypocrisy of the nation’s founding: the building that would go on to house the leader of the free world was being built by men and women who were denied their freedom. [continue reading]

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  • Username1016

    What happened in 1898?

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      That was a typo. I meant 1800, as in the Election of 1800. Corrected.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Excellent column, Bob.