Biden, former vice president to President Barack Obama and senator of Delaware, also made history Wednesday as he is the oldest person to take office at 78.
Quoting former President Abraham Lincoln, Biden said that his “whole soul is in this,” in his effort to tackle a divisive country following former President Donald J. Trump’s anti-democratic term.
Biden condemned the violence that occurred on Capitol Hill earlier this month, promising that democracy will “not ever” be silenced. He vowed to be a president for all, including those “who did not support me and those who did.”
“Disagreement must not lead to disunion,” Biden said. “I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans.”
Several of Biden’s predecessors were in attendance, including Obama, former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton.
In a rare break from tradition, Trump left Washington D.C. earlier Wednesday morning and thus did not participate in the honorary departure ceremony or the escorting of Biden into the Capitol.
Former Vice President Mike Pence was present at the event, however, seated near Harris. Pence made his departure from office with his wife, former Second Lady Karen Pence, after being formally escorted out by Harris and Emhoff.
During his inauguration speech, Biden took a moment of silence to remember the over 400,000 lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of flags filling the National Mall in representation of these Americans.
“We will get through this together,” Biden said.
The ceremony featured musical guests Garth Brooks, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez as well as the youngest-ever inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, who is 22. Tens of thousands of National Guard troops were present for the event, standing by as a precaution in response to the riot on Jan. 6.
Biden, along with his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, departed the Capitol after participating in some of his first official duties as president, including signing the Inauguration Day proclamation and Cabinet nominations.
“I give you my word, I will always level with you, I will defend the Constitution, I will defend our democracy, I will defend America,” he said.