Amidst unprecedented global optimism, President Barack Obama took oath of office as the 44th US president, and the first ever non-white elected to the White House, where ealier in the day he and his wife, Michele, had coffee with outgoing President George W Bush and Laura Bush.
The man, whose campaign theme was 'Yes, we can," was sworn in at 11.56 am on January 20 as the nation's 44th president.
President Obama also became the first-ever African-American chief executive on the steps of the west front of the Capitol in the presence of over an unprecedented crowd of over two million.
Placing his right hand on President Lincoln's Bible, Obama, 47, was administered the oath of office by Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, 53, who was administering his first presidential oath of office after being appointed to the bench three years ago by outgoing President Bush
Even as media outlets around the world pilloried outgoing US President George W Bush as the worst ever commander-in-chief in American history, they have been looking forward to President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration speech with the greatest of expectations. And he didn't disappoint.
Touching upon the twin perils of terrorism and recession imperiling the country today, the new President exhorted Americans to stand up and deliver on the promises of the nation's founding fathers.
Reflecting on the country's multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-racial heritage, Obama said that even though the challenges facing the nation are new, the instruments of meeting them - faith, determination, courage and loyalty - are not so, but ingrained in each and every American.
Bringing up the founding of the nation in the most difficult of circumstances, Obama said, ''Let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.''
His speech not only spoke to Americans, but people around the world. Even as he assured Muslim nations of seeking ''a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect'', he promised poorer countries ''to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.'' As for the richer contemporaries in Europe, Obama promised to be attentive to their needs and no longer ''consume the world's resources without regard to effect''.
Obama began working on the speech before the Thanksgiving holiday and sought input from senior adviser David Axelrod, and such luminaries as Ted Sorenson and Dick Goodwin, both speech writers for President Kennedy, historian / authors Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, as well as members of his own speech writing team.
Much of the expectations for his speech are a result of the turbulent times facing him as he takes office as the 44th President of the United States of America. Also, Obama has already demonstrated his ability as a master orator, and many observers are looking for the new president's address to equal the great speeches by presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan.
Obama has said he has been studying previous inaugural addresses - including President Abraham Lincoln's and the speeches President Franklin D Roosevelt gave as he took office amid the Great Depression. On an interview with CNN, Obama himself admitted that to produce a speech for the ages not is limited to the public but his own family as well.
In fact, such is the worldwide interest in his inaugural speech that an Irish bookie was offering odds on phrases that may be used. In a range of inauguration-themed bets, punters can place bets on the duration of Obama's speech, the TV ratings and what "cliché" he will first mention during his address.
The best odds on offer for the content of his speech are 8-1 for "Change has come", 10-1 for "Yes We Can" and 12-1 for "Fundamental belief", "As I stand here today", "Defining moment" and "God Bless America". At the other end of the spectrum, long shots include 500-1 for "Always bet on black!" and 250-1 for "Let's get ready to rumble" and "Life is like a box of chocolates," said bookmakers Paddy Power.
A new 17-nation poll conducted for BBC World Service found widespread and growing optimism that his presidency will lead to improved relations between the US and the rest of the world. The poll also shows people around the world are looking to President Obama to put highest priority on dealing with the current global financial crisis.
In 15 of the 17 countries polled, majorities think that the election of Barack Obama will lead to improved relations with the rest of the world and on average
- 67 per cent express this upbeat view
- 19 per cent think relations will stay the same and
- just 5 per cent that relations will worsen
This is up sharply by 21 points among tracking countries from polling done for BBC World Service six months ago, before Obama was elected. At that time just 47 per cent expressed optimism that an Obama presidency would lead to improved relations with the rest of the world. The number of people giving no answer to the question is also down sharply.
(See full text of speech)