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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Takes Oath of Office

WASHINGTON - William Jefferson Clinton solemnly swore an oath as the nation's 42nd president Wednesday with a call for a bold "season of American renewal". Tens of thousands gathered in Washington to witness the transfer of power to a new generation of leadership.


"To renew America, we must meet challenges abroad as well as at home", Clinton said.


"There is no clear division today between what is foreign and what is domestic - the world economy, the world environment, the world AIDS crisis, the world arms race affect us all".


With a hand resting on a Bible given to him by his grandmother, Clinton pledged to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution".


And by those words - uttered by every incoming president since George Washington - the new Democratic chief executive assumed responsibility for the nation's economic woes, its awesome nuclear arsenal and the management of world trouble spots from Iraq to Bosnia to Somalia.


"There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America", Clinton said in his inaugural remarks, the climax of a ceremony that blended pomp and poetry. His is the first Democratic administration in a dozen years.


Clinton's emotions were near the surface as his assumption of power grew close. A tear rolled down his cheek as he sat in a front-row pew at an early morning church service.


The speech echoed his long campaign for the White House, using the word "change" nine times.


"The urgent question of our age is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy", he said.


Clinton added, "It is time to break the bad habit of expecting something for nothing, from our government or from each other. Let us take more responsibility, not only for ourselves and our families, but for our communities and our country".


Close by were his wife Hillary, daughter Chelsea, Vice President Al Gore, and - in a visible display of the orderly transition of power, members of Congress, the Supreme Court and the outgoing and incoming administrations.


The U. S. Marine Band signalled the transition, playing "Hail to the Chief" one final time to President George Bush shortly before noon, and again to the new president a few minutes after.


Hours before mounting the inaugural stand, Clinton declared himself prepared for the responsibilities ahead. Asked whether he felt ready, the president-to-be said simply, "I do".


The ceremony began on time with a prayer by the Reverend Billy Graham. Bush bowed his head. Clinton, standing a few feet away, did likewise.


In his remarks, Clinton began with a tribute to his predecessor for his "half century of service to America".


A few moments later, he signalled unmistakably his determination to change the country.


"We pledge that the era of deadlock and drift is over", he said. "A new season of American renewal has begun".


"It will not be easy", he added. "It will require sacrifice. But it can be done and done fairly, not choosing sacrifice for its own sake, but for our own sake".


The stylized turnover of the office began earlier when Bush graciously greeted the Clintons, Gore and his family at the White House.


"Good luck to you", said Bush, reaching out to shake the hands of his guests.


Bush had arranged to be in Houston before the sun set on Clinton's Washington.


By then, Clinton and his wife would be donning formal clothes to join the celebrating Democrats at 11 inaugural balls, cheering their return to power after a 12-year drought.


First was the parade, traditional, fun-filled, noisy and quirky - witnessed by the Clintons from an enclosed reviewing stand in front of their new home on Pennsylvania Avenue. The marching was to go on for hours, with participants from every state, including the high school band from a place called Hope, Arkansas. Clinton was born there 46 years ago.


Before the day was over, the new president was expected to start putting his own stamp on the government.


Awaiting action were a sheaf of executive orders. They would carry out some of Clinton's campaign promises and reverse the policies of 12 years of Republican rule that viewed active government as a costly obstacle to free enterprise.


One order will put into effect Clinton's new standards for his appointees. Another will create a national economic council, a step in fulfillment of Clinton's promise to put the economy first. On Friday he is expected to rescind Bush's restriction on abortion counseling at federal clinics.