A Brief History Of: Swearing In

Cecil Stoughton / AP

VP Lyndon Johnson taking oath of office, after Pres. Kennedy's assassination, aboard Air Force One.

At noon on Jan. 20, Barack Obama will place his left hand on the Lincoln Bible, a velvet-bound tome purchased by a Supreme Court clerk for the Great Emancipator's swearing in. He will raise his right hand and repeat after Chief Justice John Roberts these words from Section 1 of the Second Article of the U.S. Constitution: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

As a speech, it's short and to...