Joe Biden has entered the White House after becoming the 46th President of the United States at a snowdusted and unconventional Inauguration Day ceremony in which he promised to try to unite America.

Mr Biden signed three executive orders in the presence of reporters - a mask mandate on federal property, support for undeserved communities, and rejoining the Paris climate accord.

"We are going to combat climate change in a way we have not done so far," Mr Biden said.

And Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and first woman of colour to be sworn in as Vice President.


US President Joe Biden signs a series of executive orders at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office just hours after his inauguration. Picture: Getty
US President Joe Biden signs a series of executive orders at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office just hours after his inauguration. Picture: Getty

At 78, Mr Biden, who was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, is the oldest US president and also the first Catholic commander in chief since John F. Kennedy Jnr.

In his first address to the nation, President Biden called for a lowering of the national temperature and to "end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban. Conservative versus liberal".

Joe Biden, with his wife Dr Jill Biden, is sworn in as the 46th US President. Picture: Getty Images
Joe Biden, with his wife Dr Jill Biden, is sworn in as the 46th US President. Picture: Getty Images

"Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we're all created equal and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonisation, have long torn us apart," Mr Biden said.

"The battle is perennial. And victory is never assured. Through civil war, the Great Depression, world war, 9/11.

"Through struggle, sacrifice and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us, enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward. And we can do that now.

"This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward."

In a speech that contrasted with that of his predecessor who four years ago spoke of a darkly challenged America riven by tribalism, Mr Biden pledged to govern for all of the country.

He drew cheers when he decried the "riotous mob" who "thought that they could use violence to silence the will of the people. To stop the work of our democracy. Drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen".

"We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban. Conservative versus liberal," he said.

"We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility."

He acknowledged the dire challenges he faced but described it as "a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve" and pledged his "whole soul" was ready to fight for America's future.

"Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now," he said.

Kamala Harris is sworn as U.S. Vice President by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on. Picture: Getty Images
Kamala Harris is sworn as U.S. Vice President by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on. Picture: Getty Images

"A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country has taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.

"Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all, will be deferred to longer."

Reflecting on the Capitol incursion where "just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the very Capitol's foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries".

"Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, a cause of democracy," he said.

Mr Biden thanked his "predecessors of both parties, for their presence here today", including Barack Obama and George W Bush with their wives.

Mr Biden inherits a country riven by the coronavirus and civil strife, which were reflected in a sparsely attended socially-distanced inauguration with an unprecedented security presence.

Mr Biden said any one of the many challenges facing the country would be profound but that he believed the nation could "rise to the occasion.. and master this rare and difficult hour".

"We face a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis. America's role in the world," he said.

"Any one of these will be up to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once. Presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've ever had.

"It's time for boldness. For there is so much to do. And this is certain - I promise you, we will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.

"Will we rise to the occasion, is the question. Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children?

"I believe we must, I'm sure you do as well. I believe we will."

Earlier, Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice President, making history as the first woman and first woman of colour to reach such high office.

Ms Harris took her oath from Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama appointee who was herself the first Latina woman to join the nation's highest court.

In inauguration tradition, a vice president is sworn in ahead of the president so that the order of succession is secure.

Under the constitution Donald Trump was to cease being president at noon today local time, when Joe Biden will take his oath.



The incoming administration was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar who reflected on the historic nature of the appointments and said Mr Biden would unite divided Americans.

"This ceremony is the culmination of 244 years of our democracy," she said, speaking at the site of the Capitol incursion three weeks ago.

"We celebrate its resilience, its grit. We celebrate the ordinary people doing extraordinary things for our nation.

"The doctors and nurses on the frontline of this pandemic. The officers in the Capitol. A new generation never giving up hope for justice.

"We celebrate a new president - Joe Biden, who vows to restore the soul of America and cross the river of our divides to a higher plain.

"And we celebrate our first African-American, first Asian-American and first woman Vice-President, Kamala Harris, who stands on the shoulders of so many on this platform. Who have forged the way to this day."

Earlier, Mr Biden walked the Capitol's steps with his wife, Jill, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

As dignitaries arrived for the unprecedented ceremony in a locked down Washington DC, former US President Barack Obama told his friend "this is your time" as Mr Biden gets set to take office.

Mr Obama tweeted the message to his former Vice President as he and his wife, Michelle, were joined by fellow former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush and other Washington political power players ahead of Mr Biden's inauguration in Washington DC.

Earlier, Mr Biden attended church ahead of his inauguration, a traditional step taken ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.



Mr Biden attended a service at Washington's Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. He was accompanied by his wife, Dr Jill Biden, his children and grandchildren. Mr and Mrs Biden were also joined by incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

At Mr Biden's invitation, the incoming first couple were joined by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, including all four top-ranking members of congressional leadership, including Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Many presidents have chosen St. John's Episcopal Church, sometimes called "Church of the Presidents," for the inaugural day service.

John F Kennedy's funeral was held at the church.

Mr Biden is the second Catholic US president, and St. Matthew's is the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Washington.

Mr Biden spent Tuesday night at Blair House, a traditional move ahead of a president's inauguration.


Mr Biden has inherited a public health catastrophe, a shattered economy and a deeply divided nation but the 46th president of the United States spent his last day before taking office focused on family.

Circling from a tearful tribute to his own lost son to a solemn memorial for the more than 400,000 who have died from coronavirus, Joe Biden promised to be a leader for all Americans.

He will take power on an Inauguration Day like no other.

Snubbed by Donald Trump - the first US President in more than 150 years to skip his successor's swearing-in - Mr Biden will take part in a largely "virtual" series of appearances from which the public have been cut out.

Social distancing requirements due to the pandemic have for months seen Team Biden urge the public to stay home to watch his ascension by livestream.

But the Capitol incursion on January 6, which caused five deaths and led to Mr Trump's historic second impeachment for inciting his violent supporters to overthrow the election results slammed a kilometres-wide security cordon on Washington DC that made a public viewing of the events impossible.

Mr Biden started with an emotional farewell to his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, during which he openly cried.

Speaking at a National Guard centre named for his late son, Beau, who died in 2015, Mr Biden described his loss as his "one regret".

"I only have one regret … that he's not here," Mr Biden said.

"We should be introducing him as president."

Mr Biden's speech was ahead of a short private plane journey to the capital, taken after Mr Trump reportedly refused to grant him use of Air Force One.

He was urged to shelve his plan to travel by train to his swearing-in alongside Vice President Kamala Harris amid security concerns.

Mr Biden reflected on his term as Vice President to Barack Obama and said he would be a leader for all Americans.

"Here we are today … about to return to Washington, to meet a Black woman of South Asian descent - to be sworn in as president and vice president," Mr Biden said.

"Don't tell me things can't change.

"They can and they do."



Later, he and Ms Harris led a simple but powerful tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died to the pandemic.

"It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal. It's important to do that as a nation," Mr Biden said near the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where 400 lights flooded the sky to remember those lost.

"Let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we have lost."

Across Washington DC church bells sounded, while in New York the Empire State Building glowed red.



Ms Harris, who will today become the first female vice president, stressed the need for Americans to come together.

"For many months, we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together," she said.

This call for unity will be reflected in how the Biden and Harris families spend the morning ahead of their inauguration, with senior Republicans Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy among those to accept an invitation from the new first family to join them for a church service.

Mr Biden has promised an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days, including overturning some of Mr Trump's most contentious policies during his first full day in office tomorrow.

Among those will be for the US to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and reverse the Muslim travel ban that Mr Trump enacted in January 2017.



But the first challenge of the Biden administration was a peaceful and orderly Inauguration Day, something which the overwhelming security presence in Washington DC drove home.

Earlier, the FBI informed US law enforcement agencies that followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory and far-right "lone wolves" planned to infiltrate the inauguration by posing as National Guard members.

By day's end 12 guardsmen had been removed from the 25,000-strong troop presence, two of them because of their ties to extremists.

Popstar and actress Lady Gaga, scheduled to perform the national anthem ahead of the swearing in, summed up the concerns of many.

"I pray tomorrow will be a day of peace for all Americans," she said on social media.

"A day for love, not hatred. A day for acceptance not fear. A day for dreaming of our future joy as a country. A dream that is nonviolent, a dream that provides safety for our souls."

Originally published as 'End this uncivil war': Biden's hope for America

Why your elective surgery is facing a big delay

Premium Content Why your elective surgery is facing a big delay

Delays expected for non-urgent elective surgery in Qld

‘Emotional’: Elation as NZ travel bubble opens

Premium Content ‘Emotional’: Elation as NZ travel bubble opens

Kiwis stuck in QLD jet home for first time as NZ travel bubble opens

DON'T MISS IT: Activate your free bonus for big rewards

Premium Content DON'T MISS IT: Activate your free bonus for big rewards

Did you know you can get even more – for free?