Barack Obama, the president who publicly swore his second oath of office on the Bibles of Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. , used his inaugural address to chart an arc of history from the liberation movements of the 16th president's time through the civil rights movements of a century later to the day on which hundreds of thousands of Americans packed the National Mall to cheer for the promise of an emboldened presidency.
Obama charted that arc in a remarkable soliloquy that spoke of a fundamental America duty to provide "hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice":
"Not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes; tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice. We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth."