BARACK OBAMA and GEORGE W. BUSH
Historic 8x11 color photo of the two Presidents chatting amicably on Inauguration Day, 2009, signed by both.
Photograph signed: "Barack Obama", "George W. Bush". Color, 8x11.
On January 20, 2009, the United States peacefully transferred power from the 43rd President, George W. Bush, to the 44th, Barack Obama. President Bush welcomed his successor at the White House, accompanied him down Pennsylvania Avenue to the US Capitol, and listened politely to the inaugural address of a Democratic President who had campaigned hard against key elements of the outgoing Republican's policies.
The presence of the outgoing President at the Inauguration began when George Washington witnessed the swearing in of John Adams. Adams himself, disheartened by his electoral defeat at the hands of Thomas Jefferson in 1800, was the only President still living who did not to attend the event. (Lincoln's inauguration was another exceptional case, with southern states seceding rather than accept his leadership, but outgoing President Buchanan was there.) Adams and Jefferson famously reconciled, and subsequent Presidents have participated even if they or their Party have just suffered a bitter defeat. Almost unknown until the birth of the United States, peaceful transfers of power are still not universal.
In many countries, ousted leaders face long imprisonment, a firing squad, or a hasty flight into exile. Bush and Obama have both governed in an era of intensely bitter partisanship. Each has been the object of fierce, frequently uncivil, criticism. But on this Inauguration Day, as in the past, Americans celebrated what unites them, and from the standpoint of history, that turns out to be quite a lot. Fine condition.
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