Barack Obama will remind a deeply-divided America of the need to "seek common ground" in his second inaugural speech on Monday, as his new term in office looked likely to be bedevilled by ongoing political gridlock.
Even as the finishing touches were being put to the bunting and the ballrooms for the inauguration festivities, the battle lines were being drawn for a series of tough second-term fights in Congress over immigration reform, gun control and reining in deficits.
"He's going to talk about the fact that our political system doesn't require us to talk about all of our differences and political disputes," said David Plouffe, the senior White House adviser, giving the first hints about Obama's closely-guarded speech.
Up to a million people are expected in Washington to celebrate Obama's swearing-in for his second term in a ceremony that will take place on the western steps of the US Capitol.
The ceremony will be followed by an inaugural parade in front of the White House, which will feature many branches of the US armed services, and two balls with performances by singers including Beyonce, Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder.
Obama was officially sworn in yesterday at a brief ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House, taking the oath from the Chief Justice John Roberts using a family Bible.
Roberts managed to avoid a repeat of 2009 when he stumbled over his words as he administered the oath.
Only Obama's close family members, including his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha, were present as he took the oath, with Roberts taking the precaution of reading from a cue card.
"Good job, Daddy," said Sasha as she hugged her father, to which he replied "I did it". For the public ceremony today, Obama will be sworn in using two Bibles belonging to his political heroes: Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, a symbolic move that reflects the 150th anniversary this year of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr King's "I have a dream" speech.
The president will address a nation whose divisions were clearly exposed during last year's election campaign when he defeated Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent, due to a progressive coalition of women, minorities and young people. Plouffe said that Obama had still not given up trying to find common ground with Republicans.
"He's going to talk about how our founding values and vision can still provide us with a guiding pathway in a changing world," he told Fox News.
Even before the speech was delivered, senior Republicans were warning Obama to "legislate realistically" in his second term, and promising that they would block attempts to force new gun controls measures, including a ban on assault weapons, through Congress.
"You've got to legislate, and you've got to legislate realistically. You don't control the entire Congress," said the Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, vice-chairman of the Republican Senate Conference.
Joe Biden, the vice-president, who is known to covet one last run at America's highest office, appeared to jump the 2016 starting gun. "I'm proud to be president of the United States," Biden told guests at the Iowa State Society inauguration ball in Washington, raising laughter and cheers from the audience.
Biden's son Beau, the attorney-general for the state of Delaware, interrupted his father to quickly explain it had been a slip of the tongue.