WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 1981 (UPI) -- A calm, confident Ronald Wilson Reagan was sworn in today as the 40th president of the United States, taking on the crushing burdens of resolving America's economic ills and the hostage crisis that helped bring down his predecessor.
Standing at the Capitol's West Front, Reagan rested his left hand on his mother's bible and recited the presidential oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" at noon. A crowd estimated at 100,000 looked on, and millions more watched viewed the ceremony on television.
Reagan, the man whose political climb began nearly 20 years ago in the scattered ashes of a moribund Hollywood movie career, looked out over the rolling greensward at the foot of the Capitol and took in a view that encompassed the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and his new home.
After reciting the 35-word oath of office, Reagan delivered a 15-minute inaugural address that aides said lays down his priorities, what he will do as president.
Smartly attired in formal gray morning coat, Reagan rode with President Carter from the White House about 11 a.m. up bunting-bedecked Pennsylvania Avenue. Reagan's wife, Nancy, wore a red fitted coat and dress with a matching hat.
Carter, who worked until his last hour in office to obtain the release of the 52 hostages in Iran, called his successor from the White House to keep him abreast of developments.
After eating a Danish pastry and drinking a cup of Sanka, the president-elect and his wife attended a 20-minute church service across Lafayette Square from the White House.
Ticket holders streamed on to the Capitol grounds when the guards opened the gates at 9 a.m. A crowd of up to 100,000 prepared to enjoy one of the warmest inaugurals on record as the temperature was a spring-like 54 degrees. There was a threat of rain later in the afternoon.
At the White House this morning there was a heavy-handed sign of the transition, the few remaining Carter staffers clearing out of their offices sported identification badges freshly stamped "void."