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The Constitution specifies the following:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

However, most scholars agree that Zachary Taylor's term began on March 4, 1849, despite not taking the oath until the following day.

What does taking the presidential oath actually change?

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    on it's own? nothing. I've taken the oath a few times and i still get no respect... – dandavis Mar 5 at 20:42
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By the letter of the constitution, during the time between the beginning of the president's term and the time at which the president takes the oath, the president occupies the presidency but cannot do anything as president.

What does taking the presidential oath actually change?

It enables the president to perform official acts.

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