Speaking to the throngs gathered on the National Mall, Obama implored Washington to find common ground when it can.
"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said.
And seeking to build on the wave of public support that catapulted him to two terms in the White House, the president pressed for the public to get help him "set this country's course." Tellingly, Obama sent an email shortly after his speech asking supporters to send their contact information to Organizing for Action. That's the outside group formed by several top Obama campaign officials with the goal of supporting his legislative agenda.
Debates with Congress appeared to be far from Obama's mind Monday. A relaxed president soaked in a full day's worth of activities, starting with a morning church service and ending with two swanky balls.
Following his relatively brief, 18-minute inaugural address, Obama gazed over the crowd fanned out across the National Mall and said, "I'm not going to see this again."
He and first lady Michelle Obama climbed out of their armored limousine twice during the inaugural parade to walk a few blocks and wave to the jubilant crowd along Pennsylvania Avenue. And he danced and bobbed his head to the marching bands passing by his parade viewing box in front of the White House.
Even after his wife and family left the viewing box, Obama stayed to applaud each marching band and float that passed before him.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.