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Inaugural addresses of the Presidents of the United States - From George Washington 1789 to George Bush 1989.

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101st Congress, 1st Session Senate Document 101-10

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101st Congress, 1st Session Senate Document 101-10






Wendell H. Ford, Chairman, U.S. Senate, Kentucky.
George J. Mitchell, U.S. Senate, Maine.
Ted Stevens, U.S. Senate, Alaska.
Jim Wright, U.S. House of Representatives, Texas.
Thomas S. Foley, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington
Robert H. Michel, U.S. House of Representatives, Illinois.

Michael J. Ruehling, Executive Director
James O. King, Director

[Submitted by Mr. Ford of Kentucky and Mr. Stevens of Alaska]

March 9, 1989
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring),

That there shall be printed as a Senate document, with appropriate
illustrations, a collection of the inaugural addresses of the
Presidents of the United States, from George Washington, 1789, to
George Bush, 1989, compiled by the Congressional Research Service
of the Library of Congress. In addition to the usual number, there
shall be printed 16,000 additional copies of the document which
shall be made available for a period of 60 days, as follows: 5,000
additional copies for the use of individual Senators, pro rata,
and 11,000 copies for the use of individual Members of the House
of Representatives, pro rata. If, at the end of that period, any
of the additional number of copies are not used, such copies shall
be transferred to the document room of the Senate or the House of
Representatives, as appropriate.

Passed June 19, 1989

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office Washington, DC 20402



From George Washington to George Bush, Presidents have used
inaugural addresses to articulate their hopes and dreams for a
nation. Collectively, these addresses chronicle the course of this
country from its earliest days to the present.

Inaugural addresses have taken various tones, themes and forms.
Some have been reflective and instructive, while others have
sought to challenge and inspire. Washington's second inaugural
address on March 4, 1793 required only 135 words and is the
shortest ever given. The longest on record--8,495 words--was
delivered in a snowstorm March 4, 1841 by William Henry Harrison.

Invoking a spirit of both history and patriotism, inaugural
addresses have served to reaffirm the liberties and freedoms that
mark our remarkable system of government. Many memorable and
inspiring passages have originated from these addresses. Among the
best known are Washington's pledge in 1789 to protect the new
nation's "liberties and freedoms" under "a government instituted
by themselves," Abraham Lincoln's plea to a nation divided by
Civil War to heal "with malice toward none, with charity toward
all," Franklin D. Roosevelt's declaration "that the only thing to
have to fear is fear itself," and John F. Kennedy's exhortation to
"ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for
your country."

This collection is being published in commemoration of the
Bicentennial Presidential Inauguration that was observed on
January 20, 1989. Dedicated to the institution of the Presidency
and the democratic process that represents the peaceful and
orderly transfer of power according to the will of the people, it
is our hope that this volume will serve as an important and
valuable reference for historians, scholars and the American

Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies for the
Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural, 1789-1989



Vice President John Tyler became President upon William Henry
Harrison's death one month after his inauguration. U.S. Circuit
Court Judge William Cranch administered the oath to Mr. Tyler
at his residence in the Indian Queen Hotel on April 6, 1841.


Judge William Cranch administered the executive oath of office
to Vice President Millard Fillmore on July 10, 1850 in the Hall
of the House of Representatives. President Zachary Taylor had
died the day before.


On April 15, 1865, after visiting the wounded and dying
President Lincoln in a house across the street from Ford's
Theatre, the Vice President returned to his rooms at Kirkwood
House. A few hours later he received the Cabinet and Chief
Justice Salmon Chase in his rooms to take the executive oath of


On September 20, 1881, upon the death of President Garfield,
Vice President Arthur received a group at his home in New York
City to take the oath of office, administered by New York
Supreme Court Judge John R. Brady. The next day he again took
the oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Morrison
Waite, in the Vice President's Office in the Capitol in
Washington, D.C.


The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives became Vice
President upon the resignation of Spiro Agnew, under the
process of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. When
President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, Vice President Ford
took the executive oath of office, administered by Chief
Justice Warren Burger, in the East Room of the White House.


"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."

United States Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8


George Washington


The Nation's first chief executive took his oath of office in
April in New York City on the balcony of the Senate Chamber at
Federal Hall on Wall Street. General Washington had been
unanimously elected President by the first electoral college, and
John Adams was elected Vice President because he received the
second greatest number of votes. Under the rules, each elector
cast two votes. The Chancellor of New York and fellow Freemason,
Robert R. Livingston administered the oath of office. The Bible on
which the oath was sworn belonged to New York's St. John's Masonic
Lodge. The new President gave his inaugural address before a joint
session of the two Houses of Congress assembled inside the Senate

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled
me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was
transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the
present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country,
whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a
retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in
my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of
my declining years--a retreat which was rendered every day more
necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to
inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the
gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the
magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my
country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and
most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his
qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who
(inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the
duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious
of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare
aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from
a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be
affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I
have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former
instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent
proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too
little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the
weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by
the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my
country with some share of the partiality in which they

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the
public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be
peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent
supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe,
who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential
aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may
consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the
United States a Government instituted by themselves for these
essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in
its administration to execute with success the functions allotted
to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of
every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses
your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-
citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to
acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the
affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by
which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation
seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential
agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the
system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and
voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the
event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which
most governments have been established without some return of
pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future
blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections,
arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too
strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I
trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of
which the proceedings of a new and free government can more
auspiciously commence.

By the article establishing the executive department it is made
the duty of the President "to recommend to your consideration such
measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The
circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from
entering into that subject further than to refer to the great
constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which,
in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your
attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those
circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which
actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of
particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the
rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected
to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I
behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices
or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will
misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch
over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on
another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid
in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the
preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the
attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and
command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with
every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can
inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than
that there exists in the economy and course of nature an
indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and
advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous
policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity;
since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles
of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the
eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained;
and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the
destiny of the republican model of government are justly
considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the
experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will
remain with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the
occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the
Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the
nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or
by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead
of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in
which I could be guided by no lights derived from official
opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in
your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure
myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which
might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government,
or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a
reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard
for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your
deliberations on the question how far the former can be
impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously

To the foregoing observations I have one to add, which will be
most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It
concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When
I was first honored with a call into the service of my country,
then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the
light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should
renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have
in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions
which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any
share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably
included in a permanent provision for the executive department,
and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the
station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be
limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be
thought to require.

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been
awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my
present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign
Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has
been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for
deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for
deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for
the security of their union and the advancement of their
happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in
the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise
measures on which the success of this Government must depend.


George Washington


President Washington's second oath of office was taken in the
Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia on March 4, the
date fixed by the Continental Congress for inaugurations. Before
an assembly of Congressmen, Cabinet officers, judges of the
federal and district courts, foreign officials, and a small
gathering of Philadelphians, the President offered the shortest
inaugural address ever given. Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court William Cushing administered the oath of office.

Fellow Citizens:

I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the
functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper for it
shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I
entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which
has been reposed in me by the people of united America.

Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the
Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about
to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my
administration of the Government I have in any instance violated
willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides
incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings
of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.


John Adams


The first Vice President became the second President of the United
States. His opponent in the election, Thomas Jefferson, had won
the second greatest number of electoral votes and therefore had
been elected Vice President by the electoral college. Chief
Justice Oliver Ellsworth administered the oath of office in the
Hall of the House of Representatives in Federal Hall before a
joint session of Congress.

When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course
for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign
legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of
reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable
power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist than from
those contests and dissensions which would certainly arise
concerning the forms of government to be instituted over the whole
and over the parts of this extensive country. Relying, however, on
the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and
the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling
Providence which had so signally protected this country from the
first, the representatives of this nation, then consisting of
little more than half its present number, not only broke to pieces
the chains which were forging and the rod of iron that was lifted
up, but frankly cut asunder the ties which had bound them, and
launched into an ocean of uncertainty.

The zeal and ardor of the people during the Revolutionary war,
supplying the place of government, commanded a degree of order
sufficient at least for the temporary preservation of society. The
Confederation which was early felt to be necessary was prepared
from the models of the Batavian and Helvetic confederacies, the
only examples which remain with any detail and precision in
history, and certainly the only ones which the people at large had
ever considered. But reflecting on the striking difference in so
many particulars between this country and those where a courier
may go from the seat of government to the frontier in a single
day, it was then certainly foreseen by some who assisted in
Congress at the formation of it that it could not be durable.

Negligence of its regulations, inattention to its recommendations,
if not disobedience to its authority, not only in individuals but
in States, soon appeared with their melancholy consequences--
universal languor, jealousies and rivalries of States, decline of
navigation and commerce, discouragement of necessary manufactures,
universal fall in the value of lands and their produce, contempt
of public and private faith, loss of consideration and credit with
foreign nations, and at length in discontents, animosities,
combinations, partial conventions, and insurrection, threatening
some great national calamity.

In this dangerous crisis the people of America were not abandoned
by their usual good sense, presence of mind, resolution, or
integrity. Measures were pursued to concert a plan to form a more
perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity,
provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and
secure the blessings of liberty. The public disquisitions,
discussions, and deliberations issued in the present happy
Constitution of Government.

Employed in the service of my country abroad during the whole
course of these transactions, I first saw the Constitution of the
United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no literary
altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no party
animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as the result of
good heads prompted by good hearts, as an experiment better
adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of this
nation and country than any which had ever been proposed or
suggested. In its general principles and great outlines it was
conformable to such a system of government as I had ever most
esteemed, and in some States, my own native State in particular,
had contributed to establish. Claiming a right of suffrage, in
common with my fellow-citizens, in the adoption or rejection of a
constitution which was to rule me and my posterity, as well as
them and theirs, I did not hesitate to express my approbation of
it on all occasions, in public and in private. It was not then,
nor has been since, any objection to it in my mind that the
Executive and Senate were not more permanent. Nor have I ever
entertained a thought of promoting any alteration in it but such
as the people themselves, in the course of their experience,
should see and feel to be necessary or expedient, and by their
representatives in Congress and the State legislatures, according
to the Constitution itself, adopt and ordain.

Returning to the bosom of my country after a painful separation
from it for ten years, I had the honor to be elected to a station
under the new order of things, and I have repeatedly laid myself
under the most serious obligations to support the Constitution.
The operation of it has equaled the most sanguine expectations of
its friends, and from an habitual attention to it, satisfaction in
its administration, and delight in its effects upon the peace,
order, prosperity, and happiness of the nation I have acquired an
habitual attachment to it and veneration for it.

What other form of government, indeed, can so well deserve our
esteem and love?

There may be little solidity in an ancient idea that congregations
of men into cities and nations are the most pleasing objects in
the sight of superior intelligences, but this is very certain,
that to a benevolent human mind there can be no spectacle
presented by any nation more pleasing, more noble, majestic, or
august, than an assembly like that which has so often been seen in
this and the other Chamber of Congress, of a Government in which
the Executive authority, as well as that of all the branches of
the Legislature, are exercised by citizens selected at regular
periods by their neighbors to make and execute laws for the
general good. Can anything essential, anything more than mere
ornament and decoration, be added to this by robes and diamonds?
Can authority be more amiable and respectable when it descends
from accidents or institutions established in remote antiquity
than when it springs fresh from the hearts and judgments of an
honest and enlightened people? For it is the people only that are
represented. It is their power and majesty that is reflected, and
only for their good, in every legitimate government, under
whatever form it may appear. The existence of such a government as
ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general
dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of
the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than
this can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever
justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or
riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national
innocence, information, and benevolence.

In the midst of these pleasing ideas we should be unfaithful to
ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our
liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the
purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If
an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote,
and that can be procured by a party through artifice or
corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its
own ends, not of the nation for the national good. If that
solitary suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations by flattery
or menaces, by fraud or violence, by terror, intrigue, or
venality, the Government may not be the choice of the American
people, but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who
govern us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves; and
candid men will acknowledge that in such cases choice would have
little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.

Such is the amiable and interesting system of government (and such
are some of the abuses to which it may be exposed) which the
people of America have exhibited to the admiration and anxiety of
the wise and virtuous of all nations for eight years under the
administration of a citizen who, by a long course of great
actions, regulated by prudence, justice, temperance, and
fortitude, conducting a people inspired with the same virtues and
animated with the same ardent patriotism and love of liberty to
independence and peace, to increasing wealth and unexampled
prosperity, has merited the gratitude of his fellow-citizens,
commanded the highest praises of foreign nations, and secured
immortal glory with posterity.

In that retirement which is his voluntary choice may he long live
to enjoy the delicious recollection of his services, the gratitude
of mankind, the happy fruits of them to himself and the world,
which are daily increasing, and that splendid prospect of the
future fortunes of this country which is opening from year to
year. His name may be still a rampart, and the knowledge that he
lives a bulwark, against all open or secret enemies of his
country's peace. This example has been recommended to the
imitation of his successors by both Houses of Congress and by the
voice of the legislatures and the people throughout the nation.

On this subject it might become me better to be silent or to speak
with diffidence; but as something may be expected, the occasion, I
hope, will be admitted as an apology if I venture to say that if a
preference, upon principle, of a free republican government,
formed upon long and serious reflection, after a diligent and
impartial inquiry after truth; if an attachment to the
Constitution of the United States, and a conscientious
determination to support it until it shall be altered by the
judgments and wishes of the people, expressed in the mode
prescribed in it; if a respectful attention to the constitutions
of the individual States and a constant caution and delicacy
toward the State governments; if an equal and impartial regard to
the rights, interest, honor, and happiness of all the States in
the Union, without preference or regard to a northern or southern,
an eastern or western, position, their various political opinions
on unessential points or their personal attachments; if a love of
virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of
science and letters and a wish to patronize every rational effort
to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every
institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion among
all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on
the happiness of life in all its stages and classes, and of
society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our
Constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry,
the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, the profligacy of
corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the
angel of destruction to elective governments; if a love of equal
laws, of justice, and humanity in the interior administration; if
an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufacturers
for necessity, convenience, and defense; if a spirit of equity and
humanity toward the aboriginal nations of America, and a
disposition to meliorate their condition by inclining them to be
more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them;
if an inflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable
faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality and
impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe which has been
adopted by this Government and so solemnly sanctioned by both
Houses of Congress and applauded by the legislatures of the States
and the public opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by
Congress; if a personal esteem for the French nation, formed in a
residence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere desire
to preserve the friendship which has been so much for the honor
and interest of both nations; if, while the conscious honor and
integrity of the people of America and the internal sentiment of
their own power and energies must be preserved, an earnest
endeavor to investigate every just cause and remove every
colorable pretense of complaint; if an intention to pursue by
amicable negotiation a reparation for the injuries that have been
committed on the commerce of our fellow-citizens by whatever
nation, and if success can not be obtained, to lay the facts
before the Legislature, that they may consider what further
measures the honor and interest of the Government and its
constituents demand; if a resolution to do justice as far as may
depend upon me, at all times and to all nations, and maintain
peace, friendship, and benevolence with all the world; if an
unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of the
American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all and
never been deceived; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of
this country and of my own duties toward it, founded on a
knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of
the people deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not
obscured but exalted by experience and age; and, with humble
reverence, I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the
religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians,
and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for
Christianity among the best recommendations for the public
service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes,
it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction
of the two Houses shall not be without effect.

With this great example before me, with the sense and spirit, the
faith and honor, the duty and interest, of the same American
people pledged to support the Constitution of the United States, I
entertain no doubt of its continuance in all its energy, and my
mind is prepared without hesitation to lay myself under the most
solemn obligations to support it to the utmost of my power.

And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order,
the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the
world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation
and its Government and give it all possible success and duration
consistent with the ends of His providence.


Thomas Jefferson


Chief Justice John Marshall administered the first executive oath
of office ever taken in the new federal city in the new Senate
Chamber (now the Old Supreme Court Chamber) of the partially built
Capitol building. The outcome of the election of 1800 had been in
doubt until late February because Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr,
the two leading candidates, each had received 73 electoral votes.
Consequently, the House of Representatives met in a special
session to resolve the impasse, pursuant to the terms spelled out
in the Constitution. After 30 hours of debate and balloting, Mr.
Jefferson emerged as the President and Mr. Burr the Vice
President. President John Adams, who had run unsuccessfully for a
second term, left Washington on the day of the inauguration
without attending the ceremony.

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office
of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of
my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful
thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look
toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is
above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and
awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the
weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread
over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the
rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with
nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to
destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye--when I contemplate these
transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the
hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue, and the
auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble
myself before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly, indeed,
should I despair did not the presence of many whom I here see
remind me that in the other high authorities provided by our
Constitution I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of
zeal on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then,
gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of
legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with
encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to
steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst
the conflicting elements of a troubled world.

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the
animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an
aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and
to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided
by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of
the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under
the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common
good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that
though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that
will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess
their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate
would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one
heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that
harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself
are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished
from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so
long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we
countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and
capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes
and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms
of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-
lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the
billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that
this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others,
and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every
difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have
called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are
all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us
who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican
form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with
which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free
to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a
republican government can not be strong, that this Government is
not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide
of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far
kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that
this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want
energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the
contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only
one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the
standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order
as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not
be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be
trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in
the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal
and Republican principles, our attachment to union and
representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide
ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe;
too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others;
possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants
to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due
sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the
acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our
fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions
and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion,
professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them
inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of
man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by
all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of
man here and his greater happiness hereafter--with all these
blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a
prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens--a wise
and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one
another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own
pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the
mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good
government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our

About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which
comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you
should understand what I deem the essential principles of our
Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its
Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass
they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its
limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state
or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest
friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the
support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most
competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest
bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of
the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the
sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous
care of the right of election by the people--a mild and safe
corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution
where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in
the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics,
from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and
immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our
best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till
regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the
military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may
be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred
preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture,
and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and
arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom
of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the
protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially
selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has
gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution
and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes
have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of
our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone
by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we
wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to
retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to
peace, liberty, and safety.

I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me.
With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the
difficulties of this the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect
that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire
from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring
him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you
reposed in our first and greatest revolutionary character, whose
preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his
country's love and destined for him the fairest page in the volume
of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give
firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I
shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I
shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not
command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my
own errors, which will never be intentional, and your support
against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not
if seen in all its parts. The approbation implied by your suffrage
is a great consolation to me for the past, and my future
solicitude will be to retain the good opinion of those who have
bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others by doing them
all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness
and freedom of all.

Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance with
obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become
sensible how much better choice it is in your power to make. And
may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe
lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue
for your peace and prosperity.


Thomas Jefferson


The second inauguration of Mr. Jefferson followed an election
under which the offices of President and Vice President were to be
separately sought, pursuant to the newly adopted 12th Amendment to
the Constitution. George Clinton of New York was elected Vice
President. Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath of
office in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol.

Proceeding, fellow-citizens, to that qualification which the
Constitution requires before my entrance on the charge again
conferred on me, it is my duty to express the deep sense I
entertain of this new proof of confidence from my fellow-citizens
at large, and the zeal with which it inspires me so to conduct
myself as may best satisfy their just expectations.

On taking this station on a former occasion I declared the
principles on which I believed it my duty to administer the
affairs of our Commonwealth. MY conscience tells me I have on
every occasion acted up to that declaration according to its
obvious import and to the understanding of every candid mind.

In the transaction of your foreign affairs we have endeavored to
cultivate the friendship of all nations, and especially of those
with which we have the most important relations. We have done them
justice on all occasions, favored where favor was lawful, and
cherished mutual interests and intercourse on fair and equal
terms. We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction,
that with nations as with individuals our interests soundly
calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties,
and history bears witness to the fact that a just nation is
trusted on its word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to
bridle others.

At home, fellow-citizens, you best know whether we have done well
or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless
establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our
internal taxes. These, covering our land with officers and opening
our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of
domiciliary vexation which once entered is scarcely to be
restrained from reaching successively every article of property
and produce. If among these taxes some minor ones fell which had
not been inconvenient, it was because their amount would not have
paid the officers who collected them, and because, if they had any
merit, the State authorities might adopt them instead of others
less approved.

The remaining revenue on the consumption of foreign articles is
paid chiefly by those who can afford to add foreign luxuries to
domestic comforts, being collected on our seaboard and frontiers
only, and incorporated with the transactions of our mercantile
citizens, it may be the pleasure and the pride of an American to
ask, What farmer, what mechanic, what laborer ever sees a
taxgatherer of the United States? These contributions enable us to
support the current expenses of the Government, to fulfill
contracts with foreign nations, to extinguish the native right of
soil within our limits, to extend those limits, and to apply such
a surplus to our public debts as places at a short day their final
redemption, and that redemption once effected the revenue thereby
liberated may, by a just repartition of it among the States and a
corresponding amendment of the Constitution, be applied in time of
peace to rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, and
other great objects within each State. In time of war, if
injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war,
increased as the same revenue will be by increased population and
consumption, and aided by other resources reserved for that
crisis, it may meet within the year all the expenses of the year
without encroaching on the rights of future generations by
burthening them with the debts of the past. War will then be but a
suspension of useful works, and a return to a state of peace, a
return to the progress of improvement.

I have said, fellow-citizens, that the income reserved had enabled
us to extend our limits, but that extension may possibly pay for
itself before we are called on, and in the meantime may keep down
the accruing interest; in all events, it will replace the advances
we shall have made. I know that the acquisition of Louisiana had
been disapproved by some from a candid apprehension that the
enlargement of our territory would endanger its union. But who can
limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate
effectively? The larger our association the less will it be shaken
by local passions; and in any view is it not better that the
opposite bank of the Mississippi should be settled by our own
brethren and children than by strangers of another family? With
which should we be most likely to live in harmony and friendly

In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is
placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the
General Government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to
prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left
them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and
discipline of the church or state authorities acknowledged by the
several religious societies.

The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have regarded with
the commiseration their history inspires. Endowed with the
faculties and the rights of men, breathing an ardent love of
liberty and independence, and occupying a country which left them
no desire but to be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing
population from other regions directed itself on these shores;
without power to divert or habits to contend against it, they have
been overwhelmed by the current or driven before it; now reduced
within limits too narrow for the hunter's state, humanity enjoins
us to teach them agriculture and the domestic arts; to encourage
them to that industry which alone can enable them to maintain
their place in existence and to prepare them in time for that
state of society which to bodily comforts adds the improvement of
the mind and morals. We have therefore liberally furnished them
with the implements of husbandry and household use; we have placed
among them instructors in the arts of first necessity, and they
are covered with the aegis of the law against aggressors from
among ourselves.

But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which awaits their
present course of life, to induce them to exercise their reason,
follow its dictates, and change their pursuits with the change of
circumstances have powerful obstacles to encounter; they are
combated by the habits of their bodies, prejudices of their minds,
ignorance, pride, and the influence of interested and crafty
individuals among them who feel themselves something in the
present order of things and fear to become nothing in any other.
These persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs
of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did must be done through
all time; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under its
counsel in their physical, moral, or political condition is
perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as their Creator
made them, ignorance being safety and knowledge full of danger; in
short, my friends, among them also is seen the action and
counteraction of good sense and of bigotry; they too have their
antiphilosophists who find an interest in keeping things in their
present state, who dread reformation, and exert all their
faculties to maintain the ascendancy of habit over the duty of
improving our reason and obeying its mandates.

In giving these outlines I do not mean, fellow-citizens, to
arrogate to myself the merit of the measures. That is due, in the
first place, to the reflecting character of our citizens at large,
who, by the weight of public opinion, influence and strengthen the
public measures. It is due to the sound discretion with which they
select from among themselves those to whom they confide the
legislative duties. It is due to the zeal and wisdom of the
characters thus selected, who lay the foundations of public
happiness in wholesome laws, the execution of which alone remains
for others, and it is due to the able and faithful auxiliaries,
whose patriotism has associated them with me in the executive

During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it,
the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged
with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These
abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are
deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its
usefulness and to sap its safety. They might, indeed, have been
corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved to and provided by
the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation,
but public duties more urgent press on the time of public
servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their
punishment in the public indignation.

Nor was it uninteresting to the world that an experiment should be
fairly and fully made, whether freedom of discussion, unaided by
power, is not sufficient for the propagation and protection of
truth--whether a government conducting itself in the true spirit
of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which
it would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can be
written down by falsehood and defamation. The experiment has been
tried; you have witnessed the scene; our fellow-citizens looked
on, cool and collected; they saw the latent source from which
these outrages proceeded; they gathered around their public
functionaries, and when the Constitution called them to the
decision by suffrage, they pronounced their verdict, honorable to
those who had served them and consolatory to the friend of man who
believes that he may be trusted with the control of his own

No inference is here intended that the laws provided by the States
against false and defamatory publications should not be enforced;
he who has time renders a service to public morals and public
tranquillity in reforming these abuses by the salutary coercions
of the law; but the experiment is noted to prove that, since truth
and reason have maintained their ground against false opinions in
league with false facts, the press, confined to truth, needs no
other legal restraint; the public judgment will correct false
reasoning and opinions on a full hearing of all parties; and no
other definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberty
of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness. If there be
still improprieties which this rule would not restrain, its
supplement must be sought in the censorship of public opinion.

Contemplating the union of sentiment now manifested so generally
as auguring harmony and happiness to our future course, I offer to
our country sincere congratulations. With those, too, not yet
rallied to the same point the disposition to do so is gaining
strength; facts are piercing through the veil drawn over them, and
our doubting brethren will at length see that the mass of their
fellow-citizens with whom they can not yet resolve to act as to
principles and measures, think as they think and desire what they
desire; that our wish as well as theirs is that the public efforts
may be directed honestly to the public good, that peace be
cultivated, civil and religious liberty unassailed, law and order
preserved, equality of rights maintained, and that state of
property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his
own industry or that of his father's. When satisfied of these
views it is not in human nature that they should not approve and
support them. In the meantime let us cherish them with patient
affection, let us do them justice, and more than justice, in all
competitions of interest; and we need not doubt that truth,
reason, and their own interests will at length prevail, will
gather them into the fold of their country, and will complete that
entire union of opinion which gives to a nation the blessing of
harmony and the benefit of all its strength.

I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow-citizens have
again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit of those
principles which they have approved. I fear not that any motives
of interest may lead me astray; I am sensible of no passion which
could seduce me knowingly from the path of justice, but the
weaknesses of human nature and the limits of my own understanding
will produce errors of judgment sometimes injurious to your
interests. I shall need, therefore, all the indulgence which I
have heretofore experienced from my constituents; the want of it
will certainly not lessen with increasing years. I shall need,
too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our
fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them
in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of
life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our
riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask
you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the
minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their
measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and
shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all


James Madison


Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath of office in the
Hall of the House of Representatives (now National Statuary Hall).
Subsequently the oath by Presidents-elect, with few exceptions,
was taken in the House Chamber or in a place of the Capitol
associated with the Congress as a whole. The Vice Presidential
oath of office for most administrations was taken in the Senate
Chamber. President Jefferson watched the ceremony, but he joined
the crowd of assembled visitors since he no longer was an office-
holder. The mild March weather drew a crowd of about 10,000

Unwilling to depart from examples of the most revered authority, I
avail myself of the occasion now presented to express the profound
impression made on me by the call of my country to the station to
the duties of which I am about to pledge myself by the most solemn
of sanctions. So distinguished a mark of confidence, proceeding
from the deliberate and tranquil suffrage of a free and virtuous
nation, would under any circumstances have commanded my gratitude
and devotion, as well as filled me with an awful sense of the
trust to be assumed. Under the various circumstances which give
peculiar solemnity to the existing period, I feel that both the
honor and the responsibility allotted to me are inexpressibly

The present situation of the world is indeed without a parallel
and that of our own country full of difficulties. The pressure of
these, too, is the more severely felt because they have fallen
upon us at a moment when the national prosperity being at a height
not before attained, the contrast resulting from the change has
been rendered the more striking. Under the benign influence of our
republican institutions, and the maintenance of peace with all
nations whilst so many of them were engaged in bloody and wasteful
wars, the fruits of a just policy were enjoyed in an unrivaled
growth of our faculties and resources. Proofs of this were seen in
the improvements of agriculture, in the successful enterprises of
commerce, in the progress of manufacturers and useful arts, in the
increase of the public revenue and the use made of it in reducing
the public debt, and in the valuable works and establishments
everywhere multiplying over the face of our land.

It is a precious reflection that the transition from this
prosperous condition of our country to the scene which has for
some time been distressing us is not chargeable on any
unwarrantable views, nor, as I trust, on any involuntary errors in
the public councils. Indulging no passions which trespass on the
rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory
of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice, and
to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war by
fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous
impartiality. If there be candor in the world, the truth of these
assertions will not be questioned; posterity at least will do
justice to them.

This unexceptionable course could not avail against the injustice
and violence of the belligerent powers. In their rage against each
other, or impelled by more direct motives, principles of
retaliation have been introduced equally contrary to universal
reason and acknowledged law. How long their arbitrary edicts will
be continued in spite of the demonstrations that not even a
pretext for them has been given by the United States, and of the
fair and liberal attempt to induce a revocation of them, can not
be anticipated. Assuring myself that under every vicissitude the
determined spirit and united councils of the nation will be
safeguards to its honor and its essential interests, I repair to
the post assigned me with no other discouragement than what
springs from my own inadequacy to its high duties. If I do not
sink under the weight of this deep conviction it is because I find
some support in a consciousness of the purposes and a confidence
in the principles which I bring with me into this arduous service.

To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having
correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality toward
belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion
and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them
by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign
partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free
ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the
rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to
indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves and too elevated not to look
down upon them in others; to hold the union of the States as the
basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution,
which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in
its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to
the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and
essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the
slightest interference with the right of conscience or the
functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction;
to preserve in their full energy the other salutary provisions in
behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the
press; to observe economy in public expenditures; to liberate the
public resources by an honorable discharge of the public debts; to
keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always
remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest
bulwark of republics--that without standing armies their liberty
can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe; to promote by
authorized means improvements friendly to agriculture, to
manufactures, and to external as well as internal commerce; to
favor in like manner the advancement of science and the diffusion
of information as the best aliment to true liberty; to carry on
the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to
the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors from the degradation
and wretchedness of savage life to a participation of the
improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible
in a civilized state--as far as sentiments and intentions such as
these can aid the fulfillment of my duty, they will be a resource
which can not fail me.

It is my good fortune, moreover, to have the path in which I am to
tread lighted by examples of illustrious services successfully
rendered in the most trying difficulties by those who have marched
before me. Of those of my immediate predecessor it might least
become me here to speak. I may, however, be pardoned for not
suppressing the sympathy with which my heart is full in the rich
reward he enjoys in the benedictions of a beloved country,
gratefully bestowed or exalted talents zealously devoted through a
long career to the advancement of its highest interest and

But the source to which I look or the aids which alone can supply
my deficiencies is in the well-tried intelligence and virtue of my
fellow-citizens, and in the counsels of those representing them in
the other departments associated in the care of the national
interests. In these my confidence will under every difficulty be
best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to
feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose

power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been
so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we
are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as
our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.


James Madison


Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath of office in the
Hall of the House of Representatives. The United States was at war
with Great Britain at the time of James Madison's second
inauguration. Most of the battles had occurred at sea, and the
physical reminders of war seemed remote to the group assembled at
the Capitol. In little more than a year, however, both the Capitol
and Executive Mansion would be burned by an invading British
garrison, and the city thrown into a panic.

About to add the solemnity of an oath to the obligations imposed
by a second call to the station in which my country heretofore
placed me, I find in the presence of this respectable assembly an
opportunity of publicly repeating my profound sense of so
distinguished a confidence and of the responsibility united with
it. The impressions on me are strengthened by such an evidence
that my faithful endeavors to discharge my arduous duties have
been favorably estimated, and by a consideration of the momentous
period at which the trust has been renewed. From the weight and
magnitude now belonging to it I should be compelled to shrink if I
had less reliance on the support of an enlightened and generous
people, and felt less deeply a conviction that the war with a
powerful nation, which forms so prominent a feature in our
situation, is stamped with that justice which invites the smiles
of Heaven on the means of conducting it to a successful

May we not cherish this sentiment without presumption when we
reflect on the characters by which this war is distinguished?

It was not declared on the part of the United States until it had
been long made on them, in reality though not in name; until
arguments and postulations had been exhausted; until a positive
declaration had been received that the wrongs provoking it would
not be discontinued; nor until this last appeal could no longer be
delayed without breaking down the spirit of the nation, destroying
all confidence in itself and in its political institutions, and
either perpetuating a state of disgraceful suffering or regaining
by more costly sacrifices and more severe struggles our lost rank
and respect among independent powers.

On the issue of the war are staked our national sovereignty on the
high seas and the security of an important class of citizens whose
occupations give the proper value to those of every other class.
Not to contend for such a stake is to surrender our equality with
other powers on the element common to all and to violate the
sacred title which every member of the society has to its
protection. I need not call into view the unlawfulness of the
practice by which our mariners are forced at the will of every
cruising officer from their own vessels into foreign ones, nor
paint the outrages inseparable from it. The proofs are in the
records of each successive Administration of our Government, and
the cruel sufferings of that portion of the American people have
found their way to every bosom not dead to the sympathies of human

As the war was just in its origin and necessary and noble in its
objects, we can reflect with a proud satisfaction that in carrying
it on no principle of justice or honor, no usage of civilized
nations, no precept of courtesy or humanity, have been infringed.
The war has been waged on our part with scrupulous regard to all
these obligations, and in a spirit of liberality which was never

How little has been the effect of this example on the conduct of
the enemy!

They have retained as prisoners of war citizens of the United
States not liable to be so considered under the usages of war.

They have refused to consider as prisoners of war, and threatened
to punish as traitors and deserters, persons emigrating without
restraint to the United States, incorporated by naturalization
into our political family, and fighting under the authority of
their adopted country in open and honorable war for the
maintenance of its rights and safety. Such is the avowed purpose
of a Government which is in the practice of naturalizing by
thousands citizens of other countries, and not only of permitting
but compelling them to fight its battles against their native

They have not, it is true, taken into their own hands the hatchet
and the knife, devoted to indiscriminate massacre, but they have
let loose the savages armed with these cruel instruments; have
allured them into their service, and carried them to battle by
their sides, eager to glut their savage thirst with the blood of
the vanquished and to finish the work of torture and death on
maimed and defenseless captives. And, what was never before seen,
British commanders have extorted victory over the unconquerable
valor of our troops by presenting to the sympathy of their chief
captives awaiting massacre from their savage associates. And now
we find them, in further contempt of the modes of honorable
warfare, supplying the place of a conquering force by attempts to
disorganize our political society, to dismember our confederated
Republic. Happily, like others, these will recoil on the authors;
but they mark the degenerate counsels from which they emanate, and
if they did not belong to a sense of unexampled inconsistencies
might excite the greater wonder as proceeding from a Government
which founded the very war in which it has been so long engaged on
a charge against the disorganizing and insurrectional policy of
its adversary.

To render the justice of the war on our part the more conspicuous,
the reluctance to commence it was followed by the earliest and
strongest manifestations of a disposition to arrest its progress.
The sword was scarcely out of the scabbard before the enemy was
apprised of the reasonable terms on which it would be resheathed.
Still more precise advances were repeated, and have been received
in a spirit forbidding every reliance not placed on the military
resources of the nation.

These resources are amply sufficient to bring the war to an
honorable issue. Our nation is in number more than half that of
the British Isles. It is composed of a brave, a free, a virtuous,
and an intelligent people. Our country abounds in the necessaries,
the arts, and the comforts of life. A general prosperity is
visible in the public countenance. The means employed by the
British cabinet to undermine it have recoiled on themselves; have
given to our national faculties a more rapid development, and,
draining or diverting the precious metals from British circulation
and British vaults, have poured them into those of the United
States. It is a propitious consideration that an unavoidable war
should have found this seasonable facility for the contributions
required to support it. When the public voice called for war, all
knew, and still know, that without them it could not be carried on
through the period which it might last, and the patriotism, the
good sense, and the manly spirit of our fellow-citizens are
pledges for the cheerfulness with which they will bear each his
share of the common burden. To render the war short and its
success sure, animated and systematic exertions alone are
necessary, and the success of our arms now may long preserve our
country from the necessity of another resort to them. Already have
the gallant exploits of our naval heroes proved to the world our
inherent capacity to maintain our rights on one element. If the
reputation of our arms has been thrown under clouds on the other,
presaging flashes of heroic enterprise assure us that nothing is
wanting to correspondent triumphs there also but the discipline
and habits which are in daily progress.


James Monroe


Because the Capitol was under reconstruction after the fire,
President-elect Monroe offered to take his oath of office in the
House Chamber of the temporary "Brick Capitol," located on the
site where the Supreme Court building now stands. A controversy
resulted from the inaugural committees proposals concerning the
use of the House Chamber on the second floor of the brick
building. Speaker Henry Clay declined the use of the hall and
suggested that the proceedings be held outside. The President's
speech to the crowd from a platform adjacent to the brick building
was the first outdoor inaugural address. Chief Justice John
Marshall administered the oath of office.

I should be destitute of feeling if I was not deeply affected by
the strong proof which my fellow-citizens have given me of their
confidence in calling me to the high office whose functions I am
about to assume. As the expression of their good opinion of my
conduct in the public service, I derive from it a gratification
which those who are conscious of having done all that they could
to merit it can alone feel. MY sensibility is increased by a just
estimate of the importance of the trust and of the nature and
extent of its duties, with the proper discharge of which the
highest interests of a great and free people are intimately
connected. Conscious of my own deficiency, I cannot enter on these
duties without great anxiety for the result. From a just
responsibility I will never shrink, calculating with confidence
that in my best efforts to promote the public welfare my motives
will always be duly appreciated and my conduct be viewed with that
candor and indulgence which I have experienced in other stations.

In commencing the duties of the chief executive office it has been
the practice of the distinguished men who have gone before me to
explain the principles which would govern them in their respective
Administrations. In following their venerated example my attention
is naturally drawn to the great causes which have contributed in a
principal degree to produce the present happy condition of the
United States. They will best explain the nature of our duties and
shed much light on the policy which ought to be pursued in future.

From the commencement of our Revolution to the present day almost
forty years have elapsed, and from the establishment of this
Constitution twenty-eight. Through this whole term the Government
has been what may emphatically be called self-government. And what
has been the effect? To whatever object we turn our attention,
whether it relates to our foreign or domestic concerns, we find
abundant cause to felicitate ourselves in the excellence of our
institutions. During a period fraught with difficulties and marked
by very extraordinary events the United States have flourished
beyond example. Their citizens individually have been happy and
the nation prosperous.

Under this Constitution our commerce has been wisely regulated
with foreign nations and between the States; new States have been
admitted into our Union; our territory has been enlarged by fair
and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original
States; the States, respectively protected by the National
Government under a mild, parental system against foreign dangers,
and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of
power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their
police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and
maturity which are the best proofs of wholesome laws well
administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals what
a proud spectacle does it exhibit! On whom has oppression fallen
in any quarter of our Union? Who has been deprived of any right of
person or property? Who restrained from offering his vows in the
mode which he prefers to the Divine Author of his being? It is
well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed in their
fullest extent; and I add with peculiar satisfaction that there
has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on
anyone for the crime of high treason.

Some who might admit the competency of our Government to these
beneficent duties might doubt it in trials which put to the test
its strength and efficiency as a member of the great community of
nations. Here too experience has afforded us the most satisfactory
proof in its favor. Just as this Constitution was put into action
several of the principal States of Europe had become much agitated
and some of them seriously convulsed. Destructive wars ensued,
which have of late only been terminated. In the course of these
conflicts the United States received great injury from several of
the parties. It was their interest to stand aloof from the
contest, to demand justice from the party committing the injury,
and to cultivate by a fair and honorable conduct the friendship of
all. War became at length inevitable, and the result has shown
that our Government is equal to that, the greatest of trials,
under the most unfavorable circumstances. Of the virtue of the
people and of the heroic exploits of the Army, the Navy, and the
militia I need not speak.

Such, then, is the happy Government under which we live--a
Government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact
is formed; a Government elective in all its branches, under which
every citizen may by his merit obtain the highest trust recognized
by the Constitution; which contains within it no cause of discord,
none to put at variance one portion of the community with another;
a Government which protects every citizen in the full enjoyment of
his rights, and is able to protect the nation against injustice
from foreign powers.

Other considerations of the highest importance admonish us to
cherish our Union and to cling to the Government which supports
it. Fortunate as we are in our political institutions, we have not
been less so in other circumstances on which our prosperity and
happiness essentially depend. Situated within the temperate zone,
and extending through many degrees of latitude along the Atlantic,
the United States enjoy all the varieties of climate, and every
production incident to that portion of the globe. Penetrating
internally to the Great Lakes and beyond the sources of the great
rivers which communicate through our whole interior, no country
was ever happier with respect to its domain. Blessed, too, with a
fertile soil, our produce has always been very abundant, leaving,
even in years the least favorable, a surplus for the wants of our
fellow-men in other countries. Such is our peculiar felicity that
there is not a part of our Union that is not particularly
interested in preserving it. The great agricultural interest of
the nation prospers under its protection. Local interests are not
less fostered by it. Our fellow-citizens of the North engaged in
navigation find great encouragement in being made the favored
carriers of the vast productions of the other portions of the
United States, while the inhabitants of these are amply
recompensed, in their turn, by the nursery for seamen and naval
force thus formed and reared up for the support of our common
rights. Our manufactures find a generous encouragement by the
policy which patronizes domestic industry, and the surplus of our
produce a steady and profitable market by local wants in less-
favored parts at home.

Such, then, being the highly favored condition of our country, it
is the interest of every citizen to maintain it. What are the
dangers which menace us? If any exist they ought to be ascertained
and guarded against.

In explaining my sentiments on this subject it may be asked, What
raised us to the present happy state? How did we accomplish the
Revolution? How remedy the defects of the first instrument of our
Union, by infusing into the National Government sufficient power
for national purposes, without impairing the just rights of the
States or affecting those of individuals? How sustain and pass
with glory through the late war? The Government has been in the
hands of the people. To the people, therefore, and to the faithful
and able depositaries of their trust is the credit due. Had the
people of the United States been educated in different principles
had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous
can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady
and consistent career or been blessed with the same success?
While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and
healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose
competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is
only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they
degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising
the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an
usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing
instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look
to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let
us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence
among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.

Dangers from abroad are not less deserving of attention.
Experiencing the fortune of other nations, the United States may
be again involved in war, and it may in that event be the object
of the adverse party to overset our Government, to break our
Union, and demolish us as a nation. Our distance from Europe and
the just, moderate, and pacific policy of our Government may form
some security against these dangers, but they ought to be
anticipated and guarded against. Many of our citizens are engaged
in commerce and navigation, and all of them are in a certain
degree dependent on their prosperous state. Many are engaged in
the fisheries. These interests are exposed to invasion in the wars
between other powers, and we should disregard the faithful
admonition of experience if we did not expect it. We must support
our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our
liberties. A people who fail to do it can scarcely be said to hold
a place among independent nations. National honor is national
property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every
citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished.

To secure us against these dangers our coast and inland frontiers
should be fortified, our Army and Navy, regulated upon just
principles as to the force of each, be kept in perfect order, and
our militia be placed on the best practicable footing. To put our
extensive coast in such a state of defense as to secure our cities
and interior from invasion will be attended with expense, but the
work when finished will be permanent, and it is fair to presume
that a single campaign of invasion by a naval force superior to
our own, aided by a few thousand land troops, would expose us to
greater expense, without taking into the estimate the loss of
property and distress of our citizens, than would be sufficient
for this great work. Our land and naval forces should be moderate,
but adequate to the necessary purposes--the former to garrison and
preserve our fortifications and to meet the first invasions of a
foreign foe, and, while constituting the elements of a greater
force, to preserve the science as well as all the necessary
implements of war in a state to be brought into activity in the
event of war; the latter, retained within the limits proper in a
state of peace, might aid in maintaining the neutrality of the
United States with dignity in the wars of other powers and in
saving the property of their citizens from spoliation. In time of
war, with the enlargement of which the great naval resources of
the country render it susceptible, and which should be duly
fostered in time. of peace, it would contribute essentially, both
as an auxiliary of defense and as a powerful engine of annoyance,
to diminish the calamities of war and to bring the war to a speedy
and honorable termination.

But it ought always to be held prominently in view that the safety
of these States and of everything dear to a free people must
depend in an eminent degree on the militia. Invasions may be made
too formidable to be resisted by any land and naval force which it
would comport either with the principles of our Government or the
circumstances of the United States to maintain. In such cases
recourse must be had to the great body of the people, and in a
manner to produce the best effect. It is of the highest
importance, therefore, that they be so organized and trained as to
be prepared for any emergency. The arrangement should be such as
to put at the command of the Government the ardent patriotism and
youthful vigor of the country. If formed on equal and just
principles, it can not be oppressive. It is the crisis which makes
the pressure, and not the laws which provide a remedy for it. This
arrangement should be formed, too, in time of peace, to be the
better prepared for war. With such an organization of such a
people the United States have nothing to dread from foreign
invasion. At its approach an overwhelming force of gallant men
might always be put in motion.

Other interests of high importance will claim attention, among
which the improvement of our country by roads and canals,
proceeding always with a constitutional sanction, holds a
distinguished place. By thus facilitating the intercourse between
the States we shall add much to the convenience and comfort of our
fellow-citizens, much to the ornament of the country, and, what is
of greater importance, we shall shorten distances, and, by making
each part more accessible to and dependent on the other, we shall
bind the Union more closely together. Nature has done so much for
us by intersecting the country with so many great rivers, bays,
and lakes, approaching from distant points so near to each other,
that the inducement to complete the work seems to be peculiarly
strong. A more interesting spectacle was perhaps never seen than
is exhibited within the limits of the United States--a territory
so vast and advantageously situated, containing objects so grand,
so useful, so happily connected in all their parts!

Our manufacturers will likewise require the systematic and
fostering care of the Government. Possessing as we do all the raw
materials, the fruit of our own soil and industry, we ought not to
depend in the degree we have done on supplies from other
countries. While we are thus dependent the sudden event of war,
unsought and unexpected, can not fail to plunge us into the most
serious difficulties It is important, too, that the capital which
nourishes our manufacturers should be domestic, as its influence
in that case instead of exhausting, as it may do in foreign hands,
would be felt advantageously on agriculture and every other branch
of industry Equally important is it to provide at home a market
for our raw materials, as by extending the competition it will
enhance the price and protect the cultivator against the
casualties incident to foreign markets.

With the Indian tribes it is our duty to cultivate friendly
relations and to act with kindness and liberality in all our
transactions. Equally proper is it to persevere in our efforts to
extend to them the advantages of civilization.

The great amount of our revenue and the flourishing state of the
Treasury are a full proof of the competency of the national
resources for any emergency, as they are of the willingness of our
fellow-citizens to bear the burdens which the public necessities
require. The vast amount of vacant lands, the value of which daily
augments, forms an additional resource of great extent and
duration. These resources, besides accomplishing every other
necessary purpose, put it completely in the power of the United
States to discharge the national debt at an early period. Peace is
the best time for improvement and preparation of every kind; it is
in peace that our commerce flourishes most, that taxes are most
easily paid, and that the revenue is most productive.

The Executive is charged officially in the Departments under it
with the disbursement of the public money, and is responsible for
the faithful application of it to the purposes for which it is
raised. The Legislature is the watchful guardian over the public
purse. It is its duty to see that the disbursement has been
honestly made. To meet the requisite responsibility every facility
should be afforded to the Executive to enable it to bring the
public agents intrusted with the public money strictly and
promptly to account. Nothing should be presumed against them; but
if, with the requisite facilities, the public money is suffered to
lie long and uselessly in their hands, they will not be the only
defaulters, nor will the demoralizing effect be confined to them.
It will evince a relaxation and want of tone in the Administration
which will be felt by the whole community. I shall do all I can to
secure economy and fidelity in this important branch of the
Administration, and I doubt not that the Legislature will perform
its duty with equal zeal. A thorough examination should be
regularly made, and I will promote it.

It is particularly gratifying to me to enter on the discharge of
these duties at a time when the United States are blessed with
peace. It is a state most consistent with their prosperity and
happiness. It will be my sincere desire to preserve it, so far as
depends on the Executive, on just principles with all nations,
claiming nothing unreasonable of any and rendering to each what is
its due.

Equally gratifying is it to witness the increased harmony of
opinion which pervades our Union. Discord does not belong to our
system. Union is recommended as well by the free and benign
principles of our Government, extending its blessings to every
individual, as by the other eminent advantages attending it. The
American people have encountered together great dangers and
sustained severe trials with success. They constitute one great
family with a common interest. Experience has enlightened us on
some questions of essential importance to the country. The
progress has been slow, dictated by a just reflection and a
faithful regard to every interest connected with it. To promote
this harmony in accord with the principles of our republican
Government and in a manner to give them the most complete effect,
and to advance in all other respects the best interests of our
Union, will be the object of my constant and zealous exertions.

Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor
ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other
nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so
rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy. In
contemplating what we have still to perform, the heart of every
citizen must expand with joy when he reflects how near our
Government has approached to perfection; that in respect to it we
have no essential improvement to make; that the great object is to
preserve it in the essential principles and features which
characterize it, and that is to be done by preserving the virtue
and enlightening the minds of the people; and as a security
against foreign dangers to adopt such arrangements as are
indispensable to the support of our independence, our rights and
liberties. If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced
so far and in the path already traced, we can not fail, under the
favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which
seems to await us.

In the Administrations of the illustrious men who have preceded me
in this high station, with some of whom I have been connected by
the closest ties from early life, examples are presented which
will always be found highly instructive and useful to their
successors. From these I shall endeavor to derive all the
advantages which they may afford. Of my immediate predecessor,
under whom so important a portion of this great and successful
experiment has been made, I shall be pardoned for expressing my
earnest wishes that he may long enjoy in his retirement the
affections of a grateful country, the best reward of exalted
talents and the most faithful and meritorious service. Relying on
the aid to be derived from the other departments of the
Government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by
the suffrages of my fellow-citizens with my fervent prayers to the
Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that
protection which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our


James Monroe


In 1821, March 4 fell on a Sunday for the first time that
presidential inaugurations had been observed. Although his
previous term had expired on Saturday, the President waited until
the following Monday upon the advice of Chief Justice Marshall,
before going to the newly rebuilt Hall of the House of
Representatives to take the oath of office. Because the weather
was cold and wet, the ceremonies were conducted indoors. The
change in the location caused some confusion and many visitors and
dignitaries were unable to find a place to stand inside the


I shall not attempt to describe the grateful emotions which the
new and very distinguished proof of the confidence of my fellow-
citizens, evinced by my reelection to this high trust, has excited
in my bosom. The approbation which it announces of my conduct in
the preceding term affords me a consolation which I shall
profoundly feel through life. The general accord with which it has
been expressed adds to the great and never-ceasing obligations
which it imposes. To merit the continuance of this good opinion,
and to carry it with me into my retirement as the solace of
advancing years, will be the object of my most zealous and
unceasing efforts.

Having no pretensions to the high and commanding claims of my
predecessors, whose names are so much more conspicuously
identified with our Revolution, and who contributed so
preeminently to promote its success, I consider myself rather as
the instrument than the cause of the union which has prevailed in
the late election In surmounting, in favor of my humble
pretensions, the difficulties which so often produce division in
like occurrences, it is obvious that other powerful causes,
indicating the great strength and stability of our Union, have
essentially contributed to draw you together. That these powerful
causes exist, and that they are permanent, is my fixed opinion;
that they may produce a like accord in all questions touching,
however remotely, the liberty, prosperity and happiness of our
country will always be the object of my most fervent prayers to
the Supreme Author of All Good.

In a government which is founded by the people, who possess
exclusively the sovereignty, it seems proper that the person who
may be placed by their suffrages in this high trust should declare
on commencing its duties the principles on which he intends to
conduct the Administration. If the person thus elected has served
the preceding term, an opportunity is afforded him to review its
principal occurrences and to give such further explanation
respecting them as in his judgment may be useful to his
constituents. The events of one year have influence on those of
another, and, in like manner, of a preceding on the succeeding
Administration. The movements of a great nation are connected in
all their parts. If errors have been committed they ought to be
corrected; if the policy is sound it ought to be supported. It is
by a thorough knowledge of the whole subject that our fellow-
citizens are enabled to judge correctly of the past and to give a
proper direction to the future.

Just before the commencement of the last term the United States
had concluded a war with a very powerful nation on conditions
equal and honorable to both parties. The events of that war are
too recent and too deeply impressed on the memory of all to
require a development from me. Our commerce had been in a great
measure driven from the sea, our Atlantic and inland frontiers
were invaded in almost every part; the waste of life along our
coast and on some parts of our inland frontiers, to the defense of
which our gallant and patriotic citizens were called, was immense,
in addition to which not less than $120,000,000 were added at its
end to the public debt.

As soon as the war had terminated, the nation, admonished by its
events, resolved to place itself in a situation which should be
better calculated to prevent the recurrence of a like evil, and,
in case it should recur, to mitigate its calamities. With this
view, after reducing our land force to the basis of a peace
establishment, which has been further modified since, provision
was made for the construction of fortifications at proper points
through the whole extent of our coast and such an augmentation of
our naval force as should be well adapted to both purposes. The
laws making this provision were passed in 1815 and 1816, and it
has been since the constant effort of the Executive to carry them
into effect.

The advantage of these fortifications and of an augmented naval
force in the extent contemplated, in a point of economy, has been
fully illustrated by a report of the Board of Engineers and Naval
Commissioners lately communicated to Congress, by which it appears
that in an invasion by 20,000 men, with a correspondent naval
force, in a campaign of six months only, the whole expense of the
construction of the works would be defrayed by the difference in
the sum necessary to maintain the force which would be adequate to
our defense with the aid of those works and that which would be
incurred without them. The reason of this difference is obvious.
If fortifications are judiciously placed on our great inlets, as
distant from our cities as circumstances will permit, they will
form the only points of attack, and the enemy will be detained
there by a small regular force a sufficient time to enable our
militia to collect and repair to that on which the attack is made.
A force adequate to the enemy, collected at that single point,
with suitable preparation for such others as might be menaced, is
all that would be requisite. But if there were no fortifications,
then the enemy might go where he pleased, and, changing his
position and sailing from place to place, our force must be called
out and spread in vast numbers along the whole coast and on both
sides of every bay and river as high up in each as it might be
navigable for ships of war. By these fortifications, supported by
our Navy, to which they would afford like support, we should
present to other powers an armed front from St. Croix to the
Sabine, which would protect in the event of war our whole coast
and interior from invasion; and even in the wars of other powers,
in which we were neutral, they would be found eminently useful,
as, by keeping their public ships at a distance from our cities,
peace and order in them would be preserved and the Government be
protected from insult.

It need scarcely be remarked that these measures have not been
resorted to in a spirit of hostility to other powers. Such a
disposition does not exist toward any power. Peace and good will
have been, and will hereafter be, cultivated with all, and by the
most faithful regard to justice. They have been dictated by a love
of peace, of economy, and an earnest desire to save the lives of
our fellow-citizens from that destruction and our country from
that devastation which are inseparable from war when it finds us
unprepared for it. It is believed, and experience has shown, that
such a preparation is the best expedient that can be resorted to
prevent war. I add with much pleasure that considerable progress
has already been made in these measures of defense, and that they
will be completed in a few years, considering the great extent and
importance of the object, if the plan be zealously and steadily
persevered in.

The conduct of the Government in what relates to foreign powers is
always an object of the highest importance to the nation. Its
agriculture, commerce, manufactures, fisheries, revenue, in short,
its peace, may all be affected by it. Attention is therefore due
to this subject.

At the period adverted to the powers of Europe, after having been
engaged in long and destructive wars with each other, had
concluded a peace, which happily still exists. Our peace with the
power with whom we had been engaged had also been concluded. The
war between Spain and the colonies in South America, which had
commenced many years before, was then the only conflict that
remained unsettled. This being a contest between different parts
of the same community, in which other powers had not interfered,
was not affected by their accommodations.

This contest was considered at an early stage by my predecessor a
civil war in which the parties were entitled to equal rights in
our ports. This decision, the first made by any power, being
formed on great consideration of the comparative strength and
resources of the parties, the length of time, and successful
opposition made by the colonies, and of all other circumstances on
which it ought to depend, was in strict accord with the law of
nations. Congress has invariably acted on this principle, having
made no change in our relations with either party. Our attitude
has therefore been that of neutrality between them, which has been
maintained by the Government with the strictest impartiality. No
aid has been afforded to either, nor has any privilege been
enjoyed by the one which has not been equally open to the other
party, and every exertion has been made in its power to enforce
the execution of the laws prohibiting illegal equipments with
equal rigor against both.

By this equality between the parties their public vessels have
been received in our ports on the same footing; they have enjoyed
an equal right to purchase and export arms, munitions of war, and
every other supply, the exportation of all articles whatever being
permitted under laws which were passed long before the
commencement of the contest; our citizens have traded equally with
both, and their commerce with each has been alike protected by the

Respecting the attitude which it may be proper for the United
States to maintain hereafter between the parties, I have no
hesitation in stating it as my opinion that the neutrality
heretofore observed should still be adhered to. From the change in
the Government of Spain and the negotiation now depending, invited
by the Cortes and accepted by the colonies, it may be presumed,
that their differences will be settled on the terms proposed by
the colonies. Should the war be continued, the United States,
regarding its occurrences, will always have it in their power to
adopt such measures respecting it as their honor and interest may

Shortly after the general peace a band of adventurers took
advantage of this conflict and of the facility which it afforded
to establish a system of buccaneering in the neighboring seas, to
the great annoyance of the commerce of the United States, and, as
was represented, of that of other powers. Of this spirit and of
its injurious bearing on the United States strong proofs were
afforded by the establishment at Amelia Island, and the purposes
to which it was made instrumental by this band in 1817, and by the
occurrences which took place in other parts of Florida in 1818,
the details of which in both instances are too well known to
require to be now recited. I am satisfied had a less decisive
course been adopted that the worst consequences would have
resulted from it. We have seen that these checks, decisive as they
were, were not sufficient to crush that piratical spirit. Many
culprits brought within our limits have been condemned to suffer
death, the punishment due to that atrocious crime. The decisions
of upright and enlightened tribunals fall equally on all whose
crimes subject them, by a fair interpretation of the law, to its
censure. It belongs to the Executive not to suffer the executions
under these decisions to transcend the great purpose for which
punishment is necessary. The full benefit of example being
secured, policy as well as humanity equally forbids that they
should be carried further. I have acted on this principle,
pardoning those who appear to have been led astray by ignorance of
the criminality of the acts they had committed, and suffering the
law to take effect on those only in whose favor no extenuating
circumstances could be urged.

Great confidence is entertained that the late treaty with Spain,
which has been ratified by both the parties, and the ratifications
whereof have been exchanged, has placed the relations of the two
countries on a basis of permanent friendship. The provision made
by it for such of our citizens as have claims on Spain of the
character described will, it is presumed, be very satisfactory to
them, and the boundary which is established between the
territories of the parties westward of the Mississippi, heretofore
in dispute, has, it is thought, been settled on conditions just
and advantageous to both. But to the acquisition of Florida too
much importance can not be attached. It secures to the United
States a territory important in itself, and whose importance is
much increased by its bearing on many of the highest interests of
the Union. It opens to several of the neighboring States a free
passage to the ocean, through the Province ceded, by several
rivers, having their sources high up within their limits. It
secures us against all future annoyance from powerful Indian
tribes. It gives us several excellent harbors in the Gulf of
Mexico for ships of war of the largest size. It covers by its
position in the Gulf the Mississippi and other great waters within
our extended limits, and thereby enables the United States to
afford complete protection to the vast and very valuable
productions of our whole Western country, which find a market
through those streams.

By a treaty with the British Government, bearing date on the 20th
of October, 1818, the convention regulating the commerce between
the United States and Great Britain, concluded on the 3d of July,
1815, which was about expiring, was revived and continued for the
term of ten years from the time of its expiration. By that treaty,
also, the differences which had arisen under the treaty of Ghent
respecting the right claimed by the United States for their
citizens to take and cure fish on the coast of His Britannic
Majesty's dominions in America, with other differences on
important interests, were adjusted to the satisfaction of both
parties. No agreement has yet been entered into respecting the
commerce between the United States and the British dominions in
the West Indies and on this continent. The restraints imposed on
that commerce by Great Britain, and reciprocated by the United
States on a principle of defense, continue still in force.

The negotiation with France for the regulation of the commercial
relations between the two countries, which in the course of the
last summer had been commenced at Paris, has since been
transferred to this city, and will be pursued on the part of the
United States in the spirit of conciliation, and with an earnest
desire that it may terminate in an arrangement satisfactory to
both parties.

Our relations with the Barbary Powers are preserved in the same
state and by the same means that were employed when I came into
this office. As early as 1801 it was found necessary to send a
squadron into the Mediterranean for the protection of our commerce
and no period has intervened, a short term excepted, when it was
thought advisable to withdraw it. The great interests which the
United States have in the Pacific, in commerce and in the
fisheries, have also made it necessary to maintain a naval force
there In disposing of this force in both instances the most
effectual measures in our power have been taken, without
interfering with its other duties, for the suppression of the
slave trade and of piracy in the neighboring seas.

The situation of the United States in regard to their resources,
the extent of their revenue, and the facility with which it is
raised affords a most gratifying spectacle. The payment of nearly
$67,000,000 of the public debt, with the great progress made in
measures of defense and in other improvements of various kinds
since the late war, are conclusive proofs of this extraordinary
prosperity, especially when it is recollected that these
expenditures have been defrayed without a burthen on the people,
the direct tax and excise having been repealed soon after the
conclusion of the late war, and the revenue applied to these great
objects having been raised in a manner not to be felt. Our great
resources therefore remain untouched for any purpose which may
affect the vital interests of the nation. For all such purposes
they are inexhaustible. They are more especially to be found in
the virtue, patriotism, and intelligence of our fellow-citizens,
and in the devotion with which they would yield up by any just
measure of taxation all their property in support of the rights
and honor of their country.

Under the present depression of prices, affecting all the
productions of the country and every branch of industry,
proceeding from causes explained on a former occasion, the revenue
has considerably diminished, the effect of which has been to
compel Congress either to abandon these great measures of defense
or to resort to loans or internal taxes to supply the deficiency.
On the presumption that this depression and the deficiency in the
revenue arising from it would be temporary, loans were authorized
for the demands of the last and present year. Anxious to relieve
my fellow-citizens in 1817 from every burthen which could be
dispensed with and the state of the Treasury permitting it, I
recommended the repeal of the internal taxes, knowing that such
relief was then peculiarly necessary in consequence of the great
exertions made in the late war. I made that recommendation under a
pledge that should the public exigencies require a recurrence to
them at any time while I remained in this trust, I would with
equal promptitude perform the duty which would then be alike
incumbent on me. By the experiment now making it will be seen by
the next session of Congress whether the revenue shall have been
so augmented as to be adequate to all these necessary purposes.
Should the deficiency still continue, and especially should it be
probable that it would be permanent, the course to be pursued
appears to me to be obvious. I am satisfied that under certain
circumstances loans may be resorted to with great advantage. I am
equally well satisfied, as a general rule, that the demands of the
current year, especially in time of peace, should be provided for
by the revenue of that year.

I have never dreaded, nor have I ever shunned, in any situation in
which I have been placed making appeals to the virtue and
patriotism of my fellow-citizens, well knowing that they could
never be made in vain, especially in times of great emergency or
for purposes of high national importance. Independently of the
exigency of the case, many considerations of great weight urge a
policy having in view a provision of revenue to meet to a certain
extent the demands of the nation, without relying altogether on
the precarious resource of foreign commerce. I am satisfied that
internal duties and excises, with corresponding imposts on foreign
articles of the same kind, would, without imposing any serious
burdens on the people, enhance the price of produce, promote our
manufactures, and augment the revenue, at the same time that they
made it more secure and permanent.

The care of the Indian tribes within our limits has long been an
essential part of our system, but, unfortunately, it has not been
executed in a manner to accomplish all the objects intended by it.
We have treated them as independent nations, without their having
any substantial pretensions to that rank. The distinction has
flattered their pride, retarded their improvement, and in many
instances paved the way to their destruction. The progress of our
settlements westward, supported as they are by a dense population,
has constantly driven them back, with almost the total sacrifice
of the lands which they have been compelled to abandon. They have
claims on the magnanimity and, I may add, on the justice of this
nation which we must all feel. We should become their real
benefactors; we should perform the office of their Great Father,
the endearing title which they emphatically give to the Chief
Magistrate of our Union. Their sovereignty over vast territories
should cease, in lieu of which the right of soil should be secured
to each individual and his posterity in competent portions; and
for the territory thus ceded by each tribe some reasonable
equivalent should be granted, to be vested in permanent funds for
the support of civil government over them and for the education of
their children, for their instruction in the arts of husbandry,
and to provide sustenance for them until they could provide it for
themselves. My earnest hope is that Congress will digest some
plan, founded on these principles, with such improvements as their
wisdom may suggest, and carry it into effect as soon as it may be

Europe is again unsettled and the prospect of war increasing.
Should the flame light up in any quarter, how far it may extend it
is impossible to foresee. It is our peculiar felicity to be
altogether unconnected with the causes which produce this menacing
aspect elsewhere. With every power we are in perfect amity, and it
is our interest to remain so if it be practicable on just
conditions. I see no reasonable cause to apprehend variance with
any power, unless it proceed from a violation of our maritime
rights. In these contests, should they occur, and to whatever
extent they may be carried, we shall be neutral; but as a neutral
power we have rights which it is our duty to maintain. For like
injuries it will be incumbent on us to seek redress in a spirit of
amity, in full confidence that, injuring none, none would
knowingly injure us. For more imminent dangers we should be
prepared, and it should always be recollected that such
preparation adapted to the circumstances and sanctioned by the
judgment and wishes of our constituents can not fail to have a
good effect in averting dangers of every kind. We should recollect
also that the season of peace is best adapted to these

If we turn our attention, fellow-citizens, more immediately to the
internal concerns of our country, and more especially to those on
which its future welfare depends, we have every reason to
anticipate the happiest results. It is now rather more than forty-
four years since we declared our independence, and thirty-seven
since it was acknowledged. The talents and virtues which were
displayed in that great struggle were a sure presage of all that
has since followed. A people who were able to surmount in their
infant state such great perils would be more competent as they
rose into manhood to repel any which they might meet in their
progress. Their physical strength would be more adequate to
foreign danger, and the practice of self-government, aided by the
light of experience, could not fail to produce an effect equally
salutary on all those questions connected with the internal
organization. These favorable anticipations have been realized.

In our whole system, national and State, we have shunned all the
defects which unceasingly preyed on the vitals and destroyed the
ancient Republics. In them there were distinct orders, a nobility
and a people, or the people governed in one assembly. Thus, in the
one instance there was a perpetual conflict between the orders in
society for the ascendency, in which the victory of either
terminated in the overthrow of the government and the ruin of the
state; in the other, in which the people governed in a body, and
whose dominions seldom exceeded the dimensions of a county in one
of our States, a tumultuous and disorderly movement permitted only
a transitory existence. In this great nation there is but one
order, that of the people, whose power, by a peculiarly happy
improvement of the representative principle, is transferred from
them, without impairing in the slightest degree their sovereignty,
to bodies of their own creation, and to persons elected by
themselves, in the full extent necessary for all the purposes of
free, enlightened and efficient government. The whole system is
elective, the complete sovereignty being in the people, and every
officer in every department deriving his authority from and being
responsible to them for his conduct.

Our career has corresponded with this great outline. Perfection in
our organization could not have been expected in the outset either
in the National or State Governments or in tracing the line
between their respective powers. But no serious conflict has
arisen, nor any contest but such as are managed by argument and by
a fair appeal to the good sense of the people, and many of the
defects which experience had clearly demonstrated in both
Governments have been remedied. By steadily pursuing this course
in this spirit there is every reason to believe that our system
will soon attain the highest degree of perfection of which human
institutions are capable, and that the movement in all its
branches will exhibit such a degree of order and harmony as to
command the admiration and respect of the civilized world.

Our physical attainments have not been less eminent. Twenty-five
years ago the river Mississippi was shut up and our Western
brethren had no outlet for their commerce. What has been the
progress since that time? The river has not only become the
property of the United States from its source to the ocean, with
all its tributary streams (with the exception of the upper part of
the Red River only), but Louisiana, with a fair and liberal
boundary on the western side and the Floridas on the eastern, have
been ceded to us. The United States now enjoy the complete and
uninterrupted sovereignty over the whole territory from St. Croix
to the Sabine. New States, settled from among ourselves in this
and in other parts, have been admitted into our Union in equal
participation in the national sovereignty with the original
States. Our population has augmented in an astonishing degree and
extended in every direction. We now, fellow-citizens, comprise
within our limits the dimensions and faculties of a great power
under a Government possessing all the energies of any government
ever known to the Old World, with an utter incapacity to oppress
the people.

Entering with these views the office which I have just solemnly
sworn to execute with fidelity and to the utmost of my ability, I
derive great satisfaction from a knowledge that I shall be
assisted in the several Departments by the very enlightened and
upright citizens from whom I have received so much aid in the
preceding term. With full confidence in the continuance of that
candor and generous indulgence from my fellow-citizens at large
which I have heretofore experienced, and with a firm reliance on
the protection of Almighty God, I shall forthwith commence the
duties of the high trust to which you have called me.


John Quincy Adams


The only son of a former President to be elected to the Nation's
highest office, John Quincy Adams was chosen by the House of
Representatives when the electoral college could not determine a
clear winner of the 1824 election. The outcome was assured when
Henry Clay, one of the front-runners, threw his support to Mr.
Adams so that Andrew Jackson's candidacy would fail. General
Jackson had polled more popular votes in the election, but he did
not gain enough electoral votes to win outright. The oath of
office was administered by Chief Justice John Marshall inside the
Hall of the House of Representatives.

In compliance with an usage coeval with the existence of our
Federal Constitution, and sanctioned by the example of my
predecessors in the career upon which I am about to enter, I
appear, my fellow-citizens, in your presence and in that of Heaven
to bind myself by the solemnities of religious obligation to the
faithful performance of the duties allotted to me in the station
to which I have been called.

In unfolding to my countrymen the principles by which I shall be
governed in the fulfillment of those duties my first resort will
be to that Constitution which I shall swear to the best of my
ability to preserve, protect, and defend. That revered instrument
enumerates the powers and prescribes the duties of the Executive
Magistrate, and in its first words declares the purposes to which
these and the whole action of the Government instituted by it
should be invariably and sacredly devoted--to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide
for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure
the blessings of liberty to the people of this Union in their
successive generations. Since the adoption of this social compact
one of these generations has passed away. It is the work of our
forefathers. Administered by some of the most eminent men who
contributed to its formation, through a most eventful period in
the annals of the world, and through all the vicissitudes of peace
and war incidental to the condition of associated man, it has not
disappointed the hopes and aspirations of those illustrious
benefactors of their age and nation. It has promoted the lasting
welfare of that country so dear to us all; it has to an extent far
beyond the ordinary lot of humanity secured the freedom and
happiness of this people. We now receive it as a precious
inheritance from those to whom we are indebted for its
establishment, doubly bound by the examples which they have left
us and by the blessings which we have enjoyed as the fruits of
their labors to transmit the same unimpaired to the succeeding

In the compass of thirty-six years since this great national
covenant was instituted a body of laws enacted under its authority
and in conformity with its provisions has unfolded its powers and
carried into practical operation its effective energies.
Subordinate departments have distributed the executive functions
in their various relations to foreign affairs, to the revenue and
expenditures, and to the military force of the Union by land and
sea. A coordinate department of the judiciary has expounded the
Constitution and the laws, settling in harmonious coincidence with
the legislative will numerous weighty questions of construction
which the imperfection of human language had rendered unavoidable.
The year of jubilee since the first formation of our Union has
just elapsed that of the declaration of our independence is at
hand. The consummation of both was effected by this Constitution.

Since that period a population of four millions has multiplied to
twelve. A territory bounded by the Mississippi has been extended
from sea to sea. New States have been admitted to the Union in
numbers nearly equal to those of the first Confederation. Treaties
of peace, amity, and commerce have been concluded with the
principal dominions of the earth. The people of other nations,
inhabitants of regions acquired not by conquest, but by compact,
have been united with us in the participation of our rights and
duties, of our burdens and blessings. The forest has fallen by the
ax of our woodsmen; the soil has been made to teem by the tillage
of our farmers; our commerce has whitened every ocean. The
dominion of man over physical nature has been extended by the
invention of our artists. Liberty and law have marched hand in
hand. All the purposes of human association have been accomplished
as effectively as under any other government on the globe, and at
a cost little exceeding in a whole generation the expenditure of
other nations in a single year.

Such is the unexaggerated picture of our condition under a
Constitution founded upon the republican principle of equal
rights. To admit that this picture has its shades is but to say
that it is still the condition of men upon earth. From evil--
physical, moral, and political--it is not our claim to be exempt.
We have suffered sometimes by the visitation of Heaven through
disease; often by the wrongs and injustice of other nations, even
to the extremities of war; and, lastly, by dissensions among
ourselves--dissensions perhaps inseparable from the enjoyment of
freedom, but which have more than once appeared to threaten the
dissolution of the Union, and with it the overthrow of all the
enjoyments of our present lot and all our earthly hopes of the
future. The causes of these dissensions have been various, founded
upon differences of speculation in the theory of republican
government; upon conflicting views of policy in our relations with
foreign nations; upon jealousies of partial and sectional
interests, aggravated by prejudices and prepossessions which
strangers to each other are ever apt to entertain.

It is a source of gratification and of encouragement to me to
observe that the great result of this experiment upon the theory
of human rights has at the close of that generation by which it
was formed been crowned with success equal to the most sanguine
expectations of its founders. Union, justice, tranquillity, the
common defense, the general welfare, and the blessings of
liberty--all have been promoted by the Government under which we
have lived. Standing at this point of time, looking back to that
generation which has gone by and forward to that which is
advancing, we may at once indulge in grateful exultation and in
cheering hope. From the experience of the past we derive
instructive lessons for the future. Of the two great political
parties which have divided the opinions and feelings of our
country, the candid and the just will now admit that both have
contributed splendid talents, spotless integrity, ardent
patriotism, and disinterested sacrifices to the formation and
administration of this Government, and that both have required a
liberal indulgence for a portion of human infirmity and error. The
revolutionary wars of Europe, commencing precisely at the moment
when the Government of the United States first went into operation
under this Constitution, excited a collision of sentiments and of
sympathies which kindled all the passions and imbittered the
conflict of parties till the nation was involved in war and the
Union was shaken to its center. This time of trial embraced a
period of five and twenty years, during which the policy of the
Union in its relations with Europe constituted the principal basis
of our political divisions and the most arduous part of the action
of our Federal Government. With the catastrophe in which the wars
of the French Revolution terminated, and our own subsequent peace
with Great Britain, this baneful weed of party strife was
uprooted. From that time no difference of principle, connected
either with the theory of government or with our intercourse with
foreign nations, has existed or been called forth in force
sufficient to sustain a continued combination of parties or to
give more than wholesome animation to public sentiment or
legislative debate. Our political creed is, without a dissenting
voice that can be heard, that the will of the people is the source
and the happiness of the people the end of all legitimate
government upon earth; that the best security for the beneficence
and the best guaranty against the abuse of power consists in the
freedom, the purity, and the frequency of popular elections; that
the General Government of the Union and the separate governments
of the States are all sovereignties of limited powers, fellow-
servants of the same masters, uncontrolled within their respective
spheres, uncontrollable by encroachments upon each other; that the
firmest security of peace is the preparation during peace of the
defenses of war; that a rigorous economy and accountability of
public expenditures should guard against the aggravation and
alleviate when possible the burden of taxation; that the military
should be kept in strict subordination to the civil power; that
the freedom of the press and of religious opinion should be
inviolate; that the policy of our country is peace and the ark of
our salvation union are articles of faith upon which we are all
now agreed. If there have been those who doubted whether a
confederated representative democracy were a government competent
to the wise and orderly management of the common concerns of a
mighty nation, those doubts have been dispelled; if there have
been projects of partial confederacies to be erected upon the
ruins of the Union, they have been scattered to the winds; if
there have been dangerous attachments to one foreign nation and
antipathies against another, they have been extinguished. Ten
years of peace, at home and abroad, have assuaged the animosities
of political contention and blended into harmony the most
discordant elements of public opinion There still remains one
effort of magnanimity, one sacrifice of prejudice and passion, to
be made by the individuals throughout the nation who have
heretofore followed the standards of political party. It is that
of discarding every remnant of rancor against each other, of
embracing as countrymen and friends, and of yielding to talents
and virtue alone that confidence which in times of contention for
principle was bestowed only upon those who bore the badge of party

The collisions of party spirit which originate in speculative
opinions or in different views of administrative policy are in
their nature transitory. Those which are founded on geographical
divisions, adverse interests of soil, climate, and modes of
domestic life are more permanent, and therefore, perhaps, more
dangerous. It is this which gives inestimable value to the
character of our Government, at once federal and national. It
holds out to us a perpetual admonition to preserve alike and with
equal anxiety the rights of each individual State in its own
government and the rights of the whole nation in that of the
Union. Whatsoever is of domestic concernment, unconnected with the
other members of the Union or with foreign lands, belongs
exclusively to the administration of the State governments.
Whatsoever directly involves the rights and interests of the
federative fraternity or of foreign powers is of the resort of
this General Government. The duties of both are obvious in the
general principle, though sometimes perplexed with difficulties in
the detail. To respect the rights of the State governments is the
inviolable duty of that of the Union; the government of every
State will feel its own obligation to respect and preserve the
rights of the whole. The prejudices everywhere too commonly
entertained against distant strangers are worn away, and the
jealousies of jarring interests are allayed by the composition and
functions of the great national councils annually assembled from
all quarters of the Union at this place. Here the distinguished
men from every section of our country, while meeting to deliberate
upon the great interests of those by whom they are deputed, learn
to estimate the talents and do justice to the virtues of each
other. The harmony of the nation is promoted and the whole Union
is knit together by the sentiments of mutual respect, the habits
of social intercourse, and the ties of personal friendship formed
between the representatives of its several parts in the
performance of their service at this metropolis.

Passing from this general review of the purposes and injunctions
of the Federal Constitution and their results as indicating the
first traces of the path of duty in the discharge of my public
trust, I turn to the Administration of my immediate predecessor as
the second. It has passed away in a period of profound peace, how
much to the satisfaction of our country and to the honor of our
country's name is known to you all. The great features of its
policy, in general concurrence with the will of the Legislature,
have been to cherish peace while preparing for defensive war; to
yield exact justice to other nations and maintain the rights of
our own; to cherish the principles of freedom and of equal rights
wherever they were proclaimed; to discharge with all possible
promptitude the national debt; to reduce within the narrowest
limits of efficiency the military force; to improve the
organization and discipline of the Army; to provide and sustain a
school of military science; to extend equal protection to all the
great interests of the nation; to promote the civilization of the
Indian tribes, and to proceed in the great system of internal
improvements within the limits of the constitutional power of the
Union. Under the pledge of these promises, made by that eminent
citizen at the time of his first induction to this office, in his
career of eight years the internal taxes have been repealed; sixty
millions of the public debt have been discharged; provision has
been made for the comfort and relief of the aged and indigent
among the surviving warriors of the Revolution; the regular armed
force has been reduced and its constitution revised and perfected;
the accountability for the expenditure of public moneys has been
made more effective; the Floridas have been peaceably acquired,
and our boundary has been extended to the Pacific Ocean; the
independence of the southern nations of this hemisphere has been
recognized, and recommended by example and by counsel to the
potentates of Europe; progress has been made in the defense of the
country by fortifications and the increase of the Navy, toward the
effectual suppression of the African traffic in slaves; in
alluring the aboriginal hunters of our land to the cultivation of
the soil and of the mind, in exploring the interior regions of the
Union, and in preparing by scientific researches and surveys for
the further application of our national resources to the internal
improvement of our country.

In this brief outline of the promise and performance of my
immediate predecessor the line of duty for his successor is
clearly delineated To pursue to their consummation those purposes
of improvement in our common condition instituted or recommended
by him will embrace the whole sphere of my obligations. To the
topic of internal improvement, emphatically urged by him at his
inauguration, I recur with peculiar satisfaction. It is that from
which I am convinced that the unborn millions of our posterity who
are in future ages to people this continent will derive their most
fervent gratitude to the founders of the Union; that in which the
beneficent action of its Government will be most deeply felt and
acknowledged. The magnificence and splendor of their public works
are among the imperishable glories of the ancient republics. The
roads and aqueducts of Rome have been the admiration of all after
ages, and have survived thousands of years after all her conquests
have been swallowed up in despotism or become the spoil of
barbarians. Some diversity of opinion has prevailed with regard to
the powers of Congress for legislation upon objects of this
nature. The most respectful deference is due to doubts originating
in pure patriotism and sustained by venerated authority. But
nearly twenty years have passed since the construction of the
first national road was commenced. The authority for its
construction was then unquestioned. To how many thousands of our
countrymen has it proved a benefit? To what single individual has
it ever proved an injury? Repeated, liberal, and candid
discussions in the Legislature have conciliated the sentiments and
approximated the opinions of enlightened minds upon the question
of constitutional power. I can not but hope that by the same
process of friendly, patient, and persevering deliberation all
constitutional objections will ultimately be removed. The extent
and limitation of the powers of the General Government in relation
to this transcendently important interest will be settled and
acknowledged to the common satisfaction of all, and every
speculative scruple will be solved by a practical public blessing.

Fellow-citizens, you are acquainted with the peculiar
circumstances of the recent election, which have resulted in
affording me the opportunity of addressing you at this time. You
have heard the exposition of the principles which will direct me
in the fulfillment of the high and solemn trust imposed upon me in
this station. Less possessed of your confidence in advance than
any of my predecessors, I am deeply conscious of the prospect that
I shall stand more and oftener in need of your indulgence.
Intentions upright and pure, a heart devoted to the welfare of our
country, and the unceasing application of all the faculties
allotted to me to her service are all the pledges that I can give
for the faithful performance of the arduous duties I am to
undertake. To the guidance of the legislative councils, to the
assistance of the executive and subordinate departments, to the
friendly cooperation of the respective State governments, to the
candid and liberal support of the people so far as it may be
deserved by honest industry and zeal, I shall look for whatever
success may attend my public service; and knowing that "except the
Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain," with fervent
supplications for His favor, to His overruling providence I commit
with humble but fearless confidence my own fate and the future
destinies of my country.


Andrew Jackson


The election of Andrew Jackson was heralded as a new page in the
history of the Republic. The first military leader elected
President since George Washington, he was much admired by the
electorate, who came to Washington to celebrate "Old Hickory's"
inauguration. Outgoing President Adams did not join in the
ceremony, which was held for the first time on the East Portico of
the Capitol building. Chief Justice John Marshall administered the
oath of office. After the proceedings at the Capitol, a large
group of citizens walked with the new President along Pennsylvania
Avenue to the White House, and many of them visited the executive
mansion that day and evening. Such large numbers of people arrived
that many of the furnishings were ruined. President Jackson left
the building by a window to avoid the crush of people.


About to undertake the arduous duties that I have been appointed
to perform by the choice of a free people, I avail myself of this
customary and solemn occasion to express the gratitude which their
confidence inspires and to acknowledge the accountability which my
situation enjoins. While the magnitude of their interests
convinces me that no thanks can be adequate to the honor they have
conferred, it admonishes me that the best return I can make is the
zealous dedication of my humble abilities to their service and
their good.

As the instrument of the Federal Constitution it will devolve on
me for a stated period to execute the laws of the United States,
to superintend their foreign and their confederate relations, to
manage their revenue, to command their forces, and, by
communications to the Legislature, to watch over and to promote
their interests generally. And the principles of action by which I
shall endeavor to accomplish this circle of duties it is now
proper for me briefly to explain.

In administering the laws of Congress I shall keep steadily in
view the limitations as well as the extent of the Executive power
trusting thereby to discharge the functions of my office without
transcending its authority. With foreign nations it will be my
study to preserve peace and to cultivate friendship on fair and
honorable terms, and in the adjustment of any differences that may
exist or arise to exhibit the forbearance becoming a powerful
nation rather than the sensibility belonging to a gallant people.

In such measures as I may be called on to pursue in regard to the
rights of the separate States I hope to be animated by a proper
respect for those sovereign members of our Union, taking care not
to confound the powers they have reserved to themselves with those
they have granted to the Confederacy.

The management of the public revenue--that searching operation in
all governments--is among the most delicate and important trusts
in ours, and it will, of course, demand no inconsiderable share of
my official solicitude. Under every aspect in which it can be
considered it would appear that advantage must result from the
observance of a strict and faithful economy. This I shall aim at
the more anxiously both because it will facilitate the
extinguishment of the national debt, the unnecessary duration of
which is incompatible with real independence, and because it will
counteract that tendency to public and private profligacy which a
profuse expenditure of money by the Government is but too apt to
engender. Powerful auxiliaries to the attainment of this desirable
end are to be found in the regulations provided by the wisdom of
Congress for the specific appropriation of public money and the
prompt accountability of public officers.

With regard to a proper selection of the subjects of impost with a
view to revenue, it would seem to me that the spirit of equity,
caution and compromise in which the Constitution was formed
requires that the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and
manufactures should be equally favored, and that perhaps the only
exception to this rule should consist in the peculiar
encouragement of any products of either of them that may be found
essential to our national independence.

Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as
they can be promoted by the constitutional acts of the Federal
Government, are of high importance.

Considering standing armies as dangerous to free governments in
time of peace, I shall not seek to enlarge our present
establishment, nor disregard that salutary lesson of political
experience which teaches that the military should be held
subordinate to the civil power. The gradual increase of our Navy,
whose flag has displayed in distant climes our skill in navigation
and our fame in arms; the preservation of our forts, arsenals, and
dockyards, and the introduction of progressive improvements in the
discipline and science of both branches of our military service
are so plainly prescribed by prudence that I should be excused for
omitting their mention sooner than for enlarging on their
importance. But the bulwark of our defense is the national
militia, which in the present state of our intelligence and
population must render us invincible. As long as our Government is
administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their
will; as long as it secures to us the rights of person and of
property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth
defending; and so long as it is worth defending a patriotic
militia will cover it with an impenetrable aegis. Partial injuries
and occasional mortifications we may be subjected to, but a
million of armed freemen, possessed of the means of war, can never
be conquered by a foreign foe. To any just system, therefore,
calculated to strengthen this natural safeguard of the country I
shall cheerfully lend all the aid in my power.

It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe toward the
Indian tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to
give that humane and considerate attention to their rights and
their wants which is consistent with the habits of our Government
and the feelings of our people.

The recent demonstration of public sentiment inscribes on the list
of Executive duties, in characters too legible to be overlooked,
the task of reform, which will require particularly the correction
of those abuses that have brought the patronage of the Federal
Government into conflict with the freedom of elections, and the
counteraction of those causes which have disturbed the rightful
course of appointment and have placed or continued power in
unfaithful or incompetent hands.

In the performance of a task thus generally delineated I shall
endeavor to select men whose diligence and talents will insure in
their respective stations able and faithful cooperation, depending
for the advancement of the public service more on the integrity
and zeal of the public officers than on their numbers.

A diffidence, perhaps too just, in my own qualifications will
teach me to look with reverence to the examples of public virtue
left by my illustrious predecessors, and with veneration to the
lights that flow from the mind that founded and the mind that
reformed our system. The same diffidence induces me to hope for
instruction and aid from the coordinate branches of the
Government, and for the indulgence and support of my fellow-
citizens generally. And a firm reliance on the goodness of that
Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy,
and has since upheld our liberties in various vicissitudes,
encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications that He will
continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care
and gracious benediction.


Andrew Jackson


Cold weather and the President's poor health caused the second
inauguration to be much quieter than the first. The President's
speech was delivered to a large assembly inside the Hall of the
House of Representatives. Chief Justice John Marshall administered
the oath of office for the ninth, and last, time.


The will of the American people, expressed through their
unsolicited suffrages, calls me before you to pass through the
solemnities preparatory to taking upon myself the duties of
President of the United States for another term. For their
approbation of my public conduct through a period which has not
been without its difficulties, and for this renewed expression of
their confidence in my good intentions, I am at a loss for terms
adequate to the expression of my gratitude. It shall be displayed
to the extent of my humble abilities in continued efforts so to
administer the Government as to preserve their liberty and promote
their happiness.

So many events have occurred within the last four years which have
necessarily called forth--sometimes under circumstances the most
delicate and painful--my views of the principles and policy which
ought to be pursued by the General Government that I need on this
occasion but allude to a few leading considerations connected with
some of them.

The foreign policy adopted by our Government soon after the
formation of our present Constitution, and very generally pursued
by successive Administrations, has been crowned with almost
complete success, and has elevated our character among the nations
of the earth. To do justice to all and to submit to wrong from
none has been during my Administration its governing maxim, and so
happy have been its results that we are not only at peace with all
the world, but have few causes of controversy, and those of minor
importance, remaining unadjusted.

In the domestic policy of this Government there are two objects
which especially deserve the attention of the people and their
representatives, and which have been and will continue to be the
subjects of my increasing solicitude. They are the preservation of
the rights of the several States and the integrity of the Union.

These great objects are necessarily connected, and can only be
attained by an enlightened exercise of the powers of each within
its appropriate sphere in conformity with the public will
constitutionally expressed. To this end it becomes the duty of all
to yield a ready and patriotic submission to the laws
constitutionally enacted and thereby promote and strengthen a
proper confidence in those institutions of the several States and
of the United States which the people themselves have ordained for
their own government.

My experience in public concerns and the observation of a life
somewhat advanced confirm the opinions long since imbibed by me,
that the destruction of our State governments or the annihilation
of their control over the local concerns of the people would lead
directly to revolution and anarchy, and finally to despotism and
military domination. In proportion, therefore, as the General
Government encroaches upon the rights of the States, in the same
proportion does it impair its own power and detract from its
ability to fulfill the purposes of its creation. Solemnly
impressed with these considerations, my countrymen will ever find
me ready to exercise my constitutional powers in arresting
measures which may directly or indirectly encroach upon the rights
of the States or tend to consolidate all political power in the
General Government. But of equal and, indeed, of incalculable,
importance is the union of these States, and the sacred duty of
all to contribute to its preservation by a liberal support of the
General Government in the exercise of its just powers. You have
been wisely admonished to "accustom yourselves to think and speak
of the Union as of the palladium of your political safety and
prosperity, watching for its preservation with Jealous anxiety,
discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can
in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first
dawning of any attempt to alienate any portion of our country from
the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together
the various parts." Without union our independence and liberty
would never have been achieved; without union they never can be
maintained. Divided into twenty-four, or even a smaller number, of
separate communities, we shall see our internal trade burdened
with numberless restraints and exactions; communication between
distant points and sections obstructed or cut off; our sons made
soldiers to deluge with blood the fields they now till in peace;
the mass of our people borne down and impoverished by taxes to
support armies and navies, and military leaders at the head of
their victorious legions becoming our lawgivers and judges. The
loss of liberty, of all good government, of peace, plenty, and
happiness, must inevitably follow a dissolution of the Union. In
supporting it, therefore, we support all that is dear to the
freeman and the philanthropist

The time at which I stand before you is full of interest. The eyes
of all nations are fixed on our Republic. The event of the
existing crisis will be decisive in the opinion of mankind of the
practicability of our federal system of government. Great is the
stake placed in our hands; great is the responsibility which must
rest upon the people of the United States. Let us realize the
importance of the attitude in which we stand before the world. Let
us exercise forbearance and firmness. Let us extricate our country
from the dangers which surround it and learn wisdom from the
lessons they inculcate.

Deeply impressed with the truth of these observations, and under
the obligation of that solemn oath which I am about to take, I
shall continue to exert all my faculties to maintain the just
powers of the Constitution and to transmit unimpaired to posterity
the blessings of our Federal Union. At the same time, it will be
my aim to inculcate by my official acts the necessity of
exercising by the General Government those powers only that are
clearly delegated; to encourage simplicity and economy in the
expenditures of the Government; to raise no more money from the
people than may be requisite for these objects, and in a manner
that will best promote the interests of all classes of the
community and of all portions of the Union. Constantly bearing in
mind that in entering into society "individuals must give up a
share of liberty to preserve the rest," it will be my desire so to
discharge my duties as to foster with our brethren in all parts of
the country a spirit of liberal concession and compromise, and, by
reconciling our fellow-citizens to those partial sacrifices which
they must unavoidably make for the preservation of a greater good,
to recommend our invaluable Government and Union to the confidence
and affections of the American people.

Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being
before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the
infancy of our Republic to the present day, that He will so
overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of
my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all
kinds and continue forever a united and happy people.


Martin Van Buren


The ailing President Jackson and his Vice President Van Buren rode
together to the Capitol from the White House in a carriage made of
timbers from the U.S.S. Constitution. Chief Justice Roger Taney
administered the oath of office on the East Portico of the
Capitol. For the first and only time, the election for Vice
President had been decided by the Senate, as provided by the
Constitution, when the electoral college could not select a
winner. The new Vice President, Richard M. Johnson, took his oath
in the Senate Chamber.

Fellow-Citizens: The practice of all my predecessors imposes on me
an obligation I cheerfully fulfill--to accompany the first and
solemn act of my public trust with an avowal of the principles
that will guide me in performing it and an expression of my
feelings on assuming a charge so responsible and vast. In
imitating their example I tread in the footsteps of illustrious
men, whose superiors it is our happiness to believe are not found
on the executive calendar of any country. Among them we recognize
the earliest and firmest pillars of the Republic--those by whom
our national independence was first declared, him who above all
others contributed to establish it on the field of battle, and
those whose expanded intellect and patriotism constructed,
improved, and perfected the inestimable institutions under which
we live. If such men in the position I now occupy felt themselves
overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for this the highest of all
marks of their country's confidence, and by a consciousness of
their inability adequately to discharge the duties of an office so
difficult and exalted, how much more must these considerations
affect one who can rely on no such claims for favor or
forbearance! Unlike all who have preceded me, the Revolution that
gave us existence as one people was achieved at the period of my
birth; and whilst I contemplate with grateful reverence that
memorable event, I feel that I belong to a later age and that I
may not expect my countrymen to weigh my actions with the same
kind and partial hand.

So sensibly, fellow-citizens, do these circumstances press
themselves upon me that I should not dare to enter upon my path of
duty did I not look for the generous aid of those who will be
associated with me in the various and coordinate branches of the
Government; did I not repose with unwavering reliance on the
patriotism, the intelligence, and the kindness of a people who
never yet deserted a public servant honestly laboring their cause;
and, above all, did I not permit myself humbly to hope for the
sustaining support of an ever-watchful and beneficent Providence.

To the confidence and consolation derived from these sources it
would be ungrateful not to add those which spring from our present
fortunate condition. Though not altogether exempt from
embarrassments that disturb our tranquillity at home and threaten
it abroad, yet in all the attributes of a great, happy, and
flourishing people we stand without a parallel in the world.
Abroad we enjoy the respect and, with scarcely an exception, the
friendship of every nation; at home, while our Government quietly
but efficiently performs the sole legitimate end of political
institutions--in doing the greatest good to the greatest number--
we present an aggregate of human prosperity surely not elsewhere
to be found.

How imperious, then, is the obligation imposed upon every citizen,
in his own sphere of action, whether limited or extended, to exert
himself in perpetuating a condition of things so singularly happy!
All the lessons of history and experience must be lost upon us if
we are content to trust alone to the peculiar advantages we happen
to possess. Position and climate and the bounteous resources that
nature has scattered with so liberal a hand--even the diffused
intelligence and elevated character of our people--will avail us
nothing if we fail sacredly to uphold those political institutions
that were wisely and deliberately formed with reference to every
circumstance that could preserve or might endanger the blessings
we enjoy. The thoughtful framers of our Constitution legislated
for our country as they found it. Looking upon it with the eyes of
statesmen and patriots, they saw all the sources of rapid and
wonderful prosperity; but they saw also that various habits,
opinions and institutions peculiar to the various portions of so
vast a region were deeply fixed. Distinct sovereignties were in
actual existence, whose cordial union was essential to the welfare
and happiness of all. Between many of them there was, at least to
some extent, a real diversity of interests, liable to be
exaggerated through sinister designs; they differed in size, in
population, in wealth, and in actual and prospective resources and
power; they varied in the character of their industry and staple
productions, and [in some] existed domestic institutions which,
unwisely disturbed, might endanger the harmony of the whole. Most
carefully were all these circumstances weighed, and the
foundations of the new Government laid upon principles of
reciprocal concession and equitable compromise. The jealousies
which the smaller States might entertain of the power of the rest
were allayed by a rule of representation confessedly unequal at
the time, and designed forever to remain so. A natural fear that
the broad scope of general legislation might bear upon and
unwisely control particular interests was counteracted by limits
strictly drawn around the action of the Federal authority, and to
the people and the States was left unimpaired their sovereign
power over the innumerable subjects embraced in the internal
government of a just republic, excepting such only as necessarily
appertain to the concerns of the whole confederacy or its
intercourse as a united community with the other nations of the

This provident forecast has been verified by time. Half a century,
teeming with extraordinary events, and elsewhere producing
astonishing results, has passed along, but on our institutions it
has left no injurious mark. From a small community we have risen
to a people powerful in numbers and in strength; but with our
increase has gone hand in hand the progress of just principles.
The privileges, civil and religious, of the humblest individual
are still sacredly protected at home, and while the valor and
fortitude of our people have removed far from us the slightest
apprehension of foreign power, they have not yet induced us in a
single instance to forget what is right. Our commerce has been
extended to the remotest nations; the value and even nature of our
productions have been greatly changed; a wide difference has
arisen in the relative wealth and resources of every portion of
our country; yet the spirit of mutual regard and of faithful
adherence to existing compacts has continued to prevail in our
councils and never long been absent from our conduct. We have
learned by experience a fruitful lesson--that an implicit and
undeviating adherence to the principles on which we set out can
carry us prosperously onward through all the conflicts of
circumstances and vicissitudes inseparable from the lapse of

The success that has thus attended our great experiment is in
itself a sufficient cause for gratitude, on account of the
happiness it has actually conferred and the example it has
unanswerably given But to me, my fellow-citizens, looking forward
to the far-distant future with ardent prayers and confiding hopes,
this retrospect presents a ground for still deeper delight. It
impresses on my mind a firm belief that the perpetuity of our
institutions depends upon ourselves; that if we maintain the
principles on which they were established they are destined to
confer their benefits on countless generations yet to come, and
that America will present to every friend of mankind the cheering
proof that a popular government, wisely formed, is wanting in no
element of endurance or strength. Fifty years ago its rapid
failure was boldly predicted. Latent and uncontrollable causes of
dissolution were supposed to exist even by the wise and good, and
not only did unfriendly or speculative theorists anticipate for us
the fate of past republics, but the fears of many an honest
patriot overbalanced his sanguine hopes. Look back on these
forebodings, not hastily but reluctantly made, and see how in
every instance they have completely failed.

An imperfect experience during the struggles of the Revolution was
supposed to warrant the belief that the people would not bear the
taxation requisite to discharge an immense public debt already
incurred and to pay the necessary expenses of the Government The
cost of two wars has been paid, not only without a murmur; but
with unequaled alacrity. No one is now left to doubt that every
burden will be cheerfully borne that may be necessary to sustain
our civil institutions or guard our honor or welfare. Indeed, all
experience has shown that the willingness of the people to
contribute to these ends in cases of emergency has uniformly
outrun the confidence of their representatives.

In the early stages of the new Government, when all felt the
imposing influence as they recognized the unequaled services of
the first President, it was a common sentiment that the great
weight of his character could alone bind the discordant materials
of our Government together and save us from the violence of
contending factions. Since his death nearly forty years are gone.
Party exasperation has been often carried to its highest point;
the virtue and fortitude of the people have sometimes been greatly
tried; yet our system, purified and enhanced in value by all it
has encountered, still preserves its spirit of free and fearless
discussion, blended with unimpaired fraternal feeling.

The capacity of the people for self-government, and their
willingness, from a high sense of duty and without those
exhibitions of coercive power so generally employed in other
countries, to submit to all needful restraints and exactions of
municipal law, have also been favorably exemplified in the history
of the American States. Occasionally, it is true, the ardor of
public sentiment, outrunning the regular progress of the judicial
tribunals or seeking to reach cases not denounced as criminal by
the existing law, has displayed itself in a manner calculated to
give pain to the friends of free government and to encourage the
hopes of those who wish for its overthrow. These occurrences,
however, have been far less frequent in our country than in any
other of equal population on the globe, and with the diffusion of
intelligence it may well be hoped that they will constantly
diminish in frequency and violence. The generous patriotism and
sound common sense of the great mass of our fellow-citizens will
assuredly in time produce this result; for as every assumption of
illegal power not only wounds the majesty of the law, but
furnishes a pretext for abridging the liberties of the people, the
latter have the most direct and permanent interest in preserving
the landmarks of social order and maintaining on all occasions the
inviolability of those constitutional and legal provisions which
they themselves have made.

In a supposed unfitness of our institutions for those hostile
emergencies which no country can always avoid their friends found
a fruitful source of apprehension, their enemies of hope. While
they foresaw less promptness of action than in governments
differently formed, they overlooked the far more important
consideration that with us war could never be the result of
individual or irresponsible will, but must be a measure of redress
for injuries sustained voluntarily resorted to by those who were
to bear the necessary sacrifice, who would consequently feel an
individual interest in the contest, and whose energy would be
commensurate with the difficulties to be encountered. Actual
events have proved their error; the last war, far from impairing,
gave new confidence to our Government, and amid recent
apprehensions of a similar conflict we saw that the energies of
our country would not be wanting in ample season to vindicate its
rights. We may not possess, as we should not desire to possess,
the extended and ever-ready military organization of other
nations; we may occasionally suffer in the outset for the want of
it; but among ourselves all doubt upon this great point has
ceased, while a salutary experience will prevent a contrary
opinion from inviting aggression from abroad.

Certain danger was foretold from the extension of our territory,
the multiplication of States, and the increase of population. Our
system was supposed to be adapted only to boundaries comparatively
narrow. These have been widened beyond conjecture; the members of
our Confederacy are already doubled, and the numbers of our people
are incredibly augmented. The alleged causes of danger have long
surpassed anticipation, but none of the consequences have
followed. The power and influence of the Republic have arisen to a
height obvious to all mankind; respect for its authority was not
more apparent at its ancient than it is at its present limits; new
and inexhaustible sources of general prosperity have been opened;
the effects of distance have been averted by the inventive genius
of our people, developed and fostered by the spirit of our
institutions; and the enlarged variety and amount of interests,
productions, and pursuits have strengthened the chain of mutual
dependence and formed a circle of mutual benefits too apparent
ever to be overlooked.

In justly balancing the powers of the Federal and State
authorities difficulties nearly insurmountable arose at the outset
and subsequent collisions were deemed inevitable. Amid these it
was scarcely believed possible that a scheme of government so
complex in construction could remain uninjured. From time to time
embarrassments have certainly occurred; but how just is the
confidence of future safety imparted by the knowledge that each in
succession has been happily removed! Overlooking partial and
temporary evils as inseparable from the practical operation of all
human institutions, and looking only to the general result, every
patriot has reason to be satisfied. While the Federal Government
has successfully performed its appropriate functions in relation
to foreign affairs and concerns evidently national, that of every
State has remarkably improved in protecting and developing local
interests and individual welfare; and if the vibrations of
authority have occasionally tended too much toward one or the
other, it is unquestionably certain that the ultimate operation of
the entire system has been to strengthen all the existing
institutions and to elevate our whole country in prosperity and

The last, perhaps the greatest, of the prominent sources of
discord and disaster supposed to lurk in our political condition
was the institution of domestic slavery. Our forefathers were
deeply impressed with the delicacy of this subject, and they
treated it with a forbearance so evidently wise that in spite of
every sinister foreboding it never until the present period
disturbed the tranquillity of our common country. Such a result is
sufficient evidence of the justice and the patriotism of their
course; it is evidence not to be mistaken that an adherence to it
can prevent all embarrassment from this as well as from every
other anticipated cause of difficulty or danger. Have not recent
events made it obvious to the slightest reflection that the least
deviation from this spirit of forbearance is injurious to every
interest, that of humanity included? Amidst the violence of
excited passions this generous and fraternal feeling has been
sometimes disregarded; and standing as I now do before my
countrymen, in this high place of honor and of trust, I can not
refrain from anxiously invoking my fellow-citizens never to be
deaf to its dictates. Perceiving before my election the deep
interest this subject was beginning to excite, I believed it a
solemn duty fully to make known my sentiments in regard to it, and
now, when every motive for misrepresentation has passed away, I
trust that they will be candidly weighed and understood. At least
they will be my standard of conduct in the path before me. I then
declared that if the desire of those of my countrymen who were
favorable to my election was gratified "I must go into the
Presidential chair the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of
every attempt on the part of Congress to abolish slavery in the
District of Columbia against the wishes of the slaveholding
States, and also with a determination equally decided to resist
the slightest interference with it in the States where it exists."
I submitted also to my fellow-citizens, with fullness and
frankness, the reasons which led me to this determination. The
result authorizes me to believe that they have been approved and
are confided in by a majority of the people of the United States,
including those whom they most immediately affect It now only
remains to add that no bill conflicting with these views can ever
receive my constitutional sanction. These opinions have been
adopted in the firm belief that they are in accordance with the
spirit that actuated the venerated fathers of the Republic, and
that succeeding experience has proved them to be humane,
patriotic, expedient, honorable, and just. If the agitation of
this subject was intended to reach the stability of our
institutions, enough has occurred to show that it has signally
failed, and that in this as in every other instance the
apprehensions of the timid and the hopes of the wicked for the
destruction of our Government are again destined to be
disappointed. Here and there, indeed, scenes of dangerous
excitement have occurred, terrifying instances of local violence
have been witnessed, and a reckless disregard of the consequences
of their conduct has exposed individuals to popular indignation;
but neither masses of the people nor sections of the country have
been swerved from their devotion to the bond of union and the
principles it has made sacred. It will be ever thus. Such attempts
at dangerous agitation may periodically return, but with each the
object will be better understood. That predominating affection for
our political system which prevails throughout our territorial
limits, that calm and enlightened judgment which ultimately
governs our people as one vast body, will always be at hand to
resist and control every effort, foreign or domestic, which aims
or would lead to overthrow our institutions.

What can be more gratifying than such a retrospect as this? We
look back on obstacles avoided and dangers overcome, on
expectations more than realized and prosperity perfectly secured.
To the hopes of the hostile, the fears of the timid, and the
doubts of the anxious actual experience has given the conclusive
reply. We have seen time gradually dispel every unfavorable
foreboding and our Constitution surmount every adverse
circumstance dreaded at the outset as beyond control. Present
excitement will at all times magnify present dangers, but true
philosophy must teach us that none more threatening than the past
can remain to be overcome; and we ought (for we have just reason)
to entertain an abiding confidence in the stability of our
institutions and an entire conviction that if administered in the
true form, character, and spirit in which they were established
they are abundantly adequate to preserve to us and our children
the rich blessings already derived from them, to make our beloved
land for a thousand generations that chosen spot where happiness
springs from a perfect equality of political rights.

For myself, therefore, I desire to declare that the principle that
will govern me in the high duty to which my country calls me is a
strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution as
it was designed by those who framed it. Looking back to it as a
sacred instrument carefully and not easily framed; remembering
that it was throughout a work of concession and compromise;
viewing it as limited to national objects; regarding it as leaving
to the people and the States all power not explicitly parted with,
I shall endeavor to preserve, protect, and defend it by anxiously
referring to its provision for direction in every action. To
matters of domestic concernment which it has intrusted to the
Federal Government and to such as relate to our intercourse with
foreign nations I shall zealously devote myself; beyond those
limits I shall never pass.

To enter on this occasion into a further or more minute exposition
of my views on the various questions of domestic policy would be
as obtrusive as it is probably unexpected. Before the suffrages of
my countrymen were conferred upon me I submitted to them, with
great precision, my opinions on all the most prominent of these
subjects. Those opinions I shall endeavor to carry out with my
utmost ability.

Our course of foreign policy has been so uniform and intelligible
as to constitute a rule of Executive conduct which leaves little
to my discretion, unless, indeed, I were willing to run counter to
the lights of experience and the known opinions of my
constituents. We sedulously cultivate the friendship of all
nations as the conditions most compatible with our welfare and the
principles of our Government. We decline alliances as adverse to
our peace. We desire commercial relations on equal terms, being
ever willing to give a fair equivalent for advantages received. We
endeavor to conduct our intercourse with openness and sincerity,
promptly avowing our objects and seeking to establish that mutual
frankness which is as beneficial in the dealings of nations as of
men. We have no disposition and we disclaim all right to meddle in
disputes, whether internal or foreign, that may molest other
countries, regarding them in their actual state as social
communities, and preserving a strict neutrality in all their
controversies. Well knowing the tried valor of our people and our
exhaustless resources, we neither anticipate nor fear any designed
aggression; and in the consciousness of our own just conduct we
feel a security that we shall never be called upon to exert our
determination never to permit an invasion of our rights without
punishment or redress.

In approaching, then, in the presence of my assembled countrymen,
to make the solemn promise that yet remains, and to pledge myself
that I will faithfully execute the office I am about to fill, I
bring with me a settled purpose to maintain the institutions of my
country, which I trust will atone for the errors I commit.

In receiving from the people the sacred trust twice confided to my
illustrious predecessor, and which he has discharged so faithfully
and so well, I know that I can not expect to perform the arduous
task with equal ability and success. But united as I have been in
his counsels, a daily witness of his exclusive and unsurpassed
devotion to his country's welfare, agreeing with him in sentiments
which his countrymen have warmly supported, and permitted to
partake largely of his confidence, I may hope that somewhat of the
same cheering approbation will be found to attend upon my path.
For him I but express with my own the wishes of all, that he may
yet long live to enjoy the brilliant evening of his well-spent
life; and for myself, conscious of but one desire, faithfully to
serve my country, I throw myself without fear on its justice and
its kindness. Beyond that I only look to the gracious protection
of the Divine Being whose strengthening support I humbly solicit,
and whom I fervently pray to look down upon us all. May it be
among the dispensations of His providence to bless our beloved
country with honors and with length of days. May her ways be ways
of pleasantness and all her paths be peace!


William Henry Harrison


President Harrison has the dual distinction among all the
Presidents of giving the longest inaugural speech and of serving
the shortest term of office. Known to the public as "Old
Tippecanoe," the former general of the Indian campaigns delivered
an hour-and-forty-five-minute speech in a snowstorm. The oath of
office was administered on the East Portico of the Capitol by
Chief Justice Roger Taney. The 68-year-old President stood outside
for the entire proceeding, greeted crowds of well-wishers at the
White House later that day, and attended several celebrations that
evening. One month later he died of pneumonia.

Called from a retirement which I had supposed was to continue for
the residue of my life to fill the chief executive office of this
great and free nation, I appear before you, fellow-citizens, to
take the oaths which the Constitution prescribes as a necessary
qualification for the performance of its duties; and in obedience
to a custom coeval with our Government and what I believe to be
your expectations I proceed to present to you a summary of the
principles which will govern me in the discharge of the duties
which I shall be called upon to perform.

It was the remark of a Roman consul in an early period of that
celebrated Republic that a most striking contrast was observable
in the conduct of candidates for offices of power and trust before
and after obtaining them, they seldom carrying out in the latter
case the pledges and promises made in the former. However much the
world may have improved in many respects in the lapse of upward of
two thousand years since the remark was made by the virtuous and
indignant Roman, I fear that a strict examination of the annals of
some of the modern elective governments would develop similar
instances of violated confidence.

Although the fiat of the people has gone forth proclaiming me the
Chief Magistrate of this glorious Union, nothing upon their part
remaining to be done, it may be thought that a motive may exist to
keep up the delusion under which they may be supposed to have
acted in relation to my principles and opinions; and perhaps there
may be some in this assembly who have come here either prepared to
condemn those I shall now deliver, or, approving them, to doubt
the sincerity with which they are now uttered. But the lapse of a
few months will confirm or dispel their fears. The outline of
principles to govern and measures to be adopted by an
Administration not yet begun will soon be exchanged for immutable
history, and I shall stand either exonerated by my countrymen or
classed with the mass of those who promised that they might
deceive and flattered with the intention to betray. However strong
may be my present purpose to realize the expectations of a
magnanimous and confiding people, I too well understand the
dangerous temptations to which I shall be exposed from the
magnitude of the power which it has been the pleasure of the
people to commit to my hands not to place my chief confidence upon
the aid of that Almighty Power which has hitherto protected me and
enabled me to bring to favorable issues other important but still
greatly inferior trusts heretofore confided to me by my country.

The broad foundation upon which our Constitution rests being the
people--a breath of theirs having made, as a breath can unmake,
change, or modify it--it can be assigned to none of the great
divisions of government but to that of democracy. If such is its
theory, those who are called upon to administer it must recognize
as its leading principle the duty of shaping their measures so as
to produce the greatest good to the greatest number. But with
these broad admissions, if we would compare the sovereignty
acknowledged to exist in the mass of our people with the power
claimed by other sovereignties, even by those which have been
considered most purely democratic, we shall find a most essential
difference. All others lay claim to power limited only by their
own will. The majority of our citizens, on the contrary, possess a
sovereignty with an amount of power precisely equal to that which
has been granted to them by the parties to the national compact,
and nothing beyond. We admit of no government by divine right,
believing that so far as power is concerned the Beneficent Creator
has made no distinction amongst men; that all are upon an
equality, and that the only legitimate right to govern is an
express grant of power from the governed. The Constitution of the
United States is the instrument containing this grant of power to
the several departments composing the Government. On an
examination of that instrument it will be found to contain
declarations of power granted and of power withheld. The latter is
also susceptible of division into power which the majority had the
right to grant, but which they do not think proper to intrust to
their agents, and that which they could not have granted, not
being possessed by themselves. In other words, there are certain
rights possessed by each individual American citizen which in his
compact with the others he has never surrendered. Some of them,
indeed, he is unable to surrender, being, in the language of our
system, unalienable. The boasted privilege of a Roman citizen was
to him a shield only against a petty provincial ruler, whilst the
proud democrat of Athens would console himself under a sentence of
death for a supposed violation of the national faith--which no one
understood and which at times was the subject of the mockery of
all--or the banishment from his home, his family, and his country
with or without an alleged cause, that it was the act not of a
single tyrant or hated aristocracy, but of his assembled
countrymen. Far different is the power of our sovereignty. It can
interfere with no one's faith, prescribe forms of worship for no
one's observance, inflict no punishment but after well-ascertained
guilt, the result of investigation under rules prescribed by the
Constitution itself. These precious privileges, and those scarcely
less important of giving expression to his thoughts and opinions,
either by writing or speaking, unrestrained but by the liability
for injury to others, and that of a full participation in all the
advantages which flow from the Government, the acknowledged
property of all, the American citizen derives from no charter
granted by his fellow-man. He claims them because he is himself a
man, fashioned by the same Almighty hand as the rest of his
species and entitled to a full share of the blessings with which
He has endowed them. Notwithstanding the limited sovereignty
possessed by the people of the United Stages and the restricted
grant of power to the Government which they have adopted, enough
has been given to accomplish all the objects for which it was
created. It has been found powerful in war, and hitherto justice
has been administered, and intimate union effected, domestic
tranquillity preserved, and personal liberty secured to the
citizen. As was to be expected, however, from the defect of
language and the necessarily sententious manner in which the
Constitution is written, disputes have arisen as to the amount of
power which it has actually granted or was intended to grant.

This is more particularly the case in relation to that part of the
instrument which treats of the legislative branch, and not only as
regards the exercise of powers claimed under a general clause
giving that body the authority to pass all laws necessary to carry
into effect the specified powers, but in relation to the latter
also. It is, however, consolatory to reflect that most of the
instances of alleged departure from the letter or spirit of the
Constitution have ultimately received the sanction of a majority
of the people. And the fact that many of our statesmen most
distinguished for talent and patriotism have been at one time or
other of their political career on both sides of each of the most
warmly disputed questions forces upon us the inference that the
errors, if errors there were, are attributable to the intrinsic
difficulty in many instances of ascertaining the intentions of the
framers of the Constitution rather than the influence of any
sinister or unpatriotic motive. But the great danger to our
institutions does not appear to me to be in a usurpation by the
Government of power not granted by the people, but by the
accumulation in one of the departments of that which was assigned
to others. Limited as are the powers which have been granted,
still enough have been granted to constitute a despotism if
concentrated in one of the departments. This danger is greatly
heightened, as it has been always observable that men are less
jealous of encroachments of one department upon another than upon
their own reserved rights. When the Constitution of the United
States first came from the hands of the Convention which formed
it, many of the sternest republicans of the day were alarmed at
the extent of the power which had been granted to the Federal
Government, and more particularly of that portion which had been
assigned to the executive branch. There were in it features which
appeared not to be in harmony with their ideas of a simple
representative democracy or republic, and knowing the tendency of
power to increase itself, particularly when exercised by a single
individual, predictions were made that at no very remote period
the Government would terminate in virtual monarchy. It would not
become me to say that the fears of these patriots have been
already realized; but as I sincerely believe that the tendency of
measures and of men's opinions for some years past has been in
that direction, it is, I conceive, strictly proper that I should
take this occasion to repeat the assurances I have heretofore
given of my determination to arrest the progress of that tendency
if it really exists and restore the Government to its pristine
health and vigor, as far as this can be effected by any legitimate
exercise of the power placed in my hands.

I proceed to state in as summary a manner as I can my opinion of
the sources of the evils which have been so extensively complained
of and the correctives which may be applied. Some of the former
are unquestionably to be found in the defects of the Constitution;
others, in my judgment, are attributable to a misconstruction of
some of its provisions. Of the former is the eligibility of the
same individual to a second term of the Presidency. The sagacious
mind of Mr. Jefferson early saw and lamented this error, and
attempts have been made, hitherto without success, to apply the
amendatory power of the States to its correction. As, however, one
mode of correction is in the power of every President, and
consequently in mine, it would be useless, and perhaps invidious,
to enumerate the evils of which, in the opinion of many of our
fellow-citizens, this error of the sages who framed the
Constitution may have been the source and the bitter fruits which
we are still to gather from it if it continues to disfigure our
system. It may be observed, however, as a general remark, that
republics can commit no greater error than to adopt or continue
any feature in their systems of government which may be calculated
to create or increase the lover of power in the bosoms of those to
whom necessity obliges them to commit the management of their
affairs; and surely nothing is more likely to produce such a state
of mind than the long continuance of an office of high trust.
Nothing can be more corrupting, nothing more destructive of all
those noble feelings which belong to the character of a devoted
republican patriot. When this corrupting passion once takes
possession of the human mind, like the love of gold it becomes
insatiable. It is the never-dying worm in his bosom, grows with
his growth and strengthens with the declining years of its victim.
If this is true, it is the part of wisdom for a republic to limit
the service of that officer at least to whom she has intrusted the
management of her foreign relations, the execution of her laws,
and the command of her armies and navies to a period so short as
to prevent his forgetting that he is the accountable agent, not
the principal; the servant, not the master. Until an amendment of
the Constitution can be effected public opinion may secure the
desired object. I give my aid to it by renewing the pledge
heretofore given that under no circumstances will I consent to
serve a second term.

But if there is danger to public liberty from the acknowledged
defects of the Constitution in the want of limit to the
continuance of the Executive power in the same hands, there is, I
apprehend, not much less from a misconstruction of that instrument
as it regards the powers actually given. I can not conceive that
by a fair construction any or either of its provisions would be
found to constitute the President a part of the legislative power.
It can not be claimed from the power to recommend, since, although
enjoined as a duty upon him, it is a privilege which he holds in
common with every other citizen; and although there may be
something more of confidence in the propriety of the measures
recommended in the one case than in the other, in the obligations
of ultimate decision there can be no difference. In the language
of the Constitution, "all the legislative powers" which it grants
"are vested in the Congress of the United States." It would be a
solecism in language to say that any portion of these is not
included in the whole.

It may be said, indeed, that the Constitution has given to the
Executive the power to annul the acts of the legislative body by
refusing to them his assent. So a similar power has necessarily
resulted from that instrument to the judiciary, and yet the
judiciary forms no part of the Legislature. There is, it is true,
this difference between these grants of power: The Executive can
put his negative upon the acts of the Legislature for other cause
than that of want of conformity to the Constitution, whilst the
judiciary can only declare void those which violate that
instrument. But the decision of the judiciary is final in such a
case, whereas in every instance where the veto of the Executive is
applied it may be overcome by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses
of Congress. The negative upon the acts of the legislative by the
executive authority, and that in the hands of one individual,
would seem to be an incongruity in our system. Like some others of
a similar character, however, it appears to be highly expedient,
and if used only with the forbearance and in the spirit which was
intended by its authors it may be productive of great good and be
found one of the best safeguards to the Union. At the period of
the formation of the Constitution the principle does not appear to
have enjoyed much favor in the State governments. It existed but
in two, and in one of these there was a plural executive. If we
would search for the motives which operated upon the purely
patriotic and enlightened assembly which framed the Constitution
for the adoption of a provision so apparently repugnant to the
leading democratic principle that the majority should govern, we
must reject the idea that they anticipated from it any benefit to
the ordinary course of legislation. They knew too well the high
degree of intelligence which existed among the people and the
enlightened character of the State legislatures not to have the
fullest confidence that the two bodies elected by them would be
worthy representatives of such constituents, and, of course, that
they would require no aid in conceiving and maturing the measures
which the circumstances of the country might require. And it is
preposterous to suppose that a thought could for a moment have
been entertained that the President, placed at the capital, in the
center of the country, could better understand the wants and
wishes of the people than their own immediate representatives, who
spend a part of every year among them, living with them, often
laboring with them, and bound to them by the triple tie of
interest, duty, and affection. To assist or control Congress,
then, in its ordinary legislation could not, I conceive, have been
the motive for conferring the veto power on the President. This
argument acquires additional force from the fact of its never
having been thus used by the first six Presidents--and two of them
were members of the Convention, one presiding over its
deliberations and the other bearing a larger share in consummating
the labors of that august body than any other person. But if bills
were never returned to Congress by either of the Presidents above
referred to upon the ground of their being inexpedient or not as
well adapted as they might be to the wants of the people, the veto
was applied upon that of want of conformity to the Constitution or
because errors had been committed from a too hasty enactment.

There is another ground for the adoption of the veto principle,
which had probably more influence in recommending it to the
Convention than any other. I refer to the security which it gives
to the just and equitable action of the Legislature upon all parts
of the Union. It could not but have occurred to the Convention
that in a country so extensive, embracing so great a variety of
soil and climate, and consequently of products, and which from the
same causes must ever exhibit a great difference in the amount of
the population of its various sections, calling for a great
diversity in the employments of the people, that the legislation
of the majority might not always justly regard the rights and
interests of the minority, and that acts of this character might
be passed under an express grant by the words of the Constitution,
and therefore not within the competency of the judiciary to
declare void; that however enlightened and patriotic they might
suppose from past experience the members of Congress might be, and
however largely partaking, in the general, of the liberal feelings
of the people, it was impossible to expect that bodies so
constituted should not sometimes be controlled by local interests
and sectional feelings. It was proper, therefore, to provide some
umpire from whose situation and mode of appointment more
independence and freedom from such influences might be expected.
Such a one was afforded by the executive department constituted by
the Constitution. A person elected to that high office, having his
constituents in every section, State, and subdivision of the
Union, must consider himself bound by the most solemn sanctions to
guard, protect, and defend the rights of all and of every portion,
great or small, from the injustice and oppression of the rest. I
consider the veto power, therefore given by the Constitution to
the Executive of the United States solely as a conservative power,
to be used only first, to protect the Constitution from violation;
secondly, the people from the effects of hasty legislation where
their will has been probably disregarded or not well understood,
and, thirdly, to prevent the effects of combinations violative of
the rights of minorities. In reference to the second of these
objects I may observe that I consider it the right and privilege
of the people to decide disputed points of the Constitution
arising from the general grant of power to Congress to carry into
effect the powers expressly given; and I believe with Mr. Madison
that "repeated recognitions under varied circumstances in acts of
the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the
Government, accompanied by indications in different modes of the
concurrence of the general will of the nation," as affording to
the President sufficient authority for his considering such
disputed points as settled.

Upward of half a century has elapsed since the adoption of the
present form of government. It would be an object more highly
desirable than the gratification of the curiosity of speculative
statesmen if its precise situation could be ascertained, a fair
exhibit made of the operations of each of its departments, of the
powers which they respectively claim and exercise, of the
collisions which have occurred between them or between the whole
Government and those of the States or either of them. We could
then compare our actual condition after fifty years' trial of our
system with what it was in the commencement of its operations and
ascertain whether the predictions of the patriots who opposed its
adoption or the confident hopes of its advocates have been best
realized. The great dread of the former seems to have been that
the reserved powers of the States would be absorbed by those of
the Federal Government and a consolidated power established,
leaving to the States the shadow only of that independent action
for which they had so zealously contended and on the preservation
of which they relied as the last hope of liberty. Without denying
that the result to which they looked with so much apprehension is
in the way of being realized, it is obvious that they did not
clearly see the mode of its accomplishment The General Government
has seized upon none of the reserved rights of the States. AS far
as any open warfare may have gone, the State authorities have
amply maintained their rights. To a casual observer our system
presents no appearance of discord between the different members
which compose it. Even the addition of many new ones has produced
no jarring. They move in their respective orbits in perfect
harmony with the central head and with each other. But there is
still an undercurrent at work by which, if not seasonably checked,
the worst apprehensions of our antifederal patriots will be
realized, and not only will the State authorities be overshadowed
by the great increase of power in the executive department of the
General Government, but the character of that Government, if not
its designation, be essentially and radically changed. This state
of things has been in part effected by causes inherent in the
Constitution and in part by the never-failing tendency of
political power to increase itself. By making the President the
sole distributer of all the patronage of the Government the
framers of the Constitution do not appear to have anticipated at
how short a period it would become a formidable instrument to
control the free operations of the State governments. Of trifling
importance at first, it had early in Mr. Jefferson's
Administration become so powerful as to create great alarm in the
mind of that patriot from the potent influence it might exert in
controlling the freedom of the elective franchise. If such could
have then been the effects of its influence, how much greater must
be the danger at this time, quadrupled in amount as it certainly
is and more completely under the control of the Executive will
than their construction of their powers allowed or the forbearing
characters of all the early Presidents permitted them to make. But
it is not by the extent of its patronage alone that the executive
department has become dangerous, but by the use which it appears
may be made of the appointing power to bring under its control the
whole revenues of the country. The Constitution has declared it to
be the duty of the President to see that the laws are executed,
and it makes him the Commander in Chief of the Armies and Navy of
the United States. If the opinion of the most approved writers
upon that species of mixed government which in modern Europe is
termed monarchy in contradistinction to despotism is correct,
there was wanting no other addition to the powers of our Chief
Magistrate to stamp a monarchical character on our Government but
the control of the public finances; and to me it appears strange
indeed that anyone should doubt that the entire control which the
President possesses over the officers who have the custody of the
public money, by the power of removal with or without cause, does,
for all mischievous purposes at least, virtually subject the
treasure also to his disposal. The first Roman Emperor, in his
attempt to seize the sacred treasure, silenced the opposition of
the officer to whose charge it had been committed by a significant
allusion to his sword. By a selection of political instruments for
the care of the public money a reference to their commissions by a
President would be quite as effectual an argument as that of
Caesar to the Roman knight. I am not insensible of the great
difficulty that exists in drawing a proper plan for the safe-
keeping and disbursement of the public revenues, and I know the
importance which has been attached by men of great abilities and
patriotism to the divorce, as it is called, of the Treasury from
the banking institutions It is not the divorce which is complained
of, but the unhallowed union of the Treasury with the executive
department, which has created such extensive alarm. To this danger
to our republican institutions and that created by the influence
given to the Executive through the instrumentality of the Federal
officers I propose to apply all the remedies which may be at my
command. It was certainly a great error in the framers of the
Constitution not to have made the officer at the head of the
Treasury Department entirely independent of the Executive. He
should at least have been removable only upon the demand of the
popular branch of the Legislature. I have determined never to
remove a Secretary of the Treasury without communicating all the
circumstances attending such removal to both Houses of Congress.

The influence of the Executive in controlling the freedom of the
elective franchise through the medium of the public officers can
be effectually checked by renewing the prohibition published by
Mr. Jefferson forbidding their interference in elections further
than giving their own votes, and their own independence secured by
an assurance of perfect immunity in exercising this sacred
privilege of freemen under the dictates of their own unbiased
judgments. Never with my consent shall an officer of the people,
compensated for his services out of their pockets, become the
pliant instrument of Executive will.

There is no part of the means placed in the hands of the Executive
which might be used with greater effect for unhallowed purposes
than the control of the public press. The maxim which our
ancestors derived from the mother country that "the freedom of the
press is the great bulwark of civil and religious liberty" is one
of the most precious legacies which they have left us. We have
learned, too, from our own as well as the experience of other
countries, that golden shackles, by whomsoever or by whatever
pretense imposed, are as fatal to it as the iron bonds of
despotism. The presses in the necessary employment of the
Government should never be used "to clear the guilty or to varnish
crime." A decent and manly examination of the acts of the
Government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.

Upon another occasion I have given my opinion at some length upon
the impropriety of Executive interference in the legislation of
Congress--that the article in the Constitution making it the duty
of the President to communicate information and authorizing him to
recommend measures was not intended to make him the source in
legislation, and, in particular, that he should never be looked to
for schemes of finance. It would be very strange, indeed, that the
Constitution should have strictly forbidden one branch of the
Legislature from interfering in the origination of such bills and
that it should be considered proper that an altogether different
department of the Government should be permitted to do so. Some of
our best political maxims and opinions have been drawn from our
parent isle. There are others, however, which can not be
introduced in our system without singular incongruity and the
production of much mischief, and this I conceive to be one. No
matter in which of the houses of Parliament a bill may originate
nor by whom introduced--a minister or a member of the opposition--
by the fiction of law, or rather of constitutional principle, the
sovereign is supposed to have prepared it agreeably to his will
and then submitted it to Parliament for their advice and consent.
Now the very reverse is the case here, not only with regard to the
principle, but the forms prescribed by the Constitution. The
principle certainly assigns to the only body constituted by the
Constitution (the legislative body) the power to make laws, and
the forms even direct that the enactment should be ascribed to
them. The Senate, in relation to revenue bills, have the right to
propose amendments, and so has the Executive by the power given
him to return them to the House of Representatives with his
objections. It is in his power also to propose amendments in the
existing revenue laws, suggested by his observations upon their
defective or injurious operation. But the delicate duty of
devising schemes of revenue should be left where the Constitution
has placed it--with the immediate representatives of the people.
For similar reasons the mode of keeping the public treasure should
be prescribed by them, and the further removed it may be from the
control of the Executive the more wholesome the arrangement and
the more in accordance with republican principle.

Connected with this subject is the character of the currency. The
idea of making it exclusively metallic, however well intended,
appears to me to be fraught with more fatal consequences than any
other scheme having no relation to the personal rights of the
citizens that has ever been devised. If any single scheme could
produce the effect of arresting at once that mutation of condition
by which thousands of our most indigent fellow-citizens by their
industry and enterprise are raised to the possession of wealth,
that is the one. If there is one measure better calculated than
another to produce that state of things so much deprecated by all
true republicans, by which the rich are daily adding to their
hoards and the poor sinking deeper into penury, it is an exclusive
metallic currency. Or if there is a process by which the character
of the country for generosity and nobleness of feeling may be
destroyed by the great increase and neck toleration of usury, it
is an exclusive metallic currency.

Amongst the other duties of a delicate character which the
President is called upon to perform is the supervision of the
government of the Territories of the United States. Those of them
which are destined to become members of our great political family
are compensated by their rapid progress from infancy to manhood
for the partial and temporary deprivation of their political
rights. It is in this District only where American citizens are to
be found who under a settled policy are deprived of many important
political privileges without any inspiring hope as to the future.
Their only consolation under circumstances of such deprivation is
that of the devoted exterior guards of a camp--that their
sufferings secure tranquillity and safety within. Are there any of
their countrymen, who would subject them to greater sacrifices, to
any other humiliations than those essentially necessary to the
security of the object for which they were thus separated from
their fellow-citizens? Are their rights alone not to be guaranteed
by the application of those great principles upon which all our
constitutions are founded? We are told by the greatest of British
orators and statesmen that at the commencement of the War of the
Revolution the most stupid men in England spoke of "their American
subjects." Are there, indeed, citizens of any of our States who
have dreamed of their subjects in the District of Columbia? Such
dreams can never be realized by any agency of mine. The people of
the District of Columbia are not the subjects of the people of the
States, but free American citizens. Being in the latter condition
when the Constitution was formed, no words used in that instrument
could have been intended to deprive them of that character. If
there is anything in the great principle of unalienable rights so
emphatically insisted upon in our Declaration of Independence,
they could neither make nor the United States accept a surrender
of their liberties and become the subjects--in other words, the
slaves--of their former fellow-citizens. If this be true--and it
will scarcely be denied by anyone who has a correct idea of his
own rights as an American citizen--the grant to Congress of
exclusive jurisdiction in the District of Columbia can be
interpreted, so far as respects the aggregate people of the United
States, as meaning nothing more than to allow to Congress the
controlling power necessary to afford a free and safe exercise of
the functions assigned to the General Government by the
Constitution. In all other respects the legislation of Congress
should be adapted to their peculiar position and wants and be
conformable with their deliberate opinions of their own interests.

I have spoken of the necessity of keeping the respective
departments of the Government, as well as all the other
authorities of our country, within their appropriate orbits. This
is a matter of difficulty in some cases, as the powers which they
respectively claim are often not defined by any distinct lines.
Mischievous, however, in their tendencies as collisions of this
kind may be, those which arise between the respective communities
which for certain purposes compose one nation are much more so,
for no such nation can long exist without the careful culture of
those feelings of confidence and affection which are the effective
bonds to union between free and confederated states. Strong as is
the tie of interest, it has been often found ineffectual. Men
blinded by their passions have been known to adopt measures for
their country in direct opposition to all the suggestions of
policy. The alternative, then, is to destroy or keep down a bad
passion by creating and fostering a good one, and this seems to be
the corner stone upon which our American political architects have
reared the fabric of our Government. The cement which was to bind
it and perpetuate its existence was the affectionate attachment
between all its members. To insure the continuance of this
feeling, produced at first by a community of dangers, of
sufferings, and of interests, the advantages of each were made
accessible to all. No participation in any good possessed by any
member of our extensive Confederacy, except in domestic
government, was withheld from the citizen of any other member. By
a process attended with no difficulty, no delay, no expense but
that of removal, the citizen of one might become the citizen of
any other, and successively of the whole. The lines, too,
separating powers to be exercised by the citizens of one State
from those of another seem to be so distinctly drawn as to leave
no room for misunderstanding. The citizens of each State unite in
their persons all the privileges which that character confers and
all that they may claim as citizens of the United States, but in
no case can the same persons at the same time act as the citizen
of two separate States, and he is therefore positively precluded
from any interference with the reserved powers of any State but
that of which he is for the time being a citizen. He may, indeed,
offer to the citizens of other States his advice as to their
management, and the form in which it is tendered is left to his
own discretion and sense of propriety. It may be observed,
however, that organized associations of citizens requiring
compliance with their wishes too much resemble the recommendations
of Athens to her allies, supported by an armed and powerful fleet.
It was, indeed, to the ambition of the leading States of Greece to
control the domestic concerns of the others that the destruction
of that celebrated Confederacy, and subsequently of all its
members, is mainly to be attributed, and it is owing to the
absence of that spirit that the Helvetic Confederacy has for so
many years been preserved. Never has there been seen in the
institutions of the separate members of any confederacy more
elements of discord. In the principles and forms of government and
religion, as well as in the circumstances of the several Cantons,
so marked a discrepancy was observable as to promise anything but
harmony in their intercourse or permanency in their alliance, and
yet for ages neither has been interrupted. Content with the
positive benefits which their union produced, with the
independence and safety from foreign aggression which it secured,
these sagacious people respected the institutions of each other,
however repugnant to their own principles and prejudices.

Our Confederacy, fellow-citizens, can only be preserved by the
same forbearance. Our citizens must be content with the exercise
of the powers with which the Constitution clothes them. The
attempt of those of one State to control the domestic institutions
of another can only result in feelings of distrust and jealousy,
the certain harbingers of disunion, violence, and civil war, and
the ultimate destruction of our free institutions. Our Confederacy
is perfectly illustrated by the terms and principles governing a
common copartnership There is a fund of power to be exercised
under the direction of the joint councils of the allied members,
but that which has been reserved by the individual members is
intangible by the common Government or the individual members
composing it. To attempt it finds no support in the principles of
our Constitution.

It should be our constant and earnest endeavor mutually to
cultivate a spirit of concord and harmony among the various parts
of our Confederacy. Experience has abundantly taught us that the
agitation by citizens of one part of the Union of a subject not
confided to the General Government, but exclusively under the
guardianship of the local authorities, is productive of no other
consequences than bitterness, alienation, discord, and injury to
the very cause which is intended to be advanced. Of all the great
interests which appertain to our country, that of union--cordial,
confiding, fraternal union--is by far the most important, since it
is the only true and sure guaranty of all others.

In consequence of the embarrassed state of business and the
currency, some of the States may meet with difficulty in their
financial concerns. However deeply we may regret anything
imprudent or excessive in the engagements into which States have
entered for purposes of their own, it does not become us to
disparage the States governments, nor to discourage them from
making proper efforts for their own relief. On the contrary, it is
our duty to encourage them to the extent of our constitutional
authority to apply their best means and cheerfully to make all
necessary sacrifices and submit to all necessary burdens to
fulfill their engagements and maintain their credit, for the
character and credit of the several States form a part of the
character and credit of the whole country. The resources of the
country are abundant, the enterprise and activity of our people
proverbial, and we may well hope that wise legislation and prudent
administration by the respective governments, each acting within
its own sphere, will restore former prosperity.

Unpleasant and even dangerous as collisions may sometimes be
between the constituted authorities of the citizens of our country
in relation to the lines which separate their respective
jurisdictions, the results can be of no vital injury to our
institutions if that ardent patriotism, that devoted attachment to
liberty, that spirit of moderation and forbearance for which our
countrymen were once distinguished, continue to be cherished. If
this continues to be the ruling passion of our souls, the weaker
feeling of the mistaken enthusiast will be corrected, the Utopian
dreams of the scheming politician dissipated, and the complicated
intrigues of the demagogue rendered harmless. The spirit of
liberty is the sovereign balm for every injury which our
institutions may receive. On the contrary, no care that can be
used in the construction of our Government, no division of powers,
no distribution of checks in its several departments, will prove
effectual to keep us a free people if this spirit is suffered to
decay; and decay it will without constant nurture. To the neglect
of this duty the best historians agree in attributing the ruin of
all the republics with whose existence and fall their writings
have made us acquainted. The same causes will ever produce the
same effects, and as long as the love of power is a dominant
passion of the human bosom, and as long as the understandings of
men can be warped and their affections changed by operations upon
their passions and prejudices, so long will the liberties of a
people depend on their own constant attention to its preservation.
The danger to all well-established free governments arises from
the unwillingness of the people to believe in its existence or
from the influence of designing men diverting their attention from
the quarter whence it approaches to a source from which it can
never come. This is the old trick of those who would usurp the
government of their country. In the name of democracy they speak,
warning the people against the influence of wealth and the danger
of aristocracy. History, ancient and modern, is full of such
examples. Caesar became the master of the Roman people and the
senate under the pretense of supporting the democratic claims of
the former against the aristocracy of the latter; Cromwell, in the
character of protector of the liberties of the people, became the
dictator of England, and Bolivar possessed himself of unlimited
power with the title of his country's liberator. There is, on the
contrary, no instance on record of an extensive and well-
established republic being changed into an aristocracy. The
tendencies of all such governments in their decline is to
monarchy, and the antagonist principle to liberty there is the
spirit of faction--a spirit which assumes the character and in
times of great excitement imposes itself upon the people as the
genuine spirit of freedom, and, like the false Christs whose
coming was foretold by the Savior, seeks to, and were it possible
would, impose upon the true and most faithful disciples of
liberty. It is in periods like this that it behooves the people to
be most watchful of those to whom they have intrusted power. And
although there is at times much difficulty in distinguishing the
false from the true spirit, a calm and dispassionate investigation
will detect the counterfeit, as well by the character of its
operations as the results that are produced. The true spirit of
liberty, although devoted, persevering, bold, and uncompromising
in principle, that secured is mild and tolerant and scrupulous as
to the means it employs, whilst the spirit of party, assuming to
be that of liberty, is harsh, vindictive, and intolerant, and
totally reckless as to the character of the allies which it brings
to the aid of its cause. When the genuine spirit of liberty
animates the body of a people to a thorough examination of their
affairs, it leads to the excision of every excrescence which may
have fastened itself upon any of the departments of the
government, and restores the system to its pristine health and
beauty. But the reign of an intolerant spirit of party amongst a
free people seldom fails to result in a dangerous accession to the
executive power introduced and established amidst unusual
professions of devotion to democracy.

The foregoing remarks relate almost exclusively to matters
connected with our domestic concerns. It may be proper, however,
that I should give some indications to my fellow-citizens of my
proposed course of conduct in the management of our foreign
relations. I assure them, therefore, that it is my intention to
use every means in my power to preserve the friendly intercourse
which now so happily subsists with every foreign nation, and that
although, of course, not well informed as to the state of pending
negotiations with any of them, I see in the personal characters of
the sovereigns, as well as in the mutual interests of our own and
of the governments with which our relations are most intimate, a
pleasing guaranty that the harmony so important to the interests
of their subjects as well as of our citizens will not be
interrupted by the advancement of any claim or pretension upon
their part to which our honor would not permit us to yield. Long
the defender of my country's rights in the field, I trust that my
fellow-citizens will not see in my earnest desire to preserve
peace with foreign powers any indication that their rights will
ever be sacrificed or the honor of the nation tarnished by any
admission on the part of their Chief Magistrate unworthy of their
former glory. In our intercourse with our aboriginal neighbors the
same liberality and justice which marked the course prescribed to
me by two of my illustrious predecessors when acting under their
direction in the discharge of the duties of superintendent and
commissioner shall be strictly observed. I can conceive of no more
sublime spectacle, none more likely to propitiate an impartial and
common Creator, than a rigid adherence to the principles of
justice on the part of a powerful nation in its transactions with
a weaker and uncivilized people whom circumstances have placed at
its disposal.

Before concluding, fellow-citizens, I must say something to you on
the subject of the parties at this time existing in our country.
To me it appears perfectly clear that the interest of that country
requires that the violence of the spirit by which those parties
are at this time governed must be greatly mitigated, if not
entirely extinguished, or consequences will ensue which are
appalling to be thought of.

If parties in a republic are necessary to secure a degree of
vigilance sufficient to keep the public functionaries within the
bounds of law and duty, at that point their usefulness ends.
Beyond that they become destructive of public virtue, the parent
of a spirit antagonist to that of liberty, and eventually its
inevitable conqueror. We have examples of republics where the love
of country and of liberty at one time were the dominant passions
of the whole mass of citizens, and yet, with the continuance of
the name and forms of free government, not a vestige of these
qualities remaining in the bosoms of any one of its citizens. It
was the beautiful remark of a distinguished English writer that
"in the Roman senate Octavius had a party and Anthony a party, but
the Commonwealth had none." Yet the senate continued to meet in
the temple of liberty to talk of the sacredness and beauty of the
Commonwealth and gaze at the statues of the elder Brutus and of
the Curtii and Decii, and the people assembled in the forum, not,
as in the days of Camillus and the Scipios, to cast their free
votes for annual magistrates or pass upon the acts of the senate,
but to receive from the hands of the leaders of the respective
parties their share of the spoils and to shout for one or the
other, as those collected in Gaul or Egypt and the lesser Asia
would furnish the larger dividend. The spirit of liberty had fled,
and, avoiding the abodes of civilized man, had sought protection
in the wilds of Scythia or Scandinavia; and so under the operation
of the same causes and influences it will fly from our Capitol and
our forums. A calamity so awful, not only to our country, but to
the world, must be deprecated by every patriot and every tendency
to a state of things likely to produce it immediately checked.
Such a tendency has existed--does exist. Always the friend of my
countrymen, never their flatterer, it becomes my duty to say to
them from this high place to which their partiality has exalted me
that there exists in the land a spirit hostile to their best
interests--hostile to liberty itself. It is a spirit contracted in
its views, selfish in its objects. It looks to the aggrandizement
of a few even to the destruction of the interests of the whole.
The entire remedy is with the people. Something, however, may be
effected by the means which they have placed in my hands. It is
union that we want, not of a party for the sake of that party, but
a union of the whole country for the sake of the whole country,
for the defense of its interests and its honor against foreign
aggression, for the defense of those principles for which our
ancestors so gloriously contended As far as it depends upon me it
shall be accomplished. All the influence that I possess shall be
exerted to prevent the formation at least of an Executive party in
the halls of the legislative body. I wish for the support of no
member of that body to any measure of mine that does not satisfy
his judgment and his sense of duty to those from whom he holds his
appointment, nor any confidence in advance from the people but
that asked for by Mr. Jefferson, "to give firmness and effect to
the legal administration of their affairs."

I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to
justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound
reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction
that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of
religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true
and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us
by the gifts of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and
prospered the labors of our fathers and has hitherto preserved to
us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other
people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our
beloved country in all future time.

Fellow-citizens, being fully invested with that high office to
which the partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an
affectionate leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes
the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given to discharge
all the high duties of my exalted station according to the best of
my ability, and I shall enter upon their performance with entire
confidence in the support of a just and generous people.


James Knox Polk


The inaugural ceremonies of former Tennessee Governor and Speaker
of the House James Knox Polk were conducted before a large crowd
that stood in the pouring rain. The popular politician had been
nominated on the ninth ballot as his party's candidate. His name
had not been in nomination until the third polling of the
delegates at the national convention. The outgoing President
Tyler, who had taken office upon the death of William Henry
Harrison, rode to the Capitol with Mr. Polk. The oath of office
was administered on the East Portico by Chief Justice Roger Taney.
The events of the ceremony were telegraphed to Baltimore by Samuel
Morse on his year-old invention.


Without solicitation on my part, I have been chosen by the free
and voluntary suffrages of my countrymen to the most honorable and
most responsible office on earth. I am deeply impressed with
gratitude for the confidence reposed in me. Honored with this
distinguished consideration at an earlier period of life than any
of my predecessors, I can not disguise the diffidence with which I
am about to enter on the discharge of my official duties.

If the more aged and experienced men who have filled the office of
President of the United States even in the infancy of the Republic
distrusted their ability to discharge the duties of that exalted
station, what ought not to be the apprehensions of one so much
younger and less endowed now that our domain extends from ocean to
ocean, that our people have so greatly increased in numbers, and
at a time when so great diversity of opinion prevails in regard to
the principles and policy which should characterize the
administration of our Government? Well may the boldest fear and
the wisest tremble when incurring responsibilities on which may
depend our country's peace and prosperity, and in some degree the
hopes and happiness of the whole human family.

In assuming responsibilities so vast I fervently invoke the aid of
that Almighty Ruler of the Universe in whose hands are the
destinies of nations and of men to guard this Heaven-favored land
against the mischiefs which without His guidance might arise from
an unwise public policy. With a firm reliance upon the wisdom of
Omnipotence to sustain and direct me in the path of duty which I
am appointed to pursue, I stand in the presence of this assembled
multitude of my countrymen to take upon myself the solemn
obligation "to the best of my ability to preserve, protect, and
defend the Constitution of the United States."

A concise enumeration of the principles which will guide me in the
administrative policy of the Government is not only in accordance
with the examples set me by all my predecessors, but is eminently
befitting the occasion.

The Constitution itself, plainly written as it is, the safeguard
of our federative compact, the offspring of concession and
compromise, binding together in the bonds of peace and union this
great and increasing family of free and independent States, will
be the chart by which I shall be directed.

It will be my first care to administer the Government in the true
spirit of that instrument, and to assume no powers not expressly
granted or clearly implied in its terms. The Government of the
United States is one of delegated and limited powers, arid it is
by a strict adherence to the clearly granted powers and by
abstaining from the exercise of doubtful or unauthorized implied
powers that we have the only sure guaranty against the recurrence
of those unfortunate collisions between the Federal and State
authorities which have occasionally so much disturbed the harmony
of our system and even threatened the perpetuity of our glorious

"To the States, respectively, or to the people" have been reserved
"the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution
nor prohibited by it to the States." Each State is a complete
sovereignty within the sphere of its reserved powers. The
Government of the Union, acting within the sphere of its delegated
authority, is also a complete sovereignty. While the General
Government should abstain from the exercise of authority not
clearly delegated to it, the States should be equally careful that
in the maintenance of their rights they do not overstep the limits
of powers reserved to them. One of the most distinguished of my
predecessors attached deserved importance to "the support of the
State governments in all their rights, as the most competent
administration for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwark
against antirepublican tendencies," and to the "preservation of
the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the
sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad."

To the Government of the United States has been intrusted the
exclusive management of our foreign affairs. Beyond that it wields
a few general enumerated powers. It does not force reform on the
States. It leaves individuals, over whom it casts its protecting
influence, entirely free to improve their own condition by the
legitimate exercise of all their mental and physical powers. It is
a common protector of each and all the States; of every man who
lives upon our soil, whether of native or foreign birth; of every
religious sect, in their worship of the Almighty according to the
dictates of their own conscience; of every shade of opinion, and
the most free inquiry; of every art, trade, and occupation
consistent with the laws of the States. And we rejoice in the
general happiness, prosperity, and advancement of our country,
which have been the offspring of freedom, and not of power.

This most admirable and wisest system of well-regulated self-
government among men ever devised by human minds has been tested
by its successful operation for more than half a century, and if
preserved from the usurpations of the Federal Government on the
one hand and the exercise by the States of powers not reserved to
them on the other, will, I fervently hope and believe, endure for
ages to come and dispense the blessings of civil and religious
liberty to distant generations. To effect objects so dear to every
patriot I shall devote myself with anxious solicitude. It will be
my desire to guard against that most fruitful source of danger to
the harmonious action of our system which consists in substituting
the mere discretion and caprice of the Executive or of majorities
in the legislative department of the Government for powers which
have been withheld from the Federal Government by the
Constitution. By the theory of our Government majorities rule, but
this right is not an arbitrary or unlimited one. It is a right to
be exercised in subordination to the Constitution and in
conformity to it. One great object of the Constitution was to
restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon
their just rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the
Constitution as a shield against such oppression.

That the blessings of liberty which our Constitution secures may
be enjoyed alike by minorities and majorities, the Executive has
been wisely invested with a qualified veto upon the acts of the
Legislature. It is a negative power, and is conservative in its
character. It arrests for the time hasty, inconsiderate, or
unconstitutional legislation, invites reconsideration, and
transfers questions at issue between the legislative and executive
departments to the tribunal of the people. Like all other powers,
it is subject to be abused. When judiciously and properly
exercised, the Constitution itself may be saved from infraction
and the rights of all preserved and protected.

The inestimable value of our Federal Union is felt and
acknowledged by all. By this system of united and confederated
States our people are permitted collectively arid individually to
seek their own happiness in their own way, and the consequences
have been most auspicious. Since the Union was formed the number
of the States has increased from thirteen to twenty-eight; two of
these have taken their position as members of the Confederacy
within the last week. Our population has increased from three to
twenty millions. New communities and States are seeking protection
under its aegis, and multitudes from the Old World are flocking to
our shores to participate in its blessings. Beneath its benign
sway peace and prosperity prevail. Freed from the burdens and
miseries of war, our trade and intercourse have extended
throughout the world. Mind, no longer tasked in devising means to
accomplish or resist schemes of ambition, usurpation, or conquest,
is devoting itself to man's true interests in developing his
faculties and powers and the capacity of nature to minister to his
enjoyments. Genius is free to announce its inventions and
discoveries, and the hand is free to accomplish whatever the head
conceives not incompatible with the rights of a fellow-being. All
distinctions of birth or of rank have been abolished. All
citizens, whether native or adopted, are placed upon terms of
precise equality. All are entitled to equal rights and equal
protection. No union exists between church and state, and perfect
freedom of opinion is guaranteed to all sects and creeds.

These are some of the blessings secured to our happy land by our
Federal Union. To perpetuate them it is our sacred duty to
preserve it. Who shall assign limits to the achievements of free
minds and free hands under the protection of this glorious Union?
No treason to mankind since the organization of society would be
equal in atrocity to that of him who would lift his hand to
destroy it. He would overthrow the noblest structure of human
wisdom, which protects himself and his fellow-man. He would stop
the progress of free government and involve his country either in
anarchy or despotism. He would extinguish the fire of liberty,
which warms and animates the hearts of happy millions and invites
all the nations of the earth to imitate our example. If he say
that error and wrong are committed in the administration of the
Government, let him remember that nothing human can be perfect,
and that under no other system of government revealed by Heaven or
devised by man has reason been allowed so free and broad a scope
to combat error. Has the sword of despots proved to be a safer or
surer instrument of reform in government than enlightened reason?
Does he expect to find among the ruins of this Union a happier
abode for our swarming millions than they now have under it? Every
lover of his country must shudder at the thought of the
possibility of its dissolution, and will be ready to adopt the
patriotic sentiment, "Our Federal Union--it must be preserved." To
preserve it the compromises which alone enabled our fathers to
form a common constitution for the government and protection of so
many States and distinct communities, of such diversified habits,
interests, and domestic institutions, must be sacredly and
religiously observed. Any attempt to disturb or destroy these
compromises, being terms of the compact of union, can lead to none
other than the most ruinous and disastrous consequences.

It is a source of deep regret that in some sections of our country
misguided persons have occasionally indulged in schemes and
agitations whose object is the destruction of domestic
institutions existing in other sections--institutions which
existed at the adoption of the Constitution and were recognized
and protected by it. All must see that if it were possible for
them to be successful in attaining their object the dissolution of
the Union and the consequent destruction of our happy form of
government must speedily follow.

I am happy to believe that at every period of our existence as a
nation there has existed, and continues to exist, among the great
mass of our people a devotion to the Union of the States which
will shield and protect it against the moral treason of any who
would seriously contemplate its destruction. To secure a
continuance of that devotion the compromises of the Constitution
must not only be preserved, but sectional jealousies and
heartburnings must be discountenanced, and all should remember
that they are members of the same political family, having a
common destiny. To increase the attachment of our people to the
Union, our laws should be just. Any policy which shall tend to
favor monopolies or the peculiar interests of sections or classes
must operate to the prejudice of the interest of their fellow-
citizens, and should be avoided. If the compromises of the
Constitution be preserved, if sectional jealousies and
heartburnings be discountenanced, if our laws be just and the
Government be practically administered strictly within the limits
of power prescribed to it, we may discard all apprehensions for
the safety of the Union.

With these views of the nature, character, and objects of the
Government and the value of the Union, I shall steadily oppose the
creation of those institutions and systems which in their nature
tend to pervert it from its legitimate purposes and make it the
instrument of sections, classes, and individuals. We need no
national banks or other extraneous institutions planted around the
Government to control or strengthen it in opposition to the will
of its authors. Experience has taught us how unnecessary they are
as auxiliaries of the public authorities--how impotent for good
and how powerful for mischief.

Ours was intended to be a plain and frugal government, and I shall
regard it to be my duty to recommend to Congress and, as far as
the Executive is concerned, to enforce by all the means within my
power the strictest economy in the expenditure of the public money
which may be compatible with the public interests.

A national debt has become almost an institution of European
monarchies. It is viewed in some of them as an essential prop to
existing governments. Melancholy is the condition of that people
whose government can be sustained only by a system which
periodically transfers large amounts from the labor of the many to
the coffers of the few. Such a system is incompatible with the
ends for which our republican Government was instituted. Under a
wise policy the debts contracted in our Revolution and during the
War of 1812 have been happily extinguished. By a judicious
application of the revenues not required for other necessary
purposes, it is not doubted that the debt which has grown out of
the circumstances of the last few years may be speedily paid off.

I congratulate my fellow-citizens on the entire restoration of the
credit of the General Government of the Union and that of many of
the States. Happy would it be for the indebted States if they were
freed from their liabilities, many of which were incautiously
contracted. Although the Government of the Union is neither in a
legal nor a moral sense bound for the debts of the States, and it
would be a violation of our compact of union to assume them, yet
we can not but feel a deep interest in seeing all the States meet
their public liabilities and pay off their just debts at the
earliest practicable period. That they will do so as soon as it
can be done without imposing too heavy burdens on their citizens
there is no reason to doubt. The sound moral and honorable feeling
of the people of the indebted States can not be questioned, and we
are happy to perceive a settled disposition on their part, as
their ability returns after a season of unexampled pecuniary
embarrassment, to pay off all just demands and to acquiesce in any
reasonable measures to accomplish that object.

One of the difficulties which we have had to encounter in the
practical administration of the Government consists in the
adjustment of our revenue laws and the levy of the taxes necessary
for the support of Government. In the general proposition that no
more money shall be collected than the necessities of an
economical administration shall require all parties seem to
acquiesce. Nor does there seem to be any material difference of
opinion as to the absence of right in the Government to tax one
section of country, or one class of citizens, or one occupation,
for the mere profit of another. "Justice and sound policy forbid
the Federal Government to foster one branch of industry to the
detriment of another, or to cherish the interests of one portion
to the injury of another portion of our common country." I have
heretofore declared to my fellow-citizens that "in my judgment it
is the duty of the Government to extend, as far as it may be
practicable to do so, by its revenue laws and all other means
within its power, fair and just protection to all of the great
interests of the whole Union, embracing agriculture, manufactures,
the mechanic arts, commerce, and navigation." I have also declared
my opinion to be "in favor of a tariff for revenue," and that "in
adjusting the details of such a tariff I have sanctioned such
moderate discriminating duties as would produce the amount of
revenue needed and at the same time afford reasonable incidental
protection to our home industry," and that I was "opposed to a
tariff for protection merely, and not for revenue."

The power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises"
was an indispensable one to be conferred on the Federal
Government, which without it would possess no means of providing
for its own support. In executing this power by levying a tariff
of duties for the support of Government, the raising of revenue
should be the object and protection the incident. To reverse this
principle and make protection the object and revenue the incident
would be to inflict manifest injustice upon all other than the
protected interests. In levying duties for revenue it is doubtless
proper to make such discriminations within the revenue principle
as will afford incidental protection to our home interests. Within
the revenue limit there is a discretion to discriminate; beyond
that limit the rightful exercise of the power is not conceded. The
incidental protection afforded to our home interests by
discriminations within the revenue range it is believed will be
ample. In making discriminations all our home interests should as
far as practicable be equally protected. The largest portion of
our people are agriculturists. Others are employed in
manufactures, commerce, navigation, and the mechanic arts. They
are all engaged in their respective pursuits and their joint
labors constitute the national or home industry. To tax one branch
of this home industry for the benefit of another would be unjust.
No one of these interests can rightfully claim an advantage over
the others, or to be enriched by impoverishing the others. All are
equally entitled to the fostering care and protection of the
Government. In exercising a sound discretion in levying
discriminating duties within the limit prescribed, care should be
taken that it be done in a manner not to benefit the wealthy few
at the expense of the toiling millions by taxing lowest the
luxuries of life, or articles of superior quality and high price,
which can only be consumed by the wealthy, and highest the
necessaries of life, or articles of coarse quality and low price,
which the poor and great mass of our people must consume. The
burdens of government should as far as practicable be distributed
justly and equally among all classes of our population. These
general views, long entertained on this subject, I have deemed it
proper to reiterate. It is a subject upon which conflicting
interests of sections and occupations are supposed to exist, and a
spirit of mutual concession and compromise in adjusting its
details should be cherished by every part of our widespread
country as the only means of preserving harmony and a cheerful
acquiescence of all in the operation of our revenue laws. Our
patriotic citizens in every part of the Union will readily submit
to the payment of such taxes as shall be needed for the support of
their Government, whether in peace or in war, if they are so
levied as to distribute the burdens as equally as possible among

The Republic of Texas has made known her desire to come into our
Union, to form a part of our Confederacy and enjoy with us the
blessings of liberty secured and guaranteed by our Constitution.
Texas was once a part of our country--was unwisely ceded away to a
foreign power--is now independent, and possesses an undoubted
right to dispose of a part or the whole of her territory and to
merge her sovereignty as a separate and independent state in ours.
I congratulate my country that by an act of the late Congress of
the United States the assent of this Government has been given to
the reunion, and it only remains for the two countries to agree
upon the terms to consummate an object so important to both.

I regard the question of annexation as belonging exclusively to
the United States and Texas. They are independent powers competent
to contract, and foreign nations have no right to interfere with
them or to take exceptions to their reunion. Foreign powers do not
seem to appreciate the true character of our Government. Our Union
is a confederation of independent States, whose policy is peace
with each other and all the world. To enlarge its limits is to
extend the dominions of peace over additional territories and
increasing millions. The world has nothing to fear from military
ambition in our Government. While the Chief Magistrate and the
popular branch of Congress are elected for short terms by the
suffrages of those millions who must in their own persons bear all
the burdens and miseries of war, our Government can not be
otherwise than pacific. Foreign powers should therefore look on
the annexation of Texas to the United States not as the conquest
of a nation seeking to extend her dominions by arms and violence,
but as the peaceful acquisition of a territory once her own, by
adding another member to our confederation, with the consent of
that member, thereby diminishing the chances of war and opening to
them new and ever-increasing markets for their products.

To Texas the reunion is important, because the strong protecting
arm of our Government would be extended over her, and the vast
resources of her fertile soil and genial climate would be speedily
developed, while the safety of New Orleans and of our whole
southwestern frontier against hostile aggression, as well as the
interests of the whole Union, would be promoted by it.

In the earlier stages of our national existence the opinion
prevailed with some that our system of confederated States could
not operate successfully over an extended territory, and serious
objections have at different times been made to the enlargement of
our boundaries. These objections were earnestly urged when we
acquired Louisiana. Experience has shown that they were not well
founded. The title of numerous Indian tribes to vast tracts of
country has been extinguished; new States have been admitted into
the Union; new Territories have been created and our jurisdiction
and laws extended over them. As our population has expanded, the
Union has been cemented and strengthened. AS our boundaries have
been enlarged and our agricultural population has been spread over
a large surface, our federative system has acquired additional
strength and security. It may well be doubted whether it would not
be in greater danger of overthrow if our present population were
confined to the comparatively narrow limits of the original
thirteen States than it is now that they are sparsely settled over
a more expanded territory. It is confidently believed that our
system may be safely extended to the utmost bounds of our
territorial limits, and that as it shall be extended the bonds of
our Union, so far from being weakened, will become stronger.

None can fail to see the danger to our safety and future peace if
Texas remains an independent state or becomes an ally or
dependency of some foreign nation more powerful than herself. Is
there one among our citizens who would not prefer perpetual peace
with Texas to occasional wars, which so often occur between
bordering independent nations? Is there one who would not prefer
free intercourse with her to high duties on all our products and
manufactures which enter her ports or cross her frontiers? Is
there one who would not prefer an unrestricted communication with
her citizens to the frontier obstructions which must occur if she
remains out of the Union? Whatever is good or evil in the local
institutions of Texas will remain her own whether annexed to the
United States or not. None of the present States will be
responsible for them any more than they are for the local
institutions of each other. They have confederated together for
certain specified objects. Upon the same principle that they would
refuse to form a perpetual union with Texas because of her local
institutions our forefathers would have been prevented from
forming our present Union. Perceiving no valid objection to the
measure and many reasons for its adoption vitally affecting the
peace, the safety, and the prosperity of both countries, I shall
on the broad principle which formed the basis and produced the
adoption of our Constitution, and not in any narrow spirit of
sectional policy, endeavor by all constitutional, honorable, and
appropriate means to consummate the expressed will of the people
and Government of the United States by the reannexation of Texas
to our Union at the earliest practicable period.

Nor will it become in a less degree my duty to assert and maintain
by all constitutional means the right of the United States to that
portion of our territory which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains.
Our title to the country of the Oregon is "clear and
unquestionable," and already are our people preparing to perfect
that title by occupying it with their wives and children. But
eighty years ago our population was confined on the west by the
ridge of the Alleghanies. Within that period--within the lifetime,
I might say, of some of my hearers--our people, increasing to many
millions, have filled the eastern valley of the Mississippi,
adventurously ascended the Missouri to its headsprings, and are
already engaged in establishing the blessings of self-government
in valleys of which the rivers flow to the Pacific. The world
beholds the peaceful triumphs of the industry of our emigrants. To
us belongs the duty of protecting them adequately wherever they
may be upon our soil. The jurisdiction of our laws and the
benefits of our republican institutions should be extended over
them in the distant regions which they have selected for their
homes. The increasing facilities of intercourse will easily bring
the States, of which the formation in that part of our territory
can not be long delayed, within the sphere of our federative
Union. In the meantime every obligation imposed by treaty or
conventional stipulations should be sacredly respected.

In the management of our foreign relations it will be my aim to
observe a careful respect for the rights of other nations, while
our own will be the subject of constant watchfulness. Equal and
exact justice should characterize all our intercourse with foreign
countries. All alliances having a tendency to jeopard the welfare
and honor of our country or sacrifice any one of the national
interests will be studiously avoided, and yet no opportunity will
be lost to cultivate a favorable understanding with foreign
governments by which our navigation and commerce may be extended
and the ample products of our fertile soil, as well as the
manufactures of our skillful artisans, find a ready market and
remunerating prices in foreign countries.

In taking "care that the laws be faithfully executed," a strict
performance of duty will be exacted from all public officers. From
those officers, especially, who are charged with the collection
and disbursement of the public revenue will prompt and rigid
accountability be required. Any culpable failure or delay on their
part to account for the moneys intrusted to them at the times and
in the manner required by law will in every instance terminate the
official connection of such defaulting officer with the

Although in our country the Chief Magistrate must almost of
necessity be chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles
and measures, yet in his official action he should not be the
President of a part only, but of the whole people of the United
States. While he executes the laws with an impartial hand, shrinks
from no proper responsibility, and faithfully carries out in the
executive department of the Government the principles and policy
of those who have chosen him, he should not be unmindful that our
fellow-citizens who have differed with him in opinion are entitled
to the full and free exercise of their opinions and judgments, and
that the rights of all are entitled to respect and regard.

Confidently relying upon the aid and assistance of the coordinate
departments of the Government in conducting our public affairs, I
enter upon the discharge of the high duties which have been
assigned me by the people, again humbly supplicating that Divine
Being who has watched over and protected our beloved country from
its infancy to the present hour to continue His gracious
benedictions upon us, that we may continue to be a prosperous and
happy people.


Zachary Taylor


For the second time in the history of the Republic, March 4 fell
on a Sunday. The inaugural ceremony was postponed until the
following Monday, raising the question as to whether the Nation
was without a President for a day. General Taylor, popularly known
as "Old Rough and Ready," was famous for his exploits in the
Mexican War. He never had voted in a national election until his
own contest for the Presidency. Outgoing President Polk
accompanied the general to the ceremony at the Capitol. The oath
of office was administered by Chief Justice Roger Taney on the
East Portico. After the ceremony, the new President attended
several inaugural celebrations, including a ball that evening in a
specially built pavilion on Judiciary Square.

Elected by the American people to the highest office known to our
laws, I appear here to take the oath prescribed by the
Constitution, and, in compliance with a time-honored custom, to
address those who are now assembled.

The confidence and respect shown by my countrymen in calling me to
be the Chief Magistrate of a Republic holding a high rank among
the nations of the earth have inspired me with feelings of the
most profound gratitude; but when I reflect that the acceptance of
the office which their partiality has bestowed imposes the
discharge of the most arduous duties and involves the weightiest
obligations, I am conscious that the position which I have been
called to fill, though sufficient to satisfy the loftiest
ambition, is surrounded by fearful responsibilities. Happily,
however, in the performance of my new duties I shall not be
without able cooperation. The legislative and judicial branches of
the Government present prominent examples of distinguished civil
attainments and matured experience, and it shall be my endeavor to
call to my assistance in the Executive Departments individuals
whose talents, integrity, and purity of character will furnish
ample guaranties for the faithful and honorable performance of the
trusts to be committed to their charge. With such aids and an
honest purpose to do whatever is right, I hope to execute
diligently, impartially, and for the best interests of the country
the manifold duties devolved upon me.

In the discharge of these duties my guide will be the
Constitution, which I this day swear to "preserve, protect, and
defend." For the interpretation of that instrument I shall look to
the decisions of the judicial tribunals established by its
authority and to the practice of the Government under the earlier
Presidents, who had so large a share in its formation. To the
example of those illustrious patriots I shall always defer with
reverence, and especially to his example who was by so many titles
"the Father of his Country."

To command the Army and Navy of the United States; with the advice
and consent of the Senate, to make treaties and to appoint
ambassadors and other officers; to give to Congress information of
the state of the Union and recommend such measures as he shall
judge to be necessary; and to take care that the laws shall be
faithfully executed--these are the most important functions
intrusted to the President by the Constitution, and it may be
expected that I shall briefly indicate the principles which will
control me in their execution.

Chosen by the body of the people under the assurance that my
Administration would be devoted to the welfare of the whole
country, and not to the support of any particular section or
merely local interest, I this day renew the declarations I have
heretofore made and proclaim my fixed determination to maintain to
the extent of my ability the Government in its original purity and
to adopt as the basis of my public policy those great republican
doctrines which constitute the strength of our national existence.

In reference to the Army and Navy, lately employed with so much
distinction on active service, care shall be taken to insure the
highest condition of efficiency, and in furtherance of that object
the military and naval schools, sustained by the liberality of
Congress, shall receive the special attention of the Executive.

As American freemen we can not but sympathize in all efforts to
extend the blessings of civil and political liberty, but at the
same time we are warned by the admonitions of history and the
voice of our own beloved Washington to abstain from entangling
alliances with foreign nations. In all disputes between
conflicting governments it is our interest not less than our duty
to remain strictly neutral, while our geographical position, the
genius of our institutions and our people, the advancing spirit of
civilization, and, above all, the dictates of religion direct us
to the cultivation of peaceful and friendly relations with all
other powers. It is to be hoped that no international question can
now arise which a government confident in its own strength and
resolved to protect its own just rights may not settle by wise
negotiation; and it eminently becomes a government like our own,
founded on the morality and intelligence of its citizens and
upheld by their affections, to exhaust every resort of honorable
diplomacy before appealing to arms. In the conduct of our foreign
relations I shall conform to these views, as I believe them
essential to the best interests and the true honor of the country.

The appointing power vested in the President imposes delicate and
onerous duties. So far as it is possible to be informed, I shall
make honesty, capacity, and fidelity indispensable prerequisites
to the bestowal of office, and the absence of either of these
qualities shall be deemed sufficient cause for removal.

It shall be my study to recommend such constitutional measures to
Congress as may be necessary and proper to secure encouragement
and protection to the great interests of agriculture, commerce,
and manufactures, to improve our rivers and harbors, to provide
for the speedy extinguishment of the public debt, to enforce a
strict accountability on the part of all officers of the
Government and the utmost economy in all public expenditures; but
it is for the wisdom of Congress itself, in which all legislative
powers are vested by the Constitution, to regulate these and other
matters of domestic policy. I shall look with confidence to the
enlightened patriotism of that body to adopt such measures of
conciliation as may harmonize conflicting interests and tend to
perpetuate that Union which should be the paramount object of our
hopes and affections. In any action calculated to promote an
object so near the heart of everyone who truly loves his country I
will zealously unite with the coordinate branches of the

In conclusion I congratulate you, my fellow-citizens, upon the
high state of prosperity to which the goodness of Divine
Providence has conducted our common country. Let us invoke a
continuance of the same protecting care which has led us from
small beginnings to the eminence we this day occupy, and let us
seek to deserve that continuance by prudence and moderation in our
councils, by well-directed attempts to assuage the bitterness
which too often marks unavoidable differences of opinion, by the
promulgation and practice of just and liberal principles, and by
an enlarged patriotism, which shall acknowledge no limits but
those of our own widespread Republic.


Franklin Pierce


On religious grounds, former Senator and Congressman Franklin
Pierce chose "to affirm" rather than "to swear" the executive oath
of office. He was the only President to use the choice offered by
the Constitution. Famed as an officer of a volunteer brigade in
the Mexican War, he was nominated as the Democratic candidate in
the national convention on the 49th ballot. His name had not been
placed in nomination until the 35th polling of the delegates.
Chief Justice Roger Taney administered the oath of office on the
East Portico of the Capitol. Several weeks before arriving in
Washington, the Pierces' only surviving child had been killed in a
train accident.

My Countrymen:

It a relief to feel that no heart but my own can know the personal
regret and bitter sorrow over which I have been borne to a
position so suitable for others rather than desirable for myself.

The circumstances under which I have been called for a limited
period to preside over the destinies of the Republic fill me with
a profound sense of responsibility, but with nothing like
shrinking apprehension. I repair to the post assigned me not as to
one sought, but in obedience to the unsolicited expression of your
will, answerable only for a fearless, faithful, and diligent
exercise of my best powers. I ought to be, and am, truly grateful
for the rare manifestation of the nation's confidence; but this,
so far from lightening my obligations, only adds to their weight.
You have summoned me in my weakness; you must sustain me by your
strength. When looking for the fulfillment of reasonable
requirements, you will not be unmindful of the great changes which
have occurred, even within the last quarter of a century, and the
consequent augmentation and complexity of duties imposed in the
administration both of your home and foreign affairs.

Whether the elements of inherent force in the Republic have kept
pace with its unparalleled progression in territory, population,
and wealth has been the subject of earnest thought and discussion
on both sides of the ocean. Less than sixty-four years ago the
Father of his Country made "the" then "recent accession of the
important State of North Carolina to the Constitution of the
United States" one of the subjects of his special congratulation.
At that moment, however, when the agitation consequent upon the
Revolutionary struggle had hardly subsided, when we were just
emerging from the weakness and embarrassments of the
Confederation, there was an evident consciousness of vigor equal
to the great mission so wisely and bravely fulfilled by our
fathers. It was not a presumptuous assurance, but a calm faith,
springing from a clear view of the sources of power in a
government constituted like ours. It is no paradox to say that
although comparatively weak the new-born nation was intrinsically
strong. Inconsiderable in population and apparent resources, it
was upheld by a broad and intelligent comprehension of rights and
an all-pervading purpose to maintain them, stronger than
armaments. It came from the furnace of the Revolution, tempered to
the necessities of the times. The thoughts of the men of that day
were as practical as their sentiments were patriotic. They wasted
no portion of their energies upon idle and delusive speculations,
but with a firm and fearless step advanced beyond the governmental
landmarks which had hitherto circumscribed the limits of human
freedom and planted their standard, where it has stood against
dangers which have threatened from abroad, and internal agitation,
which has at times fearfully menaced at home. They proved
themselves equal to the solution of the great problem, to
understand which their minds had been illuminated by the dawning
lights of the Revolution. The object sought was not a thing
dreamed of; it was a thing realized. They had exhibited only the
power to achieve, but, what all history affirms to be so much more
unusual, the capacity to maintain. The oppressed throughout the
world from that day to the present have turned their eyes
hitherward, not to find those lights extinguished or to fear lest
they should wane, but to be constantly cheered by their steady and
increasing radiance.

In this our country has, in my judgment, thus far fulfilled its
highest duty to suffering humanity. It has spoken and will
continue to speak, not only by its words, but by its acts, the
language of sympathy, encouragement, and hope to those who
earnestly listen to tones which pronounce for the largest rational
liberty. But after all, the most animating encouragement and
potent appeal for freedom will be its own history--its trials and
its triumphs. Preeminently, the power of our advocacy reposes in
our example; but no example, be it remembered, can be powerful for
lasting good, whatever apparent advantages may be gained, which is
not based upon eternal principles of right and justice. Our
fathers decided for themselves, both upon the hour to declare and
the hour to strike. They were their own judges of the
circumstances under which it became them to pledge to each other
"their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" for the
acquisition of the priceless inheritance transmitted to us. The
energy with which that great conflict was opened and, under the
guidance of a manifest and beneficent Providence the uncomplaining
endurance with which it was prosecuted to its consummation were
only surpassed by the wisdom and patriotic spirit of concession
which characterized all the counsels of the early fathers.

One of the most impressive evidences of that wisdom is to be found
in the fact that the actual working of our system has dispelled a
degree of solicitude which at the outset disturbed bold hearts and
far-reaching intellects. The apprehension of dangers from extended
territory, multiplied States, accumulated wealth, and augmented
population has proved to be unfounded. The stars upon your banner
have become nearly threefold their original number; your densely
populated possessions skirt the shores of the two great oceans;
and yet this vast increase of people and territory has not only
shown itself compatible with the harmonious action of the States
and Federal Government in their respective constitutional spheres,
but has afforded an additional guaranty of the strength and
integrity of both.

With an experience thus suggestive and cheering, the policy of my
Administration will not be controlled by any timid forebodings of
evil from expansion. Indeed, it is not to be disguised that our
attitude as a nation and our position on the globe render the
acquisition of certain possessions not within our jurisdiction
eminently important for our protection, if not in the future
essential for the preservation of the rights of commerce and the
peace of the world. Should they be obtained, it will be through no
grasping spirit, but with a view to obvious national interest and
security, and in a manner entirely consistent with the strictest
observance of national faith. We have nothing in our history or
position to invite aggression; we have everything to beckon us to
the cultivation of relations of peace and amity with all nations.
Purposes, therefore, at once just and pacific will be
significantly marked in the conduct of our foreign affairs. I
intend that my Administration shall leave no blot upon our fair
record, and trust I may safely give the assurance that no act
within the legitimate scope of my constitutional control will be
tolerated on the part of any portion of our citizens which can not
challenge a ready justification before the tribunal of the
civilized world. An Administration would be unworthy of confidence
at home or respect abroad should it cease to be influenced by the
conviction that no apparent advantage can be purchased at a price
so dear as that of national wrong or dishonor. It is not your
privilege as a nation to speak of a distant past. The striking
incidents of your history, replete with instruction and furnishing
abundant grounds for hopeful confidence, are comprised in a period
comparatively brief. But if your past is limited, your future is
boundless. Its obligations throng the unexplored pathway of
advancement, and will be limitless as duration. Hence a sound and
comprehensive policy should embrace not less the distant future
than the urgent present.

The great objects of our pursuit as a people are best to be
attained by peace, and are entirely consistent with the
tranquillity and interests of the rest of mankind. With the
neighboring nations upon our continent we should cultivate kindly
and fraternal relations. We can desire nothing in regard to them
so much as to see them consolidate their strength and pursue the
paths of prosperity and happiness. If in the course of their
growth we should open new channels of trade and create additional
facilities for friendly intercourse, the benefits realized will be
equal and mutual. Of the complicated European systems of national
polity we have heretofore been independent. From their wars, their
tumults, and anxieties we have been, happily, almost entirely
exempt. Whilst these are confined to the nations which gave them
existence, and within their legitimate jurisdiction, they can not
affect us except as they appeal to our sympathies in the cause of
human freedom and universal advancement. But the vast interests of
commerce are common to all mankind, and the advantages of trade
and international intercourse must always present a noble field
for the moral influence of a great people.

With these views firmly and honestly carried out, we have a right
to expect, and shall under all circumstances require, prompt
reciprocity. The rights which belong to us as a nation are not
alone to be regarded, but those which pertain to every citizen in
his individual capacity, at home and abroad, must be sacredly
maintained. So long as he can discern every star in its place upon
that ensign, without wealth to purchase for him preferment or
title to secure for him place, it will be his privilege, and must
be his acknowledged right, to stand unabashed even in the presence
of princes, with a proud consciousness that he is himself one of a
nation of sovereigns and that he can not in legitimate pursuit
wander so far from home that the agent whom he shall leave behind
in the place which I now occupy will not see that no rude hand of
power or tyrannical passion is laid upon him with impunity. He
must realize that upon every sea and on every soil where our
enterprise may rightfully seek the protection of our flag American
citizenship is an inviolable panoply for the security of American
rights. And in this connection it can hardly be necessary to
reaffirm a principle which should now be regarded as fundamental.
The rights, security, and repose of this Confederacy reject the
idea of interference or colonization on this side of the ocean by
any foreign power beyond present jurisdiction as utterly

The opportunities of observation furnished by my brief experience
as a soldier confirmed in my own mind the opinion, entertained and
acted upon by others from the formation of the Government, that
the maintenance of large standing armies in our country would be
not only dangerous, but unnecessary. They also illustrated the
importance--I might well say the absolute necessity--of the
military science and practical skill furnished in such an eminent
degree by the institution which has made your Army what it is,
under the discipline and instruction of officers not more
distinguished for their solid attainments, gallantry, and devotion
to the public service than for unobtrusive bearing and high moral
tone. The Army as organized must be the nucleus around which in
every time of need the strength of your military power, the sure
bulwark of your defense--a national militia--may be readily formed
into a well-disciplined and efficient organization. And the skill
and self-devotion of the Navy assure you that you may take the
performance of the past as a pledge for the future, and may
confidently expect that the flag which has waved its untarnished
folds over every sea will still float in undiminished honor. But
these, like many other subjects, will be appropriately brought at
a future time to the attention of the coordinate branches of the
Government, to which I shall always look with profound respect and
with trustful confidence that they will accord to me the aid and
support which I shall so much need and which their experience and
wisdom will readily suggest.

In the administration of domestic affairs you expect a devoted
integrity in the public service and an observance of rigid economy
in all departments, so marked as never justly to be questioned. If
this reasonable expectation be not realized, I frankly confess
that one of your leading hopes is doomed to disappointment, and
that my efforts in a very important particular must result in a
humiliating failure. Offices can be properly regarded only in the
light of aids for the accomplishment of these objects, and as
occupancy can confer no prerogative nor importunate desire for
preferment any claim, the public interest imperatively demands
that they be considered with sole reference to the duties to be
performed. Good citizens may well claim the protection of good
laws and the benign influence of good government, but a claim for
office is what the people of a republic should never recognize. No
reasonable man of any party will expect the Administration to be
so regardless of its responsibility and of the obvious elements of
success as to retain persons known to be under the influence of
political hostility and partisan prejudice in positions which will
require not only severe labor, but cordial cooperation. Having no
implied engagements to ratify, no rewards to bestow, no
resentments to remember, and no personal wishes to consult in
selections for official station, I shall fulfill this difficult
and delicate trust, admitting no motive as worthy either of my
character or position which does not contemplate an efficient
discharge of duty and the best interests of my country. I
acknowledge my obligations to the masses of my countrymen, and to
them alone. Higher objects than personal aggrandizement gave
direction and energy to their exertions in the late canvass, and
they shall not be disappointed. They require at my hands
diligence, integrity, and capacity wherever there are duties to be
performed. Without these qualities in their public servants, more
stringent laws for the prevention or punishment of fraud,
negligence, and peculation will be vain. With them they will be

But these are not the only points to which you look for vigilant
watchfulness. The dangers of a concentration of all power in the
general government of a confederacy so vast as ours are too
obvious to be disregarded. You have a right, therefore, to expect
your agents in every department to regard strictly the limits
imposed upon them by the Constitution of the United States. The
great scheme of our constitutional liberty rests upon a proper
distribution of power between the State and Federal authorities,
and experience has shown that the harmony and happiness of our
people must depend upon a just discrimination between the separate
rights and responsibilities of the States and your common rights
and obligations under the General Government; and here, in my
opinion, are the considerations which should form the true basis
of future concord in regard to the questions which have most
seriously disturbed public tranquillity. If the Federal Government
will confine itself to the exercise of powers clearly granted by
the Constitution, it can hardly happen that its action upon any
question should endanger the institutions of the States or
interfere with their right to manage matters strictly domestic
according to the will of their own people.

In expressing briefly my views upon an important subject rich has
recently agitated the nation to almost a fearful degree, I am
moved by no other impulse than a most earnest desire for the
perpetuation of that Union which has made us what we are,
showering upon us blessings and conferring a power and influence
which our fathers could hardly have anticipated, even with their
most sanguine hopes directed to a far-off future. The sentiments I
now announce were not unknown before the expression of the voice
which called me here. My own position upon this subject was clear
and unequivocal, upon the record of my words and my acts, and it
is only recurred to at this time because silence might perhaps be
misconstrued. With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are
entwined. Without it what are we individually or collectively?
What becomes of the noblest field ever opened for the advancement
of our race in religion, in government, in the arts, and in all
that dignifies and adorns mankind? From that radiant constellation
which both illumines our own way and points out to struggling
nations their course, let but a single star be lost, and, if these
be not utter darkness, the luster of the whole is dimmed. Do my
countrymen need any assurance that such a catastrophe is not to
overtake them while I possess the power to stay it? It is with me
an earnest and vital belief that as the Union has been the source,
under Providence, of our prosperity to this time, so it is the
surest pledge of a continuance of the blessings we have enjoyed,
and which we are sacredly bound to transmit undiminished to our
children. The field of calm and free discussion in our country is
open, and will always be so, but never has been and never can be
traversed for good in a spirit of sectionalism and
uncharitableness. The founders of the Republic dealt with things
as they were presented to them, in a spirit of self-sacrificing
patriotism, and, as time has proved, with a comprehensive wisdom
which it will always be safe for us to consult. Every measure
tending to strengthen the fraternal feelings of all the members of
our Union has had my heartfelt approbation. To every theory of
society or government, whether the offspring of feverish ambition
or of morbid enthusiasm, calculated to dissolve the bonds of law
and affection which unite us, I shall interpose a ready and stern
resistance. I believe that involuntary servitude, as it exists in
different States of this Confederacy, is recognized by the
Constitution. I believe that it stands like any other admitted
right, and that the States where it exists are entitled to
efficient remedies to enforce the constitutional provisions. I
hold that the laws of 1850, commonly called the "compromise
measures," are strictly constitutional and to be unhesitatingly
carried into effect. I believe that the constituted authorities of
this Republic are bound to regard the rights of the South in this
respect as they would view any other legal and constitutional
right, and that the laws to enforce them should be respected and
obeyed, not with a reluctance encouraged by abstract opinions as
to their propriety in a different state of society, but cheerfully
and according to the decisions of the tribunal to which their
exposition belongs. Such have been, and are, my convictions, and
upon them I shall act. I fervently hope that the question is at
rest, and that no sectional or ambitious or fanatical excitement
may again threaten the durability of our institutions or obscure
the light of our prosperity.

But let not the foundation of our hope rest upon man's wisdom. It
will not be sufficient that sectional prejudices find no place in
the public deliberations. It will not be sufficient that the rash
counsels of human passion are rejected. It must be felt that there
is no national security but in the nation's humble, acknowledged
dependence upon God and His overruling providence.

We have been carried in safety through a perilous crisis. Wise
counsels, like those which gave us the Constitution, prevailed to
uphold it. Let the period be remembered as an admonition, and not
as an encouragement, in any section of the Union, to make
experiments where experiments are fraught with such fearful
hazard. Let it be impressed upon all hearts that, beautiful as our
fabric is, no earthly power or wisdom could ever reunite its
broken fragments. Standing, as I do, almost within view of the
green slopes of Monticello, and, as it were, within reach of the
tomb of Washington, with all the cherished memories of the past
gathering around me like so many eloquent voices of exhortation
from heaven, I can express no better hope for my country than that
the kind Providence which smiled upon our fathers may enable their
children to preserve the blessings they have inherited.


James Buchanan


The Democratic Party chose another candidate instead of their
incumbent President when they nominated James Buchanan at the
national convention. Since the Jackson Administration, he had a
distinguished career as a Senator, Congressman, Cabinet officer,
and ambassador. The oath of office was administered by Chief
Justice Roger Taney on the East Portico of the Capitol. A parade
had preceded the ceremony at the Capitol, and an inaugural ball
was held that evening for 6,000 celebrants in a specially built
hall on Judiciary Square.


I appear before you this day to take the solemn oath "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."

In entering upon this great office I must humbly invoke the God of
our fathers for wisdom and firmness to execute its high and
responsible duties in such a manner as to restore harmony and
ancient friendship among the people of the several States and to
preserve our free institutions throughout many generations.
Convinced that I owe my election to the inherent love for the
Constitution and the Union which still animates the hearts of the
American people, let me earnestly ask their powerful support in
sustaining all just measures calculated to perpetuate these, the
richest political blessings which Heaven has ever bestowed upon
any nation. Having determined not to become a candidate for
reelection, I shall have no motive to influence my conduct in
administering the Government except the desire ably and faithfully
to serve my country and to live in grateful memory of my

We have recently passed through a Presidential contest in which
the passions of our fellow-citizens were excited to the highest
degree by questions of deep and vital importance; but when the
people proclaimed their will the tempest at once subsided and all
was calm.

The voice of the majority, speaking in the manner prescribed by
the Constitution, was heard, and instant submission followed. Our
own country could alone have exhibited so grand and striking a
spectacle of the capacity of man for self-government.

What a happy conception, then, was it for Congress to apply this
simple rule, that the will of the majority shall govern, to the
settlement of the question of domestic slavery in the Territories.
Congress is neither "to legislate slavery into any Territory or
State nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof
perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in
their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United

As a natural consequence, Congress has also prescribed that when
the Territory of Kansas shall be admitted as a State it "shall be
received into the Union with or without slavery, as their
constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission."

A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the point of time
when the people of a Territory shall decide this question for

This is, happily, a matter of but little practical importance.
Besides, it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to
the Supreme Court of the United States, before whom it is now
pending, and will, it is understood, be speedily and finally
settled. To their decision, in common with all good citizens, I
shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may be, though it has ever
been my individual opinion that under the Nebraska-Kansas act the
appropriate period will be when the number of actual residents in
the Territory shall justify the formation of a constitution with a
view to its admission as a State into the Union. But be this as it
may, it is the imperative and indispensable duty of the Government
of the United States to secure to every resident inhabitant the
free and independent expression of his opinion by his vote. This
sacred right of each individual must be preserved. That being
accomplished, nothing can be fairer than to leave the people of a
Territory free from all foreign interference to decide their own
destiny for themselves, subject only to the Constitution of the
United States.

The whole Territorial question being thus settled upon the
principle of popular sovereignty--a principle as ancient as free
government itself--everything of a practical nature has been
decided. No other question remains for adjustment, because all
agree that under the Constitution slavery in the States is beyond
the reach of any human power except that of the respective States
themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long
agitation on this subject is approaching its end, and that the
geographical parties to which it has given birth, so much dreaded
by the Father of his Country, will speedily become extinct? Most
happy will it be for the country when the public mind shall be
diverted from this question to others of more pressing and
practical importance. Throughout the whole progress of this
agitation, which has scarcely known any intermission for more than
twenty years, whilst it has been productive of no positive good to
any human being it has been the prolific source of great evils to
the master, to the slave, and to the whole country. It has
alienated and estranged the people of the sister States from each
other, and has even seriously endangered the very existence of the
Union. Nor has the danger yet entirely ceased. Under our system
there is a remedy for all mere political evils in the sound sense
and sober judgment of the people. Time is a great corrective.
Political subjects which but a few years ago excited and
exasperated the public mind have passed away and are now nearly
forgotten. But this question of domestic slavery is of far graver
importance than any mere political question, because should the
agitation continue it may eventually endanger the personal safety
of a large portion of our countrymen where the institution exists.
In that event no form of government, however admirable in itself
and however productive of material benefits, can compensate for
the loss of peace and domestic security around the family altar.
Let every Union-loving man, therefore, exert his best influence to
suppress this agitation, which since the recent legislation of
Congress is without any legitimate object.

It is an evil omen of the times that men have undertaken to
calculate the mere material value of the Union. Reasoned estimates
have been presented of the pecuniary profits and local advantages
which would result to different States and sections from its
dissolution and of the comparative injuries which such an event
would inflict on other States and sections. Even descending to
this low and narrow view of the mighty question, all such
calculations are at fault. The bare reference to a single
consideration will be conclusive on this point. We at present
enjoy a free trade throughout our extensive and expanding country
such as the world has never witnessed. This trade is conducted on
railroads and canals, on noble rivers and arms of the sea, which
bind together the North and the South, the East and the West, of
our Confederacy. Annihilate this trade, arrest its free progress
by the geographical lines of jealous and hostile States, and you
destroy the prosperity and onward march of the whole and every
part and involve all in one common ruin. But such considerations,
important as they are in themselves, sink into insignificance when
we reflect on the terrific evils which would result from disunion
to every portion of the Confederacy--to the North, not more than
to the South, to the East not more than to the West. These I shall
not attempt to portray, because I feel an humble confidence that
the kind Providence which inspired our fathers with wisdom to
frame the most perfect form of government and union ever devised
by man will not suffer it to perish until it shall have been
peacefully instrumental by its example in the extension of civil
and religious liberty throughout the world.

Next in importance to the maintenance of the Constitution and the
Union is the duty of preserving the Government free from the taint
or even the suspicion of corruption. Public virtue is the vital
spirit of republics, and history proves that when this has decayed
and the love of money has usurped its place, although the forms of
free government may remain for a season, the substance has
departed forever.

Our present financial condition is without a parallel in history.
No nation has ever before been embarrassed from too large a
surplus in its treasury. This almost necessarily gives birth to
extravagant legislation. It produces wild schemes of expenditure
and begets a race of speculators and jobbers, whose ingenuity is
exerted in contriving and promoting expedients to obtain public
money. The purity of official agents, whether rightfully or
wrongfully, is suspected, and the character of the government
suffers in the estimation of the people. This is in itself a very
great evil.

The natural mode of relief from this embarrassment is to
appropriate the surplus in the Treasury to great national objects
for which a clear warrant can be found in the Constitution. Among
these I might mention the extinguishment of the public debt, a
reasonable increase of the Navy, which is at present inadequate to
the protection of our vast tonnage afloat, now greater than that
of any other nation, as well as to the defense of our extended

It is beyond all question the true principle that no more revenue
ought to be collected from the people than the amount necessary to
defray the expenses of a wise, economical, and efficient
administration of the Government. To reach this point it was
necessary to resort to a modification of the tariff, and this has,
I trust, been accomplished in such a manner as to do as little
injury as may have been practicable to our domestic manufactures,
especially those necessary for the defense of the country. Any
discrimination against a particular branch for the purpose of
benefiting favored corporations, individuals, or interests would
have been unjust to the rest of the community and inconsistent
with that spirit of fairness and equality which ought to govern in
the adjustment of a revenue tariff.

But the squandering of the public money sinks into comparative
insignificance as a temptation to corruption when compared with
the squandering of the public lands.

No nation in the tide of time has ever been blessed with so rich
and noble an inheritance as we enjoy in the public lands. In
administering this important trust, whilst it may be wise to grant
portions of them for the improvement of the remainder, yet we
should never forget that it is our cardinal policy to reserve
these lands, as much as may be, for actual settlers, and this at
moderate prices. We shall thus not only best promote the
prosperity of the new States and Territories, by furnishing them a
hardy and independent race of honest and industrious citizens, but
shall secure homes for our children and our children's children,
as well as for those exiles from foreign shores who may seek in
this country to improve their condition and to enjoy the blessings
of civil and religious liberty. Such emigrants have done much to
promote the growth and prosperity of the country. They have proved
faithful both in peace and in war. After becoming citizens they
are entitled, under the Constitution and laws, to be placed on a
perfect equality with native-born citizens, and in this character
they should ever be kindly recognized.

The Federal Constitution is a grant from the States to Congress of
certain specific powers, and the question whether this grant
should be liberally or strictly construed has more or less divided
political parties from the beginning. Without entering into the
argument, I desire to state at the commencement of my
Administration that long experience and observation have convinced
me that a strict construction of the powers of the Government is
the only true, as well as the only safe, theory of the
Constitution. Whenever in our past history doubtful powers have
been exercised by Congress, these have never failed to produce
injurious and unhappy consequences. Many such instances might be
adduced if this were the proper occasion. Neither is it necessary
for the public service to strain the language of the Constitution,
because all the great and useful powers required for a successful
administration of the Government, both in peace and in war, have
been granted, either in express terms or by the plainest

Whilst deeply convinced of these truths, I yet consider it clear
that under the war-making power Congress may appropriate money
toward the construction of a military road when this is absolutely
necessary for the defense of any State or Territory of the Union
against foreign invasion. Under the Constitution Congress has
power "to declare war," "to raise and support armies," "to provide
and maintain a navy," and to call forth the militia to "repel
invasions." Thus endowed, in an ample manner, with the war-making
power, the corresponding duty is required that "the United States
shall protect each of them [the States] against invasion." Now,
how is it possible to afford this protection to California and our
Pacific possessions except by means of a military road through the
Territories of the United States, over which men and munitions of
war may be speedily transported from the Atlantic States to meet
and to repel the invader? In the event of a war with a naval power
much stronger than our own we should then have no other available
access to the Pacific Coast, because such a power would instantly
close the route across the isthmus of Central America. It is
impossible to conceive that whilst the Constitution has expressly
required Congress to defend all the States it should yet deny to
them, by any fair construction, the only possible means by which
one of these States can be defended. Besides, the Government, ever
since its origin, has been in the constant practice of
constructing military roads. It might also be wise to consider
whether the love for the Union which now animates our fellow-
citizens on the Pacific Coast may not be impaired by our neglect
or refusal to provide for them, in their remote and isolated
condition, the only means by which the power of the States on this
side of the Rocky Mountains can reach them in sufficient time to
"protect" them "against invasion." I forbear for the present from
expressing an opinion as to the wisest and most economical mode in
which the Government can lend its aid in accomplishing this great
and necessary work. I believe that many of the difficulties in the
way, which now appear formidable, will in a great degree vanish as
soon as the nearest and best route shall have been satisfactorily

It may be proper that on this occasion I should make some brief
remarks in regard to our rights and duties as a member of the
great family of nations. In our intercourse with them there are
some plain principles, approved by our own experience, from which
we should never depart. We ought to cultivate peace, commerce, and
friendship with all nations, and this not merely as the best means
of promoting our own material interests, but in a spirit of
Christian benevolence toward our fellow-men, wherever their lot
may be cast. Our diplomacy should be direct and frank, neither
seeking to obtain more nor accepting less than is our due. We
ought to cherish a sacred regard for the independence of all
nations, and never attempt to interfere in the domestic concerns
of any unless this shall be imperatively required by the great law
of self-preservation. To avoid entangling alliances has been a
maxim of our policy ever since the days of Washington, and its
wisdom's no one will attempt to dispute. In short, we ought to do
justice in a kindly spirit to all nations and require justice from
them in return.

It is our glory that whilst other nations have extended their
dominions by the sword we have never acquired any territory except
by fair purchase or, as in the case of Texas, by the voluntary
determination of a brave, kindred, and independent people to blend
their destinies with our own. Even our acquisitions from Mexico
form no exception. Unwilling to take advantage of the fortune of
war against a sister republic, we purchased these possessions
under the treaty of peace for a sum which was considered at the
time a fair equivalent. Our past history forbids that we shall in
the future acquire territory unless this be sanctioned by the laws
of justice and honor. Acting on this principle, no nation will
have a right to interfere or to complain if in the progress of
events we shall still further extend our possessions. Hitherto in
all our acquisitions the people, under the protection of the
American flag, have enjoyed civil and religious liberty, as well
as equal and just laws, and have been contented, prosperous, and
happy. Their trade with the rest of the world has rapidly
increased, and thus every commercial nation has shared largely in
their successful progress.

I shall now proceed to take the oath prescribed by the
Constitution, whilst humbly invoking the blessing of Divine
Providence on this great people.


Abraham Lincoln


The national upheaval of secession was a grim reality at Abraham
Lincoln's inauguration. Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as
the President of the Confederacy two weeks earlier. The former
Illinois Congressman had arrived in Washington by a secret route
to avoid danger, and his movements were guarded by General
Winfield Scott's soldiers. Ignoring advice to the contrary, the
President-elect rode with President Buchanan in an open carriage
to the Capitol, where he took the oath of office on the East
Portico. Chief Justice Roger Taney administered the executive oath
for the seventh time. The Capitol itself was sheathed in
scaffolding because the copper and wood "Bulfinch" dome was being
replaced with a cast iron dome designed by Thomas U. Walter.

Fellow-Citizens of the United States:

In compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I
appear before you to address you briefly and to take in your
presence the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United
States to be taken by the President "before he enters on the
execution of this office."

I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those
matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety
or excitement.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern
States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their
property and their peace and personal security are to be
endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such
apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has
all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is
found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now
addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I
declare that--

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the
institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I
have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that
I had made this and many similar declarations and had never
recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for
my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and
emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the
States, and especially the right of each State to order and
control its own domestic institutions according to its own
judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on
which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend;
and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of
any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the
gravest of crimes.

I now reiterate these sentiments, and in doing so I only press
upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which
the case is susceptible that the property, peace, and security of
no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming
Administration. I add, too, that all the protection which,
consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given will
be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for
whatever cause--as cheerfully to one section as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives
from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written
in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:

No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or

regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but
shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service
or labor may be due.

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by
those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive
slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members
of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution--to this
provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that
slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause "shall be
delivered up" their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make
the effort in good temper, could they not with nearly equal
unanimity frame and pass a law by means of which to keep good that
unanimous oath?

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be
enforced by national or by State authority, but surely that
difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be
surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him or to
others by which authority it is done. And should anyone in any
case be content that his oath shall go unkept on a merely
unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept?

Again: In any law upon this subject ought not all the safeguards
of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be
introduced, so that a free man be not in any case surrendered as a
slave? And might it not be well at the same time to provide by law
for the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which
guarantees that "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to
all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States"?

I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations and
with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any
hypercritical rules; and while I do not choose now to specify
particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest
that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private
stations, to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand
unrepealed than to violate any of them trusting to find impunity
in having them held to be unconstitutional.

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a
President under our National Constitution. During that period
fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens have in
succession administered the executive branch of the Government.
They have conducted it through many perils, and generally with
great success. Yet, with all this scope of precedent, I now enter
upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four years
under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the Federal
Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the
Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is
implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national
governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever
had a provision in its organic law for its own termination.
Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National
Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being
impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in
the instrument itself.

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an
association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as
a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who
made it? One party to a contract may violate it--break it, so to
speak--but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition
that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by
the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the
Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of
Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the
Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and
the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and
engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of
Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared
objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was "to
form a more perfect Union."

But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the
States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before
the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion
can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to
that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any
State or States against the authority of the United States are
insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws
the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall
take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me,
that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the
States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and
I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful
masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means
or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this
will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose
of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and
there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national
authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy,
and possess the property and places belonging to the Government
and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be
necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using
of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to
the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and
universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding
the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious
strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal
right may exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these
offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating and so nearly
impracticable withal that I deem it better to forego for the time
the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all
parts of the Union. So far as possible the people everywhere shall
have that sense of perfect security which is most favorable to
calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be
followed unless current events and experience shall show a
modification or change to be proper, and in every case and
exigency my best discretion will be exercised, according to
circumstances actually existing and with a view and a hope of a
peaceful solution of the national troubles and the restoration of
fraternal sympathies and affections.

That there are persons in one section or another who seek to
destroy the Union at all events and are glad of any pretext to do
it I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need
address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the
Union may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our
national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its
hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it?
Will you hazard so desperate a step while there is any possibility
that any portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence?
Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all
the real ones you fly from, will you risk the commission of so
fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional
rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right plainly
written in the Constitution has been denied? I think not. Happily,
the human mind is so constituted that no party can reach to the
audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in
which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever
been denied. If by the mere force of numbers a majority should
deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it
might in a moral point of view justify revolution; certainly would
if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the
vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly
assured to them by affirmations and negations, guaranties and
prohibitions, in the Constitution that controversies never arise
concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a
provision specifically applicable to every question which may
occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate nor
any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for
all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered
by national or by State authority? The Constitution does not
expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories?
The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect
slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional
controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and
minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must,
or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for
continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the
other. If a minority in such case will secede rather than
acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and
ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them
whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For
instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or
two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the
present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish
disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of
doing this.

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to
compose a new union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed

Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A
majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and
limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of
popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a
free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy
or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority,
as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that,
rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some
form is all that is left.

I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitutional
questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court, nor do I deny
that such decisions must be binding in any case upon the parties
to a suit as to the object of that suit, while they are also
entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel
cases by all other departments of the Government. And while it is
obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any
given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to
that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and
never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than
could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the
candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government
upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be
irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant
they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal
actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having
to that extent practically resigned their Government into the
hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any
assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they
may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and
it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to
political purposes.

One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to
be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to
be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-
slave clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression
of the foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as
any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the
people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the
people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few
break over in each. This, I think, can not be perfectly cured, and
it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the
sections than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly
suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one
section, while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered,
would not be surrendered at all by the other.

Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our
respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall
between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the
presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different
parts of our country can not do this. They can not but remain face
to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must
continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that
intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after
separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than
friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced
between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war,
you can not fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides
and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old
questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who
inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing
Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of
amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow
it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and
patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National
Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of
amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people
over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes
prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing
circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being
afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to
me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows
amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of
only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by
others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not
be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I
understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution--which
amendment, however, I have not seen--has passed Congress, to the
effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the
domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons
held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I
depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so
far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied
constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express
and irrevocable.

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people,
and they have referred none upon him to fix terms for the
separation of the States. The people themselves can do this if
also they choose, but the Executive as such has nothing to do with
it. His duty is to administer the present Government as it came to
his hands and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate
justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the
world? In our present differences, is either party without faith
of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His
eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on
yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely
prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same
people have wisely given their public servants but little power
for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return
of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While
the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by
any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the
Government in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole
subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be
an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you
would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by
taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of
you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution
unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own
framing under it; while the new Administration will have no
immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were
admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the
dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate
action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm
reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are
still competent to adjust in the best way all our present

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine,
is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not
assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the
aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the
Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve,
protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not
be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our
bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from
every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and
hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of
the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the
better angels of our nature.


Abraham Lincoln


Weeks of wet weather preceding Lincoln's second inauguration had
caused Pennsylvania Avenue to become a sea of mud and standing
water. Thousands of spectators stood in thick mud at the Capitol
grounds to hear the President. As he stood on the East Portico to
take the executive oath, the completed Capitol dome over the
President's head was a physical reminder of the resolve of his
Administration throughout the years of civil war. Chief Justice
Salmon Chase administered the oath of office. In little more than
a month, the President would be assassinated.


At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential
office there is less occasion for an extended address than there
was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course
to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of
four years, during which public declarations have been constantly
called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which
still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the
nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our
arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the
public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory
and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no
prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts
were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it,
all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being
delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union
without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it
without war--seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by
negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would
make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would
accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not
distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the
southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and
powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the
cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this
interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the
Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do
more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither
party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it
has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the
conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself
should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less
fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to
the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may
seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's
assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's
faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of
both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered
fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world
because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but
woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose
that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the
providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued
through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He
gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to
those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any
departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a
living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do
we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by
the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil
shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash
shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three
thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the
Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in
the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to
finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care
for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his
orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting
peace among ourselves and with all nations.


Ulysses S. Grant


General Grant was the first of many Civil War officers to become
President of the United States. He refused to ride in the carriage
to the Capitol with President Johnson, who then decided not to
attend the ceremony. The oath of office was administered by Chief
Justice Salmon Chase on the East Portico. The inaugural parade
boasted eight full divisions of the Army--the largest contingent
yet to march on such an occasion. That evening, a ball was held in
the Treasury Building.

Citizens of the United States:

Your suffrages having elected me to the office of President of the
United States, I have, in conformity to the Constitution of our
country, taken the oath of office prescribed therein. I have taken
this oath without mental reservation and with the determination to
do to the best of my ability all that is required of me. The
responsibilities of the position I feel, but accept them without
fear. The office has come to me unsought; I commence its duties
untrammeled. I bring to it a conscious desire and determination to
fill it to the best of my ability to the satisfaction of the

On all leading questions agitating the public mind I will always
express my views to Congress and urge them according to my
judgment, and when I think it advisable will exercise the
constitutional privilege of interposing a veto to defeat measures
which I oppose; but all laws will be faithfully executed, whether
they meet my approval or not.

I shall on all subjects have a policy to recommend, but none to
enforce against the will of the people. Laws are to govern all
alike--those opposed as well as those who favor them. I know no
method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective
as their stringent execution.

The country having just emerged from a great rebellion, many
questions will come before it for settlement in the next four
years which preceding Administrations have never had to deal with.
In meeting these it is desirable that they should be approached
calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering
that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be

This requires security of person, property, and free religious and
political opinion in every part of our common country, without
regard to local prejudice. All laws to secure these ends will
receive my best efforts for their enforcement.

A great debt has been contracted in securing to us and our
posterity the Union. The payment of this, principal and interest,
as well as the return to a specie basis as soon as it can be
accomplished without material detriment to the debtor class or to
the country at large, must be provided for. To protect the
national honor, every dollar of Government indebtedness should be
paid in gold, unless otherwise expressly stipulated in the
contract. Let it be understood that no repudiator of one farthing
of our public debt will be trusted in public place, and it will go
far toward strengthening a credit which ought to be the best in
the world, and will ultimately enable us to replace the debt with
bonds bearing less interest than we now pay. To this should be
added a faithful collection of the revenue, a strict
accountability to the Treasury for every dollar collected, and the
greatest practicable retrenchment in expenditure in every
department of Government.

When we compare the paying capacity of the country now, with the
ten States in poverty from the effects of war, but soon to emerge,
I trust, into greater prosperity than ever before, with its paying
capacity twenty-five years ago, and calculate what it probably
will be twenty-five years hence, who can doubt the feasibility of
paying every dollar then with more ease than we now pay for
useless luxuries? Why, it looks as though Providence had bestowed
upon us a strong box in the precious metals locked up in the
sterile mountains of the far West, and which we are now forging
the key to unlock, to meet the very contingency that is now upon

Ultimately it may be necessary to insure the facilities to reach
these riches and it may be necessary also that the General
Government should give its aid to secure this access; but that
should only be when a dollar of obligation to pay secures
precisely the same sort of dollar to use now, and not before.
Whilst the question of specie payments is in abeyance the prudent
business man is careful about contracting debts payable in the
distant future. The nation should follow the same rule. A
prostrate commerce is to be rebuilt and all industries encouraged.

The young men of the country--those who from their age must be its
rulers twenty-five years hence--have a peculiar interest in
maintaining the national honor. A moment's reflection as to what
will be our commanding influence among the nations of the earth in
their day, if they are only true to themselves, should inspire
them with national pride. All divisions--geographical, political,
and religious--can join in this common sentiment. How the public
debt is to be paid or specie payments resumed is not so important
as that a plan should be adopted and acquiesced in. A united
determination to do is worth more than divided counsels upon the
method of doing. Legislation upon this subject may not be
necessary now, or even advisable, but it will be when the civil
law is more fully restored in all parts of the country and trade
resumes its wonted channels.

It will be my endeavor to execute all laws in good faith, to
collect all revenues assessed, and to have them properly accounted
for and economically disbursed. I will to the best of my ability
appoint to office those only who will carry out this design.

In regard to foreign policy, I would deal with nations as
equitable law requires individuals to deal with each other, and I
would protect the law-abiding citizen, whether of native or
foreign birth, wherever his rights are jeopardized or the flag of
our country floats. I would respect the rights of all nations,
demanding equal respect for our own. If others depart from this
rule in their dealings with us, we may be compelled to follow
their precedent.

The proper treatment of the original occupants of this land--the
Indians one deserving of careful study. I will favor any course
toward them which tends to their civilization and ultimate

The question of suffrage is one which is likely to agitate the
public so long as a portion of the citizens of the nation are
excluded from its privileges in any State. It seems to me very
desirable that this question should be settled now, and I
entertain the hope and express the desire that it may be by the
ratification of the fifteenth article of amendment to the

In conclusion I ask patient forbearance one toward another
throughout the land, and a determined effort on the part of every
citizen to do his share toward cementing a happy union; and I ask
the prayers of the nation to Almighty God in behalf of this


Ulysses S. Grant


Frigid temperatures caused many of the events planned for the
second inauguration to be abandoned. The thermometer did not rise
much above zero all day, persuading many to avoid the ceremony on
the East Portico of the Capitol. The oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice Salmon Chase. A parade and a display
of fireworks were featured later that day, as well as a ball in a
temporary wooden structure on Judiciary Square. The wind blew
continuously through the ballroom and many of the guests at the
ball never removed their coats.


Under Providence I have been called a second time to act as
Executive over this great nation. It has been my endeavor in the
past to maintain all the laws, and, so far as lay in my power, to
act for the best interests of the whole people. My best efforts
will be given in the same direction in the future, aided, I trust,
by my four years' experience in the office.

When my first term of the office of Chief Executive began, the
country had not recovered from the effects of a great internal
revolution, and three of the former States of the Union had not
been restored to their Federal relations.

It seemed to me wise that no new questions should be raised so
long as that condition of affairs existed. Therefore the past four
years, so far as I could control events, have been consumed in the
effort to restore harmony, public credit, commerce, and all the
arts of peace and progress. It is my firm conviction that the
civilized world is tending toward republicanism, or government by
the people through their chosen representatives, and that our own
great Republic is destined to be the guiding star to all others.

Under our Republic we support an army less than that of any
European power of any standing and a navy less than that of either
of at least five of them. There could be no extension of territory
on the continent which would call for an increase of this force,
but rather might such extension enable us to diminish it.

The theory of government changes with general progress. Now that
the telegraph is made available for communicating thought,
together with rapid transit by steam, all parts of a continent are
made contiguous for all purposes of government, and communication
between the extreme limits of the country made easier than it was
throughout the old thirteen States at the beginning of our
national existence.

The effects of the late civil strife have been to free the slave
and make him a citizen. Yet he is not possessed of the civil
rights which citizenship should carry with it. This is wrong, and
should be corrected. To this correction I stand committed, so far
as Executive influence can avail.

Social equality is not a subject to be legislated upon, nor shall
I ask that anything be done to advance the social status of the
colored man, except to give him a fair chance to develop what
there is good in him, give him access to the schools, and when he
travels let him feel assured that his conduct will regulate the
treatment and fare he will receive.

The States lately at war with the General Government are now
happily rehabilitated, and no Executive control is exercised in
any one of them that would not be exercised in any other State
under like circumstances.

In the first year of the past Administration the proposition came
up for the admission of Santo Domingo as a Territory of the Union.
It was not a question of my seeking, but was a proposition from
the people of Santo Domingo, and which I entertained. I believe
now, as I did then, that it was for the best interest of this
country, for the people of Santo Domingo, and all concerned that
the proposition should be received favorably. It was, however,
rejected constitutionally, and therefore the subject was never
brought up again by me.

In future, while I hold my present office, the subject of
acquisition of territory must have the support of the people
before I will recommend any proposition looking to such
acquisition. I say here, however, that I do not share in the
apprehension held by many as to the danger of governments becoming
weakened and destroyed by reason of their extension of territory.
Commerce, education, and rapid transit of thought and matter by
telegraph and steam have changed all this. Rather do I believe
that our Great Maker is preparing the world, in His own good time,
to become one nation, speaking one language, and when armies and
navies will be no longer required.

My efforts in the future will be directed to the restoration of
good feeling between the different sections of our common country;
to the restoration of our currency to a fixed value as compared
with the world's standard of values--gold--and, if possible, to a
par with it; to the construction of cheap routes of transit
throughout the land, to the end that the products of all may find
a market and leave a living remuneration to the producer; to the
maintenance of friendly relations with all our neighbors and with
distant nations; to the reestablishment of our commerce and share
in the carrying trade upon the ocean; to the encouragement of such
manufacturing industries as can be economically pursued in this
country, to the end that the exports of home products and
industries may pay for our imports--the only sure method of
returning to and permanently maintaining a specie basis; to the
elevation of labor; and, by a humane course, to bring the
aborigines of the country under the benign influences of education
and civilization. It is either this or war of extermination: Wars
of extermination, engaged in by people pursuing commerce and all
industrial pursuits, are expensive even against the weakest
people, and are demoralizing and wicked. Our superiority of
strength and advantages of civilization should make us lenient
toward the Indian. The wrong inflicted upon him should be taken
into account and the balance placed to his credit. The moral view
of the question should be considered and the question asked, Can
not the Indian be made a useful and productive member of society
by proper teaching and treatment? If the effort is made in good
faith, we will stand better before the civilized nations of the
earth and in our own consciences for having made it.

All these things are not to be accomplished by one individual, but
they will receive my support and such recommendations to Congress
as will in my judgment best serve to carry them into effect. I beg
your support and encouragement.

It has been, and is, my earnest desire to correct abuses that have
grown up in the civil service of the country. To secure this
reformation rules regulating methods of appointment and promotions
were established and have been tried. My efforts for such
reformation shall be continued to the best of my judgment. The
spirit of the rules adopted will be maintained.

I acknowledge before this assemblage, representing, as it does,
every section of our country, the obligation I am under to my
countrymen for the great honor they have conferred on me by
returning me to the highest office within their gift, and the
further obligation resting on me to render to them the best
services within my power. This I promise, looking forward with the
greatest anxiety to the day when I shall be released from
responsibilities that at times are almost overwhelming, and from
which I have scarcely had a respite since the eventful firing upon
Fort Sumter, in April, 1861, to the present day. My services were
then tendered and accepted under the first call for troops growing
out of that event.

I did not ask for place or position, and was entirely without
influence or the acquaintance of persons of influence, but was
resolved to perform my part in a struggle threatening the very
existence of the nation. I performed a conscientious duty, without
asking promotion or command, and without a revengeful feeling
toward any section or individual.

Notwithstanding this, throughout the war, and from my candidacy
for my present office in 1868 to the close of the last
Presidential campaign, I have been the subject of abuse and
slander scarcely ever equaled in political history, which to-day I
feel that I can afford to disregard in view of your verdict, which
I gratefully accept as my vindication.


Rutherford B. Hayes


The outcome of the election of 1876 was not known until the week
before the inauguration itself. Democrat Samuel Tilden had won the
greater number of popular votes and lacked only one electoral vote
to claim a majority in the electoral college. Twenty disputed
electoral votes, however, kept hopes alive for Republican Governor
Hayes of Ohio. A fifteen-member Electoral Commission was appointed
by the Congress to deliberate the outcome of the election. By a
majority vote of 8 to 7 the Commission gave all of the disputed
votes to the Republican candidate, and Mr. Hayes was elected
President on March 2. Since March 4 was a Sunday, he took the oath
of office in the Red Room at the White House on March 3, and again
on Monday on the East Portico of the Capitol. Chief Justice
Morrison Waite administered both oaths.


We have assembled to repeat the public ceremonial, begun by
Washington, observed by all my predecessors, and now a time-
honored custom, which marks the commencement of a new term of the
Presidential office. Called to the duties of this great trust, I
proceed, in compliance with usage, to announce some of the leading
principles, on the subjects that now chiefly engage the public
attention, by which it is my desire to be guided in the discharge
of those duties. I shall not undertake to lay down irrevocably
principles or measures of administration, but rather to speak of
the motives which should animate us, and to suggest certain
important ends to be attained in accordance with our institutions
and essential to the welfare of our country.

At the outset of the discussions which preceded the recent
Presidential election it seemed to me fitting that I should fully
make known my sentiments in regard to several of the important
questions which then appeared to demand the consideration of the
country. Following the example, and in part adopting the language,
of one of my predecessors, I wish now, when every motive for
misrepresentation has passed away, to repeat what was said before
the election, trusting that my countrymen will candidly weigh and
understand it, and that they will feel assured that the sentiments
declared in accepting the nomination for the Presidency will be
the standard of my conduct in the path before me, charged, as I
now am, with the grave and difficult task of carrying them out in
the practical administration of the Government so far as depends,
under the Constitution and laws on the Chief Executive of the

The permanent pacification of the country upon such principles and
by such measures as will secure the complete protection of all its
citizens in the free enjoyment of all their constitutional rights
is now the one subject in our public affairs which all thoughtful
and patriotic citizens regard as of supreme importance.

Many of the calamitous efforts of the tremendous revolution which
has passed over the Southern States still remain. The immeasurable
benefits which will surely follow, sooner or later, the hearty and
generous acceptance of the legitimate results of that revolution
have not yet been realized. Difficult and embarrassing questions
meet us at the threshold of this subject. The people of those
States are still impoverished, and the inestimable blessing of
wise, honest, and peaceful local self-government is not fully
enjoyed. Whatever difference of opinion may exist as to the cause
of this condition of things, the fact is clear that in the
progress of events the time has come when such government is the
imperative necessity required by all the varied interests, public
and private, of those States. But it must not be forgotten that
only a local government which recognizes and maintains inviolate
the rights of all is a true self-government.

With respect to the two distinct races whose peculiar relations to
each other have brought upon us the deplorable complications and
perplexities which exist in those States, it must be a government
which guards the interests of both races carefully and equally. It
must be a government which submits loyally and heartily to the
Constitution and the laws--the laws of the nation and the laws of
the States themselves--accepting and obeying faithfully the whole
Constitution as it is.

Resting upon this sure and substantial foundation, the
superstructure of beneficent local governments can be built up,
and not otherwise. In furtherance of such obedience to the letter
and the spirit of the Constitution, and in behalf of all that its
attainment implies, all so-called party interests lose their
apparent importance, and party lines may well be permitted to fade
into insignificance. The question we have to consider for the
immediate welfare of those States of the Union is the question of
government or no government; of social order and all the peaceful
industries and the happiness that belongs to it, or a return to
barbarism. It is a question in which every citizen of the nation
is deeply interested, and with respect to which we ought not to
be, in a partisan sense, either Republicans or Democrats, but
fellow-citizens and fellowmen, to whom the interests of a common
country and a common humanity are dear.

The sweeping revolution of the entire labor system of a large
portion of our country and the advance of 4,000,000 people from a
condition of servitude to that of citizenship, upon an equal
footing with their former masters, could not occur without
presenting problems of the gravest moment, to be dealt with by the
emancipated race, by their former masters, and by the General
Government, the author of the act of emancipation. That it was a
wise, just, and providential act, fraught with good for all
concerned, is not generally conceded throughout the country. That
a moral obligation rests upon the National Government to employ
its constitutional power and influence to establish the rights of
the people it has emancipated, and to protect them in the
enjoyment of those rights when they are infringed or assailed, is
also generally admitted.

The evils which afflict the Southern States can only be removed or
remedied by the united and harmonious efforts of both races,
actuated by motives of mutual sympathy and regard; and while in
duty bound and fully determined to protect the rights of all by
every constitutional means at the disposal of my Administration, I
am sincerely anxious to use every legitimate influence in favor of
honest and efficient local self-government as the true resource of
those States for the promotion of the contentment and prosperity
of their citizens. In the effort I shall make to accomplish this
purpose I ask the cordial cooperation of all who cherish an
interest in the welfare of the country, trusting that party ties
and the prejudice of race will be freely surrendered in behalf of
the great purpose to be accomplished. In the important work of
restoring the South it is not the political situation alone that
merits attention. The material development of that section of the
country has been arrested by the social and political revolution
through which it has passed, and now needs and deserves the
considerate care of the National Government within the just limits
prescribed by the Constitution and wise public economy.

But at the basis of all prosperity, for that as well as for every
other part of the country, lies the improvement of the
intellectual and moral condition of the people. Universal suffrage
should rest upon universal education. To this end, liberal and
permanent provision should be made for the support of free schools
by the State governments, and, if need be, supplemented by
legitimate aid from national authority.

Let me assure my countrymen of the Southern States that it is my
earnest desire to regard and promote their truest interest--the
interests of the white and of the colored people both and
equally--and to put forth my best efforts in behalf of a civil
policy which will forever wipe out in our political affairs the
color line and the distinction between North and South, to the end
that we may have not merely a united North or a united South, but
a united country.

I ask the attention of the public to the paramount necessity of
reform in our civil service--a reform not merely as to certain
abuses and practices of so-called official patronage which have
come to have the sanction of usage in the several Departments of
our Government, but a change in the system of appointment itself;
a reform that shall be thorough, radical, and complete; a return
to the principles and practices of the founders of the Government.
They neither expected nor desired from public officers any
partisan service. They meant that public officers should owe their
whole service to the Government and to the people. They meant that
the officer should be secure in his tenure as long as his personal
character remained untarnished and the performance of his duties
satisfactory. They held that appointments to office were not to be
made nor expected merely as rewards for partisan services, nor
merely on the nomination of members of Congress, as being entitled
in any respect to the control of such appointments.

The fact that both the great political parties of the country, in
declaring their principles prior to the election, gave a prominent
place to the subject of reform of our civil service, recognizing
and strongly urging its necessity, in terms almost identical in
their specific import with those I have here employed, must be
accepted as a conclusive argument in behalf of these measures. It
must be regarded as the expression of the united voice and will of
the whole country upon this subject, and both political parties
are virtually pledged to give it their unreserved support.

The President of the United States of necessity owes his election
to office to the suffrage and zealous labors of a political party,
the members of which cherish with ardor and regard as of essential
importance the principles of their party organization; but he
should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his
party best who serves the country best.

In furtherance of the reform we seek, and in other important
respects a change of great importance, I recommend an amendment to
the Constitution prescribing a term of six years for the
Presidential office and forbidding a reelection.

With respect to the financial condition of the country, I shall
not attempt an extended history of the embarrassment and
prostration which we have suffered during the past three years.
The depression in all our varied commercial and manufacturing
interests throughout the country, which began in September, 1873,
still continues. It is very gratifying, however, to be able to say
that there are indications all around us of a coming change to
prosperous times.

Upon the currency question, intimately connected, as it is, with
this topic, I may be permitted to repeat here the statement made
in my letter of acceptance, that in my judgment the feeling of
uncertainty inseparable from an irredeemable paper currency, with
its fluctuation of values, is one of the greatest obstacles to a
return to prosperous times. The only safe paper currency is one
which rests upon a coin basis and is at all times and promptly
convertible into coin.

I adhere to the views heretofore expressed by me in favor of
Congressional legislation in behalf of an early resumption of
specie payments, and I am satisfied not only that this is wise,
but that the interests, as well as the public sentiment, of the
country imperatively demand it.

Passing from these remarks upon the condition of our own country
to consider our relations with other lands, we are reminded by the
international complications abroad, threatening the peace of
Europe, that our traditional rule of noninterference in the
affairs of foreign nations has proved of great value in past times
and ought to be strictly observed.

The policy inaugurated by my honored predecessor, President Grant,
of submitting to arbitration grave questions in dispute between
ourselves and foreign powers points to a new, and incomparably the
best, instrumentality for the preservation of peace, and will, as
I believe, become a beneficent example of the course to be pursued
in similar emergencies by other nations.

If, unhappily, questions of difference should at any time during
the period of my Administration arise between the United States
and any foreign government, it will certainly be my disposition
and my hope to aid in their settlement in the same peaceful and
honorable way, thus securing to our country the great blessings of
peace and mutual good offices with all the nations of the world.

Fellow-citizens, we have reached the close of a political contest
marked by the excitement which usually attends the contests
between great political parties whose members espouse and advocate
with earnest faith their respective creeds. The circumstances
were, perhaps, in no respect extraordinary save in the closeness
and the consequent uncertainty of the result.

For the first time in the history of the country it has been
deemed best, in view of the peculiar circumstances of the case,
that the objections and questions in dispute with reference to the
counting of the electoral votes should be referred to the decision
of a tribunal appointed for this purpose.

That tribunal--established by law for this sole purpose; its
members, all of them, men of long-established reputation for
integrity and intelligence, and, with the exception of those who
are also members of the supreme judiciary, chosen equally from
both political parties; its deliberations enlightened by the
research and the arguments of able counsel--was entitled to the
fullest confidence of the American people. Its decisions have been
patiently waited for, and accepted as legally conclusive by the
general judgment of the public. For the present, opinion will
widely vary as to the wisdom of the several conclusions announced
by that tribunal. This is to be anticipated in every instance
where matters of dispute are made the subject of arbitration under
the forms of law. Human judgment is never unerring, and is rarely
regarded as otherwise than wrong by the unsuccessful party in the

The fact that two great political parties have in this way settled
a dispute in regard to which good men differ as to the facts and
the law no less than as to the proper course to be pursued in
solving the question in controversy is an occasion for general

Upon one point there is entire unanimity in public sentiment--that
conflicting claims to the Presidency must be amicably and
peaceably adjusted, and that when so adjusted the general
acquiescence of the nation ought surely to follow.

It has been reserved for a government of the people, where the
right of suffrage is universal, to give to the world the first
example in history of a great nation, in the midst of the struggle
of opposing parties for power, hushing its party tumults to yield
the issue of the contest to adjustment according to the forms of

Looking for the guidance of that Divine Hand by which the
destinies of nations and individuals are shaped, I call upon you,
Senators, Representatives, judges, fellow-citizens, here and
everywhere, to unite with me in an earnest effort to secure to our
country the blessings, not only of material prosperity, but of
justice, peace, and union--a union depending not upon the
constraint of force, but upon the loving devotion of a free
people; "and that all things may be so ordered and settled upon
the best and surest foundations that peace and happiness, truth
and justice, religion and piety, may be established among us for
all generations."


James A. Garfield


Snow on the ground discouraged many spectators from attending the
ceremony at the Capitol. Congressman Garfield had been nominated
on his party's 36th ballot at the convention; and he had won the
popular vote by a slim margin. The former Civil War general was
administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Morrison Waite on
the snow-covered East Portico of the Capitol. In the parade and
the inaugural ball later that day, John Philip Sousa led the
Marine Corps band. The ball was held at the Smithsonian
Institution's new National Museum (now the Arts and Industries


We stand to-day upon an eminence which overlooks a hundred years
of national life--a century crowded with perils, but crowned with
the triumphs of liberty and law. Before continuing the onward
march let us pause on this height for a moment to strengthen our
faith and renew our hope by a glance at the pathway along which
our people have traveled.

It is now three days more than a hundred years since the adoption
of the first written constitution of the United States--the
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The new Republic
was then beset with danger on every hand. It had not conquered a
place in the family of nations. The decisive battle of the war for
independence, whose centennial anniversary will soon be gratefully
celebrated at Yorktown, had not yet been fought. The colonists
were struggling not only against the armies of a great nation, but
against the settled opinions of mankind; for the world did not
then believe that the supreme authority of government could be
safely intrusted to the guardianship of the people themselves.

We can not overestimate the fervent love of liberty, the
intelligent courage, and the sum of common sense with which our
fathers made the great experiment of self-government. When they
found, after a short trial, that the confederacy of States, was
too weak to meet the necessities of a vigorous and expanding
republic, they boldly set it aside, and in its stead established a
National Union, founded directly upon the will of the people,
endowed with full power of self-preservation and ample authority
for the accomplishment of its great object.

Under this Constitution the boundaries of freedom have been
enlarged, the foundations of order and peace have been
strengthened, and the growth of our people in all the better
elements of national life has indicated the wisdom of the founders
and given new hope to their descendants. Under this Constitution
our people long ago made themselves safe against danger from
without and secured for their mariners and flag equality of rights
on all the seas. Under this Constitution twenty-five States have
been added to the Union, with constitutions and laws, framed and
enforced by their own citizens, to secure the manifold blessings
of local self-government.

The jurisdiction of this Constitution now covers an area fifty
times greater than that of the original thirteen States and a
population twenty times greater than that of 1780.

The supreme trial of the Constitution came at last under the
tremendous pressure of civil war. We ourselves are witnesses that
the Union emerged from the blood and fire of that conflict
purified and made stronger for all the beneficent purposes of good

And now, at the close of this first century of growth, with the
inspirations of its history in their hearts, our people have
lately reviewed the condition of the nation, passed judgment upon
the conduct and opinions of political parties, and have registered
their will concerning the future administration of the Government.
To interpret and to execute that will in accordance with the
Constitution is the paramount duty of the Executive.

Even from this brief review it is manifest that the nation is
resolutely facing to the front, resolved to employ its best
energies in developing the great possibilities of the future.
Sacredly preserving whatever has been gained to liberty and good
government during the century, our people are determined to leave
behind them all those bitter controversies concerning things which
have been irrevocably settled, and the further discussion of which
can only stir up strife and delay the onward march.

The supremacy of the nation and its laws should be no longer a
subject of debate. That discussion, which for half a century
threatened the existence of the Union, was closed at last in the
high court of war by a decree from which there is no appeal--that
the Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are and
shall continue to be the supreme law of the land, binding alike
upon the States and the people. This decree does not disturb the
autonomy of the States nor interfere with any of their necessary
rights of local self-government, but it does fix and establish the
permanent supremacy of the Union.

The will of the nation, speaking with the voice of battle and
through the amended Constitution, has fulfilled the great promise
of 1776 by proclaiming "liberty throughout the land to all the
inhabitants thereof."

The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of
citizenship is the most important political change we have known
since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. NO thoughtful man
can fail to appreciate its beneficent effect upon our institutions
and people. It has freed us from the perpetual danger of war and
dissolution. It has added immensely to the moral and industrial
forces of our people. It has liberated the master as well as the
slave from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both. It has
surrendered to their own guardianship the manhood of more than
5,000,000 people, and has opened to each one of them a career of
freedom and usefulness. It has given new inspiration to the power
of self-help in both races by making labor more honorable to the
one and more necessary to the other. The influence of this force
will grow greater and bear richer fruit with the coming years.

No doubt this great change has caused serious disturbance to our
Southern communities. This is to be deplored, though it was
perhaps unavoidable. But those who resisted the change should
remember that under our institutions there was no middle ground
for the negro race between slavery and equal citizenship. There
can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States.

Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the
law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the
pathway of any virtuous citizen.

The emancipated race has already made remarkable progress. With
unquestioning devotion to the Union, with a patience and
gentleness not born of fear, they have "followed the light as God
gave them to see the light." They are rapidly laying the material
foundations of self-support, widening their circle of
intelligence, and beginning to enjoy the blessings that gather
around the homes of the industrious poor. They deserve the
generous encouragement of all good men. So far as my authority can
lawfully extend they shall enjoy the full and equal protection of
the Constitution and the laws.

The free enjoyment of equal suffrage is still in question, and a
frank statement of the issue may aid its solution. It is alleged
that in many communities negro citizens are practically denied the
freedom of the ballot. In so far as the truth of this allegation
is admitted, it is answered that in many places honest local
government is impossible if the mass of uneducated negroes are
allowed to vote. These are grave allegations. So far as the latter
is true, it is the only palliation that can be offered for
opposing the freedom of the ballot. Bad local government is
certainly a great evil, which ought to be prevented; but to
violate the freedom and sanctities of the suffrage is more than an
evil. It is a crime which, if persisted in, will destroy the
Government itself. Suicide is not a remedy. If in other lands it
be high treason to compass the death of the king, it shall be
counted no less a crime here to strangle our sovereign power and
stifle its voice.

It has been said that unsettled questions have no pity for the
repose of nations. It should be said with the utmost emphasis that
this question of the suffrage will never give repose or safety to
the States or to the nation until each, within its own
jurisdiction, makes and keeps the ballot free and pure by the
strong sanctions of the law.

But the danger which arises from ignorance in the voter can not be
denied. It covers a field far wider than that of negro suffrage
and the present condition of the race. It is a danger that lurks
and hides in the sources and fountains of power in every state. We
have no standard by which to measure the disaster that may be
brought upon us by ignorance and vice in the citizens when joined
to corruption and fraud in the suffrage.

The voters of the Union, who make and unmake constitutions, and
upon whose will hang the destinies of our governments, can
transmit their supreme authority to no successors save the coming
generation of voters, who are the sole heirs of sovereign power.
If that generation comes to its inheritance blinded by ignorance
and corrupted by vice, the fall of the Republic will be certain
and remediless.

The census has already sounded the alarm in the appalling figures
which mark how dangerously high the tide of illiteracy has risen
among our voters and their children.

To the South this question is of supreme importance. But the
responsibility for the existence of slavery did not rest upon the
South alone. The nation itself is responsible for the extension of
the suffrage, and is under special obligations to aid in removing
the illiteracy which it has added to the voting population. For
the North and South alike there is but one remedy. All the
constitutional power of the nation and of the States and all the
volunteer forces of the people should be surrendered to meet this
danger by the savory influence of universal education.

It is the high privilege and sacred duty of those now living to
educate their successors and fit them, by intelligence and virtue,
for the inheritance which awaits them.

In this beneficent work sections and races should be forgotten and
partisanship should be unknown. Let our people find a new meaning
in the divine oracle which declares that "a little child shall
lead them," for our own little children will soon control the
destinies of the Republic.

My countrymen, we do not now differ in our judgment concerning the
controversies of past generations, and fifty years hence our
children will not be divided in their opinions concerning our
controversies. They will surely bless their fathers and their
fathers' God that the Union was preserved, that slavery was
overthrown, and that both races were made equal before the law. We
may hasten or we may retard, but we can not prevent, the final
reconciliation. Is it not possible for us now to make a truce with
time by anticipating and accepting its inevitable verdict?

Enterprises of the highest importance to our moral and material
well-being unite us and offer ample employment of our best powers.
Let all our people, leaving behind them the battlefields of dead
issues, move forward and in their strength of liberty and the
restored Union win the grander victories of peace.

The prosperity which now prevails is without parallel in our
history. Fruitful seasons have done much to secure it, but they
have not done all. The preservation of the public credit and the
resumption of specie payments, so successfully attained by the
Administration of my predecessors, have enabled our people to
secure the blessings which the seasons brought.

By the experience of commercial nations in all ages it has been
found that gold and silver afford the only safe foundation for a
monetary system. Confusion has recently been created by variations
in the relative value of the two metals, but I confidently believe
that arrangements can be made between the leading commercial
nations which will secure the general use of both metals. Congress
should provide that the compulsory coinage of silver now required
by law may not disturb our monetary system by driving either metal
out of circulation. If possible, such an adjustment should be made
that the purchasing power of every coined dollar will be exactly
equal to its debt-paying power in all the markets of the world.

The chief duty of the National Government in connection with the
currency of the country is to coin money and declare its value.
Grave doubts have been entertained whether Congress is authorized
by the Constitution to make any form of paper money legal tender.
The present issue of United States notes has been sustained by the
necessities of war; but such paper should depend for its value and
currency upon its convenience in use and its prompt redemption in
coin at the will of the holder, and not upon its compulsory
circulation. These notes are not money, but promises to pay money.
If the holders demand it, the promise should be kept.

The refunding of the national debt at a lower rate of interest
should be accomplished without compelling the withdrawal of the
national-bank notes, and thus disturbing the business of the

I venture to refer to the position I have occupied on financial
questions during a long service in Congress, and to say that time
and experience have strengthened the opinions I have so often
expressed on these subjects.

The finances of the Government shall suffer no detriment which it
may be possible for my Administration to prevent.

The interests of agriculture deserve more attention from the
Government than they have yet received. The farms of the United
States afford homes and employment for more than one-half our
people, and furnish much the largest part of all our exports. As
the Government lights our coasts for the protection of mariners
and the benefit of commerce, so it should give to the tillers of
the soil the best lights of practical science and experience.

Our manufacturers are rapidly making us industrially independent,
and are opening to capital and labor new and profitable fields of
employment. Their steady and healthy growth should still be
matured. Our facilities for transportation should be promoted by
the continued improvement of our harbors and great interior
waterways and by the increase of our tonnage on the ocean.

The development of the world's commerce has led to an urgent
demand for shortening the great sea voyage around Cape Horn by
constructing ship canals or railways across the isthmus which
unites the continents. Various plans to this end have been
suggested and will need consideration, but none of them has been
sufficiently matured to warrant the United States in extending
pecuniary aid. The subject, however, is one which will immediately
engage the attention of the Government with a view to a thorough
protection to American interests. We will urge no narrow policy
nor seek peculiar or exclusive privileges in any commercial route;
but, in the language of my predecessor, I believe it to be the
right "and duty of the United States to assert and maintain such
supervision and authority over any interoceanic canal across the
isthmus that connects North and South America as will protect our
national interest."

The Constitution guarantees absolute religious freedom. Congress
is prohibited from making any law respecting an establishment of
religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The Territories
of the United States are subject to the direct legislative
authority of Congress, and hence the General Government is
responsible for any violation of the Constitution in any of them.
It is therefore a reproach to the Government that in the most
populous of the Territories the constitutional guaranty is not
enjoyed by the people and the authority of Congress is set at
naught. The Mormon Church not only offends the moral sense of
manhood by sanctioning polygamy, but prevents the administration
of justice through ordinary instrumentalities of law.

In my judgment it is the duty of Congress, while respecting to the
uttermost the conscientious convictions and religious scruples of
every citizen, to prohibit within its jurisdiction all criminal
practices, especially of that class which destroy the family
relations and endanger social order. Nor can any ecclesiastical
organization be safely permitted to usurp in the smallest degree
the functions and powers of the National Government.

The civil service can never be placed on a satisfactory basis
until it is regulated by law. For the good of the service itself,
for the protection of those who are intrusted with the appointing
power against the waste of time and obstruction to the public
business caused by the inordinate pressure for place, and for the
protection of incumbents against intrigue and wrong, I shall at
the proper time ask Congress to fix the tenure of the minor
offices of the several Executive Departments and prescribe the
grounds upon which removals shall be made during the terms for
which incumbents have been appointed.

Finally, acting always within the authority and limitations of the
Constitution, invading neither the rights of the States nor the
reserved rights of the people, it will be the purpose of my
Administration to maintain the authority of the nation in all
places within its jurisdiction; to enforce obedience to all the
laws of the Union in the interests of the people; to demand rigid
economy in all the expenditures of the Government, and to require
the honest and faithful service of all executive officers,
remembering that the offices were created, not for the benefit of
incumbents or their supporters, but for the service of the

And now, fellow-citizens, I am about to assume the great trust
which you have committed to my hands. I appeal to you for that
earnest and thoughtful support which makes this Government in
fact, as it is in law, a government of the people.

I shall greatly rely upon the wisdom and patriotism of Congress
and of those who may share with me the responsibilities and duties
of administration, and, above all, upon our efforts to promote the
welfare of this great people and their Government I reverently
invoke the support and blessings of Almighty God.


Grover Cleveland


On the East Portico of the Capitol, the former Governor of New
York was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Morrison
Waite. A Democrat whose popularity, in part, was the result that
he was not part of the Washington political establishment, Mr.
Cleveland rode to the Capitol with President Arthur, who had taken
office upon the assassination of President Garfield. After the
ceremony, a fireworks display at the White House and a ball at the
Pension Building on Judiciary Square were held for the public.


In the presence of this vast assemblage of my countrymen I am
about to supplement and seal by the oath which I shall take the
manifestation of the will of a great and free people. In the
exercise of their power and right of self-government they have
committed to one of their fellow-citizens a supreme and sacred
trust, and he here consecrates himself to their service.

This impressive ceremony adds little to the solemn sense of
responsibility with which I contemplate the duty I owe to all the
people of the land. Nothing can relieve me from anxiety lest by
any act of mine their interests may suffer, and nothing is needed
to strengthen my resolution to engage every faculty and effort in
the promotion of their welfare.

Amid the din of party strife the people's choice was made, but its
attendant circumstances have demonstrated anew the strength and
safety of a government by the people. In each succeeding year it
more clearly appears that our democratic principle needs no
apology, and that in its fearless and faithful application is to
be found the surest guaranty of good government.

But the best results in the operation of a government wherein
every citizen has a share largely depend upon a proper limitation
of purely partisan zeal and effort and a correct appreciation of
the time when the heat of the partisan should be merged in the
patriotism of the citizen.

To-day the executive branch of the Government is transferred to
new keeping. But this is still the Government of all the people,
and it should be none the less an object of their affectionate
solicitude. At this hour the animosities of political strife, the
bitterness of partisan defeat, and the exultation of partisan
triumph should be supplanted by an ungrudging acquiescence in the
popular will and a sober, conscientious concern for the general
weal. Moreover, if from this hour we cheerfully and honestly
abandon all sectional prejudice and distrust, and determine, with
manly confidence in one another, to work out harmoniously the
achievements of our national destiny, we shall deserve to realize
all the benefits which our happy form of government can bestow.

On this auspicious occasion we may well renew the pledge of our
devotion to the Constitution, which, launched by the founders of
the Republic and consecrated by their prayers and patriotic
devotion, has for almost a century borne the hopes and the
aspirations of a great people through prosperity and peace and
through the shock of foreign conflicts and the perils of domestic
strife and vicissitudes.

By the Father of his Country our Constitution was commended for
adoption as "the result of a spirit of amity and mutual
concession." In that same spirit it should be administered, in
order to promote the lasting welfare of the country and to secure
the full measure of its priceless benefits to us and to those who
will succeed to the blessings of our national life. The large
variety of diverse and competing interests subject to Federal
control, persistently seeking the recognition of their claims,
need give us no fear that "the greatest good to the greatest
number" will fail to be accomplished if in the halls of national
legislation that spirit of amity and mutual concession shall
prevail in which the Constitution had its birth. If this involves
the surrender or postponement of private interests and the
abandonment of local advantages, compensation will be found in the
assurance that the common interest is subserved and the general
welfare advanced.

In the discharge of my official duty I shall endeavor to be guided
by a just and unstrained construction of the Constitution, a
careful observance of the distinction between the powers granted
to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to
the people, and by a cautious appreciation of those functions
which by the Constitution and laws have been especially assigned
to the executive branch of the Government.

But he who takes the oath today to preserve, protect, and defend
the Constitution of the United States only assumes the solemn
obligation which every patriotic citizen--on the farm, in the
workshop, in the busy marts of trade, and everywhere--should share
with him. The Constitution which prescribes his oath, my
countrymen, is yours; the Government you have chosen him to
administer for a time is yours; the suffrage which executes the
will of freemen is yours; the laws and the entire scheme of our
civil rule, from the town meeting to the State capitals and the
national capital, is yours. Your every voter, as surely as your
Chief Magistrate, under the same high sanction, though in a
different sphere, exercises a public trust. Nor is this all. Every
citizen owes to the country a vigilant watch and close scrutiny of
its public servants and a fair and reasonable estimate of their
fidelity and usefulness. Thus is the people's will impressed upon
the whole framework of our civil polity--municipal, State, and
Federal; and this is the price of our liberty and the inspiration
of our faith in the Republic.

It is the duty of those serving the people in public place to
closely limit public expenditures to the actual needs of the
Government economically administered, because this bounds the
right of the Government to exact tribute from the earnings of
labor or the property of the citizen, and because public
extravagance begets extravagance among the people. We should never
be ashamed of the simplicity and prudential economies which are
best suited to the operation of a republican form of government
and most compatible with the mission of the American people. Those
who are selected for a limited time to manage public affairs are
still of the people, and may do much by their example to
encourage, consistently with the dignity of their official
functions, that plain way of life which among their fellow-
citizens aids integrity and promotes thrift and prosperity.

The genius of our institutions, the needs of our people in their
home life, and the attention which is demanded for the settlement
and development of the resources of our vast territory dictate the
scrupulous avoidance of any departure from that foreign policy
commended by the history, the traditions, and the prosperity of
our Republic. It is the policy of independence, favored by our
position and defended by our known love of justice and by our
power. It is the policy of peace suitable to our interests. It is
the policy of neutrality, rejecting any share in foreign broils
and ambitions upon other continents and repelling their intrusion
here. It is the policy of Monroe and of Washington and Jefferson--
"Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations;
entangling alliance with none."

A due regard for the interests and prosperity of all the people
demands that our finances shall be established upon such a sound
and sensible basis as shall secure the safety and confidence of
business interests and make the wage of labor sure and steady, and
that our system of revenue shall be so adjusted as to relieve the
people of unnecessary taxation, having a due regard to the
interests of capital invested and workingmen employed in American
industries, and preventing the accumulation of a surplus in the
Treasury to tempt extravagance and waste.

Care for the property of the nation and for the needs of future
settlers requires that the public domain should be protected from
purloining schemes and unlawful occupation.

The conscience of the people demands that the Indians within our
boundaries shall be fairly and honestly treated as wards of the
Government and their education and civilization promoted with a
view to their ultimate citizenship, and that polygamy in the
Territories, destructive of the family relation and offensive to
the moral sense of the civilized world, shall be repressed.

The laws should be rigidly enforced which prohibit the immigration
of a servile class to compete with American labor, with no
intention of acquiring citizenship, and bringing with them and
retaining habits and customs repugnant to our civilization.

The people demand reform in the administration of the Government
and the application of business principles to public affairs. As a
means to this end, civil-service reform should be in good faith
enforced. Our citizens have the right to protection from the
incompetency of public employees who hold their places solely as
the reward of partisan service, and from the corrupting influence
of those who promise and the vicious methods of those who expect
such rewards; and those who worthily seek public employment have
the right to insist that merit and competency shall be recognized
instead of party subserviency or the surrender of honest political

In the administration of a government pledged to do equal and
exact justice to all men there should be no pretext for anxiety
touching the protection of the freedmen in their rights or their
security in the enjoyment of their privileges under the
Constitution and its amendments. All discussion as to their
fitness for the place accorded to them as American citizens is
idle and unprofitable except as it suggests the necessity for
their improvement. The fact that they are citizens entitles them
to all the rights due to that relation and charges them with all
its duties, obligations, and responsibilities.

These topics and the constant and ever-varying wants of an active
and enterprising population may well receive the attention and the
patriotic endeavor of all who make and execute the Federal law.
Our duties are practical and call for industrious application, an
intelligent perception of the claims of public office, and, above
all, a firm determination, by united action, to secure to all the
people of the land the full benefits of the best form of
government ever vouchsafed to man. And let us not trust to human
effort alone, but humbly acknowledging the power and goodness of
Almighty God, who presides over the destiny of nations, and who
has at all times been revealed in our country's history, let us
invoke His aid and His blessings upon our labors.


Benjamin Harrison


Nominated on the 8th ballot of the Republican convention, the
Civil War veteran, jurist, and Senator from Indiana was the only
grandson of a President to be elected to the office, as well as
the only incumbent to lose in the following election to the person
he had defeated. In a rainstorm, the oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice Melville Fuller on the East Portico
of the Capitol. President Cleveland held an umbrella over his head
as he took the oath. John Philip Sousa's Marine Corps band played
for a large crowd at the inaugural ball in the Pension Building.


There is no constitutional or legal requirement that the President
shall take the oath of office in the presence of the people, but
there is so manifest an appropriateness in the public induction to
office of the chief executive officer of the nation that from the
beginning of the Government the people, to whose service the
official oath consecrates the officer, have been called to witness
the solemn ceremonial. The oath taken in the presence of the
people becomes a mutual covenant. The officer covenants to serve
the whole body of the people by a faithful execution of the laws,
so that they may be the unfailing defense and security of those
who respect and observe them, and that neither wealth, station,
nor the power of combinations shall be able to evade their just
penalties or to wrest them from a beneficent public purpose to
serve the ends of cruelty or selfishness.

My promise is spoken; yours unspoken, but not the less real and
solemn. The people of every State have here their representatives.
Surely I do not misinterpret the spirit of the occasion when I
assume that the whole body of the people covenant with me and with
each other to-day to support and defend the Constitution and the
Union of the States, to yield willing obedience to all the laws
and each to every other citizen his equal civil and political
rights. Entering thus solemnly into covenant with each other, we
may reverently invoke and confidently expect the favor and help of
Almighty God--that He will give to me wisdom, strength, and
fidelity, and to our people a spirit of fraternity and a love of
righteousness and peace.

This occasion derives peculiar interest from the fact that the
Presidential term which begins this day is the twenty-sixth under
our Constitution. The first inauguration of President Washington
took place in New York, where Congress was then sitting, on the
30th day of April, 1789, having been deferred by reason of delays
attending the organization of the Congress and the canvass of the
electoral vote. Our people have already worthily observed the
centennials of the Declaration of Independence, of the battle of
Yorktown, and of the adoption of the Constitution, and will
shortly celebrate in New York the institution of the second great
department of our constitutional scheme of government. When the
centennial of the institution of the judicial department, by the
organization of the Supreme Court, shall have been suitably
observed, as I trust it will be, our nation will have fully
entered its second century.

I will not attempt to note the marvelous and in great part happy
contrasts between our country as it steps over the threshold into
its second century of organized existence under the Constitution
and that weak but wisely ordered young nation that looked
undauntedly down the first century, when all its years stretched
out before it.

Our people will not fail at this time to recall the incidents
which accompanied the institution of government under the
Constitution, or to find inspiration and guidance in the teachings
and example of Washington and his great associates, and hope and
courage in the contrast which thirty-eight populous and prosperous
States offer to the thirteen States, weak in everything except
courage and the love of liberty, that then fringed our Atlantic

The Territory of Dakota has now a population greater than any of
the original States (except Virginia) and greater than the
aggregate of five of the smaller States in 1790. The center of
population when our national capital was located was east of
Baltimore, and it was argued by many well-informed persons that it
would move eastward rather than westward; yet in 1880 it was found
to be near Cincinnati, and the new census about to be taken will
show another stride to the westward. That which was the body has
come to be only the rich fringe of the nation's robe. But our
growth has not been limited to territory, population and aggregate
wealth, marvelous as it has been in each of those directions. The
masses of our people are better fed, clothed, and housed than
their fathers were. The facilities for popular education have been
vastly enlarged and more generally diffused.

The virtues of courage and patriotism have given recent proof of
their continued presence and increasing power in the hearts and
over the lives of our people. The influences of religion have been
multiplied and strengthened. The sweet offices of charity have
greatly increased. The virtue of temperance is held in higher
estimation. We have not attained an ideal condition. Not all of
our people are happy and prosperous; not all of them are virtuous
and law-abiding. But on the whole the opportunities offered to the
individual to secure the comforts of life are better than are
found elsewhere and largely better than they were here one hundred
years ago.

The surrender of a large measure of sovereignty to the General
Government, effected by the adoption of the Constitution, was not
accomplished until the suggestions of reason were strongly
reenforced by the more imperative voice of experience. The
divergent interests of peace speedily demanded a "more perfect
union." The merchant, the shipmaster, and the manufacturer
discovered and disclosed to our statesmen and to the people that
commercial emancipation must be added to the political freedom
which had been so bravely won. The commercial policy of the mother
country had not relaxed any of its hard and oppressive features.
To hold in check the development of our commercial marine, to
prevent or retard the establishment and growth of manufactures in
the States, and so to secure the American market for their shops
and the carrying trade for their ships, was the policy of European
statesmen, and was pursued with the most selfish vigor.

Petitions poured in upon Congress urging the imposition of
discriminating duties that should encourage the production of
needed things at home. The patriotism of the people, which no
longer found afield of exercise in war, was energetically directed
to the duty of equipping the young Republic for the defense of its
independence by making its people self-dependent. Societies for
the promotion of home manufactures and for encouraging the use of
domestics in the dress of the people were organized in many of the
States. The revival at the end of the century of the same
patriotic interest in the preservation and development of domestic
industries and the defense of our working people against injurious
foreign competition is an incident worthy of attention. It is not
a departure but a return that we have witnessed. The protective
policy had then its opponents. The argument was made, as now, that
its benefits inured to particular classes or sections.

If the question became in any sense or at any time sectional, it
was only because slavery existed in some of the States. But for
this there was no reason why the cotton-producing States should
not have led or walked abreast with the New England States in the
production of cotton fabrics. There was this reason only why the
States that divide with Pennsylvania the mineral treasures of the
great southeastern and central mountain ranges should have been so
tardy in bringing to the smelting furnace and to the mill the coal
and iron from their near opposing hillsides. Mill fires were
lighted at the funeral pile of slavery. The emancipation
proclamation was heard in the depths of the earth as well as in
the sky; men were made free, and material things became our better

The sectional element has happily been eliminated from the tariff
discussion. We have no longer States that are necessarily only
planting States. None are excluded from achieving that
diversification of pursuits among the people which brings wealth
and contentment. The cotton plantation will not be less valuable
when the product is spun in the country town by operatives whose
necessities call for diversified crops and create a home demand
for garden and agricultural products. Every new mine, furnace, and
factory is an extension of the productive capacity of the State
more real and valuable than added territory.

Shall the prejudices and paralysis of slavery continue to hang
upon the skirts of progress? How long will those who rejoice that
slavery no longer exists cherish or tolerate the incapacities it
put upon their communities? I look hopefully to the continuance of
our protective system and to the consequent development of
manufacturing and mining enterprises in the States hitherto wholly
given to agriculture as a potent influence in the perfect
unification of our people. The men who have invested their capital
in these enterprises, the farmers who have felt the benefit of
their neighborhood, and the men who work in shop or field will not
fail to find and to defend a community of interest.

Is it not quite possible that the farmers and the promoters of the
great mining and manufacturing enterprises which have recently
been established in the South may yet find that the free ballot of
the workingman, without distinction of race, is needed for their
defense as well as for his own? I do not doubt that if those men
in the South who now accept the tariff views of Clay and the
constitutional expositions of Webster would courageously avow and
defend their real convictions they would not find it difficult, by
friendly instruction and cooperation, to make the black man their
efficient and safe ally, not only in establishing correct
principles in our national administration, but in preserving for
their local communities the benefits of social order and
economical and honest government. At least until the good offices
of kindness and education have been fairly tried the contrary
conclusion can not be plausibly urged.

I have altogether rejected the suggestion of a special Executive
policy for any section of our country. It is the duty of the
Executive to administer and enforce in the methods and by the
instrumentalities pointed out and provided by the Constitution all
the laws enacted by Congress. These laws are general and their
administration should be uniform and equal. As a citizen may not
elect what laws he will obey, neither may the Executive eject
which he will enforce. The duty to obey and to execute embraces
the Constitution in its entirety and the whole code of laws
enacted under it. The evil example of permitting individuals,
corporations, or communities to nullify the laws because they
cross some selfish or local interest or prejudices is full of
danger, not only to the nation at large, but much more to those
who use this pernicious expedient to escape their just obligations
or to obtain an unjust advantage over others. They will presently
themselves be compelled to appeal to the law for protection, and
those who would use the law as a defense must not deny that use of
it to others.

If our great corporations would more scrupulously observe their
legal limitations and duties, they would have less cause to
complain of the unlawful limitations of their rights or of violent
interference with their operations. The community that by concert,
open or secret, among its citizens denies to a portion of its
members their plain rights under the law has severed the only safe
bond of social order and prosperity. The evil works from a bad
center both ways. It demoralizes those who practice it and
destroys the faith of those who suffer by it in the efficiency of
the law as a safe protector. The man in whose breast that faith
has been darkened is naturally the subject of dangerous and
uncanny suggestions. Those who use unlawful methods, if moved by
no higher motive than the selfishness that prompted them, may well
stop and inquire what is to be the end of this.

An unlawful expedient can not become a permanent condition of
government. If the educated and influential classes in a community
either practice or connive at the systematic violation of laws
that seem to them to cross their convenience, what can they expect
when the lesson that convenience or a supposed class interest is a
sufficient cause for lawlessness has been well learned by the
ignorant classes? A community where law is the rule of conduct and
where courts, not mobs, execute its penalties is the only
attractive field for business investments and honest labor.

Our naturalization laws should be so amended as to make the
inquiry into the character and good disposition of persons
applying for citizenship more careful and searching. Our existing
laws have been in their administration an unimpressive and often
an unintelligible form. We accept the man as a citizen without any
knowledge of his fitness, and he assumes the duties of citizenship
without any knowledge as to what they are. The privileges of
American citizenship are so great and its duties so grave that we
may well insist upon a good knowledge of every person applying for
citizenship and a good knowledge by him of our institutions. We
should not cease to be hospitable to immigration, but we should
cease to be careless as to the character of it. There are men of
all races, even the best, whose coming is necessarily a burden
upon our public revenues or a threat to social order. These should
be identified and excluded.

We have happily maintained a policy of avoiding all interference
with European affairs. We have been only interested spectators of
their contentions in diplomacy and in war, ready to use our
friendly offices to promote peace, but never obtruding our advice
and never attempting unfairly to coin the distresses of other
powers into commercial advantage to ourselves. We have a just
right to expect that our European policy will be the American
policy of European courts.

It is so manifestly incompatible with those precautions for our
peace and safety which all the great powers habitually observe and
enforce in matters affecting them that a shorter waterway between
our eastern and western seaboards should be dominated by any
European Government that we may confidently expect that such a
purpose will not be entertained by any friendly power.

We shall in the future, as in the past, use every endeavor to
maintain and enlarge our friendly relations with all the great
powers, but they will not expect us to look kindly upon any
project that would leave us subject to the dangers of a hostile
observation or environment. We have not sought to dominate or to
absorb any of our weaker neighbors, but rather to aid and
encourage them to establish free and stable governments resting
upon the consent of their own people. We have a clear right to
expect, therefore, that no European Government will seek to
establish colonial dependencies upon the territory of these
independent American States. That which a sense of justice
restrains us from seeking they may be reasonably expected
willingly to forego.

It must not be assumed, however, that our interests are so
exclusively American that our entire inattention to any events
that may transpire elsewhere can be taken for granted. Our
citizens domiciled for purposes of trade in all countries and in
many of the islands of the sea demand and will have our adequate
care in their personal and commercial rights. The necessities of
our Navy require convenient coaling stations and dock and harbor
privileges. These and other trading privileges we will feel free
to obtain only by means that do not in any degree partake of
coercion, however feeble the government from which we ask such
concessions. But having fairly obtained them by methods and for
purposes entirely consistent with the most friendly disposition
toward all other powers, our consent will be necessary to any
modification or impairment of the concession.

We shall neither fail to respect the flag of any friendly nation
or the just rights of its citizens, nor to exact the like
treatment for our own. Calmness, justice, and consideration should
characterize our diplomacy. The offices of an intelligent
diplomacy or of friendly arbitration in proper cases should be
adequate to the peaceful adjustment of all international
difficulties. By such methods we will make our contribution to the
world's peace, which no nation values more highly, and avoid the
opprobrium which must fall upon the nation that ruthlessly breaks

The duty devolved by law upon the President to nominate and, by
and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint all
public officers whose appointment is not otherwise provided for in
the Constitution or by act of Congress has become very burdensome
and its wise and efficient discharge full of difficulty. The civil
list is so large that a personal knowledge of any large number of
the applicants is impossible. The President must rely upon the
representations of others, and these are often made
inconsiderately and without any just sense of responsibility. I
have a right, I think, to insist that those who volunteer or are
invited to give advice as to appointments shall exercise
consideration and fidelity. A high sense of duty and an ambition
to improve the service should characterize all public officers.

There are many ways in which the convenience and comfort of those
who have business with our public offices may be promoted by a
thoughtful and obliging officer, and I shall expect those whom I
may appoint to justify their selection by a conspicuous efficiency
in the discharge of their duties. Honorable party service will
certainly not be esteemed by me a disqualification for public
office, but it will in no case be allowed to serve as a shield of
official negligence, incompetency, or delinquency. It is entirely
creditable to seek public office by proper methods and with proper
motives, and all applicants will be treated with consideration;
but I shall need, and the heads of Departments will need, time for
inquiry and deliberation. Persistent importunity will not,
therefore, be the best support of an application for office. Heads
of Departments, bureaus, and all other public officers having any
duty connected therewith will be expected to enforce the civil-
service law fully and without evasion. Beyond this obvious duty I
hope to do something more to advance the reform of the civil
service. The ideal, or even my own ideal, I shall probably not
attain. Retrospect will be a safer basis of judgment than
promises. We shall not, however, I am sure, be able to put our
civil service upon a nonpartisan basis until we have secured an
incumbency that fair-minded men of the opposition will approve for
impartiality and integrity. As the number of such in the civil
list is increased removals from office will diminish.

While a Treasury surplus is not the greatest evil, it is a serious
evil. Our revenue should be ample to meet the ordinary annual
demands upon our Treasury, with a sufficient margin for those
extraordinary but scarcely less imperative demands which arise now
and then. Expenditure should always be made with economy and only
upon public necessity. Wastefulness, profligacy, or favoritism in
public expenditures is criminal. But there is nothing in the
condition of our country or of our people to suggest that anything
presently necessary to the public prosperity, security, or honor
should be unduly postponed.

It will be the duty of Congress wisely to forecast and estimate
these extraordinary demands, and, having added them to our
ordinary expenditures, to so adjust our revenue laws that no
considerable annual surplus will remain. We will fortunately be
able to apply to the redemption of the public debt any small and
unforeseen excess of revenue. This is better than to reduce our
income below our necessary expenditures, with the resulting choice
between another change of our revenue laws and an increase of the
public debt. It is quite possible, I am sure, to effect the
necessary reduction in our revenues without breaking down our
protective tariff or seriously injuring any domestic industry.

The construction of a sufficient number of modern war ships and of
their necessary armament should progress as rapidly as is
consistent with care and perfection in plans and workmanship. The
spirit, courage, and skill of our naval officers and seamen have
many times in our history given to weak ships and inefficient guns
a rating greatly beyond that of the naval list. That they will
again do so upon occasion I do not doubt; but they ought not, by
premeditation or neglect, to be left to the risks and exigencies
of an unequal combat. We should encourage the establishment of
American steamship lines. The exchanges of commerce demand stated,
reliable, and rapid means of communication, and until these are
provided the development of our trade with the States lying south
of us is impossible.

Our pension laws should give more adequate and discriminating
relief to the Union soldiers and sailors and to their widows and
orphans. Such occasions as this should remind us that we owe
everything to their valor and sacrifice.

It is a subject of congratulation that there is a near prospect of
the admission into the Union of the Dakotas and Montana and
Washington Territories. This act of justice has been unreasonably
delayed in the case of some of them. The people who have settled
these Territories are intelligent, enterprising, and patriotic,
and the accession these new States will add strength to the
nation. It is due to the settlers in the Territories who have
availed themselves of the invitations of our land laws to make
homes upon the public domain that their titles should be speedily
adjusted and their honest entries confirmed by patent.

It is very gratifying to observe the general interest now being
manifested in the reform of our election laws. Those who have been
for years calling attention to the pressing necessity of throwing
about the ballot box and about the elector further safeguards, in
order that our elections might not only be free and pure, but
might clearly appear to be so, will welcome the accession of any
who did not so soon discover the need of reform. The National
Congress has not as yet taken control of elections in that case
over which the Constitution gives it jurisdiction, but has
accepted and adopted the election laws of the several States,
provided penalties for their violation and a method of
supervision. Only the inefficiency of the State laws or an unfair
partisan administration of them could suggest a departure from
this policy.

It was clearly, however, in the contemplation of the framers of
the Constitution that such an exigency might arise, and provision
was wisely made for it. The freedom of the ballot is a condition
of our national life, and no power vested in Congress or in the
Executive to secure or perpetuate it should remain unused upon
occasion. The people of all the Congressional districts have an
equal interest that the election in each shall truly express the
views and wishes of a majority of the qualified electors residing
within it. The results of such elections are not local, and the
insistence of electors residing in other districts that they shall
be pure and free does not savor at all of impertinence.

If in any of the States the public security is thought to be
threatened by ignorance among the electors, the obvious remedy is
education. The sympathy and help of our people will not be
withheld from any community struggling with special embarrassments
or difficulties connected with the suffrage if the remedies
proposed proceed upon lawful lines and are promoted by just and
honorable methods. How shall those who practice election frauds
recover that respect for the sanctity of the ballot which is the
first condition and obligation of good citizenship? The man who
has come to regard the ballot box as a juggler's hat has renounced
his allegiance.

Let us exalt patriotism and moderate our party contentions. Let
those who would die for the flag on the field of battle give a
better proof of their patriotism and a higher glory to their
country by promoting fraternity and justice. A party success that
is achieved by unfair methods or by practices that partake of
revolution is hurtful and evanescent even from a party standpoint.
We should hold our differing opinions in mutual respect, and,
having submitted them to the arbitrament of the ballot, should
accept an adverse judgment with the same respect that we would
have demanded of our opponents if the decision had been in our

No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and
love or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon,
and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor. God
has placed upon our head a diadem and has laid at our feet power
and wealth beyond definition or calculation. But we must not
forget that we take these gifts upon the condition that justice
and mercy shall hold the reins of power and that the upward
avenues of hope shall be free to all the people.

I do not mistrust the future. Dangers have been in frequent ambush
along our path, but we have uncovered and vanquished them all.
Passion has swept some of our communities, but only to give us a
new demonstration that the great body of our people are stable,
patriotic, and law-abiding. No political party can long pursue
advantage at the expense of public honor or by rude and indecent
methods without protest and fatal disaffection in its own body.
The peaceful agencies of commerce are more fully revealing the
necessary unity of all our communities, and the increasing
intercourse of our people is promoting mutual respect. We shall
find unalloyed pleasure in the revelation which our next census
will make of the swift development of the great resources of some
of the States. Each State will bring its generous contribution to
the great aggregate of the nation's increase. And when the
harvests from the fields, the cattle from the hills, and the ores
of the earth shall have been weighed, counted, and valued, we will
turn from them all to crown with the highest honor the State that
has most promoted education, virtue, justice, and patriotism among
its people.


Grover Cleveland


A light snowfall the night before the inauguration discouraged
many spectators from attending President Cleveland's second
inauguration. The Democrat had decisively defeated President
Harrison in the election of 1892. Chief Justice Melville Fuller
administered the oath of office on the East Portico of the
Capitol. The inaugural ball at the Pension Building featured the
new invention of electric lights.

My Fellow-Citizens:

In obedience of the mandate of my countrymen I am about to
dedicate myself to their service under the sanction of a solemn
oath. Deeply moved by the expression of confidence and personal
attachment which has called me to this service, I am sure my
gratitude can make no better return than the pledge I now give
before God and these witnesses of unreserved and complete devotion
to the interests and welfare of those who have honored me.

I deem it fitting on this occasion, while indicating the opinion I
hold concerning public questions of present importance, to also
briefly refer to the existence of certain conditions and
tendencies among our people which seem to menace the integrity and
usefulness of their Government.

While every American citizen must contemplate with the utmost
pride and enthusiasm the growth and expansion of our country, the
sufficiency of our institutions to stand against the rudest shocks
of violence, the wonderful thrift and enterprise of our people,
and the demonstrated superiority of our free government, it
behooves us to constantly watch for every symptom of insidious
infirmity that threatens our national vigor.

The strong man who in the confidence of sturdy health courts the
sternest activities of life and rejoices in the hardihood of
constant labor may still have lurking near his vitals the unheeded
disease that dooms him to sudden collapse.

It can not be doubted that,our stupendous achievements as a people
and our country's robust strength have given rise to heedlessness
of those laws governing our national health which we can no more
evade than human life can escape the laws of God and nature.

Manifestly nothing is more vital to our supremacy as a nation and
to the beneficent purposes of our Government than a sound and
stable currency. Its exposure to degradation should at once arouse
to activity the most enlightened statesmanship, and the danger of
depreciation in the purchasing power of the wages paid to toil
should furnish the strongest incentive to prompt and conservative

In dealing with our present embarrassing situation as related to
this subject we will be wise if we temper our confidence and faith
in our national strength and resources with the frank concession
that even these will not permit us to defy with impunity the
inexorable laws of finance and trade. At the same time, in our
efforts to adjust differences of opinion we should be free from
intolerance or passion, and our judgments should be unmoved by
alluring phrases and unvexed by selfish interests.

I am confident that such an approach to the subject will result in
prudent and effective remedial legislation. In the meantime, so
far as the executive branch of the Government can intervene, none

of the powers with which it is invested will be withheld when
their exercise is deemed necessary to maintain our national credit
or avert financial disaster.

Closely related to the exaggerated confidence in our country's
greatness which tends to a disregard of the rules of national
safety, another danger confronts us not less serious. I refer to
the prevalence of a popular disposition to expect from the
operation of the Government especial and direct individual

The verdict of our voters which condemned the injustice of
maintaining protection for protection's sake enjoins upon the
people's servants the duty of exposing and destroying the brood of
kindred evils which are the unwholesome progeny of paternalism.
This is the bane of republican institutions and the constant peril
of our government by the people. It degrades to the purposes of
wily craft the plan of rule our fathers established and bequeathed
to us as an object of our love and veneration. It perverts the
patriotic sentiments of our countrymen and tempts them to pitiful
calculation of the sordid gain to be derived from their
Government's maintenance. It undermines the self-reliance of our
people and substitutes in its place dependence upon governmental
favoritism. It stifles the spirit of true Americanism and
stupefies every ennobling trait of American citizenship.

The lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned and the better
lesson taught that while the people should patriotically and
cheerfully support their Government its functions do not include
the support of the people.

The acceptance of this principle leads to a refusal of bounties
and subsidies, which burden the labor and thrift of a portion of
our citizens to aid ill-advised or languishing enterprises in
which they have no concern. It leads also to a challenge of wild
and reckless pension expenditure, which overleaps the bounds of
grateful recognition of patriotic service and prostitutes to
vicious uses the people's prompt and generous impulse to aid those
disabled in their country's defense.

Every thoughtful American must realize the importance of checking
at its beginning any tendency in public or private station to
regard frugality and economy as virtues which we may safely
outgrow. The toleration of this idea results in the waste of the
people's money by their chosen servants and encourages prodigality
and extravagance in the home life of our countrymen.

Under our scheme of government the waste of public money is a
crime against the citizen, and the contempt of our people for
economy and frugality in their personal affairs deplorably saps
the strength and sturdiness of our national character.

It is a plain dictate of honesty and good government that public
expenditures should be limited by public necessity, and that this
should be measured by the rules of strict economy; and it is
equally clear that frugality among the people is the best guaranty
of a contented and strong support of free institutions.

One mode of the misappropriation of public funds is avoided when
appointments to office, instead of being the rewards of partisan
activity, are awarded to those whose efficiency promises a fair
return of work for the compensation paid to them. To secure the
fitness and competency of appointees to office and remove from
political action the demoralizing madness for spoils, civil-
service reform has found a place in our public policy and laws.
The benefits already gained through this instrumentality and the
further usefulness it promises entitle it to the hearty support
and encouragement of all who desire to see our public service well
performed or who hope for the elevation of political sentiment and
the purification of political methods.

The existence of immense aggregations of kindred enterprises and
combinations of business interests formed for the purpose of
limiting production and fixing prices is inconsistent with the
fair field which ought to be open to every independent activity.
Legitimate strife in business should not be superseded by an
enforced concession to the demands of combinations that have the
power to destroy, nor should the people to be served lose the
benefit of cheapness which usually results from wholesome
competition. These aggregations and combinations frequently
constitute conspiracies against the interests of the people, and
in all their phases they are unnatural and opposed to our American
sense of fairness. To the extent that they can be reached and
restrained by Federal power the General Government should relieve
our citizens from their interference and exactions.

Loyalty to the principles upon which our Government rests
positively demands that the equality before the law which it
guarantees to every citizen should be justly and in good faith
conceded in all parts of the land. The enjoyment of this right
follows the badge of citizenship wherever found, and, unimpaired
by race or color, it appeals for recognition to American manliness
and fairness.

Our relations with the Indians located within our border impose
upon us responsibilities we can not escape. Humanity and
consistency require us to treat them with forbearance and in our
dealings with them to honestly and considerately regard their
rights and interests. Every effort should be made to lead them,
through the paths of civilization and education, to self-
supporting and independent citizenship. In the meantime, as the
nation's wards, they should be promptly defended against the
cupidity of designing men and shielded from every influence or
temptation that retards their advancement.

The people of the United States have decreed that on this day the
control of their Government in its legislative and executive
branches shall be given to a political party pledged in the most
positive terms to the accomplishment of tariff reform. They have
thus determined in favor of a more just and equitable system of
Federal taxation. The agents they have chosen to carry out their
purposes are bound by their promises not less than by the command
of their masters to devote themselves unremittingly to this

While there should be no surrender of principle, our task must be
undertaken wisely and without heedless vindictiveness. Our mission
is not punishment, but the rectification of wrong. If in lifting
burdens from the daily life of our people we reduce inordinate and
unequal advantages too long enjoyed, this is but a necessary
incident of our return to right and justice. If we exact from
unwilling minds acquiescence in the theory of an honest
distribution of the fund of the governmental beneficence treasured
up for all, we but insist upon a principle which underlies our
free institutions. When we tear aside the delusions and
misconceptions which have blinded our countrymen to their
condition under vicious tariff laws, we but show them how far they
have been led away from the paths of contentment and prosperity.
When we proclaim that the necessity for revenue to support the
Government furnishes the only justification for taxing the people,
we announce a truth so plain that its denial would seem to
indicate the extent to which judgment may be influenced by
familiarity with perversions of the taxing power. And when we seek
to reinstate the self-confidence and business enterprise of our
citizens by discrediting an abject dependence upon governmental
favor, we strive to stimulate those elements of American character
which support the hope of American achievement.

Anxiety for the redemption of the pledges which my party has made
and solicitude for the complete justification of the trust the
people have reposed in us constrain me to remind those with whom I
am to cooperate that we can succeed in doing the work which has
been especially set before us only by the most sincere,
harmonious, and disinterested effort. Even if insuperable
obstacles and opposition prevent the consummation of our task, we
shall hardly be excused; and if failure can be traced to our fault
or neglect we may be sure the people will hold us to a swift and
exacting accountability.

The oath I now take to preserve, protect, and defend the
Constitution of the United States not only impressively defines
the great responsibility I assume, but suggests obedience to
constitutional commands as the rule by which my official conduct
must be guided. I shall to the best of my ability and within my
sphere of duty preserve the Constitution by loyally protecting
every grant of Federal power it contains, by defending all its
restraints when attacked by impatience and restlessness, and by
enforcing its limitations and reservations in favor of the States
and the people.

Fully impressed with the gravity of the duties that confront me
and mindful of my weakness, I should be appalled if it were my lot
to bear unaided the responsibilities which await me. I am,
however, saved from discouragement when I remember that I shall
have the support and the counsel and cooperation of wise and
patriotic men who will stand at my side in Cabinet places or will
represent the people in their legislative halls.

I find also much comfort in remembering that my countrymen are
just and generous and in the assurance that they will not condemn
those who by sincere devotion to their service deserve their
forbearance and approval.

Above all, I know there is a Supreme Being who rules the affairs
of men and whose goodness and mercy have always followed the
American people, and I know He will not turn from us now if we
humbly and reverently seek His powerful aid.


William McKinley


A Civil War officer, and a Governor and Congressman from Ohio, Mr.
McKinley took the oath on a platform erected on the north East
Front steps at the Capitol. It was administered by Chief Justice
Melville Fuller. The Republican had defeated Democrat William
Jennings Bryan on the issue of the gold standard in the currency.
Thomas Edison's new motion picture camera captured the events, and
his gramophone recorded the address. The inaugural ball was held
in the Pension Building.


In obedience to the will of the people, and in their presence, by
the authority vested in me by this oath, I assume the arduous and
responsible duties of President of the United States, relying upon
the support of my countrymen and invoking the guidance of Almighty
God. Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon
the God of our fathers, who has so singularly favored the American
people in every national trial, and who will not forsake us so
long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps.

The responsibilities of the high trust to which I have been
called--always of grave importance--are augmented by the
prevailing business conditions entailing idleness upon willing
labor and loss to useful enterprises. The country is suffering
from industrial disturbances from which speedy relief must be had.
Our financial system needs some revision; our money is all good
now, but its value must not further be threatened. It should all
be put upon an enduring basis, not subject to easy attack, nor its
stability to doubt or dispute. Our currency should continue under
the supervision of the Government. The several forms of our paper
money offer, in my judgment, a constant embarrassment to the
Government and a safe balance in the Treasury. Therefore I believe
it necessary to devise a system which, without diminishing the
circulating medium or offering a premium for its contraction, will
present a remedy for those arrangements which, temporary in their
nature, might well in the years of our prosperity have been
displaced by wiser provisions. With adequate revenue secured, but
not until then, we can enter upon such changes in our fiscal laws
as will, while insuring safety and volume to our money, no longer
impose upon the Government the necessity of maintaining so large a
gold reserve, with its attendant and inevitable temptations to
speculation. Most of our financial laws are the outgrowth of
experience and trial, and should not be amended without
investigation and demonstration of the wisdom of the proposed
changes. We must be both "sure we are right" and "make haste
slowly." If, therefore, Congress, in its wisdom, shall deem it
expedient to create a commission to take under early consideration
the revision of our coinage, banking and currency laws, and give
them that exhaustive, careful and dispassionate examination that
their importance demands, I shall cordially concur in such action.
If such power is vested in the President, it is my purpose to
appoint a commission of prominent, well-informed citizens of
different parties, who will command public confidence, both on
account of their ability and special fitness for the work.
Business experience and public training may thus be combined, and
the patriotic zeal of the friends of the country be so directed
that such a report will be made as to receive the support of all
parties, and our finances cease to be the subject of mere partisan
contention. The experiment is, at all events, worth a trial, and,
in my opinion, it can but prove beneficial to the entire country.

The question of international bimetallism will have early and
earnest attention. It will be my constant endeavor to secure it by
co-operation with the other great commercial powers of the world.
Until that condition is realized when the parity between our gold
and silver money springs from and is supported by the relative
value of the two metals, the value of the silver already coined
and of that which may hereafter be coined, must be kept constantly
at par with gold by every resource at our command. The credit of
the Government, the integrity of its currency, and the
inviolability of its obligations must be preserved. This was the
commanding verdict of the people, and it will not be unheeded.

Economy is demanded in every branch of the Government at all
times, but especially in periods, like the present, of depression
in business and distress among the people. The severest economy
must be observed in all public expenditures, and extravagance
stopped wherever it is found, and prevented wherever in the future
it may be developed. If the revenues are to remain as now, the
only relief that can come must be from decreased expenditures. But
the present must not become the permanent condition of the
Government. It has been our uniform practice to retire, not
increase our outstanding obligations, and this policy must again
be resumed and vigorously enforced. Our revenues should always be
large enough to meet with ease and promptness not only our current
needs and the principal and interest of the public debt, but to
make proper and liberal provision for that most deserving body of
public creditors, the soldiers and sailors and the widows and
orphans who are the pensioners of the United States.

The Government should not be permitted to run behind or increase
its debt in times like the present. Suitably to provide against
this is the mandate of duty--the certain and easy remedy for most
of our financial difficulties. A deficiency is inevitable so long
as the expenditures of the Government exceed its receipts. It can
only be met by loans or an increased revenue. While a large annual
surplus of revenue may invite waste and extravagance, inadequate
revenue creates distrust and undermines public and private credit.
Neither should be encouraged. Between more loans and more revenue
there ought to be but one opinion. We should have more revenue,
and that without delay, hindrance, or postponement. A surplus in
the Treasury created by loans is not a permanent or safe reliance.
It will suffice while it lasts, but it can not last long while the
outlays of the Government are greater than its receipts, as has
been the case during the past two years. Nor must it be forgotten
that however much such loans may temporarily relieve the
situation, the Government is still indebted for the amount of the
surplus thus accrued, which it must ultimately pay, while its
ability to pay is not strengthened, but weakened by a continued
deficit. Loans are imperative in great emergencies to preserve the
Government or its credit, but a failure to supply needed revenue
in time of peace for the maintenance of either has no

The best way for the Government to maintain its credit is to pay
as it goes--not by resorting to loans, but by keeping out of
debt--through an adequate income secured by a system of taxation,
external or internal, or both. It is the settled policy of the
Government, pursued from the beginning and practiced by all
parties and Administrations, to raise the bulk of our revenue from
taxes upon foreign productions entering the United States for sale
and consumption, and avoiding, for the most part, every form of
direct taxation, except in time of war. The country is clearly
opposed to any needless additions to the subject of internal
taxation, and is committed by its latest popular utterance to the
system of tariff taxation. There can be no misunderstanding,
either, about the principle upon which this tariff taxation shall
be levied. Nothing has ever been made plainer at a general
election than that the controlling principle in the raising of
revenue from duties on imports is zealous care for American
interests and American labor. The people have declared that such
legislation should be had as will give ample protection and
encouragement to the industries and the development of our
country. It is, therefore, earnestly hoped and expected that
Congress will, at the earliest practicable moment, enact revenue
legislation that shall be fair, reasonable, conservative, and
just, and which, while supplying sufficient revenue for public
purposes, will still be signally beneficial and helpful to every
section and every enterprise of the people. To this policy we are
all, of whatever party, firmly bound by the voice of the people--a
power vastly more potential than the expression of any political
platform. The paramount duty of Congress is to stop deficiencies
by the restoration of that protective legislation which has always
been the firmest prop of the Treasury. The passage of such a law
or laws would strengthen the credit of the Government both at home
and abroad, and go far toward stopping the drain upon the gold
reserve held for the redemption of our currency, which has been
heavy and well-nigh constant for several years.

In the revision of the tariff especial attention should be given
to the re-enactment and extension of the reciprocity principle of
the law of 1890, under which so great a stimulus was given to our
foreign trade in new and advantageous markets for our surplus
agricultural and manufactured products. The brief trial given this
legislation amply justifies a further experiment and additional
discretionary power in the making of commercial treaties, the end
in view always to be the opening up of new markets for the
products of our country, by granting concessions to the products
of other lands that we need and cannot produce ourselves, and
which do not involve any loss of labor to our own people, but tend
to increase their employment.

The depression of the past four years has fallen with especial
severity upon the great body of toilers of the country, and upon
none more than the holders of small farms. Agriculture has
languished and labor suffered. The revival of manufacturing will
be a relief to both. No portion of our population is more devoted
to the institution of free government nor more loyal in their
support, while none bears more cheerfully or fully its proper
share in the maintenance of the Government or is better entitled
to its wise and liberal care and protection. Legislation helpful
to producers is beneficial to all. The depressed condition of
industry on the farm and in the mine and factory has lessened the
ability of the people to meet the demands upon them, and they
rightfully expect that not only a system of revenue shall be
established that will secure the largest income with the least
burden, but that every means will be taken to decrease, rather
than increase, our public expenditures. Business conditions are
not the most promising. It will take time to restore the
prosperity of former years. If we cannot promptly attain it, we
can resolutely turn our faces in that direction and aid its return
by friendly legislation. However troublesome the situation may
appear, Congress will not, I am sure, be found lacking in
disposition or ability to relieve it as far as legislation can do
so. The restoration of confidence and the revival of business,
which men of all parties so much desire, depend more largely upon
the prompt, energetic, and intelligent action of Congress than
upon any other single agency affecting the situation.

It is inspiring, too, to remember that no great emergency in the
one hundred and eight years of our eventful national life has ever
arisen that has not been met with wisdom and courage by the
American people, with fidelity to their best interests and highest
destiny, and to the honor of the American name. These years of
glorious history have exalted mankind and advanced the cause of
freedom throughout the world, and immeasurably strengthened the
precious free institutions which we enjoy. The people love and
will sustain these institutions. The great essential to our
happiness and prosperity is that we adhere to the principles upon
which the Government was established and insist upon their
faithful observance. Equality of rights must prevail, and our laws
be always and everywhere respected and obeyed. We may have failed
in the discharge of our full duty as citizens of the great
Republic, but it is consoling and encouraging to realize that free
speech, a free press, free thought, free schools, the free and
unmolested right of religious liberty and worship, and free and
fair elections are dearer and more universally enjoyed to-day than
ever before. These guaranties must be sacredly preserved and
wisely strengthened. The constituted authorities must be
cheerfully and vigorously upheld. Lynchings must not be tolerated
in a great and civilized country like the United States; courts,
not mobs, must execute the penalties of the law. The preservation
of public order, the right of discussion, the integrity of courts,
and the orderly administration of justice must continue forever
the rock of safety upon which our Government securely rests.

One of the lessons taught by the late election, which all can
rejoice in, is that the citizens of the United States are both
law-respecting and law-abiding people, not easily swerved from the
path of patriotism and honor. This is in entire accord with the
genius of our institutions, and but emphasizes the advantages of
inculcating even a greater love for law and order in the future.
Immunity should be granted to none who violate the laws, whether
individuals, corporations, or communities; and as the Constitution
imposes upon the President the duty of both its own execution, and
of the statutes enacted in pursuance of its provisions, I shall
endeavor carefully to carry them into effect. The declaration of
the party now restored to power has been in the past that of
"opposition to all combinations of capital organized in trusts, or
otherwise, to control arbitrarily the condition of trade among our
citizens," and it has supported "such legislation as will prevent
the execution of all schemes to oppress the people by undue
charges on their supplies, or by unjust rates for the
transportation of their products to the market." This purpose will
be steadily pursued, both by the enforcement of the laws now in
existence and the recommendation and support of such new statutes
as may be necessary to carry it into effect.

Our naturalization and immigration laws should be further improved
to the constant promotion of a safer, a better, and a higher
citizenship. A grave peril to the Republic would be a citizenship
too ignorant to understand or too vicious to appreciate the great
value and beneficence of our institutions and laws, and against
all who come here to make war upon them our gates must be promptly
and tightly closed. Nor must we be unmindful of the need of
improvement among our own citizens, but with the zeal of our
forefathers encourage the spread of knowledge and free education.
Illiteracy must be banished from the land if we shall attain that
high destiny as the foremost of the enlightened nations of the
world which, under Providence, we ought to achieve.

Reforms in the civil service must go on; but the changes should be
real and genuine, not perfunctory, or prompted by a zeal in behalf
of any party simply because it happens to be in power. As a member
of Congress I voted and spoke in favor of the present law, and I
shall attempt its enforcement in the spirit in which it was
enacted. The purpose in view was to secure the most efficient
service of the best men who would accept appointment under the
Government, retaining faithful and devoted public servants in
office, but shielding none, under the authority of any rule or
custom, who are inefficient, incompetent, or unworthy. The best
interests of the country demand this, and the people heartily
approve the law wherever and whenever it has been thus

Congress should give prompt attention to the restoration of our
American merchant marine, once the pride of the seas in all the
great ocean highways of commerce. To my mind, few more important
subjects so imperatively demand its intelligent consideration. The
United States has progressed with marvelous rapidity in every
field of enterprise and endeavor until we have become foremost in
nearly all the great lines of inland trade, commerce, and
industry. Yet, while this is true, our American merchant marine
has been steadily declining until it is now lower, both in the
percentage of tonnage and the number of vessels employed, than it
was prior to the Civil War. Commendable progress has been made of
late years in the upbuilding of the American Navy, but we must
supplement these efforts by providing as a proper consort for it a
merchant marine amply sufficient for our own carrying trade to
foreign countries. The question is one that appeals both to our
business necessities and the patriotic aspirations of a great

It has been the policy of the United States since the foundation
of the Government to cultivate relations of peace and amity with
all the nations of the world, and this accords with my conception
of our duty now. We have cherished the policy of non-interference
with affairs of foreign governments wisely inaugurated by
Washington, keeping ourselves free from entanglement, either as
allies or foes, content to leave undisturbed with them the
settlement of their own domestic concerns. It will be our aim to
pursue a firm and dignified foreign policy, which shall be just,
impartial, ever watchful of our national honor, and always
insisting upon the enforcement of the lawful rights of American
citizens everywhere. Our diplomacy should seek nothing more and
accept nothing less than is due us. We want no wars of conquest;
we must avoid the temptation of territorial aggression. War should
never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed;
peace is preferable to war in almost every contingency.
Arbitration is the true method of settlement of international as
well as local or individual differences. It was recognized as the
best means of adjustment of differences between employers and
employees by the Forty-ninth Congress, in 1886, and its
application was extended to our diplomatic relations by the
unanimous concurrence of the Senate and House of the Fifty-first
Congress in 1890. The latter resolution was accepted as the basis
of negotiations with us by the British House of Commons in 1893,
and upon our invitation a treaty of arbitration between the United
States and Great Britain was signed at Washington and transmitted
to the Senate for its ratification in January last. Since this
treaty is clearly the result of our own initiative; since it has
been recognized as the leading feature of our foreign policy
throughout our entire national history--the adjustment of
difficulties by judicial methods rather than force of arms--and
since it presents to the world the glorious example of reason and
peace, not passion and war, controlling the relations between two
of the greatest nations in the world, an example certain to be
followed by others, I respectfully urge the early action of the
Senate thereon, not merely as a matter of policy, but as a duty to
mankind. The importance and moral influence of the ratification of
such a treaty can hardly be overestimated in the cause of
advancing civilization. It may well engage the best thought of the
statesmen and people of every country, and I cannot but consider
it fortunate that it was reserved to the United States to have the
leadership in so grand a work.

It has been the uniform practice of each President to avoid, as
far as possible, the convening of Congress in extraordinary
session. It is an example which, under ordinary circumstances and
in the absence of a public necessity, is to be commended. But a
failure to convene the representatives of the people in Congress
in extra session when it involves neglect of a public duty places
the responsibility of such neglect upon the Executive himself. The
condition of the public Treasury, as has been indicated, demands
the immediate consideration of Congress. It alone has the power to
provide revenues for the Government. Not to convene it under such
circumstances I can view in no other sense than the neglect of a
plain duty. I do not sympathize with the sentiment that Congress
in session is dangerous to our general business interests. Its
members are the agents of the people, and their presence at the
seat of Government in the execution of the sovereign will should
not operate as an injury, but a benefit. There could be no better
time to put the Government upon a sound financial and economic
basis than now. The people have only recently voted that this
should be done, and nothing is more binding upon the agents of
their will than the obligation of immediate action. It has always
seemed to me that the postponement of the meeting of Congress
until more than a year after it has been chosen deprived Congress
too often of the inspiration of the popular will and the country
of the corresponding benefits. It is evident, therefore, that to
postpone action in the presence of so great a necessity would be
unwise on the part of the Executive because unjust to the
interests of the people. Our action now will be freer from mere
partisan consideration than if the question of tariff revision was
postponed until the regular session of Congress. We are nearly two
years from a Congressional election, and politics cannot so
greatly distract us as if such contest was immediately pending. We
can approach the problem calmly and patriotically, without fearing
its effect upon an early election.

Our fellow-citizens who may disagree with us upon the character of
this legislation prefer to have the question settled now, even
against their preconceived views, and perhaps settled so
reasonably, as I trust and believe it will be, as to insure great
permanence, than to have further uncertainty menacing the vast and
varied business interests of the United States. Again, whatever
action Congress may take will be given a fair opportunity for
trial before the people are called to pass judgment upon it, and
this I consider a great essential to the rightful and lasting
settlement of the question. In view of these considerations, I
shall deem it my duty as President to convene Congress in
extraordinary session on Monday, the 15th day of March, 1897.

In conclusion, I congratulate the country upon the fraternal
spirit of the people and the manifestations of good will
everywhere so apparent. The recent election not only most
fortunately demonstrated the obliteration of sectional or
geographical lines, but to some extent also the prejudices which
for years have distracted our councils and marred our true
greatness as a nation. The triumph of the people, whose verdict is
carried into effect today, is not the triumph of one section, nor
wholly of one party, but of all sections and all the people. The
North and the South no longer divide on the old lines, but upon
principles and policies; and in this fact surely every lover of
the country can find cause for true felicitation.

Let us rejoice in and cultivate this spirit; it is ennobling and
will be both a gain and a blessing to our beloved country. It will
be my constant aim to do nothing, and permit nothing to be done,
that will arrest or disturb this growing sentiment of unity and
cooperation, this revival of esteem and affiliation which now
animates so many thousands in both the old antagonistic sections,
but I shall cheerfully do everything possible to promote and
increase it. Let me again repeat the words of the oath
administered by the Chief Justice which, in their respective
spheres, so far as applicable, I would have all my countrymen
observe: "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." This
is the obligation I have reverently taken before the Lord Most
High. To keep it will be my single purpose, my constant prayer;
and I shall confidently rely upon the forbearance and assistance
of all the people in the discharge of my solemn responsibilities.


William McKinley


The second inauguration was a patriotic celebration of the
successes of the recently concluded Spanish American War. The new
Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, was a popular figure from the
War. President McKinley again had defeated William Jennings Bryan,
but the campaign issue was American expansionism overseas. Chief
Justice Melville Fuller administered the oath of office on a
covered platform erected in front of the East Portico of the
Capitol. The parade featured soldiers from the campaigns in Cuba,
Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. An inaugural ball was held that
evening in the Pension Building.

My Fellow-Citizens:

When we assembled here on the 4th of March, 1897, there was great
anxiety with regard to our currency and credit. None exists now.
Then our Treasury receipts were inadequate to meet the current
obligations of the Government. Now they are sufficient for all
public needs, and we have a surplus instead of a deficit. Then I
felt constrained to convene the Congress in extraordinary session
to devise revenues to pay the ordinary expenses of the Government.

Now I have the satisfaction to announce that the Congress just
closed has reduced taxation in the sum of $41,000,000. Then there
was deep solicitude because of the long depression in our
manufacturing, mining, agricultural, and mercantile industries and
the consequent distress of our laboring population. Now every
avenue of production is crowded with activity, labor is well
employed, and American products find good markets at home and

Our diversified productions, however, are increasing in such
unprecedented volume as to admonish us of the necessity of still
further enlarging our foreign markets by broader commercial
relations. For this purpose reciprocal trade arrangements with
other nations should in liberal spirit be carefully cultivated and

The national verdict of 1896 has for the most part been executed.
Whatever remains unfulfilled is a continuing obligation resting
with undiminished force upon the Executive and the Congress. But
fortunate as our condition is, its permanence can only be assured
by sound business methods and strict economy in national
administration and legislation. We should not permit our great
prosperity to lead us to reckless ventures in business or
profligacy in public expenditures. While the Congress determines
the objects and the sum of appropriations, the officials of the
executive departments are responsible for honest and faithful
disbursement, and it should be their constant care to avoid waste
and extravagance.

Honesty, capacity, and industry are nowhere more indispensable
than in public employment. These should be fundamental requisites
to original appointment and the surest guaranties against removal.

Four years ago we stood on the brink of war without the people
knowing it and without any preparation or effort at preparation
for the impending peril. I did all that in honor could be done to
avert the war, but without avail. It became inevitable; and the
Congress at its first regular session, without party division,
provided money in anticipation of the crisis and in preparation to
meet it. It came. The result was signally favorable to American
arms and in the highest degree honorable to the Government. It
imposed upon us obligations from which we cannot escape and from
which it would be dishonorable to seek escape. We are now at peace
with the world, and it is my fervent prayer that if differences
arise between us and other powers they may be settled by peaceful
arbitration and that hereafter we may be spared the horrors of

Intrusted by the people for a second time with the office of
President, I enter upon its administration appreciating the great
responsibilities which attach to this renewed honor and
commission, promising unreserved devotion on my part to their
faithful discharge and reverently invoking for my guidance the
direction and favor of Almighty God. I should shrink from the
duties this day assumed if I did not feel that in their
performance I should have the co-operation of the wise and
patriotic men of all parties. It encourages me for the great task
which I now undertake to believe that those who voluntarily
committed to me the trust imposed upon the Chief Executive of the
Republic will give to me generous support in my duties to
"preserve, protect, and defend, the Constitution of the United
States" and to "care that the laws be faithfully executed." The
national purpose is indicated through a national election. It is
the constitutional method of ascertaining the public will. When
once it is registered it is a law to us all, and faithful
observance should follow its decrees.

Strong hearts and helpful hands are needed, and, fortunately, we
have them in every part of our beloved country. We are reunited.
Sectionalism has disappeared. Division on public questions can no
longer be traced by the war maps of 1861. These old differences
less and less disturb the judgment. Existing problems demand the
thought and quicken the conscience of the country, and the
responsibility for their presence, as well as for their righteous
settlement, rests upon us all--no more upon me than upon you.
There are some national questions in the solution of which
patriotism should exclude partisanship. Magnifying their
difficulties will not take them off our hands nor facilitate their
adjustment. Distrust of the capacity, integrity, and high purposes
of the American people will not be an inspiring theme for future
political contests. Dark pictures and gloomy forebodings are worse
than useless. These only becloud, they do not help to point the
way of safety and honor. "Hope maketh not ashamed." The prophets
of evil were not the builders of the Republic, nor in its crises
since have they saved or served it. The faith of the fathers was a
mighty force in its creation, and the faith of their descendants
has wrought its progress and furnished its defenders. They are
obstructionists who despair, and who would destroy confidence in
the ability of our people to solve wisely and for civilization the
mighty problems resting upon them. The American people, intrenched
in freedom at home, take their love for it with them wherever they
go, and they reject as mistaken and unworthy the doctrine that we
lose our own liberties by securing the enduring foundations of
liberty to others. Our institutions will not deteriorate by
extension, and our sense of justice will not abate under tropic
suns in distant seas. As heretofore, so hereafter will the nation
demonstrate its fitness to administer any new estate which events
devolve upon it, and in the fear of God will "take occasion by the
hand and make the bounds of freedom wider yet." If there are those
among us who would make our way more difficult, we must not be
disheartened, but the more earnestly dedicate ourselves to the
task upon which we have rightly entered. The path of progress is
seldom smooth. New things are often found hard to do. Our fathers
found them so. We find them so. They are inconvenient. They cost
us something. But are we not made better for the effort and
sacrifice, and are not those we serve lifted up and blessed?

We will be consoled, to, with the fact that opposition has
confronted every onward movement of the Republic from its opening
hour until now, but without success. The Republic has marched on
and on, and its step has exalted freedom and humanity. We are
undergoing the same ordeal as did our predecessors nearly a
century ago. We are following the course they blazed. They
triumphed. Will their successors falter and plead organic
impotency in the nation? Surely after 125 years of achievement for
mankind we will not now surrender our equality with other powers
on matters fundamental and essential to nationality. With no such
purpose was the nation created. In no such spirit has it developed
its full and independent sovereignty. We adhere to the principle
of equality among ourselves, and by no act of ours will we assign
to ourselves a subordinate rank in the family of nations.

My fellow-citizens, the public events of the past four years have
gone into history. They are too near to justify recital. Some of
them were unforeseen; many of them momentous and far-reaching in
their consequences to ourselves and our relations with the rest of
the world. The part which the United States bore so honorably in
the thrilling scenes in China, while new to American life, has
been in harmony with its true spirit and best traditions, and in
dealing with the results its policy will be that of moderation and

We face at this moment a most important question that of the
future relations of the United States and Cuba. With our near
neighbors we must remain close friends. The declaration of the
purposes of this Government in the resolution of April 20, 1898,
must be made good. Ever since the evacuation of the island by the
army of Spain, the Executive, with all practicable speed, has been
assisting its people in the successive steps necessary to the
establishment of a free and independent government prepared to
assume and perform the obligations of international law which now
rest upon the United States under the treaty of Paris. The
convention elected by the people to frame a constitution is
approaching the completion of its labors. The transfer of American
control to the new government is of such great importance,
involving an obligation resulting from our intervention and the
treaty of peace, that I am glad to be advised by the recent act of
Congress of the policy which the legislative branch of the
Government deems essential to the best interests of Cuba and the
United States. The principles which led to our intervention
require that the fundamental law upon which the new government
rests should be adapted to secure a government capable of
performing the duties and discharging the functions of a separate
nation, of observing its international obligations of protecting
life and property, insuring order, safety, and liberty, and
conforming to the established and historical policy of the United
States in its relation to Cuba.

The peace which we are pledged to leave to the Cuban people must
carry with it the guaranties of permanence. We became sponsors for
the pacification of the island, and we remain accountable to the
Cubans, no less than to our own country and people, for the
reconstruction of Cuba as a free commonwealth on abiding
foundations of right, justice, liberty, and assured order. Our
enfranchisement of the people will not be completed until free
Cuba shall "be a reality, not a name; a perfect entity, not a
hasty experiment bearing within itself the elements of failure."

While the treaty of peace with Spain was ratified on the 6th of
February, 1899, and ratifications were exchanged nearly two years
ago, the Congress has indicated no form of government for the
Philippine Islands. It has, however, provided an army to enable
the Executive to suppress insurrection, restore peace, give
security to the inhabitants, and establish the authority of the
United States throughout the archipelago. It has authorized the
organization of native troops as auxiliary to the regular force.
It has been advised from time to time of the acts of the military
and naval officers in the islands, of my action in appointing
civil commissions, of the instructions with which they were
charged, of their duties and powers, of their recommendations, and
of their several acts under executive commission, together with
the very complete general information they have submitted. These
reports fully set forth the conditions, past and present, in the
islands, and the instructions clearly show the principles which
will guide the Executive until the Congress shall, as it is
required to do by the treaty, determine "the civil rights and
political status of the native inhabitants." The Congress having
added the sanction of its authority to the powers already
possessed and exercised by the Executive under the Constitution,
thereby leaving with the Executive the responsibility for the
government of the Philippines, I shall continue the efforts
already begun until order shall be restored throughout the
islands, and as fast as conditions permit will establish local
governments, in the formation of which the full co-operation of
the people has been already invited, and when established will
encourage the people to administer them. The settled purpose, long
ago proclaimed, to afford the inhabitants of the islands self-
government as fast as they were ready for it will be pursued with
earnestness and fidelity. Already something has been accomplished
in this direction. The Government's representatives, civil and
military, are doing faithful and noble work in their mission of
emancipation and merit the approval and support of their
countrymen. The most liberal terms of amnesty have already been
communicated to the insurgents, and the way is still open for
those who have raised their arms against the Government for
honorable submission to its authority. Our countrymen should not
be deceived. We are not waging war against the inhabitants of the
Philippine Islands. A portion of them are making war against the
United States. By far the greater part of the inhabitants
recognize American sovereignty and welcome it as a guaranty of
order and of security for life, property, liberty, freedom of
conscience, and the pursuit of happiness. To them full protection
will be given. They shall not be abandoned. We will not leave the
destiny of the loyal millions the islands to the disloyal
thousands who are in rebellion against the United States. Order
under civil institutions will come as soon as those who now break
the peace shall keep it. Force will not be needed or used when
those who make war against us shall make it no more. May it end
without further bloodshed, and there be ushered in the reign of
peace to be made permanent by a government of liberty under law!


Theodore Roosevelt


The energetic Republican President had taken his first oath of
office upon the death of President McKinley, who died of an
assassin's gunshot wounds on September 14, 1901. Mr. Roosevelt had
been President himself for three years at the election of 1904.
The inaugural celebration was the largest and most diverse of any
in memory--cowboys, Indians (including the Apache Chief Geronimo),
coal miners, soldiers, and students were some of the groups
represented. The oath of office was administered on the East
Portico of the Capitol by Chief Justice Melville Fuller.

My fellow-citizens, no people on earth have more cause to be
thankful than ours, and this is said reverently, in no spirit of
boastfulness in our own strength, but with gratitude to the Giver
of Good who has blessed us with the conditions which have enabled
us to achieve so large a measure of well-being and of happiness.
To us as a people it has been granted to lay the foundations of
our national life in a new continent. We are the heirs of the
ages, and yet we have had to pay few of the penalties which in old
countries are exacted by the dead hand of a bygone civilization.
We have not been obliged to fight for our existence against any
alien race; and yet our life has called for the vigor and effort

without which the manlier and hardier virtues wither away. Under
such conditions it would be our own fault if we failed; and the
success which we have had in the past, the success which we
confidently believe the future will bring, should cause in us no
feeling of vainglory, but rather a deep and abiding realization of
all which life has offered us; a full acknowledgment of the
responsibility which is ours; and a fixed determination to show
that under a free government a mighty people can thrive best,
alike as regards the things of the body and the things of the

Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from
us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can
shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact
of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the
earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such
responsibilities. Toward all other nations, large and small, our
attitude must be one of cordial and sincere friendship. We must
show not only in our words, but in our deeds, that we are
earnestly desirous of securing their good will by acting toward
them in a spirit of just and generous recognition of all their
rights. But justice and generosity in a nation, as in an
individual, count most when shown not by the weak but by the
strong. While ever careful to refrain from wrongdoing others, we
must be no less insistent that we are not wronged ourselves. We
wish peace, but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of
righteousness. We wish it because we think it is right and not
because we are afraid. No weak nation that acts manfully and
justly should ever have cause to fear us, and no strong power
should ever be able to single us out as a subject for insolent

Our relations with the other powers of the world are important;
but still more important are our relations among ourselves. Such
growth in wealth, in population, and in power as this nation has
seen during the century and a quarter of its national life is
inevitably accompanied by a like growth in the problems which are
ever before every nation that rises to greatness. Power invariably
means both responsibility and danger. Our forefathers faced
certain perils which we have outgrown. We now face other perils,
the very existence of which it was impossible that they should
foresee. Modern life is both complex and intense, and the
tremendous changes wrought by the extraordinary industrial
development of the last half century are felt in every fiber of
our social and political being. Never before have men tried so
vast and formidable an experiment as that of administering the
affairs of a continent under the forms of a Democratic republic.
The conditions which have told for our marvelous material well-
being, which have developed to a very high degree our energy,
self-reliance, and individual initiative, have also brought the
care and anxiety inseparable from the accumulation of great wealth
in industrial centers. Upon the success of our experiment much
depends, not only as regards our own welfare, but as regards the
welfare of mankind. If we fail, the cause of free self-government
throughout the world will rock to its foundations, and therefore
our responsibility is heavy, to ourselves, to the world as it is
to-day, and to the generations yet unborn. There is no good reason
why we should fear the future, but there is every reason why we
should face it seriously, neither hiding from ourselves the
gravity of the problems before us nor fearing to approach these
problems with the unbending, unflinching purpose to solve them

Yet, after all, though the problems are new, though the tasks set
before us differ from the tasks set before our fathers who founded
and preserved this Republic, the spirit in which these tasks must
be undertaken and these problems faced, if our duty is to be well
done, remains essentially unchanged. We know that self-government
is difficult. We know that no people needs such high traits of
character as that people which seeks to govern its affairs aright
through the freely expressed will of the freemen who compose it.
But we have faith that we shall not prove false to the memories of
the men of the mighty past. They did their work, they left us the
splendid heritage we now enjoy. We in our turn have an assured
confidence that we shall be able to leave this heritage unwasted
and enlarged to our children and our children's children. To do so
we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday
affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of
courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of
devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded
this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men
who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.


William Howard Taft


A blizzard the night before caused the ceremonies to be moved into
the Senate Chamber in the Capitol. The oath of office was
administered for the sixth time by Chief Justice Melville Fuller.
The new President took his oath on the Supreme Court Bible, which
he used again in 1921 to take his oaths as the Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court. An inaugural ball that evening was held at the
Pension Building.

My Fellow-Citizens:

Anyone who has taken the oath I have just taken must feel a heavy
weight of responsibility. If not, he has no conception of the
powers and duties of the office upon which he is about to enter,
or he is lacking in a proper sense of the obligation which the
oath imposes.

The office of an inaugural address is to give a summary outline of
the main policies of the new administration, so far as they can be
anticipated. I have had the honor to be one of the advisers of my
distinguished predecessor, and, as such, to hold up his hands in
the reforms he has initiated. I should be untrue to myself, to my
promises, and to the declarations of the party platform upon which
I was elected to office, if I did not make the maintenance and
enforcement of those reforms a most important feature of my
administration. They were directed to the suppression of the
lawlessness and abuses of power of the great combinations of
capital invested in railroads and in industrial enterprises
carrying on interstate commerce. The steps which my predecessor
took and the legislation passed on his recommendation have
accomplished much, have caused a general halt in the vicious
policies which created popular alarm, and have brought about in
the business affected a much higher regard for existing law.

To render the reforms lasting, however, and to secure at the same
time freedom from alarm on the part of those pursuing proper and
progressive business methods, further legislative and executive
action are needed. Relief of the railroads from certain
restrictions of the antitrust law have been urged by my
predecessor and will be urged by me. On the other hand, the
administration is pledged to legislation looking to a proper
federal supervision and restriction to prevent excessive issues of
bonds and stock by companies owning and operating interstate
commerce railroads.

Then, too, a reorganization of the Department of Justice, of the
Bureau of Corporations in the Department of Commerce and Labor,
and of the Interstate Commerce Commission, looking to effective
cooperation of these agencies, is needed to secure a more rapid
and certain enforcement of the laws affecting interstate railroads
and industrial combinations.

I hope to be able to submit at the first regular session of the
incoming Congress, in December next, definite suggestions in
respect to the needed amendments to the antitrust and the
interstate commerce law and the changes required in the executive
departments concerned in their enforcement.

It is believed that with the changes to be recommended American
business can be assured of that measure of stability and certainty
in respect to those things that may be done and those that are
prohibited which is essential to the life and growth of all
business. Such a plan must include the right of the people to
avail themselves of those methods of combining capital and effort
deemed necessary to reach the highest degree of economic
efficiency, at the same time differentiating between combinations
based upon legitimate economic reasons and those formed with the
intent of creating monopolies and artificially controlling prices.

The work of formulating into practical shape such changes is
creative word of the highest order, and requires all the
deliberation possible in the interval. I believe that the
amendments to be proposed are just as necessary in the protection
of legitimate business as in the clinching of the reforms which
properly bear the name of my predecessor.

A matter of most pressing importance is the revision of the
tariff. In accordance with the promises of the platform upon which
I was elected, I shall call Congress into extra session to meet on
the 15th day of March, in order that consideration may be at once
given to a bill revising the Dingley Act. This should secure an
adequate revenue and adjust the duties in such a manner as to
afford to labor and to all industries in this country, whether of
the farm, mine or factory, protection by tariff equal to the
difference between the cost of production abroad and the cost of
production here, and have a provision which shall put into force,
upon executive determination of certain facts, a higher or maximum
tariff against those countries whose trade policy toward us
equitably requires such discrimination. It is thought that there
has been such a change in conditions since the enactment of the
Dingley Act, drafted on a similarly protective principle, that the
measure of the tariff above stated will permit the reduction of
rates in certain schedules and will require the advancement of
few, if any.

The proposal to revise the tariff made in such an authoritative
way as to lead the business community to count upon it necessarily
halts all those branches of business directly affected; and as
these are most important, it disturbs the whole business of the
country. It is imperatively necessary, therefore, that a tariff
bill be drawn in good faith in accordance with promises made
before the election by the party in power, and as promptly passed
as due consideration will permit. It is not that the tariff is
more important in the long run than the perfecting of the reforms
in respect to antitrust legislation and interstate commerce
regulation, but the need for action when the revision of the
tariff has been determined upon is more immediate to avoid
embarrassment of business. To secure the needed speed in the
passage of the tariff bill, it would seem wise to attempt no other
legislation at the extra session. I venture this as a suggestion
only, for the course to be taken by Congress, upon the call of the
Executive, is wholly within its discretion.

In the mailing of a tariff bill the prime motive is taxation and
the securing thereby of a revenue. Due largely to the business
depression which followed the financial panic of 1907, the revenue
from customs and other sources has decreased to such an extent
that the expenditures for the current fiscal year will exceed the
receipts by $100,000,000. It is imperative that such a deficit
shall not continue, and the framers of the tariff bill must, of
course, have in mind the total revenues likely to be produced by
it and so arrange the duties as to secure an adequate income.
Should it be impossible to do so by import duties, new kinds of
taxation must be adopted, and among these I recommend a graduated
inheritance tax as correct in principle and as certain and easy of

The obligation on the part of those responsible for the
expenditures made to carry on the Government, to be as economical
as possible, and to make the burden of taxation as light as
possible, is plain, and should be affirmed in every declaration of
government policy. This is especially true when we are face to
face with a heavy deficit. But when the desire to win the popular
approval leads to the cutting off of expenditures really needed to
make the Government effective and to enable it to accomplish its
proper objects, the result is as much to be condemned as the waste
of government funds in unnecessary expenditure. The scope of a
modern government in what it can and ought to accomplish for its
people has been widened far beyond the principles laid down by the
old "laissez faire" school of political writers, and this widening
has met popular approval.

In the Department of Agriculture the use of scientific experiments
on a large scale and the spread of information derived from them
for the improvement of general agriculture must go on.

The importance of supervising business of great railways and
industrial combinations and the necessary investigation and
prosecution of unlawful business methods are another necessary tax
upon Government which did not exist half a century ago.

The putting into force of laws which shall secure the conservation
of our resources, so far as they may be within the jurisdiction of
the Federal Government, including the most important work of
saving and restoring our forests and the great improvement of
waterways, are all proper government functions which must involve
large expenditure if properly performed. While some of them, like
the reclamation of arid lands, are made to pay for themselves,
others are of such an indirect benefit that this cannot be
expected of them. A permanent improvement, like the Panama Canal,
should be treated as a distinct enterprise, and should be paid for
by the proceeds of bonds, the issue of which will distribute its
cost between the present and future generations in accordance with
the benefits derived. It may well be submitted to the serious
consideration of Congress whether the deepening and control of the
channel of a great river system, like that of the Ohio or of the
Mississippi, when definite and practical plans for the enterprise
have been approved and determined upon, should not be provided for
in the same way.

Then, too, there are expenditures of Government absolutely
necessary if our country is to maintain its proper place among the
nations of the world, and is to exercise its proper influence in
defense of its own trade interests in the maintenance of
traditional American policy against the colonization of European
monarchies in this hemisphere, and in the promotion of peace and
international morality. I refer to the cost of maintaining a
proper army, a proper navy, and suitable fortifications upon the
mainland of the United States and in its dependencies.

We should have an army so organized and so officered as to be
capable in time of emergency, in cooperation with the national
militia and under the provisions of a proper national volunteer
law, rapidly to expand into a force sufficient to resist all
probable invasion from abroad and to furnish a respectable
expeditionary force if necessary in the maintenance of our
traditional American policy which bears the name of President

Our fortifications are yet in a state of only partial
completeness, and the number of men to man them is insufficient.
In a few years however, the usual annual appropriations for our
coast defenses, both on the mainland and in the dependencies, will
make them sufficient to resist all direct attack, and by that time
we may hope that the men to man them will be provided as a
necessary adjunct. The distance of our shores from Europe and Asia
of course reduces the necessity for maintaining under arms a great
army, but it does not take away the requirement of mere prudence--
that we should have an army sufficiently large and so constituted
as to form a nucleus out of which a suitable force can quickly

What has been said of the army may be affirmed in even a more
emphatic way of the navy. A modern navy can not be improvised. It
must be built and in existence when the emergency arises which
calls for its use and operation. My distinguished predecessor has
in many speeches and messages set out with great force and
striking language the necessity for maintaining a strong navy
commensurate with the coast line, the governmental resources, and
the foreign trade of our Nation; and I wish to reiterate all the
reasons which he has presented in favor of the policy of
maintaining a strong navy as the best conservator of our peace
with other nations, and the best means of securing respect for the
assertion of our rights, the defense of our interests, and the
exercise of our influence in international matters.

Our international policy is always to promote peace. We shall
enter into any war with a full consciousness of the awful
consequences that it always entails, whether successful or not,
and we, of course, shall make every effort consistent with
national honor and the highest national interest to avoid a resort
to arms. We favor every instrumentality, like that of the Hague
Tribunal and arbitration treaties made with a view to its use in
all international controversies, in order to maintain peace and to
avoid war. But we should be blind to existing conditions and
should allow ourselves to become foolish idealists if we did not
realize that, with all the nations of the world armed and prepared
for war, we must be ourselves in a similar condition, in order to
prevent other nations from taking advantage of us and of our
inability to defend our interests and assert our rights with a
strong hand.

In the international controversies that are likely to arise in the
Orient growing out of the question of the open door and other
issues the United States can maintain her interests intact and can
secure respect for her just demands. She will not be able to do
so, however, if it is understood that she never intends to back up
her assertion of right and her defense of her interest by anything
but mere verbal protest and diplomatic note. For these reasons the
expenses of the army and navy and of coast defenses should always
be considered as something which the Government must pay for, and
they should not be cut off through mere consideration of economy.
Our Government is able to afford a suitable army and a suitable
navy. It may maintain them without the slightest danger to the
Republic or the cause of free institutions, and fear of additional
taxation ought not to change a proper policy in this regard.

The policy of the United States in the Spanish war and since has
given it a position of influence among the nations that it never
had before, and should be constantly exerted to securing to its
bona fide citizens, whether native or naturalized, respect for
them as such in foreign countries. We should make every effort to
prevent humiliating and degrading prohibition against any of our
citizens wishing temporarily to sojourn in foreign countries
because of race or religion.

The admission of Asiatic immigrants who cannot be amalgamated with
our population has been made the subject either of prohibitory
clauses in our treaties and statutes or of strict administrative
regulation secured by diplomatic negotiation. I sincerely hope
that we may continue to minimize the evils likely to arise from
such immigration without unnecessary friction and by mutual
concessions between self-respecting governments. Meantime we must
take every precaution to prevent, or failing that, to punish
outbursts of race feeling among our people against foreigners of
whatever nationality who have by our grant a treaty right to
pursue lawful business here and to be protected against lawless
assault or injury.

This leads me to point out a serious defect in the present federal
jurisdiction, which ought to be remedied at once. Having assured
to other countries by treaty the protection of our laws for such
of their subjects or citizens as we permit to come within our
jurisdiction, we now leave to a state or a city, not under the
control of the Federal Government, the duty of performing our
international obligations in this respect. By proper legislation
we may, and ought to, place in the hands of the Federal Executive
the means of enforcing the treaty rights of such aliens in the
courts of the Federal Government. It puts our Government in a
pusillanimous position to make definite engagements to protect
aliens and then to excuse the failure to perform those engagements
by an explanation that the duty to keep them is in States or
cities, not within our control. If we would promise we must put
ourselves in a position to perform our promise. We cannot permit
the possible failure of justice, due to local prejudice in any
State or municipal government, to expose us to the risk of a war
which might be avoided if federal jurisdiction was asserted by
suitable legislation by Congress and carried out by proper
proceedings instituted by the Executive in the courts of the
National Government.

One of the reforms to be carried out during the incoming
administration is a change of our monetary and banking laws, so as
to secure greater elasticity in the forms of currency available
for trade and to prevent the limitations of law from operating to
increase the embarrassment of a financial panic. The monetary
commission, lately appointed, is giving full consideration to
existing conditions and to all proposed remedies, and will
doubtless suggest one that will meet the requirements of business
and of public interest.

We may hope that the report will embody neither the narrow dew of
those who believe that the sole purpose of the new system should
be to secure a large return on banking capital or of those who
would have greater expansion of currency with little regard to
provisions for its immediate redemption or ultimate security.
There is no subject of economic discussion so intricate and so
likely to evoke differing views and dogmatic statements as this
one. The commission, in studying the general influence of currency
on business and of business on currency, have wisely extended
their investigations in European banking and monetary methods. The
information that they have derived from such experts as they have
found abroad will undoubtedly be found helpful in the solution of
the difficult problem they have in hand.

The incoming Congress should promptly fulfill the promise of the
Republican platform and pass a proper postal savings bank bill. It
will not be unwise or excessive paternalism. The promise to repay
by the Government will furnish an inducement to savings deposits
which private enterprise can not supply and at such a low rate of
interest as not to withdraw custom from existing banks. It will
substantially increase the funds available for investment as
capital in useful enterprises. It will furnish absolute security
which makes the proposed scheme of government guaranty of deposits
so alluring, without its pernicious results.

I sincerely hope that the incoming Congress will be alive, as it
should be, to the importance of our foreign trade and of
encouraging it in every way feasible. The possibility of
increasing this trade in the Orient, in the Philippines, and in
South America are known to everyone who has given the matter
attention. The direct effect of free trade between this country
and the Philippines will be marked upon our sales of cottons,
agricultural machinery, and other manufactures. The necessity of
the establishment of direct lines of steamers between North and
South America has been brought to the attention of Congress by my
predecessor and by Mr. Root before and after his noteworthy visit
to that continent, and I sincerely hope that Congress may be
induced to see the wisdom of a tentative effort to establish such
lines by the use of mail subsidies.

The importance of the part which the Departments of Agriculture
and of Commerce and Labor may play in ridding the markets of
Europe of prohibitions and discriminations against the importation
of our products is fully understood, and it is hoped that the use
of the maximum and minimum feature of our tariff law to be soon
passed will be effective to remove many of those restrictions.

The Panama Canal will have a most important bearing upon the trade
between the eastern and far western sections of our country, and
will greatly increase the facilities for transportation between
the eastern and the western seaboard, and may possibly
revolutionize the transcontinental rates with respect to bulky
merchandise. It will also have a most beneficial effect to
increase the trade between the eastern seaboard of the United
States and the western coast of South America, and, indeed, with
some of the important ports on the east coast of South America
reached by rail from the west coast.

The work on the canal is making most satisfactory progress. The
type of the canal as a lock canal was fixed by Congress after a
full consideration of the conflicting reports of the majority and
minority of the consulting board, and after the recommendation of
the War Department and the Executive upon those reports. Recent
suggestion that something had occurred on the Isthmus to make the
lock type of the canal less feasible than it was supposed to be
when the reports were made and the policy determined on led to a
visit to the Isthmus of a board of competent engineers to examine
the Gatun dam and locks, which are the key of the lock type. The
report of that board shows nothing has occurred in the nature of
newly revealed evidence which should change the views once formed
in the original discussion. The construction will go on under a
most effective organization controlled by Colonel Goethals and his
fellow army engineers associated with him, and will certainly be
completed early in the next administration, if not before.

Some type of canal must be constructed. The lock type has been
selected. We are all in favor of having it built as promptly as
possible. We must not now, therefore, keep up a fire in the rear
of the agents whom we have authorized to do our work on the
Isthmus. We must hold up their hands, and speaking for the
incoming administration I wish to say that I propose to devote all
the energy possible and under my control to pushing of this work
on the plans which have been adopted, and to stand behind the men
who are doing faithful, hard work to bring about the early
completion of this, the greatest constructive enterprise of modern

The governments of our dependencies in Porto Rico and the
Philippines are progressing as favorably as could be desired. The
prosperity of Porto Rico continues unabated. The business
conditions in the Philippines are not all that we could wish them
to be, but with the passage of the new tariff bill permitting free
trade between the United States and the archipelago, with such
limitations on sugar and tobacco as shall prevent injury to
domestic interests in those products, we can count on an
improvement in business conditions in the Philippines and the
development of a mutually profitable trade between this country
and the islands. Meantime our Government in each dependency is
upholding the traditions of civil liberty and increasing popular
control which might be expected under American auspices. The work
which we are doing there redounds to our credit as a nation.

I look forward with hope to increasing the already good feeling
between the South and the other sections of the country. My chief
purpose is not to effect a change in the electoral vote of the
Southern States. That is a secondary consideration. What I look
forward to is an increase in the tolerance of political views of
all kinds and their advocacy throughout the South, and the
existence of a respectable political opposition in every State;
even more than this, to an increased feeling on the part of all
the people in the South that this Government is their Government,
and that its officers in their states are their officers.

The consideration of this question can not, however, be complete
and full without reference to the negro race, its progress and its
present condition. The thirteenth amendment secured them freedom;
the fourteenth amendment due process of law, protection of
property, and the pursuit of happiness; and the fifteenth
amendment attempted to secure the negro against any deprivation of
the privilege to vote because he was a negro. The thirteenth and
fourteenth amendments have been generally enforced and have
secured the objects for which they are intended. While the
fifteenth amendment has not been generally observed in the past,
it ought to be observed, and the tendency of Southern legislation
today is toward the enactment of electoral qualifications which
shall square with that amendment. Of course, the mere adoption of
a constitutional law is only one step in the right direction. It
must be fairly and justly enforced as well. In time both will
come. Hence it is clear to all that the domination of an ignorant,
irresponsible element can be prevented by constitutional laws
which shall exclude from voting both negroes and whites not having
education or other qualifications thought to be necessary for a
proper electorate. The danger of the control of an ignorant
electorate has therefore passed. With this change, the interest
which many of the Southern white citizens take in the welfare of
the negroes has increased. The colored men must base their hope on
the results of their own industry, self-restraint, thrift, and
business success, as well as upon the aid and comfort and sympathy
which they may receive from their white neighbors of the South.

There was a time when Northerners who sympathized with the negro
in his necessary struggle for better conditions sought to give him
the suffrage as a protection to enforce its exercise against the
prevailing sentiment of the South. The movement proved to be a
failure. What remains is the fifteenth amendment to the
Constitution and the right to have statutes of States specifying
qualifications for electors subjected to the test of compliance
with that amendment. This is a great protection to the negro. It
never will be repealed, and it never ought to be repealed. If it
had not passed, it might be difficult now to adopt it; but with it
in our fundamental law, the policy of Southern legislation must
and will tend to obey it, and so long as the statutes of the
States meet the test of this amendment and are not otherwise in
conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States, it
is not the disposition or within the province of the Federal
Government to interfere with the regulation by Southern States of
their domestic affairs. There is in the South a stronger feeling
than ever among the intelligent well-to-do, and influential
element in favor of the industrial education of the negro and the
encouragement of the race to make themselves useful members of the
community. The progress which the negro has made in the last fifty
years, from slavery, when its statistics are reviewed, is
marvelous, and it furnishes every reason to hope that in the next
twenty-five years a still greater improvement in his condition as
a productive member of society, on the farm, and in the shop, and
in other occupations may come.

The negroes are now Americans. Their ancestors came here years ago
against their will, and this is their only country and their only
flag. They have shown themselves anxious to live for it and to die
for it. Encountering the race feeling against them, subjected at
times to cruel injustice growing out of it, they may well have our
profound sympathy and aid in the struggle they are making. We are
charged with the sacred duty of making their path as smooth and
easy as we can. Any recognition of their distinguished men, any
appointment to office from among their number, is properly taken
as an encouragement and an appreciation of their progress, and
this just policy should be pursued when suitable occasion offers.

But it may well admit of doubt whether, in the case of any race,
an appointment of one of their number to a local office in a
community in which the race feeling is so widespread and acute as
to interfere with the ease and facility with which the local
government business can be done by the appointee is of sufficient
benefit by way of encouragement to the race to outweigh the
recurrence and increase of race feeling which such an appointment
is likely to engender. Therefore the Executive, in recognizing the
negro race by appointments, must exercise a careful discretion not
thereby to do it more harm than good. On the other hand, we must
be careful not to encourage the mere pretense of race feeling
manufactured in the interest of individual political ambition.

Personally, I have not the slightest race prejudice or feeling,
and recognition of its existence only awakens in my heart a deeper
sympathy for those who have to bear it or suffer from it, and I
question the wisdom of a policy which is likely to increase it.
Meantime, if nothing is done to prevent it, a better feeling
between the negroes and the whites in the South will continue to
grow, and more and more of the white people will come to realize
that the future of the South is to be much benefited by the
industrial and intellectual progress of the negro. The exercise of
political franchises by those of this race who are intelligent and
well to do will be acquiesced in, and the right to vote will be
withheld only from the ignorant and irresponsible of both races.

There is one other matter to which I shall refer. It was made the
subject of great controversy during the election and calls for at
least a passing reference now. My distinguished predecessor has
given much attention to the cause of labor, with whose struggle
for better things he has shown the sincerest sympathy. At his
instance Congress has passed the bill fixing the liability of
interstate carriers to their employees for injury sustained in the
course of employment, abolishing the rule of fellow-servant and
the common-law rule as to contributory negligence, and
substituting therefor the so-called rule of "comparative
negligence." It has also passed a law fixing the compensation of
government employees for injuries sustained in the employ of the
Government through the negligence of the superior. It has also
passed a model child-labor law for the District of Columbia. In
previous administrations an arbitration law for interstate
commerce railroads and their employees, and laws for the
application of safety devices to save the lives and limbs of
employees of interstate railroads had been passed. Additional
legislation of this kind was passed by the outgoing Congress.

I wish to say that insofar as I can I hope to promote the
enactment of further legislation of this character. I am strongly
convinced that the Government should make itself as responsible to
employees injured in its employ as an interstate-railway
corporation is made responsible by federal law to its employees;
and I shall be glad, whenever any additional reasonable safety
device can be invented to reduce the loss of life and limb among
railway employees, to urge Congress to require its adoption by
interstate railways.

Another labor question has arisen which has awakened the most
excited discussion. That is in respect to the power of the federal
courts to issue injunctions in industrial disputes. As to that, my
convictions are fixed. Take away from the courts, if it could be
taken away, the power to issue injunctions in labor disputes, and
it would create a privileged class among the laborers and save the
lawless among their number from a most needful remedy available to
all men for the protection of their business against lawless
invasion. The proposition that business is not a property or
pecuniary right which can be protected by equitable injunction is
utterly without foundation in precedent or reason. The proposition
is usually linked with one to make the secondary boycott lawful.
Such a proposition is at variance with the American instinct, and
will find no support, in my judgment, when submitted to the
American people. The secondary boycott is an instrument of
tyranny, and ought not to be made legitimate.

The issue of a temporary restraining order without notice has in
several instances been abused by its inconsiderate exercise, and
to remedy this the platform upon which I was elected recommends
the formulation in a statute of the conditions under which such a
temporary restraining order ought to issue. A statute can and
ought to be framed to embody the best modern practice, and can
bring the subject so closely to the attention of the court as to
make abuses of the process unlikely in the future. The American
people, if I understand them, insist that the authority of the
courts shall be sustained, and are opposed to any change in the
procedure by which the powers of a court may be weakened and the
fearless and effective administration of justice be interfered

Having thus reviewed the questions likely to recur during my
administration, and having expressed in a summary way the position
which I expect to take in recommendations to Congress and in my
conduct as an Executive, I invoke the considerate sympathy and
support of my fellow-citizens and the aid of the Almighty God in
the discharge of my responsible duties.


Woodrow Wilson


The election of 1912 produced a Democratic victory over the split
vote for President Taft's Republican ticket and Theodore
Roosevelt's Progressive Party. The Governor of New Jersey and
former Princeton University president was accompanied by President
Taft to the Capitol. The oath of office was administered on the
East Portico by Chief Justice Edward White.

There has been a change of government. It began two years ago,
when the House of Representatives became Democratic by a decisive
majority. It has now been completed. The Senate about to assemble
will also be Democratic. The offices of President and Vice-
President have been put into the hands of Democrats. What does the
change mean? That is the question that is uppermost in our minds
to-day. That is the question I am going to try to answer, in
order, if I may, to interpret the occasion.

It means much more than the mere success of a party. The success
of a party means little except when the Nation is using that party
for a large and definite purpose. No one can mistake the purpose
for which the Nation now seeks to use the Democratic Party. It
seeks to use it to interpret a change in its own plans and point
of view. Some old things with which we had grown familiar, and
which had begun to creep into the very habit of our thought and of
our lives, have altered their aspect as we have latterly looked
critically upon them, with fresh, awakened eyes; have dropped
their disguises and shown themselves alien and sinister. Some new
things, as we look frankly upon them, willing to comprehend their
real character, have come to assume the aspect of things long
believed in and familiar, stuff of our own convictions. We have
been refreshed by a new insight into our own life.

We see that in many things that life is very great. It is
incomparably great in its material aspects, in its body of wealth,
in the diversity and sweep of its energy, in the industries which
have been conceived and built up by the genius of individual men
and the limitless enterprise of groups of men. It is great, also,
very great, in its moral force. Nowhere else in the world have
noble men and women exhibited in more striking forms the beauty
and the energy of sympathy and helpfulness and counsel in their
efforts to rectify wrong, alleviate suffering, and set the weak in
the way of strength and hope. We have built up, moreover, a great
system of government, which has stood through a long age as in
many respects a model for those who seek to set liberty upon
foundations that will endure against fortuitous change, against
storm and accident. Our life contains every great thing, and
contains it in rich abundance.

But the evil has come with the good, and much fine gold has been
corroded. With riches has come inexcusable waste. We have
squandered a great part of what we might have used, and have not
stopped to conserve the exceeding bounty of nature, without which
our genius for enterprise would have been worthless and impotent,
scorning to be careful, shamefully prodigal as well as admirably
efficient. We have been proud of our industrial achievements, but
we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the
human cost, the cost of lives snuffed out, of energies overtaxed
and broken, the fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and
women and children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all
has fallen pitilessly the years through. The groans and agony of
it all had not yet reached our ears, the solemn, moving undertone
of our life, coming up out of the mines and factories, and out of
every home where the struggle had its intimate and familiar seat.
With the great Government went many deep secret things which we
too long delayed to look into and scrutinize with candid, fearless
eyes. The great Government we loved has too often been made use of
for private and selfish purposes, and those who used it had
forgotten the people.

At last a vision has been vouchsafed us of our life as a whole. We
see the bad with the good, the debased and decadent with the sound
and vital. With this vision we approach new affairs. Our duty is
to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without
impairing the good, to purify and humanize every process of our
common life without weakening or sentimentalizing it. There has
been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to
succeed and be great. Our thought has been "Let every man look out
for himself, let every generation look out for itself," while we
reared giant machinery which made it impossible that any but those
who stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look
out for themselves. We had not forgotten our morals. We remembered
well enough that we had set up a policy which was meant to serve
the humblest as well as the most powerful, with an eye single to
the standards of justice and fair play, and remembered it with
pride. But we were very heedless and in a hurry to be great.

We have come now to the sober second thought. The scales of
heedlessness have fallen from our eyes. We have made up our minds
to square every process of our national life again with the
standards we so proudly set up at the beginning and have always
carried at our hearts. Our work is a work of restoration.

We have itemized with some degree of particularity the things that
ought to be altered and here are some of the chief items: A tariff
which cuts us off from our proper part in the commerce of the
world, violates the just principles of taxation, and makes the
Government a facile instrument in the hand of private interests; a
banking and currency system based upon the necessity of the
Government to sell its bonds fifty years ago and perfectly adapted
to concentrating cash and restricting credits; an industrial
system which, take it on all its sides, financial as well as
administrative, holds capital in leading strings, restricts the
liberties and limits the opportunities of labor, and exploits
without renewing or conserving the natural resources of the
country; a body of agricultural activities never yet given the
efficiency of great business undertakings or served as it should
be through the instrumentality of science taken directly to the
farm, or afforded the facilities of credit best suited to its
practical needs; watercourses undeveloped, waste places
unreclaimed, forests untended, fast disappearing without plan or
prospect of renewal, unregarded waste heaps at every mine. We have
studied as perhaps no other nation has the most effective means of
production, but we have not studied cost or economy as we should
either as organizers of industry, as statesmen, or as individuals.

Nor have we studied and perfected the means by which government
may be put at the service of humanity, in safeguarding the health
of the Nation, the health of its men and its women and its
children, as well as their rights in the struggle for existence.
This is no sentimental duty. The firm basis of government is
justice, not pity. These are matters of justice. There can be no
equality or opportunity, the first essential of justice in the
body politic, if men and women and children be not shielded in
their lives, their very vitality, from the consequences of great
industrial and social processes which they can not alter, control,
or singly cope with. Society must see to it that it does not
itself crush or weaken or damage its own constituent parts. The
first duty of law is to keep sound the society it serves. Sanitary
laws, pure food laws, and laws determining conditions of labor
which individuals are powerless to determine for themselves are
intimate parts of the very business of justice and legal

These are some of the things we ought to do, and not leave the
others undone, the old-fashioned, never-to-be-neglected,
fundamental safeguarding of property and of individual right. This
is the high enterprise of the new day: To lift everything that
concerns our life as a Nation to the light that shines from the
hearthfire of every man's conscience and vision of the right. It
is inconceivable that we should do this as partisans; it is
inconceivable we should do it in ignorance of the facts as they
are or in blind haste. We shall restore, not destroy. We shall
deal with our economic system as it is and as it may be modified,
not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to write upon;
and step by step we shall make it what it should be, in the spirit
of those who question their own wisdom and seek counsel and
knowledge, not shallow self-satisfaction or the excitement of
excursions whither they can not tell. Justice, and only justice,
shall always be our motto.

And yet it will be no cool process of mere science. The Nation has
been deeply stirred, stirred by a solemn passion, stirred by the
knowledge of wrong, of ideals lost, of government too often
debauched and made an instrument of evil. The feelings with which
we face this new age of right and opportunity sweep across our
heartstrings like some air out of God's own presence, where
justice and mercy are reconciled and the judge and the brother are
one. We know our task to be no mere task of politics but a task
which shall search us through and through, whether we be able to
understand our time and the need of our people, whether we be
indeed their spokesmen and interpreters, whether we have the pure
heart to comprehend and the rectified will to choose our high
course of action.

This is not a day of triumph; it is a day of dedication. Here
muster, not the forces of party, but the forces of humanity. Men's
hearts wait upon us; men's lives hang in the balance; men's hopes
call upon us to say what we will do. Who shall live up to the
great trust? Who dares fail to try? I summon all honest men, all
patriotic, all forward-looking men, to my side. God helping me, I
will not fail them, if they will but counsel and sustain me!


Woodrow Wilson


March 4 was a Sunday, but the President took the oath of office at
the Capitol in the President's Room that morning. The oath was
taken again the next day, administered by Chief Justice Edward
White on the East Portico of the Capitol. The specter of war with
Germany hung over the events surrounding the inauguration. A
Senate filibuster on arming American merchant vessels against
submarine attacks had closed the last hours of the Sixty-fourth
Congress without passage. Despite the campaign slogan "He kept us
out of war," the President asked Congress on April 2 to declare
war. It was declared on April 6.

My Fellow Citizens:

The four years which have elapsed since last I stood in this place
have been crowded with counsel and action of the most vital
interest and consequence. Perhaps no equal period in our history
has been so fruitful of important reforms in our economic and
industrial life or so full of significant changes in the spirit
and purpose of our political action. We have sought very
thoughtfully to set our house in order, correct the grosser errors
and abuses of our industrial life, liberate and quicken the
processes of our national genius and energy, and lift our politics
to a broader view of the people's essential interests.

It is a record of singular variety and singular distinction. But I
shall not attempt to review it. It speaks for itself and will be
of increasing influence as the years go by. This is not the time
for retrospect. It is time rather to speak our thoughts and
purposes concerning the present and the immediate future.

Although we have centered counsel and action with such unusual
concentration and success upon the great problems of domestic
legislation to which we addressed ourselves four years ago, other
matters have more and more forced themselves upon our attention--
matters lying outside our own life as a nation and over which we
had no control, but which, despite our wish to keep free of them,
have drawn us more and more irresistibly into their own current
and influence.

It has been impossible to avoid them. They have affected the life
of the whole world. They have shaken men everywhere with a passion
and an apprehension they never knew before. It has been hard to
preserve calm counsel while the thought of our own people swayed
this way and that under their influence. We are a composite and
cosmopolitan people. We are of the blood of all the nations that
are at war. The currents of our thoughts as well as the currents
of our trade run quick at all seasons back and forth between us
and them. The war inevitably set its mark from the first alike
upon our minds, our industries, our commerce, our politics and our
social action. To be indifferent to it, or independent of it, was
out of the question.

And yet all the while we have been conscious that we were not part
of it. In that consciousness, despite many divisions, we have
drawn closer together. We have been deeply wronged upon the seas,
but we have not wished to wrong or injure in return; have retained
throughout the consciousness of standing in some sort apart,
intent upon an interest that transcended the immediate issues of
the war itself.

As some of the injuries done us have become intolerable we have
still been clear that we wished nothing for ourselves that we were
not ready to demand for all mankind--fair dealing, justice, the
freedom to live and to be at ease against organized wrong.

It is in this spirit and with this thought that we have grown more
and more aware, more and more certain that the part we wished to
play was the part of those who mean to vindicate and fortify
peace. We have been obliged to arm ourselves to make good our
claim to a certain minimum of right and of freedom of action. We
stand firm in armed neutrality since it seems that in no other way
we can demonstrate what it is we insist upon and cannot forget. We
may even be drawn on, by circumstances, not by our own purpose or
desire, to a more active assertion of our rights as we see them
and a more immediate association with the great struggle itself.
But nothing will alter our thought or our purpose. They are too
clear to be obscured. They are too deeply rooted in the principles
of our national life to be altered. We desire neither conquest nor
advantage. We wish nothing that can be had only at the cost of
another people. We always professed unselfish purpose and we covet
the opportunity to prove our professions are sincere.

There are many things still to be done at home, to clarify our own
politics and add new vitality to the industrial processes of our
own life, and we shall do them as time and opportunity serve, but
we realize that the greatest things that remain to be done must be
done with the whole world for stage and in cooperation with the
wide and universal forces of mankind, and we are making our
spirits ready for those things.

We are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the thirty
months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have
made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back. Our
own fortunes as a nation are involved whether we would have it so
or not.

And yet we are not the less Americans on that account. We shall be
the more American if we but remain true to the principles in which
we have been bred. They are not the principles of a province or of
a single continent. We have known and boasted all along that they
were the principles of a liberated mankind. These, therefore, are
the things we shall stand for, whether in war or in peace:

That all nations are equally interested in the peace of the world
and in the political stability of free peoples, and equally
responsible for their maintenance; that the essential principle of
peace is the actual equality of nations in all matters of right or
privilege; that peace cannot securely or justly rest upon an armed
balance of power; that governments derive all their just powers
from the consent of the governed and that no other powers should
be supported by the common thought, purpose or power of the family
of nations; that the seas should be equally free and safe for the
use of all peoples, under rules set up by common agreement and
consent, and that, so far as practicable, they should be
accessible to all upon equal terms; that national armaments shall
be limited to the necessities of national order and domestic
safety; that the community of interest and of power upon which
peace must henceforth depend imposes upon each nation the duty of
seeing to it that all influences proceeding from its own citizens
meant to encourage or assist revolution in other states should be
sternly and effectually suppressed and prevented.

I need not argue these principles to you, my fellow countrymen;
they are your own part and parcel of your own thinking and your
own motives in affairs. They spring up native amongst us. Upon
this as a platform of purpose and of action we can stand together.
And it is imperative that we should stand together. We are being
forged into a new unity amidst the fires that now blaze throughout
the world. In their ardent heat we shall, in God's Providence, let
us hope, be purged of faction and division, purified of the errant
humors of party and of private interest, and shall stand forth in
the days to come with a new dignity of national pride and spirit.
Let each man see to it that the dedication is in his own heart,
the high purpose of the nation in his own mind, ruler of his own
will and desire.

I stand here and have taken the high and solemn oath to which you
have been audience because the people of the United States have
chosen me for this august delegation of power and have by their
gracious judgment named me their leader in affairs.

I know now what the task means. I realize to the full the
responsibility which it involves. I pray God I may be given the
wisdom and the prudence to do my duty in the true spirit of this
great people. I am their servant and can succeed only as they
sustain and guide me by their confidence and their counsel. The
thing I shall count upon, the thing without which neither counsel
nor action will avail, is the unity of America--an America united
in feeling, in purpose and in its vision of duty, of opportunity
and of service.

We are to beware of all men who would turn the tasks and the
necessities of the nation to their own private profit or use them
for the building up of private power.

United alike in the conception of our duty and in the high resolve
to perform it in the face of all men, let us dedicate ourselves to
the great task to which we must now set our hand. For myself I beg
your tolerance, your countenance and your united aid.

The shadows that now lie dark upon our path will soon be
dispelled, and we shall walk with the light all about us if we be
but true to ourselves--to ourselves as we have wished to be known
in the counsels of the world and in the thought of all those who
love liberty and justice and the right exalted.


Warren G. Harding


Senator Harding from Ohio was the first sitting Senator to be
elected President. A former newspaper publisher and Governor of
Ohio, the President-elect rode to the Capitol with President
Wilson in the first automobile to be used in an inauguration.
President Wilson had suffered a stroke in 1919, and his fragile
health prevented his attendance at the ceremony on the East
Portico of the Capitol. The oath of office was administered by
Chief Justice Edward White, using the Bible from George
Washington's first inauguration. The address to the crowd at the
Capitol was broadcast on a loudspeaker. A simple parade followed.

My Countrymen:

When one surveys the world about him after the great storm, noting
the marks of destruction and yet rejoicing in the ruggedness of
the things which withstood it, if he is an American he breathes
the clarified atmosphere with a strange mingling of regret and new
hope. We have seen a world passion spend its fury, but we
contemplate our Republic unshaken, and hold our civilization
secure. Liberty--liberty within the law--and civilization are
inseparable, and though both were threatened we find them now
secure; and there comes to Americans the profound assurance that
our representative government is the highest expression and surest
guaranty of both.

Standing in this presence, mindful of the solemnity of this
occasion, feeling the emotions which no one may know until he
senses the great weight of responsibility for himself, I must
utter my belief in the divine inspiration of the founding fathers.
Surely there must have been God's intent in the making of this
new-world Republic. Ours is an organic law which had but one
ambiguity, and we saw that effaced in a baptism of sacrifice and
blood, with union maintained, the Nation supreme, and its concord
inspiring. We have seen the world rivet its hopeful gaze on the
great truths on which the founders wrought. We have seen civil,
human, and religious liberty verified and glorified. In the
beginning the Old World scoffed at our experiment; today our
foundations of political and social belief stand unshaken, a
precious inheritance to ourselves, an inspiring example of freedom
and civilization to all mankind. Let us express renewed and
strengthened devotion, in grateful reverence for the immortal
beginning, and utter our confidence in the supreme fulfillment.

The recorded progress of our Republic, materially and spiritually,
in itself proves the wisdom of the inherited policy of
noninvolvement in Old World affairs. Confident of our ability to
work out our own destiny, and jealously guarding our right to do
so, we seek no part in directing the destinies of the Old World.
We do not mean to be entangled. We will accept no responsibility
except as our own conscience and judgment, in each instance, may

Our eyes never will be blind to a developing menace, our ears
never deaf to the call of civilization. We recognize the new order
in the world, with the closer contacts which progress has wrought.
We sense the call of the human heart for fellowship, fraternity,
and cooperation. We crave friendship and harbor no hate. But
America, our America, the America builded on the foundation laid
by the inspired fathers, can be a party to no permanent military
alliance. It can enter into no political commitments, nor assume
any economic obligations which will subject our decisions to any
other than our own authority.

I am sure our own people will not misunderstand, nor will the
world misconstrue. We have no thought to impede the paths to
closer relationship. We wish to promote understanding. We want to
do our part in making offensive warfare so hateful that
Governments and peoples who resort to it must prove the
righteousness of their cause or stand as outlaws before the bar of

We are ready to associate ourselves with the nations of the world,
great and small, for conference, for counsel; to seek the
expressed views of world opinion; to recommend a way to
approximate disarmament and relieve the crushing burdens of
military and naval establishments. We elect to participate in
suggesting plans for mediation, conciliation, and arbitration, and
would gladly join in that expressed conscience of progress, which
seeks to clarify and write the laws of international relationship,
and establish a world court for the disposition of such
justiciable questions as nations are agreed to submit thereto. In
expressing aspirations, in seeking practical plans, in translating
humanity's new concept of righteousness and justice and its hatred
of war into recommended action we are ready most heartily to
unite, but every commitment must be made in the exercise of our
national sovereignty. Since freedom impelled, and independence
inspired, and nationality exalted, a world supergovernment is
contrary to everything we cherish and can have no sanction by our
Republic. This is not selfishness, it is sanctity. It is not
aloofness, it is security. It is not suspicion of others, it is
patriotic adherence to the things which made us what we are.

Today, better than ever before, we know the aspirations of
humankind, and share them. We have come to a new realization of
our place in the world and a new appraisal of our Nation by the
world. The unselfishness of these United States is a thing proven;
our devotion to peace for ourselves and for the world is well
established; our concern for preserved civilization has had its
impassioned and heroic expression. There was no American failure
to resist the attempted reversion of civilization; there will be
no failure today or tomorrow.

The success of our popular government rests wholly upon the
correct interpretation of the deliberate, intelligent, dependable
popular will of America. In a deliberate questioning of a
suggested change of national policy, where internationality was to
supersede nationality, we turned to a referendum, to the American
people. There was ample discussion, and there is a public mandate
in manifest understanding.

America is ready to encourage, eager to initiate, anxious to
participate in any seemly program likely to lessen the probability
of war, and promote that brotherhood of mankind which must be
God's highest conception of human relationship. Because we cherish
ideals of justice and peace, because we appraise international
comity and helpful relationship no less highly than any people of
the world, we aspire to a high place in the moral leadership of
civilization, and we hold a maintained America, the proven
Republic, the unshaken temple of representative democracy, to be
not only an inspiration and example, but the highest agency of
strengthening good will and promoting accord on both continents.

Mankind needs a world-wide benediction of understanding. It is
needed among individuals, among peoples, among governments, and it
will inaugurate an era of good feeling to make the birth of a new
order. In such understanding men will strive confidently for the
promotion of their better relationships and nations will promote
the comities so essential to peace.

We must understand that ties of trade bind nations in closest
intimacy, and none may receive except as he gives. We have not
strengthened ours in accordance with our resources or our genius,
notably on our own continent, where a galaxy of Republics reflects
the glory of new-world democracy, but in the new order of finance
and trade we mean to promote enlarged activities and seek expanded

Perhaps we can make no more helpful contribution by example than
prove a Republic's capacity to emerge from the wreckage of war.
While the world's embittered travail did not leave us devastated
lands nor desolated cities, left no gaping wounds, no breast with
hate, it did involve us in the delirium of expenditure, in
expanded currency and credits, in unbalanced industry, in
unspeakable waste, and disturbed relationships. While it uncovered
our portion of hateful selfishness at home, it also revealed the
heart of America as sound and fearless, and beating in confidence

Amid it all we have riveted the gaze of all civilization to the
unselfishness and the righteousness of representative democracy,
where our freedom never has made offensive warfare, never has
sought territorial aggrandizement through force, never has turned
to the arbitrament of arms until reason has been exhausted. When
the Governments of the earth shall have established a freedom like
our own and shall have sanctioned the pursuit of peace as we have
practiced it, I believe the last sorrow and the final sacrifice of
international warfare will have been written.

Let me speak to the maimed and wounded soldiers who are present
today, and through them convey to their comrades the gratitude of
the Republic for their sacrifices in its defense. A generous
country will never forget the services you rendered, and you may
hope for a policy under Government that will relieve any maimed
successors from taking your places on another such occasion as

Our supreme task is the resumption of our onward, normal way.
Reconstruction, readjustment, restoration all these must follow. I
would like to hasten them. If it will lighten the spirit and add
to the resolution with which we take up the task, let me repeat
for our Nation, we shall give no people just cause to make war
upon us; we hold no national prejudices; we entertain no spirit of
revenge; we do not hate; we do not covet; we dream of no conquest,
nor boast of armed prowess.

If, despite this attitude, war is again forced upon us, I
earnestly hope a way may be found which will unify our individual
and collective strength and consecrate all America, materially and
spiritually, body and soul, to national defense. I can vision the
ideal republic, where every man and woman is called under the flag
for assignment to duty for whatever service, military or civic,
the individual is best fitted; where we may call to universal
service every plant, agency, or facility, all in the sublime
sacrifice for country, and not one penny of war profit shall inure
to the benefit of private individual, corporation, or combination,
but all above the normal shall flow into the defense chest of the
Nation. There is something inherently wrong, something out of
accord with the ideals of representative democracy, when one
portion of our citizenship turns its activities to private gain
amid defensive war while another is fighting, sacrificing, or
dying for national preservation.

Out of such universal service will come a new unity of spirit and
purpose, a new confidence and consecration, which would make our
defense impregnable, our triumph assured. Then we should have
little or no disorganization of our economic, industrial, and
commercial systems at home, no staggering war debts, no swollen
fortunes to flout the sacrifices of our soldiers, no excuse for
sedition, no pitiable slackerism, no outrage of treason. Envy and
jealousy would have no soil for their menacing development, and
revolution would be without the passion which engenders it.

A regret for the mistakes of yesterday must not, however, blind us
to the tasks of today. War never left such an aftermath. There has
been staggering loss of life and measureless wastage of materials.
Nations are still groping for return to stable ways. Discouraging
indebtedness confronts us like all the war-torn nations, and these
obligations must be provided for. No civilization can survive

We can reduce the abnormal expenditures, and we will. We can
strike at war taxation, and we must. We must face the grim
necessity, with full knowledge that the task is to be solved, and
we must proceed with a full realization that no statute enacted by
man can repeal the inexorable laws of nature. Our most dangerous
tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time
do for it too little. We contemplate the immediate task of putting
our public household in order. We need a rigid and yet sane
economy, combined with fiscal justice, and it must be attended by
individual prudence and thrift, which are so essential to this
trying hour and reassuring for the future.

The business world reflects the disturbance of war's reaction.
Herein flows the lifeblood of material existence. The economic
mechanism is intricate and its parts interdependent, and has
suffered the shocks and jars incident to abnormal demands, credit
inflations, and price upheavals. The normal balances have been
impaired, the channels of distribution have been clogged, the
relations of labor and management have been strained. We must seek
the readjustment with care and courage. Our people must give and
take. Prices must reflect the receding fever of war activities.
Perhaps we never shall know the old levels of wages again, because
war invariably readjusts compensations, and the necessaries of
life will show their inseparable relationship, but we must strive
for normalcy to reach stability. All the penalties will not be
light, nor evenly distributed. There is no way of making them so.
There is no instant step from disorder to order. We must face a
condition of grim reality, charge off our losses and start afresh.
It is the oldest lesson of civilization. I would like government
to do all it can to mitigate; then, in understanding, in mutuality
of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be
solved. No altered system will work a miracle. Any wild experiment
will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in
efficient administration of our proven system.

The forward course of the business cycle is unmistakable. Peoples
are turning from destruction to production. Industry has sensed
the changed order and our own people are turning to resume their
normal, onward way. The call is for productive America to go on. I
know that Congress and the Administration will favor every wise
Government policy to aid the resumption and encourage continued

I speak for administrative efficiency, for lightened tax burdens,
for sound commercial practices, for adequate credit facilities,
for sympathetic concern for all agricultural problems, for the
omission of unnecessary interference of Government with business,
for an end to Government's experiment in business, and for more
efficient business in Government administration. With all of this
must attend a mindfulness of the human side of all activities, so
that social, industrial, and economic justice will be squared with
the purposes of a righteous people.

With the nation-wide induction of womanhood into our political
life, we may count upon her intuitions, her refinements, her
intelligence, and her influence to exalt the social order. We
count upon her exercise of the full privileges and the performance
of the duties of citizenship to speed the attainment of the
highest state.

I wish for an America no less alert in guarding against dangers
from within than it is watchful against enemies from without. Our
fundamental law recognizes no class, no group, no section; there
must be none in legislation or administration. The supreme
inspiration is the common weal. Humanity hungers for international
peace, and we crave it with all mankind. My most reverent prayer
for America is for industrial peace, with its rewards, widely and
generally distributed, amid the inspirations of equal opportunity.
No one justly may deny the equality of opportunity which made us
what we are. We have mistaken unpreparedness to embrace it to be a
challenge of the reality, and due concern for making all citizens
fit for participation will give added strength of citizenship and
magnify our achievement.

If revolution insists upon overturning established order, let
other peoples make the tragic experiment. There is no place for it
in America. When World War threatened civilization we pledged our
resources and our lives to its preservation, and when revolution
threatens we unfurl the flag of law and order and renew our
consecration. Ours is a constitutional freedom where the popular
will is the law supreme and minorities are sacredly protected. Our
revisions, reformations, and evolutions reflect a deliberate
judgment and an orderly progress, and we mean to cure our ills,
but never destroy or permit destruction by force.

I had rather submit our industrial controversies to the conference
table in advance than to a settlement table after conflict and
suffering. The earth is thirsting for the cup of good will,
understanding is its fountain source. I would like to acclaim an
era of good feeling amid dependable prosperity and all the
blessings which attend.

It has been proved again and again that we cannot, while throwing
our markets open to the world, maintain American standards of
living and opportunity, and hold our industrial eminence in such
unequal competition. There is a luring fallacy in the theory of
banished barriers of trade, but preserved American standards
require our higher production costs to be reflected in our tariffs
on imports. Today, as never before, when peoples are seeking trade
restoration and expansion, we must adjust our tariffs to the new
order. We seek participation in the world's exchanges, because
therein lies our way to widened influence and the triumphs of
peace. We know full well we cannot sell where we do not buy, and
we cannot sell successfully where we do not carry. Opportunity is
calling not alone for the restoration, but for a new era in
production, transportation and trade. We shall answer it best by
meeting the demand of a surpassing home market, by promoting self-
reliance in production, and by bidding enterprise, genius, and
efficiency to carry our cargoes in American bottoms to the marts
of the world.

We would not have an America living within and for herself alone,
but we would have her self-reliant, independent, and ever nobler,
stronger, and richer. Believing in our higher standards, reared
through constitutional liberty and maintained opportunity, we
invite the world to the same heights. But pride in things wrought
is no reflex of a completed task. Common welfare is the goal of
our national endeavor. Wealth is not inimical to welfare; it ought
to be its friendliest agency. There never can be equality of
rewards or possessions so long as the human plan contains varied
talents and differing degrees of industry and thrift, but ours
ought to be a country free from the great blotches of distressed
poverty. We ought to find a way to guard against the perils and
penalties of unemployment. We want an America of homes, illumined
with hope and happiness, where mothers, freed from the necessity
for long hours of toil beyond their own doors, may preside as
befits the hearthstone of American citizenship. We want the cradle
of American childhood rocked under conditions so wholesome and so
hopeful that no blight may touch it in its development, and we
want to provide that no selfish interest, no material necessity,
no lack of opportunity shall prevent the gaining of that education
so essential to best citizenship.

There is no short cut to the making of these ideals into glad
realities. The world has witnessed again and again the futility
and the mischief of ill-considered remedies for social and
economic disorders. But we are mindful today as never before of
the friction of modern industrialism, and we must learn its causes
and reduce its evil consequences by sober and tested methods.
Where genius has made for great possibilities, justice and
happiness must be reflected in a greater common welfare.

Service is the supreme commitment of life. I would rejoice to
acclaim the era of the Golden Rule and crown it with the autocracy
of service. I pledge an administration wherein all the agencies of
Government are called to serve, and ever promote an understanding
of Government purely as an expression of the popular will.

One cannot stand in this presence and be unmindful of the
tremendous responsibility. The world upheaval has added heavily to
our tasks. But with the realization comes the surge of high
resolve, and there is reassurance in belief in the God-given
destiny of our Republic. If I felt that there is to be sole
responsibility in the Executive for the America of tomorrow I
should shrink from the burden. But here are a hundred millions,
with common concern and shared responsibility, answerable to God
and country. The Republic summons them to their duty, and I invite

I accept my part with single-mindedness of purpose and humility of
spirit, and implore the favor and guidance of God in His Heaven.
With these I am unafraid, and confidently face the future.

I have taken the solemn oath of office on that passage of Holy
Writ wherein it is asked: "What doth the Lord require of thee but
to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
This I plight to God and country.


Calvin Coolidge


In 1923 President Coolidge first took the oath of office,
administered by his father, a justice of the peace and a notary,
in his family's sitting room in Plymouth, Vermont. President
Harding had died while traveling in the western States. A year
later, the President was elected on the slogan "Keep Cool with
Coolidge." Chief Justice William Howard Taft administered the oath
of office on the East Portico of the Capitol. The event was
broadcast to the nation by radio.

My Countrymen:

No one can contemplate current conditions without finding much
that is satisfying and still more that is encouraging. Our own
country is leading the world in the general readjustment to the
results of the great conflict. Many of its burdens will bear
heavily upon us for years, and the secondary and indirect effects
we must expect to experience for some time. But we are beginning
to comprehend more definitely what course should be pursued, what
remedies ought to be applied, what actions should be taken for our
deliverance, and are clearly manifesting a determined will
faithfully and conscientiously to adopt these methods of relief.
Already we have sufficiently rearranged our domestic affairs so
that confidence has returned, business has revived, and we appear
to be entering an era of prosperity which is gradually reaching
into every part of the Nation. Realizing that we can not live unto
ourselves alone, we have contributed of our resources and our
counsel to the relief of the suffering and the settlement of the
disputes among the European nations. Because of what America is
and what America has done, a firmer courage, a higher hope,
inspires the heart of all humanity.

These results have not occurred by mere chance. They have been
secured by a constant and enlightened effort marked by many
sacrifices and extending over many generations. We can not
continue these brilliant successes in the future, unless we
continue to learn from the past. It is necessary to keep the
former experiences of our country both at home and abroad
continually before us, if we are to have any science of
government. If we wish to erect new structures, we must have a
definite knowledge of the old foundations. We must realize that
human nature is about the most constant thing in the universe and
that the essentials of human relationship do not change. We must
frequently take our bearings from these fixed stars of our
political firmament if we expect to hold a true course. If we
examine carefully what we have done, we can determine the more
accurately what we can do.

We stand at the opening of the one hundred and fiftieth year since
our national consciousness first asserted itself by unmistakable
action with an array of force. The old sentiment of detached and
dependent colonies disappeared in the new sentiment of a united
and independent Nation. Men began to discard the narrow confines
of a local charter for the broader opportunities of a national
constitution. Under the eternal urge of freedom we became an
independent Nation. A little less than 50 years later that freedom
and independence were reasserted in the face of all the world, and
guarded, supported, and secured by the Monroe doctrine. The narrow
fringe of States along the Atlantic seaboard advanced its
frontiers across the hills and plains of an intervening continent
until it passed down the golden slope to the Pacific. We made
freedom a birthright. We extended our domain over distant islands
in order to safeguard our own interests and accepted the
consequent obligation to bestow justice and liberty upon less
favored peoples. In the defense of our own ideals and in the
general cause of liberty we entered the Great War. When victory
had been fully secured, we withdrew to our own shores
unrecompensed save in the consciousness of duty done.

Throughout all these experiences we have enlarged our freedom, we
have strengthened our independence. We have been, and propose to
be, more and more American. We believe that we can best serve our
own country and most successfully discharge our obligations to
humanity by continuing to be openly and candidly, in tensely and
scrupulously, American. If we have any heritage, it has been that.
If we have any destiny, we have found it in that direction.

But if we wish to continue to be distinctively American, we must
continue to make that term comprehensive enough to embrace the
legitimate desires of a civilized and enlightened people
determined in all their relations to pursue a conscientious and
religious life. We can not permit ourselves to be narrowed and
dwarfed by slogans and phrases. It is not the adjective, but the
substantive, which is of real importance. It is not the name of
the action, but the result of the action, which is the chief
concern. It will be well not to be too much disturbed by the
thought of either isolation or entanglement of pacifists and
militarists. The physical configuration of the earth has separated
us from all of the Old World, but the common brotherhood of man,
the highest law of all our being, has united us by inseparable
bonds with all humanity. Our country represents nothing but
peaceful intentions toward all the earth, but it ought not to fail
to maintain such a military force as comports with the dignity and
security of a great people. It ought to be a balanced force,
intensely modem, capable of defense by sea and land, beneath the
surface and in the air. But it should be so conducted that all the
world may see in it, not a menace, but an instrument of security
and peace.

This Nation believes thoroughly in an honorable peace under which
the rights of its citizens are to be everywhere protected. It has
never found that the necessary enjoyment of such a peace could be
maintained only by a great and threatening array of arms. In
common with other nations, it is now more determined than ever to
promote peace through friendliness and good will, through mutual
understandings and mutual forbearance. We have never practiced the
policy of competitive armaments. We have recently committed
ourselves by covenants with the other great nations to a
limitation of our sea power. As one result of this, our Navy ranks
larger, in comparison, than it ever did before. Removing the
burden of expense and jealousy, which must always accrue from a
keen rivalry, is one of the most effective methods of diminishing
that unreasonable hysteria and misunderstanding which are the most
potent means of fomenting war. This policy represents a new
departure in the world. It is a thought, an ideal, which has led
to an entirely new line of action. It will not be easy to
maintain. Some never moved from their old positions, some are
constantly slipping back to the old ways of thought and the old
action of seizing a musket and relying on force. America has taken
the lead in this new direction, and that lead America must
continue to hold. If we expect others to rely on our fairness and
justice we must show that we rely on their fairness and justice.

If we are to judge by past experience, there is much to be hoped
for in international relations from frequent conferences and
consultations. We have before us the beneficial results of the
Washington conference and the various consultations recently held
upon European affairs, some of which were in response to our
suggestions and in some of which we were active participants. Even
the failures can not but be accounted useful and an immeasurable
advance over threatened or actual warfare. I am strongly in favor
of continuation of this policy, whenever conditions are such that
there is even a promise that practical and favorable results might
be secured.

In conformity with the principle that a display of reason rather
than a threat of force should be the determining factor in the
intercourse among nations, we have long advocated the peaceful
settlement of disputes by methods of arbitration and have
negotiated many treaties to secure that result. The same
considerations should lead to our adherence to the Permanent Court
of International Justice. Where great principles are involved,
where great movements are under way which promise much for the
welfare of humanity by reason of the very fact that many other
nations have given such movements their actual support, we ought
not to withhold our own sanction because of any small and
inessential difference, but only upon the ground of the most
important and compelling fundamental reasons. We can not barter
away our independence or our sovereignty, but we ought to engage
in no refinements of logic, no sophistries, and no subterfuges, to
argue away the undoubted duty of this country by reason of the
might of its numbers, the power of its resources, and its position
of leadership in the world, actively and comprehensively to
signify its approval and to bear its full share of the
responsibility of a candid and disinterested attempt at the
establishment of a tribunal for the administration of even-handed
justice between nation and nation. The weight of our enormous
influence must be cast upon the side of a reign not of force but
of law and trial, not by battle but by reason.

We have never any wish to interfere in the political conditions of
any other countries. Especially are we determined not to become
implicated in the political controversies of the Old World. With a
great deal of hesitation, we have responded to appeals for help to
maintain order, protect life and property, and establish
responsible government in some of the small countries of the
Western Hemisphere. Our private citizens have advanced large sums
of money to assist in the necessary financing and relief of the
Old World. We have not failed, nor shall we fail to respond,
whenever necessary to mitigate human suffering and assist in the
rehabilitation of distressed nations. These, too, are requirements
which must be met by reason of our vast powers and the place we
hold in the world.

Some of the best thought of mankind has long been seeking for a
formula for permanent peace. Undoubtedly the clarification of the
principles of international law would be helpful, and the efforts
of scholars to prepare such a work for adoption by the various
nations should have our sympathy and support. Much may be hoped
for from the earnest studies of those who advocate the outlawing
of aggressive war. But all these plans and preparations, these
treaties and covenants, will not of themselves be adequate. One of
the greatest dangers to peace lies in the economic pressure to
which people find themselves subjected. One of the most practical
things to be done in the world is to seek arrangements under which
such pressure may be removed, so that opportunity may be renewed
and hope may be revived. There must be some assurance that effort
and endeavor will be followed by success and prosperity. In the
making and financing of such adjustments there is not only an
opportunity, but a real duty, for America to respond with her
counsel and her resources. Conditions must be provided under which
people can make a living and work out of their difficulties. But
there is another element, more important than all, without which
there can not be the slightest hope of a permanent peace. That
element lies in the heart of humanity. Unless the desire for peace
be cherished there, unless this fundamental and only natural
source of brotherly love be cultivated to its highest degree, all
artificial efforts will be in vain. Peace will come when there is
realization that only under a reign of law, based on righteousness
and supported by the religious conviction of the brotherhood of
man, can there be any hope of a complete and satisfying life.
Parchment will fail, the sword will fail, it is only the spiritual
nature of man that can be triumphant.

It seems altogether probable that we can contribute most to these
important objects by maintaining our position of political
detachment and independence. We are not identified with any Old
World interests. This position should be made more and more clear
in our relations with all foreign countries. We are at peace with
all of them. Our program is never to oppress, but always to
assist. But while we do justice to others, we must require that
justice be done to us. With us a treaty of peace means peace, and
a treaty of amity means amity. We have made great contributions to
the settlement of contentious differences in both Europe and Asia.
But there is a very definite point beyond which we can not go. We
can only help those who help themselves. Mindful of these
limitations, the one great duty that stands out requires us to use
our enormous powers to trim the balance of the world.

While we can look with a great deal of pleasure upon what we have
done abroad, we must remember that our continued success in that
direction depends upon what we do at home. Since its very outset,
it has been found necessary to conduct our Government by means of
political parties. That system would not have survived from
generation to generation if it had not been fundamentally sound
and provided the best instrumentalities for the most complete
expression of the popular will. It is not necessary to claim that
it has always worked perfectly. It is enough to know that nothing
better has been devised. No one would deny that there should be
full and free expression and an opportunity for independence of
action within the party. There is no salvation in a narrow and
bigoted partisanship. But if there is to be responsible party
government, the party label must be something more than a mere
device for securing office. Unless those who are elected under the
same party designation are willing to assume sufficient
responsibility and exhibit sufficient loyalty and coherence, so
that they can cooperate with each other in the support of the
broad general principles, of the party platform, the election is
merely a mockery, no decision is made at the polls, and there is
no representation of the popular will. Common honesty and good
faith with the people who support a party at the polls require
that party, when it enters office, to assume the control of that
portion of the Government to which it has been elected. Any other
course is bad faith and a violation of the party pledges.

When the country has bestowed its confidence upon a party by
making it a majority in the Congress, it has a right to expect
such unity of action as will make the party majority an effective
instrument of government. This Administration has come into power
with a very clear and definite mandate from the people. The
expression of the popular will in favor of maintaining our
constitutional guarantees was overwhelming and decisive. There was
a manifestation of such faith in the integrity of the courts that
we can consider that issue rejected for some time to come.
Likewise, the policy of public ownership of railroads and certain
electric utilities met with unmistakable defeat. The people
declared that they wanted their rights to have not a political but
a judicial determination, and their independence and freedom
continued and supported by having the ownership and control of
their property, not in the Government, but in their own hands. As
they always do when they have a fair chance, the people
demonstrated that they are sound and are determined to have a
sound government.

When we turn from what was rejected to inquire what was accepted,
the policy that stands out with the greatest clearness is that of
economy in public expenditure with reduction and reform of
taxation. The principle involved in this effort is that of
conservation. The resources of this country are almost beyond
computation. No mind can comprehend them. But the cost of our
combined governments is likewise almost beyond definition. Not
only those who are now making their tax returns, but those who
meet the enhanced cost of existence in their monthly bills, know
by hard experience what this great burden is and what it does. No
matter what others may want, these people want a drastic economy.
They are opposed to waste. They know that extravagance lengthens
the hours and diminishes the rewards of their labor. I favor the
policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I
wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil
are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar
that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the
more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their
life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its
most practical form.

If extravagance were not reflected in taxation, and through
taxation both directly and indirectly injuriously affecting the
people, it would not be of so much consequence. The wisest and
soundest method of solving our tax problem is through economy.
Fortunately, of all the great nations this country is best in a
position to adopt that simple remedy. We do not any longer need
wartime revenues. The collection of any taxes which are not
absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt
contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized
larceny. Under this republic the rewards of industry belong to
those who earn them. The only constitutional tax is the tax which
ministers to public necessity. The property of the country belongs
to the people of the country. Their title is absolute. They do not
support any privileged class; they do not need to maintain great
military forces; they ought not to be burdened with a great array
of public employees. They are not required to make any
contribution to Government expenditures except that which they
voluntarily assess upon themselves through the action of their own
representatives. Whenever taxes become burdensome a remedy can be
applied by the people; but if they do not act for themselves, no
one can be very successful in acting for them.

The time is arriving when we can have further tax reduction, when,
unless we wish to hamper the people in their right to earn a
living, we must have tax reform. The method of raising revenue
ought not to impede the transaction of business; it ought to
encourage it. I am opposed to extremely high rates, because they
produce little or no revenue, because they are bad for the
country, and, finally, because they are wrong. We can not finance
the country, we can not improve social conditions, through any
system of injustice, even if we attempt to inflict it upon the
rich. Those who suffer the most harm will be the poor. This
country believes in prosperity. It is absurd to suppose that it is
envious of those who are already prosperous. The wise and correct
course to follow in taxation and all other economic legislation is
not to destroy those who have already secured success but to
create conditions under which every one will have a better chance
to be successful. The verdict of the country has been given on
this question. That verdict stands. We shall do well to heed it.

These questions involve moral issues. We need not concern
ourselves much about the rights of property if we will faithfully
observe the rights of persons. Under our institutions their rights
are supreme. It is not property but the right to hold property,
both great and small, which our Constitution guarantees. All
owners of property are charged with a service. These rights and
duties have been revealed, through the conscience of society, to
have a divine sanction. The very stability of our society rests
upon production and conservation. For individuals or for
governments to waste and squander their resources is to deny these
rights and disregard these obligations. The result of economic
dissipation to a nation is always moral decay.

These policies of better international understandings, greater
economy, and lower taxes have contributed largely to peaceful and
prosperous industrial relations. Under the helpful influences of
restrictive immigration and a protective tariff, employment is
plentiful, the rate of pay is high, and wage earners are in a
state of contentment seldom before seen. Our transportation
systems have been gradually recovering and have been able to meet
all the requirements of the service. Agriculture has been very
slow in reviving, but the price of cereals at last indicates that
the day of its deliverance is at hand.

We are not without our problems, but our most important problem is
not to secure new advantages but to maintain those which we
already possess. Our system of government made up of three
separate and independent departments, our divided sovereignty
composed of Nation and State, the matchless wisdom that is
enshrined in our Constitution, all these need constant effort and
tireless vigilance for their protection and support.

In a republic the first rule for the guidance of the citizen is
obedience to law. Under a despotism the law may be imposed upon
the subject. He has no voice in its making, no influence in its
administration, it does not represent him. Under a free government
the citizen makes his own laws, chooses his own administrators,
which do represent him. Those who want their rights respected
under the Constitution and the law ought to set the example
themselves of observing the Constitution and the law. While there
may be those of high intelligence who violate the law at times,
the barbarian and the defective always violate it. Those who
disregard the rules of society are not exhibiting a superior
intelligence, are not promoting freedom and independence, are not
following the path of civilization, but are displaying the traits
of ignorance, of servitude, of savagery, and treading the way that
leads back to the jungle.

The essence of a republic is representative government. Our
Congress represents the people and the States. In all legislative
affairs it is the natural collaborator with the President. In
spite of all the criticism which often falls to its lot, I do not
hesitate to say that there is no more independent and effective
legislative body in the world. It is, and should be, jealous of
its prerogative. I welcome its cooperation, and expect to share
with it not only the responsibility, but the credit, for our
common effort to secure beneficial legislation.

These are some of the principles which America represents. We have
not by any means put them fully into practice, but we have
strongly signified our belief in them. The encouraging feature of
our country is not that it has reached its destination, but that
it has overwhelmingly expressed its determination to proceed in
the right direction. It is true that we could, with profit, be
less sectional and more national in our thought. It would be well
if we could replace much that is only a false and ignorant
prejudice with a true and enlightened pride of race. But the last
election showed that appeals to class and nationality had little
effect. We were all found loyal to a common citizenship. The
fundamental precept of liberty is toleration. We can not permit
any inquisition either within or without the law or apply any
religious test to the holding of office. The mind of America must
be forever free.

It is in such contemplations, my fellow countrymen, which are not
exhaustive but only representative, that I find ample warrant for
satisfaction and encouragement. We should not let the much that is
to do obscure the much which has been done. The past and present
show faith and hope and courage fully justified. Here stands our
country, an example of tranquillity at home, a patron of
tranquillity abroad. Here stands its Government, aware of its
might but obedient to its conscience. Here it will continue to
stand, seeking peace and prosperity, solicitous for the welfare of
the wage earner, promoting enterprise, developing waterways and
natural resources, attentive to the intuitive counsel of
womanhood, encouraging education, desiring the advancement of
religion, supporting the cause of justice and honor among the
nations. America seeks no earthly empire built on blood and force.
No ambition, no temptation, lures her to thought of foreign
dominions. The legions which she sends forth are armed, not with
the sword, but with the cross. The higher state to which she seeks
the allegiance of all mankind is not of human, but of divine
origin. She cherishes no purpose save to merit the favor of
Almighty God.


Herbert Hoover


Popular opinion for the engineer, humanitarian, and Secretary of
Commerce brought the President-elect to office with expectations
of continued national growth and prosperity. Chief Justice William
Howard Taft administered the oath of office on the East Portico of
the Capitol. On taking his first elective office, the new
President addressed a large crowd in the drizzling rain.
Dirigibles and aircraft flew over the Capitol to mark the

My Countrymen:

This occasion is not alone the administration of the most sacred
oath which can be assumed by an American citizen. It is a
dedication and consecration under God to the highest office in
service of our people. I assume this trust in the humility of
knowledge that only through the guidance of Almighty Providence
can I hope to discharge its ever-increasing burdens.

It is in keeping with tradition throughout our history that I
should express simply and directly the opinions which I hold
concerning some of the matters of present importance.


If we survey the situation of our Nation both at home and abroad,
we find many satisfactions; we find some causes for concern. We
have emerged from the losses of the Great War and the
reconstruction following it with increased virility and strength.
From this strength we have contributed to the recovery and
progress of the world. What America has done has given renewed
hope and courage to all who have faith in government by the
people. In the large view, we have reached a higher degree of
comfort and security than ever existed before in the history of
the world. Through liberation from widespread poverty we have
reached a higher degree of individual freedom than ever before.
The devotion to and concern for our institutions are deep and
sincere. We are steadily building a new race--a new civilization
great in its own attainments. The influence and high purposes of
our Nation are respected among the peoples of the world. We aspire
to distinction in the world, but to a distinction based upon
confidence in our sense of justice as well as our accomplishments
within our own borders and in our own lives. For wise guidance in
this great period of recovery the Nation is deeply indebted to
Calvin Coolidge.

But all this majestic advance should not obscure the constant
dangers from which self-government must be safeguarded. The strong
man must at all times be alert to the attack of insidious disease.


The most malign of all these dangers today is disregard and
disobedience of law. Crime is increasing. Confidence in rigid and
speedy justice is decreasing. I am not prepared to believe that
this indicates any decay in the moral fiber of the American
people. I am not prepared to believe that it indicates an
impotence of the Federal Government to enforce its laws.

It is only in part due to the additional burdens imposed upon our
judicial system by the eighteenth amendment. The problem is much
wider than that. Many influences had increasingly complicated and
weakened our law enforcement organization long before the adoption
of the eighteenth amendment.

To reestablish the vigor and effectiveness of law enforcement we
must critically consider the entire Federal machinery of justice,
the redistribution of its functions, the simplification of its
procedure, the provision of additional special tribunals, the
better selection of juries, and the more effective organization of
our agencies of investigation and prosecution that justice may be
sure and that it may be swift. While the authority of the Federal
Government extends to but part of our vast system of national,
State, and local justice, yet the standards which the Federal
Government establishes have the most profound influence upon the
whole structure.

We are fortunate in the ability and integrity of our Federal
judges and attorneys. But the system which these officers are
called upon to administer is in many respects ill adapted to
present-day conditions. Its intricate and involved rules of
procedure have become the refuge of both big and little criminals.
There is a belief abroad that by invoking technicalities,
subterfuge, and delay, the ends of justice may be thwarted by
those who can pay the cost.

Reform, reorganization and strengthening of our whole judicial and
enforcement system, both in civil and criminal sides, have been
advocated for years by statesmen, judges, and bar associations.
First steps toward that end should not longer be delayed. Rigid
and expeditious justice is the first safeguard of freedom, the
basis of all ordered liberty, the vital force of progress. It must
not come to be in our Republic that it can be defeated by the
indifference of the citizen, by exploitation of the delays and
entanglements of the law, or by combinations of criminals. Justice
must not fail because the agencies of enforcement are either
delinquent or inefficiently organized. To consider these evils, to
find their remedy, is the most sore necessity of our times.


Of the undoubted abuses which have grown up under the eighteenth
amendment, part are due to the causes I have just mentioned; but
part are due to the failure of some States to accept their share
of responsibility for concurrent enforcement and to the failure of
many State and local officials to accept the obligation under
their oath of office zealously to enforce the laws. With the
failures from these many causes has come a dangerous expansion in
the criminal elements who have found enlarged opportunities in
dealing in illegal liquor.

But a large responsibility rests directly upon our citizens. There
would be little traffic in illegal liquor if only criminals
patronized it. We must awake to the fact that this patronage from
large numbers of law-abiding citizens is supplying the rewards and
stimulating crime.

I have been selected by you to execute and enforce the laws of the
country. I propose to do so to the extent of my own abilities, but
the measure of success that the Government shall attain will
depend upon the moral support which you, as citizens, extend. The
duty of citizens to support the laws of the land is coequal with
the duty of their Government to enforce the laws which exist. No
greater national service can be given by men and women of good
will--who, I know, are not unmindful of the responsibilities of
citizenship--than that they should, by their example, assist in
stamping out crime and outlawry by refusing participation in and
condemning all transactions with illegal liquor. Our whole system
of self-government will crumble either if officials elect what
laws they will enforce or citizens elect what laws they will
support. The worst evil of disregard for some law is that it
destroys respect for all law. For our citizens to patronize the
violation of a particular law on the ground that they are opposed
to it is destructive of the very basis of all that protection of
life, of homes and property which they rightly claim under other
laws. If citizens do not like a law, their duty as honest men and
women is to discourage its violation; their right is openly to
work for its repeal.

To those of criminal mind there can be no appeal but vigorous
enforcement of the law. Fortunately they are but a small
percentage of our people. Their activities must be stopped.


I propose to appoint a national commission for a searching
investigation of the whole structure of our Federal system of
jurisprudence, to include the method of enforcement of the
eighteenth amendment and the causes of abuse under it. Its purpose
will be to make such recommendations for reorganization of the
administration of Federal laws and court procedure as may be found
desirable. In the meantime it is essential that a large part of
the enforcement activities be transferred from the Treasury
Department to the Department of Justice as a beginning of more
effective organization.


The election has again confirmed the determination of the American
people that regulation of private enterprise and not Government
ownership or operation is the course rightly to be pursued in our
relation to business. In recent years we have established a
differentiation in the whole method of business regulation between
the industries which produce and distribute commodities on the one
hand and public utilities on the other. In the former, our laws
insist upon effective competition; in the latter, because we
substantially confer a monopoly by limiting competition, we must
regulate their services and rates. The rigid enforcement of the
laws applicable to both groups is the very base of equal
opportunity and freedom from domination for all our people, and it
is just as essential for the stability and prosperity of business
itself as for the protection of the public at large. Such
regulation should be extended by the Federal Government within the
limitations of the Constitution and only when the individual
States are without power to protect their citizens through their
own authority. On the other hand, we should be fearless when the
authority rests only in the Federal Government.


The larger purpose of our economic thought should be to establish
more firmly stability and security of business and employment and
thereby remove poverty still further from our borders. Our people
have in recent years developed a new-found capacity for
cooperation among themselves to effect high purposes in public
welfare. It is an advance toward the highest conception of self-
government. Self-government does not and should not imply the use
of political agencies alone. Progress is born of cooperation in
the community--not from governmental restraints. The Government
should assist and encourage these movements of collective self-
help by itself cooperating with them. Business has by cooperation
made great progress in the advancement of service, in stability,
in regularity of employment and in the correction of its own
abuses. Such progress, however, can continue only so long as
business manifests its respect for law.

There is an equally important field of cooperation by the Federal
Government with the multitude of agencies, State, municipal and
private, in the systematic development of those processes which
directly affect public health, recreation, education, and the
home. We have need further to perfect the means by which
Government can be adapted to human service.


Although education is primarily a responsibility of the States and
local communities, and rightly so, yet the Nation as a whole is
vitally concerned in its development everywhere to the highest
standards and to complete universality. Self-government can
succeed only through an instructed electorate. Our objective is
not simply to overcome illiteracy. The Nation has marched far
beyond that. The more complex the problems of the Nation become,
the greater is the need for more and more advanced instruction.
Moreover, as our numbers increase and as our life expands with
science and invention, we must discover more and more leaders for
every walk of life. We can not hope to succeed in directing this
increasingly complex civilization unless we can draw all the
talent of leadership from the whole people. One civilization after
another has been wrecked upon the attempt to secure sufficient
leadership from a single group or class. If we would prevent the
growth of class distinctions and would constantly refresh our
leadership with the ideals of our people, we must draw constantly
from the general mass. The full opportunity for every boy and girl
to rise through the selective processes of education can alone
secure to us this leadership.


In public health the discoveries of science have opened a new era.
Many sections of our country and many groups of our citizens
suffer from diseases the eradication of which are mere matters of
administration and moderate expenditure. Public health service
should be as fully organized and as universally incorporated into
our governmental system as is public education. The returns are a
thousand fold in economic benefits, and infinitely more in
reduction of suffering and promotion of human happiness.


The United States fully accepts the profound truth that our own
progress, prosperity, and peace are interlocked with the progress,
prosperity, and peace of all humanity. The whole world is at
peace. The dangers to a continuation of this peace to-day are
largely the fear and suspicion which still haunt the world. No
suspicion or fear can be rightly directed toward our country.

Those who have a true understanding of America know that we have
no desire for territorial expansion, for economic or other
domination of other peoples. Such purposes are repugnant to our
ideals of human freedom. Our form of government is ill adapted to
the responsibilities which inevitably follow permanent limitation
of the independence of other peoples. Superficial observers seem
to find no destiny for our abounding increase in population, in
wealth and power except that of imperialism. They fail to see that
the American people are engrossed in the building for themselves
of a new economic system, a new social system, a new political
system all of which are characterized by aspirations of freedom of
opportunity and thereby are the negation of imperialism. They fail
to realize that because of our abounding prosperity our youth are
pressing more and more into our institutions of learning; that our
people are seeking a larger vision through art, literature,
science, and travel; that they are moving toward stronger moral
and spiritual life--that from these things our sympathies are
broadening beyond the bounds of our Nation and race toward their
true expression in a real brotherhood of man. They fail to see
that the idealism of America will lead it to no narrow or selfish
channel, but inspire it to do its full share as a nation toward
the advancement of civilization. It will do that not by mere
declaration but by taking a practical part in supporting all
useful international undertakings. We not only desire peace with
the world, but to see peace maintained throughout the world. We
wish to advance the reign of justice and reason toward the
extinction of force.

The recent treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of
national policy sets an advanced standard in our conception of the
relations of nations. Its acceptance should pave the way to
greater limitation of armament, the offer of which we sincerely
extend to the world. But its full realization also implies a
greater and greater perfection in the instrumentalities for
pacific settlement of controversies between nations. In the
creation and use of these instrumentalities we should support
every sound method of conciliation, arbitration, and judicial
settlement. American statesmen were among the first to propose and
they have constantly urged upon the world, the establishment of a
tribunal for the settlement of controversies of a justiciable
character. The Permanent Court of International Justice in its
major purpose is thus peculiarly identified with American ideals
and with American statesmanship. No more potent instrumentality
for this purpose has ever been conceived and no other is
practicable of establishment. The reservations placed upon our
adherence should not be misinterpreted. The United States seeks by
these reservations no special privilege or advantage but only to
clarify our relation to advisory opinions and other matters which
are subsidiary to the major purpose of the court. The way should,
and I believe will, be found by which we may take our proper place
in a movement so fundamental to the progress of peace.

Our people have determined that we should make no political
engagements such as membership in the League of Nations, which may
commit us in advance as a nation to become involved in the
settlements of controversies between other countries. They adhere
to the belief that the independence of America from such
obligations increases its ability and availability for service in
all fields of human progress.

I have lately returned from a journey among our sister Republics
of the Western Hemisphere. I have received unbounded hospitality
and courtesy as their expression of friendliness to our country.
We are held by particular bonds of sympathy and common interest
with them. They are each of them building a racial character and a
culture which is an impressive contribution to human progress. We
wish only for the maintenance of their independence, the growth of
their stability, and their prosperity. While we have had wars in
the Western Hemisphere, yet on the whole the record is in
encouraging contrast with that of other parts of the world.
Fortunately the New World is largely free from the inheritances of
fear and distrust which have so troubled the Old World. We should
keep it so.

It is impossible, my countrymen, to speak of peace without
profound emotion. In thousands of homes in America, in millions of
homes around the world, there are vacant chairs. It would be a
shameful confession of our unworthiness if it should develop that
we have abandoned the hope for which all these men died. Surely
civilization is old enough, surely mankind is mature enough so
that we ought in our own lifetime to find a way to permanent
peace. Abroad, to west and east, are nations whose sons mingled
their blood with the blood of our sons on the battlefields. Most
of these nations have contributed to our race, to our culture, our
knowledge, and our progress. From one of them we derive our very
language and from many of them much of the genius of our
institutions. Their desire for peace is as deep and sincere as our

Peace can be contributed to by respect for our ability in defense.
Peace can be promoted by the limitation of arms and by the
creation of the instrumentalities for peaceful settlement of
controversies. But it will become a reality only through self-
restraint and active effort in friendliness and helpfulness. I
covet for this administration a record of having further
contributed to advance the cause of peace.


In our form of democracy the expression of the popular will can be
effected only through the instrumentality of political parties. We
maintain party government not to promote intolerant partisanship
but because opportunity must be given for expression of the
popular will, and organization provided for the execution of its
mandates and for accountability of government to the people. It
follows that the government both in the executive and the
legislative branches must carry out in good faith the platforms
upon which the party was entrusted with power. But the government
is that of the whole people; the party is the instrument through
which policies are determined and men chosen to bring them into
being. The animosities of elections should have no place in our
Government, for government must concern itself alone with the
common weal.


Action upon some of the proposals upon which the Republican Party
was returned to power, particularly further agricultural relief
and limited changes in the tariff, cannot in justice to our
farmers, our labor, and our manufacturers be postponed. I shall
therefore request a special session of Congress for the
consideration of these two questions. I shall deal with each of
them upon the assembly of the Congress.


It appears to me that the more important further mandates from the
recent election were the maintenance of the integrity of the
Constitution; the vigorous enforcement of the laws; the
continuance of economy in public expenditure; the continued
regulation of business to prevent domination in the community; the
denial of ownership or operation of business by the Government in
competition with its citizens; the avoidance of policies which
would involve us in the controversies of foreign nations; the more
effective reorganization of the departments of the Federal
Government; the expansion of public works; and the promotion of
welfare activities affecting education and the home.

These were the more tangible determinations of the election, but
beyond them was the confidence and belief of the people that we
would not neglect the support of the embedded ideals and
aspirations of America. These ideals and aspirations are the
touchstones upon which the day-to-day administration and
legislative acts of government must be tested. More than this, the
Government must, so far as lies within its proper powers, give
leadership to the realization of these ideals and to the fruition
of these aspirations. No one can adequately reduce these things of
the spirit to phrases or to a catalogue of definitions. We do know
what the attainments of these ideals should be: The preservation
of self-government and its full foundations in local government;
the perfection of justice whether in economic or in social fields;
the maintenance of ordered liberty; the denial of domination by
any group or class; the building up and preservation of equality
of opportunity; the stimulation of initiative and individuality;
absolute integrity in public affairs; the choice of officials for
fitness to office; the direction of economic progress toward
prosperity for the further lessening of poverty; the freedom of
public opinion; the sustaining of education and of the advancement
of knowledge; the growth of religious spirit and the tolerance of
all faiths; the strengthening of the home; the advancement of

There is no short road to the realization of these aspirations.
Ours is a progressive people, but with a determination that
progress must be based upon the foundation of experience. Ill-
considered remedies for our faults bring only penalties after
them. But if we hold the faith of the men in our mighty past who
created these ideals, we shall leave them heightened and
strengthened for our children.


This is not the time and place for extended discussion. The
questions before our country are problems of progress to higher
standards; they are not the problems of degeneration. They demand
thought and they serve to quicken the conscience and enlist our
sense of responsibility for their settlement. And that
responsibility rests upon you, my countrymen, as much as upon
those of us who have been selected for office.

Ours is a land rich in resources; stimulating in its glorious
beauty; filled with millions of happy homes; blessed with comfort
and opportunity. In no nation are the institutions of progress
more advanced. In no nation are the fruits of accomplishment more
secure. In no nation is the government more worthy of respect. No
country is more loved by its people. I have an abiding faith in
their capacity, integrity and high purpose. I have no fears for
the future of our country. It is bright with hope.

In the presence of my countrymen, mindful of the solemnity of this
occasion, knowing what the task means and the responsibility which
it involves, I beg your tolerance, your aid, and your cooperation.
I ask the help of Almighty God in this service to my country to
which you have called me.


Franklin D. Roosevelt


The former Governor of New York rode to the Capitol with President
Hoover. Pressures of the economy faced the President-elect as he
took his oath of office from Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes on
the East Portico of the Capitol. He addressed the nation by radio
and announced his plans for a New Deal. Throughout that day the
President met with his Cabinet designees at the White House.

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction
into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a
decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is
preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly
and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in
our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has
endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me
assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear
itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes
needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour
of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met
with that understanding and support of the people themselves which
is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give
that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common
difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things.
Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our
ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by
serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in
the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial
enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their
produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim
problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little
return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are
stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which
our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not
afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers
her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our
doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of
the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange
of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and
their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and
abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand
indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts
and minds of men.

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the
pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they
have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure
of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false
leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully
for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation
of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision
the people perish.

The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple
of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient
truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which
we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the
joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and
moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad
chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all
they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be
ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of
success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief
that public office and high political position are to be valued
only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and
there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which
too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and
selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for
it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of
obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance;
without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This
Nation asks for action, and action now.

Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no
unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can
be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government
itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a
war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing
greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our
natural resources.

Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance
of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a
national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better
use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can
be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural
products and with this the power to purchase the output of our
cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy
of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our
farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and
local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be
drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief
activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and
unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision
of all forms of transportation and of communications and other
utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many
ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely
by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require
two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order;
there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and
investments; there must be an end to speculation with other
people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but
sound currency.

There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new
Congress in special session detailed measures for their
fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the
several States.

Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our
own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our
international trade relations, though vastly important, are in
point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a
sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting
of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world
trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at
home cannot wait on that accomplishment.

The basic thought that guides these specific means of national
recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a
first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various
elements in all parts of the United States--a recognition of the
old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit
of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate
way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.

In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the
policy of the good neighbor--the neighbor who resolutely respects
himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others--
the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the
sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we
have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that
we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to
go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to
sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without
such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes
effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives
and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a
leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer,
pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a
sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in
time of armed strife.

With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of
this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack
upon our common problems.

Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of
government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our
Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always
to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement
without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional
system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political
mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress
of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter
internal strife, of world relations.

It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and
legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the
unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented
demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary
departure from that normal balance of public procedure.

I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the
measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world
may require. These measures, or such other measures as the
Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek,
within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these
two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still
critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will
then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining
instrument to meet the crisis--broad Executive power to wage a war
against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given
to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the
devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.

We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of
the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old
and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes
from the stem performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim
at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people
of the United States have not failed. In their need they have
registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They
have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They
have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit
of the gift I take it.

In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God.
May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the
days to come.


Franklin D. Roosevelt


For the first time the inauguration of the President was held on
January 20, pursuant to the provisions of the 20th amendment to
the Constitution. Having won the election of 1936 by a wide
margin, and looking forward to the advantage of Democratic gains
in the House and Senate, the President confidently outlined the
continuation of his programs. The oath of office was administered
on the East Portico of the Capitol by Chief Justice Charles Evans

When four years ago we met to inaugurate a President, the
Republic, single-minded in anxiety, stood in spirit here. We
dedicated ourselves to the fulfillment of a vision--to speed the
time when there would be for all the people that security and
peace essential to the pursuit of happiness. We of the Republic
pledged ourselves to drive from the temple of our ancient faith
those who had profaned it; to end by action, tireless and
unafraid, the stagnation and despair of that day. We did those
first things first.

Our covenant with ourselves did not stop there. Instinctively we
recognized a deeper need--the need to find through government the
instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the
ever-rising problems of a complex civilization. Repeated attempts
at their solution without the aid of government had left us
baffled and bewildered. For, without that aid, we had been unable
to create those moral controls over the services of science which
are necessary to make science a useful servant instead of a
ruthless master of mankind. To do this we knew that we must find
practical controls over blind economic forces and blindly selfish

We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has
innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once
considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered
unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to
master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic
suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We
refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved
by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster.

In this we Americans were discovering no wholly new truth; we were
writing a new chapter in our book of self-government.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the
Constitutional Convention which made us a nation. At that
Convention our forefathers found the way out of the chaos which
followed the Revolutionary War; they created a strong government
with powers of united action sufficient then and now to solve
problems utterly beyond individual or local solution. A century
and a half ago they established the Federal Government in order to
promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to
the American people.

Today we invoke those same powers of government to achieve the
same objectives.

Four years of new experience have not belied our historic
instinct. They hold out the clear hope that government within
communities, government within the separate States, and government
of the United States can do the things the times require, without
yielding its democracy. Our tasks in the last four years did not
force democracy to take a holiday.

Nearly all of us recognize that as intricacies of human
relationships increase, so power to govern them also must
increase--power to stop evil; power to do good. The essential
democracy of our Nation and the safety of our people depend not
upon the absence of power, but upon lodging it with those whom the
people can change or continue at stated intervals through an
honest and free system of elections. The Constitution of 1787 did
not make our democracy impotent.

In fact, in these last four years, we have made the exercise of
all power more democratic; for we have begun to bring private
autocratic powers into their proper subordination to the public's
government. The legend that they were invincible--above and beyond
the processes of a democracy--has been shattered. They have been
challenged and beaten.

Our progress out of the depression is obvious. But that is not all
that you and I mean by the new order of things. Our pledge was not
merely to do a patchwork job with secondhand materials. By using
the new materials of social justice we have undertaken to erect on
the old foundations a more enduring structure for the better use
of future generations.

In that purpose we have been helped by achievements of mind and
spirit. Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been
unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was
bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the
collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality
has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality
pays. We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the
practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an
instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally
better world.

This new understanding undermines the old admiration of worldly
success as such. We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the
abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary
decencies of life.

In this process evil things formerly accepted will not be so
easily condoned. Hard-headedness will not so easily excuse
hardheartedness. We are moving toward an era of good feeling. But
we realize that there can be no era of good feeling save among men
of good will.

For these reasons I am justified in believing that the greatest
change we have witnessed has been the change in the moral climate
of America.

Among men of good will, science and democracy together offer an
ever-richer life and ever-larger satisfaction to the individual.
With this change in our moral climate and our rediscovered ability
to improve our economic order, we have set our feet upon the road
of enduring progress.

Shall we pause now and turn our back upon the road that lies
ahead? Shall we call this the promised land? Or, shall we continue
on our way? For "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is
coming to birth."

Many voices are heard as we face a great decision. Comfort says,
"Tarry a while." Opportunism says, "This is a good spot." Timidity
asks, "How difficult is the road ahead?"

True, we have come far from the days of stagnation and despair.
Vitality has been preserved. Courage and confidence have been
restored. Mental and moral horizons have been extended.

But our present gains were won under the pressure of more than
ordinary circumstances. Advance became imperative under the goad
of fear and suffering. The times were on the side of progress.

To hold to progress today, however, is more difficult. Dulled
conscience, irresponsibility, and ruthless self-interest already
reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of
disaster! Prosperity already tests the persistence of our
progressive purpose.

Let us ask again: Have we reached the goal of our vision of that
fourth day of March 1933? Have we found our happy valley?

I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great
wealth of natural resources. Its hundred and thirty million people
are at peace among themselves; they are making their country a
good neighbor among the nations. I see a United States which can
demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national
wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts
hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised
far above the level of mere subsistence.

But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see
tens of millions of its citizens--a substantial part of its whole
population--who at this very moment are denied the greater part of
what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of

I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager
that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.

I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue
under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society
half a century ago.

I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity
to better their lot and the lot of their children.

I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and
factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to
many other millions.

I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.

It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for
you in hope--because the Nation, seeing and understanding the
injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to
make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest
and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding
group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress
is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have
much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too

If I know aught of the spirit and purpose of our Nation, we will
not listen to Comfort, Opportunism, and Timidity. We will carry

Overwhelmingly, we of the Republic are men and women of good will;
men and women who have more than warm hearts of dedication; men
and women who have cool heads and willing hands of practical
purpose as well. They will insist that every agency of popular
government use effective instruments to carry out their will.

Government is competent when all who compose it work as trustees
for the whole people. It can make constant progress when it keeps
abreast of all the facts. It can obtain justified support and
legitimate criticism when the people receive true information of
all that government does.

If I know aught of the will of our people, they will demand that
these conditions of effective government shall be created and
maintained. They will demand a nation uncorrupted by cancers of
injustice and, therefore, strong among the nations in its example
of the will to peace.

Today we reconsecrate our country to long-cherished ideals in a
suddenly changed civilization. In every land there are always at
work forces that drive men apart and forces that draw men
together. In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in
our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we
all go up, or else we all go down, as one people.

To maintain a democracy of effort requires a vast amount of
patience in dealing with differing methods, a vast amount of
humility. But out of the confusion of many voices rises an
understanding of dominant public need. Then political leadership
can voice common ideals, and aid in their realization.

In taking again the oath of office as President of the United
States, I assume the solemn obligation of leading the American
people forward along the road over which they have chosen to

While this duty rests upon me I shall do my utmost to speak their
purpose and to do their will, seeking Divine guidance to help us
each and every one to give light to them that sit in darkness and
to guide our feet into the way of peace.


Franklin D. Roosevelt


The only chief executive to serve more than two terms, President
Roosevelt took office for the third time as Europe and Asia
engaged in war. The oath of office was administered by Chief
Justice Charles Evans Hughes on the East Portico of the Capitol.
The Roosevelts hosted a reception for several thousand visitors at
the White House later that day.

On each national day of inauguration since 1789, the people have
renewed their sense of dedication to the United States.

In Washington's day the task of the people was to create and weld
together a nation.

In Lincoln's day the task of the people was to preserve that
Nation from disruption from within.

In this day the task of the people is to save that Nation and its
institutions from disruption from without.

To us there has come a time, in the midst of swift happenings, to
pause for a moment and take stock--to recall what our place in
history has been, and to rediscover what we are and what we may
be. If we do not, we risk the real peril of inaction.

Lives of nations are determined not by the count of years, but by
the lifetime of the human spirit. The life of a man is three-score
years and ten: a little more, a little less. The life of a nation
is the fullness of the measure of its will to live.

There are men who doubt this. There are men who believe that
democracy, as a form of Government and a frame of life, is limited
or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate that, for
some unexplained reason, tyranny and slavery have become the
surging wave of the future--and that freedom is an ebbing tide.

But we Americans know that this is not true.

Eight years ago, when the life of this Republic seemed frozen by a
fatalistic terror, we proved that this is not true. We were in the
midst of shock--but we acted. We acted quickly, boldly,

These later years have been living years--fruitful years for the
people of this democracy. For they have brought to us greater
security and, I hope, a better understanding that life's ideals
are to be measured in other than material things.

Most vital to our present and our future is this experience of a
democracy which successfully survived crisis at home; put away
many evil things; built new structures on enduring lines; and,
through it all, maintained the fact of its democracy.

For action has been taken within the three-way framework of the
Constitution of the United States. The coordinate branches of the
Government continue freely to function. The Bill of Rights remains
inviolate. The freedom of elections is wholly maintained. Prophets
of the downfall of American democracy have seen their dire
predictions come to naught.

Democracy is not dying.

We know it because we have seen it revive--and grow.

We know it cannot die--because it is built on the unhampered
initiative of individual men and women joined together in a common
enterprise--an enterprise undertaken and carried through by the
free expression of a free majority.

We know it because democracy alone, of all forms of government,
enlists the full force of men's enlightened will.

We know it because democracy alone has constructed an unlimited
civilization capable of infinite progress in the improvement of
human life.

We know it because, if we look below the surface, we sense it
still spreading on every continent--for it is the most humane, the
most advanced, and in the end the most unconquerable of all forms
of human society.

A nation, like a person, has a body--a body that must be fed and
clothed and housed, invigorated and rested, in a manner that
measures up to the objectives of our time.

A nation, like a person, has a mind--a mind that must be kept
informed and alert, that must know itself, that understands the
hopes and the needs of its neighbors--all the other nations that
live within the narrowing circle of the world.

And a nation, like a person, has something deeper, something more
permanent, something larger than the sum of all its parts. It is
that something which matters most to its future--which calls forth
the most sacred guarding of its present.

It is a thing for which we find it difficult--even impossible--to
hit upon a single, simple word.

And yet we all understand what it is--the spirit--the faith of
America. It is the product of centuries. It was born in the
multitudes of those who came from many lands--some of high degree,
but mostly plain people, who sought here, early and late, to find
freedom more freely.

The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human
history. It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of
early peoples. It blazed anew in the middle ages. It was written
in Magna Charta.

In the Americas its impact has been irresistible. America has been
the New World in all tongues, to all peoples, not because this
continent was a new-found land, but because all those who came
here believed they could create upon this continent a new life--a
life that should be new in freedom.

Its vitality was written into our own Mayflower Compact, into the
Declaration of Independence, into the Constitution of the United
States, into the Gettysburg Address.

Those who first came here to carry out the longings of their
spirit, and the millions who followed, and the stock that sprang
from them--all have moved forward constantly and consistently
toward an ideal which in itself has gained stature and clarity
with each generation.

The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either
undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth.

We know that we still have far to go; that we must more greatly
build the security and the opportunity and the knowledge of every
citizen, in the measure justified by the resources and the
capacity of the land.

But it is not enough to achieve these purposes alone. It is not
enough to clothe and feed the body of this Nation, and instruct
and inform its mind. For there is also the spirit. And of the
three, the greatest is the spirit.

Without the body and the mind, as all men know, the Nation could
not live.

But if the spirit of America were killed, even though the Nation's
body and mind, constricted in an alien world, lived on, the
America we know would have perished.

That spirit--that faith--speaks to us in our daily lives in ways
often unnoticed, because they seem so obvious. It speaks to us
here in the Capital of the Nation. It speaks to us through the
processes of governing in the sovereignties of 48 States. It
speaks to us in our counties, in our cities, in our towns, and in
our villages. It speaks to us from the other nations of the
hemisphere, and from those across the seas--the enslaved, as well
as the free. Sometimes we fail to hear or heed these voices of
freedom because to us the privilege of our freedom is such an old,
old story.

The destiny of America was proclaimed in words of prophecy spoken
by our first President in his first inaugural in 1789--words
almost directed, it would seem, to this year of 1941: "The
preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the
republican model of government are justly considered ... deeply,
... finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of
the American people."

If we lose that sacred fire--if we let it be smothered with doubt
and fear--then we shall reject the destiny which Washington strove
so valiantly and so triumphantly to establish. The preservation of
the spirit and faith of the Nation does, and will, furnish the
highest justification for every sacrifice that we may make in the
cause of national defense.

In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong
purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of

For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of

We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As
Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the
will of God.


Franklin D. Roosevelt


The fourth inauguration was conducted without fanfare. Because of
the expense and impropriety of festivity during the height of war,
the oath of office was taken on the South Portico of the White
House. It was administered by Chief Justice Harlan Stone. No
formal celebrations followed the address. Instead of renominating
Vice President Henry Wallace in the election of 1944, the
Democratic convention chose the Senator from Missouri, Harry S.

Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, my friends, you will
understand and, I believe, agree with my wish that the form of
this inauguration be simple and its words brief.

We Americans of today, together with our allies, are passing
through a period of supreme test. It is a test of our courage--of
our resolve--of our wisdom--our essential democracy.

If we meet that test--successfully and honorably--we shall perform
a service of historic importance which men and women and children
will honor throughout all time.

As I stand here today, having taken the solemn oath of office in
the presence of my fellow countrymen--in the presence of our God--
I know that it is America's purpose that we shall not fail.

In the days and in the years that are to come we shall work for a
just and honorable peace, a durable peace, as today we work and
fight for total victory in war.

We can and we will achieve such a peace.

We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it
immediately--but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes--but
they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart
or abandonment of moral principle.

I remember that my old schoolmaster, Dr. Peabody, said, in days
that seemed to us then to be secure and untroubled: "Things in
life will not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will be rising
toward the heights--then all will seem to reverse itself and start
downward. The great fact to remember is that the trend of
civilization itself is forever upward; that a line drawn through
the middle of the peaks and the valleys of the centuries always
has an upward trend."

Our Constitution of 1787 was not a perfect instrument; it is not
perfect yet. But it provided a firm base upon which all manner of
men, of all races and colors and creeds, could build our solid
structure of democracy.

And so today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons--
at a fearful cost--and we shall profit by them.

We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own
well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far
away. We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches,
nor as dogs in the manger.

We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that "The only
way to have a friend is to be one." We can gain no lasting peace
if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear.

We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, the
confidence, and the courage which flow from conviction.

The Almighty God has blessed our land in many ways. He has given
our people stout hearts and strong arms with which to strike
mighty blows for freedom and truth. He has given to our country a
faith which has become the hope of all peoples in an anguished

So we pray to Him now for the vision to see our way clearly--to
see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all
our fellow men--to the achievement of His will to peace on earth.


Harry S. Truman


A former county judge, Senator and Vice President, Harry S. Truman
had taken the oath of office first on April 12, 1945, upon the
death of President Roosevelt. Mr. Truman's victory in the 1948
election was so unexpected that many newspapers had declared the
Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, the
winner. The President went to the East Portico of the Capitol to
take the oath of office on two Bibles--the personal one he had
used for the first oath, and a Gutenberg Bible donated by the
citizens of Independence, Missouri. The ceremony was televised as
well as broadcast on the radio.

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, and fellow citizens, I
accept with humility the honor which the American people have
conferred upon me. I accept it with a deep resolve to do all that
I can for the welfare of this Nation and for the peace of the

In performing the duties of my office, I need the help and prayers
of every one of you. I ask for your encouragement and your
support. The tasks we face are difficult, and we can accomplish
them only if we work together.

Each period of our national history has had its special
challenges. Those that confront us now are as momentous as any in
the past. Today marks the beginning not only of a new
administration, but of a period that will be eventful, perhaps
decisive, for us and for the world.

It may be our lot to experience, and in large measure to bring
about, a major turning point in the long history of the human
race. The first half of this century has been marked by
unprecedented and brutal attacks on the rights of man, and by the
two most frightful wars in history. The supreme need of our time
is for men to learn to live together in peace and harmony.

The peoples of the earth face the future with grave uncertainty,
composed almost equally of great hopes and great fears. In this
time of doubt, they look to the United States as never before for
good will, strength, and wise leadership.

It is fitting, therefore, that we take this occasion to proclaim
to the world the essential principles of the faith by which we
live, and to declare our aims to all peoples.

The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired
this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have a
right to equal justice under law and equal opportunity to share in
the common good. We believe that all men have the right to freedom
of thought and expression. We believe that all men are created
equal because they are created in the image of God.

From this faith we will not be moved.

The American people desire, and are determined to work for, a
world in which all nations and all peoples are free to govern
themselves as they see fit, and to achieve a decent and satisfying
life. Above all else, our people desire, and are determined to
work for, peace on earth--a just and lasting peace--based on
genuine agreement freely arrived at by equals.

In the pursuit of these aims, the United States and other like-
minded nations find themselves directly opposed by a regime with
contrary aims and a totally different concept of life.

That regime adheres to a false philosophy which purports to offer
freedom, security, and greater opportunity to mankind. Misled by
this philosophy, many peoples have sacrificed their liberties only
to learn to their sorrow that deceit and mockery, poverty and
tyranny, are their reward.

That false philosophy is communism.

Communism is based on the belief that man is so weak and
inadequate that he is unable to govern himself, and therefore
requires the rule of strong masters.

Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the moral and
intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable right, to govern
himself with reason and justice.

Communism subjects the individual to arrest without lawful cause,
punishment without trial, and forced labor as the chattel of the
state. It decrees what information he shall receive, what art he
shall produce, what leaders he shall follow, and what thoughts he
shall think.

Democracy maintains that government is established for the benefit
of the individual, and is charged with the responsibility of
protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom in the
exercise of his abilities.

Communism maintains that social wrongs can be corrected only by

Democracy has proved that social justice can be achieved through
peaceful change.

Communism holds that the world is so deeply divided into opposing
classes that war is inevitable.

Democracy holds that free nations can settle differences justly
and maintain lasting peace.

These differences between communism and democracy do not concern
the United States alone. People everywhere are coming to realize
that what is involved is material well-being, human dignity, and
the right to believe in and worship God.

I state these differences, not to draw issues of belief as such,
but because the actions resulting from the Communist philosophy
are a threat to the efforts of free nations to bring about world
recovery and lasting peace.

Since the end of hostilities, the United States has invested its
substance and its energy in a great constructive effort to restore
peace, stability, and freedom to the world.

We have sought no territory and we have imposed our will on none.
We have asked for no privileges we would not extend to others.

We have constantly and vigorously supported the United Nations and
related agencies as a means of applying democratic principles to
international relations. We have consistently advocated and relied
upon peaceful settlement of disputes among nations.

We have made every effort to secure agreement on effective
international control of our most powerful weapon, and we have
worked steadily for the limitation and control of all armaments.

We have encouraged, by precept and example, the expansion of world
trade on a sound and fair basis.

Almost a year ago, in company with 16 free nations of Europe, we
launched the greatest cooperative economic program in history. The
purpose of that unprecedented effort is to invigorate and
strengthen democracy in Europe, so that the free people of that
continent can resume their rightful place in the forefront of
civilization and can contribute once more to the security and
welfare of the world.

Our efforts have brought new hope to all mankind. We have beaten
back despair and defeatism. We have saved a number of countries
from losing their liberty. Hundreds of millions of people all over
the world now agree with us, that we need not have war--that we
can have peace.

The initiative is ours.

We are moving on with other nations to build an even stronger
structure of international order and justice. We shall have as our
partners countries which, no longer solely concerned with the
problem of national survival, are now working to improve the
standards of living of all their people. We are ready to undertake
new projects to strengthen the free world.

In the coming years, our program for peace and freedom will
emphasize four major courses of action.

First, we will continue to give unfaltering support to the United
Nations and related agencies, and we will continue to search for
ways to strengthen their authority and increase their
effectiveness. We believe that the United Nations will be
strengthened by the new nations which are being formed in lands
now advancing toward self-government under democratic principles.

Second, we will continue our programs for world economic recovery.

This means, first of all, that we must keep our full weight behind
the European recovery program. We are confident of the success of
this major venture in world recovery. We believe that our partners
in this effort will achieve the status of self-supporting nations
once again.

In addition, we must carry out our plans for reducing the barriers
to world trade and increasing its volume. Economic recovery and
peace itself depend on increased world trade.

Third, we will strengthen freedom-loving nations against the
dangers of aggression.

We are now working out with a number of countries a joint
agreement designed to strengthen the security of the North
Atlantic area. Such an agreement would take the form of a
collective defense arrangement within the terms of the United
Nations Charter.

We have already established such a defense pact for the Western
Hemisphere by the treaty of Rio de Janeiro.

The primary purpose of these agreements is to provide unmistakable
proof of the joint determination of the free countries to resist
armed attack from any quarter. Each country participating in these
arrangements must contribute all it can to the common defense.

If we can make it sufficiently clear, in advance, that any armed
attack affecting our national security would be met with
overwhelming force, the armed attack might never occur.

I hope soon to send to the Senate a treaty respecting the North
Atlantic security plan.

In addition, we will provide military advice and equipment to free
nations which will cooperate with us in the maintenance of peace
and security.

Fourth, we must embark on a bold new program for making the
benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress
available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.

More than half the people of the world are living in conditions
approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are victims of
disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their
poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more
prosperous areas.

For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge
and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people.

The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the development
of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources
which we can afford to use for the assistance of other peoples are
limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are
constantly growing and are inexhaustible.

I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples
the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help
them realize their aspirations for a better life. And, in
cooperation with other nations, we should foster capital
investment in areas needing development.

Our aim should be to help the free peoples of the world, through
their own efforts, to produce more food, more clothing, more
materials for housing, and more mechanical power to lighten their

We invite other countries to pool their technological resources in
this undertaking. Their contributions will be warmly welcomed.
This should be a cooperative enterprise in which all nations work
together through the United Nations and its specialized agencies
wherever practicable. It must be a worldwide effort for the
achievement of peace, plenty, and freedom.

With the cooperation of business, private capital, agriculture,
and labor in this country, this program can greatly increase the
industrial activity in other nations and can raise substantially
their standards of living.

Such new economic developments must be devised and controlled to
benefit the peoples of the areas in which they are established.
Guarantees to the investor must be balanced by guarantees in the
interest of the people whose resources and whose labor go into
these developments.

The old imperialism--exploitation for foreign profit--has no place
in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based
on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing.

All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a
constructive program for the better use of the world's human and
natural resources. Experience shows that our commerce with other
countries expands as they progress industrially and economically.

Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace. And the key
to greater production is a wider and more vigorous application of
modern scientific and technical knowledge.

Only by helping the least fortunate of its members to help
themselves can the human family achieve the decent, satisfying
life that is the right of all people.

Democracy alone can supply the vitalizing force to stir the
peoples of the world into triumphant action, not only against
their human oppressors, but also against their ancient enemies--
hunger, misery, and despair.

On the basis of these four major courses of action we hope to help
create the conditions that will lead eventually to personal
freedom and happiness for all mankind.

If we are to be successful in carrying out these policies, it is
clear that we must have continued prosperity in this country and
we must keep ourselves strong.

Slowly but surely we are weaving a world fabric of international
security and growing prosperity.

We are aided by all who wish to live in freedom from fear--even by
those who live today in fear under their own governments.

We are aided by all who want relief from the lies of propaganda--
who desire truth and sincerity.

We are aided by all who desire self-government and a voice in
deciding their own affairs.

We are aided by all who long for economic security--for the
security and abundance that men in free societies can enjoy.

We are aided by all who desire freedom of speech, freedom of
religion, and freedom to live their own lives for useful ends.

Our allies are the millions who hunger and thirst after

In due time, as our stability becomes manifest, as more and more
nations come to know the benefits of democracy and to participate
in growing abundance, I believe that those countries which now
oppose us will abandon their delusions and join with the free
nations of the world in a just settlement of international

Events have brought our American democracy to new influence and
new responsibilities. They will test our courage, our devotion to
duty, and our concept of liberty.

But I say to all men, what we have achieved in liberty, we will
surpass in greater liberty.

Steadfast in our faith in the Almighty, we will advance toward a
world where man's freedom is secure.

To that end we will devote our strength, our resources, and our
firmness of resolve. With God's help, the future of mankind will
be assured in a world of justice, harmony, and peace.


Dwight D. Eisenhower


The Republican Party successfully promoted the candidacy of the
popular General of the Army in the 1952 election over the
Democratic candidate, Adlai Stevenson. The oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice Frederick Vinson on two Bibles--the
one used by George Washington at the first inauguration, and the
one General Eisenhower received from his mother upon his
graduation from the Military Academy at West Point. A large parade
followed the ceremony, and inaugural balls were held at the
National Armory and Georgetown University's McDonough Hall.

My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I
deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege
of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you
bow your heads:

Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates
in the executive branch of government join me in beseeching that
Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of
the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.

Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong,
and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by
the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall
be for all the people regardless of station, race, or calling.

May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who,
under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing
political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved
country and Thy glory. Amen.

My fellow citizens:

The world and we have passed the midway point of a century of
continuing challenge. We sense with all our faculties that forces
of good and evil are massed and armed and opposed as rarely before
in history.

This fact defines the meaning of this day. We are summoned by this
honored and historic ceremony to witness more than the act of one
citizen swearing his oath of service, in the presence of God. We
are called as a people to give testimony in the sight of the world
to our faith that the future shall belong to the free.

Since this century's beginning, a time of tempest has seemed to
come upon the continents of the earth. Masses of Asia have
awakened to strike off shackles of the past. Great nations of
Europe have fought their bloodiest wars. Thrones have toppled and
their vast empires have disappeared. New nations have been born.

For our own country, it has been a time of recurring trial. We
have grown in power and in responsibility. We have passed through
the anxieties of depression and of war to a summit unmatched in
man's history. Seeking to secure peace in the world, we have had
to fight through the forests of the Argonne, to the shores of Iwo
Jima, and to the cold mountains of Korea.

In the swift rush of great events, we find ourselves groping to
know the full sense and meaning of these times in which we live.
In our quest of understanding, we beseech God's guidance. We
summon all our knowledge of the past and we scan all signs of the
future. We bring all our wit and all our will to meet the

How far have we come in man's long pilgrimage from darkness toward
light? Are we nearing the light--a day of freedom and of peace for
all mankind? Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon

Great as are the preoccupations absorbing us at home, concerned as
we are with matters that deeply affect our livelihood today and
our vision of the future, each of these domestic problems is
dwarfed by, and often even created by, this question that involves
all humankind.

This trial comes at a moment when man's power to achieve good or
to inflict evil surpasses the brightest hopes and the sharpest
fears of all ages. We can turn rivers in their courses, level
mountains to the plains. Oceans and land and sky are avenues for
our colossal commerce. Disease diminishes and life lengthens.

Yet the promise of this life is imperiled by the very genius that
has made it possible. Nations amass wealth. Labor sweats to
create--and turns out devices to level not only mountains but also
cities. Science seems ready to confer upon us, as its final gift,
the power to erase human life from this planet.

At such a time in history, we who are free must proclaim anew our
faith. This faith is the abiding creed of our fathers. It is our
faith in the deathless dignity of man, governed by eternal moral
and natural laws.

This faith defines our full view of life. It establishes, beyond
debate, those gifts of the Creator that are man's inalienable
rights, and that make all men equal in His sight.

In the light of this equality, we know that the virtues most
cherished by free people--love of truth, pride of work, devotion
to country--all are treasures equally precious in the lives of the
most humble and of the most exalted. The men who mine coal and
fire furnaces and balance ledgers and turn lathes and pick cotton
and heal the sick and plant corn--all serve as proudly, and as
profitably, for America as the statesmen who draft treaties and
the legislators who enact laws.

This faith rules our whole way of life. It decrees that we, the
people, elect leaders not to rule but to serve. It asserts that we
have the right to choice of our own work and to the reward of our
own toil. It inspires the initiative that makes our productivity
the wonder of the world. And it warns that any man who seeks to
deny equality among all his brothers betrays the spirit of the
free and invites the mockery of the tyrant.

It is because we, all of us, hold to these principles that the
political changes accomplished this day do not imply turbulence,
upheaval or disorder. Rather this change expresses a purpose of
strengthening our dedication and devotion to the precepts of our
founding documents, a conscious renewal of faith in our country
and in the watchfulness of a Divine Providence.

The enemies of this faith know no god but force, no devotion but
its use. They tutor men in treason. They feed upon the hunger of
others. Whatever defies them, they torture, especially the truth.

Here, then, is joined no argument between slightly differing
philosophies. This conflict strikes directly at the faith of our
fathers and the lives of our sons. No principle or treasure that
we hold, from the spiritual knowledge of our free schools and
churches to the creative magic of free labor and capital, nothing
lies safely beyond the reach of this struggle.

Freedom is pitted against slavery; lightness against the dark.

The faith we hold belongs not to us alone but to the free of all
the world. This common bond binds the grower of rice in Burma and
the planter of wheat in Iowa, the shepherd in southern Italy and
the mountaineer in the Andes. It confers a common dignity upon the
French soldier who dies in Indo-China, the British soldier killed
in Malaya, the American life given in Korea.

We know, beyond this, that we are linked to all free peoples not
merely by a noble idea but by a simple need. No free people can
for long cling to any privilege or enjoy any safety in economic
solitude. For all our own material might, even we need markets in
the world for the surpluses of our farms and our factories.
Equally, we need for these same farms and factories vital
materials and products of distant lands. This basic law of
interdependence, so manifest in the commerce of peace, applies
with thousand-fold intensity in the event of war.

So we are persuaded by necessity and by belief that the strength
of all free peoples lies in unity; their danger, in discord.

To produce this unity, to meet the challenge of our time, destiny
has laid upon our country the responsibility of the free world's

So it is proper that we assure our friends once again that, in the
discharge of this responsibility, we Americans know and we observe
the difference between world leadership and imperialism; between
firmness and truculence; between a thoughtfully calculated goal
and spasmodic reaction to the stimulus of emergencies.

We wish our friends the world over to know this above all: we face
the threat--not with dread and confusion--but with confidence and

We feel this moral strength because we know that we are not
helpless prisoners of history. We are free men. We shall remain
free, never to be proven guilty of the one capital offense against
freedom, a lack of stanch faith.

In pleading our just cause before the bar of history and in
pressing our labor for world peace, we shall be guided by certain
fixed principles.

These principles are:

(1) Abhorring war as a chosen way to balk the purposes of those
who threaten us, we hold it to be the first task of statesmanship
to develop the strength that will deter the forces of aggression
and promote the conditions of peace. For, as it must be the
supreme purpose of all free men, so it must be the dedication of
their leaders, to save humanity from preying upon itself.

In the light of this principle, we stand ready to engage with any
and all others in joint effort to remove the causes of mutual fear
and distrust among nations, so as to make possible drastic
reduction of armaments. The sole requisites for undertaking such
effort are that--in their purpose--they be aimed logically and
honestly toward secure peace for all; and that--in their result--
they provide methods by which every participating nation will
prove good faith in carrying out its pledge.

(2) Realizing that common sense and common decency alike dictate
the futility of appeasement, we shall never try to placate an
aggressor by the false and wicked bargain of trading honor for
security. Americans, indeed all free men, remember that in the
final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a
prisoner's chains.

(3) Knowing that only a United States that is strong and immensely
productive can help defend freedom in our world, we view our
Nation's strength and security as a trust upon which rests the
hope of free men everywhere. It is the firm duty of each of our
free citizens and of every free citizen everywhere to place the
cause of his country before the comfort, the convenience of

(4) Honoring the identity and the special heritage of each nation
in the world, we shall never use our strength to try to impress
upon another people our own cherished political and economic

(5) Assessing realistically the needs and capacities of proven
friends of freedom, we shall strive to help them to achieve their
own security and well-being. Likewise, we shall count upon them to
assume, within the limits of their resources, their full and just
burdens in the common defense of freedom.

(6) Recognizing economic health as an indispensable basis of
military strength and the free world's peace, we shall strive to
foster everywhere, and to practice ourselves, policies that
encourage productivity and profitable trade. For the
impoverishment of any single people in the world means danger to
the well-being of all other peoples.

(7) Appreciating that economic need, military security and
political wisdom combine to suggest regional groupings of free
peoples, we hope, within the framework of the United Nations, to
help strengthen such special bonds the world over. The nature of
these ties must vary with the different problems of different

In the Western Hemisphere, we enthusiastically join with all our
neighbors in the work of perfecting a community of fraternal trust
and common purpose.

In Europe, we ask that enlightened and inspired leaders of the
Western nations strive with renewed vigor to make the unity of
their peoples a reality. Only as free Europe unitedly marshals its
strength can it effectively safeguard, even with our help, its
spiritual and cultural heritage.

(8) Conceiving the defense of freedom, like freedom itself, to be
one and indivisible, we hold all continents and peoples in equal
regard and honor. We reject any insinuation that one race or
another, one people or another, is in any sense inferior or

(9) Respecting the United Nations as the living sign of all
people's hope for peace, we shall strive to make it not merely an
eloquent symbol but an effective force. And in our quest for an
honorable peace, we shall neither compromise, nor tire, nor ever

By these rules of conduct, we hope to be known to all peoples.

By their observance, an earth of peace may become not a vision but
a fact.

This hope--this supreme aspiration--must rule the way we live.

We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not
long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must
acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose.

We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept
whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values
its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

These basic precepts are not lofty abstractions, far removed from
matters of daily living. They are laws of spiritual strength that
generate and define our material strength. Patriotism means
equipped forces and a prepared citizenry. Moral stamina means more
energy and more productivity, on the farm and in the factory. Love
of liberty means the guarding of every resource that makes freedom
possible--from the sanctity of our families and the wealth of our
soil to the genius of our scientists.

And so each citizen plays an indispensable role. The productivity
of our heads, our hands, and our hearts is the source of all the
strength we can command, for both the enrichment of our lives and
the winning of the peace.

No person, no home, no community can be beyond the reach of this
call. We are summoned to act in wisdom and in conscience, to work
with industry, to teach with persuasion, to preach with
conviction, to weigh our every deed with care and with compassion.
For this truth must be clear before us: whatever America hopes to
bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of

The peace we seek, then, is nothing less than the practice and
fulfillment of our whole faith among ourselves and in our dealings
with others. This signifies more than the stilling of guns, easing
the sorrow of war. More than escape from death, it is a way of
life. More than a haven for the weary, it is a hope for the brave.

This is the hope that beckons us onward in this century of trial.
This is the work that awaits us all, to be done with bravery, with
charity, and with prayer to Almighty God.


Dwight D. Eisenhower


January 20 occurred on a Sunday, so the President took the oath in
the East Room at the White House that morning. The next day he
repeated the oath of office on the East Portico of the Capitol.
Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office on the
President's personal Bible from West Point. Marian Anderson sang
at the ceremony at the Capitol. A large parade and four inaugural
balls followed the ceremony.


Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Speaker,
members of my family and friends, my countrymen, and the friends
of my country, wherever they may be, we meet again, as upon a like
moment four years ago, and again you have witnessed my solemn oath
of service to you.

I, too, am a witness, today testifying in your name to the
principles and purposes to which we, as a people, are pledged.

Before all else, we seek, upon our common labor as a nation, the
blessings of Almighty God. And the hopes in our hearts fashion the
deepest prayers of our whole people.

May we pursue the right--without self-righteousness.

May we know unity--without conformity.

May we grow in strength--without pride in self.

May we, in our dealings with all peoples of the earth, ever speak
truth and serve justice.

And so shall America--in the sight of all men of good will--prove
true to the honorable purposes that bind and rule us as a people
in all this time of trial through which we pass.

We live in a land of plenty, but rarely has this earth known such
peril as today.

In our nation work and wealth abound. Our population grows.
Commerce crowds our rivers and rails, our skies, harbors, and
highways. Our soil is fertile, our agriculture productive. The air
rings with the song of our industry--rolling mills and blast
furnaces, dynamos, dams, and assembly lines--the chorus of America
the bountiful.

This is our home--yet this is not the whole of our world. For our
world is where our full destiny lies--with men, of all people, and
all nations, who are or would be free. And for them--and so for
us--this is no time of ease or of rest.

In too much of the earth there is want, discord, danger. New
forces and new nations stir and strive across the earth, with
power to bring, by their fate, great good or great evil to the
free world's future. From the deserts of North Africa to the
islands of the South Pacific one third of all mankind has entered
upon an historic struggle for a new freedom; freedom from grinding
poverty. Across all continents, nearly a billion people seek,
sometimes almost in desperation, for the skills and knowledge and
assistance by which they may satisfy from their own resources, the
material wants common to all mankind.

No nation, however old or great, escapes this tempest of change
and turmoil. Some, impoverished by the recent World War, seek to
restore their means of livelihood. In the heart of Europe, Germany
still stands tragically divided. So is the whole continent
divided. And so, too, is all the world.

The divisive force is International Communism and the power that
it controls.

The designs of that power, dark in purpose, are clear in practice.
It strives to seal forever the fate of those it has enslaved. It
strives to break the ties that unite the free. And it strives to
capture--to exploit for its own greater power--all forces of
change in the world, especially the needs of the hungry and the
hopes of the oppressed.

Yet the world of International Communism has itself been shaken by
a fierce and mighty force: the readiness of men who love freedom
to pledge their lives to that love. Through the night of their
bondage, the unconquerable will of heroes has struck with the
swift, sharp thrust of lightning. Budapest is no longer merely the
name of a city; henceforth it is a new and shining symbol of man's
yearning to be free.

Thus across all the globe there harshly blow the winds of change.
And, we--though fortunate be our lot--know that we can never turn
our backs to them.

We look upon this shaken earth, and we declare our firm and fixed
purpose--the building of a peace with justice in a world where
moral law prevails.

The building of such a peace is a bold and solemn purpose. To
proclaim it is easy. To serve it will be hard. And to attain it,
we must be aware of its full meaning--and ready to pay its full

We know clearly what we seek, and why.

We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom. And
now, as in no other age, we seek it because we have been warned,
by the power of modern weapons, that peace may be the only climate
possible for human life itself.

Yet this peace we seek cannot be born of fear alone: it must be
rooted in the lives of nations. There must be justice, sensed and
shared by all peoples, for, without justice the world can know
only a tense and unstable truce. There must be law, steadily
invoked and respected by all nations, for without law, the world
promises only such meager justice as the pity of the strong upon
the weak. But the law of which we speak, comprehending the values
of freedom, affirms the equality of all nations, great and small.

Splendid as can be the blessings of such a peace, high will be its
cost: in toil patiently sustained, in help honorably given, in
sacrifice calmly borne.

We are called to meet the price of this peace.

To counter the threat of those who seek to rule by force, we must
pay the costs of our own needed military strength, and help to
build the security of others.

We must use our skills and knowledge and, at times, our substance,
to help others rise from misery, however far the scene of
suffering may be from our shores. For wherever in the world a
people knows desperate want, there must appear at least the spark
of hope, the hope of progress--or there will surely rise at last
the flames of conflict.

We recognize and accept our own deep involvement in the destiny of
men everywhere. We are accordingly pledged to honor, and to strive
to fortify, the authority of the United Nations. For in that body
rests the best hope of our age for the assertion of that law by
which all nations may live in dignity.

And, beyond this general resolve, we are called to act a
responsible role in the world's great concerns or conflicts--
whether they touch upon the affairs of a vast region, the fate of
an island in the Pacific, or the use of a canal in the Middle
East. Only in respecting the hopes and cultures of others will we
practice the equality of all nations. Only as we show willingness
and wisdom in giving counsel--in receiving counsel--and in sharing
burdens, will we wisely perform the work of peace.

For one truth must rule all we think and all we do. No people can
live to itself alone. The unity of all who dwell in freedom is
their only sure defense. The economic need of all nations--in
mutual dependence--makes isolation an impossibility; not even
America's prosperity could long survive if other nations did not
also prosper. No nation can longer be a fortress, lone and strong
and safe. And any people, seeking such shelter for themselves, can
now build only their own prison.

Our pledge to these principles is constant, because we believe in
their rightness.

We do not fear this world of change. America is no stranger to
much of its spirit. Everywhere we see the seeds of the same growth
that America itself has known. The American experiment has, for
generations, fired the passion and the courage of millions
elsewhere seeking freedom, equality, and opportunity. And the
American story of material progress has helped excite the longing
of all needy peoples for some satisfaction of their human wants.
These hopes that we have helped to inspire, we can help to

In this confidence, we speak plainly to all peoples.

We cherish our friendship with all nations that are or would be
free. We respect, no less, their independence. And when, in time
of want or peril, they ask our help, they may honorably receive
it; for we no more seek to buy their sovereignty than we would
sell our own. Sovereignty is never bartered among freemen.

We honor the aspirations of those nations which, now captive, long
for freedom. We seek neither their military alliance nor any
artificial imitation of our society. And they can know the warmth
of the welcome that awaits them when, as must be, they join again
the ranks of freedom.

We honor, no less in this divided world than in a less tormented
time, the people of Russia. We do not dread, rather do we welcome,
their progress in education and industry. We wish them success in
their demands for more intellectual freedom, greater security
before their own laws, fuller enjoyment of the rewards of their
own toil. For as such things come to pass, the more certain will
be the coming of that day when our peoples may freely meet in

So we voice our hope and our belief that we can help to heal this
divided world. Thus may the nations cease to live in trembling
before the menace of force. Thus may the weight of fear and the
weight of arms be taken from the burdened shoulders of mankind.

This, nothing less, is the labor to which we are called and our
strength dedicated.

And so the prayer of our people carries far beyond our own
frontiers, to the wide world of our duty and our destiny.

May the light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands, flame
brightly--until at last the darkness is no more.

May the turbulence of our age yield to a true time of peace, when
men and nations shall share a life that honors the dignity of
each, the brotherhood of all.


John F. Kennedy


Heavy snow fell the night before the inauguration, but thoughts
about cancelling the plans were overruled. The election of 1960
had been close, and the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts was
eager to gather support for his agenda. He attended Holy Trinity
Catholic Church in Georgetown that morning before joining
President Eisenhower to travel to the Capitol. The Congress had
extended the East Front, and the inaugural platform spanned the
new addition. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice
Earl Warren. Robert Frost read one of his poems at the ceremony.

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President
Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend
clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party,
but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end, as well as a
beginning--signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn
I before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears l
prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands
the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of
human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our
forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief
that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state,
but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first
revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to
friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new
generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war,
disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient
heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of
those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed,
and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we
shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support
any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and
the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share,
we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little
we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is
little we can do--for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at
odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we
pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have
passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We
shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we
shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own
freedom--and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly
sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe
struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best
efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is
required--not because the Communists may be doing it, not because
we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society
cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special
pledge--to convert our good words into good deeds--in a new
alliance for progress--to assist free men and free governments in
casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of
hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our
neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression
or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power
know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations,
our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far
outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of
support--to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for
invective--to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak--and
to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary,
we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew
the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction
unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are
sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they
will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take
comfort from our present course--both sides overburdened by the
cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread
of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain
balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew--remembering on both sides that civility is
not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.
Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of
belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise
proposals for the inspection and control of arms--and bring the
absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control
of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of
its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the
deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage
the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the
command of Isaiah--to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the
oppressed go free."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of
suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a
new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are
just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it
be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this
Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.
But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest
the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was
founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give
testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans
who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms,
though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we
are--but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle,
year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in
tribulation"--a struggle against the common enemies of man:
tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance,
North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful
life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been
granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum
danger. I do not shank from this responsibility--I welcome it. I
do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other
people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the
devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country
and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light
the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for
you--ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for
you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the
world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice
which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward,
with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead
the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing
that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.


Lyndon Baines Johnson


President Johnson had first taken the oath of office on board Air
Force One on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was
assassinated in Dallas. The election of 1964 was a landslide
victory for the Democratic Party. Mrs. Johnson joined the
President on the platform on the East Front of the Capitol; she
was the first wife to stand with her husband as he took the oath
of office. The oath was administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Leontyne Price sang at the ceremony.

My fellow countrymen, on this occasion, the oath I have taken
before you and before God is not mine alone, but ours together. We
are one nation and one people. Our fate as a nation and our future
as a people rest not upon one citizen, but upon all citizens.

This is the majesty and the meaning of this moment.

For every generation, there is a destiny. For some, history
decides. For this generation, the choice must be our own.

Even now, a rocket moves toward Mars. It reminds us that the world
will not be the same for our children, or even for ourselves m a
short span of years. The next man to stand here will look out on a
scene different from our own, because ours is a time of change--
rapid and fantastic change bearing the secrets of nature,
multiplying the nations, placing in uncertain hands new weapons
for mastery and destruction, shaking old values, and uprooting old

Our destiny in the midst of change will rest on the unchanged
character of our people, and on their faith.


They came here--the exile and the stranger, brave but frightened--
to find a place where a man could be his own man. They made a
covenant with this land. Conceived in justice, written in liberty,
bound in union, it was meant one day to inspire the hopes of all
mankind; and it binds us still. If we keep its terms, we shall


First, justice was the promise that all who made the journey would
share in the fruits of the land.

In a land of great wealth, families must not live in hopeless
poverty. In a land rich in harvest, children just must not go
hungry. In a land of healing miracles, neighbors must not suffer
and die unattended. In a great land of learning and scholars,
young people must be taught to read and write.

For the more than 30 years that I have served this Nation, I have
believed that this injustice to our people, this waste of our
resources, was our real enemy. For 30 years or more, with the
resources I have had, I have vigilantly fought against it. I have
learned, and I know, that it will not surrender easily.

But change has given us new weapons. Before this generation of
Americans is finished, this enemy will not only retreat--it will
be conquered.

Justice requires us to remember that when any citizen denies his
fellow, saying, "His color is not mine," or "His beliefs are
strange and different," in that moment he betrays America, though
his forebears created this Nation.


Liberty was the second article of our covenant. It was self-
government. It was our Bill of Rights. But it was more. America
would be a place where each man could be proud to be himself:
stretching his talents, rejoicing in his work, important in the
life of his neighbors and his nation.

This has become more difficult in a world where change and growth
seem to tower beyond the control and even the judgment of men. We
must work to provide the knowledge and the surroundings which can
enlarge the possibilities of every citizen.

The American covenant called on us to help show the way for the
liberation of man. And that is today our goal. Thus, if as a
nation there is much outside our control, as a people no stranger
is outside our hope.

Change has brought new meaning to that old mission. We can never
again stand aside, prideful in isolation. Terrific dangers and
troubles that we once called "foreign" now constantly live among
us. If American lives must end, and American treasure be spilled,
in countries we barely know, that is the price that change has
demanded of conviction and of our enduring covenant.

Think of our world as it looks from the rocket that is heading
toward Mars. It is like a child's globe, hanging in space, the
continents stuck to its side like colored maps. We are all fellow
passengers on a dot of earth. And each of us, in the span of time,
has really only a moment among our companions.

How incredible it is that in this fragile existence, we should
hate and destroy one another. There are possibilities enough for
all who will abandon mastery over others to pursue mastery over
nature. There is world enough for all to seek their happiness in
their own way.

Our Nation's course is abundantly clear. We aspire to nothing that
belongs to others. We seek no dominion over our fellow man. but
man's dominion over tyranny and misery.

But more is required. Men want to be a part of a common
enterprise--a cause greater than themselves. Each of us must find
a way to advance the purpose of the Nation, thus finding new
purpose for ourselves. Without this, we shall become a nation of


The third article was union. To those who were small and few
against the wilderness, the success of liberty demanded the
strength of union. Two centuries of change have made this true

No longer need capitalist and worker, farmer and clerk, city and
countryside, struggle to divide our bounty. By working shoulder to
shoulder, together we can increase the bounty of all. We have
discovered that every child who learns, every man who finds work,
every sick body that is made whole--like a candle added to an
altar--brightens the hope of all the faithful.

So let us reject any among us who seek to reopen old wounds and to
rekindle old hatreds. They stand in the way of a seeking nation.

Let us now join reason to faith and action to experience, to
transform our unity of interest into a unity of purpose. For the
hour and the day and the time are here to achieve progress without
strife, to achieve change without hatred--not without difference
of opinion, but without the deep and abiding divisions which scar
the union for generations.


Under this covenant of justice, liberty, and union we have become
a nation--prosperous, great, and mighty. And we have kept our
freedom. But we have no promise from God that our greatness will
endure. We have been allowed by Him to seek greatness with the
sweat of our hands and the strength of our spirit.

I do not believe that the Great Society is the ordered,
changeless, and sterile battalion of the ants. It is the
excitement of becoming--always becoming, trying, probing, falling,
resting, and trying again--but always trying and always gaining.

In each generation, with toil and tears, we have had to earn our
heritage again.

If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we
learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom
asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest
on those who are most favored.

If we succeed, it will not be because of what we have, but it will
be because of what we are; not because of what we own, but, rather
because of what we believe.

For we are a nation of believers. Underneath the clamor of
building and the rush of our day's pursuits, we are believers in
justice and liberty and union, and in our own Union. We believe
that every man must someday be free. And we believe in ourselves.

Our enemies have always made the same mistake. In my lifetime--in
depression and in war--they have awaited our defeat. Each time,
from the secret places of the American heart, came forth the faith
they could not see or that they could not even imagine. It brought
us victory. And it will again.

For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert
and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and
the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We
say "Farewell." Is a new world coming? We welcome it--and we will
bend it to the hopes of man.

To these trusted public servants and to my family and those close
friends of mine who have followed me down a long, winding road,
and to all the people of this Union and the world, I will repeat
today what I said on that sorrowful day in November 1963: "I will
lead and I will do the best I can."

But you must look within your own hearts to the old promises and
to the old dream. They will lead you best of all.

For myself, I ask only, in the words of an ancient leader: "Give
me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before
this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?"


Richard Milhous Nixon


An almost-winner of the 1960 election, and a close winner of the
1968 election, the former Vice President and California Senator
and Congressman had defeated the Democratic Vice President, Hubert
Humphrey, and the American Independent Party candidate, George
Wallace. Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office
for the fifth time. The President addressed the large crowd from a
pavilion on the East Front of the Capitol. The address was
televised by satellite around the world.

Senator Dirksen, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, President
Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, my fellow Americans--and my fellow
citizens of the world community:

I ask you to share with me today the majesty of this moment. In
the orderly transfer of power, we celebrate the unity that keeps
us free.

Each moment in history is a fleeting time, precious and unique.
But some stand out as moments of beginning, in which courses are
set that shape decades or centuries.

This can be such a moment.

Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time,
the hope that many of man's deepest aspirations can at last be
realized. The spiraling pace of change allows us to contemplate,
within our own lifetime, advances that once would have taken

In throwing wide the horizons of space, we have discovered new
horizons on earth.

For the first time, because the people of the world want peace,
and the leaders of the world are afraid of war, the times are on
the side of peace.

Eight years from now America will celebrate its 200th anniversary
as a nation. Within the lifetime of most people now living,
mankind will celebrate that great new year which comes only once
in a thousand years--the beginning of the third millennium.

What kind of nation we will be, what kind of world we will live
in, whether we shape the future in the image of our hopes, is ours
to determine by our actions and our choices.

The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.
This honor now beckons America--the chance to help lead the world
at last out of the valley of turmoil, and onto that high ground of
peace that man has dreamed of since the dawn of civilization.

If we succeed, generations to come will say of us now living that
we mastered our moment, that we helped make the world safe for

This is our summons to greatness.

I believe the American people are ready to answer this call.

The second third of this century has been a time of proud
achievement. We have made enormous strides in science and industry
and agriculture. We have shared our wealth more broadly than ever.
We have learned at last to manage a modern economy to assure its
continued growth.

We have given freedom new reach, and we have begun to make its

promise real for black as well as for white.

We see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of today. I know
America's youth. I believe in them. We can be proud that they are
better educated, more committed, more passionately driven by
conscience than any generation in our history.

No people has ever been so close to the achievement of a just and
abundant society, or so possessed of the will to achieve it.
Because our strengths are so great, we can afford to appraise our
weaknesses with candor and to approach them with hope.

Standing in this same place a third of a century ago, Franklin
Delano Roosevelt addressed a Nation ravaged by depression and
gripped in fear. He could say in surveying the Nation's troubles:
"They concern, thank God, only material things."

Our crisis today is the reverse.

We have found ourselves rich in goods, but ragged in spirit;
reaching with magnificent precision for the moon, but falling into
raucous discord on earth.

We are caught in war, wanting peace. We are torn by division,
wanting unity. We see around us empty lives, wanting fulfillment.
We see tasks that need doing, waiting for hands to do them.

To a crisis of the spirit, we need an answer of the spirit.

To find that answer, we need only look within ourselves.

When we listen to "the better angels of our nature," we find that
they celebrate the simple things, the basic things--such as
goodness, decency, love, kindness.

Greatness comes in simple trappings.

The simple things are the ones most needed today if we are to
surmount what divides us, and cement what unites us.

To lower our voices would be a simple thing.

In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of
words; from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can
deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds;
from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading.

We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one
another--until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be
heard as well as our voices.

For its part, government will listen. We will strive to listen in
new ways--to the voices of quiet anguish, the voices that speak
without words, the voices of the heart--to the injured voices, the
anxious voices, the voices that have despaired of being heard.

Those who have been left out, we will try to bring in.

Those left behind, we will help to catch up.

For all of our people, we will set as our goal the decent order
that makes progress possible and our lives secure.

As we reach toward our hopes, our task is to build on what has
gone before--not turning away from the old, but turning toward the

In this past third of a century, government has passed more laws,
spent more money, initiated more programs, than in all our
previous history.

In pursuing our goals of full employment, better housing,
excellence in education; in rebuilding our cities and improving
our rural areas; in protecting our environment and enhancing the
quality of life--in all these and more, we will and must press
urgently forward.

We shall plan now for the day when our wealth can be transferred
from the destruction of war abroad to the urgent needs of our
people at home.

The American dream does not come to those who fall asleep.

But we are approaching the limits of what government alone can do.

Our greatest need now is to reach beyond government, and to enlist
the legions of the concerned and the committed.

What has to be done, has to be done by government and people
together or it will not be done at all. The lesson of past agony
is that without the people we can do nothing; with the people we
can do everything.

To match the magnitude of our tasks, we need the energies of our
people--enlisted not only in grand enterprises, but more
importantly in those small, splendid efforts that make headlines
in the neighborhood newspaper instead of the national journal.

With these, we can build a great cathedral of the spirit--each of
us raising it one stone at a time, as he reaches out to his
neighbor, helping, caring, doing.

I do not offer a life of uninspiring ease. I do not call for a
life of grim sacrifice. I ask you to join in a high adventure--one
as rich as humanity itself, and as exciting as the times we live

The essence of freedom is that each of us shares in the shaping of
his own destiny.

Until he has been part of a cause larger than himself, no man is
truly whole.

The way to fulfillment is in the use of our talents; we achieve
nobility in the spirit that inspires that use.

As we measure what can be done, we shall promise only what we know
we can produce, but as we chart our goals we shall be lifted by
our dreams.

No man can be fully free while his neighbor is not. To go forward
at all is to go forward together.

This means black and white together, as one nation, not two. The
laws have caught up with our conscience. What remains is to give
life to what is in the law: to ensure at last that as all are born
equal in dignity before God, all are born equal in dignity before

As we learn to go forward together at home, let us also seek to go
forward together with all mankind.

Let us take as our goal: where peace is unknown, make it welcome;
where peace is fragile, make it strong; where peace is temporary,
make it permanent.

After a period of confrontation, we are entering an era of

Let all nations know that during this administration our lines of
communication will be open.

We seek an open world--open to ideas, open to the exchange of
goods and people--a world in which no people, great or small, will
live in angry isolation.

We cannot expect to make everyone our friend, but we can try to
make no one our enemy.

Those who would be our adversaries, we invite to a peaceful
competition--not in conquering territory or extending dominion,
but in enriching the life of man.

As we explore the reaches of space, let us go to the new worlds
together--not as new worlds to be conquered, but as a new
adventure to be shared.

With those who are willing to join, let us cooperate to reduce the
burden of arms, to strengthen the structure of peace, to lift up
the poor and the hungry.

But to all those who would be tempted by weakness, let us leave no
doubt that we will be as strong as we need to be for as long as we
need to be.

Over the past twenty years, since I first came to this Capital as
a freshman Congressman, I have visited most of the nations of the

I have come to know the leaders of the world, and the great
forces, the hatreds, the fears that divide the world.

I know that peace does not come through wishing for it--that there
is no substitute for days and even years of patient and prolonged

I also know the people of the world.

I have seen the hunger of a homeless child, the pain of a man
wounded in battle, the grief of a mother who has lost her son. I
know these have no ideology, no race.

I know America. I know the heart of America is good.

I speak from my own heart, and the heart of my country, the deep
concern we have for those who suffer, and those who sorrow.

I have taken an oath today in the presence of God and my
countrymen to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United
States. To that oath I now add this sacred commitment: I shall
consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can
summon, to the cause of peace among nations.

Let this message be heard by strong and weak alike:

The peace we seek to win is not victory over any other people, but
the peace that comes "with healing in its wings"; with compassion
for those who have suffered; with understanding for those who have
opposed us; with the opportunity for all the peoples of this earth
to choose their own destiny.

Only a few short weeks ago, we shared the glory of man's first
sight of the world as God sees it, as a single sphere reflecting
light in the darkness.

As the Apollo astronauts flew over the moon's gray surface on
Christmas Eve, they spoke to us of the beauty of earth--and in
that voice so clear across the lunar distance, we heard them
invoke God's blessing on its goodness.

In that moment, their view from the moon moved poet Archibald
MacLeish to write:

"To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in
that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as
riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness
in the eternal cold--brothers who know now they are truly

In that moment of surpassing technological triumph, men turned
their thoughts toward home and humanity--seeing in that far
perspective that man's destiny on earth is not divisible; telling
us that however far we reach into the cosmos, our destiny lies not
in the stars but on Earth itself, in our own hands, in our own

We have endured a long night of the American spirit. But as our
eyes catch the dimness of the first rays of dawn, let us not curse
the remaining dark. Let us gather the light.

Our destiny offers, not the cup of despair, but the chalice of
opportunity. So let us seize it, not in fear, but in gladness--
and, "riders on the earth together," let us go forward, firm in
our faith, steadfast in our purpose, cautious of the dangers; but
sustained by our confidence in the will of God and the promise of


Richard Milhous Nixon


The election of 1972 consolidated the gains that the President had
made with the electorate in 1968. Although the Democratic Party
maintained majorities in the Congress, the presidential ambitions
of South Dakota Senator George McGovern were unsuccessful. The
oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger on
a pavilion erected on the East Front of the Capitol.

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Senator Cook,
Mrs. Eisenhower, and my fellow citizens of this great and good
country we share together:

When we met here four years ago, America was bleak in spirit,
depressed by the prospect of seemingly endless war abroad and of
destructive conflict at home.

As we meet here today, we stand on the threshold of a new era of
peace in the world.

The central question before us is: How shall we use that peace?
Let us resolve that this era we are about to enter will not be
what other postwar periods have so often been: a time of retreat
and isolation that leads to stagnation at home and invites new
danger abroad.

Let us resolve that this will be what it can become: a time of
great responsibilities greatly borne, in which we renew the spirit
and the promise of America as we enter our third century as a

This past year saw far-reaching results from our new policies for
peace. By continuing to revitalize our traditional friendships,
and by our missions to Peking and to Moscow, we were able to
establish the base for a new and more durable pattern of
relationships among the nations of the world. Because of America's
bold initiatives, 1972 will be long remembered as the year of the
greatest progress since the end of World War II toward a lasting
peace in the world.

The peace we seek in the world is not the flimsy peace which is
merely an interlude between wars, but a peace which can endure for
generations to come.

It is important that we understand both the necessity and the
limitations of America's role in maintaining that peace.

Unless we in America work to preserve the peace, there will be no

Unless we in America work to preserve freedom, there will be no

But let us clearly understand the new nature of America's role, as
a result of the new policies we have adopted over these past four

We shall respect our treaty commitments.

We shall support vigorously the principle that no country has the
right to impose its will or rule on another by force.

We shall continue, in this era of negotiation, to work for the
limitation of nuclear arms, and to reduce the danger of
confrontation between the great powers.

We shall do our share in defending peace and freedom in the world.
But we shall expect others to do their share.

The time has passed when America will make every other nation's
conflict our own, or make every other nation's future our
responsibility, or presume to tell the people of other nations how
to manage their own affairs.

Just as we respect the right of each nation to determine its own
future, we also recognize the responsibility of each nation to
secure its own future.

Just as America's role is indispensable in preserving the world's
peace, so is each nation's role indispensable in preserving its
own peace.

Together with the rest of the world, let us resolve to move
forward from the beginnings we have made. Let us continue to bring
down the walls of hostility which have divided the world for too
long, and to build in their place bridges of understanding--so
that despite profound differences between systems of government,
the people of the world can be friends.

Let us build a structure of peace in the world in which the weak
are as safe as the strong--in which each respects the right of the
other to live by a different system--in which those who would
influence others will do so by the strength of their ideas, and
not by the force of their arms.

Let us accept that high responsibility not as a burden, but
gladly--gladly because the chance to build such a peace is the
noblest endeavor in which a nation can engage; gladly, also,
because only if we act greatly in meeting our responsibilities
abroad will we remain a great Nation, and only if we remain a
great Nation will we act greatly in meeting our challenges at

We have the chance today to do more than ever before in our
history to make life better in America--to ensure better
education, better health, better housing, better transportation, a
cleaner environment--to restore respect for law, to make our
communities more livable--and to insure the God-given right of
every American to full and equal opportunity.

Because the range of our needs is so great--because the reach of
our opportunities is so great--let us be bold in our determination
to meet those needs in new ways.

Just as building a structure of peace abroad has required turning
away from old policies that failed, so building a new era of
progress at home requires turning away from old policies that have

Abroad, the shift from old policies to new has not been a retreat
from our responsibilities, but a better way to peace.

And at home, the shift from old policies to new will not be a
retreat from our responsibilities, but a better way to progress.

Abroad and at home, the key to those new responsibilities lies in
the placing and the division of responsibility. We have lived too
long with the consequences of attempting to gather all power and
responsibility in Washington.

Abroad and at home, the time has come to turn away from the
condescending policies of paternalism--of "Washington knows best."

A person can be expected to act responsibly only if he has
responsibility. This is human nature. So let us encourage
individuals at home and nations abroad to do more for themselves,
to decide more for themselves. Let us locate responsibility in
more places. Let us measure what we will do for others by what
they will do for themselves.

That is why today I offer no promise of a purely governmental
solution for every problem. We have lived too long with that false
promise. In trusting too much in government, we have asked of it
more than it can deliver. This leads only to inflated
expectations, to reduced individual effort, and to a
disappointment and frustration that erode confidence both in what
government can do and in hat people can do.

Government must learn to take less from people so that people an
do more for themselves.

Let us remember that America was built not by government, but by
people--not by welfare, but by work--not by shirking
responsibility, but by seeking responsibility.

In our own lives, let each of us ask--not just what will
government do for me, but what can I do for myself?

In the challenges we face together, let each of us ask--not just
how can government help, but how can I help?

Your National Government has a great and vital role to play. And I
pledge to you that where this Government should act, we will act
boldly and we will lead boldly. But just as important is the role
that each and every one of us must play, as an individual and as a
member of his own community.

From this day forward, let each of us make a solemn commitment in
his own heart: to bear his responsibility, to do his part, to live
his ideals--so that together, we can see the dawn of a new age of
progress for America, and together, as we celebrate our 200th
anniversary as a nation, we can do so proud in the fulfillment of
our promise to ourselves and to the world.

As America's longest and most difficult war comes to an end, let
us again learn to debate our differences with civility and
decency. And let each of us reach out for that one precious
quality government cannot provide--a new level of respect for the
rights and feelings of one another, a new level of respect for the
individual human dignity which is the cherished birthright of
every American.

Above all else, the time has come for us to renew our faith in
ourselves and in America.

In recent years, that faith has been challenged.

Our children have been taught to be ashamed of their country,
ashamed of their parents, ashamed of America's record at home and
of its role in the world.

At every turn, we have been beset by those who find everything
wrong with America and little that is right. But I am confident
that this will not be the judgment of history on these remarkable
times in which we are privileged to live.

America's record in this century has been unparalleled in the
world's history for its responsibility, for its generosity, for
its creativity and for its progress.

Let us be proud that our system has produced and provided more
freedom and more abundance, more widely shared, than any other
system in the history of the world.

Let us be proud that in each of the four wars in which we have
been engaged in this century, including the one we are now
bringing to an end, we have fought not for our selfish advantage,
but to help others resist aggression.

Let us be proud that by our bold, new initiatives, and by our
steadfastness for peace with honor, we have made a break-through
toward creating in the world what the world has not known before--
a structure of peace that can last, not merely for our time, but
for generations to come.

We are embarking here today on an era that presents challenges
great as those any nation, or any generation, has ever faced.

We shall answer to God, to history, and to our conscience for the
way in which we use these years.

As I stand in this place, so hallowed by history, I think of
others who have stood here before me. I think of the dreams they
had for America, and I think of how each recognized that he needed
help far beyond himself in order to make those dreams come true.

Today, I ask your prayers that in the years ahead I may have God's
help in making decisions that are right for America, and I pray
for your help so that together we may be worthy of our challenge.

Let us pledge together to make these next four years the best four
years in America's history, so that on its 200th birthday America
will be as young and as vital as when it began, and as bright a
beacon of hope for all the world.

Let us go forward from here confident in hope, strong in our faith
in one another, sustained by our faith in God who created us, and
striving always to serve His purpose.


Jimmy Carter


The Democrats reclaimed the White House in the 1976 election. The
Governor from Georgia defeated Gerald Ford, who had become
President on August 9, 1974, upon the resignation of President
Nixon. The oath of office was taken on the Bible used in the first
inauguration by George | Washington; it was administered by Chief
Justice Warren Burger on the East Front of the Capitol. The new
President and his family surprised the spectators by walking from
the Capitol to the White House after the ceremony.

For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for
all he has done to heal our land.

In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the
inner and spiritual strength of our Nation. As my high school
teacher, Miss Julia Coleman, used to say: "We must adjust to
changing times and still hold to unchanging principles."

Here before me is the Bible used in the inauguration of our first
President, in 1789, and I have just taken the oath of office on
the Bible my mother gave me a few years ago, opened to a timeless
admonition from the ancient prophet Micah:

"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord
require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with thy God." (Micah 6: 8)

This inauguration ceremony marks a new beginning, a new dedication
within our Government, and a new spirit among us all. A President
may sense and proclaim that new spirit, but only a people can
provide it.

Two centuries ago our Nation's birth was a milestone in the long
quest for freedom, but the bold and brilliant dream which excited
the founders of this Nation still awaits its consummation. I have
no new dream to set forth today, but rather urge a fresh faith in
the old dream.

Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of
both spirituality and of human liberty. It is that unique self-
definition which has given us an exceptional appeal, but it also
imposes on us a special obligation, to take on those moral duties
which, when assumed, seem invariably to be in our own best

You have given me a great responsibility--to stay close to you, to
be worthy of you, and to exemplify what you are. Let us create
together a new national spirit of unity and trust. Your strength
can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to
minimize my mistakes.

Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and
pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together
in the right.

The American dream endures. We must once again have full faith in
our country--and in one another. I believe America can be better.
We can be even stronger than before.

Let our recent mistakes bring a resurgent commitment to the basic
principles of our Nation, for we know that if we despise our own
government we have no future. We recall in special times when we
have stood briefly, but magnificently, united. In those times no
prize was beyond our grasp.

But we cannot dwell upon remembered glory. We cannot afford to
drift. We reject the prospect of failure or mediocrity or an
inferior quality of life for any person. Our Government must at
the same time be both competent and compassionate.

We have already found a high degree of personal liberty, and we
are now struggling to enhance equality of opportunity. Our
commitment to human rights must be absolute, our laws fair, our
natural beauty preserved; the powerful must not persecute the
weak, and human dignity must be enhanced.

We have learned that "more" is not necessarily "better," that even
our great Nation has its recognized limits, and that we can
neither answer all questions nor solve all problems. We cannot
afford to do everything, nor can we afford to lack boldness as we
meet the future. So, together, in a spirit of individual sacrifice
for the common good, we must simply do our best.

Our Nation can be strong abroad only if it is strong at home. And
we know that the best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to
demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of

To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others. We will not
behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards
here at home, for we know that the trust which our Nation earns is
essential to our strength.

The world itself is now dominated by a new spirit. Peoples more
numerous and more politically aware are craving and now demanding
their place in the sun--not just for the benefit of their own
physical condition, but for basic human rights.

The passion for freedom is on the rise. Tapping this new spirit,
there can be no nobler nor more ambitious task for America to
undertake on this day of a new beginning than to help shape a just
and peaceful world that is truly humane.

We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so
sufficient that it need not be proven in combat--a quiet strength
based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of

We will be ever vigilant and never vulnerable, and we will fight
our wars against poverty, ignorance, and injustice--for those are
the enemies against which our forces can be honorably marshaled.

We are a purely idealistic Nation, but let no one confuse our
idealism with weakness.

Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of
freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference
for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for
individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is
clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would
be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all

The world is still engaged in a massive armaments race designed to
ensure continuing equivalent strength among potential adversaries.
We pledge perseverance and wisdom in our efforts to limit the
world's armaments to those necessary for each nation's own
domestic safety. And we will move this year a step toward ultimate
goal--the elimination of all nuclear weapons from this Earth. We
urge all other people to join us, for success can mean life
instead of death.

Within us, the people of the United States, there is evident a
serious and purposeful rekindling of confidence. And I join in the
hope that when my time as your President has ended, people might
say this about our Nation:

- that we had remembered the words of Micah and renewed our search
for humility, mercy, and justice;

- that we had torn down the barriers that separated those of
different race and region and religion, and where there had been
mistrust, built unity, with a respect for diversity;

- that we had found productive work for those able to perform it;

- that we had strengthened the American family, which is the basis
of our society;

- that we had ensured respect for the law, and equal treatment
under the law, for the weak and the powerful, for the rich and the

- and that we had enabled our people to be proud of their own
Government once again.

I would hope that the nations of the world might say that we had
built a lasting peace, built not on weapons of war but on
international policies which reflect our own most precious values.

These are not just my goals, and they will not be my
accomplishments, but the affirmation of our Nation's continuing
moral strength and our belief in an undiminished, ever-expanding
American dream.


Ronald Reagan


For the first time, an inauguration ceremony was held on the
terrace of the West Front of the Capitol. Chief Justice Warren
Burger administered the oath of office to the former broadcaster,
screen actor, and Governor of California. In the election of 1980,
the Republicans won the White House and a majority in the Senate.
On inauguration day, American hostages held by the revolutionary
government of Iran were released.

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President
Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O'Neill,
Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens: To a few of us here
today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in
the history of our Nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The
orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution
routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few
of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many
in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is
nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did
to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the
transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a
united people pledged to maintaining a political system which
guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other,
and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining
the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are
confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We
suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations
in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions,
penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-
income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of
millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human
misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair
return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful
achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public
spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit,
mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary
convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to
guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our
means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we
think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that
same limitation?

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be
no misunderstanding--we are going to begin to act, beginning

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several
decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they
will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the
capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to
be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our

From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society
has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government
by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the
people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself,
then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of
us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The
solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out
to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Our concern must be for a
special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows
no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it
crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who
raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our
factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we
are sick--professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks,
cabbies, and truckdrivers. They are, in short, "We the people,"
this breed called Americans.

Well, this administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous,
growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans,
with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting
America back to work means putting all Americans back to work.
Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of
runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of
this "new beginning" and all must share in the bounty of a revived
economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our
system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous
America at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a
government--not the other way around. And this makes us special
among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except
that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the
growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the
consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal
establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between
the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to
the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that
the Federal Government did not create the States; the States
created the Federal Government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention
to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work-work
with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back.
Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it;
foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved
so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because
here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius
of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom
and the dignity of the individual have been more available and
assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this
freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling
to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are
proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that
result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is
time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit
ourselves to small dreams. We are not, as some would have us
believe, loomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a
fate that will all on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a
fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the
creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national
renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our
strength. And let us renew; our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we
are in a time when there are no heroes just don't know where to
look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory
gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed
all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a
counter--and they are on both sides of that counter. There are
entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who
create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They are individuals
and families whose taxes support the Government and whose
voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and
education. Their patriotism is quiet but deep. Their values
sustain our national life.

I have used the words "they" and "their" in speaking of these
heroes. I could say "you" and "your" because I am addressing the
heroes of whom I speak--you, the citizens of this blessed land.
Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams,
the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your
makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen,
and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when
they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-
sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an
unequivocal and emphatic "yes." To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I
did not take the oath I have just taken with the intention of
presiding over the dissolution of the world's strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have
slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken
aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of
government. Progress may be slow--measured in inches and feet, not
miles--but we will progress. Is it time to reawaken this
industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to
lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first
priorities, and on these principles, there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have
been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph
Warren, President of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his
fellow Americans, "Our country is in danger, but not to be
despaired of.... On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to
decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and
the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves."

Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act
worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure
happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our
children's children.

And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as
having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the
exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now
have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will
strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and
firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will
strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our
friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for or own sovereignty
is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential
adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest
aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it,
sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it--now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for
conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action
is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We
will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing
that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use
that strength.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the
arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral
courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in
today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do
have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and
prey upon their neighbors.

I am told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held
on this day, and for that I am deeply grateful. We are a nation
under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would
be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inauguration Day in
future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in history that this ceremony has been
held, as you have been told, on this West Front of the Capitol.
Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this
city's special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall
are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man: George
Washington, Father of our country. A man of humility who came to
greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory
into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to
Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his

And then beyond the Reflecting Pool the dignified columns of the
Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the
meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the
far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with
its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of
David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has
been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kinds of hero I
spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood,
The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in
a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man--Martin Treptow--who left
his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with
the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was
killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy
artillery fire.

We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf
under the heading, "My Pledge," he had written these words:
"America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I
will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my
utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of
sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were
called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort,
and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our
capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with
God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now
confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans.
God bless you, and thank you.


Ronald Reagan


January 20 was a Sunday, and the President took the oath of
office, administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger, in the Grand
Foyer of the White House. Weather that hovered near zero that
night and on Monday forced the planners to cancel many of the
outdoor events for the second inauguration. For the first time a
President took the oath of office in the Capitol Rotunda. The oath
was again administered by Chief Justice Burger. Jessye Norman sang
at the ceremony.

Senator Mathias, Chief Justice Burger, Vice President Bush, Speaker
O'Neill, Senator Dole, Reverend Clergy, members of my family and
friends, and my fellow citizens:

This day has been made brighter with the presence here of one who,
for a time, has been absent--Senator John Stennis.

God bless you and welcome back.

There is, however, one who is not with us today: Representative
Gillis Long of Louisiana left us last night. I wonder if we could
all join in a moment of silent prayer. (Moment of silent prayer.)

There are no words adequate to express my thanks for the great
honor that you have bestowed on me. I will do my utmost to be
deserving of your trust.

This is, as Senator Mathias told us, the 50th time that we the
people have celebrated this historic occasion. When the first
President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he
stood less than a single day's journey by horseback from raw,
untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of
13 States. Today we are 60 times as many in a union of 50 States.
We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of
mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help, journeyed
to the Moon and safely returned. So much has changed. And yet we
stand together as we did two centuries ago.

When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of
economic stress. Voices were raised saying we had to look to our
past for the greatness and glory. But we, the present-day
Americans, are not given to looking backward. In this blessed
land, there is always a better tomorrow.

Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have
accomplished that. But in another sense, our new beginning is a
continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for
the first time in history, government, the people said, was not
our master, it is our servant; its only power that which we the
people allow it to have.

That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the
system. We asked things of government that government was not
equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government
that properly belonged to States or to local governments or to the
people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our
earnings and savings and watched the great industrial machine that
had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the
number of unemployed increase.

By 1980, we knew it was time to renew our faith, to strive with
all our strength toward the ultimate in individual freedom
consistent with an orderly society.

We believed then and now there are no limits to growth and human
progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.

And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced,
inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever
before in our history.

We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive.
But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until
every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and
opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of
this great Republic, and we'll meet this challenge.

These will be years when Americans have restored their confidence
and tradition of progress; when our values of faith, family, work,
and neighborhood were restated for a modern age; when our economy
was finally freed from government's grip; when we made sincere
efforts at meaningful arms reduction, rebuilding our defenses, our
economy, and developing new technologies, and helped preserve
peace in a troubled world; when Americans courageously supported
the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise
throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from
totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

My fellow citizens, our Nation is poised for greatness. We must do
what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history
say of us, "These were golden years--when the American Revolution
was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for
her best."

Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never
better than in those times of great challenge when we came
together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united
in a common cause.

Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a
Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group
who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start
the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become
political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then years
later, when both were retired, and age had softened their anger,
they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond
was reestablished between those two who had helped create this
government of ours.

In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence,
they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of
each other, and that day was the Fourth of July.

In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives,
Jefferson wrote: "It carries me back to the times when, beset with
difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same
cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to
self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave
ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless
... we rode through the storm with heart and hand."

Well, with heart and hand, let us stand as one today: One people
under God determined that our future shall be worthy of our past.
As we do, we must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our
past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and
women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the
spiraling demands of a bloated Federal Establishment. You elected
us in 1980 to end this prescription for disaster, and I don't
believe you reelected us in 1984 to reverse course.

At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight
months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the
drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human
progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings,
and investment; reduce the increase in the cost and size of
government and its interference in people's lives.

We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair, and bring the
rates down for all who work and earn. We must think anew and move
with a new boldness, so every American who seeks work can find
work; so the least among us shall have an equal chance to achieve
the greatest things--to be heroes who heal our sick, feed the
hungry, protect peace among nations, and leave this world a better

The time has come for a new American emancipation--a great
national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the
spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country.
My friends, together we can do this, and do it we must, so help me
God.-- From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth,
a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger
America--an America that will lead the technological revolution,
and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of
literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage,
and love.

A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes,
will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. But an
almost unbroken 50 years of deficit spending has finally brought
us to a time of reckoning. We have come to a turning point, a
moment for hard decisions. I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a
question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not
us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going
forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can
then begin reducing the national debt.

I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing
government program spending for the next year. Beyond that, we
must take further steps to permanently control Government's power
to tax and spend. We must act now to protect future generations
from Government's desire to spend its citizens' money and tax them
into servitude when the bills come due. Let us make it
unconstitutional for the Federal Government to spend more than the
Federal Government takes in.

We have already started returning to the people and to State and
local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now,
there is a place for the Federal Government in matters of social
compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency
and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged.
And here a growing economy and support from family and community
offer our best chance for a society where compassion is a way of
life, where the old and infirm are cared for, the young and, yes,
the unborn protected, and the unfortunate looked after and made

And there is another area where the Federal Government can play a
part. As an older American, I remember a time when people of
different race, creed, or ethnic origin in our land found hatred
and prejudice installed in social custom and, yes, in law. There
is no story more heartening in our history than the progress that
we have made toward the "brotherhood of man" that God intended for
us. Let us resolve there will be no turning back or hesitation on
the road to an America rich in dignity and abundant with
opportunity for all our citizens.

Let us resolve that we the people will build an American
opportunity society in which all of us--white and black, rich and
poor, young and old--will go forward together arm in arm. Again,
let us remember that though our heritage is one of blood lines
from every corner of the Earth, we are all Americans pledged to
carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth.

I have spoken of our domestic goals and the limitations which we
should put on our National Government. Now let me turn to a task
which is the primary responsibility of National Government-the
safety and security of our people.

Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer
for peace on Earth. Yet history has shown that peace will not
come, nor will our freedom be preserved, by good will alone. There
are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and
freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest
military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of
awesome offensive weapons.

We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But
much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any
doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to
remain free, secure, and at peace.

There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost
of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And
this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We
are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear
weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the
total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the

Now, for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat
of mutual assured destruction; if either resorted to the use of
nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who
had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing
that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people,
our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of

I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security
shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their
target. It wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons. It
wouldn't militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals
of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet
with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the
world of the threat of nuclear destruction.

We strive for peace and security, heartened by the changes all
around us. Since the turn of the century, the number of
democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on
the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere. Freedom is
one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit.
People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for
those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress.

America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is
our best ally.

And it is the world's only hope, to conquer poverty and preserve
peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow
against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for
human freedom will be a victory for world peace.

So we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and
powerful in its purpose. With our alliances strengthened, with our
economy leading the world to a new age of economic expansion, we
look forward to a world rich in possibilities. And all this
because we have worked and acted together, not as members of
political parties, but as Americans.

My friends, we live in a world that is lit by lightning. So much
is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends

History is a ribbon, always unfurling; history is a journey. And
as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before
us. We stand together again at the steps of this symbol of our
democracy--or we would have been standing at the steps if it
hadn't gotten so cold. Now we are standing inside this symbol of
our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general
falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely
President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to
preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to
each other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song
echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.

It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic,
daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage; that is our song.
We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are
together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the
Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us
close as we fill the world with our sound--sound in unity,
affection, and love--one people under God, dedicated to the dream
of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now
to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.

God bless you and may God bless America.


George Bush


The 200th anniversary of the Presidency was observed as George
Bush took the executive oath on the same Bible George Washington
used in 1789. The ceremony occurred on a platform on the terrace
of the West Front of the Capitol. The oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. After the
ceremony the President and Mrs. Bush led the inaugural parade from
the Capitol to the White House, walking along several blocks of
Pennsylvania Avenue to greet the spectators.

Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Quayle, Senator
Mitchell, Speaker Wright, Senator Dole, Congressman Michel, and
fellow citizens, neighbors, and friends:

There is a man here who has earned a lasting place in our hearts
and in our history. President Reagan, on behalf of our Nation, I
thank you for the wonderful things that you have done for America.

I have just repeated word for word the oath taken by George
Washington 200 years ago, and the Bible on which I placed my hand
is the Bible on which he placed his. It is right that the memory
of Washington be with us today, not only because this is our
Bicentennial Inauguration, but because Washington remains the
Father of our Country. And he would, I think, be gladdened by this
day; for today is the concrete expression of a stunning fact: our
continuity these 200 years since our government began.

We meet on democracy's front porch, a good place to talk as
neighbors and as friends. For this is a day when our nation is
made whole, when our differences, for a moment, are suspended.

And my first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your

Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love.
Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the
shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to
do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our
hearts these words: "Use power to help people." For we are given
power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in
the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it
is to serve people. Help us to remember it, Lord. Amen.

I come before you and assume the Presidency at a moment rich with
promise. We live in a peaceful, prosperous time, but we can make
it better. For a new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by
freedom seems reborn; for in man's heart, if not in fact, the day
of the dictator is over. The totalitarian era is passing, its old
ideas blown away like leaves from an ancient, lifeless tree. A new
breeze is blowing, and a nation refreshed by freedom stands ready
to push on. There is new ground to be broken, and new action to be
taken. There are times when the future seems thick as a fog; you
sit and wait, hoping the mists will lift and reveal the right
path. But this is a time when the future seems a door you can walk
right through into a room called tomorrow.

Great nations of the world are moving toward democracy through the
door to freedom. Men and women of the world move toward free
markets through the door to prosperity. The people of the world
agitate for free expression and free thought through the door to
the moral and intellectual satisfactions that only liberty allows.

We know what works: Freedom works. We know what's right: Freedom
is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life
for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free
elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.

For the first time in this century, for the first time in perhaps
all history, man does not have to invent a system by which to
live. We don't have to talk late into the night about which form
of government is better. We don't have to wrest justice from the
kings. We only have to summon it from within ourselves. We must
act on what we know. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In
crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all
things, generosity.

America today is a proud, free nation, decent and civil, a place
we cannot help but love. We know in our hearts, not loudly and
proudly, but as a simple fact, that this country has meaning
beyond what we see, and that our strength is a force for good. But
have we changed as a nation even in our time? Are we enthralled
with material things, less appreciative of the nobility of work
and sacrifice?

My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions. They are not
the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We
cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank
account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be
a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home,
his neighborhood and town better than he found it. What do we want
the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer
there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us?
Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and
stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?

No President, no government, can teach us to remember what is best
in what we are. But if the man you have chosen to lead this
government can help make a difference; if he can celebrate the
quieter, deeper successes that are made not of gold and silk, but
of better hearts and finer souls; if he can do these things, then
he must.

America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high
moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is
to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the
world. My friends, we have work to do. There are the homeless,
lost and roaming. There are the children who have nothing, no
love, no normalcy. There are those who cannot free themselves of
enslavement to whatever addiction--drugs, welfare, the
demoralization that rules the slums. There is crime to be
conquered, the rough crime of the streets. There are young women
to be helped who are about to become mothers of children they
can't care for and might not love. They need our care, our
guidance, and our education, though we bless them for choosing

The old solution, the old way, was to think that public money
alone could end these problems. But we have learned that is not
so. And in any case, our funds are low. We have a deficit to bring
down. We have more will than wallet; but will is what we need. We
will make the hard choices, looking at what we have and perhaps
allocating it differently, making our decisions based on honest
need and prudent safety. And then we will do the wisest thing of
all: We will turn to the only resource we have that in times of
need always grows--the goodness and the courage of the American

I am speaking of a new engagement in the lives of others, a new
activism, hands-on and involved, that gets the job done. We must
bring in the generations, harnessing the unused talent of the
elderly and the unfocused energy of the young. For not only
leadership is passed from generation to generation, but so is
stewardship. And the generation born after the Second World War
has come of age.

I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community
organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation,
doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes
leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in
the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people
and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will
ask every member of my government to become involved. The old
ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless:
duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its
expression in taking part and pitching in.

We need a new engagement, too, between the Executive and the
Congress. The challenges before us will be thrashed out with the
House and the Senate. We must bring the Federal budget into
balance. And we must ensure that America stands before the world
united, strong, at peace, and fiscally sound. But, of course,
things may be difficult. We need compromise; we have had
dissension. We need harmony; we have had a chorus of discordant

For Congress, too, has changed in our time. There has grown a
certain divisiveness. We have seen the hard looks and heard the
statements in which not each other's ideas are challenged, but
each other's motives. And our great parties have too often been
far apart and untrusting of each other. It has been this way since
Vietnam. That war cleaves us still. But, friends, that war began
in earnest a quarter of a century ago; and surely the statute of
limitations has been reached. This is a fact: The final lesson of
Vietnam is that no great nation can long afford to be sundered by
a memory. A new breeze is blowing, and the old bipartisanship must
be made new again.

To my friends--and yes, I do mean friends--in the loyal
opposition--and yes, I mean loyal: I put out my hand. I am putting
out my hand to you, Mr. Speaker. I am putting out my hand to you
Mr. Majority Leader. For this is the thing: This is the age of the
offered hand. We can't turn back clocks, and I don't want to. But
when our fathers were young, Mr. Speaker, our differences ended at
the water's edge. And we don't wish to turn back time, but when
our mothers were young, Mr. Majority Leader, the Congress and the
Executive were capable of working together to produce a budget on
which this nation could live. Let us negotiate soon and hard. But
in the end, let us produce. The American people await action. They
didn't send us here to bicker. They ask us to rise above the
merely partisan. "In crucial things, unity"--and this, my friends,
is crucial.

To the world, too, we offer new engagement and a renewed vow: We
will stay strong to protect the peace. The "offered hand" is a
reluctant fist; but once made, strong, and can be used with great
effect. There are today Americans who are held against their will
in foreign lands, and Americans who are unaccounted for.
Assistance can be shown here, and will be long remembered. Good
will begets good will. Good faith can be a spiral that endlessly
moves on.

Great nations like great men must keep their word. When America
says something, America means it, whether a treaty or an agreement
or a vow made on marble steps. We will always try to speak
clearly, for candor is a compliment, but subtlety, too, is good
and has its place. While keeping our alliances and friendships
around the world strong, ever strong, we will continue the new
closeness with the Soviet Union, consistent both with our security
and with progress. One might say that our new relationship in part
reflects the triumph of hope and strength over experience. But
hope is good, and so are strength and vigilance.

Here today are tens of thousands of our citizens who feel the
understandable satisfaction of those who have taken part in
democracy and seen their hopes fulfilled. But my thoughts have
been turning the past few days to those who would be watching at
home to an older fellow who will throw a salute by himself when
the flag goes by, and the women who will tell her sons the words
of the battle hymns. I don't mean this to be sentimental. I mean
that on days like this, we remember that we are all part of a
continuum, inescapably connected by the ties that bind.

Our children are watching in schools throughout our great land.
And to them I say, thank you for watching democracy's big day. For
democracy belongs to us all, and freedom is like a beautiful kite
that can go higher and higher with the breeze. And to all I say:
No matter what your circumstances or where you are, you are part
of this day, you are part of the life of our great nation.

A President is neither prince nor pope, and I don't seek a window
on men's souls. In fact, I yearn for a greater tolerance, an easy-
goingness about each other's attitudes and way of life.

There are few clear areas in which we as a society must rise up
united and express our intolerance. The most obvious now is drugs.
And when that first cocaine was smuggled in on a ship, it may as
well have been a deadly bacteria, so much has it hurt the body,
the soul of our country. And there is much to be done and to be
said, but take my word for it: This scourge will stop.

And so, there is much to do; and tomorrow the work begins. I do
not mistrust the future; I do not fear what is ahead. For our
problems are large, but our heart is larger. Our challenges are
great, but our will is greater. And if our flaws are endless,
God's love is truly boundless.

Some see leadership as high drama, and the sound of trumpets
calling, and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book
with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of
hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the
story unfolds. And so today a chapter begins, a small and stately
story of unity, diversity, and generosity--shared, and written,

Thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of

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