Top 9 Inaugural Address Quotes From Presidents

Top 9 Inaugural Address Quotes From Presidents

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george h.w. bush, george bush

Thomas Jefferson, 1801: “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.”

Thomas Jefferson actually gave two inaugural addresses – in 1801 and 1805. The Jefferson Papers website says, “At noon on 4 Mch. 1801 in the Senate chamber of the Capitol, fifty-seven-year-old Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office as the nation’s third president. The occasion was, in Margaret Bayard Smith’s often quoted words, ‘one of the most interesting scenes, a free people can ever witness.’ According to Aaron Burr, the ‘Day was serene & temperate—The Concourse of people immense—all passed off handsomely—great joy but no riot—no accident.'” He also said in his first address, “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.” However, his second inaugural address contained passages about assimilating the Native American people: “…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.” Jefferson was the nation’s third president. One site describes his inaugural addresses as “his exposition of the understandings of the purpose of government and fundamental principles of the Constitution.” This image shows the statue of Thomas Jefferson inside of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. Donald Trump will be sworn in as president on January 20, 2017 and give his own Inaugural Address. (Getty)

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george h.w. bush, george bush

John F. Kennedy, 1961: “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.”

The first line of Kennedy’s quote is the most famous, but the second line is just as powerful, and it expands the thought to global unity. Kennedy also said: “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.” According to OurDocuments.gov, which archives historical documents from the National Archives, Kennedy “wanted his address to be short and clear—devoid of any partisan rhetoric and focused on foreign policy. He began constructing the speech in late November, working with friends and advisers.” The site continued that Kennedy did receive ideas from others, but “the speech was distinctly the work of Kennedy himself. Aides recount that every sentence was worked, reworked, and reduced. It was a meticulously crafted piece of oratory that dramatically announced a generational change in the White House and called on the nation to combat ‘tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.’” Kennedy jotted down the address in handwriting on a yellow legal pad, says the site. In this photo from January 1961, President John F Kennedy is driven through the crowded streets with his wife Jackie on the day of his inauguration. (Getty)

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george h.w. bush, george bush

Ronald Reagan, 1981: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

This is one of Reagan’s most famous phrases, and it’s been used by many political followers since to justify their policy decisions. The next passage in his legendary inaugural address then said, “From time to time we’ve 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. Well, 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.” According to RealClearPolitics, “Ronald Reagan used his first inaugural address to attempt to revive America’s confidence in the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the individual; to advocate a revival of self-government by limiting the power of the state.” This photo is a portrait of President Ronald Reagan from May 1981. (Getty)

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george h.w. bush, george bush

Abraham Lincoln, 1861: “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.”

The new president was, of course, dealing with a bloody and divisive Civil War that threatened to tear the nation apart at its seams. However, his words stand true today in a world of corrosive politics. Much of his speech dealt with unity: “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 people.” According to Bartleby.com, the Inauguration was surrounded by tension. “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,” the site notes. However, the address is controversial because of what Lincoln said about slavery. As the blog Civil War Emancipation puts it, “…early on, Lincoln plainly brings up slavery and reiterates his promise of non-interference with the institution. An important purpose of the speech was to reassure the slave states he intended them no harm and doing so meant reassuring them about the security of their most basic institution under his administration.” Lincoln referenced a legal provision about turning over freed slaves, and said, ‘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?”(Getty)

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george h.w. bush, george bush

George Washington, 1789: “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 as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

According to the National Archives, Washington took the oath of office on April 30, 1789 as the young nation’s new president. “The oath was administered by Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor of New York, on a second floor balcony of Federal Hall, above a crowd assembled in the streets to witness this historic event,” the National Archives says. “President Washington and the members of Congress then retired to the Senate Chamber, where Washington delivered the first inaugural address to a joint session of Congress. Washington humbly noted the power of the nations’ call for him to serve as president and the shared responsibility of the president and Congress to preserve “the sacred fire of liberty” and a republican form of government. (Getty)

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george h.w. bush, george bush

Barack Obama, 2009: “We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history;to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

Obama also said: “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.” The nation’s first African-American president also said: “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” You can read the full text of Obama’s inaugural address here. As with past presidents, one of its hallmarks was a call for unity. In this photo, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle walk down the stairs of the U.S. Capitol with Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden after the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States. (Getty)

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george h.w. bush, george bush

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933: “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.”

Much of Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address implored the nation to realize that its values did not rest, at their core, in material wealth and wants. He said the nation’s “common difficulties” revolved around material issues. He said, “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 men.” Recall that FDR first took office in the height of the Great Depression.

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george h.w. bush, george bush

Bill Clinton, 1993: “Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. And so today we pledge an end to the era of deadlock and drift, and a new season of American renewal has begun.”

In his speech, Clinton also said, “My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring, a spring reborn in the world’s oldest democracy that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. When our Founders boldly declared America’s independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change; not change for change’s sake but change to preserve America’s ideals: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Though we marched to the music of our time, our mission.” The nation was coming out of the Cold War era, and economic issues, and Clinton spent a lot of time in his speech talking about renewal and revitalization. In this photo, Bill Clinton address a crowd in Little Rock, Arkansas in April, 2000. (Getty)

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george h.w. bush, george bush

George H.W. Bush, 1989: “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.”

With George Bush suffering health problems (he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit on January 18), it’s worth taking a moment to remember his words from his Inaugural Address. The father of a president and a president himself, Bush used George Washington’s Bible when he was sworn in. He also said during the address, “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.” In this photo, US President George Bush poses for photographers after his address to the nation, 27 September 1991, in the Oval Office of the White House. During his speech, Bush announced that the US will unilaterally eliminate its land and sea-based short-range nuclear weapons. (Getty)

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Article Source Heavy.com

Related/Added by TLBPresident Trump stays on message with Inaugural Address

About the writer:
  Jessica McBride is a Heavy contributor. She was a crime, government, and breaking news reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and reporter for the Waukesha Freeman newspaper. Her award-winning work has appeared in numerous magazine, newspaper, and online publications. She has also appeared as a crime reporter on Investigation Discovery Channel, History Channel, and Oxygen Channel. She can be reached by email at jessica.mcbride@heavy.com.

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