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United States Presidents' Inaugural Speeches

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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

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