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United States Presidents' Inaugural Speeches

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well as local or individual differences. It was recognized as the
best means of adjustment of differences between employers and
employees by the Forty-ninth Congress, in 1886, and its
application was extended to our diplomatic relations by the
unanimous concurrence of the Senate and House of the Fifty-first
Congress in 1890. The latter resolution was accepted as the basis
of negotiations with us by the British House of Commons in 1893,
and upon our invitation a treaty of arbitration between the United
States and Great Britain was signed at Washington and transmitted
to the Senate for its ratification in January last. Since this
treaty is clearly the result of our own initiative; since it has
been recognized as the leading feature of our foreign policy
throughout our entire national history--the adjustment of
difficulties by judicial methods rather than force of arms--and
since it presents to the world the glorious example of reason and
peace, not passion and war, controlling the relations between two
of the greatest nations in the world, an example certain to be
followed by others, I respectfully urge the early action of the
Senate thereon, not merely as a matter of policy, but as a duty to
mankind. The importance and moral influence of the ratification of
such a treaty can hardly be overestimated in the cause of
advancing civilization. It may well engage the best thought of the
statesmen and people of every country, and I cannot but consider
it fortunate that it was reserved to the United States to have the
leadership in so grand a work.

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

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

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

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


William McKinley




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


My Fellow-Citizens:

When we assembled here on the 4th of March, 1897, there was great
anxiety with regard to our currency and credit. None exists now.
Then our Treasury receipts were inadequate to meet the current
obligations of the Government. Now they are sufficient for all
public needs, and we have a surplus instead of a deficit. Then I
felt constrained to convene the Congress in extraordinary session
to devise revenues to pay the ordinary expenses of the Government.
Now I have the satisfaction to announce that the Congress just
closed has reduced taxation in the sum of $41,000,000. Then there
was deep solicitude because of the long depression in our
manufacturing, mining, agricultural, and mercantile industries and
the consequent distress of our laboring population. Now every
avenue of production is crowded with activity, labor is well
employed, and American products find good markets at home and

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

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

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

Four years ago we stood on the brink of war without the people
knowing it and without any preparation or effort at preparation
for the impending peril. I did all that in honor could be done to
avert the war, but without avail. It became inevitable; and the
Congress at its first regular session, without party division,
provided money in anticipation of the crisis and in preparation to
meet it. It came. The result was signally favorable to American
arms and in the highest degree honorable to the Government. It
imposed upon us obligations from which we cannot escape and from
which it would be dishonorable to seek escape. We are now at peace
with the world, and it is my fervent prayer that if differences
arise between us and other powers they may be settled by peaceful
arbitration and that hereafter we may be spared the horrors of
Intrusted by the people for a second time with the office of
President, I enter upon its administration appreciating the great
responsibilities which attach to this renewed honor and
commission, promising unreserved devotion on my part to their
faithful discharge and reverently invoking for my guidance the
direction and favor of Almighty God. I should shrink from the
duties this day assumed if I did not feel that in their
performance I should have the co-operation of the wise and
patriotic men of all parties. It encourages me for the great task
which I now undertake to believe that those who voluntarily
committed to me the trust imposed upon the Chief Executive of the
Republic will give to me generous support in my duties to
"preserve, protect, and defend, the Constitution of the United
States" and to "care that the laws be faithfully executed." The
national purpose is indicated through a national election. It is
the constitutional method of ascertaining the public will. When
once it is registered it is a law to us all, and faithful
observance should follow its decrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theodore Roosevelt




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


My fellow-citizens, no people on earth have more cause to be
thankful than ours, and this is said reverently, in no spirit of
boastfulness in our own strength, but with gratitude to the Giver
of Good who has blessed us with the conditions which have enabled
us to achieve so large a measure of well-being and of happiness.
To us as a people it has been granted to lay the foundations of
our national life in a new continent. We are the heirs of the
ages, and yet we have had to pay few of the penalties which in old
countries are exacted by the dead hand of a bygone civilization.
We have not been obliged to fight for our existence against any
alien race; and yet our life has called for the vigor and effort
without which the manlier and hardier virtues wither away. Under
such conditions it would be our own fault if we failed; and the
success which we have had in the past, the success which we
confidently believe the future will bring, should cause in us no
feeling of vainglory, but rather a deep and abiding realization of
all which life has offered us; a full acknowledgment of the
responsibility which is ours; and a fixed determination to show
that under a free government a mighty people can thrive best,
alike as regards the things of the body and the things of the

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

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

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


William Howard Taft




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


My Fellow-Citizens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Woodrow Wilson




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Woodrow Wilson




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


My Fellow Citizens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Warren G. Harding




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


My Countrymen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, better than ever before, we know the aspirations of
humankind, and share them. We have come to a new realization of
our place in the world and a new appraisal of our Nation by the
world. The unselfishness of these United States is a thing proven;
our devotion to peace for ourselves and for the world is well
established; our concern for preserved civilization has had its
impassioned and heroic expression. There was no American failure
to resist the attempted reversion of civilization; there will be
no failure today or tomorrow.
The success of our popular government rests wholly upon the
correct interpretation of the deliberate, intelligent, dependable
popular will of America. In a deliberate questioning of a
suggested change of national policy, where internationality was to
supersede nationality, we turned to a referendum, to the American
people. There was ample discussion, and there is a public mandate
in manifest understanding.

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

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

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

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

Amid it all we have riveted the gaze of all civilization to the
unselfishness and the righteousness of representative democracy,
where our freedom never has made offensive warfare, never has
sought territorial aggrandizement through force, never has turned
to the arbitrament of arms until reason has been exhausted. When
the Governments of the earth shall have established a freedom like
our own and shall have sanctioned the pursuit of peace as we have
practiced it, I believe the last sorrow and the final sacrifice of
international warfare will have been written.
Let me speak to the maimed and wounded soldiers who are present
today, and through them convey to their comrades the gratitude of
the Republic for their sacrifices in its defense. A generous
country will never forget the services you rendered, and you may
hope for a policy under Government that will relieve any maimed
successors from taking your places on another such occasion as

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With the nation-wide induction of womanhood into our political
life, we may count upon her intuitions, her refinements, her
intelligence, and her influence to exalt the social order. We
count upon her exercise of the full privileges and the performance
of the duties of citizenship to speed the attainment of the
highest state.
I wish for an America no less alert in guarding against dangers
from within than it is watchful against enemies from without. Our
fundamental law recognizes no class, no group, no section; there
must be none in legislation or administration. The supreme
inspiration is the common weal. Humanity hungers for international
peace, and we crave it with all mankind. My most reverent prayer
for America is for industrial peace, with its rewards, widely and
generally distributed, amid the inspirations of equal opportunity.
No one justly may deny the equality of opportunity which made us
what we are. We have mistaken unpreparedness to embrace it to be a
challenge of the reality, and due concern for making all citizens
fit for participation will give added strength of citizenship and
magnify our achievement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calvin Coolidge




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


My Countrymen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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