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United States Presidents' Inaugural Speeches

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(3) Knowing that only a United States that is strong and immensely
productive can help defend freedom in our world, we view our
Nation's strength and security as a trust upon which rests the
hope of free men everywhere. It is the firm duty of each of our
free citizens and of every free citizen everywhere to place the
cause of his country before the comfort, the convenience of

(4) Honoring the identity and the special heritage of each nation
in the world, we shall never use our strength to try to impress
upon another people our own cherished political and economic

(5) Assessing realistically the needs and capacities of proven
friends of freedom, we shall strive to help them to achieve their
own security and well-being. Likewise, we shall count upon them to
assume, within the limits of their resources, their full and just
burdens in the common defense of freedom.

(6) Recognizing economic health as an indispensable basis of
military strength and the free world's peace, we shall strive to
foster everywhere, and to practice ourselves, policies that
encourage productivity and profitable trade. For the
impoverishment of any single people in the world means danger to
the well-being of all other peoples.

(7) Appreciating that economic need, military security and
political wisdom combine to suggest regional groupings of free
peoples, we hope, within the framework of the United Nations, to
help strengthen such special bonds the world over. The nature of
these ties must vary with the different problems of different

In the Western Hemisphere, we enthusiastically join with all our
neighbors in the work of perfecting a community of fraternal trust
and common purpose.

In Europe, we ask that enlightened and inspired leaders of the
Western nations strive with renewed vigor to make the unity of
their peoples a reality. Only as free Europe unitedly marshals its
strength can it effectively safeguard, even with our help, its
spiritual and cultural heritage.

(8) Conceiving the defense of freedom, like freedom itself, to be
one and indivisible, we hold all continents and peoples in equal
regard and honor. We reject any insinuation that one race or
another, one people or another, is in any sense inferior or

(9) Respecting the United Nations as the living sign of all
people's hope for peace, we shall strive to make it not merely an
eloquent symbol but an effective force. And in our quest for an
honorable peace, we shall neither compromise, nor tire, nor ever

By these rules of conduct, we hope to be known to all peoples.

By their observance, an earth of peace may become not a vision but
a fact.

This hope--this supreme aspiration--must rule the way we live.

We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not
long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must
acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose.

We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept
whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values
its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
These basic precepts are not lofty abstractions, far removed from
matters of daily living. They are laws of spiritual strength that
generate and define our material strength. Patriotism means
equipped forces and a prepared citizenry. Moral stamina means more
energy and more productivity, on the farm and in the factory. Love
of liberty means the guarding of every resource that makes freedom
possible--from the sanctity of our families and the wealth of our
soil to the genius of our scientists.

And so each citizen plays an indispensable role. The productivity
of our heads, our hands, and our hearts is the source of all the
strength we can command, for both the enrichment of our lives and
the winning of the peace.

No person, no home, no community can be beyond the reach of this
call. We are summoned to act in wisdom and in conscience, to work
with industry, to teach with persuasion, to preach with
conviction, to weigh our every deed with care and with compassion.
For this truth must be clear before us: whatever America hopes to
bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of

The peace we seek, then, is nothing less than the practice and
fulfillment of our whole faith among ourselves and in our dealings
with others. This signifies more than the stilling of guns, easing
the sorrow of war. More than escape from death, it is a way of
life. More than a haven for the weary, it is a hope for the brave.

This is the hope that beckons us onward in this century of trial.
This is the work that awaits us all, to be done with bravery, with
charity, and with prayer to Almighty God.


Dwight D. Eisenhower




January 20 occurred on a Sunday, so the President took the oath in
the East Room at the White House that morning. The next day he
repeated the oath of office on the East Portico of the Capitol.
Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office on the
President's personal Bible from West Point. Marian Anderson sang
at the ceremony at the Capitol. A large parade and four inaugural
balls followed the ceremony.



Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Speaker,
members of my family and friends, my countrymen, and the friends
of my country, wherever they may be, we meet again, as upon a like
moment four years ago, and again you have witnessed my solemn oath
of service to you.

I, too, am a witness, today testifying in your name to the
principles and purposes to which we, as a people, are pledged.

Before all else, we seek, upon our common labor as a nation, the
blessings of Almighty God. And the hopes in our hearts fashion the
deepest prayers of our whole people.

May we pursue the right--without self-righteousness.

May we know unity--without conformity.

May we grow in strength--without pride in self.

May we, in our dealings with all peoples of the earth, ever speak
truth and serve justice.
And so shall America--in the sight of all men of good will--prove
true to the honorable purposes that bind and rule us as a people
in all this time of trial through which we pass.

We live in a land of plenty, but rarely has this earth known such
peril as today.

In our nation work and wealth abound. Our population grows.
Commerce crowds our rivers and rails, our skies, harbors, and
highways. Our soil is fertile, our agriculture productive. The air
rings with the song of our industry--rolling mills and blast
furnaces, dynamos, dams, and assembly lines--the chorus of America
the bountiful.

This is our home--yet this is not the whole of our world. For our
world is where our full destiny lies--with men, of all people, and
all nations, who are or would be free. And for them--and so for
us--this is no time of ease or of rest.

In too much of the earth there is want, discord, danger. New
forces and new nations stir and strive across the earth, with
power to bring, by their fate, great good or great evil to the
free world's future. From the deserts of North Africa to the
islands of the South Pacific one third of all mankind has entered
upon an historic struggle for a new freedom; freedom from grinding
poverty. Across all continents, nearly a billion people seek,
sometimes almost in desperation, for the skills and knowledge and
assistance by which they may satisfy from their own resources, the
material wants common to all mankind.

No nation, however old or great, escapes this tempest of change
and turmoil. Some, impoverished by the recent World War, seek to
restore their means of livelihood. In the heart of Europe, Germany
still stands tragically divided. So is the whole continent
divided. And so, too, is all the world.

The divisive force is International Communism and the power that
it controls.

The designs of that power, dark in purpose, are clear in practice.
It strives to seal forever the fate of those it has enslaved. It
strives to break the ties that unite the free. And it strives to
capture--to exploit for its own greater power--all forces of
change in the world, especially the needs of the hungry and the
hopes of the oppressed.

Yet the world of International Communism has itself been shaken by
a fierce and mighty force: the readiness of men who love freedom
to pledge their lives to that love. Through the night of their
bondage, the unconquerable will of heroes has struck with the
swift, sharp thrust of lightning. Budapest is no longer merely the
name of a city; henceforth it is a new and shining symbol of man's
yearning to be free.

Thus across all the globe there harshly blow the winds of change.
And, we--though fortunate be our lot--know that we can never turn
our backs to them.

We look upon this shaken earth, and we declare our firm and fixed
purpose--the building of a peace with justice in a world where
moral law prevails.

The building of such a peace is a bold and solemn purpose. To
proclaim it is easy. To serve it will be hard. And to attain it,
we must be aware of its full meaning--and ready to pay its full

We know clearly what we seek, and why.

We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom. And
now, as in no other age, we seek it because we have been warned,
by the power of modern weapons, that peace may be the only climate
possible for human life itself.

Yet this peace we seek cannot be born of fear alone: it must be
rooted in the lives of nations. There must be justice, sensed and
shared by all peoples, for, without justice the world can know
only a tense and unstable truce. There must be law, steadily
invoked and respected by all nations, for without law, the world
promises only such meager justice as the pity of the strong upon
the weak. But the law of which we speak, comprehending the values
of freedom, affirms the equality of all nations, great and small.

Splendid as can be the blessings of such a peace, high will be its
cost: in toil patiently sustained, in help honorably given, in
sacrifice calmly borne.

We are called to meet the price of this peace.

To counter the threat of those who seek to rule by force, we must
pay the costs of our own needed military strength, and help to
build the security of others.
We must use our skills and knowledge and, at times, our substance,
to help others rise from misery, however far the scene of
suffering may be from our shores. For wherever in the world a
people knows desperate want, there must appear at least the spark
of hope, the hope of progress--or there will surely rise at last
the flames of conflict.

We recognize and accept our own deep involvement in the destiny of
men everywhere. We are accordingly pledged to honor, and to strive
to fortify, the authority of the United Nations. For in that body
rests the best hope of our age for the assertion of that law by
which all nations may live in dignity.

And, beyond this general resolve, we are called to act a
responsible role in the world's great concerns or conflicts--
whether they touch upon the affairs of a vast region, the fate of
an island in the Pacific, or the use of a canal in the Middle
East. Only in respecting the hopes and cultures of others will we
practice the equality of all nations. Only as we show willingness
and wisdom in giving counsel--in receiving counsel--and in sharing
burdens, will we wisely perform the work of peace.

For one truth must rule all we think and all we do. No people can
live to itself alone. The unity of all who dwell in freedom is
their only sure defense. The economic need of all nations--in
mutual dependence--makes isolation an impossibility; not even
America's prosperity could long survive if other nations did not
also prosper. No nation can longer be a fortress, lone and strong
and safe. And any people, seeking such shelter for themselves, can
now build only their own prison.

Our pledge to these principles is constant, because we believe in
their rightness.

We do not fear this world of change. America is no stranger to
much of its spirit. Everywhere we see the seeds of the same growth
that America itself has known. The American experiment has, for
generations, fired the passion and the courage of millions
elsewhere seeking freedom, equality, and opportunity. And the
American story of material progress has helped excite the longing
of all needy peoples for some satisfaction of their human wants.
These hopes that we have helped to inspire, we can help to

In this confidence, we speak plainly to all peoples.

We cherish our friendship with all nations that are or would be
free. We respect, no less, their independence. And when, in time
of want or peril, they ask our help, they may honorably receive
it; for we no more seek to buy their sovereignty than we would
sell our own. Sovereignty is never bartered among freemen.

We honor the aspirations of those nations which, now captive, long
for freedom. We seek neither their military alliance nor any
artificial imitation of our society. And they can know the warmth
of the welcome that awaits them when, as must be, they join again
the ranks of freedom.

We honor, no less in this divided world than in a less tormented
time, the people of Russia. We do not dread, rather do we welcome,
their progress in education and industry. We wish them success in
their demands for more intellectual freedom, greater security
before their own laws, fuller enjoyment of the rewards of their
own toil. For as such things come to pass, the more certain will
be the coming of that day when our peoples may freely meet in

So we voice our hope and our belief that we can help to heal this
divided world. Thus may the nations cease to live in trembling
before the menace of force. Thus may the weight of fear and the
weight of arms be taken from the burdened shoulders of mankind.

This, nothing less, is the labor to which we are called and our
strength dedicated.

And so the prayer of our people carries far beyond our own
frontiers, to the wide world of our duty and our destiny.

May the light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands, flame
brightly--until at last the darkness is no more.

May the turbulence of our age yield to a true time of peace, when
men and nations shall share a life that honors the dignity of
each, the brotherhood of all.


John F. Kennedy



Heavy snow fell the night before the inauguration, but thoughts
about cancelling the plans were overruled. The election of 1960
had been close, and the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts was
eager to gather support for his agenda. He attended Holy Trinity
Catholic Church in Georgetown that morning before joining
President Eisenhower to travel to the Capitol. The Congress had
extended the East Front, and the inaugural platform spanned the
new addition. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice
Earl Warren. Robert Frost read one of his poems at the ceremony.


Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President
Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend
clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party,
but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end, as well as a
beginning--signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn
I before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears l
prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands
the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of
human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our
forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief
that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state,
but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first
revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to
friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new
generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war,
disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient
heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of
those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed,
and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we
shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support
any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and
the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share,
we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little
we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is
little we can do--for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at
odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we
pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have
passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We
shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we
shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own
freedom--and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly
sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe
struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best
efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is
required--not because the Communists may be doing it, not because
we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society
cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special
pledge--to convert our good words into good deeds--in a new
alliance for progress--to assist free men and free governments in
casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of
hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our
neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression
or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power
know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations,
our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far
outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of
support--to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for
invective--to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak--and
to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary,
we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew
the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction
unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are
sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they
will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take
comfort from our present course--both sides overburdened by the
cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread
of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain
balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew--remembering on both sides that civility is
not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.
Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of
belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise
proposals for the inspection and control of arms--and bring the
absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control
of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of
its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the
deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage
the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the
command of Isaiah--to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the
oppressed go free."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of
suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a
new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are
just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it
be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this
Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.
But let us begin.
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest
the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was
founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give
testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans
who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms,
though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we
are--but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle,
year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in
tribulation"--a struggle against the common enemies of man:
tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance,
North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful
life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been
granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum
danger. I do not shank from this responsibility--I welcome it. I
do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other
people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the
devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country
and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light
the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for
you--ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for
you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the
world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice
which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward,
with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead
the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing
that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.


Lyndon Baines Johnson




President Johnson had first taken the oath of office on board Air
Force One on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was
assassinated in Dallas. The election of 1964 was a landslide
victory for the Democratic Party. Mrs. Johnson joined the
President on the platform on the East Front of the Capitol; she
was the first wife to stand with her husband as he took the oath
of office. The oath was administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Leontyne Price sang at the ceremony.


My fellow countrymen, on this occasion, the oath I have taken
before you and before God is not mine alone, but ours together. We
are one nation and one people. Our fate as a nation and our future
as a people rest not upon one citizen, but upon all citizens.

This is the majesty and the meaning of this moment.

For every generation, there is a destiny. For some, history
decides. For this generation, the choice must be our own.

Even now, a rocket moves toward Mars. It reminds us that the world
will not be the same for our children, or even for ourselves m a
short span of years. The next man to stand here will look out on a
scene different from our own, because ours is a time of change--
rapid and fantastic change bearing the secrets of nature,
multiplying the nations, placing in uncertain hands new weapons
for mastery and destruction, shaking old values, and uprooting old

Our destiny in the midst of change will rest on the unchanged
character of our people, and on their faith.


They came here--the exile and the stranger, brave but frightened--
to find a place where a man could be his own man. They made a
covenant with this land. Conceived in justice, written in liberty,
bound in union, it was meant one day to inspire the hopes of all
mankind; and it binds us still. If we keep its terms, we shall


First, justice was the promise that all who made the journey would
share in the fruits of the land.

In a land of great wealth, families must not live in hopeless
poverty. In a land rich in harvest, children just must not go
hungry. In a land of healing miracles, neighbors must not suffer
and die unattended. In a great land of learning and scholars,
young people must be taught to read and write.

For the more than 30 years that I have served this Nation, I have
believed that this injustice to our people, this waste of our
resources, was our real enemy. For 30 years or more, with the
resources I have had, I have vigilantly fought against it. I have
learned, and I know, that it will not surrender easily.

But change has given us new weapons. Before this generation of
Americans is finished, this enemy will not only retreat--it will
be conquered.

Justice requires us to remember that when any citizen denies his
fellow, saying, "His color is not mine," or "His beliefs are
strange and different," in that moment he betrays America, though
his forebears created this Nation.


Liberty was the second article of our covenant. It was self-
government. It was our Bill of Rights. But it was more. America
would be a place where each man could be proud to be himself:
stretching his talents, rejoicing in his work, important in the
life of his neighbors and his nation.

This has become more difficult in a world where change and growth
seem to tower beyond the control and even the judgment of men. We
must work to provide the knowledge and the surroundings which can
enlarge the possibilities of every citizen.

The American covenant called on us to help show the way for the
liberation of man. And that is today our goal. Thus, if as a
nation there is much outside our control, as a people no stranger
is outside our hope.

Change has brought new meaning to that old mission. We can never
again stand aside, prideful in isolation. Terrific dangers and
troubles that we once called "foreign" now constantly live among
us. If American lives must end, and American treasure be spilled,
in countries we barely know, that is the price that change has
demanded of conviction and of our enduring covenant.

Think of our world as it looks from the rocket that is heading
toward Mars. It is like a child's globe, hanging in space, the
continents stuck to its side like colored maps. We are all fellow
passengers on a dot of earth. And each of us, in the span of time,
has really only a moment among our companions.

How incredible it is that in this fragile existence, we should
hate and destroy one another. There are possibilities enough for
all who will abandon mastery over others to pursue mastery over
nature. There is world enough for all to seek their happiness in
their own way.

Our Nation's course is abundantly clear. We aspire to nothing that
belongs to others. We seek no dominion over our fellow man. but
man's dominion over tyranny and misery.

But more is required. Men want to be a part of a common
enterprise--a cause greater than themselves. Each of us must find
a way to advance the purpose of the Nation, thus finding new
purpose for ourselves. Without this, we shall become a nation of


The third article was union. To those who were small and few
against the wilderness, the success of liberty demanded the
strength of union. Two centuries of change have made this true

No longer need capitalist and worker, farmer and clerk, city and
countryside, struggle to divide our bounty. By working shoulder to
shoulder, together we can increase the bounty of all. We have
discovered that every child who learns, every man who finds work,
every sick body that is made whole--like a candle added to an
altar--brightens the hope of all the faithful.

So let us reject any among us who seek to reopen old wounds and to
rekindle old hatreds. They stand in the way of a seeking nation.

Let us now join reason to faith and action to experience, to
transform our unity of interest into a unity of purpose. For the
hour and the day and the time are here to achieve progress without
strife, to achieve change without hatred--not without difference
of opinion, but without the deep and abiding divisions which scar
the union for generations.

Under this covenant of justice, liberty, and union we have become
a nation--prosperous, great, and mighty. And we have kept our
freedom. But we have no promise from God that our greatness will
endure. We have been allowed by Him to seek greatness with the
sweat of our hands and the strength of our spirit.

I do not believe that the Great Society is the ordered,
changeless, and sterile battalion of the ants. It is the
excitement of becoming--always becoming, trying, probing, falling,
resting, and trying again--but always trying and always gaining.

In each generation, with toil and tears, we have had to earn our
heritage again.

If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we
learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom
asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest
on those who are most favored.

If we succeed, it will not be because of what we have, but it will
be because of what we are; not because of what we own, but, rather
because of what we believe.

For we are a nation of believers. Underneath the clamor of
building and the rush of our day's pursuits, we are believers in
justice and liberty and union, and in our own Union. We believe
that every man must someday be free. And we believe in ourselves.

Our enemies have always made the same mistake. In my lifetime--in
depression and in war--they have awaited our defeat. Each time,
from the secret places of the American heart, came forth the faith
they could not see or that they could not even imagine. It brought
us victory. And it will again.

For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert
and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and
the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We
say "Farewell." Is a new world coming? We welcome it--and we will
bend it to the hopes of man.

To these trusted public servants and to my family and those close
friends of mine who have followed me down a long, winding road,
and to all the people of this Union and the world, I will repeat
today what I said on that sorrowful day in November 1963: "I will
lead and I will do the best I can."

But you must look within your own hearts to the old promises and
to the old dream. They will lead you best of all.

For myself, I ask only, in the words of an ancient leader: "Give
me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before
this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?"


Richard Milhous Nixon




An almost-winner of the 1960 election, and a close winner of the
1968 election, the former Vice President and California Senator
and Congressman had defeated the Democratic Vice President, Hubert
Humphrey, and the American Independent Party candidate, George
Wallace. Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office
for the fifth time. The President addressed the large crowd from a
pavilion on the East Front of the Capitol. The address was
televised by satellite around the world.


Senator Dirksen, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, President
Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, my fellow Americans--and my fellow
citizens of the world community:

I ask you to share with me today the majesty of this moment. In
the orderly transfer of power, we celebrate the unity that keeps
us free.

Each moment in history is a fleeting time, precious and unique.
But some stand out as moments of beginning, in which courses are
set that shape decades or centuries.

This can be such a moment.

Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time,
the hope that many of man's deepest aspirations can at last be
realized. The spiraling pace of change allows us to contemplate,
within our own lifetime, advances that once would have taken

In throwing wide the horizons of space, we have discovered new
horizons on earth.

For the first time, because the people of the world want peace,
and the leaders of the world are afraid of war, the times are on
the side of peace.

Eight years from now America will celebrate its 200th anniversary
as a nation. Within the lifetime of most people now living,
mankind will celebrate that great new year which comes only once
in a thousand years--the beginning of the third millennium.

What kind of nation we will be, what kind of world we will live
in, whether we shape the future in the image of our hopes, is ours
to determine by our actions and our choices.

The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.
This honor now beckons America--the chance to help lead the world
at last out of the valley of turmoil, and onto that high ground of
peace that man has dreamed of since the dawn of civilization.

If we succeed, generations to come will say of us now living that
we mastered our moment, that we helped make the world safe for

This is our summons to greatness.

I believe the American people are ready to answer this call.

The second third of this century has been a time of proud
achievement. We have made enormous strides in science and industry
and agriculture. We have shared our wealth more broadly than ever.
We have learned at last to manage a modern economy to assure its
continued growth.

We have given freedom new reach, and we have begun to make its
promise real for black as well as for white.

We see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of today. I know
America's youth. I believe in them. We can be proud that they are
better educated, more committed, more passionately driven by
conscience than any generation in our history.

No people has ever been so close to the achievement of a just and
abundant society, or so possessed of the will to achieve it.
Because our strengths are so great, we can afford to appraise our
weaknesses with candor and to approach them with hope.

Standing in this same place a third of a century ago, Franklin
Delano Roosevelt addressed a Nation ravaged by depression and
gripped in fear. He could say in surveying the Nation's troubles:
"They concern, thank God, only material things."

Our crisis today is the reverse.

We have found ourselves rich in goods, but ragged in spirit;
reaching with magnificent precision for the moon, but falling into
raucous discord on earth.

We are caught in war, wanting peace. We are torn by division,
wanting unity. We see around us empty lives, wanting fulfillment.
We see tasks that need doing, waiting for hands to do them.

To a crisis of the spirit, we need an answer of the spirit.

To find that answer, we need only look within ourselves.

When we listen to "the better angels of our nature," we find that
they celebrate the simple things, the basic things--such as
goodness, decency, love, kindness.

Greatness comes in simple trappings.

The simple things are the ones most needed today if we are to
surmount what divides us, and cement what unites us.

To lower our voices would be a simple thing.

In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of
words; from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can
deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds;
from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading.

We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one
another--until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be
heard as well as our voices.

For its part, government will listen. We will strive to listen in
new ways--to the voices of quiet anguish, the voices that speak
without words, the voices of the heart--to the injured voices, the
anxious voices, the voices that have despaired of being heard.

Those who have been left out, we will try to bring in.

Those left behind, we will help to catch up.

For all of our people, we will set as our goal the decent order
that makes progress possible and our lives secure.

As we reach toward our hopes, our task is to build on what has
gone before--not turning away from the old, but turning toward the

In this past third of a century, government has passed more laws,
spent more money, initiated more programs, than in all our
previous history.

In pursuing our goals of full employment, better housing,
excellence in education; in rebuilding our cities and improving
our rural areas; in protecting our environment and enhancing the
quality of life--in all these and more, we will and must press
urgently forward.

We shall plan now for the day when our wealth can be transferred
from the destruction of war abroad to the urgent needs of our
people at home.

The American dream does not come to those who fall asleep.

But we are approaching the limits of what government alone can do.

Our greatest need now is to reach beyond government, and to enlist
the legions of the concerned and the committed.

What has to be done, has to be done by government and people
together or it will not be done at all. The lesson of past agony
is that without the people we can do nothing; with the people we
can do everything.

To match the magnitude of our tasks, we need the energies of our
people--enlisted not only in grand enterprises, but more
importantly in those small, splendid efforts that make headlines
in the neighborhood newspaper instead of the national journal.

With these, we can build a great cathedral of the spirit--each of
us raising it one stone at a time, as he reaches out to his
neighbor, helping, caring, doing.

I do not offer a life of uninspiring ease. I do not call for a
life of grim sacrifice. I ask you to join in a high adventure--one
as rich as humanity itself, and as exciting as the times we live

The essence of freedom is that each of us shares in the shaping of
his own destiny.

Until he has been part of a cause larger than himself, no man is
truly whole.

The way to fulfillment is in the use of our talents; we achieve
nobility in the spirit that inspires that use.

As we measure what can be done, we shall promise only what we know
we can produce, but as we chart our goals we shall be lifted by
our dreams.

No man can be fully free while his neighbor is not. To go forward
at all is to go forward together.

This means black and white together, as one nation, not two. The
laws have caught up with our conscience. What remains is to give
life to what is in the law: to ensure at last that as all are born
equal in dignity before God, all are born equal in dignity before

As we learn to go forward together at home, let us also seek to go
forward together with all mankind.

Let us take as our goal: where peace is unknown, make it welcome;
where peace is fragile, make it strong; where peace is temporary,
make it permanent.

After a period of confrontation, we are entering an era of

Let all nations know that during this administration our lines of
communication will be open.

We seek an open world--open to ideas, open to the exchange of
goods and people--a world in which no people, great or small, will
live in angry isolation.

We cannot expect to make everyone our friend, but we can try to
make no one our enemy.

Those who would be our adversaries, we invite to a peaceful
competition--not in conquering territory or extending dominion,
but in enriching the life of man.

As we explore the reaches of space, let us go to the new worlds
together--not as new worlds to be conquered, but as a new
adventure to be shared.

With those who are willing to join, let us cooperate to reduce the
burden of arms, to strengthen the structure of peace, to lift up
the poor and the hungry.

But to all those who would be tempted by weakness, let us leave no
doubt that we will be as strong as we need to be for as long as we
need to be.

Over the past twenty years, since I first came to this Capital as
a freshman Congressman, I have visited most of the nations of the

I have come to know the leaders of the world, and the great
forces, the hatreds, the fears that divide the world.

I know that peace does not come through wishing for it--that there
is no substitute for days and even years of patient and prolonged

I also know the people of the world.

I have seen the hunger of a homeless child, the pain of a man
wounded in battle, the grief of a mother who has lost her son. I
know these have no ideology, no race.

I know America. I know the heart of America is good.

I speak from my own heart, and the heart of my country, the deep
concern we have for those who suffer, and those who sorrow.

I have taken an oath today in the presence of God and my
countrymen to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United
States. To that oath I now add this sacred commitment: I shall
consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can
summon, to the cause of peace among nations.

Let this message be heard by strong and weak alike:

The peace we seek to win is not victory over any other people, but
the peace that comes "with healing in its wings"; with compassion
for those who have suffered; with understanding for those who have
opposed us; with the opportunity for all the peoples of this earth
to choose their own destiny.

Only a few short weeks ago, we shared the glory of man's first
sight of the world as God sees it, as a single sphere reflecting
light in the darkness.

As the Apollo astronauts flew over the moon's gray surface on
Christmas Eve, they spoke to us of the beauty of earth--and in
that voice so clear across the lunar distance, we heard them
invoke God's blessing on its goodness.

In that moment, their view from the moon moved poet Archibald
MacLeish to write:

"To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in
that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as
riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness
in the eternal cold--brothers who know now they are truly

In that moment of surpassing technological triumph, men turned
their thoughts toward home and humanity--seeing in that far
perspective that man's destiny on earth is not divisible; telling
us that however far we reach into the cosmos, our destiny lies not
in the stars but on Earth itself, in our own hands, in our own

We have endured a long night of the American spirit. But as our
eyes catch the dimness of the first rays of dawn, let us not curse
the remaining dark. Let us gather the light.

Our destiny offers, not the cup of despair, but the chalice of
opportunity. So let us seize it, not in fear, but in gladness--
and, "riders on the earth together," let us go forward, firm in
our faith, steadfast in our purpose, cautious of the dangers; but
sustained by our confidence in the will of God and the promise of

Richard Milhous Nixon




The election of 1972 consolidated the gains that the President had
made with the electorate in 1968. Although the Democratic Party
maintained majorities in the Congress, the presidential ambitions
of South Dakota Senator George McGovern were unsuccessful. The
oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger on
a pavilion erected on the East Front of the Capitol.


Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Senator Cook,
Mrs. Eisenhower, and my fellow citizens of this great and good
country we share together:

When we met here four years ago, America was bleak in spirit,
depressed by the prospect of seemingly endless war abroad and of
destructive conflict at home.

As we meet here today, we stand on the threshold of a new era of
peace in the world.

The central question before us is: How shall we use that peace?
Let us resolve that this era we are about to enter will not be
what other postwar periods have so often been: a time of retreat
and isolation that leads to stagnation at home and invites new
danger abroad.

Let us resolve that this will be what it can become: a time of
great responsibilities greatly borne, in which we renew the spirit
and the promise of America as we enter our third century as a

This past year saw far-reaching results from our new policies for
peace. By continuing to revitalize our traditional friendships,
and by our missions to Peking and to Moscow, we were able to
establish the base for a new and more durable pattern of
relationships among the nations of the world. Because of America's
bold initiatives, 1972 will be long remembered as the year of the
greatest progress since the end of World War II toward a lasting
peace in the world.

The peace we seek in the world is not the flimsy peace which is
merely an interlude between wars, but a peace which can endure for
generations to come.

It is important that we understand both the necessity and the
limitations of America's role in maintaining that peace.

Unless we in America work to preserve the peace, there will be no

Unless we in America work to preserve freedom, there will be no
But let us clearly understand the new nature of America's role, as
a result of the new policies we have adopted over these past four

We shall respect our treaty commitments.

We shall support vigorously the principle that no country has the
right to impose its will or rule on another by force.

We shall continue, in this era of negotiation, to work for the
limitation of nuclear arms, and to reduce the danger of
confrontation between the great powers.

We shall do our share in defending peace and freedom in the world.
But we shall expect others to do their share.

The time has passed when America will make every other nation's
conflict our own, or make every other nation's future our
responsibility, or presume to tell the people of other nations how
to manage their own affairs.

Just as we respect the right of each nation to determine its own
future, we also recognize the responsibility of each nation to
secure its own future.

Just as America's role is indispensable in preserving the world's
peace, so is each nation's role indispensable in preserving its
own peace.

Together with the rest of the world, let us resolve to move
forward from the beginnings we have made. Let us continue to bring
down the walls of hostility which have divided the world for too
long, and to build in their place bridges of understanding--so
that despite profound differences between systems of government,
the people of the world can be friends.

Let us build a structure of peace in the world in which the weak
are as safe as the strong--in which each respects the right of the
other to live by a different system--in which those who would
influence others will do so by the strength of their ideas, and
not by the force of their arms.

Let us accept that high responsibility not as a burden, but
gladly--gladly because the chance to build such a peace is the
noblest endeavor in which a nation can engage; gladly, also,
because only if we act greatly in meeting our responsibilities
abroad will we remain a great Nation, and only if we remain a
great Nation will we act greatly in meeting our challenges at

We have the chance today to do more than ever before in our
history to make life better in America--to ensure better
education, better health, better housing, better transportation, a
cleaner environment--to restore respect for law, to make our
communities more livable--and to insure the God-given right of
every American to full and equal opportunity.

Because the range of our needs is so great--because the reach of
our opportunities is so great--let us be bold in our determination
to meet those needs in new ways.

Just as building a structure of peace abroad has required turning
away from old policies that failed, so building a new era of
progress at home requires turning away from old policies that have

Abroad, the shift from old policies to new has not been a retreat
from our responsibilities, but a better way to peace.

And at home, the shift from old policies to new will not be a
retreat from our responsibilities, but a better way to progress.

Abroad and at home, the key to those new responsibilities lies in
the placing and the division of responsibility. We have lived too
long with the consequences of attempting to gather all power and
responsibility in Washington.

Abroad and at home, the time has come to turn away from the
condescending policies of paternalism--of "Washington knows best."

A person can be expected to act responsibly only if he has
responsibility. This is human nature. So let us encourage
individuals at home and nations abroad to do more for themselves,
to decide more for themselves. Let us locate responsibility in
more places. Let us measure what we will do for others by what
they will do for themselves.

That is why today I offer no promise of a purely governmental
solution for every problem. We have lived too long with that false
promise. In trusting too much in government, we have asked of it
more than it can deliver. This leads only to inflated
expectations, to reduced individual effort, and to a
disappointment and frustration that erode confidence both in what
government can do and in hat people can do.

Government must learn to take less from people so that people an
do more for themselves.

Let us remember that America was built not by government, but by
people--not by welfare, but by work--not by shirking
responsibility, but by seeking responsibility.

In our own lives, let each of us ask--not just what will
government do for me, but what can I do for myself?

In the challenges we face together, let each of us ask--not just
how can government help, but how can I help?

Your National Government has a great and vital role to play. And I
pledge to you that where this Government should act, we will act
boldly and we will lead boldly. But just as important is the role
that each and every one of us must play, as an individual and as a
member of his own community.

From this day forward, let each of us make a solemn commitment in
his own heart: to bear his responsibility, to do his part, to live
his ideals--so that together, we can see the dawn of a new age of
progress for America, and together, as we celebrate our 200th
anniversary as a nation, we can do so proud in the fulfillment of
our promise to ourselves and to the world.

As America's longest and most difficult war comes to an end, let
us again learn to debate our differences with civility and
decency. And let each of us reach out for that one precious
quality government cannot provide--a new level of respect for the
rights and feelings of one another, a new level of respect for the
individual human dignity which is the cherished birthright of
every American.

Above all else, the time has come for us to renew our faith in
ourselves and in America.

In recent years, that faith has been challenged.
Our children have been taught to be ashamed of their country,
ashamed of their parents, ashamed of America's record at home and
of its role in the world.

At every turn, we have been beset by those who find everything
wrong with America and little that is right. But I am confident
that this will not be the judgment of history on these remarkable
times in which we are privileged to live.

America's record in this century has been unparalleled in the
world's history for its responsibility, for its generosity, for
its creativity and for its progress.

Let us be proud that our system has produced and provided more
freedom and more abundance, more widely shared, than any other
system in the history of the world.

Let us be proud that in each of the four wars in which we have
been engaged in this century, including the one we are now
bringing to an end, we have fought not for our selfish advantage,
but to help others resist aggression.

Let us be proud that by our bold, new initiatives, and by our
steadfastness for peace with honor, we have made a break-through
toward creating in the world what the world has not known before--
a structure of peace that can last, not merely for our time, but
for generations to come.

We are embarking here today on an era that presents challenges
great as those any nation, or any generation, has ever faced.

We shall answer to God, to history, and to our conscience for the
way in which we use these years.
As I stand in this place, so hallowed by history, I think of
others who have stood here before me. I think of the dreams they
had for America, and I think of how each recognized that he needed
help far beyond himself in order to make those dreams come true.

Today, I ask your prayers that in the years ahead I may have God's
help in making decisions that are right for America, and I pray
for your help so that together we may be worthy of our challenge.

Let us pledge together to make these next four years the best four
years in America's history, so that on its 200th birthday America
will be as young and as vital as when it began, and as bright a
beacon of hope for all the world.

Let us go forward from here confident in hope, strong in our faith
in one another, sustained by our faith in God who created us, and
striving always to serve His purpose.


Jimmy Carter




The Democrats reclaimed the White House in the 1976 election. The
Governor from Georgia defeated Gerald Ford, who had become
President on August 9, 1974, upon the resignation of President
Nixon. The oath of office was taken on the Bible used in the first
inauguration by George | Washington; it was administered by Chief
Justice Warren Burger on the East Front of the Capitol. The new
President and his family surprised the spectators by walking from
the Capitol to the White House after the ceremony.


For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for
all he has done to heal our land.

In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the
inner and spiritual strength of our Nation. As my high school
teacher, Miss Julia Coleman, used to say: "We must adjust to
changing times and still hold to unchanging principles."

Here before me is the Bible used in the inauguration of our first
President, in 1789, and I have just taken the oath of office on
the Bible my mother gave me a few years ago, opened to a timeless
admonition from the ancient prophet Micah:

"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord
require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with thy God." (Micah 6: 8)

This inauguration ceremony marks a new beginning, a new dedication
within our Government, and a new spirit among us all. A President
may sense and proclaim that new spirit, but only a people can
provide it.

Two centuries ago our Nation's birth was a milestone in the long
quest for freedom, but the bold and brilliant dream which excited
the founders of this Nation still awaits its consummation. I have
no new dream to set forth today, but rather urge a fresh faith in
the old dream.

Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of
both spirituality and of human liberty. It is that unique self-
definition which has given us an exceptional appeal, but it also
imposes on us a special obligation, to take on those moral duties
which, when assumed, seem invariably to be in our own best

You have given me a great responsibility--to stay close to you, to
be worthy of you, and to exemplify what you are. Let us create
together a new national spirit of unity and trust. Your strength
can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to
minimize my mistakes.
Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and
pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together
in the right.

The American dream endures. We must once again have full faith in
our country--and in one another. I believe America can be better.
We can be even stronger than before.

Let our recent mistakes bring a resurgent commitment to the basic
principles of our Nation, for we know that if we despise our own
government we have no future. We recall in special times when we
have stood briefly, but magnificently, united. In those times no
prize was beyond our grasp.

But we cannot dwell upon remembered glory. We cannot afford to
drift. We reject the prospect of failure or mediocrity or an
inferior quality of life for any person. Our Government must at
the same time be both competent and compassionate.

We have already found a high degree of personal liberty, and we
are now struggling to enhance equality of opportunity. Our
commitment to human rights must be absolute, our laws fair, our
natural beauty preserved; the powerful must not persecute the
weak, and human dignity must be enhanced.

We have learned that "more" is not necessarily "better," that even
our great Nation has its recognized limits, and that we can
neither answer all questions nor solve all problems. We cannot
afford to do everything, nor can we afford to lack boldness as we
meet the future. So, together, in a spirit of individual sacrifice
for the common good, we must simply do our best.

Our Nation can be strong abroad only if it is strong at home. And
we know that the best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to
demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of

To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others. We will not
behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards
here at home, for we know that the trust which our Nation earns is
essential to our strength.

The world itself is now dominated by a new spirit. Peoples more
numerous and more politically aware are craving and now demanding
their place in the sun--not just for the benefit of their own
physical condition, but for basic human rights.

The passion for freedom is on the rise. Tapping this new spirit,
there can be no nobler nor more ambitious task for America to
undertake on this day of a new beginning than to help shape a just
and peaceful world that is truly humane.

We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so
sufficient that it need not be proven in combat--a quiet strength
based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of

We will be ever vigilant and never vulnerable, and we will fight
our wars against poverty, ignorance, and injustice--for those are
the enemies against which our forces can be honorably marshaled.

We are a purely idealistic Nation, but let no one confuse our
idealism with weakness.

Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of
freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference
for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for
individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is
clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would
be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all

The world is still engaged in a massive armaments race designed to
ensure continuing equivalent strength among potential adversaries.
We pledge perseverance and wisdom in our efforts to limit the
world's armaments to those necessary for each nation's own
domestic safety. And we will move this year a step toward ultimate
goal--the elimination of all nuclear weapons from this Earth. We
urge all other people to join us, for success can mean life
instead of death.

Within us, the people of the United States, there is evident a
serious and purposeful rekindling of confidence. And I join in the
hope that when my time as your President has ended, people might
say this about our Nation:

- that we had remembered the words of Micah and renewed our search
for humility, mercy, and justice;
- that we had torn down the barriers that separated those of
different race and region and religion, and where there had been
mistrust, built unity, with a respect for diversity;

- that we had found productive work for those able to perform it;

- that we had strengthened the American family, which is the basis
of our society;

- that we had ensured respect for the law, and equal treatment
under the law, for the weak and the powerful, for the rich and the

- and that we had enabled our people to be proud of their own
Government once again.

I would hope that the nations of the world might say that we had
built a lasting peace, built not on weapons of war but on
international policies which reflect our own most precious values.

These are not just my goals, and they will not be my
accomplishments, but the affirmation of our Nation's continuing
moral strength and our belief in an undiminished, ever-expanding
American dream.


Ronald Reagan




For the first time, an inauguration ceremony was held on the
terrace of the West Front of the Capitol. Chief Justice Warren
Burger administered the oath of office to the former broadcaster,
screen actor, and Governor of California. In the election of 1980,
the Republicans won the White House and a majority in the Senate.
On inauguration day, American hostages held by the revolutionary
government of Iran were released.


Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President
Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O'Neill,
Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens: To a few of us here
today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in
the history of our Nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The
orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution
routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few
of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many
in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is
nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did
to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the
transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a
united people pledged to maintaining a political system which
guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other,
and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining
the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are
confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We
suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations
in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions,
penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-
income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of
millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human
misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair
return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful
achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public
spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit,
mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary
convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to
guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our
means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we
think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that
same limitation?

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be
no misunderstanding--we are going to begin to act, beginning

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several
decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they
will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the
capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to
be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our

From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society
has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government
by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the
people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself,
then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of
us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The
solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out
to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Our concern must be for a
special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows
no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it
crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who
raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our
factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we
are sick--professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks,
cabbies, and truckdrivers. They are, in short, "We the people,"
this breed called Americans.

Well, this administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous,
growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans,
with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting
America back to work means putting all Americans back to work.
Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of
runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of
this "new beginning" and all must share in the bounty of a revived
economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our
system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous
America at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a
government--not the other way around. And this makes us special
among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except
that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the
growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the
consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal
establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between
the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to
the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that
the Federal Government did not create the States; the States
created the Federal Government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention
to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work-work
with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back.
Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it;
foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved
so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because
here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius
of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom
and the dignity of the individual have been more available and
assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this
freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling
to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are
proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that
result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is
time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit
ourselves to small dreams. We are not, as some would have us
believe, loomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a
fate that will all on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a
fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the
creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national
renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our
strength. And let us renew; our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we
are in a time when there are no heroes just don't know where to
look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory
gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed
all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a
counter--and they are on both sides of that counter. There are
entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who
create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They are individuals
and families whose taxes support the Government and whose
voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and
education. Their patriotism is quiet but deep. Their values
sustain our national life.

I have used the words "they" and "their" in speaking of these
heroes. I could say "you" and "your" because I am addressing the
heroes of whom I speak--you, the citizens of this blessed land.
Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams,
the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your
makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen,
and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when
they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-
sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an
unequivocal and emphatic "yes." To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I
did not take the oath I have just taken with the intention of
presiding over the dissolution of the world's strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have
slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken
aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of
government. Progress may be slow--measured in inches and feet, not
miles--but we will progress. Is it time to reawaken this
industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to
lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first
priorities, and on these principles, there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have
been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph
Warren, President of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his
fellow Americans, "Our country is in danger, but not to be
despaired of.... On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to
decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and
the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves."

Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act
worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure
happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our
children's children.
And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as
having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the
exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now
have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will
strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and
firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will
strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our
friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for or own sovereignty
is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential
adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest
aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it,
sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it--now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for
conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action
is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We
will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing
that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use
that strength.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the
arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral
courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in
today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do
have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and
prey upon their neighbors.

I am told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held
on this day, and for that I am deeply grateful. We are a nation
under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would
be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inauguration Day in
future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in history that this ceremony has been
held, as you have been told, on this West Front of the Capitol.
Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this
city's special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall
are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man: George
Washington, Father of our country. A man of humility who came to
greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory
into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to
Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his

And then beyond the Reflecting Pool the dignified columns of the
Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the
meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the
far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with
its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of
David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has
been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kinds of hero I
spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood,
The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in
a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man--Martin Treptow--who left
his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with
the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was
killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy
artillery fire.

We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf
under the heading, "My Pledge," he had written these words:
"America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I
will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my
utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of
sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were
called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort,
and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our
capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with
God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now
confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans.
God bless you, and thank you.


Ronald Reagan




January 20 was a Sunday, and the President took the oath of
office, administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger, in the Grand
Foyer of the White House. Weather that hovered near zero that
night and on Monday forced the planners to cancel many of the
outdoor events for the second inauguration. For the first time a
President took the oath of office in the Capitol Rotunda. The oath
was again administered by Chief Justice Burger. Jessye Norman sang
at the ceremony.


Senator Mathias, Chief Justice Burger, Vice President Bush, Speaker
O'Neill, Senator Dole, Reverend Clergy, members of my family and
friends, and my fellow citizens:

This day has been made brighter with the presence here of one who,
for a time, has been absent--Senator John Stennis.

God bless you and welcome back.

There is, however, one who is not with us today: Representative
Gillis Long of Louisiana left us last night. I wonder if we could
all join in a moment of silent prayer. (Moment of silent prayer.)

There are no words adequate to express my thanks for the great
honor that you have bestowed on me. I will do my utmost to be
deserving of your trust.

This is, as Senator Mathias told us, the 50th time that we the
people have celebrated this historic occasion. When the first
President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he
stood less than a single day's journey by horseback from raw,
untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of
13 States. Today we are 60 times as many in a union of 50 States.
We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of
mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help, journeyed
to the Moon and safely returned. So much has changed. And yet we
stand together as we did two centuries ago.

When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of
economic stress. Voices were raised saying we had to look to our
past for the greatness and glory. But we, the present-day
Americans, are not given to looking backward. In this blessed
land, there is always a better tomorrow.

Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have
accomplished that. But in another sense, our new beginning is a
continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for
the first time in history, government, the people said, was not
our master, it is our servant; its only power that which we the
people allow it to have.

That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the
system. We asked things of government that government was not
equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government
that properly belonged to States or to local governments or to the
people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our
earnings and savings and watched the great industrial machine that
had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the
number of unemployed increase.

By 1980, we knew it was time to renew our faith, to strive with
all our strength toward the ultimate in individual freedom
consistent with an orderly society.

We believed then and now there are no limits to growth and human
progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.
And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced,
inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever
before in our history.

We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive.
But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until
every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and
opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of
this great Republic, and we'll meet this challenge.

These will be years when Americans have restored their confidence
and tradition of progress; when our values of faith, family, work,
and neighborhood were restated for a modern age; when our economy
was finally freed from government's grip; when we made sincere
efforts at meaningful arms reduction, rebuilding our defenses, our
economy, and developing new technologies, and helped preserve
peace in a troubled world; when Americans courageously supported
the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise
throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from
totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

My fellow citizens, our Nation is poised for greatness. We must do
what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history
say of us, "These were golden years--when the American Revolution
was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for
her best."

Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never
better than in those times of great challenge when we came
together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united
in a common cause.

Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a
Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group
who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start
the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become
political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then years
later, when both were retired, and age had softened their anger,
they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond
was reestablished between those two who had helped create this
government of ours.

In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence,
they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of
each other, and that day was the Fourth of July.

In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives,
Jefferson wrote: "It carries me back to the times when, beset with
difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same
cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to
self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave
ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless
... we rode through the storm with heart and hand."

Well, with heart and hand, let us stand as one today: One people
under God determined that our future shall be worthy of our past.
As we do, we must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our
past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and
women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the
spiraling demands of a bloated Federal Establishment. You elected
us in 1980 to end this prescription for disaster, and I don't
believe you reelected us in 1984 to reverse course.

At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight
months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the
drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human
progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings,
and investment; reduce the increase in the cost and size of
government and its interference in people's lives.

We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair, and bring the
rates down for all who work and earn. We must think anew and move
with a new boldness, so every American who seeks work can find
work; so the least among us shall have an equal chance to achieve
the greatest things--to be heroes who heal our sick, feed the
hungry, protect peace among nations, and leave this world a better

The time has come for a new American emancipation--a great
national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the
spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country.
My friends, together we can do this, and do it we must, so help me
God.-- From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth,
a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger
America--an America that will lead the technological revolution,
and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of
literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage,
and love.

A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes,
will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. But an
almost unbroken 50 years of deficit spending has finally brought
us to a time of reckoning. We have come to a turning point, a
moment for hard decisions. I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a
question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not
us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going
forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can
then begin reducing the national debt.

I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing
government program spending for the next year. Beyond that, we
must take further steps to permanently control Government's power
to tax and spend. We must act now to protect future generations
from Government's desire to spend its citizens' money and tax them
into servitude when the bills come due. Let us make it
unconstitutional for the Federal Government to spend more than the
Federal Government takes in.

We have already started returning to the people and to State and
local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now,
there is a place for the Federal Government in matters of social
compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency
and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged.
And here a growing economy and support from family and community
offer our best chance for a society where compassion is a way of
life, where the old and infirm are cared for, the young and, yes,
the unborn protected, and the unfortunate looked after and made

And there is another area where the Federal Government can play a
part. As an older American, I remember a time when people of
different race, creed, or ethnic origin in our land found hatred
and prejudice installed in social custom and, yes, in law. There
is no story more heartening in our history than the progress that
we have made toward the "brotherhood of man" that God intended for
us. Let us resolve there will be no turning back or hesitation on
the road to an America rich in dignity and abundant with
opportunity for all our citizens.

Let us resolve that we the people will build an American
opportunity society in which all of us--white and black, rich and
poor, young and old--will go forward together arm in arm. Again,
let us remember that though our heritage is one of blood lines
from every corner of the Earth, we are all Americans pledged to
carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth.

I have spoken of our domestic goals and the limitations which we
should put on our National Government. Now let me turn to a task
which is the primary responsibility of National Government-the
safety and security of our people.

Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer
for peace on Earth. Yet history has shown that peace will not
come, nor will our freedom be preserved, by good will alone. There
are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and
freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest
military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of
awesome offensive weapons.

We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But
much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any
doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to
remain free, secure, and at peace.

There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost
of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And
this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We
are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear
weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the
total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the

Now, for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat
of mutual assured destruction; if either resorted to the use of
nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who
had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing
that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people,
our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of

I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security
shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their
target. It wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons. It
wouldn't militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals
of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet
with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the
world of the threat of nuclear destruction.

We strive for peace and security, heartened by the changes all
around us. Since the turn of the century, the number of
democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on
the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere. Freedom is

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