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United States Presidents' Inaugural Speeches

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one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit.
People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for
those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress.

America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is
our best ally.

And it is the world's only hope, to conquer poverty and preserve
peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow
against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for
human freedom will be a victory for world peace.
So we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and
powerful in its purpose. With our alliances strengthened, with our
economy leading the world to a new age of economic expansion, we
look forward to a world rich in possibilities. And all this
because we have worked and acted together, not as members of
political parties, but as Americans.

My friends, we live in a world that is lit by lightning. So much
is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends

History is a ribbon, always unfurling; history is a journey. And
as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before
us. We stand together again at the steps of this symbol of our
democracy--or we would have been standing at the steps if it
hadn't gotten so cold. Now we are standing inside this symbol of
our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general
falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely
President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to
preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to
each other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song
echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.

It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic,
daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage; that is our song.
We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are
together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the
Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us
close as we fill the world with our sound--sound in unity,
affection, and love--one people under God, dedicated to the dream
of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now
to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.

God bless you and may God bless America.


George Bush




The 200th anniversary of the Presidency was observed as George
Bush took the executive oath on the same Bible George Washington
used in 1789. The ceremony occurred on a platform on the terrace
of the West Front of the Capitol. The oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. After the
ceremony the President and Mrs. Bush led the inaugural parade from
the Capitol to the White House, walking along several blocks of
Pennsylvania Avenue to greet the spectators.


Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Quayle, Senator
Mitchell, Speaker Wright, Senator Dole, Congressman Michel, and
fellow citizens, neighbors, and friends:

There is a man here who has earned a lasting place in our hearts
and in our history. President Reagan, on behalf of our Nation, I
thank you for the wonderful things that you have done for America.

I have just repeated word for word the oath taken by George
Washington 200 years ago, and the Bible on which I placed my hand
is the Bible on which he placed his. It is right that the memory
of Washington be with us today, not only because this is our
Bicentennial Inauguration, but because Washington remains the
Father of our Country. And he would, I think, be gladdened by this
day; for today is the concrete expression of a stunning fact: our
continuity these 200 years since our government began.

We meet on democracy's front porch, a good place to talk as
neighbors and as friends. For this is a day when our nation is
made whole, when our differences, for a moment, are suspended.

And my first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your

Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love.
Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the
shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to
do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our
hearts these words: "Use power to help people." For we are given
power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in
the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it
is to serve people. Help us to remember it, Lord. Amen.

I come before you and assume the Presidency at a moment rich with
promise. We live in a peaceful, prosperous time, but we can make
it better. For a new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by
freedom seems reborn; for in man's heart, if not in fact, the day
of the dictator is over. The totalitarian era is passing, its old
ideas blown away like leaves from an ancient, lifeless tree. A new
breeze is blowing, and a nation refreshed by freedom stands ready
to push on. There is new ground to be broken, and new action to be
taken. There are times when the future seems thick as a fog; you
sit and wait, hoping the mists will lift and reveal the right
path. But this is a time when the future seems a door you can walk
right through into a room called tomorrow.

Great nations of the world are moving toward democracy through the
door to freedom. Men and women of the world move toward free
markets through the door to prosperity. The people of the world
agitate for free expression and free thought through the door to
the moral and intellectual satisfactions that only liberty allows.

We know what works: Freedom works. We know what's right: Freedom
is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life
for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free
elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.
For the first time in this century, for the first time in perhaps
all history, man does not have to invent a system by which to
live. We don't have to talk late into the night about which form
of government is better. We don't have to wrest justice from the
kings. We only have to summon it from within ourselves. We must
act on what we know. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In
crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all
things, generosity.

America today is a proud, free nation, decent and civil, a place
we cannot help but love. We know in our hearts, not loudly and
proudly, but as a simple fact, that this country has meaning
beyond what we see, and that our strength is a force for good. But
have we changed as a nation even in our time? Are we enthralled
with material things, less appreciative of the nobility of work
and sacrifice?

My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions. They are not
the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We
cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank
account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be
a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home,
his neighborhood and town better than he found it. What do we want
the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer
there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us?
Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and
stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?

No President, no government, can teach us to remember what is best
in what we are. But if the man you have chosen to lead this
government can help make a difference; if he can celebrate the
quieter, deeper successes that are made not of gold and silk, but
of better hearts and finer souls; if he can do these things, then
he must.

America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high
moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is
to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the
world. My friends, we have work to do. There are the homeless,
lost and roaming. There are the children who have nothing, no
love, no normalcy. There are those who cannot free themselves of
enslavement to whatever addiction--drugs, welfare, the
demoralization that rules the slums. There is crime to be
conquered, the rough crime of the streets. There are young women
to be helped who are about to become mothers of children they
can't care for and might not love. They need our care, our
guidance, and our education, though we bless them for choosing

The old solution, the old way, was to think that public money
alone could end these problems. But we have learned that is not
so. And in any case, our funds are low. We have a deficit to bring
down. We have more will than wallet; but will is what we need. We
will make the hard choices, looking at what we have and perhaps
allocating it differently, making our decisions based on honest
need and prudent safety. And then we will do the wisest thing of
all: We will turn to the only resource we have that in times of
need always grows--the goodness and the courage of the American

I am speaking of a new engagement in the lives of others, a new
activism, hands-on and involved, that gets the job done. We must
bring in the generations, harnessing the unused talent of the
elderly and the unfocused energy of the young. For not only
leadership is passed from generation to generation, but so is
stewardship. And the generation born after the Second World War
has come of age.

I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community
organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation,
doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes
leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in
the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people
and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will
ask every member of my government to become involved. The old
ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless:
duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its
expression in taking part and pitching in.

We need a new engagement, too, between the Executive and the
Congress. The challenges before us will be thrashed out with the
House and the Senate. We must bring the Federal budget into
balance. And we must ensure that America stands before the world
united, strong, at peace, and fiscally sound. But, of course,
things may be difficult. We need compromise; we have had
dissension. We need harmony; we have had a chorus of discordant

For Congress, too, has changed in our time. There has grown a
certain divisiveness. We have seen the hard looks and heard the
statements in which not each other's ideas are challenged, but
each other's motives. And our great parties have too often been
far apart and untrusting of each other. It has been this way since
Vietnam. That war cleaves us still. But, friends, that war began
in earnest a quarter of a century ago; and surely the statute of
limitations has been reached. This is a fact: The final lesson of
Vietnam is that no great nation can long afford to be sundered by
a memory. A new breeze is blowing, and the old bipartisanship must
be made new again.

To my friends--and yes, I do mean friends--in the loyal
opposition--and yes, I mean loyal: I put out my hand. I am putting
out my hand to you, Mr. Speaker. I am putting out my hand to you
Mr. Majority Leader. For this is the thing: This is the age of the
offered hand. We can't turn back clocks, and I don't want to. But
when our fathers were young, Mr. Speaker, our differences ended at
the water's edge. And we don't wish to turn back time, but when
our mothers were young, Mr. Majority Leader, the Congress and the
Executive were capable of working together to produce a budget on
which this nation could live. Let us negotiate soon and hard. But
in the end, let us produce. The American people await action. They
didn't send us here to bicker. They ask us to rise above the
merely partisan. "In crucial things, unity"--and this, my friends,
is crucial.

To the world, too, we offer new engagement and a renewed vow: We
will stay strong to protect the peace. The "offered hand" is a
reluctant fist; but once made, strong, and can be used with great
effect. There are today Americans who are held against their will
in foreign lands, and Americans who are unaccounted for.
Assistance can be shown here, and will be long remembered. Good
will begets good will. Good faith can be a spiral that endlessly
moves on.

Great nations like great men must keep their word. When America
says something, America means it, whether a treaty or an agreement
or a vow made on marble steps. We will always try to speak
clearly, for candor is a compliment, but subtlety, too, is good
and has its place. While keeping our alliances and friendships
around the world strong, ever strong, we will continue the new
closeness with the Soviet Union, consistent both with our security
and with progress. One might say that our new relationship in part
reflects the triumph of hope and strength over experience. But
hope is good, and so are strength and vigilance.

Here today are tens of thousands of our citizens who feel the
understandable satisfaction of those who have taken part in
democracy and seen their hopes fulfilled. But my thoughts have
been turning the past few days to those who would be watching at
home to an older fellow who will throw a salute by himself when
the flag goes by, and the women who will tell her sons the words
of the battle hymns. I don't mean this to be sentimental. I mean
that on days like this, we remember that we are all part of a
continuum, inescapably connected by the ties that bind.

Our children are watching in schools throughout our great land.
And to them I say, thank you for watching democracy's big day. For
democracy belongs to us all, and freedom is like a beautiful kite
that can go higher and higher with the breeze. And to all I say:
No matter what your circumstances or where you are, you are part
of this day, you are part of the life of our great nation.

A President is neither prince nor pope, and I don't seek a window
on men's souls. In fact, I yearn for a greater tolerance, an easy-
goingness about each other's attitudes and way of life.

There are few clear areas in which we as a society must rise up
united and express our intolerance. The most obvious now is drugs.
And when that first cocaine was smuggled in on a ship, it may as
well have been a deadly bacteria, so much has it hurt the body,
the soul of our country. And there is much to be done and to be
said, but take my word for it: This scourge will stop.

And so, there is much to do; and tomorrow the work begins. I do
not mistrust the future; I do not fear what is ahead. For our
problems are large, but our heart is larger. Our challenges are
great, but our will is greater. And if our flaws are endless,
God's love is truly boundless.

Some see leadership as high drama, and the sound of trumpets
calling, and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book
with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of
hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the
story unfolds. And so today a chapter begins, a small and stately
story of unity, diversity, and generosity--shared, and written,

Thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.


Bill Clinton's First Inaugural Address

My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal.
This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak
and the faces we show the world, we force the spring. A spring reborn in
the world's oldest democracy, that brings forth the vision and courage
to reinvent America. When our founders boldly declared America's independence
to the world, and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America,
to endure, would have to change. Not change for change sake, but change
to preserve America's ideals: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.

Though we march to the music of our time, our mission is timeless.
Each generation of American's must define what it means to be an American.
On behalf of our nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his
half-century of service to America. . .and I thank the millions of men
and women whose steadfastness and sacrifice triumphed over depression,
fascism and communism.

Today, a generation raised in the shadows of the Cold War assumes new
responsibilities in a world warmed by the sunshine of freedom, but threatened
still by ancient hatreds and new plagues. Raised in unrivalled prosperity,
we inherit an economy that is still the world's strongest, but is weakened by
business failures, stagnant wages, increasing inequality, and deep divisions
among OUR OWN people.

When George Washington first took the oath I have just sworn to uphold, news
travelled slowly across the land by horseback, and across the ocean by boat.
Now the sights and sounds of this ceremony are broadcast instantaneously to
billions around the world. Communications and commerce are global.
Investment is mobile. Technology is almost magical, and ambition for
a better life is now universal.

We earn our livelihood in America today in peaceful competition with people
all across the Earth. Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking
our world, and the URGENT question of our time is whether we can make change
our friend and not our enemy. This new world has already enriched the lives
of MILLIONS of Americans who are able to compete and win in it. But when
most people are working harder for less, when others cannot work at all,
when the cost of health care devastates families and threatens to bankrupt
our enterprises, great and small; when the fear of crime robs law abiding
citizens of their freedom; and when millions of poor children cannot
even imagine the lives we are calling them to lead, we have not made
change our friend.

We know we have to face hard truths and take strong steps,
but we have not done so. Instead we have drifted, and that
drifting has eroded our resources, fractured our economy,
and shaken our confidence. Though our challenges are fearsome,
so are our strengths. Americans have ever been a restless, questing,
hopeful people, and we must bring to our task today the vision
and will of those who came before us. From our Revolution to the
Civil War, to the Great Depression, to the Civil Rights movement,
our people have always mustered the determination to construct from
these crises the pillars of our history. Thomas Jefferson believed
that to preserve the very foundations of our nation we would need
dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow Americans,
this is OUR time. Let us embrace it.

Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of
our OWN renewal. There is nothing WRONG with America that cannot be cured
by what is RIGHT with America.

And so today we pledge an end to the era of deadlock and drift,
and a new season of American renewal has begun.

To renew America we must be bold. We must do what no generation
has had to do before. We must invest more in our own people,
in their jobs, and in their future, and at the same time cut
our massive debt. . .and we must do so in a world in which
we must compete for every opportunity. It will not be easy.
It will require sacrifice, but it can be done, and done fairly.
Not choosing sacrifice for its own sake, but for OUR own sake.
We must provide for our nation the way a family provides for its
children. Our founders saw themselves in the light of posterity.
We can do no less. Anyone who has ever watched a child's eyes
wander into sleep knows what posterity is. Posterity is the world
to come, the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have
borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibilities.
We must do what America does best, offer more opportunity TO all
and demand more responsibility FROM all.

It is time to break the bad habit of expecting something for nothing:
from our government, or from each other. Let us all take more
responsibility, not only for ourselves and our families, but for our
communities and our country. To renew America we must revitalize
our democracy. This beautiful capitol, like every capitol since
the dawn of civilization, is often a place of intrigue and calculation.
Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is
IN and who is OUT, who is UP and who is DOWN, forgetting those people
whose toil and sweat sends us here and paves our way.

Americans deserve better, and in this city today there are people
who want to do better, and so I say to all of you here, let us resolve
to reform our politics, so that power and privilege no longer shout down
the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage, so that we
can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make
our government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called "bold, persistent
experimentation, a government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays."
Let us give this capitol back to the people to whom it belongs.

To renew America we must meet challenges abroad, as well as at home.
There is no longer a clear division between what is foreign and what is
domestic. The world economy, the world environment, the world AIDS crisis,
the world arms race: they affect us all. Today as an old order passes, the new
world is more free, but less stable. Communism's collapse has called forth old
animosities, and new dangers. Clearly, America must continue to lead the world
we did so much to make. While America rebuilds at home, we will not shrink
from the challenges nor fail to seize the opportunities of this new world.
Together with our friends and allies, we will work together to shape change,
lest it engulf us. When our vital interests are challenged, or the will and
conscience of the international community is defied, we will act; with peaceful
diplomacy whenever possible, with force when necessary. The brave Americans
serving our nation today in the Persian Gulf, in Somalia, and wherever else
they stand, are testament to our resolve, but our greatest strength is the
power of our ideas, which are still new in many lands. Across the world,
we see them embraced and we rejoice. Our hopes, our hearts, our hands,
are with those on every continent, who are building democracy and freedom.
Their cause is America's cause. The American people have summoned the change
we celebrate today. You have raised your voices in an unmistakable chorus,
you have cast your votes in historic numbers, you have changed the face of
congress, the presidency, and the political process itself. Yes, YOU, my
fellow Americans, have forced the spring. Now WE must do the work the
season demands. To that work I now turn with ALL the authority of my office.
I ask the congress to join with me; but no president, no congress,
no government can undertake THIS mission alone.

My fellow Americans, you, too, must play your part in our renewal.
I challenge a new generation of YOUNG Americans to a season of service,
to act on your idealism, by helping troubled children, keeping company
with those in need, reconnecting our torn communities. There is so much
to be done. Enough, indeed, for millions of others who are still young
in spirit, to give of themselves in service, too. In serving we recognize
a simple, but powerful, truth: we need each other, and we must care for
one another. Today we do more than celebrate America, we rededicate
ourselves to the very idea of America, an idea born in revolution,
and renewed through two centuries of challenge, an idea tempered by
the knowledge that but for fate, we, the fortunate and the unfortunate,
might have been each other; an idea ennobled by the faith that our nation
can summon from its myriad diversity, the deepest measure of unity;
an idea infused with the conviction that America's journey long, heroic
journey must go forever upward.

And so, my fellow Americans, as we stand at the edge of the 21st Century,
let us begin anew, with energy and hope, with faith and discipline,
and let us work until our work is done. The Scripture says: "And let us
not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
From this joyful mountaintop of celebration we hear a call to service in
the valley. We have heard the trumpets, we have changed the guard,
and now each in our own way, and with God's help, we must answer the call.

Thank you, and God bless you all.


Second Inaugural Address of
President William J. Clinton

January 20, 1997


My fellow citizens:

At this last presidential inauguration of the 20th century,
let us lift our eyes toward the challenges that await us in
the next century. It is our great good fortune that time and chance
have put us not only at the edge of a new century, in a new millennium,
but on the edge of a bright new prospect in human affairs--
a moment that will define our course, and our character,
for decades to come. We must keep our old democracy forever young.
Guided by the ancient vision of a promised land, let us set our
sights upon a land of new promise.

The promise of America was born in the 18th century out of the bold
conviction that we are all created equal. It was extended and preserved
in the 19th century, when our nation spread across the continent,
saved the union, and abolished the awful scourge of slavery.

Then, in turmoil and triumph, that promise exploded onto the world stage
to make this the American Century.

And what a century it has been. America became the world's mightiest
industrial power; saved the world from tyranny in two world wars
and a long cold war; and time and again, reached out across the globe
to millions who, like us, longed for the blessings of liberty.

Along the way, Americans produced a great middle class and security
in old age; built unrivaled centers of learning and opened
public schools to all; split the atom and explored the heavens;
invented the computer and the microchip; and deepened the
wellspring of justice by making a revolution in civil rights
for African Americans and all minorities, and extending the circle
of citizenship, opportunity and dignity to women.

Now, for the third time, a new century is upon us, and another
time to choose. We began the 19th century with a choice, to
spread our nation from coast to coast. We began the 20th century
with a choice, to harness the Industrial Revolution to our values of
free enterprise, conservation, and human decency. Those choices made
all the difference. At the dawn of the 21st century a free people
must now choose to shape the forces of the Information Age and the
global society, to unleash the limitless potential of all our people,
and, yes, to form a more perfect union.

When last we gathered, our march to this new future seemed less certain
than it does today. We vowed then to set a clear course to renew our nation.

In these four years, we have been touched by tragedy,
exhilarated by challenge, strengthened by achievement.
America stands alone as the world's indispensable nation.
Once again, our economy is the strongest on Earth. Once again,
we are building stronger families, thriving communities,
better educational opportunities, a cleaner environment.
Problems that once seemed destined to deepen now bend to our efforts:
our streets are safer and record numbers of our fellow citizens have
moved from welfare to work.

And once again, we have resolved for our time a great debate
over the role of government. Today we can declare:
Government is not the problem, and government is not the solution.
We--the American people--we are the solution. Our founders
understood that well and gave us a democracy strong enough
to endure for centuries, flexible enough to face our common
challenges and advance our common dreams in each new day.

As times change, so government must change. We need a new
government for a new century--humble enough not to try to solve
all our problems for us, but strong enough to give us the tools to
solve our problems for ourselves; a government that is smaller, lives
within its means, and does more with less. Yet where it can stand up
for our values and interests in the world, and where it can give
Americans the power to make a real difference in their everyday
lives, government should do more, not less. The preeminent mission
of our new government is to give all Americans an opportunity--not
a guarantee, but a real opportunity--to build better lives.

Beyond that, my fellow citizens, the future is up to us.
Our founders taught us that the preservation of our liberty
and our union depends upon responsible citizenship. And we need
a new sense of responsibility for a new century. There is work to do,
work that government alone cannot do: teaching children to read;
hiring people off welfare rolls; coming out from behind locked doors
and shuttered windows to help reclaim our streets from drugs and gangs
and crime; taking time out of our own lives to serve others.

Each and every one of us, in our own way, must assume personal
responsibility--not only for ourselves and our families,
but for our neighbors and our nation. Our greatest responsibility
is to embrace a new spirit of community for a new century.
For any one of us to succeed, we must succeed as one America.

The challenge of our past remains the challenge of our future--
will we be one nation, one people, with one common destiny,
or not? Will we all come together, or come apart?

The divide of race has been America's constant curse.
And each new wave of immigrants gives new targets to old prejudices.
Prejudice and contempt, cloaked in the pretense of religious or
political conviction are no different. These forces have nearly
destroyed our nation in the past. They plague us still.
They fuel the fanaticism of terror. And they torment the lives
of millions in fractured nations all around the world.

These obsessions cripple both those who hate and, of course,
those who are hated, robbing both of what they might become.
We cannot, we will not, succumb to the dark impulses that lurk
in the far regions of the soul everywhere. We shall overcome them.
And we shall replace them with the generous spirit of a people
who feel at home with one another.

Our rich texture of racial, religious and political diversity
will be a Godsend in the 21st century. Great rewards will come
to those who can live together, learn together, work together,
forge new ties that bind together.

As this new era approaches we can already see its broad outlines.
Ten years ago, the Internet was the mystical province of physicists;
today, it is a commonplace encyclopedia for millions of schoolchildren.
Scientists now are decoding the blueprint of human life.
Cures for our most feared illnesses seem close at hand.

The world is no longer divided into two hostile camps.
Instead, now we are building bonds with nations that once were our
adversaries. Growing connections of commerce and culture give us a
chance to lift the fortunes and spirits of people the world over.
And for the very first time in all of history, more people on this
planet live under democracy than dictatorship.

My fellow Americans, as we look back at this remarkable century,
we may ask, can we hope not just to follow, but even to surpass
the achievements of the 20th century in America and to avoid
the awful bloodshed that stained its legacy? To that question,
every American here and every American in our land today must answer
a resounding "Yes."

This is the heart of our task. With a new vision of government,
a new sense of responsibility, a new spirit of community,
we will sustain America's journey. The promise we sought
in a new land we will find again in a land of new promise.

In this new land, education will be every citizen's most
prized possession. Our schools will have the highest standards in
the world, igniting the spark of possibility in the eyes of every
girl and every boy. And the doors of higher education will be open
to all. The knowledge and power of the Information Age will be
within reach not just of the few, but of every classroom, every
library, every child. Parents and children will have time not only
to work, but to read and play together. And the plans they make at
their kitchen table will be those of a better home, a better job, the
certain chance to go to college.

Our streets will echo again with the laughter of our children,
because no one will try to shoot them or sell them drugs anymore.
Everyone who can work, will work, with today's permanent
under class part of tomorrow's growing middle class. New miracles
of medicine at last will reach not only those who can claim care now,
but the children and hardworking families too long denied.

We will stand mighty for peace and freedom, and maintain a strong defense
against terror and destruction. Our children will sleep free from
the threat of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Ports and airports,
farms and factories will thrive with trade and innovation and ideas.
And the world's greatest democracy will lead a whole world of democracies.

Our land of new promise will be a nation that meets its obligations--
a nation that balances its budget, but never loses the balance of its values.
A nation where our grandparents have secure retirement and health care,
and their grandchildren know we have made the reforms necessary to sustain
those benefits for their time. A nation that fortifies the world's most
productive economy even as it protects the great natural bounty of
our water, air, and majestic land.

And in this land of new promise, we will have reformed our politics
so that the voice of the people will always speak louder than the din
of narrow interests--regaining the participation and deserving the trust
of all Americans.

Fellow citizens, let us build that America, a nation ever moving forward
toward realizing the full potential of all its citizens. Prosperity and
power--yes, they are important, and we must maintain them. But let us
never forget: The greatest progress we have made, and the greatest progress
we have yet to make, is in the human heart. In the end, all the world's
wealth and a thousand armies are no match for the strength and decency
of the human spirit.

Thirty-four years ago, the man whose life we celebrate today
spoke to us down there, at the other end of this Mall, in words
that moved the conscience of a nation. Like a prophet of old, he
told of his dream that one day America would rise up and treat all
its citizens as equals before the law and in the heart. Martin
Luther King's dream was the American Dream. His quest is our quest:
the ceaseless striving to live out our true creed. Our history has
been built on such dreams and labors. And by our dreams and labors
we will redeem the promise of America in the 21st century.

To that effort I pledge all my strength and every power of my office.
I ask the members of Congress here to join in that pledge.
The American people returned to office a President of one
party and a Congress of another. Surely, they did not do this to
advance the politics of petty bickering and extreme partisanship they
plainly deplore. No, they call on us instead to be repairers of the breach,
and to move on with America's mission.

America demands and deserves big things from us--and nothing big
ever came from being small. Let us remember the timeless wisdom
of Cardinal Bernardin, when facing the end of his own life. He said:

"It is wrong to waste the precious gift of time, on acrimony and division."

Fellow citizens, we must not waste the precious gift of this time.
For all of us are on that same journey of our lives, and our journey,
too, will come to an end. But the journey of our America must go on.

And so, my fellow Americans, we must be strong, for there is much to dare.
The demands of our time are great and they are different. Let us meet them
with faith and courage, with patience and a grateful and happy heart.
Let us shape the hope of this day into the noblest chapter in our history.
Yes, let us build our bridge. A bridge wide enough and strong enough for
every American to cross over to a blessed land of new promise.

May those generations whose faces we cannot yet see, whose names
we may never know, say of us here that we led our beloved land
into a new century with the American Dream alive for all her children;
with the American promise of a more perfect union a reality
for all her people; with America's bright flame of freedom
spreading throughout all the world.

From the height of this place and the summit of this century,
let us go forth. May God strengthen our hands for the good work ahead--
and always, always bless our America.





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

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


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


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


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


"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute
the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best
of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of
the United States."

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

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