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Inaugural Addresses

Inaugural Addresses


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FDR inaugurated

On March 4, 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president of the United States. In his famous inaugural address, delivered outside the east wing of the U.S. Capitol, Roosevelt outlined his “New Deal”—an expansion of ...read more


Contents

The inaugurations of public figures, especially those of political leaders, often feature lavish ceremonies in which the figure publicly takes their oath of office (sometimes called "swearing in"), often in front of a large crowd of spectators. A monarchical inauguration may take on different forms depending on the nation: they may undergo a coronation rite or may simply be required to take an oath in the presence of a country's legislature.

The "inaugural address" is a speech given during this ceremony which informs the people of their intentions as a leader. A famous inauguration speech is John F. Kennedy's. [2]


Inaugural Addresses - HISTORY

OPTIONS FOR ANALYZING HISTORICAL PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL ADDRESSES:

Option: General Note-Taking Chart

To provide an overview of the general themes and message of the address, have students use the handout linked below to guide them as they view one of the speeches. Students can choose (or be assigned) the video to watch.

Have the students provide information on the following categories as they view the inaugural address.

Specific Issues/Topics Discussed

Words and Ideas Repeated Throughout

Notable Quotes/Historic Events/Important Documents Referenced

Principles of Government/American Ideals Referenced

The Role of Government in Addressing the Nation’s Problems

To summarize the inaugural address, discuss the following prompt:

  • What was the overall message of this inaugural address? Use examples from above to support your response.

Option: Inaugural Address Guiding Questions:

Have the students view one of the inaugural addresses included in this lesson. As they view the speech, they should answer the questions below and included on the handout:

What is the overall goal of this speech?

Who is the audience for this speech?

What is the primary message of this address?

How did the president begin his inaugural address?

What points did the president make in the body of the speech?

How did the president use historic or current examples and statistics to make his points?

To summarize the inaugural address, discuss the following prompt:

Option: Presidential Inaugural Address Rubric

Students will choose (or be assigned) one of the inaugural addresses from the list. As they view the speech, they should use the following handout to take notes on the categories listed below. Once they have completed the chart, they should use the rubric to assign scores for each category.

Organization and Clarity of the Address

Use of Facts and Examples

Relevance of Supporting Arguments

Using these notes and scores, they should discuss the following prompt:

Option: Inaugural Address Analysis by Topic

Have students choose (or assign) one of the inaugural addresses linked in this lesson. Students will identify three topics discussed during the speech. Have them use the handout linked below to take notes on the following information as they view it.

Handout: Inaugural Address Analysis by Topic (Google Doc) For each topic discussed in the inaugural address provide the following:

What examples does the president use when discussing this topic?

Why is this topic important to America?

What, if anything, does the president propose to be done to address this topic? To summarize the inaugural address, discuss the following prompts:

What topics were emphasized throughout the speech? What topics or issues are not discussed in his speech? Why do you think this is?

Option: Historical Analysis

Using the list of inaugural address from the lesson, have students choose (or assign) one of the speeches. They will view the speech and analyze the speech from an historical perspective. Use the handout linked below to have students view one of the inaugural addresses and complete the activity.

Handout: General Historical Analysis (Google Doc)

Complete the chart on the handout to provide the following information:

What significant historic events preceded this inaugural address (i.e. wars, contested elections, national tragedies, economic events, etc.)

What issues or topics did the president discuss?

What promises or policy proposals did the president make?

Describe the overall message of the inaugural address. How did this message fit the events occurring at that time?

What issues did the president discuss that are still relevant today? What issues are not relevant anymore?

Option: Comparing Historical Inaugural Addresses

Using the list of past inaugural addresses, students will choose (or be assigned) two speeches. These can be from the same president or different presidents. Have student take notes on the following categories as they view each speech.

Using the notes from the speech, they will summarize what they learned by completing the following prompt:

  • Discuss the similarities and differences and explain why these similarities and differences exist. Evaluate which president was more effective in their speech.

EXTENSION/ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITIES:

Write your Own Inaugural Address- Imagine that you were elected president. What would you include in your inaugural address? What topics and issues would you emphasize? With this in mind, use what you learned from hearing previous inaugural addresses and write a speech that you would give at your inauguration.

Draw the Speech- As you watch the inaugural speech, use a blank sheet of paper to draw your reactions to the speech. This can include drawing topics discussed in the speech, ideas and references made in the speech or your general reaction to the president’s inaugural address. On the back, explain your drawing.

Inaugural Address Bingo- Before viewing the presidential inaugural address, brainstorm a list of 24 vocabulary terms and topics that you think might be discussed in the speech. Place those 24 terms/topics on a blank BINGO card. As you view the speech, mark off the square if that term/topic is mentioned.

ADDITIONAL PROMPTS:

Why do you think presidents often reference historical events during their inaugural addresses?


Note: Remarks as prepared for delivery.

I approach today’s installation and my service as president of the University of Michigan with a sense of both honor and humility.

As a lifelong educator and scholar, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many through leadership of our great public university.

I am pleased to be surrounded by the Board of Regents, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the University, as well as many members of my family.

And to welcome and thank Gov. Rick Snyder and other elected leaders, Dr. Ruth Simmons, President James Duderstadt, academic leaders from across the globe, and colleagues and friends who have helped shape my professional and personal growth for being here today.

I want to thank the regents for the confidence they have shown in me, as well as the members of the University community for their welcoming embrace.

I offer special thanks to President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman for her remarkable stewardship of this institution. She has given us a faculty rich in intellectual diversity, a stunning physical campus, and numerous academic programs that are amongst the best in the world.

She has been particularly generous with her time, and at every turn gracious throughout this leadership transition.

I must also thank my spouse, Monica Schwebs, and our four children who are here today – Darren, Elise, Gavin, and Madeline.

I have somehow managed to maintain Monica’s love and support, while too often putting her in the position of trailing spouse. She is an accomplished attorney, a devoted mother and a profoundly supportive partner.

And to make up for those distant days when her much-too-serious son would not acknowledge her presence at the back of the classroom on parents’ day, I offer a very public “Hi, Mom!” and thank my mother, Lenore.

She and my father Aaron were a constant source of encouragement for an unusual kid who liked school so much that he never left.

A love of learning, a longing for discovery, and a commitment to pursue the truth are the underpinnings of a great university. I am finding each of these here at Michigan in abundance.

Every day I am struck by the intellectual passion and sense of connection that Michigan instills in its students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

I have spent much of my first eight weeks as president exploring this exceptional place.

I am walking in new directions, and I am asking a lot of questions. I am meeting with students, staff, and faculty, learning their aspirations, what they are most proud of, and what they are anxious about as we move forward together.

More than anything, I am listening.

There is no shortage of opinions or ideas, and they are always voiced with a desire to make Michigan better.

My thirteen predecessors have led this university with a keen eye on society’s challenges and our obligations as a public institution.

Henry Tappan in the 1850s shaped the modern American research university.

James Angell, who served for 38 years through 1909, was at the fore of making us a global university.

Alexander Ruthven, a zoologist, successfully guided us through two remarkable eras, the Depression and the Second World War.

Robben Fleming, an expert in labor relations and mediation, promoted civility during one of our nation’s most fractious decades spanning the Vietnam War and Watergate.

I am grateful for their collective leadership. They have helped to define and elevate our standing as the country’s first truly public university.

I too have aspirations for Michigan.

I am committed to enhancing the University’s already eminent standing as a place where gifted scholars focus on research, teaching, and mentoring the rising generation to become engaged citizens and tomorrow’s leaders in all walks of life.

I will always remember my first day as an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins. After a decade as a graduate student, medical resident, and a post-doctoral fellow, I had finally arrived.

I had a big empty lab, a modest dowry of research funds, and the skills and values I had learned from my mentors.

It was a little scary, but also incredibly exhilarating.

The life of the mind, a life committed to discovery and education, is a life unlike any other. Being a professor at a great university, like Hopkins or Michigan, is a remarkable privilege.

I want Michigan to be a place where faculty always believe they can do their best work.

This means surrounding them with outstanding colleagues, students, and staff, providing cutting-edge infrastructure, developing the resources to support innovative research and teaching, and last but not least, celebrating their successes.

In working with the regents, I will always ask how our investments in the future will make the University a stronger academic institution.

To make the good decisions that will help us achieve these goals, I first need to listen and learn.

Earlier I mentioned President Alexander Ruthven. He remarked that becoming a college president means becoming an object of suspicion.

“He often feels,” Ruthven said, “as if he had suddenly become the carrier of a mild infection or at least had a change in personality.”

I am unchanged. I have been a professor, a dean, a provost, and now a president. But first and foremost I am a lifelong student, and as such I am inherently curious.

As I discover our university and its people, and as we work together to create a vision of Michigan for the 21 st century, our university’s third century, let us from the start agree on some central tenets:

  • First, that we embrace our mission as a public institution as a bedrock principle, a privilege and a responsibility
  • Second, that the University of Michigan must be a diverse and democratic community, open, and accessible and
  • Third, that, as members of this community, we will always seek out, encourage, and value all voices.

First let me begin by considering our obligations as a public university, and how our contributions can and do change lives.

For the University of Michigan to maintain its prominence and broaden its impact, we must invest in fields where we can give life to our motto of “leaders and best.” Areas that leverage the phenomenal breadth of excellence across our campus, a reach almost unmatched in the academy.

And as an enduringly public university, with campuses in Dearborn, Flint and here in Ann Arbor, we must commit to research and teaching that meet the most pressing needs of our global society.

We live in a remarkable but imperfect world. Racial unrest, environmental threats, religious intolerance, and resource inequities all demand the academy’s attention.

Our response must include endeavorsnot only in science, technology and professional training, but just as importantly in liberal education, cultural understanding, civic engagement, and artistic expression.

We must seek partnerships that infuse our economy with talent and energy, and build an appreciation for our region’s heritage as a place of past and future innovation.

Second, as a public institution, we have a special obligation to extend the reach of our teaching and research across the full breadth of our society.

I firmly believe that we cannot achieve true excellence without leveraging the experiences and perspectives of the broadest possible diversity of students, faculty, and staff.

This is challenging work. Not only building a diverse student body, but also creating an inclusive campus climate that is open to difficult discourse.

Students of all experiences and backgrounds should feel they have a place in this community. We must continue to reach out to the most promising students, from our state and from across the nation and around the world.

Talent is uniformly distributed across the populace. But opportunity most certainly is not.

We must encourage every talented high school senior in Michigan to apply here.

Students and their parents must hear clearly and rest secure that the University of Michigan values curiosity and intellect, not ZIP codes or family income, and that we provide generous financial aid for those with need.

I did not grow up in a wealthy family. During my freshman year of college I travelled home every weekend to stock shelves and work as a cashier at a supermarket to help pay for school.

With income from work-study jobs, and with help from scholarships, need-based aid and student loans, I graduated on time from an outstanding university with an education and set of experiences that changed my life.

Too many Michigan students struggle much harder than I did to afford college, and I want to make things easier for them.

It is imperative that we keep tuition affordable and build the financial resources that allow students from across the full spectrum of society to attend Michigan, regardless of their economic circumstances.

It is why we are raising $1 billion in new support for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Michigan’s house must be big and its doors open wide.

“Good learning is always catholic and generous,” said our third president, the great James Angell.

“It greets all comers whose intellectual gifts entitle them to admission to the goodly fellowship of cultivated minds. It is essentially democratic in the best sense of that term.”

This democratic nature of our university extends beyond the academic realm.

Our medical enterprise trains health professionals and conducts cutting-edge research. But it is also a leader in providing advanced care to the citizens of our state and beyond.

Our arts programs nurture creativity, while also providing cultural experiences to area audiences.

Our intercollegiate athletic program builds community here and throughout the world. Most important, our student-athletes learn teamwork and competition, and obtain a world-class education.

Our commitment to the state and nation is fed by a desire to support communities and educate tomorrow’s workforce. This education is grounded not only in skills, but also in the principles and values of good citizenship, sustainability, creativity, and lifelong learning.

All of the University’s work – exceptional education and research, life-changing health care, arts promotion and economic development – demonstrates our public nature and our connectedness to the world.

Since 1817, the University of Michigan has existed to better society.

As we stand on the brink of our bicentennial, we should celebrate our achievements and our impact.

Ours was the first large state institution to be governed directly by the people of the state.

We were the first university to own and operate its own hospital, and the first to teach aeronautical engineering.

Our scholars have discovered organic free radicals and the gene for cystic fibrosis, furthering our understanding of human life.

Michigan alumni have written Pulitzer Prize-winning words and Grammy Award-winning music, soared into space, created Google and the iPod, and occupied the Oval Office.

Most important as we near our bicentennial is to position the institution for its next 100 years by clarifying our ambitions and remembering our mission.

Our ambition is to become the model public research university.

And our mission always will be to improve the world through research and education — to build a better place for our children and grandchildren.

There is no more noble and essential work, and I am honored to lead us forward.

This work is also, on occasion, uncomfortable. This brings us to my third tenet, to seek out, encourage, and value all voices.

Harold Shapiro, the University’s 10 th president, used the occasion of his inauguration to shine a light on the dual, sometimes conflicting, roles of the academy.

We are, he said, both servant and critic of society. We serve society while also questioning and challenging its orders and principles.

This friction is how we evolve as people and nations, and it requires us always to encourage a wealth of voices.

One of the most important modes of learning is through discussion – in the classroom, at public lectures, in residence halls and in student organizations.

That is why I am concerned about recent trends that can diminish learning opportunities in a misguided effort to protect students from ideas that some might find offensive or disturbing.

Last spring, such accomplished individuals as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, IMF Director Christine Legarde, and Chancellor Emeritus Robert Birgeneau of UC-Berkeley were disinvited or felt forced to withdraw as graduation speakers at prominent institutions because others disagreed with their work, their presumed beliefs, or the organizations they led.

As provost at Brown University, I saw this firsthand when those who disagreed with Ray Kelly, the former police commissioner of New York City, shouted down and prevented his public lecture.

A related challenge to open discourse is the issue of self-censorship.

In the aftermath of this episode at Brown, for example, some students said they were hesitant to express their own opinions for fear of offending fellow students who themselves were offended by the speaker.

This type of wrongheaded courtesy and political correctness weakens the frank discussions that might otherwise lead to heightened understanding.

Opportunities for learning and growth are missed.

I recently read the autobiography of Robben Fleming, the University’s 9 th president. As the 1960s erupted with protest, he acknowledged that college campuses are places of controversy.

But he worried that without a willingness to listen, sharp differences of opinion would tear the fabric of the university community.

“Is it too much to hope,” he asked, “that in this home of the intellect we can conduct ourselves with dignity and respect?”

President Fleming was himself a model leader for his ability to listen and negotiate.

Twenty-five years later, in 1994, the American Association of University Professors adopted a resolution reminding us that freedom of expression is “not simply an aspect of the educational enterprise to be weighed against other desirable ends.

“It is the very precondition of the academic enterprise itself.”

People have stood on this very stage and voiced unsettling opinions. Ross Barnett was the governor of Mississippi and a segregationist. He opposed the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and the integration of his state’s flagship university.

He was booed here, in 1963, but he was allowed to speak.

This is what great universities do: We encourage all voices, no matter how discomforting the message.

It takes far more courage to hear and try to understand unfamiliar and unwelcome ideas than it does to shout down the speaker.

You don’t have to agree, but you have to think.

Today’s world can be dangerously customized. With news outlets like the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report, and with podcasts from across the ideological spectrum, we can pick and choose which ideas we are exposed to.

Too often, we make the easy choice.

We consume the news that justifies our own opinions, rather than seeking out viewpoints that challenge us.

But by surrounding oneself with people who share common beliefs, we risk becoming intolerant and intellectually stunted as a society.

In today’s hyperconnected world, our graduates at some point will be exposed to people and ideas they find foreign, difficult to understand, or outright disagreeable.

Learning how to engage with such people and worldviews is one of the most essential skills we can teach.

And who will teach them if not us?

The fundamentally dual role of the academy, as servant and as critic, is more essential now, I would argue, than ever.

That is why I want Michigan to be known as a place where mutual respect does not require agreement, where differences of perspective are treated with sensitivity, and where we all become advocates for, and experts in, civil discourse.

Absent such an environment, we diminish ourselves as scholars and students.

We betray our commitment to discovery and truth.

And we fail our children, our world, and ourselves.

One of the great joys of devoting one’s life to the academy is to be surrounded by the optimism and energy of students. It’s palpable and it’s perennial.

Whenever I have a bad day – those days when you wonder if you’ll ever push the boulder to the top of the hill – I take a break and stroll the campus.

The enthusiasm of students, their resilience and sense of immortality, their passion and energy – it’s electrifying. Then I return to my office and feel like I can do anything.

This is part of our mission. To believe we can do anything.

To employ the power of ideas and our collective diversity of experience to solve important problems and strengthen lives and communities.

To challenge, and be challenged, with our heads and with our hearts, to lead and be the best.

To be Michigan, an exceptional global public university, where learning transforms lives and promotes economic progress, and where we pursue together understanding and discovery that will change the world.


"You just became President of the United States. What would you like to do?" "I think I'll give a speech!"

Taking the oath of office is the only constitutionally mandated event of the day, but every president has agreed with George Washington that an inaugural address is an important part of the national celebration and has followed his example.

Programs that highlight the activities of Inauguration Day often reveal some of the traditional values a president wants to proclaim, as illustrated by the words and images on George W. Bush's second inaugural program in 2005.

Presidents look to previous speakers for role models. Bill Clinton read Abraham Lincoln's second, Franklin Roosevelt's first, and John Kennedy's inaugurals Donald Trump said he looked to the speeches of Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. But the collection of inaugural addresses is more than just a series of individual speeches. Rhetorical scholars Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Kathleen Hall Jamieson argue that each inaugural address is not simply one stage in the ritual of transition. It is also part of a genre which has aspects understood by both speakers and audiences. Knowing the characteristics of this genre identified by Campbell and Jamieson and exploring some examples can help listeners better understand these speeches in which presidents first demonstrate their worthiness for the job that started when they took the oath.


4. What is the role of government?

Views of govenrment have evolved, from frequent praise after the Revolutionary War to increased skepticism today.

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January 20, 1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt said that government must act during the Great Depression.

To solve our biggest problems

�mocratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable.”

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January 20, 1981 Ronald Reagan won his first term in the face of a weak economy.

To get out of the way

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem government is the problem.”

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January 20, 2009 Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012.

To be practical

“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”

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March 4, 1817 James Monroe and other early presidents frequently praised government.

To continue being awesome

“The heart of every citizen must expand with joy when he reflects how near our Government has approached to perfection that in respect to it we have no essential improvement to make.”


Today in history: One of the greatest inaugural addresses in American history

General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

March 4, 1797: In his inaugural address, President John Adams warned Americans not to lose sight of the ongoing threat to American liberty. Adams's inaugural was very colorful. It was the only time that outgoing President George Washington, Vice President Thomas Jefferson, who had been sworn in earlier that day, and Adams had ever appeared together at such a high-profile event. Before being sworn in, the president-elect told his soon-to-be First Lady Abigail that he was a nervous wreck, and that he felt as if he were on stage playing a part in a play. It was, he said, "the most affecting and overpowering scene I ever acted in."

Adams' inaugural speech was full of his gratitude of a free republican government, for state's rights, and of his belief in expanded education for all the people, both to enlarge the happiness of life and as essential to the preservation of freedom. Adams was also the first president to be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Oliver Ellsworth). Outgoing President George Washington, who declined to run for a third term, seemed relieved to relinquish the burden of the presidency it was, historians said, as if a great weight had been removed from his shoulders.

March 4, 1829: To celebrate his inaugural, President Andrew Jackson hosted an open house at the White House. Inaugural open house events at the White House ended in 1885 for security reasons Grover Cleveland opted to host an inaugural parade instead.

March 4, 1865: In one of the greatest inaugural addresses in American history, Abraham Lincoln, beginning his second term as president, spoke at a time of triumph: The Civil War was winding down and slavery receding into the history books. Yet Lincoln, filled with sadness and reflection, spoke not of victory, but of the damage that had been done to the country. He reminded both victor and vanquished that both sides had erred in going to war, despite their bitter disagreement over the war's central issue, slavery.

"With malice toward none with charity for all," Lincoln said, "let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds."

The address is inscribed, along with his Gettysburg Address, in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. In 2012, Peter Hitchens described the address as "one of the most overwhelming pieces of political prose ever crafted in any language."

Lincoln had no way of knowing, of course, that in the crowd that day was the actor John Wilkes Booth — who would assassinate the president just six weeks later.

March 4, 1933: Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in, beginning a frenetic "100 Days" of legislative action against which all successors have since been measured.

March 4, 1987: Acknowledging a "mistake," President Reagan took full responsibility for the Iran-Contra affair. Iran-Contra — the trading of arms for hostages in Iran and funding of rebels in Nicaragua — led to the convictions of 11 Reagan administration officials (some were vacated on appeal). There was talk of impeaching the president, though no conclusive evidence ever emerged showing that Reagan (despite took responsibility for the scandal) authorized the Iran-Contra deal.

Quote of the day

"With malice toward none with charity for all. let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds." — Abraham Lincoln


How to write an inaugural address

By William McKenzie|Contributor

4:03 PM on Jan 10, 2017 CST

Michael Gerson helped craft the first and second inaugural addresses of President George W. Bush. Now a Washington Post columnist, he underscores in this interview the significance of inaugural addresses, how they came about in George W. Bush's administration, and what we might hear in President-elect Donald Trump's address. As the former chief White House speechwriter puts it, the point of an inaugural is for a president to express the best, most inspiring and unifying version of his core beliefs.

There are speeches, and then there are speeches. An inaugural address seems to be in a class of its own. In Lincoln's case, his words ended up chiseled in stone at the Lincoln Monument. How does a president, or president-elect, even start tackling an address that could shape history?

The inaugural address is the center stage of American public life. It is a place where rhetorical ambition is expected. It symbolizes the peaceful transfer of power -- something relatively rare in human history. It provides the public, Congress and members of a new president's own administration an indication of his tone and vision. It is intended to express the best, most inspiring, most unifying version of president's core beliefs. And that requires knowing your core beliefs.

I read that you went back and studied all prior inaugural addresses before starting to work on President Bush's 2001 inaugural address. What did you learn from that experience? Would you recommend it for others who go through this process?

It is a pretty tough slog in the early 19 th century, before getting to Abraham Lincoln and the best speech of American history, his Second Inaugural Address. That speech is remarkable for telling a nation on the verge of a military victory that had cost hundreds of thousands of lives that it was partially responsible for the slaughter that its massive suffering represented divine justice.

Strictly speaking, it is only necessary to read the greatest hits among inaugurals to get a general feel. But it would be a mistake to miss some less celebrated but worthy efforts such as Richard Nixon in 1968: "America has suffered from a fever of words. we cannot learn from each other until we stop shouting at one another." This theme of national unity is a consistent thread throughout inaugural history.

Having worked on two inaugural addresses, and read so many, do they by and large set the stage for the next four years? Or, are they mostly forgotten?

Some of the speeches are undeniably forgettable. But even those are never really forgotten. They are some of the most revealing documents of presidential history, when a chief executive tries to put his ideals and agenda into words. Students of the presidency will read those speeches to help understand a president's self-conception and the political atmosphere of his time.

What was the writing and editing process like with President Bush on these addresses? And what did you all learn from the first address that shaped the second one in 2005?

President Bush's first inaugural address was intended to be a speech of national unity and healing. He had just won a difficult election in which he lost the popular vote (which certainly sounds familiar). It was a moment of some drama, with his opponent, Vice President Gore, seated on the podium near the President-Elect.

President Bush would often edit speeches by reading them aloud to a small group of advisers, which he did several times at Blair House during the transition. "Our unity, our Union," he said in his first inaugural, "is a serious work of leaders and citizens and every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity."

The second inaugural was quite different, not so much a speech of national unity as a speech of national purpose. President Bush had a strong vision of what he wanted his second inaugural to accomplish. "I want it to be the freedom speech," he told me in the Cabinet room after the first Cabinet meeting following his reelection had broken up. It was intended to be a tight summary of Bush's foreign policy approach, setting high goals while recognizing great difficulties in the post-9/11 world.

"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion," he said. "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

Globalization figured prominently as a theme in Donald Trump's victorious presidential campaign. I would assume we are likely to hear more in his address about America's place in the globalized economy. But what do you think? What themes are we likely to hear?

We are seeing a reaction to globalization across the western world, and this set of issues certainly motivated a portion of President-elect Trump's coalition. It is essential for political leaders to help a generation of workers prepare for an increasingly skills-based economy. It is a fantasy, however, for a political leader to promise the reversal of globalization, any more than he or she could promise the reversal of industrialization. Trump should address the struggles of middle and working class Americans. But it is deceptive and self-destructive to blame those struggles on trade and migrants.

What happens after these big speeches are given? Do presidents and the team that helped prepare them go back to the White House and high-five each other? I guess it would be a little indecorous to throw Gatorade buckets on each other, like victorious football teams do after winning the Super Bowl.

As I remember it, the new president attends a lunch hosted by congressional leaders. Then he goes to the reviewing stand in front of the White House for the inaugural parade. (Jimmy Carter actually walked in the parade a bit.)

I remember entering the White House that afternoon, walking into the Roosevelt Room (where senior staff and other meetings take place) and watching a workman take down the picture of Franklin Roosevelt from above the fireplace and put up the picture of Teddy Roosevelt. I felt fortunate to be present at a great tradition. In fact, every day at the White House was an honor.


Lincoln's First Inaugural Address

In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of his office."

I do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety, or excitement.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Administration, their property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed, and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the platform, for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves, and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

"Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes."

I now reiterate these sentiments: and in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace and security of no section are to be in anywise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause &mdash as cheerfully to one section, as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:

"No person held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it, for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves and the intention of the law-giver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole constitution &mdash to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause, "shall be delivered up," their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not, with nearly equal unanimity, frame and pass a law, by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by national or by state authority but surely that difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him, or to others, by which authority it is done. And should any one, in any case, be content that his oath shall go unkept, on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept?

Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safeguards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced, so that a free man be not, in any case, surrendered as a slave? And might it not be well, at the same time, to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guaranties that "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States?"

I take the official oath to-day, with no mental reservations, and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws, by any hypercritical rules. And while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest, that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to, and abide by, all those acts which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of them, trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional.

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President under our national Constitution. During that period fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens, have, in succession, administered the executive branch of the government. They have conducted it through many perils and, generally, with great success. Yet, with all this scope for precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four years, under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the Federal Union heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper, ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever &mdash it being impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself

Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade, by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it &mdash break it, so to speak but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that, in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774.. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution, was "to form a more perfect union."

But if destruction of the Union, by one, or by a part only, of the States, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union, &mdash that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken and, to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means, or, in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend, and maintain itself.

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me, will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion &mdash no using of force against, or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States, in any interior locality, shall be so great and so universal, as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable with all, that I deem it better to forego, for the time, the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union. So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favorable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed, unless current events, and experience, shall show a modification, or change, to be proper and in every case and exigency, my best discretion will be exercised, according to circumstances actually existing, and with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles, and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.

That there are persons in one section, or another who seek to destroy the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do it, I will neither affirm or deny but if there be such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union, may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step, while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from, have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to, are greater than all the real ones you fly from? Will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union, if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, plainly written in the Constitution, has been denied? I think not. Happily the human mind is so constituted, that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied. If, by the mere force of numbers, a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution &mdash certainly would, if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities, and of individuals, are so plainly assured to them, by affirmations and negations guaranties and prohibitions in the Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered by national or by State authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the territories? The Constitution does not expressly say.

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the government must cease. There is no other alternative for continuing the government, is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority, in such case, will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in turn, will divide and ruin them for a minority of their own will secede from them, whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy, a year or two hence, arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it. All who cherish disunion sentiments, are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this. Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new Union, as to produce harmony only, and prevent renewed secession?

Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy. A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks, and limitations, and always changing easily, with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it, does of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible the rule of a minority as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible so that rejecting the majority principle, anarchy, or despotism in some form, is all that is left.

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration, in all parallel cases, by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be over-ruled, and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased, to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government, into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there, in this view, any assault upon the court, or the judges. It is a duty, from which they may not shrink, to decide cases properly brought before them and it is no fault of theirs, if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade, are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, cannot be perfectly cured and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections, than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction, in one section while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all, by the other.

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot, remove our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the presence, and beyond the reach of each other but the different parts of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them, Is it possible then to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory, after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens, than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember, or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy, and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself and I should, under existing circumstances, favor, rather than oppose, a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.

I will venture to add that, to me, the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject, propositions, originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such, as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution &mdash which amendment, however, I have not seen, has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal government, shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express, and irrevocable.

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this also if they choose but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better, or equal hope, in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth, and that justice, will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great tribunal, the American people.

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.

While the people retain their virtue, and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government, in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied, still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it while the new administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied, hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect and defend" it.

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.


First Inaugural Address

By the time Abraham Lincoln delivered his First Inaugural Address, seven states claimed to have seceded from the Union. These states were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Delivered from the East Portico of the federal Capitol, Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address sought to calm and pacify southerners by convincing them that they had nothing to fear from a Republican administration. Part philosophical treatise on the nature of the Union, the address also reminded Americans of the practical problems with separating North and South. Appealing to “the better angels of our nature,” the speech concluded with an urgent plea for peace, yet one that would ultimately fall on deaf ears. Four more states—Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee—seceded after President Lincoln called into federal service 75,000 men of the militias from several states on April 15, less than twenty-four hours after the garrison at Fort Sumter surrendered. The Civil War had begun.

Source: Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/202167.

Fellow citizens of the United States:

In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the president “before he enters on the execution of his office.”[1]

I do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety, or excitement.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern states, that by the accession of a Republican administration, their property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed. And been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”[2] Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the platform, for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves, and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the states, and especially the right of each state to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any state or territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.[3]

I now reiterate these sentiments: and in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace and security of no section are to be in anywise endangered by the now incoming administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the states when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause—as cheerfully to one section, as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:

“No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”[4]

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it, for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution—to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause, “shall be delivered up,” their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not, with nearly equal unanimity, frame and pass a law, by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by national or by state authority but surely that difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him, or to others, by which authority it is done. And should any one, in any case, be content that his oath shall go unkept, on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept?

Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safeguards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced, so that a free man be not, in any case surrendered as a slave? And might it not be well, at the same time, to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guarantees that “The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states?”[5]

I take the official oath today, with no mental reservations, and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws, by any hypercritical rules. And while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest, that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to and abide by, all those acts which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of them, trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional.

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a president under our national Constitution. During that period fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens, have, in succession, administered the executive branch of the government. They have conducted it through many perils and, generally, with great success. Yet, with all this scope for precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four years, under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the federal Union heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of these states is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper, ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever—it being impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but an association of states in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade, by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that, in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured and the faith of all the then thirteen states expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution, was “to form a more perfect union.”

But if destruction of the Union, by one, or by a part only, of the states, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no state, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void and that acts of violence, within any state or states, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken and, to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the states. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means, or, in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend, and maintain itself.

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me, will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion—no using of force against, or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States, in any interior locality, shall be so great and so universal, as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable with all, that I deem it better to forego, for the time, the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union. So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favorable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed, unless current events, and experience, shall show a modification, or change, to be proper and in every case and exigency, my best discretion will be exercised, according to circumstances actually existing, and with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles, and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.

That there are persons in one section, or another who seek to destroy the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do it, I will neither affirm nor deny but if there be such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union, may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step, while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from, have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to, are greater than all the real ones you fly from? Will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union, if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, plainly written in the Constitution, has been denied? I think not. Happily the human mind is so constituted, that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied. If, by the mere force of numbers, a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution – certainly would, if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities, and of individuals, are so plainly assured to them, by affirmations and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered by national or by state authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the territories? The Constitution does not expressly say.

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the government must cease. There is no other alternative for continuing the government, is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority, in such case, will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in turn, will divide and ruin them for a minority of their own will secede from them, whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy, a year or two hence, arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it. All who cherish disunion sentiments, are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this. Is there such perfect identity of interests among the states to compose a new Union, as to produce harmony only, and prevent renewed secession?

Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy. A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks, and limitations, and always changing easily, with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it, does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy, or despotism in some form, is all that is left.

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration, in all parallel cases, by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be over-ruled, and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased, to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government, into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there, in this view, any assault upon the court, or the judges. It is a duty, from which they may not shrink, to decide cases properly brought before them and it is no fault of theirs, if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade, are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, cannot be perfectly cured and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections, than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction, in one section while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all, by the other.

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the presence, and beyond the reach of each other but the different parts of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it possible then to make that intercourse more advantageous, or more satisfactory, after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens, than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember, or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy, and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself and I should, under existing circumstances, favor, rather than oppose, a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.

I will venture to add that, to me, the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take, or reject, propositions, originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such, as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen, has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal government, shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the states, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express, and irrevocable.

The chief magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the states. The people themselves can do this also if they choose but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better, or equal hope, in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth, and that justice, will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great tribunal, the American people.

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.

While the people retain their virtue, and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government, in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied, still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it while the new administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied, hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect and defend” it.

I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.


Watch the video: Το Προφίλ του Εκπαιδευτή Ενηλίκων - Κωνσταντίνος Μπουρλετίδης (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Meztikus

    The futesas!

  2. Turan

    Also that we would do without your very good phrase

  3. Spyridon

    I suggest you go to the site, which has many articles on this issue.

  4. Rahul

    In it something is. Now all became clear, many thanks for the help in this question.

  5. Pratham

    Nice!



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