Memorable quotes from inaugural addresses

McClatchy NewspapersJanuary 17, 2005 

WASHINGTON — Presidents have used their inaugural addresses to inspire the nation and mark turning points of history. Some examples:

AFTER A BITTER ELECTION

"Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions."

Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801

EMERGING FROM CIVIL WAR

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."

Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

CIVIC DUTY

"Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither."

Theodore Roosevelt, March 4, 1905

ON ENTERING WORLD WAR I

"We are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the thirty months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back."

Woodrow Wilson, March 5, 1917

PARTY LOYALTY

"Unless those who are elected under the same party designation are willing to assume sufficient responsibility and exhibit sufficient loyalty and coherence, so that they can cooperate with each other in the support of the broad general principles, of the party platform, the election is merely a mockery, no decision is made at the polls, and there is no representation of the popular will."

Calvin Coolidge, March 4, 1925

PROSPERITY OR COMING DEPRESSION?

"We have reached a higher degree of comfort and security than ever existed before in the history of the world."

Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929

IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION

"This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933

THE COLD WAR

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

"My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

John F. Kennedy, Jan. 20, 1961

CIVIL RIGHTS

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

Lyndon Johnson, Jan. 20, 1965

REINING IN GOVERNMENT

"It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed."

Ronald Reagan, Jan. 20, 1981

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