Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States. 1989.


  From George Washington to George Bush, Presidents have used inaugural addresses to articulate their hopes and dreams for a nation. Collectively, these addresses chronicle the course of this country from its earliest days to the present.

  Inaugural addresses have taken various tones, themes and forms. Some have been reflective and instructive, while others have sought to challenge and inspire. Washington’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1793 required only 135 words and is the shortest ever given. The longest on record—8,495 words—was delivered in a snowstorm March 4, 1841 by William Henry Harrison.

  Invoking a spirit of both history and patriotism, inaugural addresses have served to reaffirm the liberties and freedoms that mark our remarkable system of government. Many memorable and inspiring passages have originated from these addresses. Among the best known are Washington’s pledge in 1789 to protect the new nation’s “liberties and freedoms” under “a government instituted by themselves,” Abraham Lincoln’s plea to a nation divided by Civil War to heal “with malice toward none, with charity toward all,” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration “that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and John F. Kennedy’s exhortation to “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

  This collection is being published in commemoration of the Bicentennial Presidential Inauguration that was observed on January 20, 1989. Dedicated to the institution of the Presidency and the democratic process that represents the peaceful and orderly transfer of power according to the will of the people, it is our hope that this volume will serve as an important and valuable reference for historians, scholars and the American people.