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Tomorrow Donald John Trump is scheduled to be become the 45th President of the United States. He will give his inaugural address following a tradition that first began in 1789, when on April 30th of that year, George Washington took the same oath for the first time. The first presidential term was supposed to start on March 4, 1789, the date set by the Congress of the Confederation for the beginning of operations of the federal government under the new U.S. Constitution. Due to logistical delays, that did not happen. On March 4th, the the House of Representatives and the Senate convened, but both soon adjourned due to lack of a quorum. As a result, the Presidential Electoral Votes could not be counted or certified. On April 1, the House convened with a quorum present for the first time. The Senate first achieved a quorum on April 6 it was on that day that the House and Senate met in joint session and the electoral votes were counted. George Washington and John Adams were certified as having been elected president and vice president respectively.

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On April 14, 1789, at 5 p.m., when Washington received official notification at his home at Mount Vernon that he had been unanimously selected by the Electoral College to be the nation's first president. The letter was sent by Senator John Langdon of New Hampshire, the first president pro tempore of the United States Senate, who had presided over the counting of the electoral votes. Washington replied immediately, and set off in the morning two days later, accompanied by his servant David Humphreys and a Mr. Thomson, who was the messenger that delivered the letter containing the news of Washington's election.

Washington's oath was administered by Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor of New York. It was administered on a second floor balcony of Federal Hall, above a crowd assembled in the streets to witness this historic event. President Washington and the members of Congress then retired to the Senate Chamber, where Washington delivered the first inaugural address to a joint session of Congress. Washington's was an address delivered with humility and gratitude. Notwithstanding the linguistic differences of the time, Washington's message remains a powerful and eloquent tribute both to the great man himself, and to the honor about to be bestowed upon him. Senator William Maclay of Pennsylvania made the observation that even the mighty Washington was overcome by the significance of the occasion. He wrote: "This great man was agitated and embarrassed, more than ever he was by the levelled Cannon or pointed Musket."

Washington opened by confessing to some apprehension for the task he was about to commence. He said:

"Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years: a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me, by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my Country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens, a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence, one, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions, all I dare aver, is, that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance, by which it might be affected."

Washington next gave thanks to his Creator, reflecting on how his Higher Power had kept a watchful eye over the fortunes of the nation. He said:

"It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency."

Washington next commented on how the Constitution directed him, as President, "to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." He gave what he called "the surest pledges" that "no local prejudices, or attachments, no separate views, nor party animosities" would interfere with his duty to "watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests". He promised that "the foundations of our National policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality" and the "pre-eminence of a free Government" would "be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its Citizens, and command the respect of the world." In striving for these goals, Washington said that he would be inspired by "an ardent love for my Country", adding that there was a connection between "virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity". He said that "the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained" guided "the destiny of the Republican model of Government".

Washington talked about his military service and about his compensation as President. He said:

"When I was first honoured with a call into the Service of my Country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed. And being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the Executive Department; and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the Station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require."

He concluded his address by telling his audience:

"Having thus imported to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend."

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After concluding his remarks, the new President along with the members of Congress walked through crowds lined up on Broadway to St. Paul's Church, where a service was conducted.

Remembering John Tyler

On January 18, 1862 (155 years ago today) John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States, died at his home in Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 71. Because died during the Civil War, while living in Virginia, one of the Confederate States, he was not accorded the same honors at the time of his death as afforded to other presidents and is the only president whose death was not officially recognized in Washington D.C. Debate continues today as to whether Tyler was a traitor to his nation or a good man caught in the middle of unfortunate circumstances.

John Tyler was born on March 14, 1790, in Charles City County, Virginia. He was the first president born after the adoption of the Constitution, and he was also born in the same county as William Henry Harrison, the man for whom he would serve as Vice-President of the United States for a scant 31 days.

In his native Virginia, Tyler served as a state legislator, governor, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator before winning election as Vice President in 1840 on a ticket with Harrison. Harrison was renowned as the hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe and was affectionately known as "Old Tippecanoe." Together the two of them were referred to in a famous campaign song as "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!" Although Tyler had once been a Democrat, he and Harrison defeated Andrew Jackson's anointed successor Martin Van Buren in the election of 1840 under the Whig banner. Tyler served as Vice-President for only 31 days and became president upon the death of Harrison on April 4, 1841. Because there was no precedent for what happened when a president died in office up to that time, Tyler became the first Vice President to succeed to the office of President on the death of the incumbent. He was also the first person to become President without ever being elected to that office. He asserted his right to the office in the face of opposition from members of both parties, some of whom derisively called him "His Accidency."

Tyler was a strong supporter of states' rights, something that endeared him to his fellow Virginians but alienated him from most of the congressional movers and shakers in Washington. Opposition from both the Democrats and Whigs in Congress hamstrung his presidency. As President, Tyler opposed much of the Whig platform and vetoed several Whig party proposals including Henry Clay's plans for a national bank. As a result of this conflict, most of his cabinet resigned, and the Whigs expelled him from their party. In spite of this he was still able to achieve a number of foreign-policy accomplishments, including the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain and the Treaty of Wanghia with Qing China. He was also able to orchestrate the annexation of the independent Republic of Texas during his last days in office. He wanted to seek election to a full term in 1844, but he had alienated both the Whigs and Democrats and his efforts to form a new party failed to attract significant support.

Tyler essentially retired from electoral politics until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. He unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a peace between the two sides, and when that was unsuccessful he sided with the Confederate government, and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death. It is not surprising that he sided with the Confederacy, given his strong support for states' rights throughout his lifetime.

Tyler has the distinction of being the President who fathered the most children: fifteen with two wives. His first wife Letitia died in 1842, and two years later, in 1844, he married 24 year old Julia Gardiner, a woman who was 30 years younger than him. Two of his grandsons are still living as of this writing.

On January 12, 1862, after complaining of chills and dizziness, in Richmond, Tyler vomited and collapsed. He was revived, but the next day he repeated the same symptoms. His condition did not improve, and he made plans to return to his home (called Sherwood Forest) on the 18th. On the night of the 17th he began suffocating, and his wife Julia called for his doctor. Just after midnight, Tyler took a last sip of brandy, and told his doctor, "I am going. Perhaps it is best." He died early on the morning of the 18th. It is believed that he had suffered a stroke.


Tyler is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, in front of the gravesite of former President James Monroe. Tyler's death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially recognized in Washington, because of his allegiance to the Confederacy. He had requested a simple burial, but Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered a grand, politically charged funeral, at which Tyler was portrayed as a hero to the Confederacy. Tyler's coffin was draped with a Confederate flag.
The first inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States remains a remarkable historic event. It was the first time that an African-American became President and it set a record attendance for any event held in Washington, D.C. Its combined attendance numbers, television viewership, and Internet traffic, made it the most-observed events ever by the global audience. Held on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, the inaugural theme was "A New Birth of Freedom", a phrase from the Gettysburg Address, as the event occurred during the 200th anniversary of the birth year of Abraham Lincoln.


President Obama paid homage to Lincoln during several of the week's events, starting with a commemorative train tour from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Washington, D.C. on January 17, 2009. The inaugural events held in Washington from January 18 to 21, 2009, included concerts, a national day of community service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the swearing-in ceremony, luncheon and parade, inaugural balls, and the interfaith inaugural prayer service. The presidential oath as administered to Obama during his swearing-in ceremony on January 20 by Chief Justice John Roberts departed slightly from the oath of office prescribed in the Constitution, which led to its re‑administration the next day.

The address is considered to be among the finest ever delivered and it touched on some new themes never previously included in inaugural addresses, including the acknowledgement that there are non-believers and agnostics among the American people. President Obama began his address by acknowledging that he felt humbled and grateful for the honor bestowed upon him. He thanked his predecessor, President George W. Bush, "for his service to the nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition." He commented that "Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath" (actually, he was the forty-third, since Grover Cleveland is counted twice) and he used this event to transition to addressing the resilience of the American people. He said:

"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met."

He said that this was a time to choose "hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things." He described how the path to greatness required courage, giving examples of those who had made great sacrifices for their country. He urged for the journey to continue, adding optimistically:

"We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions. that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

He next outlined areas where there was work to be done, such as in the economy, in job creation, in the building of infrastructure, in scientific achievement and in providing affordable health care. He said: "We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do." He addressed the doubters, stating that "Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage." He then proceeded to frame the problem as he saw it:

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works; whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

On the question of healing the broken economy, Obama said:

"Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart, not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good."

He next addressed the matter of the nations's security, famously stating, "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake." He told foreign nations that they should see America as "a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity." He called Americans the keepers of a legacy in which democratic principles were as important as military might. He then specifically discussed the current ongoing conflicts, stating

"We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

President Obama discussed the diversity that exists in the nation, stating:

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

He told "the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

Obama pledged help to poor nations, but cautioned wealthier nations that "we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it." He thanked "with humble gratitude those brave Americans who at this very hour patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains", adding, "We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service, a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves."

He echoed a theme spoken of by previous presidents when he said "as much as government can do, and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies." He added, "Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends: honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism; these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history." He called for "a return to these truths." He called this selfless concern for one's fellow man as "the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence, the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath." He asked Americans to remember "how far we have traveled" since the experience at Valley Forge. He concluded by saying:

"In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At the moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words to be read to the people: 'Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.' America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."


After the inaugural ceremony, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden escorted former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush to a departure ceremony on the east side of the U.S. Capitol. An inaugural luncheon was later held at the U.S. Capitol. During the luncheon, Senator Ted Kennedy collapsed after suffering a seizure, and he was transported to a hospital for medical treatment.
William Henry Harrison has the dubious distinction of being the president who gave the longest inaugural address and who served the shortest time as president. At a whopping 8,460 words, his speech was over 3000 words longer than the next most wordy President (William Howard Taft) and twelve times as long as Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural.


The inauguration was held on March 4, 1841, on the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The presidential oath of office was administered to Harrison by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. Harrison was the first president-elect to arrive in Washington, D.C. by train, and his was the first time that an official inaugural committee of citizens had formed to plan the day's parade and Inaugural ball. At 68 years, 23 days of age time of his inauguration, he was the oldest President-elect to take office until Ronald Reagan in 1981. (Donald Trump will break this record). Harrison's wife, Anna Harrison, was too ill to travel when her husband left Ohio for his inauguration, and she decided not to accompany him to Washington. Harrison asked his daughter-in-law Jane Irwin Harrison, widow of his namesake son, to accompany him and act as hostess until Anna's proposed arrival in two months time.

The day of the inauguration was overcast with cold wind and a noon temperature estimated to be 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Harrison chose to not wear an overcoat, hat, or gloves for the ceremony. He delivered wordy address, a speech he wrote himself. It was edited by soon-to-be Secretary of State, Daniel Webster. Webster later famously said that in the process of editing the text, he had "killed seventeen Roman proconsuls."

Harrison began his lengthy address by reminding his audience that he had been "called from a retirement which I had supposed was to continue for the residue of my life" . He the quoted his first Roman consul about the contrast between "the conduct of candidates for offices of power and trust before and after obtaining them, they seldom carrying out in the latter case the pledges and promises made in the former." In his next reference to ancient Rome, Harrison said:

"The boasted privilege of a Roman citizen was to him a shield only against a petty provincial ruler, whilst the proud democrat of Athens would console himself under a sentence of death for a supposed violation of the national faith—which no one understood and which at times was the subject of the mockery of all—or the banishment from his home, his family, and his country with or without an alleged cause, that it was the act not of a single tyrant or hated aristocracy, but of his assembled countrymen. Far different is the power of our sovereignty. It can interfere with no one's faith, prescribe forms of worship for no one's observance, inflict no punishment but after well-ascertained guilt, the result of investigation under rules prescribed by the Constitution itself. These precious privileges, and those scarcely less important of giving expression to his thoughts and opinions, either by writing or speaking, unrestrained but by the liability for injury to others, and that of a full participation in all the advantages which flow from the Government, the acknowledged property of all, the American citizen derives from no charter granted by his fellow-man. He claims them because he is himself a man, fashioned by the same Almighty hand as the rest of his species and entitled to a full share of the blessings with which He has endowed them."

The text of the address is really quite wordy, even though Harrison promised to "proceed to state in as summary a manner as I can my opinion of the sources of the evils which have been so extensively complained of and the correctives which may be applied." He said that some of the country's problems arose due to "the defects of the Constitution", others came from "a misconstruction of some of its provisions." He viewed it as a mistake for a person to be able to serve a second term as president, noting that "The sagacious mind of Mr. Jefferson early saw and lamented this error, and attempts have been made, hitherto without success, to apply the amendatory power of the States to its correction." He added

"[R]epublics can commit no greater error than to adopt or continue any feature in their systems of government which may be calculated to create or increase the lover of power in the bosoms of those to whom necessity obliges them to commit the management of their affairs; and surely nothing is more likely to produce such a state of mind than the long continuance of an office of high trust. Nothing can be more corrupting, nothing more destructive of all those noble feelings which belong to the character of a devoted republican patriot. When this corrupting passion once takes possession of the human mind, like the love of gold it becomes insatiable. It is the never-dying worm in his bosom, grows with his growth and strengthens with the declining years of its victim."

Harrison repeated his pledge "that under no circumstances will I consent to serve a second term." Little did he know that this was something he wouldn't have to worry about.

Harrison next commented on the President's veto power. After expounding on the different abilities of the president and of the courts to strike down legislation he said, "To assist or control Congress, then, in its ordinary legislation could not, I conceive, have been the motive for conferring the veto power on the President." He said, "I consider it the right and privilege of the people to decide disputed points of the Constitution arising from the general grant of power to Congress to carry into effect the powers expressly given".

After noting that the nation had endured for over half a century, he said "To a casual observer our system presents no appearance of discord between the different members which compose it. Even the addition of many new ones has produced no jarring." But he recognized the potential for problems in future, stating "there is still an undercurrent at work by which, if not seasonably checked, the worst apprehensions of our antifederal patriots will be realized, and not only will the State authorities be overshadowed by the great increase of power in the executive department of the General Government, but the character of that Government, if not its designation, be essentially and radically changed." He said that "By making the President the sole distributer of all the patronage of the Government the framers of the Constitution do not appear to have anticipated at how short a period it would become a formidable instrument to control the free operations of the State governments." He added that "it is not by the extent of its patronage alone that the executive department has become dangerous, but by the use which it appears may be made of the appointing power to bring under its control the whole revenues of the country. The Constitution has declared it to be the duty of the President to see that the laws are executed, and it makes him the Commander in Chief of the Armies and Navy of the United States." He then once again returned to ancient Rome:

"The first Roman Emperor, in his attempt to seize the sacred treasure, silenced the opposition of the officer to whose charge it had been committed by a significant allusion to his sword. By a selection of political instruments for the care of the public money a reference to their commissions by a President would be quite as effectual an argument as that of Caesar to the Roman knight."

Harrison called it "a great error in the framers of the Constitution not to have made the officer at the head of the Treasury Department entirely independent of the Executive. He should at least have been removable only upon the demand of the popular branch of the Legislature. I have determined never to remove a Secretary of the Treasury without communicating all the circumstances attending such removal to both Houses of Congress." He later added, "Never with my consent shall an officer of the people, compensated for his services out of their pockets, become the pliant instrument of Executive will."

Harrison made some interesting observations about the press. He said:

"There is no part of the means placed in the hands of the Executive which might be used with greater effect for unhallowed purposes than the control of the public press. The maxim which our ancestors derived from the mother country that "the freedom of the press is the great bulwark of civil and religious liberty" is one of the most precious legacies which they have left us. We have learned, too, from our own as well as the experience of other countries, that golden shackles, by whomsoever or by whatever pretense imposed, are as fatal to it as the iron bonds of despotism. The presses in the necessary employment of the Government should never be used "to clear the guilty or to varnish crime." A decent and manly examination of the acts of the Government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged."

Harrison next discussed what he called "the impropriety of Executive interference in the legislation of Congress." He interpreted the Constitution as making it the duty of the President to communicate information and authorizing him to recommend measures" and said that this "was not intended to make him the source in legislation, and, in particular, that he should never be looked to for schemes of finance." He added that "the delicate duty of devising schemes of revenue should be left where the Constitution has placed it—with the immediate representatives of the people. For similar reasons the mode of keeping the public treasure should be prescribed by them, and the further removed it may be from the control of the Executive the more wholesome the arrangement and the more in accordance with republican principle."

The next subject on his list was "the character of the currency." He said that "the idea of making it exclusively metallic, however well intended, appears to me to be fraught with more fatal consequences than any other scheme having no relation to the personal rights of the citizens that has ever been devised." He saw this as calculated "to produce that state of things so much deprecated by all true republicans, by which the rich are daily adding to their hoards and the poor sinking deeper into penury."

Harrison had once been Governor of the Northwest Territory, and he discussed the President's duty to supervise "the government of the Territories of the United States." He lamented how American citizens in these territories were "deprived of many important political privileges without any inspiring hope as to the future. Their only consolation under circumstances of such deprivation is that of the devoted exterior guards of a camp—that their sufferings secure tranquillity and safety within." He asked, "Are their rights alone not to be guaranteed by the application of those great principles upon which all our constitutions are founded?"

Harrison was alive to the looming dangers posed by slavery. He cautioned, "Our citizens must be content with the exercise of the powers with which the Constitution clothes them. The attempt of those of one State to control the domestic institutions of another can only result in feelings of distrust and jealousy, the certain harbingers of disunion, violence, and civil war, and the ultimate destruction of our free institutions"

Harrison alluded to ancient Rome yet again. He said:

"Caesar became the master of the Roman people and the senate under the pretense of supporting the democratic claims of the former against the aristocracy of the latter; Cromwell, in the character of protector of the liberties of the people, became the dictator of England, and Bolivar possessed himself of unlimited power with the title of his country's liberator. There is, on the contrary, no instance on record of an extensive and well-established republic being changed into an aristocracy. The tendencies of all such governments in their decline is to monarchy, and the antagonist principle to liberty there is the spirit of faction—a spirit which assumes the character and in times of great excitement imposes itself upon the people as the genuine spirit of freedom, and, like the false Christs whose coming was foretold by the Savior, seeks to, and were it possible would, impose upon the true and most faithful disciples of liberty. It is in periods like this that it behooves the people to be most watchful of those to whom they have entrusted power."

Harrison had already spoken for a long time before deciding that it was time for him to "give some indications to my fellow-citizens of my proposed course of conduct in the management of our foreign relations." He said that he planned to "use every means in my power to preserve the friendly intercourse which now so happily subsists with every foreign nation". He also pledged that "In our intercourse with our aboriginal neighbors the same liberality and justice which marked the course prescribed to me by two of my illustrious predecessors when acting under their direction in the discharge of the duties of superintendent and commissioner shall be strictly observed."

He next discussed the presence of political parties, which he said were "in a republic are necessary to secure a degree of vigilance sufficient to keep the public functionaries within the bounds of law and duty". But he cautioned that "Beyond that they become destructive of public virtue, the parent of a spirit antagonist to that of liberty, and eventually its inevitable conqueror." He returned to ancient Rome yet again, stating that "in the Roman senate Octavius had a party and Anthony a party, but the Commonwealth had none. Yet the senate continued to meet in the temple of liberty to talk of the sacredness and beauty of the Commonwealth and gaze at the statues of the elder Brutus and of the Curtii and Decii, and the people assembled in the forum, not, as in the days of Camillus and the Scipios, to cast their free votes for annual magistrates or pass upon the acts of the senate, but to receive from the hands of the leaders of the respective parties their share of the spoils and to shout for one or the other, as those collected in Gaul or Egypt and the lesser Asia would furnish the larger dividend. The spirit of liberty had fled, and, avoiding the abodes of civilized man, had sought protection in the wilds of Scythia or Scandinavia; and so under the operation of the same causes and influences it will fly from our Capitol and our forums."

Harrison finally concluded, probably to the relief of his audience, with these words:

"I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time. Fellow-citizens, being fully invested with that high office to which the partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an affectionate leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given to discharge all the high duties of my exalted station according to the best of my ability, and I shall enter upon their performance with entire confidence in the support of a just and generous people."

That evening Harrison attended three inaugural balls, including one at Carusi's Saloon entitled the "Tippecanoe" ball, which at a price of US$10 per person attracted 1000 guests.

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On March 26, Harrison developed a cold. According to popular misconception, it was believed that his illness was directly caused by the bad weather at his inauguration. Harrison's illness did not arise until more than three weeks after the inauguration. Despite doctors' attempts at treating him, Harrison died on April 4, making him the first president to die in office. His 31 day presidency was, and remains the shortest in American history.

Remembering Rutherford Hayes

On January 17, 1893, 124 years ago today, Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, died at the age of 71. Hayes was elected President in 1876 in the closest US presidential election in history, even closed than the Bush-Gore election of 2000. Like George W. Bush in 2000, Hayes received fewer popular votes than his opponent, but unlike 2000, the 1876 election involved a dispute over the electoral votes of several states, and the outcome of the election was in doubt until February when a congressional committee awarded all three disputed states to Hayes in what became known as the Compromise of 1877.

Hayes was born in Delaware, Ohio on October 4, 1822. His father died 10 weeks before Hayes was born. Hayes practiced law and was city solicitor of Cincinnati from 1858 to 1861. He fought in the Civil War and was wounded five times, most seriously at the Battle of South Mountain. Hayes had a reputation for bravery in combat and was promoted to the rank of major general. After the war, he served in the U.S. Congress from 1865 to 1867 as a Republican. Hayes left Congress to run for Governor of Ohio and was elected to two terms, serving from 1867 to 1871. After his second term had ended, he returned to practicing law for a time, but returned to serve a third term as governor in 1875.

As President, Hayes was a reformer who implemented civil service reform. His biggest failure was in not protecting African Americans from retaliation in the south like his predecessor Ulysses S. Grant had. He ordered federal troops out of southern capitols, leading to retaliation from angry whites against African-Americans. Some historians believe that this was part of the bargain that led to Compromise of 1877. Hayes kept his pledge not to run for re-election.

After the inauguration of his successor, Hayes and his family returned to their home in Spiegel Grove, Ohio. Hayes became an active advocate for educational charities, arguing for federal education subsidies for all children. He believed that education was the best way to heal the rifts in American society and allow individuals to improve themselves. He unsuccessfully urged Congress to pass a bill that would have allowed federal aid for education for the first time. He encouraged African-American students to apply for scholarships from the Slater Fund, one of the charities with which he was affiliated. Hayes also advocated for better prison conditions. Another cause that troubled him in retirement was the disparity between the rich and the poor. In an 1886 speech he said that "free government cannot long endure if property is largely in a few hands and large masses of people are unable to earn homes, education, and a support in old age."

Hayes was greatly saddened by the death of his wife Lucy in 1889. In 1890, he chaired the Lake Mohonk Conference on "the Negro Question", a gathering of reformers that discussed racial issues.

Hayes died of complications of a heart attack at his home on January 17, 1893. His last words were said to be "I know that I'm going where Lucy is." President-elect Grover Cleveland and Ohio Governor William McKinley led the funeral procession that followed Hayes's body until he was interred in Oakwood Cemetery. Following the gift of his home to the state of Ohio for the Spiegel Grove State Park, he was re-interred there in 1915. The following year the Hayes Commemorative Library and Museum, the first presidential library in the United States, was opened on the site, funded by contributions from the state of Ohio and Hayes's family.
Andrew Jackson came to the Presidency as a man of the people. He also entered the office a bitter man, convinced that he deserved to win the Presidency four years earlier, but that it had been stolen from him because of a "corrupt bargain" between John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay which made Adams the president and Clay the Secretary of State. He was also bitter because, in the intervening time between the election and inauguration day, his beloved wife Rachel had died from heart failure, and he blamed his political enemies, who had slandered Rachel during the previous election campaign, for her untimely death. Jackson was known for his temper that sometimes led him into duels. He could hold a grudge as well as any man.


The first inauguration of Andrew Jackson as President of the United States was held on March 4, 1829 at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. To get there, Jackson had to make a three-week journey from Nashville, Tennessee, first by steamboat to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then onward by carriage. The inauguration was the first time that the ceremony was held on the East Portico of the United States Capitol. Ten thousand people arrived in town for the ceremony, to hear what the man of the people and the hero of the Battle of New Orleans would have to say. By 10:00 am, the area in front of the Capitol was filled with people, and the stairs on the East Portico were blocked by a ship's cable to prevent the crowd from advancing. A crowd of around 21,000 people attended. Jackson walked to the ceremony, but to avoid the crowd, he used a basement door on the west front to enter the Capitol. Many wondered what Jackson would have to say at this challenging time. Jackson's address was 1,125 words long, brief for most addresses.

Jackson addressed his "fellow citizens" and began by expressing his gratitude to those who had selected him as their president and acknowledged "the accountability which my situation enjoins." He outlined his constitutional duties, namely, "to execute the laws of the United States, to superintend their foreign and their confederate relations, to manage their revenue, to command their forces, and, by communications to the Legislature, to watch over and to promote their interests generally." He promised:

"In administering the laws of Congress I shall keep steadily in view the limitations as well as the extent of the Executive power, trusting thereby to discharge the functions of my office without transcending its authority. With foreign nations it will be my study to preserve peace and to cultivate friendship on fair and honorable terms, and in the adjustment of any differences that may exist or arise to exhibit the forbearance becoming a powerful nation rather than the sensibility belonging to a gallant people."

The issue of states' rights was a contentious one at the time, and Jackson said that he would show "proper respect for those sovereign members of our Union, taking care not to confound the powers they have reserved to themselves with those they have granted to the Confederacy." He then discussed "the management of the public revenue" which he said would be a delicate task. He said that he wished to "facilitate the extinguishment of the national debt, the unnecessary duration of which is incompatible with real independence," and he proposed to govern such that "the spirit of equity, caution, and compromise in which the Constitution was formed requires that the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures should be equally favored," with "perhaps the only exception to this rule" being "the peculiar encouragement of any products of either of them that may be found essential to our national independence."

Jackson set as priorities "Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge." He said that he considered "standing armies as dangerous to free governments in time of peace." This was an important topic because Jackson's critics had spread the fear that the military leader would become a military despot if elected. Jackson tried to allay those fears, saying:

"I shall not seek to enlarge our present establishment, nor disregard that salutary lesson of political experience which teaches that the military should be held subordinate to the civil power. The gradual increase of our Navy, whose flag has displayed in distant climes our skill in navigation and our fame in arms; the preservation of our forts, arsenals, and dockyards, and the introduction of progressive improvements in the discipline and science of both branches of our military service are so plainly prescribed by prudence that I should be excused for omitting their mention sooner than for enlarging on their importance. But the bulwark of our defense is the national militia, which in the present state of our intelligence and population must render us invincible. As long as our Government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of person and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending; and so long as it is worth defending a patriotic militia will cover it with an impenetrable aegis. Partial injuries and occasional mortifications we may be subjected to, but a million of armed freemen, possessed of the means of war, can never be conquered by a foreign foe. To any just system, therefore, calculated to strengthen this natural safeguard of the country I shall cheerfully lend all the aid in my power."

In hindsight, it seems disingenuous that the man who created the "Trail of Tears" would pledge fairness to Native Americans, but that is the subject Jackson addressed next, with a very important qualifier. He said:

" It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe toward the Indian tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to give that humane and considerate attention to their rights and their wants which is consistent with the habits of our Government and the feelings of our people."

Jackson next took aim on political patronage, which he saw as requiring "correction of those abuses that have brought the patronage of the Federal Government into conflict with the freedom of elections, and the counteraction of those causes which have disturbed the rightful course of appointment and have placed or continued power in unfaithful or incompetent hands." He promised to "endeavor to select men whose diligence and talents will insure in their respective stations able and faithful cooperation, depending for the advancement of the public service more on the integrity and zeal of the public officers than on their numbers."

Jackson closed his brief address with these words:

"A diffidence, perhaps too just, in my own qualifications will teach me to look with reverence to the examples of public virtue left by my illustrious predecessors, and with veneration to the lights that flow from the mind that founded and the mind that reformed our system. The same diffidence induces me to hope for instruction and aid from the coordinate branches of the Government, and for the indulgence and support of my fellow-citizens generally. And a firm reliance on the goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy, and has since upheld our liberties in various vicissitudes, encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications that He will continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care and gracious benediction."

Jackson left the ceremony through the same route through the capitol that he had arrived, but this time he left on horseback to the White House, which was opened to the public for a post-inaugural reception. It was full of people even before Jackson arrived. The crowd became so large and unruly that Jackson left, some say by a window and some say by a side entrance. He proceeded to Gadsby's Hotel in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The rowdy crowd dispersed only after bowls of liquor and punch were placed on the front lawn of the White House. The White House was left a mess, including several thousand dollars worth of broken china.

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That night an official inaugural ball for administration officials and Washington's high society was held in Carusi's Assembly Rooms. Twelve hundred guests were present, but Jackson, still mourning the loss of his wife Rachel Jackson that December, did not attend.
The first inauguration of James Monroe as the fifth President of the United States was held on Tuesday, March 4, 1817, in front of the temporary old "Brick Capitol", where the Supreme Court building now stands. The Capitol building had been destroyed during the British invasion of Washington in the War of 1812 and was under construction. The inauguration marked the commencement of the first four-year term of James Monroe as President and followed the end of the war. The Federalist Party had been eliminated as a political force after Federalists had contemplated succession in opposition to the War. It was their downfall politically.

Chief Justice, John Marshall administered the oath of office. A controversy resulted from the inaugural committee's proposals concerning the use of the House Chamber on the second floor of the brick building. Speaker Henry Clay suggested that the proceedings be held outside and Monroe spoke to the crowd from a platform adjacent to the brick building. It was the first outdoor inaugural address.

Monroe began by expressing gratitude to the electorate. He promised that he would "never shrink" from his responsibilities as president, and commented on how his predecessors would "explain the principles which would govern them in their respective Administrations." He noted that 40 years had passed since the start of the Revolution and 28 years since the establishment of this Constitution. He said that Americans could be proud of the government they had made, and said that "During a period fraught with difficulties and marked by very extraordinary events the United States have flourished beyond example."

Monroe recited many of the achievements of the nation this far:

"Our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations and between the States; new States have been admitted into our Union; our territory has been enlarged by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original States; the States, respectively protected by the National Government under a mild, parental system against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholesome laws well administered."

Monroe referenced the war that had just ended and said that "in the course of these conflicts the United States received great injury from several of the parties." He said that "the result has shown that our Government is equal to that, the greatest of trials, under the most unfavorable circumstances." He said that the war had demonstrated the need "to cherish our Union and to cling to the Government which supports it." He described how the nation had grown and how it had been given many blessings, which included "a fertile soil, our produce has always been very abundant, leaving, even in years the least favorable, a surplus for the wants of our fellow-men in other countries." After summarizing all that the nation enjoyed, he said "Such, then, being the highly favored condition of our country, it is the interest of every citizen to maintain it."

Monroe discussed "the dangers which menace us" and said that these must be "ascertained and guarded against." He credited the people for their wisdom:

"The Government has been in the hands of the people. To the people, therefore, and to the faithful and able depositaries of their trust is the credit due. Had the people of the United States been educated in different principles, had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career or been blessed with the same success? While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties."

"Dangers from abroad" was the next subject that Monroe urged his audience to be concerned about. He said: "Experiencing the fortune of other nations, the United States may be again involved in war, and it may in that event be the object of the adverse party to overset our Government, to break our Union, and demolish us as a nation. Our distance from Europe and the just, moderate, and pacific policy of our Government may form some security against these dangers, but they ought to be anticipated and guarded against." He urged the need for military protection:

"To secure us against these dangers our coast and inland frontiers should be fortified, our Army and Navy, regulated upon just principles as to the force of each, be kept in perfect order, and our militia be placed on the best practicable footing. To put our extensive coast in such a state of defense as to secure our cities and interior from invasion will be attended with expense, but the work when finished will be permanent, and it is fair to presume that a single campaign of invasion by a naval force superior to our own, aided by a few thousand land troops, would expose us to greater expense, without taking into the estimate the loss of property and distress of our citizens, than would be sufficient for this great work. Our land and naval forces should be moderate, but adequate to the necessary purposes—the former to garrison and preserve our fortifications and to meet the first invasions of a foreign foe, and, while constituting the elements of a greater force, to preserve the science as well as all the necessary implements of war in a state to be brought into activity in the event of war; the latter, retained within the limits proper in a state of peace, might aid in maintaining the neutrality of the United States with dignity in the wars of other powers and in saving the property of their citizens from spoliation. In time of war, with the enlargement of which the great naval resources of the country render it susceptible, and which should be duly fostered in time of peace, it would contribute essentially, both as an auxiliary of defense and as a powerful engine of annoyance, to diminish the calamities of war and to bring the war to a speedy and honorable termination."

Monroe acknowledged that "the safety of these States and of everything dear to a free people must depend in an eminent degree on the militia." He said that it was important that the state militias "be so organized and trained as to be prepared for any emergency." He said that "This arrangement should be formed, too, in time of peace, to be the better prepared for war. With such an organization of such a people the United States have nothing to dread from foreign invasion."

The next topic was that of internal improvements such as roads and canals, provided that such were sanctioned inder the Constitution. He said: "By thus facilitating the intercourse between the States we shall add much to the convenience and comfort of our fellow-citizens, much to the ornament of the country, and, what is of greater importance, we shall shorten distances, and, by making each part more accessible to and dependent on the other, we shall bind the Union more closely together." While he acknowledged that nature "has done so much for us by intersecting the country with so many great rivers, bays, and lakes", he said that now was the time to do this important work. He also said that manufacturing was an important
national priority. He said:

"Possessing as we do all the raw materials, the fruit of our own soil and industry, we ought not to depend in the degree we have done on supplies from other countries. While we are thus dependent the sudden event of war, unsought and unexpected, can not fail to plunge us into the most serious difficulties. It is important, too, that the capital which nourishes our manufacturers should be domestic, as its influence in that case instead of exhausting, as it may do in foreign hands, would be felt advantageously on agriculture and every other branch of industry. Equally important is it to provide at home a market for our raw materials, as by extending the competition it will enhance the price and protect the cultivator against the casualties incident to foreign markets."

Monroe called for cordial relations with Indian tribes "and to act with kindness and liberality in all our transactions." But he said that it was equally important to "persevere in our efforts to extend to them the advantages of civilization."

Turning next to economic matters, Monroe said that the "flourishing state of the Treasury" was indicative of "the willingness of our fellow-citizens to bear the burdens which the public necessities require." He also said that "the vast amount of vacant lands, the value of which daily augments, forms an additional resource of great extent and duration." He said, "These resources, besides accomplishing every other necessary purpose, put it completely in the power of the United States to discharge the national debt at an early period. Peace is the best time for improvement and preparation of every kind; it is in peace that our commerce flourishes most, that taxes are most easily paid, and that the revenue is most productive."

Monroe stated that it was his "sincere desire to preserve" the peace that existed. In a precursor to what would become the Era of Good feelings, Monroe commented on how "gratifying is it to witness the increased harmony of opinion which pervades our Union." He continued:

"Discord does not belong to our system. Union is recommended as well by the free and benign principles of our Government, extending its blessings to every individual, as by the other eminent advantages attending it. The American people have encountered together great dangers and sustained severe trials with success. They constitute one great family with a common interest. Experience has enlightened us on some questions of essential importance to the country. The progress has been slow, dictated by a just reflection and a faithful regard to every interest connected with it. To promote this harmony in accord with the principles of our republican Government and in a manner to give them the most complete effect, and to advance in all other respects the best interests of our Union, will be the object of my constant and zealous exertions."

In closing, Monroe commented on how unique the American experience this far had been. He said, "If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy." But he looked to the future and said:

"In contemplating what we have still to perform, 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; that the great object is to preserve it in the essential principles and features which characterize it, and that is to be done by preserving the virtue and enlightening the minds of the people; and as a security against foreign dangers to adopt such arrangements as are indispensable to the support of our independence, our rights and liberties. If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced so far and in the path already traced, we can not fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us. In the Administrations of the illustrious men who have preceded me in this high station, with some of whom I have been connected by the closest ties from early life, examples are presented which will always be found highly instructive and useful to their successors. From these I shall endeavor to derive all the advantages which they may afford."

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He closed by complimenting the outgoing President, James Madison. He said: "Of my immediate predecessor, under whom so important a portion of this great and successful experiment has been made, I shall be pardoned for expressing my earnest wishes that he may long enjoy in his retirement the affections of a grateful country, the best reward of exalted talents and the most faithful and meritorious service." He concluded his address with this promise:

"Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of the Government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow-citizens with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor."
Probably no President had ever been as well-received into office as General Dwight Eisenhower. Prior to the 1952 election, both parties had head-hunted him as their candidate. Harry Truman had even offered to give up the top spot on the Democratic ticket to Ike. Eisenhower had never held political office before and much like another popular General (Zachary Taylor), at first people weren't even sure what party he supported. Eisenhower had led the US Army and the armies of all of the allied nations in Europe through the difficult battle with the Axis powers. He done so with a new style of generalship; not an autocratic authoritarian "my way or the highway" style, but rather a more collaborative approach as was required to meld a series of conflicting national interests and the great egos they brought with them, into one united and strong fighting unit. He was more like a benevolent CEO than an iron-fisted commander. His style worked and Americans loved him for it. They liked Ike so much that in 1952 they elected him president.

Eisenhower's first inauguration was held on January 20, 1953, at the east portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Eisenhower placed his hand upon on two Bibles when he recited the oath. One was the Bible used by George Washington in 1789, opened to II Chronicles 7:14 ("If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.") The second, his own personal "West Point Bible," was opened to Psalm 33:12 ("Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.") Before delivering his inaugural address, Eisenhower offered the following prayer:

"My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads. Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the Executive branch of Government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere. Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling. May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen."

He then began his inaugural address, which was 2,459 words in length. He began by noting that the midway point of the century had passed and observed that "We sense with all our faculties that forces of good and evil are massed and armed and opposed as rarely before in history." He acknowledged that thus far, the 20th century had been a time of great conflict. For Americans, he said, "it has been a time of recurring trial. We have grown in power and in responsibility. We have passed through the anxieties of depression and of war to a summit unmatched in man's history. Seeking to secure peace in the world, we have had to fight through the forests of the Argonne, to the shores of Iwo Jima, and to the cold mountains of Korea." He posed the following question:

"How far have we come in man's long pilgrimage from darkness toward light? Are we nearing the light—a day of freedom and of peace for all mankind? Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon us?"

Eisenhower stressed the importance of this question, saying, "Great as are the preoccupations absorbing us at home, concerned as we are with matters that deeply affect our livelihood today and our vision of the future, each of these domestic problems is dwarfed by, and often even created by, this question that involves all humankind." He said that it was a time when "man's power to achieve good or to inflict evil surpasses the brightest hopes and the sharpest fears of all ages. We can turn rivers in their courses, level mountains to the plains. Oceans and land and sky are avenues for our colossal commerce. Disease diminishes and life lengthens Yet the promise of this life is imperiled by the very genius that has made it possible. Nations amass wealth. Labor sweats to create—and turns out devices to level not only mountains but also cities. Science seems ready to confer upon us, as its final gift, the power to erase human life from this planet."

Eisenhower said that it was an important time for Americans to turn to their faith, which "defines our full view of life. It establishes, beyond debate, those gifts of the Creator that are man's inalienable rights, and that make all men equal in His sight." He explained how faith made the nation stronger and truer to its principles, while the nation's enemies (presumably the communists) "know no god but force, no devotion but its use. They tutor men in treason. They feed upon the hunger of others. Whatever defies them, they torture, especially the truth." He saw this divergence in faith as at the heart of the conflict facing the world. He said "Freedom is pitted against slavery; lightness against the dark." He also saw faith as a unifying force in world. He said:

"The faith we hold belongs not to us alone but to the free of all the world. This common bond binds the grower of rice in Burma and the planter of wheat in Iowa, the shepherd in southern Italy and the mountaineer in the Andes. It confers a common dignity upon the French soldier who dies in Indo-China, the British soldier killed in Malaya, the American life given in Korea. We know, beyond this, that we are linked to all free peoples not merely by a noble idea but by a simple need. No free people can for long cling to any privilege or enjoy any safety in economic solitude."

Eisenhower pledged that, "In pleading our just cause before the bar of history and in pressing our labor for world peace, we shall be guided by certain fixed principles." He listed those principles:

"(1) Abhorring war as a chosen way to balk the purposes of those who threaten us, we hold it to be the first task of statesmanship to develop the strength that will deter the forces of aggression and promote the conditions of peace... (2) Realizing that common sense and common decency alike dictate the futility of appeasement, we shall never try to placate an aggressor by the false and wicked bargain of trading honor for security. Americans, indeed all free men, remember that in the final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains. (3) Knowing that only a United States that is strong and immensely productive can help defend freedom in our world, we view our Nation's strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men everywhere. It is the firm duty of each of our free citizens and of every free citizen everywhere to place the cause of his country before the comfort, the convenience of himself. (4) Honoring the identity and the special heritage of each nation in the world, we shall never use our strength to try to impress upon another people our own cherished political and economic institutions. (5) Assessing realistically the needs and capacities of proven friends of freedom, we shall strive to help them to achieve their own security and well-being. Likewise, we shall count upon them to assume, within the limits of their resources, their full and just burdens in the common defense of freedom. (6) Recognizing economic health as an indispensable basis of military strength and the free world's peace, we shall strive to foster everywhere, and to practice ourselves, policies that encourage productivity and profitable trade. For the impoverishment of any single people in the world means danger to the well-being of all other peoples. (7) Appreciating that economic need, military security and political wisdom combine to suggest regional groupings of free peoples, we hope, within the framework of the United Nations, to help strengthen such special bonds the world over. The nature of these ties must vary with the different problems of different areas...(8) Conceiving the defense of freedom, like freedom itself, to be one and indivisible, we hold all continents and peoples in equal regard and honor. We reject any insinuation that one race or another, one people or another, is in any sense inferior or expendable. (9) Respecting the United Nations as the living sign of all people's hope for peace, we shall strive to make it not merely an eloquent symbol but an effective force. And in our quest for an honorable peace, we shall neither compromise, nor tire, nor ever cease."

Eisenhower said that by adherence to these principles, "an earth of peace may become not a vision but a fact." He said that "history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." He said that both "individually and as a Nation,", Americans would have to "accept whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." He concluded by saying:

"The peace we seek, then, is nothing less than the practice and fulfillment of our whole faith among ourselves and in our dealings with others. This signifies more than the stilling of guns, easing the sorrow of war. More than escape from death, it is a way of life. More than a haven for the weary, it is a hope for the brave. This is the hope that beckons us onward in this century of trial. This is the work that awaits us all, to be done with bravery, with charity, and with prayer to Almighty God."

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A two and one-half hour inaugural parade was held and witnessed by an estimated 1 million persons, of whom 60,000 were seated in the grandstand. About 22,000 service men and women and 5,000 civilians were in the parade, which included 50 state and organization floats, 65 musical units, 350 horses, 3 elephants, an Alaskan dog team, and the 280-millimeter atomic cannon.

Inaugural Addresses: Franklin Pierce

The inauguration of Franklin Pierce as the 14th President of the United States was held on Friday, March 4, 1853 on the East Portico at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the presidential oath of office. Pierce affirmed the oath of office rather than swear it, and was also the first president to recite his inaugural address from memory, all 3,329 words of it. It was a trying time for Pierce. Just two months earlier, the Pierce's only remaining child, 11 year old Bennie, was killed in a very tragic train derailment accident. His death was witnessed by his parents, and the very devout Jane Pierce blamed the death as divine punishment for her husband's ambition. The Pierce had previously had two sons die in infancy, and Bennie had been a special child to the Pierce's. Pierce would begin his presidency at what was undoubtedly a low point in his life.

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Pierce's running mate William Rufus King was not present at the ceremony. He was ill with tuberculosis, and was in Cuba in an effort to recover in the warmer climate. By a Special Act of Congress, King was allowed to take the oath outside of the United States, and was later sworn in on March 24, 1853. He is the only vice president to be sworn in in a foreign country. King died 45 days into his term, and the office remained vacant for the balance of Pierce's term because, prior to ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967, no constitutional provision existed for filling a vacancy in the vice presidency.

Pierce began his address by referencing his personal tragedy, stating "no heart but my own can know the personal regret and bitter sorrow over which I have been borne to a position so suitable for others rather than desirable for myself." He said that he was filled "with a profound sense of responsibility," but also with "shrinking apprehension." He went on to say:

"I ought to be, and am, truly grateful for the rare manifestation of the nation's confidence; but this, so far from lightening my obligations, only adds to their weight. You have summoned me in my weakness; you must sustain me by your strength."

Pierce recounted the history of the nation and commented on how the United States had enjoyed "unparalleled progression in territory, population, and wealth". He said that the nation had "spoken and will continue to speak, not only by its words, but by its acts, the language of sympathy, encouragement, and hope to those who earnestly listen to tones which pronounce for the largest rational liberty." As some of his predecessors had noted in their addresses, Pierce observed that the dangers anticipated to result from extended territory had never materialized and he pledged that "the policy of my Administration will not be controlled by any timid forebodings of evil from expansion." He promised to continue to co-exist peacefully with other nations. He said:

"The great objects of our pursuit as a people are best to be attained by peace, and are entirely consistent with the tranquility and interests of the rest of mankind. With the neighboring nations upon our continent we should cultivate kindly and fraternal relations. We can desire nothing in regard to them so much as to see them consolidate their strength and pursue the paths of prosperity and happiness."

Pierce drew upon what he called "my brief experience as a soldier" to support his opinion "that the maintenance of large standing armies in our country would be not only dangerous, but unnecessary." He then turned to the issue of appointment of public positions, and said:

"Having no implied engagements to ratify, no rewards to bestow, no resentments to remember, and no personal wishes to consult in selections for official station, I shall fulfill this difficult and delicate trust, admitting no motive as worthy either of my character or position which does not contemplate an efficient discharge of duty and the best interests of my country. I acknowledge my obligations to the masses of my countrymen, and to them alone."

Pierce said that Americans have a right to expect public servants "in every department to regard strictly the limits imposed upon them by the Constitution of the United States." He said that constitutional liberty depended "upon a proper distribution of power between the State and Federal authorities" and "a just discrimination between the separate rights and responsibilities of the States and your common rights and obligations under the General Government." He pledged to be guided by this principle. He posited, "Without it what are we individually or collectively? What becomes of the noblest field ever opened for the advancement of our race in religion, in government, in the arts, and in all that dignifies and adorns mankind?" He expressed his commitment to maintaining the Union, calling it his "earnest and vital belief that as the Union has been the source, under Providence, of our prosperity to this time, so it is the surest pledge of a continuance of the blessings we have enjoyed, and which we are sacredly bound to transmit undiminished to our children." He went on to day, "Every measure tending to strengthen the fraternal feelings of all the members of our Union has had my heartfelt approbation."

He next broached the subject of slavery and said this:

"I believe that involuntary servitude, as it exists in different States of this Confederacy, is recognized by the Constitution. I believe that it stands like any other admitted right, and that the States where it exists are entitled to efficient remedies to enforce the constitutional provisions. I hold that the laws of 1850, commonly called the 'compromise measures,' are strictly constitutional and to be unhesitatingly carried into effect. I believe that the constituted authorities of this Republic are bound to regard the rights of the South in this respect as they would view any other legal and constitutional right, and that the laws to enforce them should be respected and obeyed, not with a reluctance encouraged by abstract opinions as to their propriety in a different state of society, but cheerfully and according to the decisions of the tribunal to which their exposition belongs. Such have been, and are, my convictions, and upon them I shall act. I fervently hope that the question is at rest, and that no sectional or ambitious or fanatical excitement may again threaten the durability of our institutions or obscure the light of our prosperity."


Pierce concluded his address with these words referencing two great presidents who had once held the office that was now his:

"We have been carried in safety through a perilous crisis. Wise counsels, like those which gave us the Constitution, prevailed to uphold it. Let the period be remembered as an admonition, and not as an encouragement, in any section of the Union, to make experiments where experiments are fraught with such fearful hazard. Let it be impressed upon all hearts that, beautiful as our fabric is, no earthly power or wisdom could ever reunite its broken fragments. Standing, as I do, almost within view of the green slopes of Monticello, and, as it were, within reach of the tomb of Washington, with all the cherished memories of the past gathering around me like so many eloquent voices of exhortation from heaven, I can express no better hope for my country than that the kind Providence which smiled upon our fathers may enable their children to preserve the blessings they have inherited."

Pierce's presidency would be a disappointment. He was probably an alcoholic and his White House years would not be happy ones. His unlucky story seems an appropriate one to post on this day, it being Friday the 13th.
Fans of the alternative group They Might Be Giants will know James K. Polk as the man who set four goals for his single term as President of the United States, and met every one of them. The story that Polk created this famous to-do list originates from an anecdote told by historian and Polk administration cabinet member George Bancroft. But in Met His Every Goal: James K. Polk and the Legends of Manifest Destiny, research professor Tom Chaffin, editor of the soon-to-be fourteen volume series "Correspondence of James K. Polk" turns myth-buster and makes the case that the story of Polk's goal-setting exercise is probably apocryphal.

The story according to Bancroft goes that at the time of his inauguration, President James K. Polk recited four goals that he intended to accomplish during his single term in the White House: 1) acquire the Oregon Territory from the British; 2) acquire California from the Mexicans; 3) lower tariffs; and 4) establish an independent treasury. The first recording of this was made by Bancroft forty years after Polk's death, when the historian was in his eighties. But as Chaffin points out, Bancroft told several different (and inconsistent) versions of the anecdote of Polk's pronouncement, that Polk was sometimes reported to have said before his inauguration, sometimes after, sometimes to certain unnamed persons, sometimes to Bancroft alone, and there are other variances in the versions. The story is also inconsistent with Chaffin's rather thorough review of Polk's correspondence. Chaffin's sleuthing as a history detective makes a convincing case that Bancroft's story, while conducive to catchy song lyrics, is probably an embellishment, albeit one with considerable staying power, and one that has formed the bedrock of many favorable assessments of Polk's presidency.

Chaffin reviews the accomplishments and the miscues of the Polk administration and convincingly points out that Bancroft's delineation of the Polk administration may have made Polk appearing larger than life. But it may have also detracted from a proper assessment of Polk's presidency, both in achievements that he deserved credit for but never got, and for areas where he deserved greater scrutiny.

One caution about this book is that it is not very long. It is more like an essay than a book. It is 93 pages, of which about 20 or so are photographs. I read most of it while in a dentist's waiting room. Chaffin himself admits that the book is not intended as a thorough accounting of Polk's presidency, and yet in its brevity, it still manages to touch all of the basis of Polk's accomplishments as well as the times he fell short of his intended mark. Polkaholics may not appreciate how Chaffin takes some of the shine off of Polk's legacy, but Chaffin doesn't present as someone with an anti-Polk axe to grind. He is simply an intellectually honest historian who know his subject from having gone through the volumes of the man's writings. As the author points out, while Polk was guarded and kept his thoughts to himself for the most part, his untimely early death meant that his writings were not destroyed and therefore he left quite a body of writing, including a White House diary, from which scholars can discern what Polk really thought about most of the burning issues of his day. Chaffin has gone through these writings thoroughly.

It is hard to dispute his conclusions, and it is interesting to the reader for Chaffin to share his thoughts and assessments about the man who, for decades, was believed to have met his every goal. For those with an interest in antebellum American history, this is a worthwhile read.


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