Most memorable inauguration quotes in US history
President Joe Biden must have been feeling the pressure as inauguration speeches are a pretty big deal in the US.
These words will be repeated across the world, taught in schools and will go down in the history books.
Presidents’ addresses have united America in the face of war, racial hatred and economic uncertainty – giving the people a sense of hope.
But what is the secret to a successful inauguration speech?
Here, we look back at the most famous addresses of the last 200 years.
What are the most memorable inauguration quotes?
Thomas Jefferson (1801)
Thomas Jefferson was the draftsman of the US Declaration of Independence and the nation’s first secretary of state.
The previous two presidents were Federalist, so as a Democratic leader, Jefferson was the first change of power for the country.
We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
Abraham Lincoln (1865)
Many people forget that Abraham Lincoln took office twice. His first time was in 1861.
His second inaugural speech was very short (at just 700 words), but it made a lasting impression.
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, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933)
The US was under the loom of the Great Depression when Franklin Roosevelt’s speech was delivered.
His words were designed to instill hope at a time of uncertainty.
First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance
Although Kennedy was fated to have a short presidency, he probably made one of the most memorable inauguration quotes in history.
With young men being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, Kennedy wanted to send a message to encourage citizens to stand by their country at a time of conflict.
And so, 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.
Ronald Reagan (1981)
Former actor Ronald Reagan paved the way for celebrity leaders with reality star Donald Trump following in his footsteps.
The US was facing an economic downturn, so it was important to make the public feel optimistic about the future.
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price
Barack Obama (2009)
In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, former first lady Michelle Obama said Barack gave the people ‘hope’ when he came into power.
She said: ‘Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept. What else do you have if you don’t have hope?’
And this rings true in Obama’s speech.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen 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. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
Joe Biden (2021)
Joe Biden became president during some truly turbulent times.
Not only is there a global pandemic, but the US is suffering from political division and fighting.
Just two weeks before his inauguration ceremony, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol Building to protest Biden’s win – resulting in five deaths.
Biden’s speech set out his vision of a united America, and echoed Obama’s emphasis on ‘hope’.
This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested a new and America has risen to the challenge. Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, a cause of democracy. The people – the will of the people – has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.
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Joe Biden inauguration 2021
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office during the inauguration ceremony today.
During the ceremony, Biden delivered a speech outline his vision for his term as president.
You can follow all the updates on our Inauguration Day live blog.
Here are the latest updates from January 20:
- Joe Biden replaces Donald Trump as 46th President of the United States
- Kamala Harris has sworn in as first female vice president of the United States
- Joe Biden takes control of Donald Trump’s old Twitter account
- Donald and Melania Trump leave White House for the final time as Joe Biden prepares to move in
- Full list of pardons granted by Trump in his final hours as president
- Full list of Donald Trump orders Joe Biden set to undo on his first day
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