Presidential Inaugural Speeches 1969-2013

The Presidential Inauguration

An American tradition was born with the first inaugural address delivered by George Washington on Thursday, April 30, 1789 on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City.1 Four years later, President Washington delivered his second inaugural speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.2 Since Washington, every U.S. president has delivered an inaugural address. Each president has also delivered the constitutionally-mandated oath of office.

OathAlthough the oath language reflected in the Constitution does not contain the phrase “so help me God,” following in the footsteps of George Washington, the first President of the United States, all presidents have recited this phrase at the conclusion of the oath.3 After the last word of the oath is recited, the new president’s term officially begins.

The Presidential Inaugural Address and Its Political Significance

The presidential inaugural address is typically a vehicle for presidents to articulate their goals for the country. For instance, in his second inaugural address delivered on Saturday, March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln declared the need to heal the nation's wounds and ensure lasting peace to a crowd of thousands of onlookers who stood in thick mud in front of the newly-constructed iron dome on the Capitol.4 Lincoln's address came in a time of deep political division and turmoil. His solemn language, riddled with themes of sin, sacrifice and redemption, was inward-looking. He lamented the ongoing war, its causes and consequences to American history.

Nuts and Bolts of Presidential Inaugurations

The presidential inaugural address is one feature of a series of events taking place on Inauguration Day.5 Other events include: a morning worship service, procession to the Capitol, vice president’s swearing-in ceremony, president’s swearing-in ceremony and the departure of the outgoing president. Taken together, the day’s events are meant to symbolize the peaceful transfer of power in the United States.

Changes to the Presidential Inaugural Address

Over the years, there have been many changes to the format of the President’s inaugural address. Today, we are accustomed to these speeches taking place on January 20 on the West Front of the Capitol. When this date falls on Sunday, a private ceremony is held; the remaining inaugural events take place the following day.

However, this has not always been the case. Since 1789, inaugural events have taken place at a plethora of locations including the front of New York’s Federal Hall on a balcony overlooking Wall Street, the U.S. Capitol Building, East Front of the Capitol, House Chamber, Senate Chamber, West Front of the U.S. Capital, Brick Capitol (where the Supreme Court now stands), White House Red Room, President’s Room in the U.S. Capitol, White House East Room, in an airplane and on the Capitol Rotunda, among other locations.6

Prior to 1933, presidents were not sworn in until March, following their election. With the adoption of the Twentieth Amendment, however, the date of inauguration moved from March to noon on January 20th. 7 The inauguration was initially scheduled for March to allow adequate time to tally votes, have members of the Electoral College send their votes to Washington, and the president-elect to organize a new government. Technological advances now allow this process to occur more expediently.

Technological advances also transformed the medium through which the Presidential Inauguration is presented. In 1921, Warren Harding became the first president to recite the presidential oath and deliver his address through loud speakers. 8 Calvin Coolidge’s inaugural address in 1925 was the first to be nationally broadcast on the radio.9 Harry Truman’s inaugural address in 1949 was the first to be broadcast over television airwaves.10 The advent of the Internet and live video streaming have similarly transformed how inaugural speeches are broadcast in more recent decades.

Oath of Office

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution dictates that before executing the powers of the office of the president, individuals must declare the following affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully executive the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The U.S. Constitution does not designate a government official who is responsible for administering the presidential oath of office. However, this duty most often falls on the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Since 1789, the presidential oath of office has been initiated by: the Chancellor of the State of New York, an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, U.S Circuit Court Judge, New York State Judge, the father of the President-elect (Jon C. Coolidge) and a U.S. District Judge. 11 In 1963, U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes was the first woman to administer the oath of office. She officiated the ceremony of President Lyndon B. Johnson on Air Force One after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. 12

Oaths of Office (1969-2013)

NIXON 1969

Richard Milhous Nixon – January 20, 1969

Headline: Nixon Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 1969
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 829927
Time: 00:46

The swearing in of Richard Milhous Nixon on January 20, 1969, marked the Forty-Sixth Inaugural Ceremony. It was cloudy with rain and an estimated temperature of 35°F as the president was sworn in at noon.

Nixon was joined by his wife, First Lady Thelma Catherine “Pat” Nixon. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren on two brown leather family Bibles that were opened to Isaiah 2:4 which reads: “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (KJV)

The ceremony took place on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol.

NIXON 1973

Richard Milhous Nixon – January 20, 1973

Headline: Nixon Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 1973
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 659045
Time: 00:41

The swearing in of Richard Milhous Nixon on January 20, 1973, marked the Forty-Seventh Inaugural Ceremony. It was cloudy with rain and an estimated temperature of 42°F. The president was joined by his wife, First Lady Thelma Catherine “Pat” Nixon. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger on two brown leather family Bibles opened to Isaiah 2:2-4 which reads:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:2-4KJV)

The ceremony took place on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol.

CARTER 1977

James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr. – January 20, 1977

Headline: Carter Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 1977
Reporters: Roger Mudd, Eric Sevareid and Marvin Kalb
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 836737
Time: 01:21

The swearing in of Jimmy Earl Carter, Jr. on January 20, 1977, marked the Forty-Eighth Inaugural Ceremony. It was cold and sunny with an estimated temperature of 28°F with a wind chill temperature in the teens as the president was sworn into office. Carter was joined by his wife, First Lady Eleanor Rosalynn Carter.

The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger on two Bibles: one belonging to President Carter’s family and a Bible used by George Washington. Carter’s family Bible was open to Micah 6:8 which reads: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (KJV)

The ceremony took place on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol.

REAGAN 1981

Ronald Wilson Reagan – January 20, 1981

Headline: Reagan Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 1981
Vanderbilt TV News Archive
Time: 00:44

The swearing in of Ronald Reagan on January 20, 1981 marked the Forty-Ninth Inaugural Ceremony. It was mostly cloudy that morning with an estimated temperature of 55°F. Reagan was joined by his wife, First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger on a family Bible given to Reagan by his mother.

During the oath of office, the Bible was open to II Chronicles 7:14 which reads: “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.” (KJV)

Reagan's oath of office ceremony was the first to take place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

REAGAN 1985

Ronald Wilson Reagan – January 20, 1985

Headline: Reagan Inauguration 1985
ABC; January 20, 1985
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 657032
Time: 00:39

The swearing in of Ronald Wilson Reagan on January 20, 1985, marked the Fiftieth Inaugural Ceremony. Because January 20th fell on Sunday that year, the oath of office took place on the day preceding the rest of the inaugural events. Reagan was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger in a private ceremony in the North Entrance Hall of the White House. Reagan was joined by his wife, First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan.

The oath of office was administered on a family Bible open to II Chronicles 7:14 which reads: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)

BUSH 1989

George Herbert Walker Bush – January 20, 1989

Headline: George Bush Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 1989
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 891343
Time: 00:41

The swearing in of George Herbert Walker Bush on January 20, 1989, marked the Fifty-First Inaugural Ceremony. Chief Justice William Rehnquist officiated the swearing in which took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

The oath of office was administered on two Bibles. The first belongs to the Bush family and was opened to Matthew 5 which chronicles The Beatitudes, or eight proclamations believed by Christians to have been taught by Jesus. The second Bible, which was used by George Washington, was opened to a random page.

CLINTON 1993

William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton – January 20, 1993

Headline: Bill Clinton Inauguration
Reporters: Brit Hume et al.
ABC; January 20, 1993
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 647404
Time: 00:46

The swearing in of William “Bill” Clinton on January 20, 1993 marked the Fifty-Second Inaugural Ceremony. It was sunny outside with an estimated temperature of 40°F. Clinton was joined by his wife, First Lady Hilary Clinton. Chief Justice William Rehnquist officiated the swearing in which took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

The oath of office was administered on a King James Bible that was given to the president by his grandmother. During the oath, the Bible was opened to Galatians 6:8 which reads: “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

CLINTON 1997

William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton – January 20, 1997

Headline: Bill Clinton Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 1997
Reporter: Peter Jennings
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 648467
Time: 00:40

The swearing in of William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton on January 20, 1997, marked the Fifty-Third Inaugural Ceremony. It was partly sunny with a high overcast outside. The estimated temperature at noon was 34°F. Clinton was joined by his wife, First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton. Chief Justice William Rehnquist officiated the swearing in which took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

The oath of office was administered on a King James Bible that was given to the president by his grandmother. During the oath, the Bible was opened to Isaiah 58:12 which reads:

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in” (NKJV)

This swearing in ceremony was the first time in American history that an Inaugural Ceremony was broadcast live on the Internet.

BUSH 2001

George Walker Bush – January 20, 2001

Headline: George W. Bush Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 2001
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 897631
Time: 00:40

The swearing in of George Walker Bush on January 20, 2001, marked the Fifty-Fourth Inaugural Ceremony. It was cold and rainy outside with a temperature of 35°F. Bush was joined by his wife, First Lady Laura Lane Welch Bush and their two twin daughters, Jenna Welch Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush (aged 19). Chief Justice William Rehnquist officiated the swearing in which took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

The oath of office was administered on a family Bible that was closed during the ceremony. President Bush had planned to use the Masonic Bible used by George Washington in 1789 and his father, George H. Bush in 1989. However, the inclement weather prompted the last-minute substitution of a family Bible.

BUSH 2005

George Walker Bush – January 20, 2005

Headline: George W. Bush Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 2005
Reporter: Peter Jennings
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 917776
Time: 00:36

The swearing in of George Walker Bush on January 20, 2001, marked the Fifty-Fifth Inaugural Ceremony. It was mostly cloudy with periodic sunshine and an inch of snow on the ground. The estimated temperature was 35°F. Bush was joined by his wife, First Lady Laura Lane Welch Bush and their two twin daughters, Jenna Welch Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush (aged 23). Chief Justice William Rehnquist officiated the swearing in which took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

The oath of office was administered on a family Bible that was open to Isaiah 40:31. The verse reads: “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

Bush’s inaugural ceremony was landmark in its size, technological innovation and level of security. The ceremony took place on the largest inaugural platform to date. It was also the first time that a live web cam of inaugural construction was broadcast. Finally, it was the first time that anti-counterfeiting security was designed into event tickets and secure credentials were given to guests.

OBAMA 2009

Barack Hussein Obama II – January 20, 2009

Headline: Barack Obama Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 2009
Reporter: Charles Gibson
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 777542
Time: 1:36

The swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama II on January 20, 2009, marked the Fifty-Sixth Inaugural Ceremony. It was windy outside with an estimated temperature of 28°F. Obama was joined by his wife, First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. officiated the swearing in which took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. The oath was administered on the Lincoln Bible, the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln during his presidential inauguration on March 4, 1861.

Obama’s swearing in ceremony was historic in its attendance, the attributes of the President and the event emcee and technological implementation. The inauguration was the largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington, D.C and in any presidential inauguration in American history. It was also the first time that an African American candidate, and a citizen born in Hawai’i, was elected to the highest office in the United States. Senator Dianne Feinstein was also the first woman to emcee the ceremony.

As it relates to technology, the ceremony had the highest viewership ever of a swearing in ceremony on the Internet. It was also the first time the inaugural webcast included captioning and the swearing in ceremony included an audio description.

OBAMA 2013

Barack Hussein Obama II – January 21, 2013

Headline: Barack Obama Oath of Office Ceremony
January 20, 2013
Reporter: Scott Pelley
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 1037137
Time: 00:36

The swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama II on January 21, 2013, marked the Fifty-Seventh Inaugural Ceremony. It was mostly cloudy outside with an estimated temperature of 40°F. Obama was joined by First Lady, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama and their two daughters, Natasha “Sasha” Obama (aged 11) and Malia Ann Obama (aged 14). Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. officiated the swearing in. The ceremony took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

Presidential Inaugural Addresses

Cumulative Presidential Inaugural Word Cloud
Cumulative Presidential Inaugural Word Cloud

Presidential Inaugural Addresses (1969-2013)

NIXON 1969

Richard Milhouse Nixon – January 20, 1969

Headline: Nixon Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 1969
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 829927
Time: 2:12

In his 1969 inaugural address, President Nixon argued that the government bears the responsibility of listening to the American people; of hearing the voices of those who are pained, who are uncertain, who have not been heard. As he sees it, the task of government is to include those who have been left out; to lend a hand to those who have fallen behind.

Elected in a period of substantial growth in the size of government, President Nixon expressed a desire to continue the important work of realizing full employment, better housing and a better quality of life for all Americans. However, he cautioned against expecting too much of government alone. Instead, he urged Americans to join together with the government to achieve these ends. Fulfilling these goals, he asserted, requires the energy and capital of all Americans both in grand gestures, but especially in small, more mundane, efforts.

NIXON 1973

Richard Milhous Nixon – January 20, 1973

Headline: Richard Nixon Inauguration
January 20, 1973
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 659045
Time: 5:00

In his 1973 inaugural address, President Nixon expressed optimism about the possibility of growing America into a better country by improving education, health outcomes, living circumstances, public transportation and the environment. Access to full and equal opportunity, he stated unequivocally, is the God-given right of every American. Fulfilling this God-given guarantee, however, requires that Americans abandon centralization of responsibility in Washington. The attitude that “Washington knows best” is no longer apt. Leaders in Washington must abandon paternalistic notions of government responsibility in addressing America’s social and political problems. Instead, government officials and members of the electorate together are responsible for ensuring America’s livelihood.

For Nixon, the country for too long placed too much trust in government instead of empowering individuals to contribute to the community. For him, the task of government is not to do more for the people but to do less so that individuals might become empowered to do for themselves. Americans must share in responsibility rather than shirking from it. Government has an important role to play, he argued, and will act where it is needed. For Nixon, though, the role of the individual is just as important as that of the government.

CARTER 1977

James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr. – January 20, 1977

Headline: Carter Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 1977
Reporters: Roger Mudd, Eric Sevareid and Marvin Kalb
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 836737
Time: 04:50

Elected in the wake of the Watergate scandal, President Carter’s inaugural address challenged Americans to rise above recent events and not allow them to sow feelings of distrust in government and breed skepticism about the government. For him, the responsibility of government in those fragile times was to stay close to the American people, prove its worthiness and exemplify the goodness of the American people. It is only by learning together, laughing together, working together and praying together, he argued, that America will be better. For Carter, with the government and the American people working together, the country can be restored even stronger than before.

REAGAN 1981

Ronald Wilson Reagan – January 20, 1981

Headline: Reagan Inauguration/Iran Hostage Situation
CBS; January 20, 1981
Reporters: Barbara Walters, Ted Koppel, Bettina Gregory,
Peter Jennings and Ann Compton
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 866194
Time: 10:20

Elected in a period of great economic turmoil, President Reagan, in his 1981 inaugural address, expressed his belief that government is not the solution; rather, the problem when attempting to resolve social problems. From his perspective, America wrongly adopted the belief that society is too complex to be governed by self-rule which led to the belief that the responsibility of government should be elevated relative to that of the individual.

For Reagan, this understanding of the role of the government is wrong. America’s economic predicament, he argued, requires entrepreneurs who are motivated in the pursuit of their own individual goals as well as the betterment of the American people through the creation of jobs, new wealth and opportunity. These individuals help support the government through tax revenue. They also propel culture, art and education through their gifts. This commitment, he argued, is the essence of American patriotism.

As he sees it, the task of government, then, is to remove itself in cases where it acts as a roadblock. There must be a restoration of the balance of power between the different levels of government. For Reagan, the government had become an “industrial giant” that must now be reined in.

REAGAN 1985

Ronald Wilson Reagan – January 21, 1985

Headline: Reagan Inauguration 1985
January 21, 1985
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 885163
Time: 00:39

In his 1985 inaugural address, President Reagan urged ordinary Americans to reconsider the emphasis they place on government over their own individual actions when seeking to resolve social problems. Building on his 1981 remarks, Reagan referenced a renewal in American faith and strength that is critical to the realization of individual freedom. It is through the realization of these personal freedoms, he argued, that orderly society endures. When there are no limits to growth and human progress, men and women are able to follow their dreams and contribute to the restoration of a vibrant, robust and lively nation.

BUSH 1989

George Herbert Walker Bush – January 20, 1989

Headline: George Bush Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 1989
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 891343
Time: 02:33

Elected in the context of protracted economic turbulence, President H. W. Bush, in his 1989 inaugural address referred to the great challenges that face the American people including poverty, drug addiction, crime and broken families. Referencing earlier times in which Americans believed that public money could end these problems, he argued that recent history exposes the error in this thinking. He argued that even among those who ascribe to this belief, the current economic situation makes this approach impractical. Government funds are low and deficits are high. American will is more robust than its wallet.

Given this predicament, Bush argued that Americans must now rely on a new form of engagement in which ordinary citizens are hands-on in ensuring the job gets done. They must work hand-in-hand rather than relying on government to resolve the problems facing the nation. For President Bush, an important role is played by government; however while this action is necessary but far from sufficient.

CLINTON 1993

William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton – January 20, 1993

Headline: Bill Clinton Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 1993
Reporters: Brit Hume et al.
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 647404
Time: 03:49

In his 1993 inaugural address, President Clinton called for bold action on the part of government to invest in its citizens, their jobs and future. According to Clinton, economic turmoil means that we must be more fiscally strategic, not less willing to devote limited resources to addressing society’s challenges. At the same time that Americans may demand more of their government, however, they must also demonstrate a willingness to give more of themselves. For President Clinton, each of us bears responsibility to ourselves, our families and our communities.

CLINTON 1997

William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton – January 20, 1997

Headline: Bill Clinton Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 1997
Reporter: Peter Jennings
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 648467
Time: 04:38

In his 1997 inaugural address, President Clinton called for a transformation in government in which the lofty objective to solve all of Americans problems is abandoned. In its place, he highlighted the need to empower ordinary Americans to solve their own problems. For Clinton, government must live within its means but must also empower its citizens to make a real difference. Government is a provider of opportunity, not solutions, in cultivating better lives for its citizens. The burden of bettering our nation must be shouldered by all members of the community. The government cannot act alone, nor can well-intentioned individuals. Teaching children to read, reducing the size of welfare rolls, reclaiming communities from the clenches of criminals, requires every American to assume personal responsibility; not just for themselves, but for their families, their neighbors and nation. We must act as one in responsibility and American destiny.

BUSH 2001

George Walker Bush – January 20, 2001

Headline: George W. Bush Inauguration
CBS; January 20, 2001
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 897631
Time: 06:40

In his 2001 inaugural address, President Bush urged citizens to help realize the promise that everyone belongs and deserves a chance by acting with civility, courage, compassion and character at all times. For Bush, both civility and courage are a choice and commitment to be shouldered by every American. Civility begets trust. Courage challenges Americans to remain steadfast in their commitments even in America’s darkest hours. This courage helps guide the nation in acting as one to confront America’s problem as a united people rather than passing them on to future generations. Government bears great responsibility in this process but should not be expected to act alone. Rather, each American bears a responsibility to each other and to the great challenges that face the country.

BUSH 2005

George Walker Bush – January 20, 2005

Headline: George W. Bush Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 2005
Reporter: Peter Jennings
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 917776
Time: 04:37

President Bush’s 2005 inaugural address draws attention to the issues he believed most pressing in America at the time: providing better education, increased opportunity for home and business ownership, greater economic security and empowering citizens to become the stewards of their life circumstances. Rather than evoke themes of ways that the government could be used to affect change in the lives of average Americans, he argued that the public interest is predicated on private character. Self-government hinges on individuals upholding their duty to govern self within both one’s family and community. America’s ideal of freedom, he argued, requires mercy and compassion on the part of each of us. It also requires Americans to realize that each of us is dependent on one another. In the wake of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks, the moral impetus of this generation is to advance the cause of freedom in the world while proceeding with character that is worthy of this important cause in our everyday actions.

OBAMA 2009

Barack Hussein Obama II – January 20, 2009

Headline: Barack Obama Inauguration
ABC; January 20, 2009
Reporter: Charles Gibson
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 777542
Time: 4:16

President Obama’s 2009 inaugural remarks attempted to shift the debate about governmental responsibility from a conversation about the size of government (small or large) to a discussion of whether the government works for the American people. He questioned whether the government helps families find jobs that pay parents enough to provide for their families. He asked whether Americans have access to healthcare and the possibility of a dignified life after retirement. The challenge of government under his leadership, he asserted, is to end programs that have long proven unfruitful and champion those which produce. For President Obama, meaningful changes require the efforts and strong character of every American. Honesty, hard work, courage and tolerance, loyalty and patriotism are integral attributes needed for fulfilling the important work of American progress now, and in the future.

OBAMA 2013

Barack Hussein Obama II – January 21, 2013

Headline: Barack Obama Inauguration
CBS; January 21, 2013
Reporter: Scott Pelley
Vanderbilt TV News Archive Record No. 1037217
Time: 4:02

President Obama’s 2013 inaugural remarks emphasized the need to abandon archaic government programs that do not work to improve the circumstances of those on the brink of hardship and born into poverty. Rather than repeating old innovations, President Obama signaled the need to become innovative in developing new ideas and technology that remake government. Government must be made to empower the people. Through these efforts, he argued, we give meaning to the American creed that has motivated Americans for centuries. At the same time, every American should be afforded the basic measures of security and dignity. This requires tough choices on the part of those who are elected to lead. Nevertheless, the duty of government remains: ensuring every American, both now and in posterity, possesses a basic level of security and dignity. He argued that this commitment of government resources does not drain us; to the contrary, he claimed that it emboldens us as members of a larger community.

President's Speeches: Word Cloud Game

Word clouds generated from the text of each president's inaugural address illustrate their vision and goals for their administration. Can you determine which president's inaugural address is represented by each of the following word clouds? Click on the question mark to see if your guess is correct.

  • Bush Speech 1989
  • Nixon Speech  1973
  • Reagan Speech 1985
  • Obama Speech 2013
  • Bush Speech 2005
  • Nixon Speech 1969
  • Bush Speech 2001
  • Carter Speech 1977
  • Clinton Speech 1993
  • Obama Speech 2009
  • Reagan Speech 1981
  • Clinton Speech 1997

About the Exhibit

The Presidential Inaugural Speeches exhibit curated by M. Brielle Harbin features the inaugural speeches from President Richard Nixon to President Barack Obama. This exhibit provides an overview of the history and format of the presidential oath of office and inaugural address and details how presidential inaugural speeches have been used by presidents to articulate their understanding of the appropriate role of the highest office in resolving ongoing social problems. What are the points raised by each of these presidents? Where are the areas of commonality and divergence between these leaders? This exhibit helps viewers situate current political debates in an ongoing conversation between presidents about the proper role of government in the lives of citizens in the United States.

REFERENCE

1 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies Fifty-Seventh Presidential Inauguration "Inaugural Address" (Last retrieved January 21, 2014).
2 Ibid.
3 National Conference on Citizenship "History of the Oath of Office"(Last retrieved February 3, 2014).
4 The American Presidency Project Inaugural Addresses (Last retrieved January 21, 2014).
5 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies "Inauguration Day Events" (Last retrieved February 19, 2014).
6 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies "Committee History" (Last retrieved June 18, 2014).
7 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution (Last retrieved December 2, 2013).
8 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies "Facts, Firsts and Precedents" (Last retrieved June 18, 2014).
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid.
11 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies "Swearing In" (Last retrieved June 18, 2014).
12 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies "Facts, Firsts and Precedents" (Last retrieved June 18, 2014).