Friday, January 18, 2013

Michael Kazin on Inauguration Speeches

FDR's 1st Inaugural Address (1933)
Georgetown historian Michael Kazin reminds us that "inaugural addresses rarely foretell what a president will accomplish in office."

Here are a few great lines from inaugural addresses that did not really pan out in real life.

Thomas Jefferson (1801): "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists."

Abraham Lincoln (1861):  "We are not enemies, but friends.  We must not be enemies.  Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933):  "First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only think we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

John F. Kennedy (1961): "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any  price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

Check out Kazin's piece to learn how the flourishing rhetoric of these speeches failed to measure up to the reality that these president's would face in the four years that followed.