From Lincoln to Obama, Presidents Speak of Harsh Realities in Inaugural Addresses
Added 01-20-21 12:40:03pm EST - “A president's traditional first address to the nation has long been a herald of the administration to come. Here's a look at seven notable inaugural addresses and the state of the nation when they were given.” - Nytimes.com
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A president’s traditional first address to the nation has long been a herald of the administration to come. Here’s a look at seven notable inaugural addresses and the state of the nation when they were given.
The inaugural address has historically been used to set the agenda for a president’s term and reassure Americans in times of crisis. Here are some of the more famous presidential inaugural addresses, and what they said about the state of the nation when they were given.
President Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, with the United States on the brink of civil war. By the time of his inauguration, seven states had already seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy to preserve the institution of slavery in the South. The Civil War would begin in earnest a month later, with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter.
In a final appeal to quell the secession crisis, Lincoln’s inaugural address balanced a conciliatory tone — with Lincoln vowing that he would not “interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists” — with the declaration that any state’s secession from the Union was “legally void” and the pledge that violence against the federal government would be considered an insurrection.
The dual nature of Lincoln’s address is apparent in his closing statement, warning the seceding states against an armed conflict while appealing to their shared heritage as Americans.
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