The tradition of addressing Americans on Inauguration Day began on April 30, 1789 with our nation's first president, George Washington. And every president since Washington has continued this ceremonial tradition. So as we prepare to begin President Barack Obama's second term, we look back at the most memorable inaugural speeches caught on video:
"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."
—Franklin Roosevelt, 1933
"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."
—John F. Kennedy, 1961
"A person can be expected to act responsibly only if he has responsibility. This is human nature. So let us encourage individuals at home and nations abroad to do more for themselves, to decide more for themselves. Let us locate responsibility in more places."
—Richard Nixon, 1973
"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."
—Gerald Ford, 1974
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
—Ronald Reagan, 1981
"Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."
—Bill Clinton, 1993
"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
—George W. Bush, 2005
"With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come."
—Barack Obama, 2009
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- The rise of the global middle class is our best hope to stop climate change
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- What I learned from totally unplugging and shutting up for three days
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- Immigration, charity, and conservatives' unholy assault on Glenn Beck
Subscribe to the Week