Diagrams of

Sentences from the Inaugural Addresses

of the

Forty-Four Presidents of the United States

by Eugene R. Moutoux

Five U.S. presidents did not deliver an inaugural address: John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, and Gerald Ford. With respect to the first four, I substituted sentences from their first annual messages. In the case of Gerald Ford, I used a sentence from a brief speech he gave upon taking the oath of office following the resignation of Richard Nixon. One president, Grover Cleveland, was both the 22nd and the 24th president. I selected one sentence from each of his inaugural addresses. I have tried to choose sentences that impress me for historical, intellectual, and linguistic reasons, not by reason of partisan political content. I welcome your comments. Please write to me at ermoutoux@juno.com.

Page Four 

If the more aged and experienced men who have filled the office of President of the United States even in the infancy of the Republic distrusted their ability to discharge the duties of that exalted station, what ought not to be the apprehensions of one so much younger and less endowed now that our domain extends from ocean to ocean, that our people have so greatly increased in numbers, and at a time when so great diversity of opinion prevails in regard to the principles and policy which should characterize the administration of our government?

James Polk (11), Inaugural Address (March 4, 1845)

Through the year which is now drawing to a close peace has been in our borders and plenty in our habitations, and although disease has visited some few portions of the land with distress and mortality, yet in general the health of the people has been preserved, and we are all called upon by the highest obligations of duty to renew our thanks and our devotion to our Heavenly Parent, who has continued to vouchsafe to us the eminent blessings which surround us and who has so signally crowned the year with His goodness.

John Tyler (10), First Annual Message (December 7, 1841)

The citizens of each State unite in their persons all the privileges which that character confers and all that they may claim as citizens of the United States, but in no case can the same persons at the same time act as the citizen of two separate States, and he is therefore positively precluded from any interference with the reserved powers of any State but that of which he is for the time being a citizen.

William Henry Harrison (9), Inaugural Address (March 4, 1841)

We may not possess, as we should not desire to possess, the extended and ever-ready military organization of other nations; we may occasionally suffer in the outset for the want of it; but among ourselves all doubt upon this great point has ceased, while a salutary experience will prevent a contrary opinion from inviting aggression from abroad.

Martin Van Buren (8), Inaugural Address (March 4, 1837)

The recent demonstration of public sentiment inscribes on the list of Executive duties, in characters too legible to be overlooked, the task of ‘reform’, which will require particularly the correction of those abuses that have brought the patronage of the Federal Government into conflict with the freedom of elections, and the counteraction of those causes which have disturbed the rightful course of appointment and have placed or continued power in unfaithful or incompetent hands.

Andrew Jackson (7), First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1829)

Of the two great political parties which have divided the opinions and feelings of our country, the candid and the just will now admit that both have contributed splendid talents, spotless integrity, ardent patriotism, and disinterested sacrifices to the formation and administration of this Government, and that both have required a liberal indulgence for a portion of human infirmity and error.

John Quincy Adams (6), Inaugural Address (March 4, 1825)

In contemplating what we have still to perform, the heart of every citizen must expand with joy when he reflects how near our Government has approached to perfection; that in respect to it we have no essential improvement to make; that the great object is to preserve it in the essential principles and features which characterize it, and that is to be done by preserving the virtue and enlightening the minds of the people; and as a security against foreign dangers to adopt such arrangements as are indispensable to the support of our independence, our rights and liberties.

James Monroe (5), First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1817)

Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war by fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality.

James Madison (4), First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1809)

And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.

Thomas Jefferson (3), First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1801)

When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist than from those contests and dissensions which would certainly arise concerning the forms of government to be instituted over the whole and over the parts of this extensive country.

John Adams (2), Inaugural Address (March 4, 1797)

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favour the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparelleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

George Washington (1), First Inaugural Address (April 30, 1789)

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