The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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The Inaugural Inaugural

The Milestone Documents blog is counting down the top five inaugural addresses. (Even the act of assembling such a list sounds like the nerdiest bar game ever, the kind I would play with Sarah Vowell in my fever dreams.)

So number five is Jefferson’s inaugural, number four FDR’s, and number three, unveiled today, is George Washington’s. (It’s gotta be Lincoln and Kennedy for one and two, right? Okay, I’ll stop.)

[Edit: Indeed, on the Milestone Documents front page, Kennedy’s speech is today’s “Spotlight Document,” along with the tagline: “From George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy, presidents have used the inaugural address to outline their agendas and provide a vision of how they intend to govern. Which addresses have had the biggest impact?” So what’s the suspense here? Which one is number one?]

John Kaminski’s analysis lays out how important Washington’s address was:

This simple, concise, well-polished address recognized the historical importance of the day and the trials to be faced in the future. Washington explained his reluctance to accept the presidency and highlighted his own deficiencies, among them occasional ill health, little experience in civil administration, and a lack of intellectual gifts. He left the matter of outlining a legislative agenda to Congress, except for one concern. He asked Congress to draft a bill of rights as an amendment to the Constitution. Such additional protection for liberty would satisfy most of those who had opposed the ratification of the Constitution. In closing, Washington recognized God

January 14, 2009 / Uncategorized


Lincoln’s Second, hand’s down.

(The image of playing this as a bar game with Sarah Vowell is inspired, Tim. Thanks for the fantasy.)

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

We owe that man so much.

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