Famous First Words

Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order
George Washington (1789) – talking about responsibility.


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
 John Adams (1797) – talking about peace.


Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled
Thomas Jefferson (1801) – talking about the legislature.

 In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States
Abraham Lincoln (1861) – talking about duty.

 This is a day of national consecration
Franklin Roosevelt (1933) – talking about history.

  We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom
John Kennedy (1961) – talking about liberty.

I stand here today
Barack Obama (2009) – talking about himself.


Miller Center of Public Affairs, “Presidential Speech Archive,” University of Virginia, http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches.


2 thoughts on “Famous First Words

    • @Daniel Olusanya:
      Thank you for writing!
      You’re right – it all begins with the individual people who comprise the sovereign public in our United States.
      That’s another of the Constitution’s federalist traditions that needs no change (i.e. not we the states, but we the people).
      Thank you again for writing – stay connected here!
      Ronald Grey

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