Ten Memorable Inaugural Addresses

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Theodore Roosevelt -- 1905

President Theodore Roosevelt addresses the nation, March 4, 1905.

Though President Roosevelt took his first oath of office after President McKinley’s assassination on Sept. 14, 1901, his first inaugural address was in 1905, after his landslide victory in 1904. Like Thomas Jefferson's, Roosevelt’s address can be seen as a sort of introduction to the coming century. He declared that the United States had become a global power, and must be treated -- and act -- like one. As leader of a nation that had gone from a colonial backwater to one of the most powerful countries in the world, Roosevelt spoke to Americans about what should be expected of them in this new role. "Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us," he declared. "We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither." Toward all nations, "our attitude must be one of cordial and sincere friendship"; while "ever careful to refrain from wrongdoing others, we must be no less insistent that we are not wronged ourselves."

Roosevelt, a roughrider even then, continued by saying that the new America wishes for peace, but only the "peace of justice, the peace of righteousness." No nation that is just, he said, will ever "have cause to fear us," while no strong power will "ever be able to single us out as a subject for insolent aggression." Here, Roosevelt cemented America's role as a great power -- on its way to becoming the greatest one. This call to arms and responsibility served as a fitting first bookend to American diplomacy in the 20 century. 

You can read the full text of Roosevelt's speech here.

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