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Andrew Jackson
First Inaugural Address
Wednesday, March 4, 1829

Fellow-Citizens:

About to undertake the arduous duties that I have been appointed to
perform by the choice of a free people, I avail myself of this customary
and solemn occasion to express the gratitude which their confidence
inspires and to acknowledge the accountability which my situation
enjoins. While the magnitude of their interests convinces me that no
thanks can be adequate to the honor they have conferred, it admonishes
me that the best return I can make is the zealous dedication of my
humble abilities to their service and their good.

As the instrument of the Federal Constitution it will devolve on me for
a stated period to execute the laws of the United States, to superintend
their foreign and their confederate relations, to manage their revenue,
to command their forces, and, by communications to the Legislature, to
watch over and to promote their interests generally. And the principles
of action by which I shall endeavor to accomplish this circle of duties
it is now proper for me briefly to explain.

In administering the laws of Congress I shall keep steadily in view the
limitations as well as the extent of the Executive power, trusting
thereby to discharge the functions of my office without transcending its
authority. With foreign nations it will be my study to preserve peace
and to cultivate friendship on fair and honorable terms, and in the
adjustment of any differences that may exist or arise to exhibit the
forbearance becoming a powerful nation rather than the sensibility
belonging to a gallant people.

In such measures as I may be called on to pursue in regard to the rights
of the separate States I hope to be animated by a proper respect for
those sovereign members of our Union, taking care not to confound the
powers they have reserved to themselves with those they have granted to
the Confederacy.

The management of the public revenue--that searching operation in all
governments--is among the most delicate and important trusts in ours,
and it will, of course, demand no inconsiderable share of my official
solicitude. Under every aspect in which it can be considered it would
appear that advantage must result from the observance of a strict and
faithful economy. This I shall aim at the more anxiously both because it
will facilitate the extinguishment of the national debt, the unnecessary
duration of which is incompatible with real independence, and because it
will counteract that tendency to public and private profligacy which a
profuse expenditure of money by the Government is but too apt to
engender. Powerful auxiliaries to the attainment of this desirable end
are to be found in the regulations provided by the wisdom of Congress
for the specific appropriation of public money and the prompt
accountability of public officers.

With regard to a proper selection of the subjects of impost with a view
to revenue, it would seem to me that the spirit of equity, caution, and
compromise in which the Constitution was formed requires that the great
interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures should be equally
favored, and that perhaps the only exception to this rule should consist
in the peculiar encouragement of any products of either of them that may
be found essential to our national independence.

Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as they can
be promoted by the constitutional acts of the Federal Government, are of
high importance.

Considering standing armies as dangerous to free governments in time of
peace, I shall not seek to enlarge our present establishment, nor
disregard that salutary lesson of political experience which teaches
that the military should be held subordinate to the civil power. The
gradual increase of our Navy, whose flag has displayed in distant climes
our skill in navigation and our fame in arms; the preservation of our
forts, arsenals, and dockyards, and the introduction of progressive
improvements in the discipline and science of both branches of our
military service are so plainly prescribed by prudence that I should be
excused for omitting their mention sooner than for enlarging on their
importance. But the bulwark of our defense is the national militia,
which in the present state of our intelligence and population must
render us invincible. As long as our Government is administered for the
good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it
secures to us the rights of person and of property, liberty of
conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending; and so long as
it is worth defending a patriotic militia will cover it with an
impenetrable aegis. Partial injuries and occasional mortifications we
may be subjected to, but a million of armed freemen, possessed of the
means of war, can never be conquered by a foreign foe. To any just
system, therefore, calculated to strengthen this natural safeguard of
the country I shall cheerfully lend all the aid in my power.

It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe toward the Indian
tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to give that
humane and considerate attention to their rights and their wants which
is consistent with the habits of our Government and the feelings of our
people.

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.

In the performance of a task thus generally delineated I shall endeavor
to select men whose diligence and talents will insure in their
respective stations able and faithful cooperation, depending for the
advancement of the public service more on the integrity and zeal of the
public officers than on their numbers.

A diffidence, perhaps too just, in my own qualifications will teach me
to look with reverence to the examples of public virtue left by my
illustrious predecessors, and with veneration to the lights that flow
from the mind that founded and the mind that reformed our system. The
same diffidence induces me to hope for instruction and aid from the
coordinate branches of the Government, and for the indulgence and
support of my fellow-citizens generally. And a firm reliance on the
goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our
national infancy, and has since upheld our liberties in various
vicissitudes, encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications that He
will continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care
and gracious benediction.


***

Andrew Jackson
Second Inaugural Address
Monday, March 4, 1833

Fellow-Citizens:

The will of the American people, expressed through their unsolicited
suffrages, calls me before you to pass through the solemnities
preparatory to taking upon myself the duties of President of the United
States for another term. For their approbation of my public conduct
through a period which has not been without its difficulties, and for
this renewed expression of their confidence in my good intentions, I am
at a loss for terms adequate to the expression of my gratitude. It shall
be displayed to the extent of my humble abilities in continued efforts
so to administer the Government as to preserve their liberty and promote
their happiness.

So many events have occurred within the last four years which have
necessarily called forth--sometimes under circumstances the most
delicate and painful--my views of the principles and policy which ought
to be pursued by the General Government that I need on this occasion but
allude to a few leading considerations connected with some of them.

The foreign policy adopted by our Government soon after the formation of
our present Constitution, and very generally pursued by successive
Administrations, has been crowned with almost complete success, and has
elevated our character among the nations of the earth. To do justice to
all and to submit to wrong from none has been during my Administration
its governing maxim, and so happy have been its results that we are not
only at peace with all the world, but have few causes of controversy,
and those of minor importance, remaining unadjusted.

In the domestic policy of this Government there are two objects which
especially deserve the attention of the people and their
representatives, and which have been and will continue to be the
subjects of my increasing solicitude. They are the preservation of the
rights of the several States and the integrity of the Union.

These great objects are necessarily connected, and can only be attained
by an enlightened exercise of the powers of each within its appropriate
sphere in conformity with the public will constitutionally expressed. To
this end it becomes the duty of all to yield a ready and patriotic
submission to the laws constitutionally enacted, and thereby promote and
strengthen a proper confidence in those institutions of the several
States and of the United States which the people themselves have
ordained for their own government.

My experience in public concerns and the observation of a life somewhat
advanced confirm the opinions long since imbibed by me, that the
destruction of our State governments or the annihilation of their
control over the local concerns of the people would lead directly to
revolution and anarchy, and finally to despotism and military
domination. In proportion, therefore, as the General Government
encroaches upon the rights of the States, in the same proportion does it
impair its own power and detract from its ability to fulfill the
purposes of its creation. Solemnly impressed with these considerations,
my countrymen will ever find me ready to exercise my constitutional
powers in arresting measures which may directly or indirectly encroach
upon the rights of the States or tend to consolidate all political power
in the General Government. But of equal, and, indeed, of incalculable,
importance is the union of these States, and the sacred duty of all to
contribute to its preservation by a liberal support of the General
Government in the exercise of its just powers. You have been wisely
admonished to "accustom yourselves to think and speak of the Union as of
the palladium of your political safety and prosperity, watching for its
preservation with jealous anxiety, discountenancing whatever may suggest
even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly
frowning upon the first dawning of any attempt to alienate any portion
of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now
link together the various parts." Without union our independence and
liberty would never have been achieved; without union they never can be
maintained. Divided into twenty-four, or even a smaller number, of
separate communities, we shall see our internal trade burdened with
numberless restraints and exactions; communication between distant
points and sections obstructed or cut off; our sons made soldiers to
deluge with blood the fields they now till in peace; the mass of our
people borne down and impoverished by taxes to support armies and
navies, and military leaders at the head of their victorious legions
becoming our lawgivers and judges. The loss of liberty, of all good
government, of peace, plenty, and happiness, must inevitably follow a
dissolution of the Union. In supporting it, therefore, we support all
that is dear to the freeman and the philanthropist.

The time at which I stand before you is full of interest. The eyes of
all nations are fixed on our Republic. The event of the existing crisis
will be decisive in the opinion of mankind of the practicability of our
federal system of government. Great is the stake placed in our hands;
great is the responsibility which must rest upon the people of the
United States. Let us realize the importance of the attitude in which we
stand before the world. Let us exercise forbearance and firmness. Let us
extricate our country from the dangers which surround it and learn
wisdom from the lessons they inculcate.

Deeply impressed with the truth of these observations, and under the
obligation of that solemn oath which I am about to take, I shall
continue to exert all my faculties to maintain the just powers of the
Constitution and to transmit unimpaired to posterity the blessings of
our Federal Union. At the same time, it will be my aim to inculcate by
my official acts the necessity of exercising by the General Government
those powers only that are clearly delegated; to encourage simplicity
and economy in the expenditures of the Government; to raise no more
money from the people than may be requisite for these objects, and in a
manner that will best promote the interests of all classes of the
community and of all portions of the Union. Constantly bearing in mind
that in entering into society "individuals must give up a share of
liberty to preserve the rest," it will be my desire so to discharge my
duties as to foster with our brethren in all parts of the country a
spirit of liberal concession and compromise, and, by reconciling our
fellow-citizens to those partial sacrifices which they must unavoidably
make for the preservation of a greater good, to recommend our invaluable
Government and Union to the confidence and affections of the American
people.

Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom
I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our
Republic to the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions
and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be
preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and
happy people.

***

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