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Zachary Taylor
Inaugural Address
Monday, March 5, 1849

ELECTED by the American people to the highest office known to our laws,
I appear here to take the oath prescribed by the Constitution, and, in
compliance with a time-honored custom, to address those who are now

The confidence and respect shown by my countrymen in calling me to be
the Chief Magistrate of a Republic holding a high rank among the nations
of the earth have inspired me with feelings of the most profound
gratitude; but when I reflect that the acceptance of the office which
their partiality has bestowed imposes the discharge of the most arduous
duties and involves the weightiest obligations, I am conscious that the
position which I have been called to fill, though sufficient to satisfy
the loftiest ambition, is surrounded by fearful responsibilities.
Happily, however, in the performance of my new duties I shall not be
without able cooperation. The legislative and judicial branches of the
Government present prominent examples of distinguished civil attainments
and matured experience, and it shall be my endeavor to call to my
assistance in the Executive Departments individuals whose talents,
integrity, and purity of character will furnish ample guaranties for the
faithful and honorable performance of the trusts to be committed to
their charge. With such aids and an honest purpose to do whatever is
right, I hope to execute diligently, impartially, and for the best
interests of the country the manifold duties devolved upon me.

In the discharge of these duties my guide will be the Constitution,
which I this day swear to "preserve, protect, and defend." For the
interpretation of that instrument I shall look to the decisions of the
judicial tribunals established by its authority and to the practice of
the Government under the earlier Presidents, who had so large a share in
its formation. To the example of those illustrious patriots I shall
always defer with reverence, and especially to his example who was by so
many titles "the Father of his Country."

To command the Army and Navy of the United States; with the advice and
consent of the Senate, to make treaties and to appoint ambassadors and
other officers; to give to Congress information of the state of the
Union and recommend such measures as he shall judge to be necessary; and
to take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed--these are the
most important functions intrusted to the President by the Constitution,
and it may be expected that I shall briefly indicate the principles
which will control me in their execution.

Chosen by the body of the people under the assurance that my
Administration would be devoted to the welfare of the whole country, and
not to the support of any particular section or merely local interest, I
this day renew the declarations I have heretofore made and proclaim my
fixed determination to maintain to the extent of my ability the
Government in its original purity and to adopt as the basis of my public
policy those great republican doctrines which constitute the strength of
our national existence.

In reference to the Army and Navy, lately employed with so much
distinction on active service, care shall be taken to insure the highest
condition of efficiency, and in furtherance of that object the military
and naval schools, sustained by the liberality of Congress, shall
receive the special attention of the Executive.

As American freemen we can not but sympathize in all efforts to extend
the blessings of civil and political liberty, but at the same time we
are warned by the admonitions of history and the voice of our own
beloved Washington to abstain from entangling alliances with foreign
nations. In all disputes between conflicting governments it is our
interest not less than our duty to remain strictly neutral, while our
geographical position, the genius of our institutions and our people,
the advancing spirit of civilization, and, above all, the dictates of
religion direct us to the cultivation of peaceful and friendly relations
with all other powers. It is to be hoped that no international question
can now arise which a government confident in its own strength and
resolved to protect its own just rights may not settle by wise
negotiation; and it eminently becomes a government like our own, founded
on the morality and intelligence of its citizens and upheld by their
affections, to exhaust every resort of honorable diplomacy before
appealing to arms. In the conduct of our foreign relations I shall
conform to these views, as I believe them essential to the best
interests and the true honor of the country.

The appointing power vested in the President imposes delicate and
onerous duties. So far as it is possible to be informed, I shall make
honesty, capacity, and fidelity indispensable prerequisites to the
bestowal of office, and the absence of either of these qualities shall
be deemed sufficient cause for removal.

It shall be my study to recommend such constitutional measures to
Congress as may be necessary and proper to secure encouragement and
protection to the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and
manufactures, to improve our rivers and harbors, to provide for the
speedy extinguishment of the public debt, to enforce a strict
accountability on the part of all officers of the Government and the
utmost economy in all public expenditures; but it is for the wisdom of
Congress itself, in which all legislative powers are vested by the
Constitution, to regulate these and other matters of domestic policy. I
shall look with confidence to the enlightened patriotism of that body to
adopt such measures of conciliation as may harmonize conflicting
interests and tend to perpetuate that Union which should be the
paramount object of our hopes and affections. In any action calculated
to promote an object so near the heart of everyone who truly loves his
country I will zealously unite with the coordinate branches of the

In conclusion I congratulate you, my fellow-citizens, upon the high
state of prosperity to which the goodness of Divine Providence has
conducted our common country. Let us invoke a continuance of the same
protecting care which has led us from small beginnings to the eminence
we this day occupy, and let us seek to deserve that continuance by
prudence and moderation in our councils, by well-directed attempts to
assuage the bitterness which too often marks unavoidable differences of
opinion, by the promulgation and practice of just and liberal
principles, and by an enlarged patriotism, which shall acknowledge no
limits but those of our own widespread Republic.

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