John F. Kennedy - First Inaugural Address

  • John F. Kennedy - First Inaugural Address

  • John F Kennedy

    Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom—

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  • symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change.

  • For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

  • The world is very different now.

  • For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.

  • John F Kennedy

    And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe— the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

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  • We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution.

  • Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans— born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—

  • and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

  • John F Kennedy

    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

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  • This much we pledge— and more.

  • To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends.

  • United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures.

  • Divided, there is little we can do— for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

  • To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny.

  • We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view.

  • But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom— and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

  • To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required —

  • John F Kennedy

    not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right.

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