And so we come to it. The miraculous voluntary change of authority in the world’s most powerful nation.
But before Obama speaks, it’s only right to remember those who have brought us this far. Presenting a brief (eye-straining) history of the United States, taken from all 55 inaugural speeches in chronological order, from George Washington to George W. Grab your coffee and fasten your reading glasses. Hit it, boys:
By the article establishing the executive department … I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me… the people of America were not abandoned by their usual good sense, presence of mind, resolution, or integrity… let us hasten to take the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety… the acquisition of Louisiana had been disapproved by some that the enlargement of our territory would endanger its union, but who can limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate effectively?… the maintenance of peace with all nations whilst so many of them were engaged in bloody and wasteful wars created our unrivaled growth…our resources are amply sufficient to bring the War of 1812 to an honorable issue…we have attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholesome laws well administered… in our whole system, national and state, we have shunned all the defects which destroyed the ancient Republics… a population of four millions has multiplied to twelve; extended from sea to sea; new States have been admitted; treaties of peace, amity, and commerce have been concluded … the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures should be equally favored… preservation of the rights of the States and the integrity of the Union… half a century, teeming with extraordinary events, and elsewhere producing astonishing results, has passed along… it is union that we want, not of a party, but a union of the whole country…the Republic of Texas desires to come into our Union… extend the blessings of civil and political liberty… sectional prejudices find no place in the public deliberations…a difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the point of time when the people of a Territory shall decide the slavery question for themselves… I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery… fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of Civil War may speedily pass away… the country having just emerged from a great rebellion… yet a slave is not yet possessed of the civil rights which citizenship should carry with it; this is wrong… the calamitous effects of the tremendous revolution which has passed over the Southern States… this Constitution now covers an area fifty times greater than that of the original thirteen States and a population twenty times greater … the Indians within our boundaries shall be fairly and honestly treated… maintain a policy of avoiding all interference with European affairs… nothing is more vital than a sound and stable currency… depression in business and distress among the people…the Spanish American war was signally favorable to American arms and in the highest degree honorable to the Government… power invariably means both responsibility and danger… make the burden of taxation as light as possible… we have squandered a great part of what we might have used… we are provincials no longer; World War I has made us citizens of the world… no permanent military alliance… we have enlarged our freedom, we have strengthened our independence… respected among the peoples of the world… the life savings of thousands of families are gone… we must find practical controls over blind economic forces and blindly selfish men…democracy is not dying… we work and fight for total victory in World War II…people look to us as never before… the future shall belong to the free…this is no time of ease or rest…ask what you can do for your country… we are believers in justice and liberty and union…throwing wide the horizons of space…there are those who find everything wrong with America and little that is right… let our recent mistakes bring a resurgent commitment… government is not the solution to our problems… is there either logic or morality if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, we threaten killing tens of millions of theirs?…the exercise of free will unhampered by the state… give this capital back to the people to whom it belongs… government is not the problem, and government is not the solution; we—the American people—we are the solution… when we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side.… and then there came a day of fire…
On Tuesday, the next chapter begins. Barack, you have the podium. Whadya say?