Second chance at a speech for the ages

Sunday January 20, 2013

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Before Barack Obama, 16 presidents got a second chance at giving an inaugural address for the ages. Most didn’t make much of it.

George Washington’s remarks the second time around were admirably succinct -- only 135 words -- but hardly qualified as an address.

Thomas Jefferson, who laid out a masterful brief on democracy at his first oath-taking, spent much of his second complaining that the press was telling lies about him.

Ulysses S. Grant also began his second term by grousing that he’d been slandered, although it’s unlikely those who had heard his first inaugural were expecting much better.

Abraham Lincoln is the grand exception.

Also memorable was FDR’s second inaugural during the Great Depression ("I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished") and Woodrow Wilson’s address preparing Americans to enter World War I ("There can be no turning back").

President Obama will deliver his address Monday following a ceremonial swearing in at the Capitol starting at 11:30 a.m.

Obama’s actual swearing-in ceremonytakes place privately today at the White House for a term that, by law, begins at noon. Vice President Biden will be sworn in at the same time.

The private service is traditional when Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday.


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