Audio Of Inaugural Address
President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President
Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend
Clergy, fellow citizens:
observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of
freedom--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 forbears prescribed
nearly a century and three-quarters ago.
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. 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.
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.
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 to assure the survival
and the success of liberty.
much we pledge--and more.
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.
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.
those people in the huts and villages of half 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--not
because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek
their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot
help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are
our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special
pledge--to convert our good words into good deeds--in a new
alliance for progress--to assist free men and free governments
in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution
of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all
our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose
aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let
every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain
the master of its own house.
that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations,
our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war
have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge
of support--to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for
invective--to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak--and
to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
to those nations who would make themselves our adversary,
we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin
anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction
unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental
dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms
are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt
that they will never be employed.
neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take
comfort from our present course--both sides overburdened by
the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady
spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain
balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.
let us begin anew--remembering on both sides that civility
is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject
to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never
fear to negotiate.
both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring
those problems which divide us.
both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise
proposals for the inspection and control of arms--and bring
the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute
control of all nations.
both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of
its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the
deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage
the arts and commerce.
both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command
of Isaiah--to "undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let
the oppressed go free."
if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of
suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor,
not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where
the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.
this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor
will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in
the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime
on this planet. But let us begin.
your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest
the final success or failure of our course. Since this country
was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned
to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young
Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms,
though arms we need--not as a call to battle, though embattled
we are-- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight
struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient
in tribulation"--a struggle against the common enemies
of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.
we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance,
North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful
life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
the long history of the world, only a few generations have
been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of
maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I
welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange
places with any other people or any other generation. The
energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor
will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow
from that fire can truly light the world.
so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do
for you--ask what you can do for your country.
fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do
for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world,
ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice
which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure
reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us
go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and
His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly
be our own.