Second Inaugural Address of President Ronald Reagan [January 21, 1985] - History

Second Inaugural Address of President Ronald Reagan [January 21, 1985] - History

Senator Mathias, Chief Justice Burger, Vice President Bush, Speaker O'Neill, Senator Dole, Reverend Clergy, members of my family and friends, and my fellow citizens:

This day has been made brighter with the presence here of one who, for a time, has been absent—Senator John Stennis. God bless you and welcome back.

There is, however, one who is not with us today: Representative Gillis Long of Louisiana left us last night. I wonder if we could all join in a moment of silent prayer. (Moment of silent prayer.) Amen.

There are no words adequate to express my thanks for the great honor that you have bestowed on me. I will do my utmost to be deserving of your trust.

This is, as Senator Mathias told us, the 50th time that we the people have celebrated this historic occasion. When the first President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he stood less than a single day's journey by horseback from raw, untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of 13 States. Today we are 60 times as many in a union of 50 States. We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help, journeyed to the Moon and safely returned. So much has changed. And yet we stand together as we did two centuries ago. When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of economic stress. Voices were raised saying we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory. But we, the present-day Americans, are not given tolooking backward. In this blessed land, there is always a better tomorrow. Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have accomplished that. But in another sense, our new beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant; its only power that which we the people allow it to have. That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government that properly belonged to States or to local governments or to the people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our earnings and savings and watched the great industrial machine that had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the number of unemployed increase.

By 1980, we knew it was time to renew our faith, to strive with all our strength toward the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with an orderly society. We believed then and now there are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.

And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever before in our history.

We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great Republic, and we'll meet this challenge.

These will be years when Americans have restored their confidence and tradition of progress; when ourvalues of faith, family, work, and neighborhood were restated for a modern age; when our economy was finally freed from government's grip; when we made sincere efforts at meaningful arms reduction, rebuilding our defenses, our economy, and developing new technologies, and helped preserve peace in a troubled world; when Americans courageously supported the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

My fellow citizens, our Nation is poised for greatness. We must do what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history say of us, "These were golden years—when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for her best."

Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause.

Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then years later, when both were retired, and age had softened their anger, they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond was reestablished between those two who had helped create this government of ours. In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of each other, and that day was the Fourth of July.

In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives, Jefferson wrote: "It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless ... we rode through the storm with heart and hand." Well, with heart and hand, let us stand as one today: One people under God determined that our future shall be worthy of our past. As we do, we must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated Federal Establishment. You elected us in 1980 to end this prescription for disaster, and I don't believe you reelected us in 1984 to reverse course. At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment; reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people's lives.

We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair, and bring the rates down for all who work and earn. We must think anew and move with a new boldness, so every American who seeks work can find work; so the least among us shall have an equal chance to achieve the greatest things—to be heroes who heal our sick, feedthe hungry, protect peace among nations, and leave this world a better place.

The time has come for a new American emancipation—a great national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country. My friends, together we can do this, and do it we must, so help me God.

From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth, a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger America—an America that will lead the technological revolution, and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage, and love. A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes, will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. But an almost unbroken 50 years of deficit spending has finally brought us to a time of reckoning. We have come to a turning point, a moment for hard decisions. I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can then begin reducing the national debt.

I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing government program spending for the next year. Beyond that, we must take further steps to permanently control Government's power to tax and spend. We must act now to protect future generations from Government's desire to spend its citizens' money and tax them into servitude when the bills come due. Let us make it unconstitutional for the Federal Government to spend more than the Federal Government takes in.

We have already started returning to the people and to State and local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now, there is a place for the Federal Government in matters of social compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged. And here a growing economy and support from family and community offer our best chance for a society where compassion is a way of life, where the old and infirm are cared for, the young and, yes, the unborn protected, and the unfortunate looked after and made self-sufficient.

And there is another area where the Federal Government can play a part. As an older American, I remember a time when people of different race, creed, or ethnic origin in our land found hatred and prejudice installed in social custom and, yes, in law. There is no story more heartening in our history than the progress that we have made toward the "brotherhood of man" that God intended for us. Let us resolve there will be no turning back or hesitation on the road to an America rich in dignity and abundant with opportunity for all our citizens.

Let us resolve that we the people will build an American opportunity society in which all of us—white and black, rich and poor, young and old—will go forward together arm in arm. Again, let us remember that though our heritage is one of blood lines from every corner of the Earth, we are all Americans pledged to carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth.

I have spoken of our domestic goals and the limitations which we should put on our National Government. Now let me turn to a task which is the primary responsibility of National Government—the safety and security of our people. Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth. Yet history has shown that peace will not come, nor will our freedom be preserved, by good will alone. There are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of awesome offensive weapons.

We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to remain free, secure, and at peace. There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.

Now, for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat of mutual assured destruction; if either resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our onlyrecourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of theirs?

I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn't militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the world of the threat of nuclear destruction. We strive for peace and security, heartened by the changes all around us. Since the turn of the century, the number of democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere. Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit. People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress.

America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally.

And it is the world's only hope, to conquer poverty and preserve peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace.

So we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and powerful in its purpose. With our alliances strengthened, with our economy leading the world to a new age of economic expansion, we look forward to a world rich in possibilities. And all this because we have worked and acted together, not as members of political parties, but as Americans.

My friends, we live in a world that is lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends time.

History is a ribbon, always unfurling; history is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us. We stand together again at the steps of this symbol of our democracy—or we would have been standing at the steps if it hadn't gotten so cold. Now we are standing inside this symbol of our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.

It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage; that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound—sound in unity, affection, and love—one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world. God bless you and may God bless America.


File:Ronald Reagan Second Inaugural Address January 21 1985.ogv

This file was taken from the website of the Scripps Library Multimedia Archive of the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. The Miller Center multimedia files are taken from the presidential libraries of the presidents they depict. The files are therefore within the public domain, both as works of US Government employees conducted during their work, and as a part of the National Archive.

Video files from the Miller Center are watermarked by the center. In many cases a higher quality version of video, or one without the watermark, will be available through the respective presidential libraries. Users with screencasting software are encouraged to upload new versions of the videos if comparable or greater audio and visual quality can be achieved. If the speech is listed as a Featured Sound, please do not upload the new version over the old one, instead upload a new version and inform Featured Sounds at Wikipedia talk:Featured sound candidates. If it's not a featured sound, feel free to upload the new version over the Miller Center version.


Second Inaugural Address of President Ronald Reagan [January 21, 1985] - History

delivered 21 January 1985, Rotunda of the Capitol, Washington D.C.

[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Senator Mathias, Chief Justice Burger, Vice President Bush, Speaker O'Neill, Senator Dole, reverend clergy, and members of my family and friends, and my fellow citizens:

This day has been made brighter with the presence here of one who, for a time, has been absent. Senator John Stennis, God bless you and welcome back.

There is, however, one who is not with us today. Representative Gillis Long of Louisiana left us last night. And I wonder if we could all join in a moment of silent prayer.

There are no words to -- adequate to express my thanks for the great honor that you've bestowed on me. I'll do my utmost to be deserving of your trust. This is, as Senator Mathias told us, the 50th time that we, the people, have celebrated this historic occasion. When the first President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he stood less than a single day's journey by horseback from raw, untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of 13 states. Today, we are 60 times as many in a union of 50 states. We've lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help, journeyed to the Moon and safely returned. So much has changed, and yet we stand together as we did two centuries ago.

When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of economic stress. Voices were raised saying that we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory. But we, the present-day Americans, are not given to looking backward. In this blessed land, there is always a better tomorrow. Four years ago, I spoke to you of a New Beginning, and we have accomplished that. But in another sense, our New Beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant its only power that which we the people allow it to have.

That system has never failed us, but for a time we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government that properly belonged to states or to local governments or to the people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our earnings and savings, and watched the great industrial machine that had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the number of unemployed increase.

By 1980 we knew it was time to renew our faith, to strive with all our strength toward the ultimate in individual freedom, consistent with an orderly society.

We believed then and now: There are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams. And we were right -- and we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever before in our history.

We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great Republic.

And, if we meet this challenge, these will be years when Americans have restored their confidence and tradition of progress when our values of faith, family, work, and neighborhood were restated for a modern age when our economy was finally freed from government's grip when we made sincere efforts at meaningful arms reductions and by rebuilding our defenses, our economy, and developing new technologies, helped preserve peace in a troubled world when America courageously supported the struggle for individual liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

My fellow citizens, our nation is poised for greatness. We must do what we know is right, and do it with all our might. Let history say of us: "These were golden years -- when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, and America reached for her best."

Our two-party system has solved us -- and served us, I should say, well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause.

Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become, in the years then in government, bitter political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then, years later, when both were retired and age had softened their anger, they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond was reestablished between those two who had helped create this government of ours.

In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of each other, and that day was the Fourth of July.

In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives, Jefferson wrote:

It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless, we rode through the storm with heart and hand.'

Well with heart and hand let us stand as one today -- one people under God, determined that our future shall be worthy of our past. As we do, we must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated federal establishment. You elected us in 1980 to end this prescription for disaster, and I don't believe you re-elected us in 1984 to reverse course.

At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people's lives. We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair and bring the rates down for all who work and earn. We must think anew and move with a new boldness, so every American who seeks work can find work, so the least among us shall have an equal chance to achieve the greatest things -- to be heroes who heal our sick, feed the hungry, protect peace among nations, and leave this world a better place.

The time has come for a new American emancipation -- a great national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country. My friends, together we can do this, and do it we must, so help me God.

From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth, a more productive, fulfilled, and united people, and a stronger America -- an America that will lead the technological revolution and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage, and love.

A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes, will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. But an almost unbroken 50 years of deficit spending has finally brought us to a time of reckoning. We've come to a turning point, a moment for hard decisions. I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can then begin reducing the national debt.

I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing government program spending for the next year. Beyond this, we must take further steps to permanently control government's power to tax and spend. We must act now to protect future generations from government's desire to spend its citizens' money and tax them into servitude when the bills come due.

Let us make it unconstitutional for the federal government to spend more than the federal government takes in.

We have already started returning to the people and to state and local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now, there is a place for the federal government in matters of social compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged. And here, a growing economy and support from family and community offer our best chance for a society where compassion is a way of life, where the old and infirm are cared for, the young and, yes, the unborn protected, and the unfortunate looked after and made self-sufficient.

Now, there is another area where the federal government can play a part. As an older American, I remember a time when people of different race, creed, or ethnic origin in our land found hatred and prejudice installed in social custom and, yes, in law. There's no story more heartening in our history than the progress that we've made toward the brotherhood of man that God intended for us. Let us resolve there will be no turning back or hesitation on the road to an America rich in dignity and abundant with opportunity for all our citizens.

Let us resolve that we, the people, will build an American opportunity society in which all of us -- white and black, rich and poor, young and old -- will go forward together, arm in arm. Again, let us remember that though our heritage is one of blood lines from every corner of the Earth, we are all Americans, pledged to carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth.

I've spoken of our domestic goals and the limitations we should put on our national government. Now let me turn to a task that is the primary responsibility of national government -- the safety and security of our people.

Today we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth. Yet history has shown that peace does not come, nor will our freedom be preserved, by good will alone. There are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of awesome offensive weapons.

We've made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to remain free, secure, and at peace. There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we're trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We're not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons we seek, instead, to reduce their number.

We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.

Now for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat of mutual assured destruction if either resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of theirs?

I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that will destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn't kill people it would destroy weapons. It wouldn't militarize space it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the world of the threat of nuclear destruction. We strive for peace and security, heartened by the changes all around us. Since the turn of the century, the number of democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on the march, and nowhere more so than in our own hemisphere. Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit. People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress.

America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally, and it is the world's only hope to conquer poverty and preserve peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace.

So, we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and powerful in its purpose. With our alliances strengthened, with our economy leading the world to a new age of economic expansion, we look to a future rich in possibilities. And all of this is because we worked and acted together, not as members of political parties but as Americans.

My friends, we -- we live in a world that's lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures and transcends time.

History is a ribbon, always unfurling. History is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us. We stand again at the steps of this symbol of our democracy -- well, we would have been standing at the steps if it hadn't gotten so cold. Now we're standing inside this symbol of our democracy, and we see and hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge a lonely President paces the darkened halls and powers -- ponders his struggle to preserve the Union the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.

It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage that's our song. We sing it still.

For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old.

We raise our voices to the God who is the author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound in unity, affection, and love -- one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and a hopeful world.


Reagan delivers his second inaugural address, Jan. 21, 1985

On this day in 1985, Ronald Reagan, the nation’s 40th president, delivered his inaugural address, the 50th such speech, in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Chief Justice Warren Burger had administered the oath of office to Reagan the day before, a Sunday, in a brief, private — although televised — ceremony held in the North Entrance Hall of the White House, marking the actual start of his second term.

In seeking to be reelected in 1984, Reagan had carried 49 of 50 states. His Democratic opponent, former Vice President Walter Mondale, managed to outscore Reagan only in the District of Columbia, which has never given its electoral votes to a Republican candidate, and in his home state of Minnesota, which he carried by 3,761 votes.

On those occasions when Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday, the chief justice has administered the oath to the president privately, either on the prescribed day or on the preceding Saturday. The public ceremony, including the traditional parade up Pennsylvania Avenue, has then been rescheduled for the ensuing Monday.

This was only the second time the Sunday exception required such a double ceremony. It had also occurred on Jan. 21, 1957, when Chief Justice Earl Warren swore in President Dwight Eisenhower in a private setting in the White House East Room and again on the following day on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol.

Handicapping Trump’s first 100 days

A frigid Arctic air mass that had struck the mid-Atlantic states prompted officials to move Reagan’s ceremonial swearing in and ensuing address to the Rotunda — the first and only time that venue has been chosen — and to cancel the parade. Burger swore in Reagan on a Bible that had been placed on a marble-topped table built for the second inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln. The table was constructed with an iron baluster cast for the Capitol dome in the 1860s.

"My fellow citizens, our nation is poised for greatness,” Reagan said during his 2,576-word inaugural address, adding: “We must do what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history say of us, 'These were golden years—when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for her best.'”

The president went on to state that “our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause.”

As he neared the end of his speech, he cited what he called “the American sound.” That sound, Reagan said, “is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair.”

SOURCE: U.S. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

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File:Ronald Reagan Second Inaugural Address January 21 1985.ogv

This file was taken from the website of the Scripps Library Multimedia Archive of the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. The Miller Center multimedia files are taken from the presidential libraries of the presidents they depict. The files are therefore within the public domain, both as works of US Government employees conducted during their work, and as a part of the National Archive.

Video files from the Miller Center are watermarked by the center. In many cases a higher quality version of video, or one without the watermark, will be available through the respective presidential libraries. Users with screencasting software are encouraged to upload new versions of the videos if comparable or greater audio and visual quality can be achieved. If the speech is listed as a Featured Sound, please do not upload the new version over the old one, instead upload a new version and inform Featured Sounds at Wikipedia talk:Featured sound candidates. If it's not a featured sound, feel free to upload the new version over the Miller Center version.

https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/ PDM Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0 false false


Ronald Reagan’s Second Inaugural Address, 1985

Ronald Reagan’s Second Inaugural Address, 1985
Balance of Power, Defense, and Security
In reading the excerpt from Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural address, the three concepts that I found to be of meaning to me are the Balance of Power, Defense in terms of military strength, and Security for the means of protecting this nation at a time when super-power uncertainty between the United States and the Soviet Union was unbalanced. In 1985, the United States and the Soviet Union relations were coming to a new balance of power when the Soviet Union collapsed into independent nation’s beginning early in 1985. After years of Soviet military build-up at the expense of domestic development economic growth was at a standstill. The United States was flourishing from an economic boast in a growth and strengthening of military power to bring the United States into a new leap in technological advancement over the Soviet’s. In Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural speech, he states in paragraph 30 that “One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of awesome offensive weapons.” In this statement, Ronald Reagan knew that he had to direct the United States’ Military in a direction that would equal or surpass the strength of the Soviet military and any future threat to this nation that would come. The balance of power here between both super powers of the time was to build the military might as much as possible all in only to avoid the use of the last resort of a weapon that would be to come to a nuclear war. This would lead to Ronald Reagan’s vision of a Defensive might for the United States to broaden its military strength, and technology advancement over the Soviet Union. In Reagan’s inaugural speech, he makes this statement in paragraph 31, “We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others, that.


Second Inaugural Address

Senator Mathias, Chief Justice Burger, Vice President Bush, Speaker O'Neill, Senator Dole, Reverend Clergy, members of my family and friends, and my fellow citizens:

This day has been made brighter with the presence here of one who, for a time, has been absent - Senator John Stennis.

God bless you and welcome back.

There is, however, one who is not with us today: Representative Gillis Long of Louisiana left us last night. I wonder if we could all join in a moment of silent prayer. (Moment of silent prayer.) Amen.

There are no words adequate to express my thanks for the great honor that you have bestowed on me. I will do my utmost to be deserving of your trust.

This is, as Senator Mathias told us, the 50th time that we the people have celebrated this historic occasion. When the first President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he stood less than a single day's journey by horseback from raw, untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of 13 States. Today we are 60 times as many in a union of 50 States. We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help, journeyed to the Moon and safely returned. So much has changed. And yet we stand together as we did two centuries ago.

When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of economic stress. Voices were raised saying we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory. But we, the present-day Americans, are not given to looking backward. In this blessed land, there is always a better tomorrow.

Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have accomplished that. But in another sense, our new beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant its only power that which we the people allow it to have.

That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government that properly belonged to States or to local governments or to the people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our earnings and savings and watched the great industrial machine that had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the number of unemployed increase.

By 1980, we knew it was time to renew our faith, to strive with all our strength toward the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with an orderly society.

We believed then and now there are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.

And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever before in our history.

We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great Republic, and we'll meet this challenge.

These will be years when Americans have restored their confidence and tradition of progress when our values of faith, family, work, and neighborhood were restated for a modern age when our economy was finally freed from government's grip when we made sincere efforts at meaningful arms reduction, rebuilding our defenses, our economy, and developing new technologies, and helped preserve peace in a troubled world when Americans courageously supported the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

My fellow citizens, our Nation is poised for greatness. We must do what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history say of us, "These were golden years - when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for her best."

Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause.

Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then years later, when both were retired, and age had softened their anger, they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond was reestablished between those two who had helped create this government of ours.

In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of each other, and that day was the Fourth of July.

In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives, Jefferson wrote: "It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless . we rode through the storm with heart and hand."

Well, with heart and hand, let us stand as one today: One people under God determined that our future shall be worthy of our past. As we do, we must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated Federal Establishment. You elected us in 1980 to end this prescription for disaster, and I don't believe you reelected us in 1984 to reverse course.

At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people's lives.

We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair, and bring the rates down for all who work and earn. We must think anew and move with a new boldness, so every American who seeks work can find work so the least among us shall have an equal chance to achieve the greatest things - to be heroes who heal our sick, feed the hungry, protect peace among nations, and leave this world a better place.

The time has come for a new American emancipation - a great national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country. My friends, together we can do this, and do it we must, so help me God.

From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth, a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger America - an America that will lead the technological revolution, and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage, and love.

A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes, will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. But an almost unbroken 50 years of deficit spending has finally brought us to a time of reckoning. We have come to a turning point, a moment for hard decisions. I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can then begin reducing the national debt.

I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing government program spending for the next year. Beyond that, we must take further steps to permanently control Government's power to tax and spend. We must act now to protect future generations from Government's desire to spend its citizens' money and tax them into servitude when the bills come due. Let us make it unconstitutional for the Federal Government to spend more than the Federal Government takes in.

We have already started returning to the people and to State and local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now, there is a place for the Federal Government in matters of social compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged. And here a growing economy and support from family and community offer our best chance for a society where compassion is a way of life, where the old and infirm are cared for, the young and, yes, the unborn protected, and the unfortunate looked after and made self-sufficient.

And there is another area where the Federal Government can play a part. As an older American, I remember a time when people of different race, creed, or ethnic origin in our land found hatred and prejudice installed in social custom and, yes, in law. There is no story more heartening in our history than the progress that we have made toward the "brotherhood of man" that God intended for us. Let us resolve there will be no turning back or hesitation on the road to an America rich in dignity and abundant with opportunity for all our citizens.

Let us resolve that we the people will build an American opportunity society in which all of us - white and black, rich and poor, young and old - will go forward together arm in arm. Again, let us remember that though our heritage is one of blood lines from every corner of the Earth, we are all Americans pledged to carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth.

I have spoken of our domestic goals and the limitations which we should put on our National Government. Now let me turn to a task which is the primary responsibility of National Government - the safety and security of our people.

Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth. Yet history has shown that peace will not come, nor will our freedom be preserved, by good will alone. There are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of awesome offensive weapons.

We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to remain free, secure, and at peace.

There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.

Now, for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat of mutual assured destruction if either resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of theirs?

I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn't militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the world of the threat of nuclear destruction.

We strive for peace and security, heartened by the changes all around us. Since the turn of the century, the number of democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere. Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit. People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress.

America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally.

And it is the world's only hope, to conquer poverty and preserve peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace.

So we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and powerful in its purpose. With our alliances strengthened, with our economy leading the world to a new age of economic expansion, we look forward to a world rich in possibilities. And all this because we have worked and acted together, not as members of political parties, but as Americans.

My friends, we live in a world that is lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends time.

History is a ribbon, always unfurling history is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us. We stand together again at the steps of this symbol of our democracy - or we would have been standing at the steps if it hadn't gotten so cold. Now we are standing inside this symbol of our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.

It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound - sound in unity, affection, and love - one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.


TRANSCRIPT: President Reagan's Second Inaugural

Senator Mathias, Chief Justice Burger, Vice President Bush, Speaker O'Neill, Senator Dole, Reverend Clergy, members of my family and friends, and my fellow citizens:

This day has been made brighter with the presence here of one who, for a time, has been absent--Senator John Stennis.

God bless you and welcome back.

There is, however, one who is not with us today: Representative Gillis Long of Louisiana left us last night. I wonder if we could all join in a moment of silent prayer. (Moment of silent prayer.) Amen.

There are no words adequate to express my thanks for the great honor that you have bestowed on me. I will do my utmost to be deserving of your trust.

This is, as Senator Mathias told us, the 50th time that we the people have celebrated this historic occasion. When the first President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he stood less than a single day's journey by horseback from raw, untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of 13 States. Today we are 60 times as many in a union of 50 States. We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help, journeyed to the Moon and safely returned. So much has changed. And yet we stand together as we did two centuries ago.

When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of economic stress. Voices were raised saying we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory. But we, the present-day Americans, are not given to looking backward. In this blessed land, there is always a better tomorrow.

Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have accomplished that. But in another sense, our new beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant its only power that which we the people allow it to have.

That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government that properly belonged to States or to local governments or to the people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our earnings and savings and watched the great industrial machine that had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the number of unemployed increase.

By 1980, we knew it was time to renew our faith, to strive with all our strength toward the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with an orderly society.

We believed then and now there are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.

And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever before in our history.

We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great Republic, and we'll meet this challenge.

These will be years when Americans have restored their confidence and tradition of progress when our values of faith, family, work, and neighborhood were restated for a modern age when our economy was finally freed from government's grip when we made sincere efforts at meaningful arms reduction, rebuilding our defenses, our economy, and developing new technologies, and helped preserve peace in a troubled world when Americans courageously supported the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

My fellow citizens, our Nation is poised for greatness. We must do what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history say of us, "These were golden years--when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for her best."

Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause.

Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then years later, when both were retired, and age had softened their anger, they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond was reestablished between those two who had helped create this government of ours.

In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of each other, and that day was the Fourth of July.

In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives, Jefferson wrote: "It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless . we rode through the storm with heart and hand."

Well, with heart and hand, let us stand as one today: One people under God determined that our future shall be worthy of our past. As we do, we must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated Federal Establishment. You elected us in 1980 to end this prescription for disaster, and I don't believe you reelected us in 1984 to reverse course.

At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people's lives.

We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair, and bring the rates down for all who work and earn. We must think anew and move with a new boldness, so every American who seeks work can find work so the least among us shall have an equal chance to achieve the greatest things--to be heroes who heal our sick, feed the hungry, protect peace among nations, and leave this world a better place.

The time has come for a new American emancipation--a great national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country. My friends, together we can do this, and do it we must, so help me God.-- From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth, a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger America--an America that will lead the technological revolution, and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage, and love.

A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes, will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. But an almost unbroken 50 years of deficit spending has finally brought us to a time of reckoning. We have come to a turning point, a moment for hard decisions. I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can then begin reducing the national debt.

I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing government program spending for the next year. Beyond that, we must take further steps to permanently control Government's power to tax and spend. We must act now to protect future generations from Government's desire to spend its citizens' money and tax them into servitude when the bills come due. Let us make it unconstitutional for the Federal Government to spend more than the Federal Government takes in.

We have already started returning to the people and to State and local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now, there is a place for the Federal Government in matters of social compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged. And here a growing economy and support from family and community offer our best chance for a society where compassion is a way of life, where the old and infirm are cared for, the young and, yes, the unborn protected, and the unfortunate looked after and made self

And there is another area where the Federal Government can play a part. As an older American, I remember a time when people of different race, creed, or ethnic origin in our land found hatred and prejudice installed in social custom and, yes, in law. There is no story more heartening in our history than the progress that we have made toward the "brotherhood of man" that God intended for us. Let us resolve there will be no turning back or hesitation on the road to an America rich in dignity and abundant with opportunity for all our citizens.

Let us resolve that we the people will build an American opportunity society in which all of us--white and black, rich and poor, young and old--will go forward together arm in arm. Again, let us remember that though our heritage is one of blood lines from every corner of the Earth, we are all Americans pledged to carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth.

I have spoken of our domestic goals and the limitations which we should put on our National Government. Now let me turn to a task which is the primary responsibility of National Government-the safety and security of our people.

Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth. Yet history has shown that peace will not come, nor will our freedom be preserved, by good will alone. There are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of awesome offensive weapons.

We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to remain free, secure, and at peace.

There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.

Now, for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat of mutual assured destruction if either resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of theirs?

I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn't militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the world of the threat of nuclear destruction.

We strive for peace and security, heartened by the changes all around us. Since the turn of the century, the number of democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere. Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit. People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress.

America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally.

And it is the world's only hope, to conquer poverty and preserve peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace.

So we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and powerful in its purpose. With our alliances strengthened, with our economy leading the world to a new age of economic expansion, we look forward to a world rich in possibilities. And all this because we have worked and acted together, not as members of political parties, but as Americans.

My friends, we live in a world that is lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends time.

History is a ribbon, always unfurling history is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us. We stand together again at the steps of this symbol of our democracy--or we would have been standing at the steps if it hadn't gotten so cold. Now we are standing inside this symbol of our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.

It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound--sound in unity, affection, and love--one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.


President Reagan's second inaugural address repeated the theme of.

WASHINGTON -- President Reagan's second inaugural address repeated the theme of American renewal from his speech four years ago, when he blustered against a bloated bureaucracy and, in the wake of the American hostages in Iran, said he would project U.S. power in world affairs.

But this time around, Reagan's sought a place in the history books - not with ringing rhetoric but with the accomplishments of his administration.

'Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have accomplished that,' he said. 'Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed today than ever in our history.'

Then, looking ahead, he implored, 'Let history say of us, these were the golden years -- when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached her best,' he said. 'In this blessed land, there is always a better tomorrow.'

He urged Americans to 'stand as one . one people under God determined that our future shall be worthy of our past.'

'So much is changing and will change,' he said, 'but so much endures, and transcends time.'

There was little of the inspired oratory that has marked other second term inaugurals, such as Lincoln's 'with malice toward none' or Franklin Roosevelt's 'one-third of a nation ill housed . ill clothed . ill fed.'

Instead, Reagan echoed his own campaign speeches in substance and John F. Kennedy in style, turning sentences against themselves for dramatic effect: 'Our bedrock principles have never failed us. But, for a time, we failed those principles.' And, 'Rather than limit our challenge to growth, let us challenge the limits of growth.'

The imagery of Reagan's 1981 speech was one of dreaming 'heroic dreams' with a pledge to 'begin an era of national renewal.'

He repeated his determination to make these 'years of American renewal' in a nation 'poised for greatness' marching to the 'American sound: hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair.'

As he read the speech, Reagan dropped the 'era of national renewal' line, in an effort to tighten the speech, aides said, and went on to talk of restored confidence and restated values.

Four years ago, the new president took a tough stance toward domestic critics and foreign adversaries, foreshadowing his drastic domestic spending cuts by saying, 'We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow,' and warning the Soviets and others, 'When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act.'

This time, Reagan addressed two specific issues -- a promise to freeze the fiscal 1986 budget at current levels and a defense of his much-maligned program to develop space weapons to knock down incoming Soviet missiles.

In 1981, Reagan said he would 'curb the size and influence of the federal establishment.' On Monday, he boasted, 'We have already started returning to the people and to state and local governments responsibilties better handled by them.'


Second Inaugural Address of President Ronald Reagan [January 21, 1985] - History

“The American sound . . . is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair.”

One-term presidents rarely are considered our most successful presidents. Getting re-elected is not in and of itself an indicator of a successful second term. Of course, the more successful the first term, the more likely the success of a second.

During his second term Reagan built on the real economic accomplishment of his first. This success enabled him to ensure our freedoms and secure our defense. This freedom, then, spread around the world. Indeed, America became again the last best hope of earth.

On Monday, January 21, 1985 publicly took the oath and re-enthroned the message he had been teaching for decades. This time, it was not just a clarion call to do something good, tried and true. This time he had put these principles into action and lo and behold. They worked. No matter how this strong man could have done better – no matter how America could have done better – the economy and individual and our collective liberty flourished. He knew it would work, and it did. That any doubted in 1980, was unfortunate. No one could doubt in 1985. A new light had indeed dawned in America and it was lighting the whole world.

Reagan began by contrasting our modern world with that of George Washington’s, where no one was more than a “single day’s journey by horseback from raw, untamed wilderness.” Now, America has tamed the wilderness, and in turn, “We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help.” This is counter to what most great nations have done. Others have sought conquest. We sought to free people and nations.

Recall that Reagan took his first oath “in a time of economic stress.” And when “voices were raised saying we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory.” However, he said, “Our new beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant its only power that which we, the people, allow it to have.”

The problem with the previous economic malaise was not that our “system [had] never failed us.” No, he said, “we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give.” We asked the government – and still to a great degree, still asking it – to do things it should not do. Even if it was equipped to provide it. Some things are better left to individuals. To us.

Reagan had preached the value of “dreams.” He was confident that, “There are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.” Reagan not only had faith in our dreams, he constantly challenged us to “dream,” to do, to be.

To a world still largely under the thumb of Soviet Communism, Reagan led as, “Americans courageously supported the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.”

His first term accomplishments, he thought, might provide enough concrete for the future, such that our ancestors would declare our times were the” golden years–when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for her best.”

Poignantly, Reagan reminded us of “two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a Virginia planter named Jefferson.” These two were “members of that remarkable group who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start the world over again.” Telling this story provided Reagan the opportunity to suggest that “political rivals” then and now need not stay enemies. Though they had become bitter enemies, in their later years, “when both were retired, and age had softened their anger, they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond was reestablished between those two who had helped create this government of ours.”

Most people know that these two Founders both died on the same day, July 4, exactly fifty years after the Declaration. Before he died Jefferson wrote to Adams, “It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless … we rode through the storm with heart and hand.”

Extending appropriate caution yet again, Reagan succinctly described our continuing and future dilemma, the challenge which we must meet every generation: “We must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated federal establishment.”

Reagan knew that as “we [began] to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment” that we would “reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people’s lives.”

Not only did Reagan work to “tear down economic barriers” more importantly, he sought to “liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country” He had faith that from “new freedom [would] spring new opportunities for growth, a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger America–an America that will lead the technological revolution, and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage, and love.” And so it has. And do we have.

Peering into the future, he declared that “more citizens working and paying taxes, will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits.” Then, again, one of his timeless challenges, “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”

So his critics could not assume he was against any “place for the federal government in matters of social compassion” he focused on our “fundamental goals” which “must be to reduce dependency and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged.”

It is one thing to speak to the ideal that we are the “last best hope of man on earth” it was Reagan’s legacy that he did something about it. Countering a decade’s long theory, Reagan addressed the accepted convention “of mutual assured destruction.” Pointedly he asked, “Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of theirs?”

He went further, describing once again his funding of research into “a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn’t kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn’t militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete.”

So, Reagan’s real first-term accomplishments provided such a hope that “the number of democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere.”

Reagan always knew that “Freedom [was] one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit.” Further, that, “People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress. America must remain freedom’s staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally. “

The Reagan Revolution sparked a movement “in a world that is [now] lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends time.” This is the real impact of his revolution.

Reagan concluded speaking of the symbols of our democracy and our future. “Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.”

As much as for his economic accomplishments, and the strength of his stance on defense of our freedoms, Reagan was also known for the power of his worlds. What he heard was beautiful. “It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That’s our heritage that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound–sound in unity, affection, and love–one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.”

When we hear this same song, we fulfill our destiny. The destiny Reagan so often described for us, the one too often we forget. His revolution lives as long as we live out our big American dreams. Too many fail to dream. But dream we must.

Click here to see the full transcript of this important speech.

Please see below for key excerpts.

When the first President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he stood less than a single day’s journey by horseback from raw, untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of 13 states. . . . We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help . . . .

When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of economic stress. Voices were raised saying we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory. . . . Our new beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant its only power that which we, the people, allow it to have.

THAT SYSTEM NEVER FAILED US

That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give. We yielded authority to the national government that properly belonged to states or to local governments or to the people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our earnings and savings and watched the great industrial machine that had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the number of unemployed increase. . . .

There are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams. And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever before in our history. . . .

Americans courageously supported the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

My fellow citizens, our nation is poised for greatness. We must do what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history say of us, “These were golden years–when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for her best.” . . .

Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then, years later, when both were retired, and age had softened their anger, they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond was reestablished between those two who had helped create this government of ours.

In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of each other, and that day was the Fourth of July.

In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives, Jefferson wrote: “It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless … we rode through the storm with heart and hand.”

MUST NOT REPEAT WELL-INTENTIONED ERRORS OF THE PAST

We must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated federal establishment. . . .

FREEDOM AND INCENTIVES UNLEASH DRIVE AND GENIUS

At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people’s lives.

We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair, and bring the rates down for all who work and earn. . . .

TEAR DOWN ECONOMIC BARRIERS

The time has come for a new American emancipation–a great national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country. . . . From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth, a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger America–an America that will lead the technological revolution, and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage, and love.

DEFICIT AND DEBT: IF NOT US, WHO? IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes, will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. . . . If not us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can then begin reducing the national debt.

I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing government program spending for the next year. Beyond that, we must take further steps to permanently control government’s power to tax and spend. . . .

A PLACE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: BUT A GROWING ECONOMY IS BEST CHANCE FOR A SOCIETY OF COMPASSION

We have already started returning to the people and to state and local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now, there is a place for the federal government in matters of social compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged. . . .

Let us resolve that we, the people, will build an American opportunity society in which all of us–white and black, rich and poor, young and old–will go forward together arm in arm. . . . We are all Americans pledged to carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth. . . .

Now let me turn to a task which is the primary responsibility of national government — the safety and security of our people. . . . There are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of awesome offensive weapons.

We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to remain free, secure, and at peace.

There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. . . .

NEITHER LOGICAL NOR MORAL

Now, for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat of mutual assured destruction if either resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of theirs?

RESEARCH ON A SECURITY SHIELD

I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn’t kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn’t militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. . . .

HUMAN FREEDOM IS ON MARCH

Since the turn of the century, the number of democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere. Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit. People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress. America must remain freedom’s staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally. . . .

EVERY VICTORY FOR HUMAN FREEDOM WILL BE A VICTORY FOR WORLD PEACE

Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace. So we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and powerful in its purpose. . . .

My friends, we live in a world that is lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends time.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR, CIVIL WAR, ALAMO, PIONEERS

History is a ribbon, always unfurling history is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us. We stand together again at the steps of this symbol of our democracy–or we would have been standing at the steps if it hadn’t gotten so cold. Now we are standing inside this symbol of our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.

THE AMERICAN SOUND, OUR HERITAGE, OUR SONG: THE MOST TENDER MUSIC – CALLED UPON NOW TO PASS THAT DREAM ON TO A WAITING AND HOPEFUL WORLD

It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That’s our heritage that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound–sound in unity, affection, and love–one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world. . . .


Watch the video: Second Inaugural Address January 21, 1985