10 Memorable Moments in Presidential Inauguration History

Friday, 23 Jan 2009 01:45 PM

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The Inaugural Address is every U.S. president’s opportunity to set the tone for their administration, to chart new courses for the country, and to inspire the American people.

With soaring language and vivid imagery, 44 American presidents stood before the electorate to lay out their plans, their concerns, but mostly their hopes for the future. Many created moments forever burned into our collective memories: Abraham Lincoln’s appeal to “the better angels of our nature;” JFK’s call for us to “ask what you can do for your country;” and Ronald Reagan’s assurance that “our future shall be worthy of our past.”

The longest inauguration speech on record was, ironically enough, given by William Henry Harrison, who spoke for an hour and 40 minutes on a cold, blustery day in 1841 wearing no hat or overcoat. He contracted pneumonia and died one month later, completing the shortest term of any U.S. president.

It is fitting this year to recall that, for decades, inaugurations were held on March 4 in order to give the incoming administration time to prepare. But in the depths of the Great Depression in 1933, that grace period seemed far too long; the 20th Amendment to the Constitution changed the date to Jan. 20 -- the day we now know as Inauguration Day.

As the country ushers in a new leader, Newsmax has compiled 10 of the most memorable moments from presidential inaugurations past. The timeless words of past presidents still have the power to move and inspire.

Newsmax has created a special slideshow, including the 10 most memorable quotes from inaugurations past. To see it, go here.

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