Tags: Presidential History | Woodrow Wilson | Inaugural | Speech | Quotes

Woodrow Wilson Inaugural Address Highlights: 8 Quotes From Speech

Image: Woodrow Wilson Inaugural Address Highlights: 8 Quotes From Speech
Cadets from West Point march in the inaugural parade for President Woodrow Wilson, 1913, left; President Woodrow Wilson, right. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 12:12 PM

Woodrow Wilson delivered his first inaugural address as president on March 4, 1913. He was the governor of New Jersey and former president of Princeton University when he won the 1912 presidential election as a Democrat in a split vote over President William Taft and Theodore Roosevelt of the Progressive Party.

Although Wilson would enter the U.S. into World War I in his second term, his first inaugural address focused on domestic issues. Here are eight quotes from that speech:

1. "Nowhere else in the world have noble men and women exhibited in more striking forms the beauty and the energy of sympathy and helpfulness and counsel in their efforts to rectify wrong, alleviate suffering, and set the weak in the way of strength and hope. We have built up, moreover, a great system of government, which has stood through a long age as in many respects a model for those who seek to set liberty upon foundations that will endure against fortuitous change, against storm and accident."

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2. "We have been proud of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost of lives snuffed out, of energies overtaxed and broken, the fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and women and children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all has fallen pitilessly the years through."

3. "The great Government we loved has too often been made use of for private and selfish purposes, and those who used it had forgotten the people."

4. "Our duty is to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the good, to purify and humanize every process of our common life without weakening or sentimentalizing it."

5. "The firm basis of government is justice, not pity. These are matters of justice. There can be no equality or opportunity, the first essential of justice in the body politic, if men and women and children be not shielded in their lives, their very vitality, from the consequences of great industrial and social processes which they can not alter, control, or singly cope with."

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6. "The first duty of law is to keep sound the society it serves. Sanitary laws, pure food laws, and laws determining conditions of labor which individuals are powerless to determine for themselves are intimate parts of the very business of justice and legal efficiency."

7. "We shall restore, not destroy. We shall deal with our economic system as it is and as it may be modified, not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to write upon; and step by step we shall make it what it should be, in the spirit of those who question their own wisdom and seek counsel and knowledge, not shallow self-satisfaction or the excitement of excursions whither they can not tell. Justice, and only justice, shall always be our motto."

8. "The Nation has been deeply stirred, stirred by a solemn passion, stirred by the knowledge of wrong, of ideals lost, of government too often debauched and made an instrument of evil."

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Woodrow Wilson delivered his first inaugural address as president on March 4, 1913.
Woodrow Wilson, Inaugural, Speech, Quotes
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2015-12-25
Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 12:12 PM
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