Here is the video clip of Nixon's First Inaugural Address.
Scroll down for the transcript.
It follows the full text transcript of
Richard Nixon's First Inaugural Address, delivered
on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C. -
January 20, 1969.
Americans and my fellow citizens of the world
I ask you to share
with me today the majesty of this moment. In the
orderly transfer of power, we celebrate the
unity that keeps us free.
Each moment in history is a fleeting time,
precious and unique. But some stand out as
moments of beginning, in which courses are set
that shape decades or centuries.
This can be such a moment.
Forces now are converging that make possible,
for the first time, the hope that many of man's
deepest aspirations can at last be realized. The
spiraling pace of change allows us to
contemplate, within our own lifetime, advances
that once would have taken centuries.
In throwing wide the horizons of space, we have
discovered new horizons on earth.
For the first time, because the people of the
world want peace, and the leaders of the world
are afraid of war, the times are on the side of
Eight years from now America will celebrate its
200th anniversary as a nation. Within the
lifetime of most people now living, mankind will
celebrate that great new year which comes only
once in a thousand years--the beginning of the
What kind of nation we will be, what kind of
world we will live in, whether we shape the
future in the image of our hopes, is ours to
determine by our actions and our choices.
The greatest honor history can bestow is the
title of peacemaker. This honor now beckons
America--the chance to help lead the world at
last out of the valley of turmoil, and onto that
high ground of peace that man has dreamed of
since the dawn of civilization.
If we succeed, generations to come will say of
us now living that we mastered our moment, that
we helped make the world safe for mankind.
This is our summons to greatness.
I believe the American people are ready to
answer this call.
The second third of this century has been a time
of proud achievement. We have made enormous
strides in science and industry and agriculture.
We have shared our wealth more broadly than
ever. We have learned at last to manage a modern
economy to assure its continued growth.
We have given freedom new reach, and we have
begun to make its promise real for black as well
as for white.
We see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of
today. I know America's youth. I believe in
them. We can be proud that they are better
educated, more committed, more passionately
driven by conscience than any generation in our
No people has ever been so close to the
achievement of a just and abundant society, or
so possessed of the will to achieve it. Because
our strengths are so great, we can afford to
appraise our weaknesses with candor and to
approach them with hope.
Standing in this same place a third of a century
ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed a
Nation ravaged by depression and gripped in
fear. He could say in surveying the Nation's
troubles: "They concern, thank God, only
Our crisis today is the reverse.
We have found ourselves rich in goods, but
ragged in spirit; reaching with magnificent
precision for the moon, but falling into raucous
discord on earth.
We are caught in war, wanting peace. We are torn
by division, wanting unity. We see around us
empty lives, wanting fulfillment. We see tasks
that need doing, waiting for hands to do them.
To a crisis of the spirit, we need an answer of
To find that answer, we need only look within
When we listen to "the better angels of our
nature," we find that they celebrate the simple
things, the basic things, such as goodness,
decency, love, kindness.
Greatness comes in simple trappings.
The simple things are the ones most needed today
if we are to surmount what divides us, and
cement what unites us.
To lower our voices would be a simple thing.
In these difficult years, America has suffered
from a fever of words; from inflated rhetoric
that promises more than it can deliver; from
angry rhetoric that fans discontents into
hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that postures
instead of persuading.
We cannot learn from one another until we stop
shouting at one another--until we speak quietly
enough so that our words can be heard as well as
For its part, government will listen. We will
strive to listen in new ways--to the voices of
quiet anguish, the voices that speak without
words, the voices of the heart--to the injured
voices, the anxious voices, the voices that have
despaired of being heard.
Those who have been left out, we will try to
Those left behind, we will help to catch up.
For all of our people, we will set as our goal
the decent order that makes progress possible
and our lives secure.
As we reach toward our hopes, our task is to
build on what has gone before--not turning away
from the old, but turning toward the new.
In this past third of a century, government has
passed more laws, spent more money, initiated
more programs, than in all our previous history.
In pursuing our goals of full employment, better
housing, excellence in education; in rebuilding
our cities and improving our rural areas; in
protecting our environment and enhancing the
quality of life--in all these and more, we will
and must press urgently forward.
We shall plan now for the day when our wealth
can be transferred from the destruction of war
abroad to the urgent needs of our people at
The American dream does not come to those who
But we are approaching the limits of what
government alone can do.
Our greatest need now is to reach beyond
government, and to enlist the legions of the
concerned and the committed.
What has to be done, has to be done by
government and people together or it will not be
done at all. The lesson of past agony is that
without the people we can do nothing; with the
people we can do everything.
To match the magnitude of our tasks, we need the
energies of our people--enlisted not only in
grand enterprises, but more importantly in those
small, splendid efforts that make headlines in
the neighborhood newspaper instead of the
With these, we can build a great cathedral of
the spirit--each of us raising it one stone at a
time, as he reaches out to his neighbor,
helping, caring, doing.
I do not offer a life of uninspiring ease. I do
not call for a life of grim sacrifice. I ask you
to join in a high adventure, one as rich as
humanity itself, and as exciting as the times we
The essence of freedom is that each of us shares
in the shaping of his own destiny.
Until he has been part of a cause larger than
himself, no man is truly whole.
The way to fulfillment is in the use of our
talents; we achieve nobility in the spirit that
inspires that use.
As we measure what can be done, we shall promise
only what we know we can produce, but as we
chart our goals we shall be lifted by our
No man can be fully free while his neighbor is
not. To go forward at all is to go forward
This means black and white together, as one
nation, not two. The laws have caught up with
our conscience. What remains is to give life to
what is in the law: to ensure at last that as
all are born equal in dignity before God, all
are born equal in dignity before man.
As we learn to go forward together at home, let
us also seek to go forward together with all
Let us take as our goal: where peace is unknown,
make it welcome; where peace is fragile, make it
strong; where peace is temporary, make it
After a period of confrontation, we are entering
an era of negotiation.
Let all nations know that during this
administration our lines of communication will
We seek an open world--open to ideas, open to
the exchange of goods and people--a world in
which no people, great or small, will live in
We cannot expect to make everyone our friend,
but we can try to make no one our enemy.
Those who would be our adversaries, we invite to
a peaceful competition--not in conquering
territory or extending dominion, but in
enriching the life of man.
As we explore the reaches of space, let us go to
the new worlds together--not as new worlds to be
conquered, but as a new adventure to be shared.
With those who are willing to join, let us
cooperate to reduce the burden of arms, to
strengthen the structure of peace, to lift up
the poor and the hungry.
But to all those who would be tempted by
weakness, let us leave no doubt that we will be
as strong as we need to be for as long as we
need to be.
Over the past twenty years, since I first came
to this Capital as a freshman Congressman, I
have visited most of the nations of the world.
I have come to know the leaders of the world,
and the great forces, the hatreds, the fears
that divide the world.
I know that peace does not come through wishing
for it--that there is no substitute for days and
even years of patient and prolonged diplomacy.
I also know the people of the world.
I have seen the hunger of a homeless child, the
pain of a man wounded in battle, the grief of a
mother who has lost her son. I know these have
no ideology, no race.
I know America. I know the heart of America is
I speak from my own heart, and the heart of my
country, the deep concern we have for those who
suffer, and those who sorrow.
I have taken an oath today in the presence of
God and my countrymen to uphold and defend the
Constitution of the United States. To that oath
I now add this sacred commitment: I shall
consecrate my office, my energies, and all the
wisdom I can summon, to the cause of peace among
Let this message be heard by strong and weak
The peace we seek to win is not victory over any
other people, but the peace that comes "with
healing in its wings"; with compassion for those
who have suffered; with understanding for those
who have opposed us; with the opportunity for
all the peoples of this earth to choose their
Only a few short weeks ago, we shared the glory
of man's first sight of the world as God sees
it, as a single sphere reflecting light in the
As the Apollo astronauts flew over the moon's
gray surface on Christmas Eve, they spoke to us
of the beauty of earth--and in that voice so
clear across the lunar distance, we heard them
invoke God's blessing on its goodness.
In that moment, their view from the moon moved
poet Archibald MacLeish to write:
"To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue
and beautiful in that eternal silence where it
floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the
earth together, brothers on that bright
loveliness in the eternal cold--brothers who
know now they are truly brothers."
In that moment of surpassing technological
triumph, men turned their thoughts toward home
and humanity, seeing in that far perspective
that man's destiny on earth is not divisible;
telling us that however far we reach into the
cosmos, our destiny lies not in the stars but on
Earth itself, in our own hands, in our own
We have endured a long night of the American
spirit. But as our eyes catch the dimness of the
first rays of dawn, let us not curse the
remaining dark. Let us gather the light.
Our destiny offers, not the cup of despair, but
the chalice of opportunity. So let us seize it,
not in fear, but in gladness-- and, "riders on
the earth together," let us go forward, firm in
our faith, steadfast in our purpose, cautious of
the dangers; but sustained by our confidence in
the will of God and the promise of man.