Monday, July 22, 2019

No. 323: Kennedy and Trump: Their Inaugural Addresses

In No. 221 (June 8, 2017), I discussed what I called a "sparkling gem" of a 167-page book by David McCullough, one of my favorite authors. The book is entitled The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For. The book is a collection of 15 of his many speeches at historic events and at college commencements. He does not mention President Donald Trump in his book, but there can be no doubt about what prompted him to assemble the book. As examples, in the introduction he mentions "this time of uncertainty and contention" and "such troubled uncertain times."

In my earlier discussion of McCullough's book, I said I was especially moved by his speech at the bicentennial of what is now the White House. In the speech he discussed a statement by President John Adams in a handwritten letter to his wife Abigail the morning after he moved into and became the first resident of the house. The statement, now carved in marble on a mantelpiece in the State Dining Room, reads:
I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.
Recently I decided to reread McCullough's book. This time I was especially moved by his speech in Dallas on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy. In that speech McCullough quoted extensively from Kennedy's "ask not" inaugural address delivered in January 1961. That prompted me to read the entirety of Kennedy's address, as well as the entirety of Trump's "American carnage" inaugural address delivered in January 2017. The difference in tone is astounding.

I am offering a complimentary 7-page PDF consisting of Kennedy's inaugural address (2 pages) and Trump's inaugural address (5 pages). Email and ask for the July 2019 inaugural package.