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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Donald [?]

First Committee Member

Howard L. Runion

Second Committee Member

Gordon G. Zimmerman


Character of Inaugural Addresses. Research concerning the character of the Inaugural Address reveals great diversity of opinion among writers. The New York Herald Tribune, after President Kennedy’s address, concluded that the function of an Inaugural address “to express… the essence of what (the President) proposes to do in the White House.” Dr. Claudius O. Johnson, in his book Government in the United States - after reviewing President Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural, wrote that in his address, the President “usually tries to smooth over some of the ill-feeling which recent partisan strife may have caused, appeals to all good citizens to help him in his task, and outlines his programs, sometimes rather specifically.” Conversely, it is pointed out by Wilfred E. Binkley in The Man In The White House. His Powers and Duties that “there have been presidents elected who entered the office on inauguration day almost utterly innocent of what the election signified and what was expected of them - Ulysses S. Grant, for example.” Today Americans accept and anticipate the elaborate inaugural ceremony of which the inaugural address is a part. Author Binkley points to the feelings of the post-revolutionary “purists,” who thought it to be “a conspicuous violation of Republican simplicity and an inexcusable aping of monarchy.” Furthermore, it is noted that George Washington was deeply concerned “as to what the public expected of him…” Mr. Binkley’s conclusion, with which this writer concurs, is that “while the inauguration itself has no legal force, it nevertheless symbolises the fact that the president is… chief executive.”

There are three reasons for writing on this topic. First, the inaugural address is the first Presidential policy statement and may be compared with policies actually carried out. Second, they have popular audiences in this country and abroad who may be affected by their policies. And, thirs, they are the oldest of our official presidential statements. Furthermore, the United States’ Presidents have the longest history without charge of any of the heads of state in the world. Therefore, a study of inaugural addresses provides consistent information on a type of address for a longer period of time then is possible for any other head of state.





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