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and great grandson of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of In. dependence, was born at North Bend, Ohio, on August 20, 1833.
He gradu. ated at Miami University in 1852, and practiced law in Indianapolis until the Civil War, in which he served from 1862 to 1865, first as the commander of a regiment, and then as the General of a brigade. He represented Indiana in the United States Senate from 1881 to 1887. In 1888 he was the candidate of the Republican party for the Presidency, and was elected. In 1892 he was renominated, but was beaten by Cleveland. Since his retirement from the White House he has appeared before the Board of Arbitrators at Paris as the representative of Venezuela in its boundary controversy with British Guiana. He has lately been appointed one of the representatives of the United States on the permanent Board of Arbitration established in pursu. ance of the Peace Conference at The Hague.
DELIVERED MARCH 4, 1889 Fellow Citizens.
HERE is no constitutional or legal requirement that
the President shall take the oath of office in the
presence of the people, but there is so manifest an appropriateness in the public induction to office of the Chief Executive officer of the nation that from the beginning of the government the people, to whose service the official oath consecrates the officer, have been called to witness the sol. emn ceremonial. The oath taken in the presence of the people becomes a mutual covenant. The officer covenants to serve the whole body of the people by a faithful execu. tion of the laws, so that they may be the unfailing defanna
and security of those who respect and observe them, and that neither wealth, station, nor the power of combinations shall be able to evade their just penalties or to wrest them from a beneficent public purpose to serve the ends of cruelty or selfishness.
My promise is spoken; yours unspoken, but not the less real and solemn. The people of every State have here their representatives. Surely I do not misinterpret the spirit of the occasion when I assume that the whole body of the people covenant with me and with each other to-day to support and defend the Constitution and the Union of the States, to yield willing obedience to all the laws and each to every other citizen his equal civil and political rights. Entering thus solemnly into covenant with each other, we may rever. ently invoke and confidently expect the favor and help of Almighty God—that he will give to me wisdom, strength, and fidelity, and to our people a spirit of fraternity and a love of righteousness and peace.
This occasion derives peculiar interest from the fact that the Presidential term, which begins this day, is the twentysixth under our Constitution. The first inauguration of President Washington took place in New York, where Con. gress was then sitting, on the thirtieth day of April, 1789, having been deferred by reason of delays attending the or. ganization of Congress and the canvass of the electoral vote. Our people have already worthily observed the centennials of the Declaration of Independence, of the battle of York. town, and of the adoption of the Constitution, and will shortly celebrate in New York the institution of the second great department of our constitutional scheme of govern. ment. When the centennial of the institution of the judicial department, by the organization of the Supreme Court,
shall have been suitably observed, as I trust it will be, our nation will have fully entered its second century.
I will not attempt to note the marvellous and, in great part, happy contrasts between our country as it steps over the threshold into its second century of organized existence under the Constitution and that weak but wisely ordered young nation that looked undauntedly down the first cen. tury, when all its years stretched out before it.
Our people will not fail at this time to recall the inci. dents which accompanied the institution of government under the Constitution, or to find inspiration and guidance in the teachings and example of Washington and his great associates, and hope and courage in the contrast which thirty-eight populous and prosperous States offer to the thirteen States, weak in everything except courage and the love of liberty, that then fringed our Atlantic seaboard.
The Territory of Dakota has now a population greater than any of the original States (except Virginia), and greater than the aggregate of five of the smaller States in 1790. The centre of population when our national cap ital was located was east of Baltimore, and it was argued by many well-informed persons that it would move eastward rather than westward; yet in 1880 it was found to be near Cincinnati, and the new census about to be taken will show another stride to the westward. That which was the body has come to be only the rich fringe of the nation's robe. But our growth has not been limited to territory, population, and aggregate wealth, marvellous as it has been in each of those directions. The masses of our people are better fed, clothed, and housed than their fathers were. The facilities for popular education have been vastly enlarged and more generally diffused.
The virtues of courage and patriotism have given recent proof of their continued presence and increasing power in the hearts and over the lives of our people. The influences of religion have been multiplied and strengthened. The sweet offices of charity have greatly increased. The virtue of temperance is held in higher estimation. We have not attained an ideal condition. Not all of our people are happy and prosperous; not all of them are virtuous and law-abiding. But on the whole, the opportunities offered to the individual to secure the comforts of life are better than are found elsewhere, and largely better than they were here one hundred years ago.
The surrender of a large measure of sovereignty to the general government, effected by the adoption of the Constitution, was not accomplished until the suggestions of reason were strongly reinforced by the more imperative voice of experience. The divergent interests of peace speedily demanded a "more perfect Union.” The merchant, the shipmaster, and the manufacturer discovered and disclosed to our statesmen and to the people that commercial emancipation must be added to the political freedom which had been so bravely won. The commercial policy of the mother country had not relaxed any of its hard and oppressive features. To hold in check the development of our commercial marine, to prevent or retard the establishment and growth of manufactures in the States, and so to secure the American market for their shops and the carrying trade for their ships, was the policy of European statesmen, and was pursued with the most selfish vigor.
Petitions poured in upon Congress urging the imposition of discriminating duties that should encourage the produc. tion of needed things at home. The patriotism of the peo
ple, which no longer found a field of exercise in war, was energetically directed to the duty of equipping the young Republic for the defence of its independence by making its people self-dependent. Societies for the promotion of home manufactures and for encouraging the use of domestics in the dress of the people were organized in many of the States. The revival at the end of the century of the same patriotic interest in the preservation and development of domestic industries and the defence of our working people against injurious foreign competition is an incident worthy of attention. It is not a departure but a return that we have witnessed. The protective policy had then its opponents. The argument was made, as now, that its benefits inured to particular classes or sections.
If the question became in any sense or at any time sectional, it was only because slavery existed in some of the States. But for this there was no reason why the cotton. producing States should not have led or walked abreast with the New England States in the production of cotton fabrics. There was this reason only why the States that divide with Pennsylvania the mineral treasures of the great southeastern and central mountain ranges should bave been so tardy in bringing to the smelting furnace and to the mill the coal and iron from their near opposing hillsides. Mill fires were lighted at the funeral pile of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was heard in the depths of the earth as well as in the sky; men were made free, and material things became our better servants.
The sectional element has happily been eliminated from the tariff discussion. We have no longer States that are necessarily only planting States. None is excluded from achieving that diversification of pursuits among the people