Inauguration speech quiz: last lines

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Some inauguration speeches become famous -- like John Kennedy’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.’ It sounds like a call to action, a final note. But while it was the climax of his speech, it wasn’t the end. On this day of beginnings, we used ‘Fellow Citizens: The Penguin Book of U.S. Presidential Inaugural Addresses’ to find the last words of our presidents’ inaugural speeches (in one or two cases, we left off a God Bless America). It’ll take a bit of scrolling (or printing), but see if you can match the last lines to the president. The answers are after the jump.

1. This is the obligation I have reverently taken before the Lord Most High. To keep it will be my single purpose, my constant prayer; and I shall confidently rely upon the forbearance and assistance of all the people in the discharge of my solemn responsibilities.


2. Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of the government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow citizens with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor.

3. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound -- in unity, affection and love -- one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.

4. From the height of this place and the summit of this century, let us go forth. May God strengthen our hands for the good work ahead, and always, bless our America.

5. With good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

6. And when the harvests from the fields, the cattle form the hill, and the ores of the earth shall have been weighed, counted, and valued, we will turn from them all to crown with the highest honor the state that has most promoted education, virtue, justice, and patriotism among its people.

7. Standing as I do, almost within view of the green slopes of Monticello, and, as it were, within reach of the tomb of Washington, with all the cherished memories of the past gathering around me like so many eloquent voices of exhortation from heaven, I can express no better hope for my country than that the kind of Providence which smiled upon our fathers may enable their children to preserve the blessings they have inherited.

8. Men’s hearts wait upon us; men’s lives hang in the balance; men’s hopes call upon us to say what we will do. Who shall live up to the great trust? Who dares fail to try? I summon all honest men, all patriotic, all forward-looking men, to my side. God helping me, I will not fail them, if they will but counsel and sustain me!

9. May the light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands, flame brightly -- until the last darkness is no more. May the turbulence of our age yield to a true tome of peace, when men and nations shall share a life that honors the dignity of each, the brotherhood of all.

10. May it be among the dispensations of His providence to bless our beloved country with honors and with length of days. May her ways be ways of pleasantness and all her paths be peace!

11. And so today a chapter begins, a small and stately story of unity, diversity, and generosity -- shared, and written, together.

12. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence: that if it shall be found during my administration of the government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.

13. Notwithstanding this, throughout the war, and from my candidacy for my present office in [redacted] to the close of the last presidential campaign, I have been the subject of abuse and slander scarcely ever equaled in political history, which today I feel that I can afford to disregard in view of your verdict, which I gratefully accept as my vindication.

14. 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.

15. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature.

16. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.

Match the president to his speech. Answers are after the jump.

A. Benjamin Harrison
B. Dwight D. Eisenhower
C. Abraham Lincoln
D. Ronald Reagan
E. Richard M. Nixon
F. Woodrow Wilson
G. Martin Van Buren
H. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I. James Monroe
J. Franklin Pierce
K. George Washington
L. William Jefferson Clinton
M. Ulysses S. Grant
N. William McKinley
O. John F. Kennedy
P. George H.W. Bush

Don’t look after the jump until you’re ready to check your answers.

The presidents and their last lines:

1 - N: William McKinley, March 4, 1897

2 - I: James Monroe, March 4, 1817

3 - D: Ronald Reagan, Jan. 21, 1985

4 - L: William Jefferson Clinton, Jan. 20, 1997

5 - O: John F. Kennedy, Jan. 20 1961

6 - A: Benjamin Harrison, March 4, 1889

7 - J: Franklin Pierce, March 4, 1853

8 - F. Woodrow Wilson, March 4, 1913

9 - B: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jan. 21, 1957

10 - G: Martin Van Buren, March 4, 1837

11 - P: George H.W. Bush, Jan. 20, 1989

12 - K: George Washington, March 4, 1793

13 - M: Ulysses S. Grant, March 4, 1873

14 - E: Richard M. Nixon, Jan. 20, 1969

15 - C: Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861

16 - H. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, March 4, 1933

-- Carolyn Kellogg