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Collection Reference Number GLC03880
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to 1817 
Title Draft of inaugural address by President James Monroe
Date ca. February 1817
Author Monroe, James (1758-1831)  
Document Type Government document
Content Description First draft of president-elect Monroe's inauguration address. Monroe gave the address, with substantial changes, on 4 March 1817, beginning the Era of Good Feelings. The speech was the first outdoor inauguration since Washington's in 1789. Monroe's draft has a generally positive tone, expressing happiness and confidence with America's present and future prospects. It was written to appeal to everyone and avoids confrontation. Begins by thanking his fellow citizens for their trust in him and says he hopes to be a useful public servant. Following in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson's ideas on democracy, he says the American experiment with republican government has avoided the failings of the ancient Republics by "retaining the sovereignty, exclusively, in the hands of the people." Other Jeffersonian ideas were struck from the address, including one claiming the Declaration of Independence vested "sovereignty exclusively in this great body of the people." Continues the theme of democracy by saying America's governmental institutions and principles make it the freest nation on earth. Says everyone can achieve as much as possible under their own merit. Says America's expansive territory and growing population will make it one of the great nations one day. Stresses that America is at peace and places blame for the War of 1812 squarely on the British. Much of the draft deals with America's need for a strong national defense and foreshadowing his Monroe Doctrine of 1823, says he has apprehensions of European colonial intentions. In many places Monroe crosses out lines, paragraphs, and in one instance an entire page. The address actually delivered seems shorter and the style tighter. Note in mylar included with address says, "President Monroe's Inaugural Address Owned by Mrs Harry Heth." Docketed by James Monroe as well as by his son.
Subjects President  Presidential Speeches and Proclamations  Government and Civics  Inaugural Address  Classical World and Ancient Civilization  Declaration of Independence  Freedom and Independence  Liberty  Westward Expansion  Peace  Global History and Civics  War of 1812  Military History  Monroe Doctrine  
People Monroe, James (1758-1831)  Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826)  
Theme The Presidency; Government & Politics; Foreign Affairs; War of 1812; Westward Expansion
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859