The Constitution is the supreme law of the united States, describing out country’s three-branched, democratic system of government and the fundamental rights to which all citizens are entitled. In Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, our nation’s founders declared that "The executive Power shall be vested in the President of the United States of America," and provided an oath of office for the President-elect’s official swearing-in. This 35-word oath has remained unchanged for more than two centuries, in part because it so clearly and simply describes the responsibilities of the Chief Executive:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
In 1817, James Monroe, our fifth President, became the first to give an Inaugural Address to an assembled public crowd. Since that time, the traditional Inaugural Address has been an opportunity for the President to speak directly to the American people. George Washington said juts 135 words after his second inauguration in 1793, while William Henry Harrison gave the longest Inaugural Address ever, taking almost two hours to deliver 8,445 words.
Inaugural Addresses are often remembered as reflecting a particular time in history. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called on Americans to "…finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds," while in 1933 Franklin Roosevelt reached out to citizens discouraged by the Great Depression, saying, "This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper." President John F. Kennedy inspired a generation of young people in 1961 when he urged, "…ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." And in 1993, President Bill Clinton reassured a nation in transition after the end of the Cold War by stating, "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."