Thomas Jefferson: First Inaugural Address

(1801)

Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, given on March 4, 1801, is one of the great documents of democratic government and oratorical rhetoric. After the bitter election campaign of 1800, Vice President Jefferson defeated the Federalist incumbent, President John Adams. Adams peacefully surrendered his authority to his opponent, and Jefferson assumed power pledging there would be no retaliation against his opponents, whether they held political office or not. “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” Jefferson asserted in his inaugural address. The new administration,...

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Thomas Jefferson's draft of his first inaugural address (Library of Congress)

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