1857 – Inaugural Address of James Buchanan

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Summary of speech:

The last President elected before Lincoln, tensions regarding slavery and the strength of the Federal government are front and center.  Additional public works projects are being undertaken, but under the guise of the powers granted for defense rather than for general infrastructure.

Thoughts on Transcript:

Uses Confederacy

Notes on speech:

  1. Announces he will only have a single term Presidency
  2. New states – stance is that slavery status should be determined by vote
  3. Slavery question is estranging citizens from each other
  4. Danger of arriving at value of the Union from the sum of its parts
  5. Corruption in government (Still!)
  6. Desire to limit revenue collection by the government
  7. Squandering money in Treasury and squandering stewardship of public lands
  8. Dangers of Federal Overreach
  9. Uses rationale of defense to build military highway crossing the US and connecting West Coast to rest of US
  10. Non-interventionalist foreign policy, peace and free trade to all
  11. Stretch in justifying acquisitions of territory from Mexico

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1853 – Inaugural Address of Franklin Pierce

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Summary of speech:

Pierce continues the themes of previous presidencies: pursuing peace, free trade, expansion of the United States to the West.  Pierce defends slavery as a Constitutional right and laments the growing prospect of civil strife, “let not a single star be lost.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

<To Do – Analysis on these speeches is taking a little longer than I’ve hoped, and if I keep trying to do it, I’ll never progress>

Franklin Pierce’s son, Benjamin, died in a train accident on the way to Washington DC.

Notes on speech:

  1. Wisdom of Founding Fathers
  2. City on a Hill – USA as a beacon to the world
  3. Ability of US form of government to scale
  4. Plans / justification for expansion
  5. Use of trade for diplomacy
  6. Reaffirmation of Monroe Doctrine
  7. The Army and Navy’s importance for defense and importance of good training / academies
  8. Warning against large standing armies
  9. Political appointments
  10. Federal Government vs the States
  11. Importance of Union
  12. Defense of Slavery as it is enshrined in Constitution
  13. Belief that compromises of recent years have headed off the dangers threatening nation

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1850 – Millard Fillmore

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Summary of speech:

Millard Fillmore assumed office in July, 1850 after the death of Zachary Taylor, who served little over a year in the office of President.  I cannot find any speeches made by Fillmore until his annual address in December.

Thoughts on Transcript:

N/A

Phrases I have underlined, starred, or otherwise marked:

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Thoughts on delivery (audio and/or video of speech):

N/A

1849 – Inaugural Address of Zachary Taylor

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Summary of speech:

Taylor’s inaugural address is a very boilerplate level speech, enumerating the rights and responsibilities of the presidency and his oath to uphold them.

Thoughts on Transcript:

Zachary Taylor took 1090 words to do what George Washington did in 135.

One of the pieces that jumped out was that Taylor takes an oath to choose upstanding men for his appointments to federal positions.  Over and over this oath is taken – several times by Taylor’s contemporaries (Tyler and Polk, Jackson, etc).  It points to a growing problem: The Federal Government is increasing in power and corruption is taking hold in the rich environment.  Looking back to the first addresses, the most that the Founding Fathers talked about were the needs for a strong moral foundation for the elected officials.  To warrant a mention within Taylor’s rather spartan address points to growing discontent.

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1845 – Inaugural Address of James K. Polk

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“With frequent references to the Union’s growth in size, population, and strength, President Polk speaks at length about domestic issues. He is opposed to a national bank, assumption of state debt, and a revenue tariff, but supports a protective tariff and equal taxation. Polk also elaborates on his favorable opinion of Texas rejoining the Union.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

I’m starting to reach the point where a lot of these addresses are running together.  Partly it’s because there’s a good length of time in between when I have time to read a new one, but it’s also due to a lot of themes that are shared across presidencies, both in a given time period as well as the whole of American history.

For Polk, the things that really jumped out at me were 1) the debate between North and South regarding the role of federal government power vs states’ rights, 2) the use of the veto in the presidency, 3) the annexation of Texas and Oregon, and 4) the continuing desire to avoid placing taxes on the populace for purposes of revenue.

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Sounds. Silence. And the Sounds of Silence.

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Not a political post, but something that’s been weighing on me.

About a year ago, I picked up a little record player.  Don’t know why – I didn’t own any records.  But the price was good, the player was portable, and I figured that it would be a fun thing to own.

To fill my collection, I scoured the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores of the city and picked through hundreds of albums that had differing levels of popularity, but now all succumbed to identical decay.  A couple of artists were over-represented (Loggins and Messina, Kenny Rogers, others), and there were a lot of classical music albums, but I was able to find some great albums by great bands (Who’s Next by The Who) as well as some albums with one or two songs that I recognized by great bands (Three Dog Night, Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Doobie Brothers).  One of those albums was Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, the first album by Simon and Garfunkel.

There were two songs I recognized from this album: He Was My Brother and The Sounds of Silence.  Yet this The Sounds of Silence is not the one you know.  For one, the other song is called The Sound of Silence.  For another, this version is only Paul and Art and a guitar.  When I first heard it, I stopped.  This was something new and it forced me to listen to each and every one of the lyrics.  And then I got up and reset the needle and listened to it again.  And again.  And I picked up the album and found the below:

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1841 – Inaugural Address of John Tyler

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“After the death of President William Henry Harrison, Vice President John Tyler assumes the presidency. He is the first ever to do so, setting the precedent for presidential succession”

Thoughts on Transcript:

President Tyler is the first to take office following the death or resignation of a sitting president.  Rather than an Inaugural Address, he instead has a statement delivered to Congress where he acknowledges the oddity of the situation and promises to carry forth the ideals of the man who had been elected president.

There really isn’t much new here that hasn’t been said: Re-affirmation of neutrality in foreign affairs, use of the military for defense, and danger of concentrating power in government are all topics explored at length with previous addresses.  A couple of topics that are interesting: Patronage (something that Jackson decried) and the growing corps of government jobs bestowed upon supporters; and the danger of having both the treasury and military under the same branch of government.  Tyler promises to remove those people from government who are inadequate for their jobs, or who actively criticize his policies or partake in partisanship.

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The Art of the Deal – Thoughts

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Finished Art of the Deal.  Took a little longer than expected, but I wasn’t exactly reading for speed.

Whenever someone writes about themselves, or justifies their own actions, you must expect a healthy slant or even outright exaggeration in favor of themselves.  I’ve seen it throughout the inaugural addresses – Presidents who we hold as paragons attempt to justify actions that we have come to view as deplorable, and vice versa.  President Donald Trump is much the same way, though we have the added benefits of 1) Seeing him in action – hearing his speeches and reading fact checkers and 2) Reading his own words, in which he admits that he engages in “truthful hyperbole”.  Art of the Deal is Trump filtered through a ghostwriter.  Some of it is accurate, some may not be so accurate, and it will be largely positive in his favor.

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Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch13&14

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Chapter 13 – Comeback: A West Side Story

 

“Nor was I eager to load myself down with huge carrying costs while my personal resources were still very limited.  By devoting myself to other deals instead, I generated a cash flow large enough to support the carrying costs on virtually any project.  I also built a record of success that made banks happy to lend me money for nearly any deal.”

The truth is that unless you design a project to be self-supporting as you build it, you risk getting eaten alive before you’ve turned the corner into profit.

“An average 150-unit luxury high-rise building in New York takes two years to sell out – and that assumes a strong market and good promotion.  To sell literally thousands of units in a new development requires that you have both something unique to sell and a very aggressive approach to selling it.”

“One of the first things that anyone should learn about real estate – and New York real estate in particular – is never to sign a letter of intent.  Years can be spent in court trying to get out of a seemingly simple and ‘nonbinding’ agreement.”

“When I told [my lawyer] what I’d done, he wasn’t happy, but to this day I’m convinced that my ripping up that [letter of intent] – which may or may not have been binding – is the reason that Macri did come back to me, instead of going to any of a dozen other potential bidders, when it finally became clear that he couldn’t get his financing after all.”

The more awareness and excitement I could create early on, the easier it was going to be to attract buyers down the line.  A lot of developers build first and promote later, if at all.

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Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch11&12

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Chapter 11 – Long Shot: The Spring and Fall of the USFL

“I’ve always been a football fan.  I love sports, and having my own team seemed the realization of a great fantasy.  I also liked the idea of taking on the NFL, a smug, self-satisfied monopoly that I believed was highly vulnerable to an aggressive competitor.

In any partnership, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Fans like winners.  They come to watch stars – great, exciting players who do great, exciting things.

To me, committees are what insecure people create in order to put off making hard decisions.

“… I like consultants even less than I like committees.  When it comes down to making a smart decision, the most distinguished planning committee working with the highest-priced consultants doesn’t hold a candle to a group of guys with a reasonable amount of common sense and their own money on the line.

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Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch9&10

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Chapter 9 – Wynn-Fall: The Battle for Hilton

“It’s not easy to make your own mark on a company your father founded and built into a huge success.  Some sons opt out altogether and don’t even try to compete.  Others are content to manage what their fathers have already built.  A few sons set out to outdo their fathers at the same game, and that may be the toughest thing of all, particularly when the father’s name is Conrad Hilton.”

“Hilton might have survived everything if Barron himself had taken the licensing hearings more seriously.  Instead he virtually ignored them.”

“There are times when you have to be aggressive, but there are also times when your best strategy is to lie back.”

“Conrad Hilton used his will to disenfranchise his children and grandchildren. … Conrad believed very strongly that inherited wealth destroys moral character and motivation.  I happen to agree that it often does.

I’m not saying I would also have won, but if I went down, it would have been kicking and screaming.  I would have closed the hotel and let it rot.  That’s just my makeup.  I fight when I feel I’m getting screwed, even if it’s costly and difficult and highly risky.

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1841 – Inaugural Address of William Henry Harrison

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“President Harrison begins by describing how America’s democracy is special and then outlines problems with the government and his solutions to them. This Inaugural Address was the longest in American history; it took nearly two hours to read.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

Wow.  The addresses of the previous eight Presidents are amazing, but William Henry Harrison’s is one that I found special meaning in.  Maybe it is because he gave a speech that was inversely proportional to the length of his presidency, but he tackles many different subjects, relying heavily on ancient history (a tactic used throughout the Federalist Papers which initially presented the case for our form of government) to demonstrate the dangers of contemporary actions.  Harrison covers a range of topics from the theoretical basis of our Constitution (inalienable rights) to the dangers that threaten to tear the country asunder (rights of the minority, civility between states, unity and cohesion).  He tackles the danger of the Treasury being under the Executive Branch, the Power of the Veto, and even spends time to discuss the lack of representation in DC.

This speech is less an address than a manifesto.  It lays out a plan for office that is sweeping, that respects the Presidents before Harrison while also seeking to curtail the power of the Executive.  And yet, it all comes to naught as the man will die after less than a month in office.

I’ve pulled a good deal of quotes from the 11 pages of text, but this is a speech that is worthwhile to read in full.

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