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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“In a brief speech, Jackson praises his administration’s success in foreign policy and pledges to both respect state’s rights and uphold the integrity of the Union in the domestic sphere.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

The difference that four short years make.  Jackson’s first address speaks of the limitations of the Executive branch, dangers of standing armies, and other words of restraint.  However, the issue of slavery has been brewing under the surface for many years.  The Missouri Compromise of 1820 established a line of free and slave states.  Abolitionists are distributing literature and agitating for the release of slaves.  Jackson owns slaves.  Unity is in trouble.

And that gets to the key parts of Jackson’s speech: Unity and balance of power.  A nuanced view is taken as to the power of the Federal Government and the States: a government is constituted of many smaller parts, all of which have ceded power and liberty in order to form a body that can provide safety and order.  Jackson is attempting to walk a very fine line here – the US has always had a strong disagreement regarding the amount of power allocated to the federal government, and slavery is bringing that to the forefront (states are being entered into the Union on a pro / anti slavery basis, keeping the Legislature balanced).  Jackson’s main concern is that the union of states will falter which will lead to a loss of liberty, “peace, plenty, and happiness”.  He resolves, therefore, to keep the country together any way he can.

Jackson’s speech:

  1. Foreign Policy (Peace but no suffering of insults, i.e., neutrality and trade)
  2. Domestically, there are cracks in the union
  3. States and Federal Government in careful balance
  4. Union is vital to our country’s survival
  5. Worldwide, everyone is watching as to how new experiment will unfold
  6. Plans for administration
    1. Citizens must give up some liberties for government to function
    2. Encourage simplicity and economy in budget

Phrases I have underlined, starred, or otherwise marked:

“To do justice to all and to submit to wrong from none has been during my Administration its governing maxim, and so happy have been its results that we are not only at peace with all the world, but have few causes of controversy, and those of minor importance, remaining unadjusted.”

“In the domestic policy of this Government there are two objects which especially deserve the attention of the people and their representatives, and which have been and will continue to be the subjects of my increasing solicitude.  They are the preservation of the rights of the several States and the integrity of the Union.”

“… the destruction of our State governments or the annihilation of their control over the local concerns of the people would lead directly to revolution and anarchy, and finally to despotism and military domination.  In proportion, therefore, as the General Government encroaches upon the rights of the States, in the same proportion does it impair its own power and detract from its ability to fulfill the purposes of its creation.

“Solemnly impressed with these considerations, my countrymen will ever find me ready to exercise my constitutional powers in arresting measures which may directly or indirectly encroach upon the rights of the States or tend to consolidate all political power in the General Government.”

“You have been wisely admonished to ‘accustom yourselves to think and speak of the Union as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity, watching for its preservation with Jealous anxiety, discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of any attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.’ Without union our independence and liberty would never have been achieved; without union they never can be maintained.

“The loss of liberty, of all good government, of peace, plenty, and happiness, must inevitably follow a dissolution of the Union.  In supporting it, therefore, we support all that is dear to the freeman and the philanthropist.”

“The event of the existing crisis will be decisive in the opinion of mankind of the practicability of our federal system of government.  Great is the stake placed in our hands; great is the responsibility which must rest upon the people of the United States.”

Constantly bearing in mind that in entering into society ‘individuals must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest,’ it will be my desire so to discharge my duties as to foster with our brethren in all parts of the country a spirit of liberal concession and compromise …

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

None.  They didn’t have that technology when Jackson was inaugurated.

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