Inaugural Addresses Wilson and Eisenhower Essay

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Great nations of Europe have fought their bloodiest wars." However, he implies that it is uncertain whether this new epoch is benevolent or malicious, asking Americans "Are we nearing the light -- a day of freedom and of peace for all mankind? Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon us?"

In explaining his plan, Eisenhower employed a conspicuously organized, almost military style containing nine strategic objectives, or what he called "rules of conduct." Eisenhower promised Americans protection from danger through the observance of "eternal moral and natural laws" and the refinement of what appear to be distinctly American virtues, the "love of truth, pride of work, devotion to country." Eisenhower thought the best outlet for American energies and the best defense against America's threats was to produce as if it was wartime. Perhaps Eisenhower believed that war brought out the best in people, as he seemed to be motivating individual Americans on to moral excellence in the conquest of omnipresent threats.


Both Wilson and Eisenhower ascended to the presidency after their respective parties had been shut out of the presidency for decades. As the fresh faces of their respective parties, they took advantage of their opportunities by establishing new policy platforms. These platforms were both compelling and timely, as each promised prosperity and security at a time when America was being pressured to assume larger, altogether riskier, responsibilities in the international community.

Each speaker addressed the essential problem of the times in a style that would come to define each party. Wilson poses the problem, that the populace is being crushed by corporate interests, as a statement of fact, preaching that it is a moral imperative for the country, through him, to right those wrongs.
Eisenhower, in addressing the problem of Communism, asks whether the shadows of another night are closing in on Americans, suggesting the threat of another war.

Although Wilson and Eisenhower took largely opposite positions on industry, both seemed to agree on the necessity of free trade. Wilson promoted free trade as a means to break the domination of American industrialists in the domestic market. Eisenhower, on the other hand, declared that free trade was not only beneficial, but that "No free people can for long cling to any privilege or enjoy any safety in economic solitude. For all our own material might, even we need markets in the world for the surpluses of our farms and our factories." This sentiment would guide trade policy in the United States for the rest of the century.


Wilson's emphasis on the protection of the powerless multitude has been reflected in Democrat policy throughout the 20th Century, in the Great Deal, in unemployment insurance, and the party's opposition to corporate interests. Meanwhile, Eisenhower's vision of the Republican Party's mission, to keep the country strong, prosperous, and safe from Communism, is reflected in the Cold War, trade liberalization policies, and the post-9/11 Terrorism policy. Thus, the position expounded in the respective speeches came to define the speaker's respective parties into the modern era.

Although the challenges confronting the United States have changed since the inaugurations of Wilson and Eisenhower, what has not changed is the American desire for prosperity and the right to enjoy that prosperity in peace and security. Indeed, it is not only a desire, it has become an expectation. In their inaugural addresses, each president crafted his party's basic approach to meeting these expectations......

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