Harry Truman's Inauguration Speech - Four Points

Speaker: Harry Truman
Delivered On: 1/20/1949
Place: Washington, D.C.
Subject: Inauguration, World War II.
Audio/Video Available:

Description: Truman’s Four Point Speech, given in January of 1949, challenged members of all political parties to help people around the world fight for freedom and human rights. The speech detailed four major steps in how to approach the ending of World War II. First, he advocated giving support to the United Nations and its entities, and looking for ways to make them stronger. Second, he stated that the US would continue programs to aid in world economic recovery. Third, he spoke for strengthening and supporting “freedom-loving nations” against outside attack and aggressive forces. And, fourth, he encouraged beginning a new program that would make scientific and industrial advances available to improve underdeveloped areas. His entire proposal involved the US being a large part of the help against the struggle of an unsafe and unfree world.

Host: Now, highlights of President Harry Truman's inauguration in 1949. He had just won re-election defeating Thomas Dewey in a race many political pundits of the day thought he would lose.

Narrator: Inauguration Day, Washington, 1949. The biggest inaugural in United States history is ready to begin. Vast crowds line Pennsylvania Avenue, soon to be the main artery in President Truman's triumphant parade.

Railroad yards are jammed as more than half a million visitors from every state of the union flock to Washington on this festive Inauguration Day.

Since early morning, spectators have been at their places along the parade route. [inaudible 00:57] their pennants and buttons honoring Harry S. Truman elected President of the United States.

Mrs. Truman, daughter Margaret, Alben Barkley's daughter, the Vice President elect, and the Chief Executive depart for the inaugural ceremony.

Mr. Truman escorted by congressional representatives leads the procession to the Capital. The man from Missouri goes to take his oath of office. Thus, formally recording the greatest political upset in United States history.

In Capital Plaza more than 100,000 people are on hand to witness the induction. Millions more see the event on television and hear it over worldwide radio.

Among the distinguished guests are Admiral Nimitz, Marine Core General Vandegrift, and Admiral Halsey.

United Nations Secretary General Lee has dignitaries from other countries.

The black robe Supreme Court Justices descend the steps of the inaugural platform, closely followed by the official presidential party, headed by the Chief Executive's wife and daughter.

A battery of motion picture and television camera's record the arrival.

Alben Barkley of Kentucky a member of congress for 36 years has taken his Vice Presidential oath of office. ". . . So help me God."

Then Harry S. Truman is sworn in as the nation's 32nd president by Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson.

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson: Raise your right hand do you Harry S. Truman solemnly swear . . .

President Truman: I Harry S. Truman solemnly swear . . .

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson: That you will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.

President Truman: That I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson: And will to the best of your ability

President Truman: And will to the best of my ability

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

President Truman: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson: So help you God.

President Truman: So help me God.

Narrator: To the nation and the world a solemn resolute President declares:

President Truman: Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, fellow citizens: I accept with humility the honor which the American people have conferred upon me. I accept it with a resolve to do all that I can for the welfare of this Nation and for the peace of the world.

The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law and equal opportunity to share in the common good. We believe that all men have the right to freedom of thought and expression. We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God. From this faith we will not be moved.

The American people desire and are determined to work for a world in which all nations and all peoples are free to govern themselves as they see fit, and to achieve a decent and satisfying life. Above all else, our people desire, and are determined to work for peace on earth, a just and lasting peace, based on genuine agreement freely arrived at by equals.

In the pursuit of these aims, the United States and other like-minded nations find themselves directly opposed by a regime with contrary aims and a totally different concept of life. That regime adheres to a false philosophy which purports to offer freedom, security, and greater opportunity to mankind. Misled by that philosophy, many peoples have sacrificed their liberties only to learn to their sorrow that deceit and mockery, poverty and tyranny, are their reward. That false philosophy is communism.

Communism subjects the individual to arrest without lawful cause, punishment without trial, and forced labor as the chattel of the state. It decrees what information he shall receive, what art he shall produce, what leaders he shall follow, and what thoughts he shall think.

Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the moral and intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable right, to govern himself with reason and justice.

Democracy maintains that government is established for the benefit of the individual, and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom in the exercise of those abilities of his.

These differences between communism and democracy do not concern the United States alone. People everywhere are coming to realize that what is involved is material well-being, human dignity, and the right to believe in and worship God.

Since the end of hostilities, the United States has invested its substance and its energy in a great constructive effort to restore peace, stability, and freedom to the world.

We have sought no territory. We have imposed our will on none. We have asked for no privileges that we would not extend to others.

We have made every effort to secure agreement on effective international control of our most powerful weapon, and we have worked steadily for the limitation and control of all armaments.

We are moving on with other nations to build an even stronger structure of international order and justice. We shall have as our partner’s countries which no longer solely concerned with the problem of national survival, are now working to improve the standards of living of all their people. We are ready to undertake new projects to strengthen a free world.

In the coming years, our program for peace and freedom will emphasize four major courses of action.

First, we will continue to give unfaltering support to the United Nations and related agencies, and we will continue to search for ways to strengthen their authority and increase their effectiveness.

Second, we will continue our programs for world economic recovery. This means, first of all, that we must keep our full weight behind the European recovery program.

Third, we will strengthen freedom-loving nations against the dangers of aggression.

Fourth, we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.

I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life.

Our aim should be to help the free peoples of the world, through their own efforts, to produce more food, more clothing, more materials for housing, and more mechanical power to lighten their burdens.

Democracy alone can supply the vitalizing force to stir the peoples of the world into triumphant action, not only against their human oppressors, but also against their ancient enemies: hunger, misery, and despair.

In due time, as our stability becomes manifest, as more and more nations come to know the benefits of democracy and to participate in growing abundance, I believe that those countries which now oppose us will abandon their delusions and join with the free nations of the world in a just settlement of international differences.

We will advance toward a world where man's freedom is secure. To that end we will devote our strength, our resources, and our firmness of resolve. With God's help, the future of mankind will be assured in a world of justice, harmony, and peace.

Narrator: On this sparkling, chilled winter day President Truman leaves Capitol Hill to take his place in the parade to the White House Reviewing Staff. With more than a million people lining the route 17,000 marchers join in a 7 mile long procession down Pennsylvania Avenue.

[inaudible 12:06] is the Army Chief of Staff General, Omar Bradley. In this the greatest parade in the long history of our National Capital.

Then come the President and Vice President. Flanking the Chief Executive is his guard of honor, the men of Battery D, 129th field artillery with whom he served as Captain in the first World War.

Cabinet Members include the Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, and the Attorney General of the United States, Tom Clark.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrives in the car of Army Secretary, Kenneth Royall. Behind him march the future General the [inaudible 13:04] Battalion of West Point.

The brigade of midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis passes in review.

Next, come the cadets of the United States Coast Guard Academy.

Men of the Marine Corp march down the broad Avenue which today is a parade ground for every branch of the armed services.

C82 as the Flying Boxcar leads one of the greatest Air Armadas ever to fly over the Capital. More than 700 planes in all.

The [Iron] B36 bombers pass overhead.

The parade includes not only the military, but is a panorama of American life. The President's home State of Missouri has several displays. One of them, a wagon drawn by Missouri mules.

Other floats depict the products and scenery of the various states.

This is Kentucky the Vice President's home state.

The State of Texas float moves down the Avenue.

The District of Columbia display features reproductions of the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

From Massachusetts comes a float honoring the early American settlers who landed on the shores of that state.

The figure of Uncle Sam strides down the Avenue.

[Civic] business, labor, and fraternal organizations representing millions of their members from all over the country participate in the inaugural festivities.

Supplying the music are more than 40 bands and many drum and bugle corp.

Near the White House, the excitement mounts as the Chief Executive approaches. The President gets a rousing ovation as he prepares to leave his car and take his place on the reviewing stand.

For nearly three hours the President and Vice President stand together acknowledging the [inaudible 16:23] of their countrymen.

A group of California cowboys salute President Truman and so does their pet Dalmatian to the President's amusement.

Another group presents the Chief Executive with a special gift: a brand new cowboy hat.

The President is cheered by the citizens of Lamar, Missouri the town in which he was born.

State by state, group by group people from each of the 48 states of the union honor Harry S. Truman in this 40th inauguration since George Washington took the oath of office as the nation's first President nearly 160 years ago.

Colorful pageant moves on Inauguration Day 1949 expresses the mood of a nation, a country striving for a peaceful world yet, mindful of the military need to make and keep that peace. In Harry Truman's own words, it marks the beginning not only of a new administration but of a period that will be eventful perhaps decisive for the United States and for the world.

Host: A look at past presidential inaugurations continues now with Dwight . . .

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