What you need to know: Inaugural Address

January 15, 2009

The inaugural address — the first speech given by a new president — is a piece of history.

Many of the most famous quotes from past presidents have come from their inaugural addresses:

"Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy

William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural address, 8,445 words, on March 4, 1841 — who died a month later of pneumonia. Washington's second inaugural address holds the record for the shortest, at 135 words.

For more on the history of the inaugural address, click here.

For the full text of all inaugural addresses, click here.

For video of inaugural addresses, click here.