Speech of Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States, Delivered at his Instalment, March 4, 1801, at the City of Washington
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At noon on Wednesday, 4 March 1801, after walking from his rented rooms to the U.S. Capitol, Thomas Jefferson, the newly-elected president (the results of the bitter presidential election campaign of 1800 had only been decided by Congress in February) delivered his first inaugural address. According to press reports, Jefferson spoke in such a quiet voice that few of the people gathered in the Senate chamber heard his brief remarks, but the text of what he said was soon published and widely circulated. Mathew Carey of Philadelphia printed the address as a broadside that featured an engraved portrait of Jefferson. Carey's broadside went through several editions and he printed copies on silk—a technically difficult but elegant rendering—including the copy displayed here that is from the Massachusetts Historical Society's large archive of Jefferson's personal papers: the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts.
The address was a call for political reconciliation in a "rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land." President Jefferson pointed out that "during the throes and convulsions of the ancient world [the French Revolutionary Wars] it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore. . . . that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others. . . . and should divide opinions, as to measures of safety." He reminded allies and foes that "every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names. brethren of the same principle," and famously proclaimed, "WE ARE ALL REPUBLICANS; WE ARE ALL FEDERALISTS."