In the opening minutes of President Trump’s term, he delivered an inaugural address driven by populism and a condemnation of the country’s current state.

“But that is the past,” the newly minted president declared. “And now, we are looking only to the future.”

[ Trump’s inaugural speech was a sharp break with past — and his party]

The message stood in stark contrast to many earlier inaugural speeches, offering a different policy vision driven by Trump’s call for putting “America first” in foreign affairs and “the people” ahead of “the establishment” at home.

Trump delivered fewer inaugural words than any president since Jimmy Carter, speaking about 1,500 in his sub-17-minute speech. Comparatively, former president Barack Obama’s two speeches contained 2,400 words in 2009 and 2,100 in 2013.

Words per speech

4,000

8,000

0

2,000

6,000

William Henry Harrison gave

the longest speech at

8,460 words

Trump’s speech was

the shortest since

Jimmy Carter’s

Note: Five presidents who took office after their

predecessor’s death or resignation did not give

inaugural addresses.

Source: American Presidency Project.

Words per

speech

William Henry Harrison gave

the longest speech at

8,460 words

8,000

6,000

4,000

Trump’s speech was

the shortest since

Jimmy Carter’s

2,000

0

Note: Five presidents who took office after their predecessor’s death or resignation did not

give inaugural addresses.

Source: American Presidency Project.

Words per

speech

William Henry Harrison gave

the longest speech at

8,460 words

8,000

6,000

4,000

Trump’s speech was

the shortest since

Jimmy Carter’s

2,000

0

Note: Five presidents who took office after their predecessor’s death or resignation did not give

inaugural addresses.

Source: American Presidency Project.

Below, a look at how Trump’s speech echoed or broke from past inaugural speeches.

Presidents who served one term are colored green, while those who served multiple terms are colored yellow. Since he is beginning his first of two possible terms, Trump is also marked green.

Beyond America’s borders

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”

Barack Obama

2009

“And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect, for the world has changed, and we must change with it.”

George W. Bush

2005

“For a half a century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders.

George W. Bush

2005

“For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny, prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power and cross the most defended borders and raise a mortal threat.”

John F. Kennedy

1961

“To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge—to convert our good words into good deeds—in a new alliance for progress—to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

1937

“We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful, law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous.”

Herbert Hoover

1929

“We aspire to distinction in the world, but to a distinction based upon confidence in our sense of justice as well as our accomplishments within our own borders and in our own lives.”

Herbert Hoover

1929

“The larger purpose of our economic thought should be to establish more firmly stability and security of business and employment and thereby remove poverty still further from our borders.”

Grover Cleveland

1893

“Our relations with the Indians located within our border impose upon us responsibilities we can not escape.”

Striking a populist chord

“Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

Richard Nixon

1973

“We have lived too long with the consequences of attempting to gather all power and responsibility in Washington.

Richard Nixon

1973

“Abroad and at home, the time has come to turn away from the condescending policies of paternalism—of "Washington knows best."”

Ronald Reagan

1981

“It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people.”

Ronald Reagan

1985

“We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated Federal Establishment.

Law and order

“... [A]nd the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Bill Clinton

1997

“There is work to do, work that Government alone cannot do: teaching children to read, hiring people off welfare rolls, coming out from behind locked doors and shuttered windows to help reclaim our streets from drugs and gangs and crime, taking time out of our own lives to serve others.”

Bill Clinton

1993

“... [W]hen the fear of crime robs law-abiding citizens of their freedom ... we have not made change our friend.”

George H.W. Bush

1989

“There are those who cannot free themselves of enslavement to whatever addiction — drugs, welfare, the demoralization that rules the slums. There is crime to be conquered, the rough crime of the streets.”

Herbert Hoover

1929

“The most malign of all these dangers today is disregard and disobedience of law. Crime is increasing. Confidence in rigid and speedy justice is decreasing.”

Herbert Hoover

1929

“There would be little traffic in illegal liquor if only criminals patronized it. We must awake to the fact that this patronage from large numbers of law-abiding citizens is supplying the rewards and stimulating crime.”

Herbert Hoover

1929

“No greater national service can be given by men and women of good will—who, I know, are not unmindful of the responsibilities of citizenship—than that they should, by their example, assist in stamping out crime and outlawry by refusing participation in and condemning all transactions with illegal liquor.”

Grover Cleveland

1893

“Under our scheme of government the waste of public money is a crime against the citizen...”

James Garfield

1881

“...to violate the freedom and sanctities of the suffrage is more than an evil. It is a crime which, if persisted in, will destroy the Government itself. Suicide is not a remedy. If in other lands it be high treason to compass the death of the king, it shall be counted no less a crime here to strangle our sovereign power and stifle its voice. [Referring to restricting Black voting rights] ”

Abraham Lincoln

1861

“...we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.”

William Henry Harrison

1841

“The presses in the necessary employment of the Government should never be used "to clear the guilty or to varnish crime." A decent and manly examination of the acts of the Government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.”

James Monroe

1821

“ Many culprits brought within our limits have been condemned to suffer death, the punishment due to that atrocious crime. [That crime being "buccaneering"] The decisions of upright and enlightened tribunals fall equally on all whose crimes subject them, by a fair interpretation of the law, to its censure. ”

James Monroe

1817

“Who restrained from offering his vows in the mode which he prefers to the Divine Author of his being? It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed in their fullest extent; and I add with peculiar satisfaction that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on anyone for the crime of high treason.”

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