Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Read this: from Grant's first inaugural address

President Ulysses S. Grant
First Inaugural Address
Thursday, March 4, 1869

...The country having just emerged from a great rebellion, many questions will come before it for settlement in the next four years which preceding Administrations have never had to deal with. In meeting these it is desirable that they should be approached calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be attained.

This requires security of person, property, and free religious and political opinion in every part of our common country, without regard to local prejudice. All laws to secure these ends will receive my best efforts for their enforcement.

A great debt has been contracted in securing to us and our posterity the Union. The payment of this, principal and interest, as well as the return to a specie basis as soon as it can be accomplished without material detriment to the debtor class or to the country at large, must be provided for. To protect the national honor, every dollar of Governmental indebtedness should be paid in gold, unless otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract. Let it be understood that no repudiator of one farthing of our public debt will be trusted in public place, and it will go far toward strengthening a credit which ought to be the best in the world, and will ultimately enable us to replace the debt with bonds bearing less interest than we now pay. To this should be added a faithful collection of the revenue, a strict accountability to the Treasury for every dollar collected, and the greatest practicable retrenchment in expenditure in every department of Government...

Doesn't alot of this sound familiar to us today?

Like Washington, Grant had to be the military commander, then the President (after Johnson who took over when Lincoln was assassinated) after a difficult war and, in Grant's case, the country was left in huge debt due to the cost of the Civil War. Further, Johnson undid a lot of the progress toward emancipation and equality achieved by the efforts of Lincoln and the blood of the Civil War, so Grant had to put good will and equality back on track also. He is another under appreciated American President.

Anyway, I thought with our financial crisis and focus on equality and so forth that you'd find a very interesting parallel in his words and our times.