Research papers on the Inaugural Address of Martin Van Buren
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The inaugural address delivered by Martin Van Buren on Monday, March 4, 1837 is most remarkable for the very little time it allots to matters of future policy and action. President Van Buren spends the majority of his time glorifying the accomplishments of the young Nation. The early part of the address dwells on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in creating a system that allowed disparate regions and cultures to come together as a single nation. The differences he glosses over in a sentence or two, but the glories of success require paragraphs of exposition. In this speech, he accomplishes two things:
- He reminds the population of the idealistic origins of their country in hopes of inspiring in them the kinds of behavior he attributes to their forebears, and
- He positions as anti-patriotic and anti-American those growing groups within the United States that opposed slavery, as well as any group with any opinion that might promote discord between states.
Modern readers, of course, cannot read the speech without wondering how Van Buren was able to ignore the genocidal approach his predecessor took to expanding the nation’s territory to the west or how he could seriously think that the growing tensions between North and South could be pacified by his exhortations to “play nice.” From an historical perspective, the speech seems either hopelessly naïve or cynically disingenuous. Van Buren’s later actions suggest the former.