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Saturday, 20 January, 2001, 18:09 GMT
Bush inauguration address
George W Bush waves after taking oath
Geroge W Bush promised to speak for greater justice
President George W Bush marked the beginning of his administration by observing that the "peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country."

"With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions, and make new beginnings," he said in his inaugural address.

The first leader since the 19th century to win without a majority of the popular vote, Mr Bush went on to thank President Bill Clinton "for service to our nation" and Vice-President Al Gore "for a contest conducted with spirit and ended with grace".

Compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government

Speech extract
President Bush called on Americans to be "citizens not spectators" and to become more involved in the service of their communities and the nation.

He outlined the priorities of his administration: Reforming education, social security and Medicare, strengthening defence and cutting taxes.

"I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity," he pledged.

Correspondents say the promotion of volunteerism echoes one of the themes expounded by his father, former President George HW Bush, at his inauguration 12 years ago.

Civility, courage, compassion

"Compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government," the younger Bush said.

Together we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives

Speech extract
"I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens, not subjects. Responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character."

He promised a "new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character".

"I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort - to defend needed reforms against easy attacks, to serve your nation, beginning with your neighbour," Mr Bush said.


Outlining his government's priorities, Mr Bush said: "Together we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives."

I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort

Speech extract
"We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent.

"We will reduce taxes, to recover the momentum of our economy and reward the effort and enterprise of working Americans.

"We will build our defences beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge.

"We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.

"The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake. America remains engaged in the world, by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favours freedom.

"We will defend our allies and our interests. We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength.

"And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth."

Mr Bush srtessed that, while the government has "great responsibilities for public safety, public health civil rights and common schools", what citizens dis was "as important as anything government does."

The new president pledged to live by and lead by the following principles:

  • To advance his convictions with civility
  • To pursue the public interest with courage
  • To speak for greater justice and compassion
  • To call for responsibility and try to live it as well

Mr Bush promised to make America "more just and generous, to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life."

And he concluded: "Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves.

"When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government programme can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it."

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See also:

20 Jan 01 | UK Politics
'No change' in US-UK relations
19 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton escapes Lewinsky charges
20 Jan 01 | Americas
Doubts remain about Florida vote
19 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush promises fresh start
13 Jan 01 | Americas
Hoteliers cash in on Bush's big day
14 Jan 01 | Americas
The Clinton years
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