President Bill Clinton's first inauguration speech: Full text

Bill Clinton became the first Democrat to serve as president in more than a decade when he took the oath of office on January 20, 1993.

Maya Angelou read an original poem "On the Pulse of Morning," becoming the first poet to address an inauguration since Robert Frost spoke at John F. Kennedy's in 1961.

Clinton was sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, on a King James Bible that once belonged to his grandmother and was held by wife Hillary Clinton.

He then launched into an inaugural address that focused on "American renewal."

Read the full text of the speech below:

My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring, a spring reborn in the world's oldest democracy that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. When our Founders boldly declared America's independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change; not change for change's sake but change to preserve America's ideals: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Though we marched to the music of our time, our mission is timeless. Each generation of Americans must define what it means to be an American.

On behalf of our Nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his half-century of service to America. And I thank the millions of men and women whose steadfastness and sacrifice triumphed over depression, fascism, and communism.

43 PHOTOS
President Bill Clinton's inaugurations
See Gallery
President Bill Clinton's inaugurations

President Clinton speaks outside the U.S. Capitol following his inauguration as the 42nd President of the United States.

(Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Spectators gather at the US Capitol Building to witness President Bill Clinton's first inauguration into office. Bill Clinton stands with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea as he takes the oath of office.

(Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Democrat Bill Clinton (L) is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (R) as the 42nd President of the United States as his wife Hillary (C) looks on during the inaugural ceremony at Capital Hill, January 20.

(Jim Bourg / Reuters)

U.S. Senator John Warner of Virginia, co-chairman of the Congressional Joint Inauguration Committee, points out the view from the presidential inauguration podium to ABC news reporter and anchor Barbara Walters as final preparations continue at the U.S. Capitol January 19 for President Clinton's inauguration ceremonies. Clinton will be sworn in for a second term at noon on January 20. 

(Jim Bourg / Reuters)

U.S. President George Bush (L) greets President-elect Bill Clinton (R) upon his arrival 20 January, 1993 to the White House in Washington, DC to meet Bush for a pre-inaugural coffee. Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd U.S. President later 20 January.

(PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Press photographers and remote cameras are focused on President Clinton as he is sworn in on Capitol Hill, January 20. Clinton is the first Democratic president to be inaugurated for a second term since Franklin-Roosevelt.

(Mike Theiler / Reuters)

President WIlliam Jefferson Clinton waves from inside the 'Beast' limousine as his inaugural parade passes 14th street freedom plaza.

(Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

President Clinton and his family, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea, applaud during the opening act at the Presidential Inaugural Gala in Landover, January 19. The president attended the star-studded revue on the eve of his inauguration to start his second term. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

WASHINGTON, : The Clintons and the Gores applaud as jump ropers perform in front of the reviewing stand during the inaugural parade 20 January in Washington, DC. US President Clinton was sworn in earlier on Capitol Hill for his second term as US president.

(TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images)

President Clinton, first lady Hillary and daughter Chelsea greet crowds along the inaugural parade route near the White House after they emerged from their armored Cadillac to finish the parade on foot January 20. President Clinton was sworn-in for the second time as the nation's 42nd president.

(Rick Wilking / Reuters)

Chelsea Clinton holds Tyler Clinton, son of President Clinton's brother Roger, as they watch the inaugural parade from the White House reviewing area January 20. President Clinton was sworn in for the second time as the nation's 42nd president.

(STR New / Reuters)

Diana Ross performs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the statue of Lincoln behind her as part of the American Reunion celebration on the mall kicking off the Inuagural events for President William Jefferson Clinton. 

(Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

The U.S. Capitol is readied for the second inauguration of President Clinton early January 20 . Clinton will be the first Democratic president to be inaugurated for a second term since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

President Clinton and his family (L) and Vice President Al Gore and his family (R) review the troops during inaugural ceremonies at the United States Capitol, January 20. Earlier in the day, Clinton took the oath of office on the steps of the capitol to begin his second term in the White House.

(STR New / Reuters)

President Clinton, accompanied by House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), waves as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol to be inaugurated as the 42nd president of the United States January 20. Clinton is the first Democratic president to be sworn in to a second term since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

The U.S. Capitol is decked in bunting as President Clinton delivers his inauguration speech after being sworn in for a second term, January 20. Clinton is the first Democratic president to be re-elected in 50 years.

(Gary Hershorn / Reuters)

U.S. President Clinton is sworn in for a second term as President by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist (R) as Clinton stands on the West steps of the United States Capitol with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea at his side, January 20. Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper look on at rear. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton embrace as they dance at the first inaugural ball of the evening at the Old Post Office Building in Washington, January 20. The Clintons are scheduled to appear at 15 balls to cap the inaugural festivities.

(STR New / Reuters)

Inauguration of President of United States, President William Jefferson Clinton,42nd President,52nd Presidency Washington, DC, 1/20/93.

(Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)

Lincoln Memorial Gala Celebration for the Inaugural of William Clinton as President. Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross. Credit: Mark Reinstein

(Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton, Jan, 30 1993, Washington DC.

(Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)

Aretha Franklin preforms at the Lincoln Memorial for President CLinton's inaugural gala.

(Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

President-elect Bill Clinton (2nd from right) and Vice President-elect Al Gore (2nd from left) stand with their wives, Hillary Clinton (right) and Tipper Gore (left), at the 1993 People's Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

(Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of U.S. President-elect Bill Clinton, videotapes the inaugural festivities 17 January 1993 at the Lincoln Memorial.

(CARLOS SCHIEBECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Bill and Hillary Clinton along with David Dinkins stand on stage January 20, 1993 in Washington, DC. Eleven inaugural balls were held on the same evening in honor of President Clinton's election.

(Photo by Diana Walker/Liaison)

A member of the U.S. Marine Corps Marching Band tunes up 20 January, 1993 in front of the U.S. Capitol Dome prior to the start of the inauguration of William Clinton in Washington, DC. President-elect Clinton will be sworn-in at noon to become the 42nd President of the U.S.

(TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton smiles January 20, 1993 in Washington, DC. Eleven inaugural balls were held on the same evening in honor of President Clinton's election.

(Photo by Diana Walker/Liaison)

American poet Maya Angelou reciting her poem 'On the Pulse of Morning' at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in Washington DC, 20th January 1993.

(Photo by Consolidated News Pictures/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Uncle Sam, played by Steve Myott of Greenville, North Carolina, looks down while a police officer walks between his legs as Myott performs along the route of US President Bill Clinton's inaugural parade in Washington, DC 20 January. The parade, celebrating the beginning of President Clinton's second term in office, goes along Pennsylvania Avenue from the US Capitol to the White House.

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

African National Congress (ANC) President Nelson Mandela (R) and Lindiwe Mabuza (L), the ANC's chief representative to the U.S., look up at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, 20 January 1993, after taking their seats for the inauguration of Bill Clinton as the U.S.'s 42nd president.

(ARYEH RABINOVICH/AFP/GettyImages)

Pres. George Bush gazing at view of Capitol bldg. fr. helicopter window, leaving capital after inauguration of successor Pres. Bill Clinton.

(Photo by David Valdez/White House/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Pres. Clinton pausing fr. his inaugural address, turning to applaud George Bush (R) as Mrs Bush, outgoing VP Dan Quayle (L) et al join in, in crowd-framed acknowledgement of outgoing Pres.

(Photo by David Valdez/White House/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

SWEARING IN--The Children of the Gospel choir performs during the swearing in ceremony of President Clinton.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Stevie Wonder performs at Bill Clinton's inaugural gala January 19, 1997 in Landover, MD. On November 5, 1996, Clinton was elected to his second term as the forty second President of the United States.

(Photo by Cynthia Johnson/Liaison

Singer Bob Dylan performs at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton on January 20, 1993 in Washington DC.

(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

1993 - Clinton, Inauguration Gala

(Photo by Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Pres. Bill Clinton (L) playing saxophone, jamming w. musicians onstage at DC Armory Ball during inaugural wk. festivities.

(Photo by Diana Walker//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Pres. Bill Clinton hugging daughter Chelsea & wife Hillary Rodham during his Inaugural Day swear-in ceremony.

(Photo by Dirck Halstead//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

The Washington Monument as pictured on the morning of the First Presidental inauguration of Bill Clinton in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Images Press/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Bill Clinton Speaking at his Inauguration Gala

(Photo by Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Pres. Bill Clinton (C) speaking during his 2nd term Inaugural Day ceremonies.

(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Ramona Howard, of St. Louis, Mo, puts up a message to President-elect Bill Clinton on the 'American Town Hall' 18 January, 1993 during inaugural festivities on the Mall in Washington, DC. President-elect Clinton is scheduled to take the oath of office 20 Jan to become the next president of the United States.

(CARLOS SCHIEBECK/AFP/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Today, a generation raised in the shadows of the cold war assumes new responsibilities in a world warmed by the sunshine of freedom but threatened still by ancient hatreds and new plagues. Raised in unrivaled prosperity, we inherit an economy that is still the world's strongest but is weakened by business failures, stagnant wages, increasing inequality, and deep divisions among our own people.

When George Washington first took the oath I have just sworn to uphold, news traveled slowly across the land by horseback and across the ocean by boat. Now, the sights and sounds of this ceremony are broadcast instantaneously to billions around the world. Communications and commerce are global. Investment is mobile. Technology is almost magical. And ambition for a better life is now universal.

We earn our livelihood in America today in peaceful competition with people all across the Earth. Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world. And the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy. This new world has already enriched the lives of millions of Americans who are able to compete and win in it. But when most people are working harder for less; when others cannot work at all; when the cost of health care devastates families and threatens to bankrupt our enterprises, great and small; when the fear of crime robs law-abiding citizens of their freedom; and when millions of poor children cannot even imagine the lives we are calling them to lead, we have not made change our friend.

We know we have to face hard truths and take strong steps, but we have not done so; instead, we have drifted. And that drifting has eroded our resources, fractured our economy, and shaken our confidence. Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us. From our Revolution to the Civil War, to the Great Depression, to the civil rights movement, our people have always mustered the determination to construct from these crises the pillars of our history. Thomas Jefferson believed that to preserve the very foundations of our Nation, we would need dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow Americans, this is our time. Let us embrace it.

Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. And so today we pledge an end to the era of deadlock and drift, and a new season of American renewal has begun.

To renew America, we must be bold. We must do what no generation has had to do before. We must invest more in our own people, in their jobs, and in their future, and at the same time cut our massive debt. And we must do so in a world in which we must compete for every opportunity. It will not be easy. It will require sacrifice, but it can be done and done fairly, not choosing sacrifice for its own sake but for our own sake. We must provide for our Nation the way a family provides for its children.

Our Founders saw themselves in the light of posterity. We can do no less. Anyone who has ever watched a child's eyes wander into sleep knows what posterity is. Posterity is the world to come: the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility. We must do what America does best: offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility from all. It is time to break the bad habit of expecting something for nothing from our Government or from each other. Let us all take more responsibility not only for ourselves and our families but for our communities and our country.

13 PHOTOS
Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton through the years
See Gallery
Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton through the years
FILE WASHINGTON, DC - JAN 6, 1994: President Bill Clinton is escorted by Hillary to a waiting helicopter. The president was leaving for Arkansas after learning of the death of his mother. (Photo by Margaret Thomas/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and US President barack Obama (R) are greeted by Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) at her residence in Yangon on November 19, 2012 . Obama arrived in Myanmar for a historic visit aimed at encouraging a string of dramatic political reforms in the former pariah state. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) looks on as US President Barack Obama (2nd L) speaks during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (2nd R) on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on November 20, 2012. During the two-day East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Obama was scheduled to hold talks with the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japan's Yoshihiko Noda. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton board Air Force One at the airport in Yangon on November 19, 2012. Huge crowds greeted Barack Obama in Myanmar on the first visit by a serving US president to the former pariah state to encourage a string of startling political reforms. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama(2nd-L), First Lady Michelle Obama(L) along with former president Bill Clinton(3rd-L) and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton(4th-L) take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the late 35th president of the US John F. Kennedy at Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery on November 20, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Copies of the German translation of the book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, stand on display at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, speaks during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 20: Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on stage during 'A Conversation With Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton' at the Long Center on June 20, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States (R), speaks next to Christoph Amend, editor in chief of Zeit Magazin, during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 16: Hillary Rodham Clinton signs copies of her book 'Hard Choices' at BookHampton on August 16, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 23: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a during a round table event to launch the 'Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing' campaign at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute on July 23, 2014 in Oakland, California. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the 'Talking is Teaching; Talk Read Sing' campaign in partnership withToo Small to Fail and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation that encourages parents and caregivers to close the word gap by talking, singing and reading to children every day from the birth. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: Former president of United States (US) Bill Clinton (R) and his wife, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L), leave St. Ignatius Loyola Church after the funeral of former three-term governor Mario Cuomo on January 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

To renew America, we must revitalize our democracy. This beautiful Capital, like every capital since the dawn of civilization, is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those people whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way. Americans deserve better. And in this city today there are people who want to do better. And so I say to all of you here: Let us resolve to reform our politics so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make our Government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called bold, persistent experimentation, a Government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays. Let us give this Capital back to the people to whom it belongs.

To renew America, we must meet challenges abroad as well as at home. There is no longer a clear division between what is foreign and what is domestic. The world economy, the world environment, the world AIDS crisis, the world arms race: they affect us all. Today, as an older order passes, the new world is more free but less stable. Communism's collapse has called forth old animosities and new dangers. Clearly, America must continue to lead the world we did so much to make.

While America rebuilds at home, we will not shrink from the challenges nor fail to seize the opportunities of this new world. Together with our friends and allies, we will work to shape change, lest it engulf us. When our vital interests are challenged or the will and conscience of the international community is defied, we will act, with peaceful diplomacy whenever possible, with force when necessary. The brave Americans serving our Nation today in the Persian Gulf, in Somalia, and wherever else they stand are testament to our resolve. But our greatest strength is the power of our ideas, which are still new in many lands. Across the world we see them embraced, and we rejoice. Our hopes, our hearts, our hands are with those on every continent who are building democracy and freedom. Their cause is America's cause.

The American people have summoned the change we celebrate today. You have raised your voices in an unmistakable chorus. You have cast your votes in historic numbers. And you have changed the face of Congress, the Presidency, and the political process itself. Yes, you, my fellow Americans, have forced the spring. Now we must do the work the season demands. To that work I now turn with all the authority of my office. I ask the Congress to join with me. But no President, no Congress, no Government can undertake this mission alone.

My fellow Americans, you, too, must play your part in our renewal. I challenge a new generation of young Americans to a season of service: to act on your idealism by helping troubled children, keeping company with those in need, reconnecting our torn communities. There is so much to be done; enough, indeed, for millions of others who are still young in spirit to give of themselves in service, too. In serving, we recognize a simple but powerful truth: We need each other, and we must care for one another.

Today we do more than celebrate America. We rededicate ourselves to the very idea of America, an idea born in revolution and renewed through two centuries of challenge; an idea tempered by the knowledge that, but for fate, we, the fortunate, and the unfortunate might have been each other; an idea ennobled by the faith that our Nation can summon from its myriad diversity the deepest measure of unity; an idea infused with the conviction that America's long, heroic journey must go forever upward.

And so, my fellow Americans, as we stand at the edge of the 21st century, let us begin anew with energy and hope, with faith and discipline. And let us work until our work is done. The Scripture says, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." From this joyful mountaintop of celebration we hear a call to service in the valley. We have heard the trumpets. We have changed the guard. And now, each in our own way and with God's help, we must answer the call.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.