Inauguration 2013: 10 highlights from previous second-term addresses

Barack Obama will be the 17th American president to deliver two inaugural addresses. Here are 10 highlights from such speeches by previous two-term presidents, including the shortest one ever.

James Madison

  • close
    James Madison, the fourth US president, is shown in this undated engraving. His second inaugural address was the first delivered by a wartime president.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

The first wartime president to give a second inaugural address, James Madison took his oath of office on March 4, 1813, in the throes of the War of 1812.

The British had seized American cargo ships and imprisoned the sailors, so Madison responded by asking Congress to declare war on June 1, 1812. His warmongering inaugural speech berated the British for their tactics as he tried to galvanize the young nation.

“As the war was just in its origin and necessary and noble in its objects, we can reflect with a proud satisfaction that in carrying it on no principle of justice or honor, no usage of civilized nations, no precept of courtesy or humanity, have been infringed. The war has been waged on our part with scrupulous regard to all these obligations, and in a spirit of liberality which was never surpassed,” he said.

“How little has been the effect of this example on the conduct of the enemy!”

Madison gave his speech in the hall of the House of Representatives in the US Capitol, which the British would burn down, along with the Executive Mansion, more than a year later. 

3 of 10