Top 9 Inaugural Address Quotes From Presidents

John F. Kennedy, 1961:

"My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

The first line of Kennedy's quote is the most famous, but the second line is just as powerful, and it expands the thought to global unity. Kennedy also said: "we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty." According to, which archives historical documents from the National Archives, Kennedy "wanted his address to be short and clear—devoid of any partisan rhetoric and focused on foreign policy. He began constructing the speech in late November, working with friends and advisers." The site continued that Kennedy did receive ideas from others, but "the speech was distinctly the work of Kennedy himself. Aides recount that every sentence was worked, reworked, and reduced. It was a meticulously crafted piece of oratory that dramatically announced a generational change in the White House and called on the nation to combat 'tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.'”

Kennedy jotted down the address in handwriting on a yellow legal pad, says the site.

In this photo from January 1961, President John F Kennedy is driven through the crowded streets with his wife Jackie on the day of his inauguration. (Getty)