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© Lee Harvey 2012–2019

Page updated 25 January, 2019

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2019, Researching the Real World, available at
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A Guide to Methodology

CASE STUDY Fang on American Presidential Inaugural Addresses

B. Move-structure Analysis

1. Move I — Salutation Except for thirteen speeches, all of the presidential inaugural addresses begin with a salutation.…The salutation of presidential inaugurals normally takes two forms: addressing the audience as a whole and respectively. In the former case, salutations appear like: “Fellow-citizens”, “My Fellow-citizens”, “My countrymen”… Almost all presidents of the early times, to the early 20 century, abide by this custom. In such salutations all the American people are addressed equally and wholly. While in the latter case, many titles are mentioned. Some examples are listed as follows: Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Senator Cook, Mrs. Eisenhower, and my fellow citizens of this great and good country we share together: (Nixon, 1973).

2. Move II — Announcing entering upon office The new presidents usually make announcement at the very beginning of their speech. But there are some who declare that they accept the office near the close. President Roosevelt claimed to take office after he had put forth his political principle. He said: In taking again the oath of office as President of the United States, I assume the solemn obligation of leading the American people forward along the road over which they have chosen to advance. This is a typical announcement of taking office, especially by presidents of early times, in which the presidents emphasized that they were “called upon by American people” or “the country” to execute the responsibility and they were “elected by people”.

3. Move III — Articulating sentiments on the occasion On the inaugural ceremony most of the new presidents will utter their sentiments on the occasion when they formally assume the responsibility as the chief executive of the country. In most cases, the new president will express his acknowledgements to American people for their trust and also to the predecessors for what they have done to this country. Clinton voiced his gratitude in this way: On behalf of our nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his half-century of service to America. (Clinton, 1993) Together with thanks, the magnitude of responsibility as president is also verbalized….

4. Move IV — Making pledges This move intends to fulfill the expectations of audience for promise. The new president carries out this speech act to help the pubic with confidence in the new leader and his government. The following is Jackson's pledges: It shall be displayed to the extent of my humble abilities in continued efforts so as to administrate the Government as to preserve their liberty and promote their happiness. (Jackson, 1833)

5. Move V — Arousing patriotism in citizens The function of this move is to bear the audience with love for the country and confidence in the future, with which the new president successfully unites all the Americans as a whole. A good way is to review the American history. An instance of this is given below: It is now three days more than a hundred years since the adoption of the first written constitution of the United States….(Garfield, 1881)

6. Move VI — Announcing political principles to guide the new administration This move is indispensable for setting forth political principles and that is also the main expectations of the audience from the speech. Generally, the political principles that will control the government include two parts: those basic principles on which stand the American political institutions and the main policies that will shape the coming administration. The basic principles that all presidents swear to follow comprise American Constitution, union, freedom and democracy as Garfield had stated: Under this constitution the boundaries of freedom have been enlarged…. Under this Constitution twenty-five states have been added to the Union, with constitution and laws, framed and enforced by their own citizens, to secure the manifold blessings of local self-government. (Garfield, 1881) The second strategy adopted is to point out problems. In this method, the governing principles are put forth as the solutions to the problems. For an instance, Roosevelt put forward policies to solve the problems during the Depression: Our greatest primary task is to put people to work....(Roosevelt, 1933)

7. Move VII — Appealing to the audience The audience can never be ignored. There is always a general appeal for aids or assistance or some specific appeal for sacrifice and dedication as displayed in the following: Convinced that I owe my election to the inherent love for the constitution and the union which still animates the hearts of the American people, let me earnestly ask their powerful support in sustaining all just measures calculated to perpetrate these.. (Buchanan, 1857)
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. (Kennedy, 1961)

8. Move VIII — Resorting to religious power Every president will refer to God many times in his inaugural address as God is the common religious belief for- nearly all Americans. The function of this move is to unite the American people. Generally presidents… [invoke] God for guidance and seeking divine blessings. …: In assuming responsibilities so vast, I fervently invoke the aid of that Almighty Ruler of the Universe …. (Polk, 1845)
God bless you all, and God bless America. (Bush, 2001)

Source: Fang, 2012, pp. 2409–11


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