In Their Own Words: A Thumbnail of Presidential Remarks in New Jersey

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General George Washington, writing from Continental Army headquarters in Morristown to the President of Congress on Feb. 5th, 1777

“From the first institution of civil government, it has been the national policy of every precedent State to endeavor to engage its members to the discharge of their duty by the obligation of some oath. Its force and happy influence have been felt in too many instances to need any arguments to support the policy or prove its utility. I have often thought the States have been too negligent in this particular, and am more fully convinced of it from the effect General Howe’s excursion has produced in New Jersey. An oath is the only substitute that can be adopted to supply the defect of principle. By our inattention in this article, we lose a considerable cement to our own force, and Edition: current; give the enemy an opportunity to make the first tender of the oath of allegiance to the King. Its baneful influence is but too severely felt at this time. The people generally confess they were compelled to take protection, and subscribe the Declaration, yet it furnishes many with arguments to refuse taking any active part; and further they allege themselves bound to a neutrality at least. Many conscientious people, who were well-wishers to the cause, had they been bound to the States by an oath, would have suffered any punishment rather than have taken the oath of allegiance to the King; and are now lost to our interest for want of this necessary tie. Notwithstanding the obligations of the Association, they do not conceive it to have the same effect as an oath. The more united the inhabitants appear, the greater difficulty General Howe will have in reconciling them to regal government, and consequently the less hope of conquering them. For these reasons, and many more that might be urged, I should strongly recommend to every State to fix upon some oath or affirmation of allegiance, to be tendered to all the inhabitants without exception, and to outlaw those that refuse it.”

Abe Lincoln, addressing the New Jersey Legislature in Trenton on February 21, 1861

“I shall endeavor to take the ground I deem most just to the North, the East, the West, the South, and the whole country. I take it, I hope, in good temper–certainly no malice toward any section. I shall do all that may be in my power to promote a peaceful settlement of all our difficulties. The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. None who would do more to preserve it. But it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly. And if I do my duty, and do right, you will sustain me, will you not? Received, as I am, by the members of a Legislature the majority of whom do not agree with me in political sentiments, I trust that I may have their assistance in piloting the ship of State through this voyage, surrounded by perils as it is; for, if it should suffer attack now, there will be no pilot ever needed for another voyage.”

Woodrow Wilson, accepting the Democratic nomination for president in Sea Girt on Sept. 2nd, 1916

“The seas were not broad enough to keep the infection of the conflict out of our own politics. The passions and intrigues of certain active groups and combinations of men amongst us who were born under foreign flags injected the poison of disloyalty into our own most critical affairs, laid violent hands upon many of our industries, and subjected us to the shame of divisions of sentiment and purpose in which America was contemned and forgotten. It is part of the business of this year of reckoning and settlement to speak plainly and act with unmistakable purpose in rebuke of these things, in order that they may be forever hereafter impossible. I am the candidate of a party, but I am above all things else an American citizen. I neither seek the favor nor fear the displeasure of that small alien element amongst us which puts loyalty to any foreign power before loyalty to the United States.”

Franklin Roosevelt, kicking off his general election prez campaign in Sea Girt on August 27th, 1932

“In dealing with the great social problems in my own State, such as the care of the wards of the States, and in combating crime, I have had to consider most earnestly this question of temperance. It is bound up with crime, with insanity and, only too often, with poverty. It is increasingly apparent that the intemperate use of intoxicants has no place in this new mechanized civilization of ours. In our industry, in our recreation, on our highways, a drunken man is more than an objectionable companion, he is a peril to the rest of us. The hand that controls the machinery of our factories, that holds the steering wheel of our automobiles, and the brains that guide the course of finance and industry, should alike be free from the effects of over-indulgence in alcohol. But the methods adopted since the World War with the purpose of achieving a greater temperance by the forcing of Prohibition have been accompanied in most parts of the country by complete and tragic failure. I need not point out to you that general encouragement of lawlessness has resulted; that corruption, hypocrisy, crime and disorder have emerged, and that instead of restricting, we have extended the spread of intemperance. This failure has come for this very good reason: we have depended too largely upon the power of governmental action instead of recognizing that the authority of the home and that of the churches in these matters is the fundamental force on which we must build.”

Ronald Reagan, launching his prez campaign at Liberty State Park on Sept. 1st, 1980 

“Let us work to protect the human right to acquire and own a home, and make sure that that right is extended to as many Americans as possible. A home is part of that dream.  I want to work in Washington to roll back the crushing burden of taxation that limits investment, production, and the generation of real wealth for our people. A job, and savings, and hope for our children is part of that dream. I want to help Americans of every race, creed and heritage keep and build that sense of community which is at the heart of America, for a decent neighborhood is part of that dream. We will work to strengthen the small business sector which creates most of the new jobs we need for our people. Small business needs relief from government paperwork, relief from over-regulation, relief from a host of governmentally-created problems that defeat the effort of creative men and women. A chance to invest, build and produce new wealth is part of the dream. But restoring the American dream requires more than restoring a sound, productive economy, vitally important as that is. It requires a return to spiritual and moral values, values so deeply held by those who came here to build a new life. We need to restore those values in our daily life, in our neighborhoods and in our government’s dealings with the other nations of the world.”

Barack Obama, launching his healthcare initiative in Holmdel on July 16th, 2009

“We’re going forward, New Jersey, because what we are facing is more than just a passing crisis it is a transformative moment that has led this nation to an unmistakable crossroads. There are some in Washington, and probably some in Trenton, who want us to just go down the road we’ve travelled for the last decade, to do the same old, same old – the path where we just throw up their hands in the face of the challenges we face. ‘We can’t do healthcare reform. Energy’s too hard we can’t free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. We can’t regulate Wall Street, that’s too hard. It’s a path where our healthcare costs keep rising, where our oil dependency keeps on growing, where our financial markets remain an unregulated crapshoot, where our workers lose out on the jobs of tomorrow. Jersey, I want you to know, that’s not a future that I accept. We are moving in a new direction.”

Donald J. Trump, addressing North Korea at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster on August 8, 2017

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

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