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There are leaders, who hold a great amount of power and with that they owe a great amount

of responsibility to those who believe in them and to their respective communities. In this paper, I will mostly discuss elected US Presidents who came to power at divisive and critical times in US history. I will also discuss a very important charismatic leader, who led his community in the midst of counter culture movements. All of these men had in common a great amount of power and a historic role to play for US society. They all engendered a lot of passion for and against them. My question revolves around the idea if they used their power with the guiding principle of being responsible for the outcome of their political decisions and words. I will discuss in this paper Presidents: Lincoln, Kennedy, Johnson, and Obama and the Civil Rights leader: Martin Luther King Jr. In the first part of this paper, I will discuss and analyze Abraham Lincolns show of power through his second inaugural speech and the Thirteenth Amendment and the impact they had on post-civil war America. In the second part of this paper, I will discuss John F. Kennedys expression of power and responsibility through his inaugural speech and the role Johnson had in carrying out JFKs vision. In the third part of this paper, I will address Martin Luther Kings vision of power and responsibility on the issue of Civil Rights through his immortalized I Have a Dream Speech and the impact his words and message of equality and non-violence have had on several generations of Americans. Lastly, I will address the message of power and community through the second inaugural speech of President Obama.

Abraham Lincoln became President of the US during the most divisive period of US history. His legacy has gone down in American and world history as being one of the greatest US Presidents and bringing an end to slavery. However, his critics at the time also saw him as a catalyst of the division between North and South and a master political manipulator. This first part of the paper will look at how President Lincoln exhibited a show of power through his second inaugural speech, but also demonstrated a sense of responsibility for the outcome of his Presidential decisions. In this same section of the paper, the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery will be analyzed through the lens of how President Lincoln used his political power to influence Congress and obtain the passage of this law. President Lincolns second inaugural speech, on March 4, 1865 was intrinsically connected to the passage of the 13th Amendment, the ending of the US Civil War, and what would eventually lead to the Reconstruction of the South. He tries to tell the nation how with the responsibility of his Presidential power he believed that he had to unite the Rebels (the South) with the Union but he also had to free the slaves. These apparently opposing goals seem contradictory for the Nation and government at that time. In the following quote from his inaugural speech President Lincoln is saying that African-Americans make up an important part of the US population but they are concentrated in the South and represent a huge source of tension between the North and South. One-eighth of the whole population were

colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. (Lincoln 612) Furthermore, in this quote, he says that a major reason of the Souths secession and war with the north is about the slaves being let free, and how he believes that once the civil war ends, African Americans would no longer be treated like objects but citizens instead. But he brings in the notion of the limits of the governments power. Still, the war was fought and the ideals of the North through the power of the government and the President won over the South. But in the last phrase he says in his inaugural speech he brings in the idea of the responsibility his Office and the government has to bringing the country back together. He appeals to the sense of commonality and humanity of all US citizens. With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphanto do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations. (Lincoln bottom section 612) He also explains in this

quote above how he plans to have a peaceful and just way of reconstructing the South bringing it back into the Union, after the civil war. Section 1 from the Thirteenth Amendment says Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. (National Archives section 1) The President is saying that slavery or servitude is not a legal notion in the US anymore, except as a form of criminal punishment. He is saying that the government can only use its power to enslave anyone in the US as a form of punishment for an unlawful activity. But he is also implicitly saying that the Federal Government has made it unlawful for State governments to allow slavery. His notion of power is dual. He sees power as a form of responsibility towards allowing its citizens to be free and stopping States or private people to allow or own slaves. But he also still sees the government has having the power to punish and take away freedom if there is a crime. Both of these ideas tie power to responsibility.

President John F. Kennedy showed his ideals of power and responsibility through his inaugural speech in 1960, as he shared his vision of how the nation would lead a new era of freedom for the citizen of the US and around the world. President Kennedy was elected 100 years after Lincoln and at a time when the world was divided by the Cold War and the fight divided the U.S for Civil Rights and the end of Segregation.

First in the context of the Cold War, President Kennedy expresses the idea that the US is the leading power, where the US is the champion of not only liberalism and democracy but also of freedom. He says in this quote Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. (Kennedy 609) Here he is saying how the President and the country as a whole will assure the success and survival of freedom in the world. President Kennedy seems to argue that as President of the US he is willing to use the strength of US power to fight for the political ideals of the US around the world. He seems to say that this is the responsibility of his Presidency and of his country. President Kennedy was famously known for his stance on Civil Rights. Many believe that this is why he was assassinated, just like Lincoln. He was elected at a time when African Americans did not enjoy the same Civil Rights and white Americans and in the South there was segregation. In his inaugural speech, To those allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in in a host of new cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do-for we dare not meet a powerful challenges at odds and split asunder. (Kennedy 609) Kennedy is saying here how that uniting the nation will strengthen their nation then keep divided the weaknesses of nation will increase.

Martin Luther King Jr. is widely known for his Civil Rights role and his speech I Have Dream Speech. In this famous speech he extolls African Americans to reach for their dream of freedom through non-violence. Although Martin Luther King was not a President, he was one of the leaders of the African-American community. His power came from his message. He showed an incredible about of self-restraint and tried to send the message that it was more responsible to fight though non-violence, even in the face of aggression and injustice. But he urged Americans to act now and to fight for their rights. For example as he says in his speech We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate the valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of the brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of Gods children. In this quote he tells African Americans that it is now their time to push for their rights as citizens. Another quote in the speech is We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. So, here he says that African Americans to carry themselves with pride and peace on their way on get their true freedom as US citizens. At that time, other counter-culture movements existed, which advocated violence as a means to an end, like the Black Panthers. Martin Luther King is arguing the opposite. He wants the African-American to have equal rights and have

power but he wants it to be through responsible means. Here another quote from the speech There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, When will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfies as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We can never be satisfied as long as the Negros basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs For Whites Only. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. So, here he saying is that African Americans should not be satisfied till the they get all their rights as citizen and not treated with ignorance from the white man. There is a lot of power in the words and message of Martin Luther King. He encouraged his fellow citizens to not back down, to fight a peaceful fight, but nevertheless to find until the end. With this message came a lot of responsibility. Just like Lincoln and Kennedy, Martin Luther King paid the price of the courage of his actions and the price of power with his life. They used the power of their office as President or the role as a leader

of the African-American community to change the way Americans saw their country and their fellow citizens. Each had a tremendous responsibility in how the laws in the US would develop and how US society would change.

Barrack Hussein Obama shows power and responsibilities to the nation through his second inaugural speech, and he uses power of inaugural speech to unite a divided nation in this current time. Here is quote from the speech that says, This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. Americas possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it so long as we seize it together. he is explaining to this generation Americans should unite and seize this opportunity in help bring back the economy of the US. In another quote he says That is our generations task to make these words, these rights, these values of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time but it does require us to act in our time. here explains that this generation shall bring end to prejudice and ignorance in country.