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Gubernatorial Inauguration Address

January 15, 1991 – Texas State Capitol, Austin TX


Welcome to the first day of the next Texas!

And welcome to the official representatives of 35 countries and the governors of the four Mexican border states who have joined us today.

I want to thank all of you for being with us. I hope we will see you often in the Capitol. We look forward to working cooperatively with your governments and to excellent relationships with your people. 

Bienvenidos, mis amigos!

Eighteen months ago, I stood with many of you a few hundred yards from this platform and announced my candidacy for governor.

If you were there hen – in fact or in spirit – on that hot June day, if you gave your time and your energy to our campaign, if you held your ground and continued to believe when the odds seemed long and the outcome uncertain, my gratitude to you is profound. 

Today is a day of celebration.

Today, we marched up Congress Avenue and said that we are reclaiming the Capitol for the people of Texas.

We say proudly that the people of Texas are back.

That statement will be given meaning by our actions during the next four years. 

Today, the historians will record that a new administration, different from any in the past, began.

Twenty, fifty, one hundred years from now, school children will open their textbooks – or perhaps, switch on their video texts – and they will see a picture.

They will see us standing proudly on this bright winter noon. And looking through the eyes of a chid will seem as distant and ancient as portraits of our ancestors seem to us.

Those children will read that on January 15, 1991, a woman named Ann W. Richards took the oath of office as the 45th Governor of Texas.

That much is certain.

Today, the headline has been written, but the pages that follow are blank. 

Tomorrow, we begin filling in the pages, writing line by line the story that will be told long after the hoo f this day is forgotten.

Like the Reverent Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born on this day, we have come this far on the strength of a dream.

Our challenge is to transform that dream into reality: to fill the pages of history with the story of Texans who came into office envisioning a new era of greatness, and breathed life into that vision.

Today, we have a vision of a Texas where opportunity knows no race or color or gender – a glimpse of the possibilities that can be when the barriers fall and the doors of government swing open.

Tomorrow, we must build that Texas.

Today, we have a vision of a Texas with clean and and land and water, a Texas where a strong economy lives in harmony with a safe environment.

Tomorrow, we must build that Texas.

Today, we have a vision of a Texas where every child receives an education that allows them to claim the full promise of their lives.

Tomorrow, we must build that Texas.

Today, we have a vision of a Texas where the government treats every citizen with respect and dignity and honesty, where consumers are protected, where business is nurtured and valued, where good jobs are plentiful, where those in need find compassion and help, where every decision is measured against a high standard of ethics and true commitment to the public trust.

Tomorrow, we must build that Texas.

The people of Texas are back, and they are waiting and watching, anxious to see if their government can rise above person interest, rancor and division, and get on with the business of building a Texas where the people come first.

Years ago, John Kennedy say that “Life isn’t fair.”

Life is not fair, but government must be.

And if tomorrow, we begin with the understanding that government must stop telling people what they want, and start listening to the people and hearing what the people need, we will make government mean something good in people’s lives. 

Nothing is more fundamentally important to me than the understand that this administration exists to serve the taxpayers.

Because service to the people is government’s bottom line, we are creating a new position in the governor’s office: a citizen’s advocate who will cut red tape and bureaucratic stonewalling, who will report to me those agencies who fail to meet the test of the highest quality of service, efficiency, and financial management. 

The oath I have taken today is mine, but the responsibility, the trust we have sought and been given, belongs to all of us.

And I hope that as we invoke the blessing of God on this adventure, we will all ask, in the words of the old gospel song, that the Lord lift us to higher ground, and that we will be wise enough and strong enough to do what we have set out to do.

Because when my time in office is finished, I want us to be able to look back together and say we – not he, not she, not me – but we came to this moment with a vision worth of a great heritage, and we realized that vision in a way that was worthy of a great future.

And as we turn the corner on a new millennium, I want us to be able to look forward – to see a small child with a textbook, thumbing through the pages coming upon a picture of a group of people standing on the Capitol steps looking out at the child across years and changes that we cannot even begin to imagine. 

I want us to be able to read words beneath that picture that say that on this day in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one a new era began in Texas.

And I want us to know that what we started here will reach out across to that child, and do us honor.



Richards, Ann. Inaugural Address,” State Journal. 72d Legislature, Reg. session. Austin, TX: State Printing Office, 1991, 22-24.