Both of Abraham Lincoln's inaugural addresses focus on the United States exclusively. The great concern in both cases is the preservation of the union. Lincoln is inward looking and historically focused. He wants the great experiment embarked upon by the nation's forefathers to remain intact. He states, for example, in the first inaugural address that, despite an attempted "disruption of the Federal union:"
I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution he Union of these States is perpetual. ... Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever ...
Lincoln invokes the foundational ideals of the United States to focus on its preservation. He also speaks very forcefully about his own role in holding the union together:
Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension.
Four years later, in his second inaugural address, Lincoln is still focused inwardly on the preservation of the union. Although he knows at this point that victory is within grasp, the war is not yet over, and thus the civil war is still his overwhelmimg concern:
Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
Nevertheless, Lincoln says, the U.S. will fight to the end of its strength to hold the states together. Notably, there is no attention whatsoever spent on the world outside of the boundaries of the United States. As was the case when George Washington gave his Farewell Address, the young country's full energy is focused on insuring it own survival.
The United States' position in the world has changed dramatically by the time of Kennedy's only inaugural address in 1961. The focus is outward now, encompassing the entire globe. This reflects the immense growth and power of the United States. Since the end of World War II, it has accepted its role as the world's superpower and as leader of the free world, opposing the spread of communism. Kennedy speaks to the United States' emphasis on its international role when he states:
To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends.
By this, he means the U.S. will remain committed to countries such as Great Britain, France, Italy, and West Germany. He also extends the nation's international reach, stating:
To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required--not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right.
Kennedy also states that the country is declaring a global "war" against "tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself", saying:
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind?
It is almost inconceivable that Lincoln, focused on preserving a weak, if growing nation in both his inaugural addresses, could have envisioned the scope of U.S. international power a century later. In the 1860s, Lincoln only feels responsible to his own country. In 1961, Kennedy feels responsible to the whole world.