History Lessons | Endowment Intern Jenna

Copy of the Richard  Riley 1983 inaugural address

As I sorted through hundreds of historical documents this week, I was amazed by the parallels I found within the archived material and the daily realities of modern existence. On Monday, I started the process of compiling inaugural records related to previous South Carolina governors. I found these files online at the South Carolina State Library Digital Collection. The archives included documents like inaugural programs, addresses, and invites to official inaugural celebrations. I found myself getting lost within all of the material, and had to remind myself that I didn’t have time to read each inaugural address.

One of my favorite excerpts was from Richard Riley’s second inaugural address in 1983. It reads:

“You see, young John Christopher is going to be a child of the 1990s and a citizen of the twenty-first century. That means he is going to live in a world beyond our imagination. It will be a world where computers will be as common as telephones, where space orbit will be as common as interstate highways, where microchips will be as common as light bulbs.

I loved the complexity of this statement. In one way, Riley’s predictions were spot on—we carry computers in our pockets and microchips are more popular than ever. But, it’s hard to miss the assertion that space travel would be as common and ordinary as interstates.

Albeit, at times, this has been a tedious process, I loved organizing and combing through these documents, and I am excited to continue this project in the upcoming weeks.