Little more than a month after his decisive gubernatorial victory of November 1980, Governor Hunt announced that his second inauguration would be as down-home and unpretentious as his first: dress would be business or Sunday suits; the setting would be informal and outdoors; speeches would be brief. On Saturday, January 10, 1981, the governor's party walked in freezing rain the one block from the Governor's Mansion on Blount Street to the outdoor speakers' platform on the steps of the Archives and History Building, where before an audience of some four thousand Hunt took the oath of office administered by Chief Justice Joseph Branch.
After removing his chesterfield, Hunt delivered a ten-minute inaugural address. It vigorously sounded his theme for the eighties: "Across the nation the winds of retreat are blowing," he declared. "But North Carolina must sail against the wind." The reference was to the newly elected Reagan administration. Hunt noted paradoxically that the "role of the federal government is properly diminishing, and the states can again become the true laboratories of democracy." With the careful pragmatism that often characterized his rhetoric, the governor declared that while "it is time for government to reduce its burdens on the people," it is "not a time to turn back from progress." He insisted that North Carolina, which had become the tenth most populous state, was "poised to lead the nation."
But then he mentioned the state's obstacles--it was forty-first in per capita income and forty-seventh in infant mortality, its schools had high drop-out rates, and many of its rivers were polluted. He challenged the state to join the technological revolution, to volunteer to help a child learn to read, to protect neighbors against crime, and to give aid to senior citizens. In a reference to the Greensboro Klan-Communist shoot-out, he said the state would not tolerate "bigotry or hatred." He concluded: "We shall light the flame of human brotherhood."
Two days later, at the swearing in of his new cabinet, the governor expanded on the centrist theme of his inaugural address. "We must prove that we can be both conservative and progressive. We must prove that government can be both lean and compassionate." Hunt repeated the goals he had campaigned on in 1980: Economic development, education, energy alternatives, environmental protection, and crime control. "Inflation is our greatest problem," he declared. "We are going to be conservative in the use