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Dwight D. Eisenhower: Address at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
245 - Address at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.
July 26, 1960
Public Papers of the Presidents
Dwight D. Eisenhower<br>1960-61
Dwight D. Eisenhower

United States
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Mr. Chairman, members of this convention, your guests, and my fellow citizens across this broad land:

From our hearts, Mamie and I thank you for the warmth of your greeting.

My friends, there is no individual who has been in political life for five minutes that has not felt at times discouragement and disappointment. But such a demonstration as you have given to my wife and me tonight, after we have for seven and a half years been occupying the positions we now hold, is indeed a tribute that warms our hearts. We shall never forget you.

The enthusiasm I find throughout this Convention evidences your support of the domestic and international leadership that has been provided by Republicans during the past seven and a half years.

This means to me that, under sound Republican direction, you want, first of all, to stimulate--never weaken--the sturdy self-reliance and self-confidence of the American citizen, and sustain his equality before the law.

Next, that you believe moral law to be the sure foundation of every constructive human action.

Third, that you want to continue to foster a strong, expanding economy.

Next, that you are determined to continue the maintenance of a national security position second to none.

Next, that your deepest hope is that each of us may do his or her part in furthering the age-old dream of mankind--a universal peace with justice.

And finally, that each of you is ready to roll up your sleeves and to work tirelessly and in every conceivable, honorable way to help achieve these great purposes.

My friends, I have come before you to testify to my great pride in the America of today; and my confidence in the brightness of her future. I glory in the moral, economic and military strength of this nation, in the ideals that she upholds before the world, and in her readiness to assist the less fortunate of the earth to obtain and enjoy the blessings of freedom.

So to this convention I bring no words of despair or doubt about my country--no doleful prediction of impending disaster.

In this election campaign of 1960, I pray that Republicans will always remember the greatness of our nation and will talk only the truth about her--because, my friends, in spreading the truth we are not only being true to our national ideals but we are planting the fertile seeds of political victory.

We need not and we shall not distort or ignore the facts. The truth-the whole truth--will lead the American people to wise decisions in selecting the men and women to occupy positions of responsibility in government, including the man who will ride with me up Pennsylvania Avenue next January to be inaugurated as our next President.

And if we present the facts fervently, persistently, and widely, the next President of the United States will be a Republican--ind that will indeed be a blessing for America.

So this campaign is nothing less than a vast educational endeavor-presenting to the citizens the evidence they need in order to arrive at their individual judgments on the issues and the candidates.

Whoever misleads by calculated use of some but not all the facts, whoever distorts the truth to serve selfish ambition, whoever asserts weakness where strength exists--makes a mockery of the democratic process and misrepresents our beloved country in the eyes of a watching world.

The irrefutable truths are that the United States is enjoying an unprecedented prosperity; that it has, in cooperation with its friends and allies, the strongest security system in the world, and that it is working ceaselessly and effectively for a peace with justice, in freedom.

Our own mounting living standards and the history of these Republican years, provide the proof that these are facts.

It's not my purpose tonight to review the detailed story of these past seven and a half years. But our people are so deeply and naturally interested in the status and progress of American economic, military and foreign activities that to those fields I direct my particular attention.

Our foremost objective is the pursuit of peace with justice. To make any progress toward this goal we must have both a strong economy and adequate military strength. I will talk first of these two essential conditions.

The economic story can be quickly, succinctly, and accurately told. There are more Americans today employed, at higher wages and with more take-home pay than ever before in our history. And with this they have more confidence in the stability of their money than they have enjoyed in three decades.

Included in this record there is one economic comparison that has particular interest in this election year. It involves what the economists call the Gross National Product. Concerning it we are fed a great deal of information--and much more of mis-information. Now the interesting fact to which I refer is that in these past seven and a half years the annual Gross National Product has increased by one hundred billion dollars--or 25 per cent.

This figure, though stupendous, is asserted by some to be unnecessarily low. But what would they say if they knew that during the almost eight-year duration of the prior, Democratic, Administration, the Gross National Product actually declined in every single peacetime year, save one.

Are we not justified in drawing some appropriate conclusions from this fact? And by the way, the facts that I am giving you are in terms of constant dollars.

It is clear that whatever economic growth was realized during the previous Administration occurred mainly under wartime circumstances. Surely it is not suggested that this is the way for the United States to seek prosperity !

During all the years of this Administration, I've heard much from the opposition--especially from its free-spending clique--about increasing the rate of economic growth, by depending principally on governmental activity, with vastly increased federal expenditures.

Here we encounter a major difference between the two parties: we, as Republicans, reject the argument that healthy growth can thus be bought from the funds of the federal Treasury.

We believe profoundly that constant and unnecessary governmental meddling in our economy leads to a standardized, weakened, and tasteless society that encourages dull mediocrity; whereas private enterprise, dependent upon the vigor of healthful competition, leads to individual responsibility, pride of accomplishment, and, above all, national strength. This has always been, is now--and I pray will always be--basic Republican doctrine.

Our total picture of economic well-being contains another fact vitally important to every citizen: the amazing growth in national prosperity since 1953 has been accompanied by a radical reduction in the rate of inflation.

Inflation--the most insidious and cruel form of taxation ever devised-drove prices up 48 per cent in the previous Administration, thus robbing millions of our people of savings and of purchasing power.

In the last seven and a half years, we have succeeded in keeping the total price rise below eleven per cent. And, at least this is my fixed opinion, this record could have been even better if I might have had the privilege of working all these years with a Republican Congress.

Now over and above strictly material accomplishments, the American people have every reason to be proud of their many domestic achievements during these Republican years.

Our educational structure has been expanded and assisted to perform better its traditional functions.

A higher percentage of Americans than ever before own their own homes.

In science and technology, advances have been unprecedented.

My Science Adviser informs me that funds going into research and development are two and a half times greater than they were seven years ago.

Fifty million more Americans have been covered by private medical and hospital insurance

Medical research has expanded five times.

Seven and a half million more of our people have been covered by Social Security.

And, in the face of all the efforts of the reckless spenders to thwart the Administration, a budgetary surplus has been achieved, fiscal responsibility has been maintained, and confidence restored.

Such results are the fruit of sound, deliberate policies--including Executive veto of irresponsible, narrowly-conceived, pork-barrel legislation. These surpluses create new confidence in the principle of fiscal responsibility in the federal government, they lessen inflationary pressures and offer new hope for some debt reduction.

We have, of course, serious domestic problems still requiring attention. Mere recitation of a few of these emphasizes the moral obligation of the nation as a whole and each of its individual citizens in these matters.

Education must be improved.

Juvenile delinquency and crime cry out for renewed attack at every level.

Constructive solutions must be found for difficult agricultural problems.

Racial and religious discrimination must be combatted.

City slums must be erased, and depressed regions in our prosperous nation, where they exist, must be restored to economic health.

There can be no dispute about the necessity of getting on with the job in these and other pressing matters. But the major question is how shall it be done.

I repeat, it is Republican policy in such matters to rely first on the ingenuity and initiative of citizens themselves. Because it is the people in whom we place our faith. When government must undertake a program, we look wherever possible, to the State and local governments to assume the responsibility. The federal government undertakes only those necessary tasks which cannot otherwise be accomplished. But even so, the central government finds itself deeply involved, and the proper performance of these duties requires time, resources, experience and judgment.

It is an irresponsible misrepresentation for any party to allege that all the human and economic problems of this nation can be overcome in a short time, or accomplished by reckless spending of our grandchildren's resources--and all this, they claim, without increasing taxes or incurring new deficits.

We demand that the federal government give needed assistance cheerfully, but in ways that will protect the traditional relationship between federal and local government, and promote the dynamism of our total economy. Republicans support the concepts that animated the founding fathers, who feared nothing else so much as they did the concentration of power and responsibility in the central government.

Our record proves that we have lived and worked in these convictions.

Now I come to the military field.

In the sum of our capabilities we have become the strongest military power on earth.

But just as the Biblical Job had his boils, so we have a cult of professional pessimists who, taking counsel of their fears, continually mouth the allegation that America has become a second rate military power.

This extraordinary assertion amazes our friends in the world who know better; it even bewilders many of our own people who have examined our seven and a half year record of military expansion and who are not used to hearing their gigantic defense efforts so belittled.

But let me give you a few glimpses of the comparative record.

Let us go back to the last peacetime year of the previous Administration. Defense expenditures during the twelve months preceding the outbreak of the Korean War were less than $12 billion. Today, we are spending, after seven years without hostilities, over three times that much--more than $41 billion annually on a powerful, flexible and adequate defense establishment, which commands world-wide respect.

In 1953 our mainstay in the Strategic Air Command was the B-36. We still had many old World War II B-29s in operating squadrons.

Since then our fleet of heavy bombers has nearly doubled. And the bombers with which the Strategic Air Command is now equipped are B-52s, giant intercontinental jets which dwarf the power of the obsolete B-36s

New supersonic B-58s are entering our operational forces to replace some of the older, medium range B-47 jets.

A third of this great force, deployed strategically around the world, is maintained on continuous ground alert, able to take off within minutes, carrying an unimaginable destructive power.

When this Administration took office, continental U.S. defense was almost non-existent. Today, under single command, our continental defense against manned aircraft has virtually been completed. Against the threat of long range ballistic missiles, we are pressing forward with vast programs featuring 3,000-mile range radar stations and satellite warning systems.

In 1953, our Navy had yet to launch its first nuclear-powered ship. Aside from a handful of destroyer types, not a single modern first-line ship had joined the fleet since the end of the construction program of World War II.

Now the Navy has been progressively reshaped. fifty new guided missile ships have been authorized since 1953. We have provided for approximately the same number of nuclear-powered vessels. And two of the revolutionary Polaris submarines will be operational this year--and this has been done in two-thirds of the time predicted by the most optimistic of the scientists and sailors.

Incidentally, the Polaris submarine has just passed its final tests with flying colors. And here is another interesting fact: this revolutionary and practically invulnerable ballistic missile system was brought from initial concept to operational status entirely within the years of the present Administration.

How boastfully the Kremlin dictatorship would have gloated, had it been capable of this great achievement!

Now this nation did not have a single long-range ballistic missile in 1953, and no real effort to produce such ballistic missiles was under way. The total expenditure in this field by the previous Administration during its entire tenure was less than 7 million dollars.

Now promptly after the close of World War II, the Soviet Union began concentrating on missile development. But the present Administration, entering office in 1953, had to start practically from scratch. And what have we accomplished?

We have developed a whole family of intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missiles. And missile squadrons are operational in Western Europe. Our first operational intercontinental ballistic missiles have gone into place. The whole effort becomes more and more efficient and is being accelerated.

The American space satellites, now providing answers to great scientific problems, were ignored during the previous Administration. In this kind of scientific exploration we now lead the world.

The Army of the United States, which was sent into the Korean War, was but a slightly updated version of the Army with which we fought World War II. Since then, the Army and the Marines have been reorganized and re-equipped to fight under every conceivable condition. New man-carried guided missiles and nuclear-capable rockets are giving the foot soldier a vastly greater power than even that of a big bomber of World War II.

Fellow Americans: the United States today possesses a military establishment of incalculable power. Combined with the strength of our NATO, SEATO, and other allies, the free World is prepared to meet any threat, and, by its retaliatory strength, to face any potential aggressor with a mighty deterrent.

Over all these years we have given priority to the nation's security above other purposes and programs.

But, in addition to all this, competent military, scientific, intelligence and State Department staffs keep daily touch with changing international conditions as well as new possibilities for the technical improvement of our forces.

I have time and again announced my purpose of recommending to the Congress new methods and, where necessary, new appropriations to meet new situations and take advantage of new opportunities for increasing our security. Such vigilance will never be relaxed.

All this--all this has been brought about by vigorous and imaginative leadership, the genius of our scientists, the skill of our armed forces, and by the sacrifices of the American people. To belittle this might, prestige, pride and capabilities of these groups does such violence to my sense of what is right that I have difficulty in restraining my feelings of indignation.

And mark this well: the world knows that this awesome strength is maintained for one principal purpose: to make war so completely unthinkable that any would-be aggressor will not dare to attack us. And with such a deterrent and defensive power, we have the opportunity to work patiently toward the time when we can gradually transfer production from arms to the true needs of mankind. And this is America's goal.

And now I turn to our dealings with other nations.

In this Administration we have employed the whole might of our military, economic, political and moral strength to prevent war and to build a solid structure of peace. If we can be blessed with experienced and steady leadership in Washington, the possibility of the outbreak of future war will be minimized and we can eventually win the peace.

By conducting foreign relations with patience and on firm principle, we have made in these past years measurable progress in solidifying dependable cooperation among our allies; the uncommitted nations have come to have a clearer understanding of our purposes; the world is better aware of the fundamental nature of the mighty struggle in which we are engaged--a struggle to preserve the basic concepts which undergird our free way of life.

In this vast effort we have experienced a great sweep of progress. Now in such a gigantic program, working toward such great goals as these, we of course encounter some disappointments--witness the difficulties in Cuba, the unrest in the Congo, and Communist-inspired mob violence in Japan. But such as these we have to expect, and each is a spur to harder work--never shall we cease or tire in this task.

In the pursuit of world peace, I have personally journeyed more than 90,000 miles during the past year, and I have visited the peoples of more than a score of nations on four continents. I have heard the insistent demands of multitudes for the right to live their lives in peace, and I have seen and taken part in many impressive American initiatives directed toward this crucial goal.

In Europe, our friends are more prosperous and stronger than at any time in history, and NATO stands more solidly united with greater resources of strength than ever before.

The independence of South Korea endures, as does that of South Vietnam and Taiwan. The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, organized in 1954, manifests our deep interest in the freedom and welfare of 175 million people in that quarter of the world, as does the new Security Treaty between Japan and ourselves.

The American family of nations is more closely knit than ever before, with new instruments for effective cooperation. We have created the Inter-American Development Bank with our Latin American friends. We have established the Development Loan fund in order to avoid placing unreasonable burdens upon developing nations--we have increased the lending capacity of the Export-Import Bank by approximately $2 billion. Despite the lawlessness and violence in one area of this Hemisphere, there has been an increased recognition of the mutuality of interest of the countries of the Americas in cultural, economic and military ways; our importance one to another has been reaffirmed.

We have given of our strength, our skills, and our material abundance in the task of building a strong, stable, secure and powerful community of free nations. And from this work we shall not be deterred, despite the blustering threats of Communists leaders.

Another matter engaging our constant concern is to make steady progress toward controlled disarmament. The United States has made proposal after proposal, each in good faith, in an effort to reduce tension in the world and to lessen the economic burden of armaments.. Moreover, we are prepared always to consider any reasonable proposal made by others.

But on one point we must never waver--and that is our insistence that agreements toward disarmament be accompanied by sound methods of inspection and control. The absolute necessity of this caution is readily understood when one recalls that the government with which we must deal in these matters has, since 1945, broken an uncounted number of solemn agreements made with us and other nations of the free world.

The ideas, policies and cooperative programs among democratic countries must accommodate themselves to the frequent and erratic change in the Soviet attitudes.

Only a few months ago, the men in the Kremlin were calling for complete and total disarmament. But suddenly thereafter they began devising one crisis after another.

They brutally wrecked the Summit Conference.

They have threatened us with missiles.

And today they cold-bloodedly boast of shooting down one of our planes legitimately travelling over intercontinental waters.

All such events, emphasizing the tactical unpredictability and shiftiness of Soviet leaders, call for constant analysis and reappraisal.

At this moment I am planning on an early conference with Congressional leaders of both parties on these significant events. And depending upon developments in the meantime, I shall make such recommendations for any changes in our own national programs as may then seem appropriate.

High in our thinking about the future of the world must be the fact that millions of people are crushed under the heavy heel of Communist imperialism. The conscience of America can never be completely clear until the precious right of freedom of choice is extended to all people, everywhere.

Now when the men of the Kremlin flagrantly misrepresent the facts by saying that we seek to subjugate one of our near neighbors, when they threaten us with missiles, they are apparently hoping to divert world attention from the domination they maintain over once free and proud peoples--these are people who have been guilty of nothing under the sun save a craving for the right to live as they themselves choose to live.

The Soviet dictator has said that he has, in his recent journeys and speeches, succeeded in damaging the prestige of America. Now this is indeed an empty boast.

Concerning this matter of comparative national prestige, I challenge him to this test: will he agree to the holding of free elections under the sponsorship of the United Nations--to permit people everywhere--in every nation and on every continent, to vote on one single simple issue:

That issue is: do you want to live under a Communist regime or under a free system such as found in the United States?

My friends, are the Soviets willing to measure their world prestige by the results of such elections? Well, you know the answer to that one.

But the United States would gladly do so.

To replace misunderstanding with genuine human comprehension-to develop and maintain sound relations among the nations--to find ways to share the bounty of our harvests with others, without disrupting normal world markets--to have sympathetic identification with all peaceful revolutions which seek greater freedom and better living--and to do all these things without violating our basic policies of nonintervention and freedom of choice for all--these are among the complex world problems with which the United States must deal.

And I profoundly believe that Republican policies and Republican leaders provide us with our best opportunity to carry these, as well as our domestic, tasks to completion.

And now, permit me a word about our personal approach to the business of this Convention, and to our duty to our, selves, to our Party, to our Nation.

You delegates assembled here are a significant part of American life. You are the leaders, the representatives and the workers of the Republican Party.

You have come here on business of the utmost seriousness to the Nation. Your purpose is not merely partisan victory, for political victory except as it is for the achievement of noble aims is devoid of meaning and value. But you are here to convince America that you, our Party, by its record of integrity and accomplishment--and by reason of the character and stature of the candidates it will put forward--is worthy of the great national responsibilities and leadership which victory in November will bring to them.

Your continuing objective is to serve every citizen--not a favored few. You recognize each as a creature of God's creation; you make no distinction in according him equality before the law and respecting his rightful dignity.

Now in the course of a year the members of this Convention come in contact with uncounted numbers of our citizens. I think you would agree that there has been a great change in their attitude about politics in the years since World War II.

They are no longer willing to condone or to brush aside trickery and insincerity with the phrase, "That's just politics."

They expect and demand honesty, integrity and moral courage from the men and women who bear public responsibilities. They know that political office should be--and demand it be--a position of trust and honor; qualification for it must comprehend more than mere personal ambition. They realize, as never before, that the stakes in today's world are too high to risk their futures to the hands of frivolous, irresponsible or inexperienced government.

Now within this Convention I hear that there is some dispute among the delegates concerning the Platform. Now there is nothing wrong in this. It is good! Only through open, sincere discussion can we as a Party present our united conclusions on the great issues that confront Americans both at home and abroad. Your Party expects that you, the delegates of the Republican Party, will work out these differences in a spirit of patriotic dedication, and will adopt out of your collective wisdom, a Platform that our nation can proudly support.

Though there is room for healthy argument within our Party, you have come to this Convention with a unity of basic conviction and philosophy unprecedented in the nation's political history. This is because the purposes and ideals for which your Party has striven, have commanded your loyal cooperation and the respect of the public. And under them our people have realized great gains.

In the successes of the past seven and a half years you have a solid foundation on which to build toward new levels of attainment. But thank God there is no smugness or complacency about your accomplishments.

Indeed, today's world demands that we be alert and responsive to every national requirement, attacking it at every appropriate level of government--as well as in every private sector--with vigor, judgment and imagination.

My friends, finally, I express my confidence that we shall do nothing here to insult the intelligence--to injure the pride or destroy the confidence of the American people in the great nation they have built. We shall do nothing here to serve the cult of pessimism, to spread false gospel among our allies or create misunderstanding among ourselves. You will make your decisions of your own free will--uninfluenced by any outside designs and pressures.

You will return to your homes--as you came--serious, patriotic American citizens, with a fuller confidence that you can lead our country onward, always to greater heights.

You will go back with your spirits and your hopes held high. You will be armed with far-sighted and progressive plans for the years ahead, and an unquenchable determination to bring the truth to every citizen everywhere. So doing you will assure victory once more for sound, courageous and enlightened government in the United States.

Now--my friends, one more word. May I say that my wife and I look forward, next January twentieth to meeting all of you, knowing that you will come with the happy, glowing faces of victors.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:42 p.m. at the Union Stockyards Amphitheater in Chicago. His opening words "Mr. Chairman" referred to Thruston B. Morton, Chairman of the Republican National Committee and U.S. Senator from Kentucky.
Citation: Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Address at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.," July 26, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=11890.
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