Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at the Annual Convention of the National Young Republican Organization, Mount Rushmore National Monument, South Dakota.

June 11, 1953

Mrs. Chairman, Governor Anderson, distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen:

I have been signally honored in the invitation from this organization to come to this beautiful spot today. I have been privileged to come with the two distinguished United States Senators from this state, Senator Mundt and Senator Case, and with them Congressman Berry and Congressman Lovre.

We are further complimented today by the presence here of a group of young Republicans now serving you and all of us in Congress. So all in all it makes it an occasion that will live long in my memory.

Now one of the many responsibilities I acquired last year was that of becoming leader of the Republican Party. I am very proud--and I may add that I am kept intensely aware--of this special responsibility.

Most Americans would agree with me that it is not appropriate for the President of the United States to indulge incessantly in partisan political activities--every day on every possible occasion. Many of the most critical problems before our country are in no sense partisan issues. They involve all Americans; and in meeting them the President must strive to serve all our citizens. For these problems threaten freedom itself. They summon and demand unadulterated patriotism.

Yet all Americans also have the deep conviction that representative government requires a healthy two-party system. In this sense, the responsibility of the President as party leader is recognized as an inescapable duty, essential to democracy itself.

Having been all my life a member of a militant organization, it would be strange indeed if I should lack satisfaction in a meeting with militant Republicans--and the young Republicans have certainly earned that title. I assure you that your zeal, your courage, your energy in serving our country through the GOP excite my admiration and command my deepest respect; likewise my affection.

I therefore welcome this opportunity to meet with a Republican group, and particularly to speak to you young men and women who tomorrow will be leading this party and, let me add with confidence, leading this Nation.

Now some members of the opposition party will, of course, contest this in every way they can. With vast volumes of anguished oratory, they will proclaim their grief over all we do.

We must be philosophic and patient about all this. For this sound-and-fury also is a characteristic element in our two-party system. And we must keep our sense of humor always, for since time immemorial man has heard no cry more agonized than that of the deposed bureaucrat or the demoted politician.

Now understanding all this, let us nevertheless remind ourselves that no party's tenure of office is assured by merely wishing it so. Our tenure will depend, first of all, upon Republican performance--upon the wisdom and the unity we prove in advancing a program that will serve the interests and needs of all our citizens. It will depend, beyond this, upon the efficiency of the Republican organization in bringing to every citizen in the land clear knowledge of our problems and our progress toward their solution.

We Republicans, in short, though identified as a partisan political party, can know and serve our own interests only as we know and serve those of all our people--of all parties and races and creeds. Hence, as we join in a partisan meeting with great satisfaction, we gather in a spirit not so much partisan as American.

Now your individual and collective interest in our party is especially vital, for its whole future belongs to you. You are interested, as are your elders, in the present. You share its burdens-- you must provide your share of the required leadership.

But obviously, your youth makes you the possessors of the future--and makes the Republican party yours to commend or to correct, to strengthen in wisdom and in will.

For this reason, you have a special right to ask of me: What is this party of ours achieving in Washington: what are its methods today and its hopes for tomorrow? And, above all, what beliefs are ruling its growth and its future ?

Now let me try to answer these questions as briefly and clearly as I can.

To summarize something of what the Republican party has done--in just 5 months--I cite 10 quite specific achievements. These are 10 areas in which deeds, not promises, testify to the work done.

First, in the field of foreign affairs: we have dedicated our party resolutely to a policy seeking to strengthen and secure friendship and cooperation among all nations loving freedom and resisting tyranny. We have recognized that the power to stay free demands spiritual strength, economic strength, military strength; and the fostering of all of these is essential to true collective security.

We have worked not only to improve our defense against threatened Communist aggression--not only to eliminate in the non-Communist world those conditions that invite the propaganda of the Communists, but also to encourage strains and stresses within the ranks of the 800 millions in the Soviet world now denied the hopes and the rewards of a free life.

We have--in the 5 months we have been in office--been striving both to perfect this policy and to make it clearly understood by our friends throughout the world. Our special emissaries have gone, or shortly will be going, to almost every section of the globe, to make plain our single, simple purpose: peace and security for ourselves and for our friends everywhere.

It has been in this spirit, for example, that an American Secretary of State has made, for the first time in our history, a pilgrimage to an area of utmost importance to us all--the Near and Middle East and South Asia. And in the same purpose of good will, in that same spirit, my brother, the president of Pennsylvania State College, will soon start on an extended visit on my behalf to South America.

Signs of such good will must be matched by the evidence of good deeds.

Firm and lasting collective security cannot be built of promises and gestures alone. For this reason, our foreign aid program as now conceived and administered--realistically and economically--is indispensable to all our security arrangements. All the plans we have made, including many of the savings in our security department, are conceivable and practicable only when geared to this essential foreign aid. For only this aid enables our friends in the world to assume their proper roles in the common defense of freedom.

I know that you especially appreciate this truth. For I have found everywhere in our country that young men and women are conspicuously and keenly aware of the meaning and the demands of collective security--without which there is no true security for any one.

Next, we have reviewed and revised military defense plans to meet realistically the needs of our times. These plans are designed to avoid the need for "crash" operations meeting sudden unforeseen crises. They are projected ahead for a continuing, not an intermittent, time of crisis. We must be ready to meet not merely some sudden, lightning like attack but the enduring responsibilities, both military and economic, that fall upon us as the leaders of freedom's forces.

The programs we have devised are calculated primarily to make and keep us militarily secure during such an age. They are conceived--with care and logic--in the hope that even the Soviets can be persuaded to see the utter folly of counting upon the success of aggression or, indeed, of depending solely upon armaments for security. Whenever that day truly dawns, then the burden of arms now so grievously slowing the social progress of mankind can be lifted from the world--and the pursuit of human happiness be gloriously speeded.

Next, we have freed our economy of needless stifling controls and at the same time taken effective steps to assure the well-being of all our people. Throughout our economy, the power of American initiative is being encouraged again to prove itself.

Without resort to emergency measures, for example, we have seen cattle prices show signs of stabilizing, after the drastic drop begun many, many months ago. A new international wheat agreement has been negotiated which, once ratified, will assure for our farmers of an export outlet for large quantities of wheat at a price 25 cents above the previous agreement.

We are revitalizing the foreign agricultural service to promote foreign trade. Legal price supports have been maintained, while spoilage has been reduced and storage costs have been cut. Agriculture, caught today in a harsh squeeze because of high operating costs, needs the prospect of a good, stable income.

We are now busily engaged in consulting farmers from all parts of the United States, to help us work out a program designed to achieve this goal, without regimenting the farm families of America. I am confident we can do it.

Next, and I assure you, most important, we have instituted what amounts almost to a revolution in Federal Government as we have seen it operating in our generation. We have set about making it smaller rather than bigger--we have been finding things it can stop doing rather than new things for it to do. Recommended expenditures for the next year have been cut by $4.5 billion, and requests of the Congress for new money have been reduced by more than $8.5 billion. The Federal payroll is already smaller by more than 50 thousand individuals--which means a saving of no less than $180 million per year. And every single department of the Government has reduced its requests for money for the next year.

Next, we have set about making Government not only more economical but more efficient in its operations, by speeding reorganizations of whole departments. These have included the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense, the State Department, the Government Information Program, the Department of Justice, the Mutual Security Agency.

This has meant that refining and coordination of Government functions ranging all the way from the welfare of the farms of South Dakota to the construction of air bases in North Africa.

Next, we have created a new Cabinet office--the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. For the first time the problems of the needy and the sick, the aged and the helpless are in charge of a major department of the Federal Government.

Next, we are helping to foster the revitalization of local and State government. We have instituted a complete review of Federal-State relations, with the purpose of clearing lines of authority, eliminating wasteful duplication, and insuring to State and local governments the responsibility for all functions properly theirs.

We have called the Governors of all the States to a conference in Washington, to review with them the whole matter of national security, and this healthy practice is to be repeated regularly in the years ahead. Respecting the rights and responsibilities of the States, we have determined the disposition of the tidelands oil with action that, in my deep conviction, recognizes fairly the Constitutional rights of both Federal and State Governments.

Next, we have attacked the problem of internal security with a vigor long overdue. We have set up security regulations in the Federal Government which, while strictly respecting the just rights of every civil servant, at the same time recognize this basic principle: Government employment itself is not a right but a privilege.

This privilege is at last being categorically denied anyone not worthy of the American people's trust--whether in any department of Government, or in the delegation of the United Nations, or in any Embassy abroad. This assuring of proper security, as I said in the State of the Union Message, is the direct responsibility of the executive branch of the Government. This responsibility is now being met.

And I assure you again it is being met, as it must be met, without resort to un-American methods; the rights of the innocent and the reputation of the devoted public servant must be militantly defended. Should we fail in this, we would have none but failures and wasters left to serve the Federal Government.

And here let me repeat once again: the vast bulk of your Federal employees comprise dedicated and able citizens. I respect and I honor them.

Next, we have, through a healthy and thoroughly renovated Department of Justice, begun effectively to attack crime and corruption. This attack cares more for the substance of the results it achieves than for the size of the television audiences it commands. A completely overhauled Department of Justice staff is directing these operations--from major anti-trust actions to the exposure of vicious crime rings that have long ruled the docks of our major ports.

Next and finally, we have taken substantial steps toward ensuring equal civil rights to all our citizens regardless of race or creed or color.

Again: these actions have been designed to remove terrible injustices rather than to capture headlines. They are being taken, quietly and determinedly, wherever the authority of the Federal Government extends.

Action has been taken in Army camps and schools. And in the District of Columbia, before the bar of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General has successfully appealed for the upholding of laws barring segregation in all public places in our National Capital.

This list, then, suggests some of our forward movement in 10 critical areas of Government. It would be foolish to pretend that these achievements are more than a beginning. But I sincerely believe they are a good beginning.

There is something to be added here that is scarcely less important for our future. It is this: these results have been achieved by ways and means that, while not new in our history, have been too long out of fashion in our Government.

First, one fact I think is particularly meaningful to you: this administration is profoundly young in spirit. Perhaps in this, more than anything else, I can say to you: there has been a change in Washington.

The men directing the work of this administration are uncompromised by years of political promises and campaign oratory. They are not prisoners of their own past mistakes or their own stale habits of handling public affairs. They are busily-freshly--youthfully--at work.

Secondly, another new quality in the working of this administration is reflected in the role of the Cabinet. The Cabinet can be whatever kind of body the administration wants. It can, on the one hand, be a score of heads that do nothing but nod, in neat array--a kind of agreeable approval of everything proposed by the President. It can be, in the other extreme, a babel of discordant voices in which the prize of decision belongs to the loudest voice.

The present Cabinet, I assure you, belongs to neither of these futile extremes. It is a group of capable and purposeful individuals. They give advice candidly and thoughtfully, speaking their several minds freely and lucidly to but one purpose--to offer the best, the wisest programs within their power for all our 160 million citizens. And this applies to the Republican leaders of the Senate and the House as well as the officers of the Cabinet.

In this same spirit of constructive purpose have been shaped the relations between the executive and legislative branches of the Government. I have had the pleasure of meeting at the White House with every Senator and almost every Congressman of both parties--a number of whom, though veterans in Government, had never before entered the President's house.

These meetings have reflected a major purpose of this administration. It is this: to do all that it reasonably can do to encourage cooperation and harmony between the legislative and executive branches. For only such harmony can advance coherent, consistent policies at a time when all the world must be made aware of America's steady direction and aims. This effort has been shared by our party's legislative leaders.

We believe that an essential part of last year's electoral decision was the people's serious summons to restore balance and order and sense and continuity to our national policies. In this, the Chief Executive and his Cabinet heads have special responsibilities of leadership. But they can achieve needed results only by patient persuasion, sound argument, friendly contact.

Government must not allow its policies to be caught in the fatal crossfire of a Congress and an Executive warring upon one another. Such a condition is not going to prevail if it is within the power of this administration to prevent it. My young friends, I don't think anything could be more important to our Government than this particular point. Our very form of Government is in peril unless each branch willingly accepts and discharges its own clear responsibilities--and respects the rights and responsibilities of the others.

There is no compromise in principle involved in seeking to adhere to effective--and let me say constitutional--methods in Government. To every idea, to every specific measure, that this administration has ever endorsed--or to which I subscribed last summer and fall--we continue and shall continue to give our unswerving support.

Under this form of Government, a special duty of the Executive is to devise and present to the Congress broad programs affecting the welfare of America and her citizens both at home and abroad. So long as the Republicans are in power, these programs must conform to certain basic beliefs that distinguish us as a party.

I suggest that these beliefs define this party of ours, its character and its purposes--not in terms merely of the next election, but of the fateful decades stretching out before us.

What are some of these beliefs?

We believe, of course, in the dignity and the freedom of the individual. And we believe that, in determining his own daily welfare, each citizen, however humble, has greater wisdom than any Government, however great.

We believe that every citizen... of every race and creed--deserves to enjoy equal civil rights and liberties, for there can be no such citizen in a democracy as a half-free citizen.

We believe that the just and proper concern of Government is not exclusively the laborer nor the businessman nor the farmer nor the veteran, but all of these, all citizens and families and communities-none with special privileges, but all with special needs of equal concern to truly representative Government.

We believe that, in this age of peril to freedom everywhere, plain patriotism compels us to see that our own Nation's freedom and security depend upon the fate of the entire community of free nations.

We believe that the best way to defend these precious ideals of individual freedom is that middle way which avoids extremes in purpose and in action.

This middle way means--in world affairs--a national policy that is firm without being truculent, specific without being timid.

This means--in domestic affairs--a national policy that heeds both the inalienable liberties of the individual and his need for security against poverty and unforeseen disaster. This middle way means guarding against those enemies who would claim the privilege of freedom in order to destroy freedom itself.

It means guarding, no less, against any who would pretend to defend this freedom with weapons from the arsenal of the tyrant. For to defend freedom in ways that themselves destroy freedom is suicide--perhaps slow, but certainly sure.

And I suggest one thing more: a party truly confident of its devotion to the good of all the people need fear neither partisan criticism nor self-criticism. To be truly good servants, we need not pretend perfection. We do make mistakes. We shall continue to make them. But to see them and to acknowledge them is half to atone for them.

Let us always, in this spirit, strive to scrutinize ourselves no less carefully than our opponents. Let us remember that the middle way, which we are following in confidence, compels us to leave to others the rolling of loud drums and the shouting of empty slogans.

Let us remember always to be fearless and uncompromising in speaking the truth to the people, whether this truth concerns the perils of world affairs, deficits in our budgets, disappointments in our own programs.

Let us remember, in the affairs of the market place, how vast is the difference between a healthy, rugged individualism and a heartless, ruthless selfishness.

Let us remember--at every instant--that no interest of party can ever come before the interest of the Nation.

Let us remember that our Government--however grand its philosophy, however majestic its processes--is simply as good and as wise and as just as the thousands of people serving it, staffing the offices, filling the halls of Congress, advising the President. And this call to work, to serve, reaches to all of you, in every community in our land--each to do his part in helping us to stay free.

And let us always, even as we rightly revere the past and its heritage of freedom, never fear or doubt the future. For this-the future--is the hope and the home of all who are young and are free, if only they are brave.

The simple words that must ever guide us are those I have repeated so often today. We believe. We have faith. For the very foundation of our Government is this: we trust in the merciful providence of God, whose image, within every man, is the source and substance of each man's dignity and freedom.

My young friends, my pride in the Republican Party and my special loyalty to its young standard-bearers springs from my deep conviction that you are faithfully dedicated to the respect of that dignity, to the defense of that freedom, for all our people.

Thank you very much, indeed.

Note: In his opening words the President referred to Mrs. Carol R. Arth and Governor Sigurd Anderson of South Dakota.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at the Annual Convention of the National Young Republican Organization, Mount Rushmore National Monument, South Dakota. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231592

Filed Under



South Dakota

Simple Search of Our Archives