Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at the Hunt Armory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

October 09, 1956

Senator Martin, Senator Duff, members of the Pennsylvania Republican Delegation from the Congress, My Fellow Citizens:

My first task as Mamie Eisenhower's husband is to bring to you a message from her. She is most regretful that she has fallen prey to a cold the like of which seems to be very prevalent in Washington and she is missing one of the trips she had looked forward to very much. She asked me to express her regret.

My friends, I am here tonight to do some plain talking.

Now, there is one thing that is not an issue in this campaign. It is this: the longing of all Americans for peace, prosperity and progress. No one in this country of any political party--is against peace. No one is against progress, and certainly no one is against prosperity.

What then is the real issue? It is this: what principles--what policies and programs--can best help our people to gain and to guard these blessings?

How shall we debate this issue? I do it with this conviction: what matters in a democracy is not how loudly our leaders speak-but how responsibly--not how big their promises are--but how honest.

And I--for one--am tired of talk about "high roads" and "low roads," when there is only one road worthy of American intelligence-and that is the road of truth.

Our great concerns, of course, are: the prosperity of our nation, the progress of our people, the peace of the world. And our prayer, as a people, is that we may know these blessings--all at the same time.

For a whole generation, this has rarely been true.

In the 1930's we knew peace--a troubled peace--but few of us knew prosperity: and so there was little progress.

In the 1940's most of us knew prosperity--but there was little peace: so again our progress stalled. And no sooner was Nazi-

ism destroyed--than Communist aggression was on the march.

Now--after the events of the last four years--I believe a new hope rises in all of us: we can, in the years just ahead, know the blessings of peace and prosperity and progress all at the same time. But one thing is plain: it will not come by happy accident or lucky coincidence. It can come only by firm and true principles and policies--by hard work--and, as the times may demand it, by sacrifice.

So the issue is--not how we dream about meeting the future-but how we plan to master it.


The record of this Administration is now before the American people. It consists of almost four years of solid accomplishments.

Now there is also before the people a second record--the record of what our political opponents have been saying these last many weeks.

Now I must refer briefly to this verbal record of theirs. Frankly I dislike wasting time in taking notice of political charge and accusation. But when partisan oratory has concealed or twisted the facts, I deem it a duty to you to call it to your attention.

Let me give you a few specifics.

They say that your government of today cares only for "big business"--nothing for "small business."

Now what are the facts? The fact--the testing fact--is that the enforcement of anti-trust laws has never been more strict and effective than in these last four years. Last year, the year 1955, a total of 54 new anti-trust actions were begun by your government.

The fact is that we--not they--created the Small Business Administration as an independent peacetime agency of government. The fact is that the share of defense contracts going to small business during the last three fiscal years is well above the three preceding years.

Now they say that your government has done nothing to check inflation.

What are the facts? The cost of living soared almost 50 percent in the last 7 years of the prior Administration--and it has risen less than 3 percent under this Administration. Now, my friends, with the record of this contrast before the people--I should think the opposition would be the last ones to talk about inflation.

Now they say that your government has ignored our children's need for education.

Again, the facts. Not once but twice, in my State of the Union messages of 1955 and 1956, I urged swift action by Congress. For the first time in our history the Federal government called a great assembly of educators from all over the country to help develop a school program; the plan I submitted to Congress reflected their wisdom and experience. That 5-year program was rejected by the opposition. One fact in this thing is quite clear and simple: this Administration urged action--and the opposition controlling the Congress produced nothing. And now, I propose to urge the next Congress to get this job done--not in five--but in four years.

Next--in their political oratory--we find a whole series of curious statements falsely implying that this Administration cares nothing for the man that they rather patronizingly call "the little fellow."

Now, by the way, who has the right to call any American the "little fellow"? Doesn't the word "American" still mean that we are all equal?

They say your government is indifferent to labor. They say your government is negligent in social security, indifferent to the unemployed.

This amounts to saying that your government has no interest in the people of America. This amounts to the charge that your government has betrayed your trust. Such talk is political irresponsibility at its worst.

I wonder just what kind of political children they think the American people are? And I also wonder what kind of man they think I am?

Now again, let's look at some pertinent facts.

Labor's share in our national income today is 70 cents out of every dollar--a record high for the last 20 years.

Labor unions have grown to their greatest strength--and won their best contracts--in all the history of American labor.

Social security has been extended to include 10 million more workers.

Federal programs to advance the health of the American people have been expanded and improved as never before in our history.

Unemployment insurance has been extended to 4 million more workers--and its benefits increased by the States--at our urging-for many more millions.

My friends, this last month, just this last September, the unemployment rate in America was the lowest it has been in the whole last twenty years.

And finally: these political orators offer us this bundle of things. They promise bigger government spending on every front--lower taxes for every citizen--all wrapped up in the bright package of a balanced national budget.

Now these contradictions inspire one comment. Many people have said--and I agree--that this Administration marches politically in the "middle of the road." Obviously, any political opposition has a natural right to try to pass us on this road--by going either to the right or to the left. But there is one thing that is not natural, for the simple reason that it cannot be done: to pass on both sides at the same time.


Now, my friends, I turn with considerable relief from the record of this clattering campaign oratory--to the record of this Administration--and to the progress of our country.

I need not recite the details. They are written plainly across the land we live in. But this truth I repeat: the facts of this progress are not political or economic accidents. Each is based upon specific principles and policies.

I give only a few examples.

How and why has the number of civilian jobs increased since 1952 at a rate twice the pace of the preceding four years?

It has not been done by fabulous Federal spending--for spending has been cut by billions. It has been done by encouraging the skills of American labor and the power of American industry--to enrich the lives, not of a favored few, but of all Americans.

How and why have we been able to check the rise in the cost of living?

It is done by applying sense and thrift and discipline to our costs and our fiscal policies. This is the very foundation of a sound dollar. And remember, a sound dollar is vital--not for the rich, who may afford the loss of inflation--but for every citizen looking ahead to social security payments--in sound dollars.

How and why have we been able--in other ways--to help labor toward such great progress and strength?

It has not been done by using government power as a substitute for good faith in labor-management relations--as when the previous Administration tried to take over the steel industry in 1952. It has been done by respecting free collective bargaining--and respecting the men who do the bargaining.

Now these few simple examples make one thing clear. There is a basic conflict between our policies and those of the opposition.

They stand for: bigger government costs and spending beyond revenue--therefore, loose handling of the dollar--therefore, inflation-and, inevitably, centralized Federal power.

We stand for: economy in government--stabilized living cost-and the citizen's greater freedom from Federal intervention in his work and life. My friends, we stand equally for effective governmental action in all phases of our national life where Federal action can best do the job. Now, out of these broad principles of government grows our partnership policy among Federal, State and local governments.

And we believe--in these last four years--we have proved our case.

One of the stalwarts who has assisted this Administration right straight through has been your own Senator Duff, whom I expect you to return to the Senate this fall.

Representatives John Saylor, Jim Fulton, Bob Corbett--and I notice here this evening also Dick Simpson, have also been helpful. And before I leave this point, may I ask you also, as Pennsylvanians, to send down to help them, your new and young candidates Herb Morrison, Sid Lockley, Willits McCaskey, Dick Witt and Ross Walker.


Now, my friends, as we have prospered, we have vigorously pursued our greatest quest. For all things in life would mean little--without the faith that we, as a people, were on the road to peace--a peace of justice in a world of law.

For many of us, the hopeful turning in that road seemed to come three years ago. That was the moment when death--death in the mountains of Korea--no longer cast its shadow across the homes of America.

Yet that moment marked--not the end--but the beginning of our struggle for peace. For though the guns are stilled, yet true peace--a peace in which all peoples of the world may confidently trust--means much more than this.

It means a world in which all of man's toil serves his advancement--not his destruction.

Some of the ways in which we have been waging this struggle:

We have been helping other peoples in the world to save or to regain their own freedom.

We have been perfecting our own military strength--making it so effective and so efficient that our free economy can sustain it for however long we live in peril.

And we have made clear to all peoples that America seeks strength only because America loves peace. The meeting at the Summit of Geneva made this clear, a fact that later the Presidents of all the Americas, meeting in Panama, recognized and applauded. There have been other clear proofs of our purpose: our plans for world disarmament--programs of atoms-for-peace--the fostering of world trade--and helping other peoples combat poverty and need.

We have--in all this--simply paid attention to some plain lessons of recent history. They are:

Weakness invites aggression. Strength stops it.

And our determination to resist aggression must be made plain before--and not after--the event. For the first you can do with peaceful acts and policies. But the second you can do only with guns.

So, in all our work for peace, we have constantly sought to strengthen our alliances--and our understanding--with all our friends in the world. Through meetings and constant correspondence with leaders of the other free nations--many of them my personal friends--I have tried to consolidate our common purpose. For this road to peace is one that all of us can travel-else none can do so.

My fellow citizens, these matters should always be studied exhaustively and discussed soberly in our democracy.

Here--again--I must mention what the opposition has been saying only because it is so vital that we all understand these matters clearly.

They--the opposition--have urged stout military defense with greater reliance on modern weapons--but have advised stopping our atomic tests.

They have promised national security and a bold role in world affairs--while they urge us to start thinking about ending the military draft.

Now I, my friends, as your President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, cannot and will not make proposals contrary to national interest--nor offer you attractive prospects if they are unjustified by world realities.

I will not promise that winning a peace based on justice will be cheap and easy.

The issue of our military draft is no matter of a technical point to be scored in a political debate. It is a matter of the safety of our nation.


Because we need the manpower.

Because we cannot pretend that rockets and bombs make brains and hands obsolete.

Because our future military burden must not be borne always and entirely by veterans who have already earned their nation's gratitude.

Because we cannot encourage our allies in the world to shoulder arms--while we throw down our own.

Now, let me say, the truth before us is clear.

Strong--we shall stay free.

Weak--we shall have only our own good intentions to be written as our epitaph.


The history of free men is never really written by chance--but by choice--their choice.

It is a matter of national will, of political decision, of moral purpose.

If our will today be strong, our decision emphatic, and our purpose clear--I truly believe that these years before us may belong to our history as among the most fruitful and the most honorable that America has ever known.

My fellow citizens, no one man--certainly not I--nor any political party could ever truthfully pretend that his efforts--or its efforts--alone can bring all good things to pass.

But I dare speak a simple belief--and a simple prayer.

I would dare believe, first, that history may say that, during the years of my first Administration, the faith of our people--in the growth of peace and of justice--grew steadily stronger.

But beyond this, there is something deeper. Looking ahead, I would pray that if it be the people's will that I continue my present service--the years of my second Administration may prove that--thanks to the labor of all Americans--this great faith of theirs was justified.

Thank you very much.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at the Hunt Armory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233347

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