Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at the New York Republican State Committee Dinner, Astor Hotel, New York City.

May 07, 1953

Governor Dewey, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I suppose that you all know this is a very new experience for me; and I showed, I think, my respect for the organization of a one-hundred-dollar-a-plate political dinner by having mine on the train. I should assure you I am now just a bureaucrat.

It is a very great pleasure to come here, a distinct honor to meet with you people who--as your Governor said--by your presence have shown your dedication to the cause of good government.

And first, I should like to pay my own tribute to the government that has been given to this State by Governor Dewey. I think that he and the Party he has led have proved and shown again to us one simple thing, what we can have through the dedication, the integrity, the unremitting devotion of honest men and women in American government.

I should like, of course, additionally to single out a few of his political associates to whom I would like to make reference. Senator Ires, a tremendous ally and associate in Washington. Len Hall, after long experience as one of your Congressmen from this State, and as a surrogate, with a great personality, he comes to a new position in leadership in the Republican Party; and may I say that already he has done a lot for me. I personally think that the Republican National Committee has chosen a real leader for victory in 1954.

I could not fail, of course, to mention Mr. Pfeiffer, your State Chairman, and his Vice Chairman, Miss Todd; and of course, the National Committeemen Russel Sprague and Judy Weis.

Now, my purpose this evening is to give you a very brief account of what has been going on in Washington, what has been done by the people that you have sent there to be your representatives in running this complex business of the Federal government.

First of all, if I could really bring you an accurate picture of what goes on, it would be done in this way: if I could take each American--each voter--in this country and take you down, one day, to a Cabinet meeting, and allow you to sit there while there came before that body some problem involving the welfare. of the United States of America, and for you to see the honest, devoted, studious way in which that problem is pulled to pieces in all its elements. There is discussed every factor that can seemingly affect this country, and from one broad general viewpoint: what is good for the whole country.

Let me submit that as long as that philosophy can govern these public servants, then your administration--your governmental representatives can be the champions of every class, they can be the champions of the farmer, of labor, of the capitalist, of the business man, and the professional man, the educator, the white-collar worker--and everybody else. Because, if they have the overriding philosophy of what is good for America, then they recognize, as indeed each of us must recognize, that his rights are limited only by the equal rights of others. A realization and practice of that elemental fact is, in my opinion, the secret for the successful operation of representative free government.

If each of us realizes that any invasion of the rights of others is the invasion of his own rights, we eliminate a lot of the troubles that plague us today.

Now, the great objective, stated in slightly different terms in this administration of the men and women of whom I speak, in the Cabinet, and the heads of the great Departments, and their subordinates, or the devoted men and women on the Hill, has been this: a government whose honor at home commands respect abroad. It is as simple as that, because both these qualities are essential in the defense of freedom. Because, you see, today, there is no problem that is simply foreign or domestic. Every major domestic problem has a direct and definite effect upon each of our foreign problems. Vice versa is also true. Every principal domestic problem that we have affects our foreign relations. Prosperity at home means better living conditions for our friends abroad--with those with whom we trade. The security of our personnel here at home--and by security, I mean the loyalty, devotion and dedication of those men to serve us--that affects everything we do.

Only as late as 1949, American scientists were predicting that it would be at least five years before anyone else had solved the secret of nuclear fission. But they did not know that insecure personnel had robbed their predictions of any validity whatsoever.

So this problem of ours, to find the right kind of people to serve in your Federal government, affects everything we do in the foreign field.

The welfare of our whole agricultural society depends upon our foreign trade. The great surpluses we have in certain of our products cannot be absorbed in the long run unless there is capacity abroad to purchase them.

An expanding, liberal trade--properly regulated trade--is the secret to success in many of our own industrial and agricultural activities. And we must never forget it.

Labor peace here at home is essential to a position of sturdy strength abroad, so that we may appear in the councils of the world as men and women who are speaking from a position of strength, not truculent strength, just confident strength, so that words of peace may have weight.

And so as we strive and are determined to have a government of integrity and efficiency at home, we are also struggling abroad for a peace that is true and total.

As I have said, no peace can be a peace if it is either partial or punitive. So these men and women of whom I speak are always conscious that in every effort to regulate affairs here at home, to influence them, whether the problem be of taxes, or income, or balancing the budget, or the farm program--everything they do affects our standing abroad. And they are men and women of the caliber and character to take those complex understandings into their own hearts and minds, and come up at least with an answer that is characterized, we hope, by common sense, and we know by honesty.

They know that in Korea there must be a peace that is fair to the Korean people. It likewise must be fair to those people lately our enemies--at least fighting in the ranks of our enemies--but who, having been taken by the Allies are now seeking political asylum. It must be fair to those people.

Now, working for this kind of peace, we must have a foreign policy that is dedicated to promoting at home and in the world those conditions of life in which freedom can survive, and thrive.

As we help other nations to be prosperous, to trade with us, we are not doing this purely from a standpoint of altruism. This is not a case of passing some man with a tin cup and dropping a few pennies or coppers into his can. Not at all. We are working from the position of enlightened self-interest, well knowing that we--the greatest industrial, the mightiest power on earth--cannot exist unless we have trade with foreign nations.

There are many products, as you well know, that we do not possess--we do not produce. These we must have. They will be obtained only through trade. And therefore, we must have these countries not only producing the things we need, and trading with us, but there must be in those areas a kind of government that wants to trade with us. Once we would allow all these areas to fall into the hands of people who would be delighted to see our trade cut off, then indeed we would be in a sorry situation.

Now, of course, in this exchange of goods we want to see it grow wider and bigger to the benefit of all. There are always, in all such generalities--such truisms--a limiting factor. We know well that we cannot in all cases permit a complete and unregulated flow of goods into this country. But the job that you have given your servants in Washington is so to regulate that trade as to help to the greatest possible extent our political position--our strength in the world, as well as our economic position at home. And again, I say, the two things are definitely and directly related.

Now, this American foreign policy must have three marks: it must be total, it must neglect no area in the world, it must be clear so that all of us can understand it, and it must be consistent. It cannot merely be a succession of reactions to someone else's action. We must have a policy that is pursued vigorously, by intelligent, straight-forward men and women, who believe thoroughly in the moral standards by which that policy has been devised, and who are using only honorable means in extending it throughout the world. That does not mean a complete and total dependence upon military strength, although of course we must have military strength. It covers the entire gamut of spiritual, intellectual, cultural, economic, industrial and military life.

I stress again that no foreign policy really deserves the name, if it is merely the reflex action from someone else's initiative. That is the one thing that must be avoided, if we are to win through to peace, in the situation in which the world now finds itself so often very unhappily involved.

So we must remain strong to stay free. We must stand ever ready to work with all nations in good faith in order to lift the burden of arms from the backs of men, fears from the hearts of men, the fears of isolation and desertion in any country which seeks our friendship and wants to work with us.

It is in all these directions that I have so hastily covered, that these men and women in Washington are working to serve you. We believe that they are producing a government at home of which you will be proud. One that will be characterized by common sense, by integrity, by the probity of action of the individuals composing it, and which will, therefore, be respected abroad.

It has regard for your pocketbook. It strives to lower your taxes, but it knows also that unless your Nation's bills are paid, any prior attempt to lower taxes is likely to prove only an illusory promise, because if your money continues to cheapen, then the following year expenses will be greater. Likewise, it is equally alert to the dangers of going too far in the direction that could be called deflationary.

The problem of government in its home operations is to retain that balance on the line dictated by common sense--that retains the value of our money for people who invest in long-term savings, insurance policies, and all other kinds of savings of that kind, and at the same time never go so far in that direction as to cause, again, unemployment.

And I want to dose by saying to you that this government has already organized informally, and is moving rapidly to put on a more formal basis, a topflight organization that will have no other activity, and no other responsibility, except to keep watching the economy of this country, in order to retain that kind of stability, that kind of industrial level that will give everybody confidence; that will encourage investment, encourage savings. In short, to encourage again the private initiative of 158 million Americans.

Ladies and gentlemen, for the very great honor you have done me this evening in asking me here and listening to me so courteously, I thank you--not only for that, but again in the words of Governor Dewey, for what you have done in the past.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President in his opening words referred to Leonard W. Hail, Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He later referred to William L. Pfeiffer and Miss Jane Todd, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, and to J. Russel Sprague and Mrs. Charles Weis, Jr., members of the Republican National Committee.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at the New York Republican State Committee Dinner, Astor Hotel, New York City. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231727

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