Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at the New York Republican State Committee Dinner, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City.

May 07, 1953

Governor Dewey, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is indeed a great honor to be with you this evening. And for me, this evening has several unusual or most unique occurrences. In the first place, I wonder if you could imagine how I am impressed by a hundred-dollar-a-plate dinner. Since I was invited to two, I made a very good compromise and had my dinner on the train. And I think it is only those of you who have attained some years on the order of mine, who can remember when it was the fashion to pitch a double-header on the same day. Seemingly, they are bringing back the custom, because that is what I am doing tonight.

I should like to start off in making my simple report to you this evening, by first paying my tribute to your Governor, and to the government that he has established and given you for the past eleven years in this State. He has shown what honesty and efficiency and concern for all humans can do in government, so that your State stands as a leader--as a matter of fact, as an example for others in many lines of true and proper State endeavor. He has shown, in short, what can be accomplished by people--as he expresses it--great groups of people dedicated to the cause of serving the people, or as we might express it, working for the people and not just "working them."

I should like, also, to pay a special and personal tribute to others of his associates--helpers--in this State. To Senator Ives, who has been such a tower of strength and assistance in Washington during these momentous days. To an old representative of yours, Len Hall, a man who by his experience and personality I feel is pre-eminently qualified to lead the Party to the victory they must have in 1954.

Of course, before such a gathering, I could not fail to mention your Chairman, Mr. Pfeiffer, and his Vice Chairman, Miss Todd. Likewise, your Committeemen Russel Sprague and of course Judy Weis.

Now I shall attempt to tell you something, in rather broad and general strokes, of what your government--the people you sent to Washington last November--has been trying to do in your service.

First of all, let us not get too complicated an idea in our heads of what government is. Government is men and women. It is men and women assigned to jobs in your service--jobs sometimes designed and prescribed by the Constitution, sometimes by the laws of the land, and other times not even that formally, but they are there, all working together, to perform those functions that are necessary to the welfare of the United States.

Which brings me to the first governing policy, or ideal, of the men and women that are now serving you in Washington. I refer not only to those in high appointive positions of government, those serving under them, those serving on the legislative Hill-everybody that is grouped together to put over the program that is so necessary now for this country.

Their guiding policy is: the welfare of 158 million Americans. Now that is a simple generalization to make, but it does a very definite thing for a public servant, if he lives by it. He can and should be the champion of the farmers, of the laborers, of the bankers, of the businessmen and the professional men, the educator, the white-collar worker. No matter who, he can be the champion of each, because his over-all and governing policy is what is good for all the people. The rights of each group, just like the rights of each individual are limited by one factor only: similar rights of others.

And might I point out that this is probably the most obvious and possibly also the most neglected truth of all representative or free government; each of us to realize that our rights to be maintained must be limited by equal rights for others; and wherever and whenever we unjustly attack those rights of others, we are by that same action attacking our own rights, and they will inevitably fall, unless we preserve that attitude of respect for the rights of others.

And I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, if there is one ruling passion among this group of men, with whom it is my high privilege to serve--men and women--it is that they will observe the rights of all, and in so doing be able to work justly and fairly for the rights of everyone.

Stated in another way, the ideal of that group is this: a government whose honor at home commands respect abroad. Both are essential in the defense of freedom. Unless there is a government of honor at home, it will not be supported by all our people, it will not have that universal strength--that universal support which is the true strength of democracy. It will not command respect abroad, and if it does not command respect abroad, then our interests cannot be maintained, because our voices and counsel will be ignored, there will be no true, spiritual and moral base to support the protestations for peace that we make before all the world. So, a government of honor at home that deserves respect, and commands respect, abroad.

Another point to make in this connection, ladies and gentlemen, is this: that there is no true division, no true and simple segregation of problems into foreign and domestic. The major and overwhelming foreign problem of our time colors, accentuates and emphasizes every problem we have at home. The relationship between our Budget, our tax burden, our men in Korea, is easily established with the difficulty that we are having today in a world where the peace and dignity of man is threatened. The very prosperity of this country is inextricably tied up with the prosperity of those countries with whom we must trade in the world. There are countries from which we must get materials which are absolutely vital to our economy.

We are, of course, the great exponents of what we might call the steel age. Yet I am sure that all of you are aware that we make scarcely a ton of steel in this country without vastly important imports--manganese and the alloys that go into our finest steel. Without them we would be practically helpless.

The security in the personnel that you have in your government service is of tremendous importance to us in our foreign relationships. As late as early 1949 certain eminent scientists, well-informed scientists, were predicting that it would be some years yet, possibly five, before any other country solved the secret of the atomic bomb. They did not know that their predictions were rendered completely invalid by the disloyalty of certain people serving in our own government.

All of these problems have a relationship, one to the other. The farmer--today there would be no possible prosperity for the farm population of our country except that we have a prosperous foreign trade. We have certain surpluses that have no outlet except in this foreign trade. They must be capable of buying our goods--these other countries. And consequently the prospect of keeping up, increasing, the flow of mutually profitable trade with all of these countries--these free countries in the world, whose economic health and military strength is so important to us--is one of the prime and necessary objectives of the men and women attempting to serve you in Washington. We strive for a government of integrity and efficiency at home, while abroad we strive simultaneously for a peace that is true and total.

As I have tried to explain, a peace cannot be a real peace if it is either merely partial, or if it is punitive. Peace cannot be something with which to punish, or it is no peace. It cannot be partial because if it were only partial, it would either neglect areas--important areas of the world, or it would neglect certain functions. If it were a peace which we attempted to base strictly on military strength, it would not be peace. There must be the great strength that comes from moral rightness, from knowing that we are just and fair with all peoples. There must be the intellectual strength that comes from knowing that people consider us just and fair by our actions. There must be economic strength so we might make a living and keep up such military strength as is possible and necessary. There must be, of course, military strength. We must cover, then, peace in its entirety, in its impact upon human beings, not only here but in every corner of the world, if it is to be peace.

Now, along with this, if it is to be durable, we must create conditions in which freedom can survive, and thrive. If we allow any section of the world that is vital to us, because of what it provides us, through trade--say, manganese, or uranium, or cobalt--anything that we need--if we allow any of those areas either to become so impoverished it cannot produce the things we need, or if we allow it to fall to a form of government inimical to us, that wants to see freedom abolished from the earth, then we have trouble indeed.

It is on such simple facts as these, ladies and gentlemen, that your foreign policy is rounded and established and maintained. There is nothing mysterious about it. All of this springs from the enlightened self-interest of the United States of America. But it does, fortunately for us, lead us into fields in which our whole moral cells approve of the actions that we take for collective security, strength and health. And so we have the satisfaction of approval of our own conscience, as we proceed along this direction.

And so this body of men and women, as they struggle with all of the intelligence that they have, with their combined experience--and may I say to you, in great humility and in devout attitude--as they struggle to find the right answers, they know that we must create and maintain conditions that promote profitable and increasing trade between us and other vital areas of the world--areas vital to us--occupied by our friends.

Now, working for this kind of peace, of course, demands a policy that is dedicated to promoting at home and in the world, a policy that respects the rights of everybody, not only our friends but as, for example, in Korea, no less those people who have been only lately fighting in the ranks of our enemies. People that have become our prisoners, cannot by any manner of means be denied the right on which this country was founded--and which indeed has been responsible for the presence here of most of the people, or at least great numbers of the people in the United States today--the right of political asylum against the kind of political persecution that they fear and do not like. Consequently, to force those people to go back to a life of terror and persecution is something that would violate every moral standard by which America lives. Therefore, it would be unacceptable in the American code, and it cannot be done.

But, within these limits of moral rectitude and rightness, there is no one that will ever find America's hand of friendship hidden. It will always be extended. It will be ready to meet anyone half-way, as long as deeds and not mere rhetoric and words are there to substantiate the sincerity of their purpose. Particularly, this kind of policy invites all right-minded peoples to work and speak and think for freedom, conceived in the kind of terms that do respect the dignity of man and the moral rightness of his existence.

Unless we have this kind of moral background for a policy, I say again, it is inimical, it is antagonistic to America's basic precepts, and therefore unacceptable.

Which brings me to say that this group of men and women working for you are acutely aware of one basic fact. It is this: free government is founded primarily in a deeply-felt religious faith. I think that is not hard to prove in the case of America. Our own founders, you will recall, in their Declaration, thought it necessary to explain to the world the reason for this new form of government, on what it was based, its nature, its character. They said, you will remember, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind impels them to declare the reasons which led to the separation. And then, they said, "We hold that all men are endowed by their Creator." They did not try to say that these rights came about because people had moved to the shores of America. They said "are endowed by their Creator," because they knew no other simple, direct and positive way to explain this new form of government.

So, these men and women working for you are acutely aware of that relationship, which in their opinion, really, is the beginning of wisdom, in the business of attempting to conduct the government for a free, self-governing people.

Now, foreign policy must be total. It must be clear, and it must be consistent. By total, I mean that it must ignore no area or no people of the world. If it is to be truly permanent, it must be all-inclusive. It does not rely, as I said before, on military might alone. It takes in every kind of factor that touches upon human right. It must be clear, so that it may be understood. And again, I repeat, the foreign policy that America is trying to follow, based upon decency and justice, is clear to all--unless they deliberately shut their eyes to its meaning, its purpose.

Now, it must be consistent because it must not be merely reflex action from the action of others. It must be a policy that is pursued because it is understood and supported at home, and understood and respected abroad. It must be pursued through all kinds of crises. It must not be truculent, but it must be firm and strong.

These are the directions in which our policy must go, if it is going to bring to us, in our time, peace and security. We must be ready, always, to work with all nations in good faith. We work with these nations in order to lift the material burdens of the expense of armaments from the backs of men, to avoid the diversion from productive purposes of the sweat of our laborers, the genius of our management, our material resources, in this country. Others have like burdens and are less able to bear them. So we struggle to lift from the backs of men that kind of burden, and from their hearts, the burden of fear. We are trying to bring to all men and women everywhere the right to go to sleep and sleep peacefully, secure in that trust that they can place in their fellow men, and not believing or fearing that before morning, before next month, or before next year, an atomic bomb may come screaming out of the air to cast destruction in its wake.

Now, these are the directions in which we strive to give our people government that is honored at home and respected in the world.

I should say, or should like to add, as an observation about the more definitely domestic and local problems, that the people of whom I speak are quite well aware of the burden of taxes. You could scarcely expect taxes to be forgotten by a man who is threatened with the possibility, according to the experts, that he may have to borrow 25 thousand dollars a year to carry on his job. In any event, they are acutely aware of the burdens that this country is bearing. They likewise know that there is no burden that a united American people will not bear, if they know it is necessary to preserve freedom in the world. They know what has come to pass through the cheapening of our money. They are trying to preserve policies that will defend and protect the long-term investor, in life insurance, in savings accounts, in bonds, to preserve that cornerstone of a capitalistic system: the incentive to invest in America.

In doing so, they are also aware of the very great danger of making it difficult to save money, either through too high taxes, or making money too dear or too scarce, so that it becomes sort of a tightrope to walk between what you might call inflationary and deflationary forces. All with the aim of keeping stability and strength in this country, and doing justice to 158 million people.

These men and women, with whom I serve, think of these things and a thousand related problems, every day. I know of none of them that is not dedicated to your service, to the service of all you know, to the service of the entire country; and their outlook toward all the rest of the world is: what is good for the world is certainly good for 158 million Americans who are such an important part of this great latter-day civilization.

Ladies and gentlemen, my thanks to each of you, not only for the support evidenced by your presence here this evening, for a group that is working to provide the kind of government I have so haltingly attempted to describe. I thank you for what you have done in the past, by the confidence you have exhibited in these people, and in me, to give an opportunity to this country to have this kind of government, and make sure that it will work. And so, for the honor you do me this evening in coming here, thank you a lot.

Note: During his address the President referred to Leonard W. Hall, Chairman of the Republican National Committee; William L. Pfeiffer and Miss Jane Todd, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee; and 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, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231731

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