Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Exchange of Messages Between the President and President Sukarno of Indonesia.

June 05, 1956

Dear Mr. President:

Your gracious and heartwarming message written on the eve of your departure from the United States reached me this morning. I am deeply gratified that you and the members of your party have enjoyed your brief visit to our shores, and I bid you farewell and Godspeed with the hope that you found what you sought in America as a state of mind and as the center of an idea. The mastery of time and distance which modern science has given us makes it relatively easy for a visitor to travel among us. To find what is in men's hearts is a much more difficult task. Your message leads me to believe that you have succeeded.

You have taken something of America with you. At the same time you have left with us a feeling of friendship, warmth and sympathy, and a deeper understanding of the common hopes and aspirations shared by all mankind. By your frankness and eloquence you have given us a greater insight into the aims and aspirations of your new nation and have strengthened the ties of sympathy, respect, and understanding between our peoples.

Assalamu 'alaikum, selamat djalan,



Note: The closing words of the President's letter are translated "Peace be with you."

President Sukarno's message, dated June 4, 1956, follows:

Mr. President:

When I accepted with such pleasure your invitation to visit America I sought advice on what I should bring with me and on what I might expect to find here. I discovered that one visitor to these hospitable shores was advised in these words: "He may bring with him a feather bed, bolster, pillow, blankets, a rug and three pairs of sheets. Many households in Virginia are so well provided as to entertain a stranger with all things necessary for the inner man, yet few or none are provided for the back". That Mr. President was advice given to an immigrant in 1634.

I didn't follow that advice.

You have provided me with all things necessary for the inner man, the back and the mind. Your other guests and I are taking back with us much more than we brought. We are taking back a widened knowledge of your country and people; a deeper appreciation of what America means in the world. Shortly after we arrived you did me the honour of referring to me as a frontier man, a compliment which I value highly.

I have read of your frontier and the hard men who pushed it westwards until the American Nation faced the Pacific and became in fact the neighbour of Indonesia. Pioneers, explorers, men of intrepid mind and stout body, are needed the world over to push forward the frontiers of knowledge, the frontiers of liberty.

Mr. President, by your hospitality, I have seen a little of how this great nation under your guidance is attacking those problems--how man's knowledge is being increased and how the burden of hard physical labour is being reduced. We have learned much from our visit. We have gathered many impressions and those impressions will take some time to fall into a pattern.

This is certain however: we have benefited greatly from your kindness and hospitality. Apart from whatever your guest has learned, the strong ties of friendship between our peoples have been drawn closer.

President Eisenhower, the Indonesian Nation has long owed a debt of gratitude to the American Nation during our struggle for the recognition of our independence and sovereignty. The United Nations played a great and conciliatory role and the United States was foremost in the activities of the United Nations, which eventually brought peace and relief to the weary people of the Indonesian Archipelago.

Since those days you have given us technical assistance. You have sent us experts in various fields. You have helped us to defeat some of the old and evil things which hampered the development and progress of that reborn nation. Those things have provided a bond between us just as the fact that you are a great market for our natural wealth provides a bond between us. Those bonds are not enshrined in formal words or treaties, they exist most strongly in the friendship, the understanding, the sympathy between the two nations.

I recall from my reading of American history that William Penn once made an agreement with the Indians in a place called Shackamaxon which means "The Place of The King." In Shackamaxon under the elm trees, there William Penn and the Indians made an agreement which was not signed. They formulated perhaps the only treaty without signature and which has been forever respected. Perhaps such agreements as that are more binding, are more real, than formal documents. I would like to think, Mr. President, that the relations between our two peoples will remain always strong, always friendly, always relations of sympathy and understanding, always relations of equal esteem.

President Eisenhower, in taking leave of you, I wish to express my personal thanks, and of all your other guests, for the warmth of your reception and kindness extended bountifully during our visit to your country.

Thank you, sir. Goodbye and may God keep you.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Exchange of Messages Between the President and President Sukarno of Indonesia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232911

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