Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks in Detroit to a Group of Business and Professional Women

October 17, 1960

Madam Chairman and my fellow Americans:

I am always frightened when I have the temerity to face an audience of women, and yet never have I experienced more enjoyable meetings than I have on those occasions when I have been able to greet a convocation exactly like this one.

I recognize that you are the representatives of women of all Michigan. You represent the homes of Michigan. I often think that the function of government is to make it possible for the home to remain always what it was intended to be: the place where there is nurtured in us a love of freedom, a respect for constituted authority--and more than this, the concern of each individual in the world for every other individual. I point out that if we are not, indeed, brothers under the sonship of God, then all of this civilization of which we are so proud begins to lose meaning.

Our own Founding fathers, in attempting to explain this new form of government which was brought so brilliantly forward in the early days, had to say, "We hold that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." The point is, you were "endowed by your Creator," and this means to me that underlying all of our political institutions, indeed our entire system of government, is a deeply felt religious faith somewhere.

It matters not exactly the form that faith takes, exactly what its doctrinal tenets are, but if we don't have that belief that we have these "unalienable rights," given to us by someone more powerful than ourselves, then why should we be so respectful of each other? Why do I insist that my rights are as equal to those of any other citizen, and his are as equal to mine?

This is what I believe we mean by freedom, and because we believe in this freedom we are impelled to form and establish democratic governments--self-government.

Now all of this, as I see it, derives from the home, and one of the names that has always been applied to the women of our Nation or any other nation is that they are the homemakers.

I cannot imagine a greater responsibility, a greater opportunity than falls to the lot of the woman who is the central figure in the home. They, far more than the men, remind us of the values of decency, of fair play, of tightness, of our own self-respect--and respecting ourselves always ready to respect others.

The debt that all men owe to women is not merely that through women we are brought forth on this world, it is because they have done far more than we have to sustain and teach those ideals that make our kind of life worth while.

So, my friends, I am going to have just one word to say about the election that is coming up. About this time in every campaign, there comes forward some evil kind of propaganda, it matters not what its source may be, but this evil propaganda is trying to make someone forget that we are a Nation that loves decency, that believes in fair play, and that we are ready to vote our convictions according to the conscience of each of us.

I say that no propaganda of any kind allows you to desert your own determination to have the kind of government that you choose, and to elect the candidates that you want. This is your bounden duty, and we should never let those of evil intent besmirch the fair name of the United States by lies, distortions, and indeed every kind of crooked statement that it is possible to conceive.

As I say, always this happens, and I think that it has had very little effect in any of the elections of which I have known. I remember as far back as 1896, I carried a torch in a parade--I was 6 years old. And in that election I heard some people around in my little town carrying terrible stories about prominent figures in that election. I don't think it has ever ceased but I just pray that none of you lets himself be unbalanced by it, but sticks right behind his own ideals, his own convictions about the United States, and certainly his own opinions as to how--I have been saying "he" I should have been saying "she"--sorry--her own opinions as to how this election should come out. That is between you and your conscience, and inside the secret booth.

Now I brought up this subject down in the square, and I hope that all of you can understand how sincerely I mean it, and how honestly I mean it, because my great faith is: America is a political expression of a religious faith. We believe in integrity, in honesty, and decency, and if we ever are swayed by a loss of those, then indeed we will be in a sorry fix.

Now I express to each of you my regrets that my wife could not be with me. I will take your present to her with great glee, and of course I shall not be allowed to know what it is, because I know she is going to be the one to open it.

And I thank you for the courtesy you have paid me in meeting here, where I might greet you, express my pleasure again in being in Detroit in meeting with such a body, and wishing you--every single one of you--all the happiness, all of the satisfaction in life that you deserve as a straightforward American.

So, with that, goodbye and good luck.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 1 p.m. in the Ball Room of the Sheraton Cadillac Hotel in Detroit. His opening words "Madam Chairman" referred to Mrs. Dorothy S. Reynolds, chairman of the Women of Michigan Committee which sponsored the luncheon.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks in Detroit to a Group of Business and Professional Women Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235594

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