Remarks at the House of Burgesses, Williamsburg, Virginia
Ladies and gentlemen:
I think no American could stand in these halls and on this spot without feeling a very great and deep sense of the debt we owe to the courage, the stamina and the faith of our forefathers.
One hundred and seventy-seven years in some countries, in some histories, is only a moment. With us it is still a very measurable length of time. And 177 years ago Virginians, seeing that it was hopeless to gain through conflict their rights as British citizens, decided the time had come to declare their independence. And in the later version of that Declaration, you will recall that Jefferson wrote: "We hold that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," thus establishing once and for all that our civilization and our form of government is deeply imbedded in a religious faith.
Indeed, those men felt that unless we recognized that relationship between our form of government and religious faith, that form of government made no sense. Because, remember, they were trying to explain this form of government to mankind, because they started out that Declaration by saying, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.' '
And those reasons were that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain fights. I wish--I wish sincerely that every single man, woman and child that has the proud privilege of calling himself an American, could stand here on this spot and could roam through this building to see the picture of Washington just across the hall, and re-live again their moments, the problems they met in their own time, and thus regain faith to solve the problems of our day.
To each of you here, my very great thanks for the honor that you have done Mrs. Eisenhower and me by being here. We have been privileged to come here with your two Senators--your two United States Senators--Senators Robertson and Byrd. Your Governor met us at the dock. We feel, truly, that we have been highly honored today by Virginia, the State of my mother's birth and girlhood.
Note: The President spoke at 9:45 a.m. His visit to Williamsburg and Annapolis (see also Items 79 and 80) occurred during a weekend cruise to Norfolk aboard the U.S.S. Williamsburg.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the House of Burgesses, Williamsburg, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231783