Richard Nixon photo

Speech of Vice President Nixon, Hadley Field, Whittier College, Whittier, CA

August 02, 1960

Vice President NIXON. Mr. Chairman, Secretary Seaton, Senator Kuchel, Senator Fong, Mr. Mayor, all of the distinguished guests on the platform and my fellow Californians, my neighbors and my friends.

I want to say that during the course of the next few months Pat and I will attend many meetings in this country from Hawaii to New York to Florida to Main - all over the 50 States; and there will be none, I can assure you, that will make a more lasting impression upon us than this one tonight. And we thank you for coming out in such great numbers, for your warm enthusiasm, for the friendship which you have shown to us, and we only wish we had more time - time to meet each of you individually, to talk over with old friends old times, and to talk with some of the new people who live in this area and I notice from San Diego, and Orange County, and all over the State, to talk to all of you about some of our problems that we confront in the world today. But in any event may I say that we do deeply appreciate this great crowd, the fact that so many of our friends and neighbors are here.

I was reminded just a minute ago by Hubert Perry that when we had a homecoming 8 years ago here on this athletic field that we shook hands with everybody who came and the crowd's a little bit too big to do that tonight I find. But we certainly wish that there were time for that. As some of you know we do have a schedule that tomorrow morning at 4 a.m. will take us to Hawaii and consequently we cannot stay here as long as we would like.

But as I look back over here and see that 1933 football team - and, incidentally, that was one of Whittier College's better teams [applause] - as I look over here and think of that team and as I see the great stars of that team, I want to tell you something that impresses me. This is the first time those guys have been on the sidelines and I've been on the playing field. [Laughter-applause.] Because as Chief Newman will tell you, I really played well in the middle of the week but always playing the opponent's team for the varsity to run through the opponent's plays. But it's good to see them, and I hope after this meeting we will have a chance to get over and greet them.

I also find that there's another special section back over here. I looked at these bleachers and I said, "What's that group of 150 people?" Hubert said, "Those are 150 of your relatives." [Laughter.] And I've often said with the Milhous family and the Nixon family all we need to do is to get our relatives to vote for us and we'd win in a landslide. So I'm going to talk to them tonight too - you can be sure of that.

And then looking around this crowd I see people with whom I went to high school to college, people with whom I participated in various community affairs - the Twenty-Thirty Club, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club in La Habra. Certainly it is a moment where I, Mr. Mayor, find just as much difficulty as you to express the feelings that are in my heart, to say the things that I would like to say to those without whom neither I nor Pat could be here today in the capacity we hold. Because except what you did in the campaign of 1946 and again in the campaign of 1950, we would not have the high honor that we have today. And we thank all of you for that, for the hours of work, for the confidence and the faith you have expressed in us in those years, and we trust that in these months ahead that we will always be worthy of that trust, that we will represent our town and our county and our State as you would want us to represent it. And if we do that, I am sure it will be the best kind of representation because I know what is in your hearts and the feeling of patriotism and faith and confidence that you have in our country. [Applause.]

As I stand here today there are many thoughts that do run through my mind, memories of those days that we were growing up. I think of some of the houses where I used to deliver groceries, the service station out on Whittier Boulevard where some of you used to stop and we tried to give you fair measure and that sort of thing for your business at that time. I think, too, of my days at Whittier High School and I'm very happy that Stan McCaffrey, who finished Whittier High School and was president of the student body there the year that I finished Whittier College, is now one of my top advisers in Washington with particular responsibility for the State of California. And if a Whittier boy can do it, and I think he can, we're going to carry California with Stan's leadership in this State. [Applause.]

We think of California, of the many, many speeches that I have made throughout this State, the people that we've met. I think of my days here at Whittier College, the things I learned, the things I should have learned and didn't, and particularly what I think of tonight are those who made it possible for me to be able to stand here - not simply by your participation in elections, but those who were my teachers, those who were the ministers in the church which I attended, those who inspired me in high school and college-men like Paul Smith who have given their lives to teaching and who along the way have inspired young men and women to make their greatest contribution of which they are capable to their communities and to their States and to their Nation.

I think perhaps the best theme that I could use tonight in speaking to this great audience of my friends and neighbors in California is to tell you what I think I learned at Whittier College, and how I have tried to apply what I learned to the position of public trust which I have had.

This is a small college but as has been said, there are those who love it very deeply, those of us who have had the privilege of attending it. And we love this school because of the dedication of its faculty and because of an intangible something that you call spirit. The Whittier spirit is one that is not different from that in many other small colleges and larger universities in the sense that each of them, too, has a spirit. But it is different in the sense that here at Whittier we developed in our college years I would say a concern on three major problems.

One was that each individual had a responsibility beyond that of simply making a good living for himself, that each individual had a responsibility to do his best for his community, for his State and his Nation in whatever assignment he might have - individual responsibility. This was part of the lesson of Whittier.

And a second part of that lesson was expressed by the word "concern" that I used a moment ago and it's related to the first. Here at Whittier there was drilled into us in compulsory chapel, which incidentally I think was a good thing - I don't know whether it's still that way or not - and also in our classrooms a concern for people less fortunate than we in our communities, in our State, in our Nation and any place in the world, a concern for their welfare clearly apart from how helping them might help ourselves.

And then, of course, third and perhaps above all, any person who went to Whittier then, and I am sure that is the case now, developed a devotion to and a dedication to peace, not simply to the static peace which means the absence of war, but to the creative vital peace which enables a people and which enables the world to make progress toward solving problems of tyranny and want and disease wherever they exist in the world.

And I would like to talk just a bit about these three major principles which we had so much instruction in here at Whittier. I would like to talk about them in relationship to the problems we presently confront in this Nation.

First, the problem of peace. There is nothing more important. You know we can solve every other problem we have in this world today, in this Nation, we can have the best social security, the best education, the best jobs that we can possibly imagine, and it isn't going to make any difference unless we're around to enjoy them. And so the most important function that a leader of this Nation has is to find a way to keep the peace and to keep the peace without surrender of principle, without surrender of territory. Peace with freedom for the world. [Applause.]

Now some of my good Quaker friends and I happen to be a member of that faith as you know, have written me letters from time to time expressing a concern about the positions our Government and the positions I have taken on this great fundamental issue of peace. I would like in effect to state those positions now in a positive way so that you may understand why what we do in our Government today is in the interests of peace, in the real interests of peace, and not obstructing the way to peace.

First, we are keeping America strong. We believe that America, together with her allies, must be stronger than any potential aggressor in the world and we believe that this is necessary not because we want this thing for the purpose of being able to launch a war, not because we want war, but because we know this is the way to avoid war. [Applause.] I can assure you that America today is a strong Nation, and I can assure you, too, that this strength is essential to maintain and we will maintain it.

Now a second point: In addition to our military strength we must have a policy diplomatically and we do have a policy diplomatically of firmness in dealing with those who would threaten the peace throughout the world. I have those who have written to me and said, "Now, Mr. Nixon, you're a Quaker, you believe in peace. Why is it that you stand against the proposals for disarmament that are made by Mr. Khrushchev? Why is it that we can't go more than halfway on these proposals and take some of them on faith?" I want to tell you why we can't. Because if the United States ever enters into a disarmament agreement with the Soviet or with any other potential aggressor which they might break and which we would keep, that would increase the danger of war rather than reduce it and that we must never do. [Applause.] And the reason that we insist that disarmament must not be just a fine slogan but that it must be honest and that there must be an agreement which will see that both sides keep it is not because we do not want disarmament but because we do want disarmament. We want the fact of disarmament rather than the fiction of it which is what the Soviets up to this time have been offering, since they have not offered inspection along with it. [Applause.]

Now a third point. When I speak of firmness, firmness in dealing with the Soviets, with the Communist threat, as I said in my acceptance speech, we must have firmness without belligerency. It's very easy, I can assure you, and sometimes very tempting when you are insulted to strike back with the same words. But we must avoid engaging in a war of words which would heat up the international atmosphere to the point that we would have a nuclear disaster. And a nation that is strong, a nation that is confident that it is right does not have to resort to returning insult with insult. We can be confident of ourselves. [Applause.]

But turning to firmness, I know there are those who suggest that possibly the United States is too firm, possibly we should be more flexible in accepting the proposals that those in the Communist world make. And again may I say it is because we are for peace and for freedom that we are firm because we know that the way to war and the way to surrender is through appeasement, through taking on face value those proposals that are not going to be kept and that will result in the end in strengthening the positions of the enemies of freedom and in weakening our own.

Then another point that I would like to make tonight with regard to this factor that I have called a concern for the problems of others. This is something which applies here at home. It is something also that applies in our relations with our countries abroad and it is something which is essential if we are to win the battle for peace, for freedom, and to win that battle without a war.

Let me explain it in this way. First of all, it is not enough if the free world is to be the example that it should be and if America is to be the example of freedom that it should be to the rest of the world that we simply hold on. It is not enough that we point to the fact which is the fact that we are the strongest nation, the richest nation in the world today, that our people have the highest standard of living, the greatest freedom that people have ever enjoyed in the history of the world. We must constantly work to make this country better, not just for ourselves but to make it better for those less fortunate than we are. Let me use a specific example which will mean a great deal to any person who has attended Whittier College.

We hear a lot those days about the problem of prejudice and discrimination and here at Whittier we do not know prejudice and discrimination. This is one of the great features of this college. I think all of us would agree. But sometimes you hear this problem of prejudice and discrimination being spoken of as a southern problem. I want to tell you what it is. It isn't a southern problem; it's a national problem. Other people say the problem of prejudice and discrimination is a legal problem. This is something that the people down in Washington ought to pass laws to solve and laws will help. But it isn't a legal problem primarily; it's a moral problem. And other people say this is a Government problem; but it isn't a Government problem. It's a personal problem. And what I'm meaning to say by that is this: In every part of this country we have prejudice. In every part of this country we have discrimination. And the only way it's going to be dealt with is for each individual American to recognize this very great truth, that prejudice hurts us abroad, that prejudice saps our strength at home and that we individually must assume the responsibility for removing it, removing it so that a hundred years after Lincoln America can realize the great objective of equality of opportunity for all of our people regardless of what their background may be. [Applause.] This is a personal problem. And as I say that this is a personal problem, I mean that each of you when you deal with this problem in your communities, in your hearts, you help America and you help her be the example that we want of freedom and justice for all the world to see.

This brings me now to another point that I would like to make with regard to America's position in the world. You often hear, I am sure, of our programs abroad in the field of assistance to the newly developing countries of Africa and Asia and to some of those in Latin America, and oftentimes you have heard this assistance cast solely in terms of how it helps America, that it is necessary to help these countries because if we don't the Communists will help them. And this is true. Therefore, it's in our self-interest to help them, to keep the Communists out of them, because if the Communists take this part of the world, they will have the balance of power in the world. And a case can be made, certainly, from the standpoint of our selfish national interest for the assistance that America provides for these countries abroad.

But let me say something else. That position isn't enough for America today and it isn't worthy of our traditions as a country. It isn't enough that it isn't worthy because put yourself in the positions of these people. They are proud people. Or they may be poor and most of them certainly are. But they don't want to be treated simply as pawns in a struggle between two great powers - the Communist world and the free world. And America has a great tradition, a great tradition from the time of our beginning, of concern for those who may not have freedom and who want it, of concern for those who may be living in poverty and have suffered disaster and have concern to the extent that we will help them -why? - not for selfish reasons but because we want to help them, not because it's for our own self-interests but because it's right. [Applause.] I say to you today that if in our national posture we could present to the world the picture of a country, of an America, yes, that is interested in defending our own freedom, in building the citadels of freedom around the world, but also a nation which from the time of its beginning and today and in the future will stand for the right of people everywhere to enjoy what we have, the right to choose our governments, the right to have an opportunity to develop our own lives without having ideas imposed upon us by a foreign power.

And now if I could turn finally to one other subject, one which is very close to my heart and I am sure also to yours. I have spoken of these specific things because they do relate to my background here at Whittier and to the background of many of you who have known this community and having known it have learned to love it as I have.

I speak now of where we go from here, where this Nation goes and of the responsibility that each of us as a citizen has to see that America is worthy of the trust and of the love of millions throughout the world for whom America is the hope of the world. Let me put it this way.

You often hear it said that as far as America is concerned what we need is a President who will point the way, what we need are leaders in Washington who will know who the enemies of freedom are, know how to deal with them and develop the policies that will be effective to meet them. But, as I said in Chicago, this is not enough. And speaking to my friends in my own community and in my own State, let me reiterate that that is not enough. That would be enough in a country ruled by a dictator but in a free country we need the best effort of all of our people in our jobs, as students, in whatever activities that we have, because unless we have the best effort of all of our people, America is not going to live up to the responsibilities that she

faces in the world today. And let me tell you what the stakes are.

The stakes are freedom for America, freedom for the whole world, freedom for civilization and peace as well. We can win. We can win the peace. We can win the battle of freedom against tyranny. We can do these things but we can't do it just with a President and a Vice President and Members of Congress who believe in these things. We can do it only with a whole nation united and dedicated to the great principles and ideals of America. [Applause.]

When I left Whittier College 26 years ago in the heart of the depression, there was no chance, even if we had been able to develop a program that would keep peace, there was no chance that we could win the battle against poverty and hunger and disease in the world. Today, just 26 years later, looking ahead in the next 10 years, there is a chance that that can be done. Because of the developments of our scientists we now find that if we can keep the peace, if we can develop a united effort, not only in America but throughout the world, that we can use the great resources of the world that have been untapped by our scientific research to wage a winning battle against tyranny and disease and misery and want every place in the world.

This is what we can do and this is America's mission. This is what we must do. And this I say to you tonight is the reason why I am so honored to be here and to speak to my own friends, the people who know me the best, and to say to you that I only hope that I can be worthy of my heritage in attempting to provide the leadership not just for my party, because this is bigger than any party, and not just for this Nation, it's bigger even than this Nation, but the leadership for the causes of all mankind. But that leadership can be provided only if you, too, give the best that you have to this great cause.

And so in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, again may I say, we will have many meetings during the course of this campaign. We will speak in all of the 50 States and we will see thousands and thousands of people and speak to millions on television. But there will be none which will stay with us in our hearts more than this one. And we thank you for coming tonight. We thank you for coming, for listening as courteously as you have, and I just want to say that the ideals that this college represents, this community, this audience, the ideals you believe in are worth fighting for. They're worth working for and, as far as I am concerned, I pledge to you that in the months ahead and in the years ahead if I am given the opportunity, that I will devote all that there is in me, my whole life, which comes from this community, to the cause which you believe in, the cause of a world of peace, of freedom, of justice for all. It is this pledge I make to you, my friends in my own community, and I thank you again for making it possible for me to be here in the capacity that I now have.

Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Speech of Vice President Nixon, Hadley Field, Whittier College, Whittier, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project