Harry S. Truman photo

The President's Toast at a Dinner in His Honor Given by President Auriol at the French Embassy

March 30, 1951

Mr. President, Madame Auriol:

I am deeply touched by the statements of the President of the great French Republic. He has made it perfectly plain to you, as he has already made it plain to me, that France is forever our friend, that France will do its part in our obligation under the Atlantic Treaty to maintain the peace of the world.

One hundred and sixty years ago or more France took a chance on a young nation behag born. France did not lose by that chance. In the last two generations we have shown our friendship for your great Republic, which stands for liberty, equality, and fraternity--which is what we stand for, too, liberty, equality, and fraternity. Mr. President, I am just as sure as I stand here that the United States of America will never forget its friendship for France.

I don't know whether any of you have ever understood exactly what the First World War and the Second World War meant to France. France lost about a million seven hundred thousand men killed in action in the First World War. If we had lost in that same proportion, it would have been about 5 1/2 millions. France had about 2 million men wounded and disabled. Had it been in the same proportion for the United States, it would have been 6 1/2 millions.

In this last number two war, France had more than 800,000 killed and 187,000, I think, if I am not mistaken, murdered after it was all over--after hostilities ceased in France.

If we had had the whole Mississippi Valley destroyed, every city from New Orleans to Minneapolis and a hundred miles on each side, we would have been probably"comparatively speaking--in the condition that France was in after the First World War and after the Second World War.

We can't appreciate it, because that did not happen to us; and we can't appreciate what happened to Britain, we can't appreciate what happened to Holland, Belgium, and Norway, and all those countries of central Europe that have been devastated and the people taken to slave labor camps because they believed in liberty.

Now, our objective, our whole objective, is peace in the world. That is what we are trying to attain. And to attain peace in the world, we want to raise that Iron Curtain and make France, Britain, Belgium, Holland, and Norway, and those countries who stayed with us through the fight, free and equal with the rest of mankind in the world, so that they will not suffer from fear of being overrun once more in another generation.

That is all we are working for. That is the objective of the Marshall plan. That is the objective of the Atlantic Pact, that is the objective of the Western Hemisphere pact, the ministers of which are now meeting here in Washington to continue to implement the policy which we are trying to pursue.

Mr. President, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to toast His Excellency the President of France, Madame Auriol, and the great Republic of France.

Note: The President spoke at 10:15 p.m. at the French Embassy in Washington, in response to a toast of President Vincent Auriol of France.

The text of President Auriol's toast was not released.

Harry S Truman, The President's Toast at a Dinner in His Honor Given by President Auriol at the French Embassy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230347

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