Richard Nixon photo

Toast at a Dinner Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations

October 24, 1970

Your Excellencies, the heads of state, the heads of government, the other distinguished guests who are present on this occasion:

In the 170-year history of this house, never have so many heads of state and heads of government been in this room together. And it is my great honor to welcome you all here as a group, and also individually, and to tell you that I only regret that each of you could not, on this occasion, receive the very individual honor to which your station would entitle you.

I know that during .the past week, you have been exposed to a great number of speeches, as well as a great number of dinners.

I will not impose another speech on you tonight and, also, I know you will be glad to hear, I shall not ask any of you to make a speech.

But on such an occasion, I must speak what all of us feel in our hearts on this 25th anniversary of the United Nations. And that is, that over and over again in the speeches at the U.N. Assembly in New York ran the theme that the overwhelming majority of the 3 1/2 billion people on this earth wanted peace and that the responsibility of the leaders of those people was to develop policies which would bring peace and keep the peace.

In this room are heads of government and heads of state who have great responsibilities to their own people and an even greater responsibility to the people of the world to work for the cause of peace and justice among all nations.

And for that reason, on this occasion, we are particularly honored that you would take time in your busy schedules to come from New York to Washington to see us here so that we could express on behalf of the people of the United States, first, our deep friendship for all the peoples of your countries, and second, our complete devotion to the cause that the United Nations stands for of just and lasting peace among nations.

And thinking of appropriate words for this occasion, I think we could all perhaps best turn to the past. This room has seen many historic functions. Twenty of those who are in this room have been honored at dinners here. And over the years the great leaders of the world, emperors, kings, presidents, prime ministers, have been honored here.

There is one portrait in the room, that of Abraham Lincoln, who is, perhaps more than any other American President, honored all over the world.

When people think of Lincoln, most agree that his most eloquent address was the Gettysburg Address. But Lincoln did not agree with that. He rated his second inaugural, and particularly its conclusion, as being the best of all of his public statements.

And I think as we look at the next 25 years of the United Nations that perhaps the words with which he concluded that second inaugural, at the end of a very difficult and terrible war between the States of this country over 100 years ago, that those words would give us the inspiration for the future.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in... (to) achieve and (to) cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

And in that spirit, let us raise our glasses to the United Nations.

To the United Nations.

Note: The President spoke at 9:43 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

A list of dignitaries attending the dinner is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 1456).

Richard Nixon, Toast at a Dinner Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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