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Toasts of the President and President Pompidou of France

February 24, 1970

Mr. President, Madame Pompidou:

We are honored to welcome you to this house. And on such an historic occasion, when we welcome the head of state of the French Republic, we, in the United States, are reminded of how much we owe to your country.

We think of some of the things immediately around us, of this city, which you just described very generously before dinner as being a beautiful city; and we remember that it was planned by a Frenchman, Pierre L'Enfant.

We think of this table and of this service which we see around us--this gold service-and it came from France, from Margaret [Thompson] Biddle, who many in this room will remember lived in Paris for so many years.

We think of such things as the music, the art, the culture that comes from France, not to mention such things as food and wines, which are well represented at this table tonight.

We think also of things that are much more profound and which I will mention only briefly, because where something is of great importance, very few words are needed to describe it.

Just two nights ago in the East Room we heard a new Broadway show--new, it has been there only a year--called "1776." It tells the story of the new America that was founder almost 200 years ago. And it is a very exciting story about that young, struggling country and how it came into existence.

Tonight, we, in this Nation, remember one very profound and simple fact: But for the help that this young Nation received from France, we would not be here tonight. Because of the assistance we received from France almost 200 years ago, America was born; it became an independent country, and since that time we have always been grateful for that assistance.

Tonight I can say to this company that France has always been our ally; it has never been our enemy; and it will always be our friend.

With that kind of friendship, which is deeper and more profound because it is based on the fact that we understand and respect the right to at times find different ways to the same goals, the goals of independence and freedom which brought this Nation into being in 1776, and which Frenchmen, fighting side by side by Americans, helped to bring it into being, and since then, fighting side by side by Americans, have kept those principles alive in the world.

Just 10 years ago in this room, at tables shaped almost like this, President Eisenhower toasted the President of the French Republic, General de Gaulle. And I remember on that occasion, General de Gaulle spoke to me about the future of the United States. He said that the time had come to build a new America.

I would say tonight that, as we enter the last third of this century, that we have the responsibility to build a new world, and that we in the United States are proud and thankful that we shall be working with our friends and allies, our oldest friends and allies, from the French Republic, in building that new world in which all people may have the opportunity that we have had for independence and freedom.

So tonight I know that all of you will want to join me in raising your glasses to the President of the Republic of France.

Note: The President spoke at 10:07 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. See also Items 52 56, 59, 60, and 65.

President Pompidou responded in French. A translation of his remarks follows:

Mr. President, Madame Nixon, ladies and gentlemen:

I shall not conceal my deep emotion in speaking here as a guest, being President of the French Republic--as guest of the President of the United States.

First of all, it is because between our two countries, although there may be sometimes a few clouds and differences in opinion about different things, we have profound and deep links owing to history, a history already old, as you have just alluded to, Mr. President, where, in the 18th century, France rushed in the struggle to the help of this young country in order to help it gain its freedom.

But also in more recent history. And I would like to allude here to a man with whom you have many living links, that is General Eisenhower, who, and we well remember that in France, came on our soil 25 years ago as head of the armies which gained us our liberation.

Such historical and sentimental links, nobody can forget them, and nobody can destroy them. And even if we wished that, we could not separate our fates and lives because the United States and France cannot live in separation, in isolation one from the other. Our destinies are Common.

But also it is because beyond those links of a sentimental and historical nature, we have deep and common interests, because we have a common concept of life, of man, of the life of man in society, and we have the same concept of the human ideal.

It is because both of our countries and nations are deeply attached to the freedom of man. It is because both our nations are convinced that it is through and by democracy that peoples of the world can reach not only their maturity but also their prosperity, their happiness, and only by democracy can they determine their own fate, that I may say that nowadays people refer often to alienation, to alienated societies and people, but I personally believe that there is alienation when man is not free to determine his own fate, and it is through democracy that this freedom is gained and man in society, can determine his own fate and destiny.

The United States is the first democracy in the world and France is deeply honored to be also a democracy and a friend of the United States. Therefore, being so deeply united by history and by the same concept we have of society and because we both believe in peace and in the necessity to work entirely for peace, and to be dedicated to the work of peace in spite of all the difficulties or differences we may have from time to time, all this makes us believe that we must live together, we must work together, and we must not have ever any opposition.

For this reason we are struggling and living together. We are going to do that. It is my honor and pleasure of hailing here the most old, constant, and deep ally and friend of France.

Tonight, being honored to be the guest of the President of the United States, I may tell him quite frankly and from the bottom of my heart that he is receiving actually a friend and ally of the United States.

I propose to drink this toast to the President of the United States, to Madame Nixon, and to the friendship between France and the United States of America.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and President Pompidou of France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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