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Toasts of the President and Prime Minister at a Dinner Honoring Prime Minister Callaghan of Great Britain

March 10, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. I would like to say, first of all, that we are very delighted that all of you could be with us tonight to welcome our distinguished visitors from Great Britain.

We have had a knowledge, through the study of history, of many guests who come here to visit the White House from England. The first ones, I believe, were in 1814. [Laughter] And I think it is accurate to say that the hospitality has increased steadily since that time.

I don't believe I have ever met anyone who was a distinguished political leader with whom I immediately felt more at home and a greater inner sense of genuine and personal friendship.

When I have had a chance to meet with a few leaders of foreign governments, I have always tried to get the better of them in our get acquainted session. I haven't succeeded at all tonight. [Laughter]

First of all, I said, "I am a farmer." Prime Minister Callaghan said, "So am I." [Laughter] I said--I knew I had them the next time--I said, "I am a Baptist." He said, "So am I." [Laughter] I said, "I met my wife in the churchyard." He said, "So did I." [Laughter] I said, "I have a very interesting sister, who's a Carter, who is deeply involved in religion." He said, "Well, I have a sister who is very deeply involved in religion. She is also a Carter." I said, "We have had 'a lot of trouble in our country with inflation." He said--he didn't have to say anything. [Laughter] Unemployment he didn't say anything. And I said, "Well, we have a majority of my party in the Congress." He didn't say anything. [Laughter] Then he said, "But I have complete control of a Parliament." And I didn't say anything.

And then he said "I represent a nation that has historically believed in human freedom," and I didn't have to respond. And he said, "I represent a country that believes in the purest principles of democracy." And I didn't have to respond. And he said, "I represent a country that has a close friendship with your own," and he knew that I didn't have to respond.

I said in my welcoming address that we have many friends around the world, but I think it is accurate to say that the closest friends we have are in Great Britain.

And I am very delighted tonight to have Prime Minister Jim Callaghan and his wife, Audrey, come and visit with us. I think we have reestablished, in a personal way, the genuine reasons for this intimate tie between the United States of America and our mother country.

We share common problems. We share common ideals. We share common history. We share a common future, and we are mutually supportive. We are partners. When we have happy times, so does England. When our economy suffers, so does theirs. And when we are challenged from strange and alien military forces down through the generations, we have always been staunch allies.

I think on behalf of all the American people, I can offer a toast with the surest sense that I speak in a way that represents us all.

I would like to offer a toast at this point: To the Queen.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President, Mrs. Carter:

When you entertained the President of Mexico, the after dinner speeches began at 9: 22. When you entertained the President of Canada, the after dinner speeches began at 9: 23. This evening, sir, I checked my watch with you, but you didn't know for what purpose, they began at 9: 24. I hope that is no sign that you are slipping. [Laughter]

But it is a very great pleasure, indeed, to be here, Mr. President, and Mrs. Carter, for Audrey and myself. And I would like to say thank you on 'behalf of all our party who traveled with us this week.

You were quite right in your apocryphal conversation to reveal the upbringings that we both share. When my brother-in-law, who is a Baptist minister, went to the deacons for his appointment in the southwest of England, they uttered a prayer for him which you will, I know, clearly recognize. The chief deacon got up and he said: "O Lord: Keep him humble. We will keep him poor." [Laughter]

I wasn't exactly sure about your reference to 1814. I want to assure you that on this occasion at least we arrive in peace and in concord. [Laughter] And nothing, sir, will separate us from each other.

But we do love being in the United States. I speak for all my party when I say that. And it is especially nice--and I want to repeat what I said this morning--to be here and feel the invigorating sweep of a new administration such as we have felt during the last few weeks. And we want to thank you for it.

It is a very great privilege to be part of it. And I want you to know that in the generous words you have uttered about the relationships between our two countries that there is nothing that you can say about that that we don't echo and reecho, because your success is our success; your failures, we share. But when you are going through difficult times, we feel it, too. But wider than us, this is true of Europe, because what you do will have, and does have, a profound effect upon the European continent as a whole. That is our history. That is our background.

And so allow me just for one second to speak as president of the Community for the time being, and to say to you, sir, that--and I speak on behalf of the leaders of all the countries of the Community-that they are looking to you, looking to your administration with hope, with belief, with faith in the future of the United States under your leadership.

And so, we wish you well and we trust that under God's guidance you will bring not only peace and prosperity to your own people but you will bring it to us as well. For that lies in your hands and you shall have all our support in all that you are trying to do.

Now, I dictated a fine speech here the day before yesterday, but I have got a feeling it is a little out of date now. Indeed, you stole my point this morning, and I promise you I dictated this some time ago when I said--I am going to read it--you built up--I shan't read it very well--you built up a wide network of relationships and friendships around the world and in the process, I said, we have become a little shy of using the traditional term of special relationship to describe our friendship with each other. That was true until ,you used it yourself again this morning.

I went on to say, I see no reason why we should refrain from using it, which only goes to show we thought alike even before we met. If isn't an exclusive relationship. It shuts no one out. But what it does is to describe with accuracy the ease, the intimacy, the common feeling which Americans and Britons share with each other when they meet and talk, a common feeling that comes from similar political systems rooted in the same common law.

This feeling reached its highest manifestation, Mr. President, as there are some here who know--former Ambassadors to our country of very great distinction-reached its highest manifestation in that great partnership during the dark days of war. And successive generations in my country will not be allowed to forget the generous aid and assistance, the massive support and power which you brought to us in those days which enabled us to come together in a way that has forged a permanent partnership.

And when, as you put on with your new world responsibilities, you put on new friends, you make new friends, and so you should, and you widened the area of your friendship, I just say in the words of Shakespeare to you once again, and I say it from us to each other: "To thy friends thou hast and their adoption tried grappled them to thy heart with hoops of steel." That is the relationship, sir, between the United States and Britain.

Now, politicians come and go; even statesmen, sir, they tell me fade away sometimes. [Laughter] But our friendship won't do that. It is rock hard. And you, your country, has a special place in the hearts of our people.

We have got our problems, you are right--domestic problems--but we don't intend to allow them to obscure our vision of the world. We intend to play our part in the world within the limits of our strength and our influence.

We have gone through a period of adjustments since the war. The empire has dropped away; our old industrial system has got to be refurbished. Yes, we are going to come through that. And I regard this as a passing period in which is the responsibility of my generation to see that we do come through so that we can take our place side by side with you in the influence that we bring together jointly to bear in the world. This I regard as one of our responsibilities and is one that we shall seek to discharge.

So, Mr. President, I thank you, I thank our guests here and our friends, some of whom are old friends, for the great warmth of your reception. You can be assured that any help that we can give to your great country during the years that lie ahead shall be given. Any support that you need will be there to your hand.

We shall work with you, work in your interests because of the deep affection we have for the American people; work in our interest because we know that a strong and fearless America, self-possessed, self-confident, with a great faith that you have, is the surest guide and watchword for freedom in this world.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:24 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister at a Dinner Honoring Prime Minister Callaghan of Great Britain Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242957

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