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Dwight D. Eisenhower
First Inaugural Address
Tuesday, January 20, 1953

MY friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem
appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of
uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your

Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in
the executive branch of government join me in beseeching that Thou will
make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in
this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.

Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and
allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws
of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the
people regardless of station, race, or calling.

May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under
the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so
that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory.

My fellow citizens:

The world and we have passed the midway point of a century of continuing
challenge. We sense with all our faculties that forces of good and evil
are massed and armed and opposed as rarely before in history.

This fact defines the meaning of this day. We are summoned by this
honored and historic ceremony to witness more than the act of one
citizen swearing his oath of service, in the presence of God. We are
called as a people to give testimony in the sight of the world to our
faith that the future shall belong to the free.

Since this century's beginning, a time of tempest has seemed to come
upon the continents of the earth. Masses of Asia have awakened to strike
off shackles of the past. Great nations of Europe have fought their
bloodiest wars. Thrones have toppled and their vast empires have
disappeared. New nations have been born.

For our own country, it has been a time of recurring trial. We have
grown in power and in responsibility. We have passed through the
anxieties of depression and of war to a summit unmatched in man's
history. Seeking to secure peace in the world, we have had to fight
through the forests of the Argonne, to the shores of Iwo Jima, and to
the cold mountains of Korea.

In the swift rush of great events, we find ourselves groping to know the
full sense and meaning of these times in which we live. In our quest of
understanding, we beseech God's guidance. We summon all our knowledge of
the past and we scan all signs of the future. We bring all our wit and
all our will to meet the question:

How far have we come in man's long pilgrimage from darkness toward
light? Are we nearing the light--a day of freedom and of peace for all
mankind? Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon us?

Great as are the preoccupations absorbing us at home, concerned as we
are with matters that deeply affect our livelihood today and our vision
of the future, each of these domestic problems is dwarfed by, and often
even created by, this question that involves all humankind.

This trial comes at a moment when man's power to achieve good or to
inflict evil surpasses the brightest hopes and the sharpest fears of all
ages. We can turn rivers in their courses, level mountains to the
plains. Oceans and land and sky are avenues for our colossal commerce.
Disease diminishes and life lengthens.

Yet the promise of this life is imperiled by the very genius that has
made it possible. Nations amass wealth. Labor sweats to create--and
turns out devices to level not only mountains but also cities. Science
seems ready to confer upon us, as its final gift, the power to erase
human life from this planet.

At such a time in history, we who are free must proclaim anew our faith.
This faith is the abiding creed of our fathers. It is our faith in the
deathless dignity of man, governed by eternal moral and natural laws.

This faith defines our full view of life. It establishes, beyond debate,
those gifts of the Creator that are man's inalienable rights, and that
make all men equal in His sight.

In the light of this equality, we know that the virtues most cherished
by free people--love of truth, pride of work, devotion to country--all
are treasures equally precious in the lives of the most humble and of
the most exalted. The men who mine coal and fire furnaces and balance
ledgers and turn lathes and pick cotton and heal the sick and plant
corn--all serve as proudly, and as profitably, for America as the
statesmen who draft treaties and the legislators who enact laws.

This faith rules our whole way of life. It decrees that we, the people,
elect leaders not to rule but to serve. It asserts that we have the
right to choice of our own work and to the reward of our own toil. It
inspires the initiative that makes our productivity the wonder of the
world. And it warns that any man who seeks to deny equality among all
his brothers betrays the spirit of the free and invites the mockery of
the tyrant.

It is because we, all of us, hold to these principles that the political
changes accomplished this day do not imply turbulence, upheaval or
disorder. Rather this change expresses a purpose of strengthening our
dedication and devotion to the precepts of our founding documents, a
conscious renewal of faith in our country and in the watchfulness of a
Divine Providence.

The enemies of this faith know no god but force, no devotion but its
use. They tutor men in treason. They feed upon the hunger of others.
Whatever defies them, they torture, especially the truth.

Here, then, is joined no argument between slightly differing
philosophies. This conflict strikes directly at the faith of our fathers
and the lives of our sons. No principle or treasure that we hold, from
the spiritual knowledge of our free schools and churches to the creative
magic of free labor and capital, nothing lies safely beyond the reach of
this struggle.

Freedom is pitted against slavery; lightness against the dark.

The faith we hold belongs not to us alone but to the free of all the
world. This common bond binds the grower of rice in Burma and the
planter of wheat in Iowa, the shepherd in southern Italy and the
mountaineer in the Andes. It confers a common dignity upon the French
soldier who dies in Indo-China, the British soldier killed in Malaya,
the American life given in Korea.

We know, beyond this, that we are linked to all free peoples not merely
by a noble idea but by a simple need. No free people can for long cling
to any privilege or enjoy any safety in economic solitude. For all our
own material might, even we need markets in the world for the surpluses
of our farms and our factories. Equally, we need for these same farms
and factories vital materials and products of distant lands. This basic
law of interdependence, so manifest in the commerce of peace, applies
with thousand-fold intensity in the event of war.

So we are persuaded by necessity and by belief that the strength of all
free peoples lies in unity; their danger, in discord.

To produce this unity, to meet the challenge of our time, destiny has
laid upon our country the responsibility of the free world's leadership.

So it is proper that we assure our friends once again that, in the
discharge of this responsibility, we Americans know and we observe the
difference between world leadership and imperialism; between firmness
and truculence; between a thoughtfully calculated goal and spasmodic
reaction to the stimulus of emergencies.

We wish our friends the world over to know this above all: we face the
threat--not with dread and confusion--but with confidence and

We feel this moral strength because we know that we are not helpless
prisoners of history. We are free men. We shall remain free, never to be
proven guilty of the one capital offense against freedom, a lack of
stanch faith.

In pleading our just cause before the bar of history and in pressing our
labor for world peace, we shall be guided by certain fixed principles.

These principles are:

(1) Abhorring war as a chosen way to balk the purposes of those who
threaten us, we hold it to be the first task of statesmanship to develop
the strength that will deter the forces of aggression and promote the
conditions of peace. For, as it must be the supreme purpose of all free
men, so it must be the dedication of their leaders, to save humanity
from preying upon itself.

In the light of this principle, we stand ready to engage with any and
all others in joint effort to remove the causes of mutual fear and
distrust among nations, so as to make possible drastic reduction of
armaments. The sole requisites for undertaking such effort are that--in
their purpose--they be aimed logically and honestly toward secure peace
for all; and that--in their result--they provide methods by which every
participating nation will prove good faith in carrying out its pledge.

(2) Realizing that common sense and common decency alike dictate the
futility of appeasement, we shall never try to placate an aggressor by
the false and wicked bargain of trading honor for security. Americans,
indeed all free men, remember that in the final choice a soldier's pack
is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains.

(3) Knowing that only a United States that is strong and immensely
productive can help defend freedom in our world, we view our Nation's
strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men
everywhere. It is the firm duty of each of our free citizens and of
every free citizen everywhere to place the cause of his country before
the comfort, the convenience of himself.

(4) Honoring the identity and the special heritage of each nation in the
world, we shall never use our strength to try to impress upon another
people our own cherished political and economic institutions.

(5) Assessing realistically the needs and capacities of proven friends
of freedom, we shall strive to help them to achieve their own security
and well-being. Likewise, we shall count upon them to assume, within the
limits of their resources, their full and just burdens in the common
defense of freedom.

(6) Recognizing economic health as an indispensable basis of military
strength and the free world's peace, we shall strive to foster
everywhere, and to practice ourselves, policies that encourage
productivity and profitable trade. For the impoverishment of any single
people in the world means danger to the well-being of all other peoples.

(7) Appreciating that economic need, military security and political
wisdom combine to suggest regional groupings of free peoples, we hope,
within the framework of the United Nations, to help strengthen such
special bonds the world over. The nature of these ties must vary with
the different problems of different areas.

In the Western Hemisphere, we enthusiastically join with all our
neighbors in the work of perfecting a community of fraternal trust and
common purpose.

In Europe, we ask that enlightened and inspired leaders of the Western
nations strive with renewed vigor to make the unity of their peoples a
reality. Only as free Europe unitedly marshals its strength can it
effectively safeguard, even with our help, its spiritual and cultural

(8) Conceiving the defense of freedom, like freedom itself, to be one
and indivisible, we hold all continents and peoples in equal regard and
honor. We reject any insinuation that one race or another, one people or
another, is in any sense inferior or expendable.

(9) Respecting the United Nations as the living sign of all people's
hope for peace, we shall strive to make it not merely an eloquent symbol
but an effective force. And in our quest for an honorable peace, we
shall neither compromise, nor tire, nor ever cease.

By these rules of conduct, we hope to be known to all peoples.

By their observance, an earth of peace may become not a vision but a

This hope--this supreme aspiration--must rule the way we live.

We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long
entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire
proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose.

We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept whatever
sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges
above its principles soon loses both.

These basic precepts are not lofty abstractions, far removed from
matters of daily living. They are laws of spiritual strength that
generate and define our material strength. Patriotism means equipped
forces and a prepared citizenry. Moral stamina means more energy and
more productivity, on the farm and in the factory. Love of liberty means
the guarding of every resource that makes freedom possible--from the
sanctity of our families and the wealth of our soil to the genius of our

And so each citizen plays an indispensable role. The productivity of our
heads, our hands, and our hearts is the source of all the strength we
can command, for both the enrichment of our lives and the winning of the

No person, no home, no community can be beyond the reach of this call.
We are summoned to act in wisdom and in conscience, to work with
industry, to teach with persuasion, to preach with conviction, to weigh
our every deed with care and with compassion. For this truth must be
clear before us: whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world
must first come to pass in the heart of America.

The peace we seek, then, is nothing less than the practice and
fulfillment of our whole faith among ourselves and in our dealings with
others. This signifies more than the stilling of guns, easing the sorrow
of war. More than escape from death, it is a way of life. More than a
haven for the weary, it is a hope for the brave.

This is the hope that beckons us onward in this century of trial. This
is the work that awaits us all, to be done with bravery, with charity,
and with prayer to Almighty God.


Dwight D. Eisenhower
Second Inaugural Address
Monday, January 21, 1957


Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Speaker,
members of my family and friends, my countrymen, and the friends of my
country, wherever they may be, we meet again, as upon a like moment four
years ago, and again you have witnessed my solemn oath of service to

I, too, am a witness, today testifying in your name to the principles
and purposes to which we, as a people, are pledged.

Before all else, we seek, upon our common labor as a nation, the
blessings of Almighty God. And the hopes in our hearts fashion the
deepest prayers of our whole people.

May we pursue the right--without self-righteousness.

May we know unity--without conformity.

May we grow in strength--without pride in self.

May we, in our dealings with all peoples of the earth, ever speak truth
and serve justice.

And so shall America--in the sight of all men of good will--prove true
to the honorable purposes that bind and rule us as a people in all this
time of trial through which we pass.

We live in a land of plenty, but rarely has this earth known such peril
as today.

In our nation work and wealth abound. Our population grows. Commerce
crowds our rivers and rails, our skies, harbors, and highways. Our soil
is fertile, our agriculture productive. The air rings with the song of
our industry--rolling mills and blast furnaces, dynamos, dams, and
assembly lines--the chorus of America the bountiful.

This is our home--yet this is not the whole of our world. For our world
is where our full destiny lies--with men, of all people, and all
nations, who are or would be free. And for them--and so for us--this is
no time of ease or of rest.

In too much of the earth there is want, discord, danger. New forces and
new nations stir and strive across the earth, with power to bring, by
their fate, great good or great evil to the free world's future. From
the deserts of North Africa to the islands of the South Pacific one
third of all mankind has entered upon an historic struggle for a new
freedom; freedom from grinding poverty. Across all continents, nearly a
billion people seek, sometimes almost in desperation, for the skills and
knowledge and assistance by which they may satisfy from their own
resources, the material wants common to all mankind.

No nation, however old or great, escapes this tempest of change and
turmoil. Some, impoverished by the recent World War, seek to restore
their means of livelihood. In the heart of Europe, Germany still stands
tragically divided. So is the whole continent divided. And so, too, is
all the world.

The divisive force is International Communism and the power that it

The designs of that power, dark in purpose, are clear in practice. It
strives to seal forever the fate of those it has enslaved. It strives to
break the ties that unite the free. And it strives to capture--to
exploit for its own greater power--all forces of change in the world,
especially the needs of the hungry and the hopes of the oppressed.

Yet the world of International Communism has itself been shaken by a
fierce and mighty force: the readiness of men who love freedom to pledge
their lives to that love. Through the night of their bondage, the
unconquerable will of heroes has struck with the swift, sharp thrust of
lightning. Budapest is no longer merely the name of a city; henceforth
it is a new and shining symbol of man's yearning to be free.

Thus across all the globe there harshly blow the winds of change. And,
we--though fortunate be our lot--know that we can never turn our backs
to them.

We look upon this shaken earth, and we declare our firm and fixed
purpose--the building of a peace with justice in a world where moral law

The building of such a peace is a bold and solemn purpose. To proclaim
it is easy. To serve it will be hard. And to attain it, we must be aware
of its full meaning--and ready to pay its full price.

We know clearly what we seek, and why.

We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom. And now, as
in no other age, we seek it because we have been warned, by the power of
modern weapons, that peace may be the only climate possible for human
life itself.

Yet this peace we seek cannot be born of fear alone: it must be rooted
in the lives of nations. There must be justice, sensed and shared by all
peoples, for, without justice the world can know only a tense and
unstable truce. There must be law, steadily invoked and respected by all
nations, for without law, the world promises only such meager justice as
the pity of the strong upon the weak. But the law of which we speak,
comprehending the values of freedom, affirms the equality of all
nations, great and small.

Splendid as can be the blessings of such a peace, high will be its cost:
in toil patiently sustained, in help honorably given, in sacrifice
calmly borne.

We are called to meet the price of this peace.

To counter the threat of those who seek to rule by force, we must pay
the costs of our own needed military strength, and help to build the
security of others.

We must use our skills and knowledge and, at times, our substance, to
help others rise from misery, however far the scene of suffering may be
from our shores. For wherever in the world a people knows desperate
want, there must appear at least the spark of hope, the hope of
progress--or there will surely rise at last the flames of conflict.

We recognize and accept our own deep involvement in the destiny of men
everywhere. We are accordingly pledged to honor, and to strive to
fortify, the authority of the United Nations. For in that body rests the
best hope of our age for the assertion of that law by which all nations
may live in dignity.

And, beyond this general resolve, we are called to act a responsible
role in the world's great concerns or conflicts--whether they touch
upon the affairs of a vast region, the fate of an island in the Pacific,
or the use of a canal in the Middle East. Only in respecting the hopes
and cultures of others will we practice the equality of all nations.
Only as we show willingness and wisdom in giving counsel--in receiving
counsel--and in sharing burdens, will we wisely perform the work of

For one truth must rule all we think and all we do. No people can live
to itself alone. The unity of all who dwell in freedom is their only
sure defense. The economic need of all nations--in mutual
dependence--makes isolation an impossibility; not even America's
prosperity could long survive if other nations did not also prosper. No
nation can longer be a fortress, lone and strong and safe. And any
people, seeking such shelter for themselves, can now build only their
own prison.

Our pledge to these principles is constant, because we believe in their

We do not fear this world of change. America is no stranger to much of
its spirit. Everywhere we see the seeds of the same growth that America
itself has known. The American experiment has, for generations, fired
the passion and the courage of millions elsewhere seeking freedom,
equality, and opportunity. And the American story of material progress
has helped excite the longing of all needy peoples for some satisfaction
of their human wants. These hopes that we have helped to inspire, we can
help to fulfill.

In this confidence, we speak plainly to all peoples.

We cherish our friendship with all nations that are or would be free. We
respect, no less, their independence. And when, in time of want or
peril, they ask our help, they may honorably receive it; for we no more
seek to buy their sovereignty than we would sell our own. Sovereignty is
never bartered among freemen.

We honor the aspirations of those nations which, now captive, long for
freedom. We seek neither their military alliance nor any artificial
imitation of our society. And they can know the warmth of the welcome
that awaits them when, as must be, they join again the ranks of freedom.

We honor, no less in this divided world than in a less tormented time,
the people of Russia. We do not dread, rather do we welcome, their
progress in education and industry. We wish them success in their
demands for more intellectual freedom, greater security before their own
laws, fuller enjoyment of the rewards of their own toil. For as such
things come to pass, the more certain will be the coming of that day
when our peoples may freely meet in friendship.

So we voice our hope and our belief that we can help to heal this
divided world. Thus may the nations cease to live in trembling before
the menace of force. Thus may the weight of fear and the weight of arms
be taken from the burdened shoulders of mankind.

This, nothing less, is the labor to which we are called and our strength

And so the prayer of our people carries far beyond our own frontiers, to
the wide world of our duty and our destiny.

May the light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands, flame
brightly--until at last the darkness is no more.

May the turbulence of our age yield to a true time of peace, when men
and nations shall share a life that honors the dignity of each, the
brotherhood of all.

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