- By Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
- Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower,
1960, p. 1035- 1040
- My fellow Americans:
- Three days from now, after half a century in the service
of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in
traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested
in my successor.
- This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking
and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
- Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and
all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will
be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
- Our people expect their President and the Congress to
find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution
of which will better shape the future of the Nation.
- My own relations with the Congress, which began on a
remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed
me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and
immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent
during these past eight years.
- In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration
have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good
rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of
the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress
ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do
so much together.
- We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century
that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these
involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the
strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world.
Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's
leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material
progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in
the interests of world peace and human betterment.
- Throughout America's adventure in free government, our
basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human
achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people
and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious
people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension
or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home
- Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened
by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention,
absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope,
atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily
the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully,
there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices
of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily,
surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle
-- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation,
on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
- Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether
foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to
feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous
solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements
of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in
agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these
and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be
suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
- But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader
consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs
-- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between
cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and
the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as
a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance
between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good
judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance
- The record of many decades stands as proof that our people
and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have
responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats,
new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
- A vital element in keeping the peace is our military
establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that
no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
- Our military organization today bears little relation
to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the
fighting men of World War II or Korea.
- Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States
had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time
and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency
improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent
armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half
million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment.
We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all
United States corporations.
- This conjunction of an immense military establishment
and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total
influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city,
every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize
the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend
its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved;
so is the very structure of our society.
- In the councils of government, we must guard against
the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by
the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise
of misplaced power exists and will persist.
- We must never let the weight of this combination endanger
our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.
Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing
of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful
methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
- Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes
in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution
during recent decades.
- In this revolution, research has become central; it also
becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share
is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
- Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop,
has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and
testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically
the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced
a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs
involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual
curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic
- The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by
Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever
- *and is gravely to be regarded.
- Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in
respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite
danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific
- It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance,
and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles
of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our
- Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element
of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government
-- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own
ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage
the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also
of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive
for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
- Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America
knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming
a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation
of mutual trust and respect.
- Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest
must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected
as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though
scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain
agony of the battlefield.
- Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing
imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with
arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp
and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in
this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed
the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another
war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and
painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that
a lasting peace is in sight.
- Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady
progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to
be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I
can to help the world advance along that road.
- So -- in this my last good night to you as your President
-- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public
service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things
worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance
in the future.
- You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong
in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace
with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident
but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.
- To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression
to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:
- We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations,
may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity
shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may
experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand,
also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs
of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and
ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness
of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by
the binding force of mutual respect and love.
- http://courses a.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html