Dwight D. Eisenhower
State of the Union Address
February 2, 1953
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Eighty-third Congress:
I welcome the honor of appearing before you to deliver my first message
to the Congress.
It is manifestly the joint purpose of the congressional leadership and
of this administration to justify the summons to governmental responsibility
issued last November by the American people. The grand labors of this leadership
Application of America's influence in world affairs with such fortitude
and such foresight that it will deter aggression and eventually secure
Establishment of a national administration of such integrity and such
efficiency that its honor at home will ensure respect abroad;
Encouragement of those incentives that inspire creative initiative in
our economy, so that its productivity may fortify freedom everywhere; and
Dedication to the well-being of all our citizens and to the attainment
of equality of opportunity for all, so that our Nation will ever act with
the strength of unity in every task to which it is called.
The purpose of this message is to suggest certain lines along which
our joint efforts may immediately be directed toward realization of these
four ruling purposes.
The time that this administration has been in office has been too brief
to permit preparation of a detailed and comprehensive program of recommended
action to cover all phases of the responsibilities that devolve upon our
country's new leaders. Such a program will be filled out in the weeks ahead
as, after appropriate study, I shall submit additional recommendations
for your consideration. Today can provide only a sure and substantial beginning.
Our country has come through a painful period of trial and disillusionment
since the victory of 1945. We anticipated a world of peace and cooperation.
The calculated pressures of aggressive communism have forced us, instead,
to live in a world of turmoil.
From this costly experience we have learned one clear lesson. We have
learned that the free world cannot indefinitely remain in a posture of
paralyzed tension, leaving forever to the aggressor the choice of time
and place and means to cause greatest hurt to us at least cost to himself.
This administration has, therefore, begun the definition of a new, positive
foreign policy. This policy will be governed by certain fixed ideas. They
(1) Our foreign policy must be clear, consistent, and confident. This
means that it must be the product of genuine, continuous cooperation between
the executive and the legislative branches of this Government. It must
be developed and directed in the spirit of true bipartisanship.
(2) The policy we embrace must be a coherent global policy. The freedom
we cherish and defend in Europe and in the Americas is no different from
the freedom that is imperiled in Asia.
(3) Our policy, dedicated to making the free world secure, will envision
all peaceful methods and devices--except breaking faith with our friends.
We shall never acquiesce in the enslavement of any people in order to purchase
fancied gain for ourselves. I shall ask the Congress at a later date to
join in an appropriate resolution making clear that this Government recognizes
no kind of commitment contained in secret understandings of the past with
foreign governments which permit this kind of enslavement.
(4) The policy we pursue will recognize the truth that no single country,
even one so powerful as ours, can alone defend the liberty of all nations
threatened by Communist aggression from without or subversion within. Mutual
security means effective mutual cooperation. For the United States, this
means that, as a matter of common sense and national interest, we shall
give help to other nations in the measure that they strive earnestly to
do their full share of the common task. No wealth of aid could compensate
for poverty of spirit. The heart of every free nation must be honestly
dedicated to the preserving of its own independence and security.
(5) Our policy will be designed to foster the advent of practical unity
in Western Europe. The nations of that region have contributed notably
to the effort of sustaining the security of the free world. From the jungles
of Indochina and Malaya to the northern shores of Europe, they have vastly
improved their defensive strength. Where called upon to do so, they have
made costly and bitter sacrifices to hold the line of freedom.
But the problem of security demands closer cooperation among the nations
of Europe than has been known to date. Only a more closely integrated economic
and political system can provide the greatly increased economic strength
needed to maintain both necessary military readiness and respectable living
Europe's enlightened leaders have long been aware of these facts. All
the devoted work that has gone into the Schuman plan, the European Army,
and the Strasbourg Conference has testified to their vision and determination.
These achievements are the more remarkable when we realize that each of
them has marked a victory--for France and for Germany alike over the divisions
that in the past have brought such tragedy to these two great nations and
to the world.
The needed unity of Western Europe manifestly cannot be manufactured
from without; it can only be created from within. But it is right and necessary
that we encourage Europe's leaders by informing them of the high value
we place upon the earnestness of their efforts toward this goal. Real progress
will be conclusive evidence to the American people that our material sacrifices
in the cause of collective security are matched by essential political,
economic, and military accomplishments in Western Europe.
(6) Our foreign policy will recognize the importance of profitable and
equitable world trade.
A substantial beginning can and should be made by our friends themselves.
Europe, for example, is now marked by checkered areas of labor surplus
and labor shortage, of agricultural areas needing machines and industrial
areas needing food. Here and elsewhere we can hope that our friends will
take the initiative in creating broader markets and more dependable currencies,
to allow greater exchange of goods and services among themselves.
Action along these lines can create an economic environment that will
invite vital help from us.
This help includes:
First: Revising our customs regulations to remove procedural obstacles
to profitable trade. I further recommend that the Congress take the Reciprocal
Trade Agreements Act under immediate study and extend it by appropriate
legislation. This objective must not ignore legitimate safeguarding of
domestic industries, agriculture, and labor standards. In all executive
study and recommendations on this problem labor and management and farmers
alike will be earnestly consulted.
Second: Doing whatever Government properly can to encourage the flow
of private American investment abroad. This involves, as a serious and
explicit purpose of our foreign policy, the encouragement of a hospitable
climate for such investment in foreign nations.
Third: Availing ourselves of facilities overseas for the economical
production of manufactured articles which are needed for mutual defense
and which are not seriously competitive with our own normal peacetime production.
Fourth: Receiving from the rest of the world, in equitable exchange
for what we supply, greater amounts of important raw materials which we
do not ourselves possess in adequate quantities.
In this general discussion of our foreign policy, I must make special
mention of the war in Korea.
This war is, for Americans, the most painful phase of Communist aggression
throughout the world. It is clearly a part of the same calculated assault
that the aggressor is simultaneously pressing in Indochina and in Malaya,
and of the strategic situation that manifestly embraces the island of Formosa
and the Chinese Nationalist forces there. The working out of any military
solution to the Korean war will inevitably affect all these areas.
The administration is giving immediate increased attention to the development
of additional Republic of Korea forces. The citizens of that country have
proved their capacity as fighting men and their eagerness to take a greater
share in the defense of their homeland. Organization, equipment, and training
will allow them to do so. Increased assistance to Korea for this purpose
conforms fully to our global policies.
In June 1950, following the aggressive attack on the Republic of Korea,
the United States Seventh Fleet was instructed both to prevent attack upon
Formosa and also to insure that Formosa should not be used as a base of
operations against the Chinese Communist mainland.
This has meant, in effect, that the United States Navy was required
to serve as a defensive arm of Communist China. Regardless of the situation
in 1950, since the date of that order the Chinese Communists have invaded
Korea to attack the United Nations forces there. They have consistently
rejected the proposals of the United Nations Command for an armistice.
They recently joined with Soviet Russia in rejecting the armistice proposal
sponsored in the United Nations by the Government of India. This proposal
had been accepted by the United States and 53 other nations.
Consequently there is no longer any logic or sense in a condition that
required the United States Navy to assume defensive responsibilities on
behalf of the Chinese Communists, thus permitting those Communists, with
greater impunity, to kill our soldiers and those of our United Nations
allies in Korea.
I am, therefore, issuing instructions that the Seventh Fleet no longer
be employed to shield Communist China. This order implies no aggressive
intent on our part. But we certainly have no obligation to protect a nation
fighting us in Korea.
Our labor for peace in Korea and in the world imperatively demands the
maintenance by the United States of a strong fighting service ready for
Our problem is to achieve adequate military strength within the limits
of endurable strain upon our economy. To amass military power without regard
to our economic capacity would be to defend ourselves against one kind
of disaster by inviting another.
Both military and economic objectives demand a single national military
policy, proper coordination of our armed services, and effective consolidation
of certain logistics activities.
We must eliminate waste and duplication of effort in the armed services.
We must realize clearly that size alone is not sufficient. The biggest
force is not necessarily the best--and we want the best.
We must not let traditions or habits of the past stand in the way of
developing an efficient military force. All members of our forces must
be ever mindful that they serve under a single flag and for a single cause.
We must effectively integrate our armament programs and plan them in
such careful relation to our industrial facilities that we assure the best
use of our manpower and our materials.
Because of the complex technical nature of our military organization
and because of the security reasons involved, the Secretary of Defense
must take the initiative and assume the responsibility for developing plans
to give our Nation maximum safety at minimum cost. Accordingly, the new
Secretary of Defense and his civilian and military associates will, in
the future, recommend such changes in present laws affecting our defense
activities as may be necessary to clarify responsibilities and improve
the total effectiveness of our defense effort.
This effort must always conform to policies laid down in the National
The statutory function of the National Security Council is to assist
the President in the formulation and coordination of significant domestic,
foreign, and military policies required for the security of the Nation.
In these days of tension it is essential that this central body have the
vitality to perform effectively its statutory role. I propose to see that
it does so.
Careful formulation of policies must be followed by clear understanding
of them by all peoples. A related need, therefore, is to make more effective
all activities of the Government related to international information.
I have recently appointed a committee of representative and informed
citizens to survey this subject and to make recommendations in the near
future for legislative, administrative, or other action.
A unified and dynamic effort in this whole field is essential to the
security of the United States and of the other peoples in the community
of free nations. There is but one sure way to avoid total war--and that
is to win the cold war.
While retaliatory power is one strong deterrent to a would-be aggressor,
another powerful deterrent is defensive power. No enemy is likely to attempt
an attack foredoomed to failure.
Because the building of a completely impenetrable defense against attack
is still not possible, total defensive strength must include civil defense
preparedness. Because we have incontrovertible evidence that Soviet Russia
possesses atomic weapons, this kind of protection becomes sheer necessity.
Civil defense responsibilities primarily belong to the State and local
governments--recruiting, training, and organizing volunteers to meet any
emergency. The immediate job of the Federal Government is to provide leadership,
to supply technical guidance, and to continue to strengthen its civil defense
stockpile of medical, engineering, and related supplies and equipment.
This work must go forward without lag.
I have referred to the inescapable need for economic health and strength
if we are to maintain adequate military power and exert influential leadership
for peace in the world.
Our immediate task is to chart a fiscal and economic policy that can:
Reduce the planned deficits and then balance the budget, which means, among
other things, reducing Federal expenditures to the safe minimum;
Meet the huge costs of our defense;
Properly handle the burden of our inheritance of debt and obligations;
Check the menace of inflation;
Work toward the earliest possible reduction of the tax burden;
Make constructive plans to encourage the initiative of our citizens.
It is important that all of us understand that this administration does
not and cannot begin its task with a clean slate. Much already has been
written on the record, beyond our power quickly to erase or to amend. This
record includes our inherited burden of indebtedness and obligations and
The current year's budget, as you know, carries a 5.9 billion dollar
deficit; and the budget, which was presented to you before this administration
took office, indicates a budgetary deficit of 9.9 billion for the fiscal
year ending June 30, 1954. The national debt is now more than 265 billion
dollars. In addition, the accumulated obligational authority of the Federal
Government for future payment totals over 80 billion dollars. Even this
amount is exclusive of large contingent liabilities, so numerous and extensive
as to be almost beyond description.
The bills for the payment of nearly all of the 80 billion dollars of
obligations will be presented during the next 4 years. These bills, added
to the current costs of government we must meet, make a formidable burden.
The present authorized Government-debt limit is 275 billion dollars.
The forecast presented by the outgoing administration with the fiscal year
1954 budget indicates that--before the end of the fiscal year and at the
peak of demand for payments during the year--the total Government debt
may approach and even exceed that limit. Unless budgeted deficits are checked,
the momentum of past programs will force an increase of the statutory debt
Permit me this one understatement: to meet and to correct this situation
will not be easy.
Permit me this one assurance: every department head and I are determined
to do everything we can to resolve it.
The first order of business is the elimination of the annual deficit.
This cannot be achieved merely by exhortation. It demands the concerted
action of all those in responsible positions in the Government and the
earnest cooperation of the Congress.
Already, we have begun an examination of the appropriations and expenditures
of all departments in an effort to find significant items that may be decreased
or canceled without damage to our essential requirements.
Getting control of the budget requires also that State and local governments
and interested groups of citizens restrain themselves in their demands
upon the Congress that the Federal Treasury spend more and more money for
all types of projects.
A balanced budget is an essential first measure in checking further
depreciation in the buying power of the dollar. This is one of the critical
steps to be taken to bring an end to planned inflation. Our purpose is
to manage the Government's finances so as to help and not hinder each family
in balancing its own budget.
Reduction of taxes will be justified only as we show we can succeed
in bringing the budget under control. As the budget is balanced and inflation
checked, the tax burden that today stifles initiative can and must be eased.
Until we can determine the extent to which expenditures can be reduced,
it would not be wise to reduce our revenues.
Meanwhile, the tax structure as a whole demands review. The Secretary
of the Treasury is undertaking this study immediately. We must develop
a system of taxation which will impose the least possible obstacle to the
dynamic growth of the country. This includes particularly real opportunity
for the growth of small businesses. Many readjustments in existing taxes
will be necessary to serve these objectives and also to remove existing
inequities. Clarification and simplification in the tax laws as well as
the regulations will be undertaken.
In the entire area of fiscal policy--which must, in its various aspects,
be treated in recommendations to the Congress in coming weeks--there can
now be stated certain basic facts and principles.
First. It is axiomatic that our economy is a highly complex and sensitive
mechanism. Hasty and ill-considered action of any kind could seriously
upset the subtle equation that encompasses debts, obligations, expenditures,
defense demands, deficits, taxes, and the general economic health of the
Nation. Our goals can be clear, our start toward them can be immediate--but
action must be gradual.
Second. It is clear that too great a part of the national debt comes
due in too short a time. The Department of the Treasury will undertake
at suitable times a program of extending part of the debt over longer periods
and gradually placing greater amounts in the hands of longer-term investors.
Third. Past differences in policy between the Treasury and the Federal
Reserve Board have helped to encourage inflation. Henceforth, I expect
that their single purpose shall be to serve the whole Nation by policies
designed to stabilize the economy and encourage the free play of our people's
genius for individual initiative.
In encouraging this initiative, no single item in our current problems
has received more thoughtful consideration by my associates, and by the
many individuals called into our counsels, than the matter of price and
wage control by law.
The great economic strength of our democracy has developed in an atmosphere
of freedom. The character of our people resists artificial and arbitrary
controls of any kind. Direct controls, except those on credit, deal not
with the real causes of inflation but only with its symptoms. In times
of national emergency, this kind of control has a role to play. Our whole
system, however, is based upon the assumption that, normally, we should
combat wide fluctuations in our price structure by relying largely on the
effective use of sound fiscal and monetary policy, and upon the natural
workings of economic law.
Moreover, American labor and American business can best resolve their
wage problems across the bargaining table. Government should refrain from
sitting in with them unless, in extreme cases, the public welfare requires
We are, of course, living in an international situation that is neither
an emergency demanding full mobilization, nor is it peace. No one can know
how long this condition will persist. Consequently, we are forced to learn
many new things as we go along-clinging to what works, discarding what
In all our current discussions on these and related facts, the weight
of evidence is clearly against the use of controls in their present forms.
They have proved largely unsatisfactory or unworkable. They have not prevented
inflation; they have not kept down the cost of living. Dissatisfaction
with them is wholly justified. I am convinced that now--as well as in the
long run--free and competitive prices will best serve the interests of
all the people, and best meet the changing, growing needs of our economy.
Accordingly, I do not intend to ask for a renewal of the present wage
and price controls on April 30, 1953, when present legislation expires.
In the meantime, steps will be taken to eliminate controls in an orderly
manner, and to terminate special agencies no longer needed for this purpose.
It is obviously to be expected that the removal of these controls will
result in individual price changes--some up, some down. But a maximum of
freedom in market prices as well as in collective bargaining is characteristic
of a truly free people.
I believe also that material and product controls should be ended, except
with respect to defense priorities and scarce and critical items essential
for our defense. I shall recommend to the Congress that legislation be
enacted to continue authority for such remaining controls of this type
as will be necessary after the expiration of the existing statute on June
I recommend the continuance of the authority for Federal control over
rents in those communities in which serious housing shortages exist. These
are chiefly the so-called defense areas. In these and all areas the Federal
Government should withdraw from the control of rents as soon as practicable.
But before they are removed entirely, each legislature should have full
opportunity to take over, within its own State, responsibility for this
It would be idle to pretend that all our problems in this whole field
of prices will solve themselves by mere Federal withdrawal from direct
We shall have to watch trends closely. If the freer functioning of our
economic system, as well as the indirect controls which can be appropriately
employed, prove insufficient during this period of strain and tension,
I shall promptly ask the Congress to enact such legislation as may be required.
In facing all these problems--wages, prices, production, tax rates,
fiscal policy, deficits--everywhere we remain constantly mindful that the
time for sacrifice has not ended. But we are concerned with the encouragement
of competitive enterprise and individual initiative precisely because we
know them to be our Nation's abiding sources of strength.
Our vast world responsibility accents with urgency our people's elemental
right to a government whose clear qualities are loyalty, security, efficiency,
economy, and integrity.
The safety of America and the trust of the people alike demand that
the personnel of the Federal Government be loyal in their motives and reliable
in the discharge of their duties. Only a combination of both loyalty and
reliability promises genuine security.
To state this principle is easy; to apply it can be difficult. But this
security we must and shall have. By way of example, all principal new appointees
to departments and agencies have been investigated at their own request
by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Confident of your understanding and cooperation, I know that the primary
responsibility for keeping out the disloyal and the dangerous rests squarely
upon the executive branch. When this branch so conducts itself as to require
policing by another branch of the Government, it invites its own disorder
I am determined to meet this responsibility of the Executive. The heads
of all executive departments and agencies have been instructed to initiate
at once effective programs of security with respect to their personnel.
The Attorney General will advise and guide the departments and agencies
in the shaping of these programs, designed at once to govern the employment
of new personnel and to review speedily any derogatory information concerning
To carry out these programs, I believe that the powers of the executive
branch under existing law are sufficient. If they should prove inadequate,
the necessary legislation will be requested.
These programs will be both fair to the rights of the individual and
effective for the safety of the Nation. They will, with care and justice,
apply the basic principle that public employment is not a right but a privilege.
All these measures have two clear purposes: Their first purpose is to
make certain that this Nation's security is not jeopardized by false servants.
Their second purpose is to clear the atmosphere of that unreasoned suspicion
that accepts rumor and gossip as substitutes for evidence.
Our people, of course, deserve and demand of their Federal Government
more than security of personnel. They demand, also, efficient and logical
organization, true to constitutional principles.
I have already established a Committee on Government Organization. The
Committee is using as its point of departure the reports of the Hoover
Commission and subsequent studies by several independent agencies. To achieve
the greater efficiency and economy which the Committee analyses show to
be possible, I ask the Congress to extend the present Government Reorganization
Act for a period of 18 months or 2 years beyond its expiration date of
April 1, 1953.
There is more involved here than realigning the wheels and smoothing
the gears of administrative machinery. The Congress rightfully-expects
the Executive to take the initiative in discovering and removing outmoded
functions and eliminating duplication.
One agency, for example, whose head has promised early and vigorous
action to provide greater efficiency is the Post Office. One of the oldest
institutions of our Federal Government, its service should be of the best.
Its employees should merit and receive the high regard and esteem of the
citizens of the Nation. There are today in some areas of the postal service,
both waste and incompetence to be corrected. With the cooperation of the
Congress, and taking advantage of its accumulated experience in postal
affairs, the Postmaster General will institute a program directed at improving
service while at the same time reducing costs and decreasing deficits.
In all departments, dedication to these basic precepts of security and
efficiency, integrity, and economy can and will produce an administration
deserving of the trust the people have placed in it.
Our people have demanded nothing less than good, efficient government.
They shall get nothing less.
Vitally important are the water and minerals, public lands and standing
timber, forage and Mid-life of this country. A fast-growing population
will have vast future needs in these resources. We must more than match
the substantial achievements in the half-century since President Theodore
Roosevelt awakened the Nation to the problem of conservation.
This calls for a strong Federal program in the field of resource development.
Its major projects should be timed, where possible to assist in leveling
off peaks and valleys in our economic life. Soundly planned projects already
initiated should be carried out. New ones will be planned for the future.
The best natural resources program for America will not result from
exclusive dependence on Federal bureaucracy. It will involve a partnership
of the States and local communities, private citizens, and the Federal
Government, all working together. This combined effort will advance the
development of the great river valleys of our Nation and the power that
they can generate. Likewise, such a partnership can be effective in the
expansion throughout the Nation of upstream storage; the sound use of public
lands; the wise conservation of minerals; and the sustained yield of our
There has been much criticism, some of it apparently justified, of the
confusion resulting from overlapping Federal activities in the entire field
of resource-conservation. This matter is being exhaustively studied and
appropriate reorganization plans will be developed.
Most of these particular resource problems pertain to the Department
of the Interior. Another of its major concerns is our country's island
possessions. Here, one matter deserves attention. The platforms of both
political parties promised immediate statehood to Hawaii. The people of
that Territory have earned that status. Statehood should be granted promptly
with the first election scheduled for 1954.
One of the difficult problems which face the new administration is that
of the slow, irregular decline of farm prices. This decline, which has
been going on for almost 2 years, has occurred at a time when most nonfarm
prices and farm costs of production are extraordinarily high.
Present agricultural legislation provides for the mandatory support
of the prices of basic farm commodities at 90 percent of parity. The Secretary
of Agriculture and his associates will, of course, execute the present
act faithfully and thereby seek to mitigate the consequences of the downturn
in farm income.
This price-support legislation will expire at the end of 1954.
So we should begin now to consider what farm legislation we should develop
for 1955 and beyond. Our aim should be economic stability and full parity
of income for American farmers. But we must seek this goal in ways that
minimize governmental interference in the farmers' affairs, that permit
desirable shifts in production, and that encourage farmers themselves to
use initiative in meeting changing economic conditions.
A continuing study reveals nothing more emphatically than the complicated
nature of this subject. Among other things, it shows that the prosperity
of our agriculture depends directly upon the prosperity of the whole country--upon
the purchasing power of American consumers. It depends also upon the opportunity
to ship abroad large surpluses of particular commodities, and therefore
upon sound economic relationships between the United States and many foreign
countries. It involves research and scientific investigation, conducted
on an extensive scale. It involves special credit mechanisms and marketing,
rural electrification, soil conservation, and other programs.
The whole complex of agricultural programs and policies will be studied
by a Special Agricultural Advisory Commission, as I know it will by appropriate
committees of the Congress. A nonpartisan group of respected authorities
in the field of agriculture has already been appointed as an interim advisory
The immediate changes needed in agricultural programs are largely budgetary
and administrative in nature. New policies and new programs must await
the completion of the far-reaching studies which have already been launched.
The determination of labor policy must be governed not by the vagaries
of political expediency but by the firmest principles and convictions.
Slanted partisan appeals to American workers, spoken as if they were a
group apart, necessitating a special language and treatment, are an affront
to the fullness of their dignity as American citizens.
The truth in matters of labor policy has become obscured in controversy.
The very meaning of economic freedom as it affects labor has become confused.
This misunderstanding has provided a climate of opinion favoring the growth
of governmental paternalism in labor relations. This tendency, if left
uncorrected, could end only by producing a bureaucratic despotism. Economic
freedom is, in fact, the requisite of greater prosperity for every American
who earns his own living.
In the field of labor legislation, only a law that merits the respect
and support of both labor and management can help reduce the loss of wages
and of production through strikes and stoppages, and thus add to the total
economic strength of our Nation.
We have now had 5 years' experience with the Labor Management Act of
1947, commonly known as the Taft-Hartley Act. That experience has shown
the need for some corrective action, and we should promptly proceed to
amend that act.
I know that the Congress is already proceeding with renewed studies
of this subject. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor is at once beginning
work to devise further specific recommendations for your consideration.
In the careful working out of legislation, I know you will give thoughtful
consideration--as will we in the executive branch--to the views of labor,
and of management, and of the general public. In this process, it is only
human that each of us should bring forward the arguments of self-interest.
But if all conduct their arguments in the overpowering light of national
interest--which is enlightened self-interest--we shall get the right answers.
I profoundly hope that every citizen of our country will follow with understanding
your progress in this work. The welfare of all of us is involved.
Especially must we remember that the institutions of trade unionism
and collective bargaining are monuments to the freedom that must prevail
in our industrial life. They have a century of honorable achievement behind
them. Our faith in them is proven, firm, and final.
Government can do a great deal to aid the settlement of labor disputes
without allowing itself to be employed as an ally of either side. Its proper
role in industrial strife is to encourage the processes of mediation and
conciliation. These processes can successfully be directed only by a government
free from the taint of any suspicion that it is partial or punitive.
The administration intends to strengthen and to improve the services
which the Department of Labor can render to the worker and to the whole
national community. This Department was created--just 40 years ago--to
serve the entire Nation. It must aid, for example, employers and employees
alike in improving training programs that will develop skilled and competent
workers. It must enjoy the confidence and respect of labor and industry
in order to play a significant role in the planning of America's economic
future. To that end, I am authorizing the Department of Labor to establish
promptly a tripartite advisory committee consisting of representatives
of employers, labor, and the public.
Our civil and social rights form a central part of the heritage we are
striving to defend on all fronts and with all our strength. I believe with
all my heart that our vigilant guarding of these rights is a sacred obligation
binding upon every citizen. To be true to one's own freedom is, in essence,
to honor and respect the freedom of all others.
A cardinal ideal in this heritage we cherish is the equality of rights
of all citizens of every race and color and creed.
We know that discrimination against minorities persists despite our
allegiance to this ideal. Such discrimination--confined to no one section
of the Nation--is but the outward testimony to the persistence of distrust
and of fear in the hearts of men.
This fact makes all the more vital the fighting of these wrongs by each
individual, in every station of life, in his every deed.
Much of the answer lies in the power of fact, fully publicized; of persuasion,
honestly pressed; and of conscience, justly aroused. These are methods
familiar to our way of life, tested and proven wise.
I propose to use whatever authority exists in the office of the President
to end segregation in the District of Columbia, including the Federal Government,
and any segregation in the Armed Forces.
Here in the District of Columbia, serious attention should be given
to the proposal to develop and authorize, through legislation, a system
to provide an effective voice in local self-government. While consideration
of this proceeds, I recommend an immediate increase of two in the number
of District Commissioners to broaden representation of all elements of
our local population. This will be a first step toward insuring that this
Capital provide an honored example to all communities of our Nation.
In this manner, and by the leadership of the office of the President
exercised through friendly conferences with those in authority in our States
and cities, we expect to make true and rapid progress in civil rights and
equality of employment opportunity.
There is one sphere in which civil rights are inevitably involved in
Federal legislation. This is the sphere of immigration.
It is a manifest right of our Government to limit the number of immigrants
our Nation can absorb. It is also a manifest right of our Government to
set reasonable requirements on the character and the numbers of the people
who come to share our land and our freedom.
It is well for us, however, to remind ourselves occasionally of an equally
manifest fact: we are--one and all--immigrants or sons and daughters of
Existing legislation contains injustices. It does, in fact, discriminate.
I am informed by Members of the Congress that it was realized, at the time
of its enactment, that future study of the basis of determining quotas
would be necessary.
I am therefore requesting the Congress to review this legislation and
to enact a statute that will at one and the same time guard our legitimate
national interests and be faithful to our basic ideas of freedom and fairness
In another but related area--that of social rights--we see most clearly
the new application of old ideas of freedom.
This administration is profoundly aware of two great needs born of our
living in a complex industrial economy. First, the individual citizen must
have safeguards against personal disaster inflicted by forces beyond his
control; second, the welfare of the people demands effective and economical
performance by the Government of certain indispensable social services.
In the light of this responsibility, certain general purposes and certain
concrete measures are plainly indicated now.
There is urgent need for greater effectiveness in our programs, both
public and private, offering safeguards against the privations that too
often come with unemployment, old age, illness, and accident. The provisions
of the old-age and survivors insurance law should promptly be extended
to cover millions of citizens who have been left out of the social-security
system. No less important is the encouragement of privately sponsored pension
plans. Most important of all, of course, is renewed effort to check the
inflation which destroys so much of the value of all social-security payments.
Our school system demands some prompt, effective help. During each of
the last 9 years, more than 1 ? million children have swelled the elementary
and secondary school population of the country. Generally, the school population
is proportionately higher in States with low per capita income. This whole
situation calls for careful congressional study and action. I am sure that
you share my conviction that the firm conditions of Federal aid must be
proved need and proved lack of local income.
One phase of the school problem demands special action. The school population
of many districts has been greatly in- creased by the swift growth
of defense activities. These activities have added little or nothing
to the tax resources of the communities affected. Legislation aiding construction
of schools in the districts expires on June 30. This law should be renewed;
and likewise, the partial payments for current operating expenses
for these particular school districts should be made, including the deficiency
requirement of the current fiscal year.
Public interest similarly demands one prompt specific action in protection
of the general consumer. The Food and Drug Administration should be authorized
to continue its established and necessary program of factory inspections.
The invalidation of these inspections by the Supreme Court of December
8, 1952, was based solely on the fact that the present law contained inconsistent
and unclear provisions. These must be promptly corrected.
I am well aware that beyond these few immediate measures there remains
much to be done. The health and housing needs of our people call for intelligently
planned programs. Involved are the solvency of the whole security system;
and its guarding against exploitation by the irresponsible.
To bring clear purpose and orderly procedure into this field, I anticipate
a thorough study of the proper relationship among Federal, State, and local
programs. I shall shortly send you specific recommendations for establishing
such an appropriate commission, together with a reorganization plan defining
new administrative status for all Federal activities in health, education,
and social security.
I repeat that there are many important subjects of which I make no mention
today. Among these is our great and growing body of veterans. America has
traditionally been generous in caring for the disabled--and the widow and
the orphan of the fallen. These millions remain close to all our hearts.
Proper care of our uniformed citizens and appreciation of the past service
of our veterans are part of our accepted governmental responsibilities.
We have surveyed briefly some problems of our people and a portion of
the tasks before us.
The hope of freedom itself depends, in real measure, upon our strength,
our heart, and our wisdom.
We must be strong in arms. We must be strong in the source of all our
armament, our productivity. We all--workers and farmers, foremen and financiers,
technicians and builders--all must produce, produce more, and produce yet
We must be strong, above all, in the spiritual resources upon which
all else depends. We must be devoted with all our heart to the values we
defend. We must know that each of these values and virtues applies with
equal force at the ends of the earth and in our relations with our neighbor
next door. We must know that freedom expresses itself with equal eloquence
in the right of workers to strike in the nearby factory, and in the yearnings
and sufferings of the peoples of Eastern Europe.
As our heart summons our strength, our wisdom must direct it.
There is, in world affairs, a steady course to be followed between an
assertion of strength that is truculent and a confession of helplessness
that is cowardly.
There is, in our affairs at home, a middle way between untrammeled freedom
of the individual and the demands for the welfare of the whole Nation.
This way must avoid government by bureaucracy as carefully as it avoids
neglect of the helpless.
In every area of political action, free men must think before they can
expect to win.
In this spirit must we live and labor: confident of our strength, compassionate
in our heart, clear in our mind.
In this spirit, let us together turn to the great tasks before us.