Radio and TV Address to the American People on July 25, 1961 - History

Radio and TV Address to the American People on July 25, 1961 - History

Good evening: Seven weeks ago tonight I returned from Europe to report on my meeting with Premier Khrushchev and the others. His grim warnings about the future of the world, his aide memoire on Berlin, his subsequent speeches and threats which he and his agents have launched, and the increase in the Soviet military budget that he has announced, have all prompted a series of decisions by the Administration and a series of consultations with the members of the NATO organization. In Berlin, as you recall, he intends to bring to an end, through a stroke of the pen, first our legal rights to be in West Berlin-and secondly our ability to make good on our commitment to the two million free people of that city. That we cannot permit. We are clear about what must be done and we intend to do it. I want to talk frankly with you tonight about the first steps that we shall take. These actions will require sacrifice on the part of many of our citizens. More will be required in the future. They will require, from all of us, courage and perseverance in the years to come. But if we and our allies act out of strength and unity of purpose-with calm determination and steady nerves-using restraint in our words as well as our weapons am hopeful that both peace and freedom will be sustained.

The immediate threat to free men is in West Berlin. But that isolated outpost is not an isolated problem. The threat is worldwide. Our effort must be equally wide and strong, and not be obsessed by any single manufactured crisis. We face a challenge in Berlin, but there is also a challenge in Southeast Asia, where the borders are less guarded, the enemy harder to find, and the dangers of communism less apparent to those who have so little. We face a challenge in our own hemisphere, and indeed wherever else the freedom of human beings is at stake.

Let me remind you that the fortunes of war and diplomacy left the free people of West Berlin, in 1945, 110 miles behind the Iron Curtain.

This map makes very clear the problem that we face. The white is West Germany-the East is the area controlled by the Soviet Union, and as you can see from the chart, West Berlin is 110 miles within the area which the Soviets now dominate which is immediately controlled by the so-called East German regime. We are there as a result of our victory over Nazi Germany-and our basic rights to be there, deriving from that victory, include both our presence in West Berlin and the enjoyment of access across East Germany. These rights have been repeatedly confirmed and recognized in special agreements with the Soviet Union. Berlin is not a part of East Germany, but a separate territory under the control of the allied powers. Thus our rights. there are clear and deep-rooted. But in addition to those rights is our commitment to sustain-and defend, if need be-the opportunity for more than two million people to determine their own future and choose their own way of life.

Thus, our presence in West Berlin, and our access thereto, cannot be ended by any act of the Soviet government. The NATO shield was long ago extended to cover West Berlin-and we have given our word that an attack upon that city will be regarded as an attack upon us all.

For West Berlin-lying exposed 110 miles inside East Germany, surrounded by Soviet troops and close to Soviet supply lines, has many roles. It is more than a showcase of liberty, a symbol, an island of freedom in a Communist sea. It is even more than a link with the Free World, a beacon of hope behind the Iron Curtain, an escape hatch for refugees.

West Berlin is all of that. But above all it has now become-as never before-the great testing place of Western courage and will, a focal point where our solemn commitments stretching back over the years since 1945, and Soviet ambitions now meet in basic confrontation.

It would be a mistake for others to look upon Berlin, because of its location, as a tempting target. The United States is there; the United Kingdom and France are there; the pledge of NATO is there-and the people of Berlin are there. It is as secure, in that sense, as the rest of us-for we cannot separate its safety from our own.

I hear it said that West Berlin is militarily untenable. And so was Bastogne. And so, in fact, was Stailingrad. And dangerous spot is tenable if men-brave men-will make it So. We do not want to fight-but we have fought before. And others in earlier times have made the same dangerous mistake of assuming that the West was too selfish and too soft and too divided to resist invasions of freedom in other lands. Those who threaten to unleash the forces of war on a dispute over West Berlin should recall the words of the ancient philosopher: “A man who causes fear cannot be free from fear. ”

We cannot and will not permit the Communists to drive us out of Berlin, either gradually or by force. For the fulfillment of our pledge to that city is essential to the morale and security of Western Germany, to the unity of Western Europe, and to the faith of the entire Free World. Soviet strategy has long been aimed, not merely at Berlin, but at dividing and neutralizing all of Europe, forcing us back on our own shores. We must meet our oft-stated pledge to the free peoples of West Berlin maintain our rights and their safety, even in the face of force-in order to maintain the confidence of other free peoples in our word and our resolve. The strength of the alliance on which our security depends is dependent in turn on our willingness to meet our commitments to them.

So long as the Communists insist that they are preparing to end by themselves unilaterally our rights in West Berlin and our commitments to its people, we must be prepared to defend those rights and those commitments. We will at all times be ready to talk, if talk will help. But we must also be ready to resist with force, if force is used upon us. Either alone would fall. Together, they can serve the cause of freedom and peace.

The new preparations that we shall make to defend the peace are part of the long-term build-up-up in our strength which has been underway since January. They are based on our needs to meet a world-wide threat, on a basis which stretches far beyond the present Berlin crisis. Our primary purpose is neither propaganda nor provocation-but preparation.

A first need is to hasten progress toward the military goals which the North Atlantic allies have set for themselves. In Europe today nothing less will suffice. We will put even greater resources into fulfilling those goals, and we took to our allies to do the same.

The supplementary defense build-ups that I asked from the Congress in March and May have already started moving us toward these and our other defense goals. They included an increase in the size of the Marine Corps, improved readiness of our reserves, expansion of our air and sea lift, and stepped-up procurement of needed weapons, ammunition, and other items. To insure a continuing invulnerable capacity to deter or destroy any aggressor, they provided for the strengthening of our missile power and for putting 50% of our B-52 and B-47 bombers on a ground alert which would send them on their way with 15 minutes’ warning.

These measures must be speeded up, and still others must now be taken. We must have sea and air lift capable of moving our forces quickly and in large numbers to any part of the world. But even more importantly, we need the capability of placing in any critical area at the appropriate time a force which, combined with those of our allies, is large enough to make clear our determination and our ability to defend our rights at all costs-and to meet all levels of aggressor pressure with whatever levels of force are required. We intend to have a wider choice than humiliation or all-out nuclear action. While it is unwise at this time either to threat, on a basis which stretches far beyond the present Berlin crisis. Our primary purpose is neither propaganda nor provocation-but preparation. A first need is to hasten progress toward the military goals which the North Atlantic allies have set for themselves. We will put even greater resources into fulfilling those goals, and we look to our allies to do the same.

The supplementary defense build-ups that I asked from the Congress in March and May have already started moving us toward these and our other defense goals. While it is unwise at this time either to call up or send abroad excessive numbers of these troops before they are needed, let me make it clear that I intend to take, as time goes on, whatever steps are necessary to make certain that such forces can be deployed at the appropriate time without lessening our ability to meet our commitments elsewhere.

Thus, in the days and months ahead, I shall not hesitate to ask the Congress for additional measures, or exercise any of the executive powers that I possess to meet this threat to peace. Everything essential to the security of freedom must be done; and if that should require more men, or more taxes, or more controls, or other new powers, I shall not hesitate to ask them. The measures proposed today will be constantly studied, and altered as necessary. But while we will not let panic shape our policy, neither will we permit timidity to direct our program.

Accordingly, I am now taking the following steps: (1) I am tomorrow requesting the Congress for the current fiscal year an additional $3,247,000,000 of appropriations for the Armed Forces. (2) To fill out our present Army Divisions, and to make more men available for prompt deployment, I am requesting an increase in the Army’s total authorized strength from 875,000 to approximately 1 million men. (3) I am requesting an increase Of 29,000 and 63,000 men respectively in the active duty strength of the Navy and the Air Force. (4) To fulfill these manpower needs, I am ordering that our draft calls be doubled and tripled in the coining months; I am asking the Congress for authority to order to active duty certain ready reserve units and individual reservists, and to extend tours of duty; and, under that authority, I am planning to order to active duty a number of air transport squadrons and Air National Guard tactical air squadrons, to give us the airlift capacity and protection that we need. Other reserve forces will be called up when needed. (5) Many ships and planes once headed for retirement are to be retained or reactivated, increasing our air power tactically and our sealift, airlift, and anti-submarine warfare capability. In addition, our strategic air power will be increased by delaying the deactivation of B-47 bombers. (6) Finally, some $1.8 billion-about half of the total sum-is needed for the procurement of non-nuclear weapons, ammunition and equipment.

The details on all these requests will be presented to the Congress tomorrow. Subsequent steps will be taken to suit subsequent needs. Comparable efforts for the common defense are being discussed with our NATO allies. For their commitment and interest are as precise as our own. And let me add that I am well aware of the fact that many American families will bear the burden of these requests. Studies or careers will be interrupted; husbands and sons will be called away; incomes in some cases will be reduced. But these are burdens which must be borne if freedom is to be defended-Americans have willingly borne them before-and they will not flinch from the task now.

We have another sober responsibility. To recognize the possibilities of nuclear war in the missile age, without our citizens knowing what they should do and where they should go if bombs begin to fall, would be a failure of responsibility. In May, I pledged a new start on Civil Defense. Last week, I assigned, on the recommendation of the Civil Defense Director, basic responsibility for this program to the Secretary of Defense, to make certain it is administered and coordinated with our continental defense efforts at the highest civilian level. Tomorrow, I am requesting of the Congress new funds for the following immediate objectives: to identify and mark space in existing structures-public and private-that could be used for fall-out shelters in case of attack; to stock those shelters with food, water, first-aid kits and other minimum essentials for survival; to increase their capacity; to improve our air-raid warning and fall-out detection systems, including a new household warning system which is now under development; and to take other measures that will be effective at an early date to save millions of lives if needed.

In the event of an attack, the lives of those families which are not hit in a nuclear blast and fire can still be saved-if they can be warned to take shelter and if that shelter is available. We owe that kind of insurance to our families-and to our country. In contrast to our friends in Europe, the need for this kind of protection is new to our shores. But the time to start is now. In the coming months, I hope to let every citizen know what steps he can take without delay to protect his family in case of attack. I know that you will want to do no less.

The addition of $207 million in Civil Defense appropriations brings our total new defense budget requests to $3-454 billion, and a total Of $47-5 billion for the year. This is an increase in the defense budget of $6 billion since January, and has resulted in official estimates of a budget deficit of over $5 billion. The Secretary of the Treasury and other economic advisers assure me, however, that our economy has the capacity to bear this new request.

We are I recovering strongly from this year’s recession. The increase in this last quarter of our year of our total national output was greater than that for any postwar period of initial recovery. And yet, wholesale prices are actually lower than they were during the recession, and consumer prices are only. 4 of 1% higher than they were last October. In fact, this last quarter was the first in eight years in which our production has increased without an increase in the overall-price index. And for the first time since the fall of 1959, our gold position has improved and the dollar is more respected abroad. These gains, it should be stressed, are being accomplished with Budget deficits far smaller than those of the 1958 recession. This improved business outlook means improved revenues; and I intend to submit to the Congress in January a budget for the next fiscal year which will be strictly in balance. ‘Nevertheless, should an increase in taxes be needed-because of events in the next few months-to achieve that balance, or because of subsequent defense rises, those increased taxes will be requested in January.

Meanwhile, to help make certain that the current deficit is held to a safe level, we must keep down all expenditures not thoroughly justified in budget requests. The luxury of our current post-office deficit must be ended. Costs in military procurement will be closely scrutinized-and in this effort I welcome the cooperation of the Congress. The tax loopholes I have specified-on expense accounts, overseas income, dividends interest, cooperatives and others-must be closed.

I realize that no public revenue measure is welcomed by everyone. But I am certain that every American wants to pay his fair share, and not leave the burden of defending freedom entirely to those who bear arms. For we have mortgaged our very future on this defense-and we cannot fail to meet our responsibilities. But I must emphasize again that the choice is not merely between resistance and retreat, between atomic holocaust arid surrender. Our peace-time military posture is traditionally defensive; but our diplomatic posture need not be. Our response to the Berlin crisis will not be merely military or negative. It will be more than merely standing firm. For we do not intend to leave it to others to choose and monopolize the forum and the framework of discussion. We do not intend to abandon our duty to mankind to seek a peaceful solution.

As signers of -the UN Charter, we shall always be prepared to discuss international problems with any and all nations that are willing to talk-and listen-with reason. If they have proposals-not demands-we shall hear them. If they seek genuine understanding-not concessions of our rights- shall meet with them. We have previously indicated our readiness to remove any actual irritants in West Berlin, but the freedom of that city is not negotiable. We cannot negotiate with those who say “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable. But we are willing to consider any arrangement or treaty in Germany consistent with the maintenance of peace and freedom, and with the legitimate security interests of all nations. We recognize the Soviet Union’s historical concern about their security in Central and Eastern Europe, after a series of ravaging invasions, and we believe arrangements can be worked out which will help to meet those concerns, and make it possible for both security and freedom to exist in this troubled area.

For it is not the freedom of West Berlin which is “abnormal” in Germany today, but the situation in that entire divided country. If anyone doubts the legality of our rights in Berlin, we are ready to have it submitted to international adjudication. If anyone doubts the extent to which our presence is desired by the people of West Berlin, compared to East German feelings about their regime, we are ready to have that question submitted to a free vote in Berlin and, if possible, among all the German people. And let us hear at that time from the two and one-half million refugees who have fled the Communist regime in East Germany- voting for Western-type freedom with their feet. The world is not deceived by the Communist attempt to label Berlin as a hot-bed of war. There is peace in Berlin today. The source of world trouble and tension is Moscow, not Berlin. And if war begins, it will have begun in Moscow and not Berlin. For the choice of peace or war is larrly theirs, not ours. It is the Soviets who have stirred up this crisis. It is they who are trying to force a change. It is they who have opposed free elections. It is they who have rejected an all-German peace treaty, and the rulings of international law. And as Americans know from our history on our own old frontier, gun battles are caused by outlaws, and not by officers of the peace.

In short, while we are ready to defend our interests, we shall also be ready to search for peace-in quiet exploratory talks-in formal or informal meetings. We do not want military considerations to dominate the thinking of either East or West. And Mr. Khrushchev may find that his invitation to other nations to join in a meaningless treaty may lead to their inviting him to join in the community of peaceful men, in abandoning the use of force, and in respecting the sanctity of agreements.

While all of these efforts go on, we must not be diverted from our total responsibilities, from other dangers, from other tasks. If new threats in Berlin or elsewhere should cause us to weaken our program of assistance to the developing nations who are also under heavy pressure from the same source, or to halt our efforts for realistic disarmament, or to disrupt or slow down our economy, or to neglect the education of our children, then those threats will surely be the most successful and least costly maneuver in Communist history. For we can afford all these efforts, and more-but we cannot afford not to meet this challenge.

And the challenge is not to us alone. It is a challenge to every nation which asserts its sovereignty under a system of liberty. It is a challenge to all those who want a world of free choice. It is a special challenge to the Atlantic Community-the heartland of human freedom.

We in the West must move together in building military strength. We must consult one another more closely than ever before. We must together design our proposals for peace, and labor together as they arc pressed at the conference table. And together we must share the burdens and the risks of this effort. The Atlantic Community, as we know it,, has. been built in response to challenge: the challenge of European chaos in 1947, of the Berlin blockade in 1948, the challenge of Communist aggression in Korea in 1950. Now, standing strong and prosperous, after an unprecedented decade of progress, the Atlantic Community will not forget either its history or the principles which gave it meaning.

The solemn vow each of us gave to West Berlin in time of peace will not be broken in time of danger. If we do not meet our commitments to Berlin, where will we later stand? If we are not true to our word there, all that we have achieved in collective security, which relies on these words, will mean nothing. And if there is one path above all others to war, it is the path of weakness and disunity.

Today, the endangered frontier of freedom runs through divided Berlin. We want it to remain a frontier of peace. This is the hope of every citizen of the Atlantic Community; every citizen of Eastern Europe; and, I am confident, every citizen of the Soviet Union. For I cannot believe that the Russian people-who bravely suffered enormous losses in the Second World War would now wish to see the peace upset once more in Germany. The Soviet government alone can convert Berlin’s frontier of peace into a pretext for war. ‘The steps I have indicated tonight are aimed at avoiding that war. To sum it all up: we seek peace-but we shall not surrender. That is the central meaning of this crisis, and the meaning of your government’s policy.

With your help, and the help of other free men, this crisis can be surmounted. Freedom can prevail-and peace can endure.

I would like to close with a personal word. When I ran for the Presidency of the United States, I knew that this country faced serious challenges, but I could not realize-nor could any man realize who does not bear the burdens of this office-how heavy and constant would be those burdens. Three times in my life-time our country and Europe have been involved in major wars. In each case serious misjudgments were made on both sides of the intentions of others, which brought about great devastation. Now, in the thermonuclear age, any misjudgment on either side about the intentions of the other could rain more devastation in several hours than has been wrought in all the wars of human history. Therefore 1, as President and Commander-in-Chief, and all of us as Americans, are moving through serious days. I shall bear this responsibility under our Constitution for the next three and one-half. years, but I am sure that we all, regardless of our occupations, will do our very best for our country, and for our cause. For all of us want to see our children grow up in a country at peace, and in a world where freedom endures.

I know that sometimes we get impatient, we wish for some immediate action that would end our perils. But I must tell you that there is no quick and easy solution. The Communists control over a billion people, and they recognize that if we should falter, their success would be imminent.

We must look to long days ahead, which if we are courageous and persevering can bring us what we all desire. In these days and weeks I ask for your help, and your advice. I ask for your suggestions, when you think we could do better. All of us, I know, love our country, and we shall all do our best to serve it. In meeting my responsibilities in these coming months as President, I need your good will, and your support-and above all, your prayers. Thank you, and good night.

Radio and Television Address to the American People on the Situation in the Middle East.

May I first explain to you that for some days I have been experiencing a very stubborn cough, so if because of this I should have to interrupt myself this evening, I crave your indulgence in advance.

I come to you again to talk about the situation in the Middle East. The future of the United Nations and peace in the Middle East may be at stake.

In the four months since I talked to you about the crisis in that area, the United Nations has made considerable progress in resolving some of the difficult problems. We are now, however, faced with a fateful moment as the result of the failure of Israel to withdraw its forces behind the Armistice lines, as contemplated by the United Nations Resolutions on this subject.

I have already today met with leaders of both Parties from the Senate and the House of Representatives. We had a very useful exchange of views. It was the general feeling of that meeting that I should lay the situation before the American people.

Now, before talking about the specific issues involved, I want to make clear that these issues are not something remote and abstract, but involve matters vitally touching upon the future of each one of us.

The Middle East is a land-bridge between the Eurasian and African continents. Millions of tons of commerce are transmitted through it annually. Its own products, especially petroleum, are essential to Europe and to the Western world.

The United States has no ambitions or desires in this region. It hopes only that each country there may maintain its independence and live peacefully within itself and with its neighbors and, by peaceful cooperation with others, develop its own spiritual and material resources. But that much is vital to the peace and well-being of us all. This is our concern today.

So tonight I report to you on the matters in controversy and on what I believe the position of the United States must be.

When I talked to you last October, I pointed out that the United States fully realized that military action against Egypt resulted from grave and repeated provocations. But I said also that the use of military force to solve international disputes could not be reconciled with the principles and purposes of the United Nations. I added that our country could not believe that resort to force and war would for long serve the permanent interests of the attacking nations, which were Britain, France and Israel.

So I pledged that the United States would seek through the United Nations to end the conflict. We would strive to bring about a recall of the forces of invasion, and then make a renewed and earnest effort through that Organization to secure justice, under international law, for all the parties concerned.

Since that time much has been achieved and many of the dangers implicit in the situation have been avoided. The Governments of Britain and France have withdrawn their forces from Egypt. Thereby they showed respect for the opinions of mankind as expressed almost unanimously by the 80 nation members of the United Nations General Assembly.

I want to pay tribute to the wisdom of this action of our friends and allies. They made an immense contribution to world order. Also they put the other nations of the world under a heavy obligation to see to it that these two nations do not suffer by reason of their compliance with the United Nations Resolutions. This has special application, I think, to their treaty rights to passage through the Suez Canal which had been made an international waterway for all by the Treaty of 1888.

The Prime Minister of Israel, in answer to a personal communication, assured me early in November that Israel would willingly withdraw its forces if and when there should be created a United Nations force to move into the Suez Canal area. This force was, in fact, created and has moved into the Canal area.

Subsequently, Israeli forces were withdrawn from much of the territory of Egypt which they had occupied. However, Israeli forces still remain outside the Armistice lines. They are at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba which is about 100 miles from the nearest Israeli territory. They are also in the Gaza Strip which, by the Armistice Agreement, was to be occupied by Egypt. These facts create the present crisis.

We are approaching a fateful moment when either we must recognize that the United Nations is unable to restore peace in this area, or the United Nations must renew with increased vigor its efforts to bring about Israeli withdrawal.

Repeated, but, so far, unsuccessful, efforts have been made to bring about a voluntary withdrawal by Israel. These efforts have been made both by the United Nations and by the United States and other member states.

Equally serious efforts have been made to bring about conditions designed to assure that if Israel will withdraw in response to the repeated requests of the United Nations, there will then be achieved a greater security and tranquility for that nation. This means that the United Nations would assert a determination to see that in the Middle East there will be a greater degree of justice and compliance with international law than was the case prior to the events of last October-November.

A United Nations Emergency Force, with Egypt's consent, entered that nation's territory in order to help maintain the cease-fire, which the United Nations called for on November 2. The Secretary General, who ably and devotedly serves the United Nations, has recommended a number of measures which might be taken by the United Nations and by its Emergency Force to assure for the future the avoidance by either side of belligerent acts.

The United Nations General Assembly on February 2 by an overwhelming vote adopted a pertinent Resolution. It was to the effect that, after full withdrawal of Israel from the Gulf of Aqaba and Gaza areas, the United Nations Emergency Force should be placed on the Egyptian-Israeli Armistice lines to assure the scrupulous maintenance of the Armistice Agreement. Also the United Nations General Assembly called for the implementation of other measures proposed by the Secretary General. These other measures embraced the use of the United Nations Emergency Forces at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, so as to assure non-belligerency in this area.

The United States was a co-sponsor of this United Nations Resolution. Thus the United States sought to assure that Israel would, for the future, enjoy its rights under the Armistice and under international law.

In view of the valued friendly relations which the United States has always had with the State of Israel, I wrote to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion on February 3. I recalled his statement to me of November 8 to the effect that the Israeli forces would be withdrawn under certain conditions, and I urged that, in view of the General Assembly Resolutions of February 2, Israel should complete that withdrawal.

However, the Prime Minister, in his reply, took the position that Israel would not evacuate its military forces from the Gaza Strip unless Israel retained the civil administration and police. This would be in contradiction to the Armistice Agreement. Also, the reply said that Israel would not withdraw from the Straits of Aqaba unless freedom of passage through the Straits was assured.

It was a matter of keen disappointment to us that the Government of Israel, despite the United Nations action, still felt unwilling to withdraw.

However, in a further effort to meet the views of Israel in these respects, Secretary of State Dulles, at my direction, gave to the Government of Israel on February 11 a statement of United States policy. This has now been made public. It pointed out that neither the United States nor the United Nations had authority to impose upon the parties a substantial modification of the Armistice Agreement which was freely signed by both Israel and Egypt. Nevertheless, the statement said, the United States as a member of the United Nations would seek such disposition of the United Nations Emergency Force as would assure that the Gaza Strip could no longer be used as a source of armed infiltration and reprisals.

The Secretary of State orally informed the Israeli Ambassador that the United States would be glad to urge and support, also, some participation by the United Nations, with the approval of Egypt, in the administration of the Gaza Strip. The principal population of the Strip consists of about 200,000 Arab refugees, who exist largely as a charge upon the benevolence of the United Nations and its members.

With reference to the passage into and through the Gulf of Aqaba, we expressed the conviction that the Gulf constitutes international waters, and that no nation has the right to prevent free and innocent passage in the Gulf. We announced that the United States was prepared to exercise this right itself and to join with others to secure general recognition of this right.

The Government of Israel has not yet accepted, as adequate insurance of its own safety after withdrawal, the far-reaching United Nations Resolution of February 2 plus the important declaration of United States policy made by our Secretary of State on February 11.

Israel seeks something more. It insists on firm guarantees as a condition to withdrawing its forces of invasion.

This raises a basic question of principle. Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal?

If we agree that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order. We will, in effect, have countenanced the use of force as a means of settling international differences and through this gaining national advantages.

I do not, myself, see how this could be reconciled with the Charter of the United Nations. The basic pledge of all the members of the United Nations is that they will settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and will not use force against the territorial integrity of another state.

If the United Nations once admits that international disputes can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the Organization, and our best hope of establishing a world order. That would be a disaster for us all.

I would, I feel, be untrue to the standards of the high office to which you have chosen me, if I were to lend the influence of the United States to the proposition that a nation which invades another should be permitted to exact conditions for withdrawal.

Of course, we and all the members of the United Nations ought to support justice and conformity with international law. The first Article of the Charter states the purpose of the United Nations to be "the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes." But it is to be observed that conformity with justice and international law are to be brought about "by peaceful means."

We cannot consider that the armed invasion and occupation of another country are "peaceful means" or proper means to achieve justice and conformity with international law.

We do, however, believe that upon the suppression of the present act of aggression and breach of the peace, there should be a greater effort by the United Nations and its members to secure justice and conformity with international law. Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.

Perhaps the world community has been at fault in not having paid enough attention to this basic truth. The United States, for its part, will vigorously seek solutions of the problems of the area in accordance with justice and international law. And we shall in this great effort seek the association of other like-minded nations which realize, as we do, that peace and justice are in the long run inseparable.

But the United Nations faces immediately the problem of what to do next. If it does nothing, if it accepts the ignoring of its repeated resolutions calling for the withdrawal of invading forces, then it will have admitted failure. That failure would be a blow to the authority and influence of the United Nations in the world and to the hopes which humanity placed in the United Nations as the means of achieving peace with justice.

I do not believe that Israel's default should be ignored because the United Nations has not been able effectively to carry out its resolutions condemning the Soviet Union for its armed suppression of the people of Hungary. Perhaps this is a case where the proverb applies that two wrongs do not make a right.

No one deplores more than I the fact that the Soviet Union ignores the resolutions of the United Nations. Also no nation is more vigorous than is the United States in seeking to exert moral pressure against the Soviet Union, which by reason of its size and power, and by reason of its veto in the Security Council, is relatively impervious to other types of sanction.

The United States and other free nations are making clear by every means at their command the evil of Soviet conduct in Hungary. It would indeed be a sad day if the United States ever felt that it had to subject Israel to the same type of moral pressure as is being applied to the Soviet Union.

There can, of course, be no equating of a nation like Israel with that of the Soviet Union. The people of Israel, like those of the United States, are imbued with a religious faith and a sense of moral values. We are entitled to expect, and do expect, from such peoples of the free world a contribution to world order which unhappily we cannot expect from a nation controlled by atheistic despots.

It has been suggested that United Nations actions against Israel should not be pressed because Egypt has in the past violated the Armistice Agreement and international law. It is true that both Egypt and Israel, prior to last October, engaged in reprisals in violation of the Armistice agreements. Egypt ignored the United Nations in exercising belligerent rights in relation to Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal and in the Gulf of Aqaba. However, such violations constitute no justification for the armed invasion of Egypt by Israel which the United Nations is now seeking to undo.

Failure to withdraw would be harmful to the long term good of Israel. It would, in addition to its injury to the United Nations, jeopardize the prospects of the peaceful solution of the problems of the Mid-East. This could bring incalculable ills to our friends and indeed to our nation itself. It would make infinitely more difficult the realization of the goals which I laid out in my Middle East message of January fifth to the Congress seeking to strengthen the area against Communist aggression, direct or indirect.

The United Nations must not fail. I believe that--in the interests of peace--the United Nations has no choice but to exert pressure upon Israel to comply with the withdrawal resolutions. Of course, we still hope that the Government of Israel will see that its best immediate and long-term interests lie in compliance with the United Nations and in placing its trust in the Resolutions of the United Nations and in the declaration of the United States with reference to the future.

Egypt, by accepting the Six Principles adopted by the Security Council last October in relation to the Suez Canal, bound itself to free and open transit through the Canal without discrimination, and to the principle that the operation of the Canal should be insulated from the politics of any country.

We should not assume that if Israel withdraws, Egypt will prevent Israeli shipping from using the Suez Canal or the Gulf of Aqaba. If, unhappily, Egypt does hereafter violate the Armistice agreement or other international obligations, then this should be dealt with firmly by the society of nations.

The present moment is a grave one, but we are hopeful that reason and right will prevail. Since the events of last October-November, solid progress has been made, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations. There is the cease-fire, the forces of Britain and France have been withdrawn, the forces of Israel have been partially withdrawn, and the clearing of the Canal nears completion. When Israel completes its withdrawal, it will have removed a definite block to further progress.

Once this block is removed, there will be serious and creative tasks for the United Nations to perform. There needs to be respect for the right of Israel to national existence and to internal development. Complicated provisions insuring the effective international use of the Suez Canal will need to be worked out in detail. The Arab refugee problem must be solved. As I said in my special message to Congress on January 5, it must be made certain that all the Middle East is kept free from aggression and infiltration.

Finally, all who cherish freedom, including ourselves, should help the nations of the Middle East achieve their just aspirations for improving the well-being of their peoples.

What I have spoken about tonight is only one step in a long process calling for patience and diligence, but at this moment it is the critical issue on which future progress depends.

It is an issue which can be solved if only we will apply the principles of the United Nations.

That is why, my fellow Americans, I know that you want the United States to continue to use its maximum influence to sustain those principles as the world's best hope for peace.

Good night--and thank you very much.

Note: In further reference to this subject a White House statement was issued on February 22, 1957, from which the following is excerpted:

The President and the Secretary of State discussed the speech of last night of Prime Minister Ben-Gurion of Israel insofar as the text was available.

The President and the Secretary regret that the Government of Israel has not yet found it possible to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip and the Gulf of Aqaba.

The door is certainly not closed to further discussion of the situation.

The President and the Secretary welcome such further discussion because they believe that a full understanding of the United States position and the United Nations Resolutions of February second should make it possible for Israel to proceed with the withdrawal.


1961 Berlin ultimatum Edit

At the Vienna summit on 4 June 1961, tensions rose. Meeting with US President John F. Kennedy, Premier Khrushchev reissued the Soviet ultimatum to sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany and thus end the existing four-power agreements guaranteeing American, British, and French rights to access West Berlin and the occupation of East Berlin by Soviet forces. [1] However, this time he did so by issuing a deadline of 31 December 1961. The three powers responded that any unilateral treaty could not affect their responsibilities and rights in West Berlin. [1]

Rising tensions Edit

In the growing confrontation over the status of Berlin, Kennedy undercut his own bargaining position during his Vienna summit negotiations with Khrushchev in June 1961. Kennedy essentially conveyed US acquiescence to the permanent division of Berlin. This made his later, more assertive public statements less credible to the Soviets. [2] Kennedy decided on a flexible policy proposed by his younger advisors, with only a few concessions to the hardliners around Dean Acheson. The United States now defined three vital interests in its policy for Berlin, and linked all of them only to the western part of the city: the presence of Western troops in West Berlin the security and viability of the western sectors and Western access to them. [3]

As the confrontation over Berlin escalated, Kennedy delivered on July 25 a television speech in Washington on CBS, and broadcast nationwide in the US. He reiterated that the United States was not looking for a fight and that he recognized the "Soviet Union's historical concerns about their security in central and eastern Europe." He said he was willing to renew talks, but he also announced that he would ask Congress for an additional $3.25 billion for military spending, mostly on conventional weapons. He wanted six new divisions for the Army and two for the Marines, and he announced plans to triple the draft and to call up the reserves. Kennedy proclaimed: "We seek peace, but we shall not surrender." [4]

Vacationing in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Khrushchev was reported to be angered by Kennedy's speech. John Jay McCloy, Kennedy's disarmament adviser, who happened to be in the Soviet Union, was invited to join Khrushchev. It is reported that Khrushchev explained to McCloy that Kennedy's military build-up threatened war.

Plans for the Berlin Wall Edit

In early 1961, the East German government sought a way to stop its population leaving for the West. Walter Ulbricht, First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and Staatsrat chairman and thus East Germany's chief decision-maker, convinced the Soviet Union that force was necessary to stop this movement, although Berlin's four-power status required the allowance of free travel between zones and forbade the presence of German troops in Berlin. [1]

The East German government began stockpiling building materials for the erection of the Berlin Wall this activity was widely known, but only a small circle of Soviet and East German planners believed that East Germans were aware of the purpose. [1] This material included enough barbed wire to enclose the 156 km (97 mi) circumference of West Berlin. The regime managed to avoid suspicion by spreading out the purchases of barbed wire among several East German companies, which in turn spread their orders out among a range of firms in West Germany and the United Kingdom. [5]

On 15 June 1961, two months before the construction of the Berlin Wall started, Walter Ulbricht stated in an international press conference: "Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!" ("No one has the intention to erect a wall"). It was the first time the term Mauer (wall) had been used in this context.

On 4–7 August 1961, the foreign ministers of the US, UK, France and West Germany secretly met in Paris to discuss how to respond to the Soviet actions [ further explanation needed ] in West Berlin. They expressed a lack of willingness to engage in warfare. Within weeks, the KGB provided Khrushchev with descriptions of the Paris talks. These showed that US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, unlike the West Germans, supported talks with the Soviet Union, though the KGB and the GRU warned that the US was being pressured by other members of the alliance to consider economic sanctions against East Germany and other socialist countries and to move faster on plans for conventional and nuclear armament of their allies in Western Europe, such as the West German Bundeswehr. [6]

The West had advance intelligence about the construction of the Wall. On 6 August, a HUMINT source, a functionary in the SED, provided the 513th Military Intelligence Group (Berlin) with the correct date of the start of construction. At a weekly meeting of the Berlin Watch Committee on 9 August 1961, the Chief of the US Military Liaison Mission to the Commander Group of Soviet Forces Germany predicted the construction of a wall. An intercept of SED communications on the same day informed the West that there were plans to begin blocking all foot traffic between East and West Berlin. The interagency intelligence Watch Committee assessment said that this intercept "might be the first step in a plan to close the border", which turned out to be correct.

Closing of the border Edit

On Saturday 12 August 1961, the leaders of East Germany attended a garden party at a government guesthouse in Döllnsee, in a wooded area to the north of East Berlin, and Walter Ulbricht signed the order to close the border and erect a Wall around West Berlin.

At midnight, the army, police, and units of the East German army began to close the border by morning on Sunday 13 August 1961, the border to West Berlin had been shut. East German troops and workers had begun to tear up streets running alongside the barrier to make them impassable to most vehicles, and to install barbed wire entanglements and fences along the 156 km (97 mi) around the three western sectors and the 43 km (27 mi) which actually divided West and East Berlin. Approximately 32,000 combat and engineer troops were employed for the building of the Wall, after which the Border Police became responsible for manning and improving it. To discourage Western interference and perhaps control potential riots, the Soviet Army was present. [1]

Kennedy did not give in to angry demands for immediate action raised by West Berliners and their mayor, Willy Brandt. Instead, he sent vice president Lyndon B. Johnson together with Lucius D. Clay, the hero of the Berlin Airlift of 1948‒49, to West Berlin on August 19. They managed to calm the population and demonstrate symbolically the Unites States' solidarity with the city. On August 20, 1,500 additional GIs arrived in West Berlin. [7]

On 30 August 1961, in response to moves by the Soviet Union to cut off access to Berlin, President Kennedy ordered 148,000 Guardsmen and Reservists to active duty. In October and November, more Air National Guard units were mobilised, and 216 aircraft from the tactical fighter units flew to Europe in operation "Stair Step", the largest jet deployment in the history of the Air Guard. Most of the mobilised Air Guardsmen remained in the US, while some others had been trained for delivery of tactical nuclear weapons and had to be retrained in Europe for conventional operations. The Air National Guard's ageing F-84s and F-86s required spare parts that the United States Air Forces in Europe lacked. [1]

Richard Bach wrote his book Stranger to the Ground centred around his experience as an Air National Guard pilot on this deployment.

Berlin travel disputes Edit

The four powers governing Berlin (Soviet Union, United States, United Kingdom, and France) had agreed at the 1945 Potsdam Conference that Allied personnel could move freely in any sector of Berlin. But on 22 October 1961, just two months after the construction of the Wall, the US Chief of Mission in West Berlin, E. Allan Lightner, was stopped in his car (which had occupation forces license plates) while crossing at Checkpoint Charlie to go to a theatre in East Berlin. [8] President John F. Kennedy worked closely with retired Army General Lucius D. Clay, who had been in charge of the famous Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949. They decided to demonstrate American resolve. The American command in the West Berlin garrison considered a plan to pull down the wire and barricades with bulldozers. This, however, was overruled by the troop commander, Brigadier General. Frederick O. Hartel. General Clay went to Berlin for 10 months. [9] [10]

Military stand-off Edit

US Commandant General Watson was outraged by the East Berlin police's attempt to control the passage of American military forces. He communicated to the Department of State on 25 October 1961 that Soviet Commandant Colonel Solovyev and his men were not doing their part to avoid disturbing actions during a time of peace negotiations, and demanded that the Soviet authorities take immediate steps to remedy the situation. Solovyev replied by describing American attempts to send armed soldiers across the checkpoint and keeping American tanks at sector boundary as an "open provocation" and a direct violation of GDR regulations. He insisted that properly identified American military could cross the sector border without impediments, and were only stopped when their nationality was not immediately clear to guards. Solovyev contended that requesting identifying paperwork from those crossing the border was not unreasonable control Watson disagreed. In regard to the American military presence on the border, Solovyev warned:

I am authorized to state that it is necessary to avoid actions of this kind. Such actions can provoke corresponding actions from our side. We have tanks too. We hate the idea of carrying out such actions, and are sure that you will re-examine your course. [11] [ failed verification ] [12]

Perhaps this contributed to Hemsing's decision to make the attempt again: on 27 October 1961, Hemsing again approached the zonal boundary in a diplomatic vehicle. But General Clay did not know how the Soviets would respond, so just in case, he had sent tanks with an infantry battalion to the nearby Tempelhof airfield. To everyone's relief the same routine was played out as before. The US Military Police and Jeeps went back to West Berlin, and the tanks waiting behind also went home.

Immediately afterwards, 33 Soviet tanks drove to the Brandenburg Gate. Curiously, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev claimed in his memoirs that as he understood it, the American tanks had seen the Soviet tanks coming and retreated. Col. Jim Atwood, then Commander of the US Military Mission in West Berlin, disagreed in later statements. As one of the first to spot the tanks when they arrived, Lieutenant Vern Pike was ordered to verify whether they were indeed Soviet tanks. He and tank driver Sam McCart drove over to East Berlin, where Pike took advantage of a temporary absence of any soldiers near the tanks to climb into one of them. He came out with definitive evidence that the tanks were Soviet, including a Red Army newspaper. [13]

Ten of these tanks continued to Friedrichstraße, and stopped just 50 to 100 metres from the checkpoint on the Soviet side of the sector boundary. The US tanks turned back towards the checkpoint, stopping an equal distance from it on the American side of the boundary. From 27 October 1961 at 17:00 until 28 October 1961 at about 11:00, the respective troops faced each other. As per standing orders, both groups of tanks were loaded with live munitions. The alert levels of the US Garrison in West Berlin, then NATO, and finally the US Strategic Air Command (SAC) were raised.

It was at this point that US Secretary of State Dean Rusk conveyed to General Lucius Clay, the US commanding officer in Berlin, that "We had long since decided that Berlin is not a vital interest which would warrant determined recourse to force to protect and sustain." Clay was convinced that having US tanks use bulldozer mounts to knock down parts of the Wall would have ended the Crisis to the greater advantage of the US and its allies without eliciting a Soviet military response. Frederick Kempe argues that Rusk's views, along with evidence Kempe advances for the possibility that the Soviets might have backed down following this action, support a more unfavorable assessment of Kennedy's decisions during the crisis and his willingness to accept the Wall as the best solution. [14]

The United States deployed the Davy Crockett tactical nuclear device into the field for the final time during the Berlin crisis of 1961, according to Brigadier General Alvin Cowan, Assistant Division Commander of the United States 3rd Armored Division, at the Tactical Nuclear Weapons Symposium of 1969. According to Cowan, the device was retired afterwards in part because "it was essentially a platoon weapon," and there was apparently "great fear that some sergeant would start a nuclear war." [15]

Resolution Edit

With KGB spy Georgi Bolshakov serving as the primary channel of communication, Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to reduce tensions by withdrawing the tanks. [16] The Soviet checkpoint had direct communications to General Anatoly Gribkov at the Soviet Army High Command, who in turn was on the phone to Khrushchev. The US checkpoint contained a Military Police officer on the telephone to the HQ of the US Military Mission in Berlin, which in turn was in communication with the White House. Kennedy offered to go easy over Berlin in the future in return for the Soviets removing their tanks first. The Soviets agreed. Kennedy stated concerning the Wall: "It's not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war." [17]

A Soviet tank moved about 5 metres backwards first then an American tank followed suit. One by one the tanks withdrew. But General Bruce C. Clarke, then the Commander-in-Chief (CINC) of US Army Europe (USAREUR), was said to have been concerned about General Clay's conduct [ citation needed ] and Clay returned to the United States in May 1962. Gen. Clarke's assessment may have been incomplete, however: Clay's firmness had a great effect on the German population, led by West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. [ citation needed ]

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"Youth -- our greatest resource -- is being seriously neglected in a vital respect. The nation as a whole is not preparing teachers or building schools fast enough to keep up with the increase in our population."
Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union, 1/7/54 [AUDIO]

"I say with all the earnestness that I can command, that if American mothers will teach our children that there is no end to the fight for better relationships among the people of the world, we shall have peace."
Address to the National Council of Catholic Women, Boston, Massachusetts, 11/8/54

"In this connection, I should mention our enormous national debt. We must begin to make some payments on it if we are to avoid passing on to our children an impossible burden of debt."
Remarks on the State of the Union Message, Key West, Florida, 1/5/56 [AUDIO]

"Teachers need our active support and encouragement. They are doing one of the most necessary and exacting jobs in the land. They are developing our most precious national resource: our children, our future citizens."
Address at the Centennial Celebration Banquet of the National Education Association, 4/4/57 [AUDIO]

"Now, the education of our children is of national concern, and if they are not educated properly, it is a national calamity."
The President's News Conference of 7/31/57 [AUDIO]

"I am not here, of course, as one pretending to any expertness on questions of youth and children -- except in the sense that, within their own families, all grandfathers are experts on these matters."
Address at the Opening Session of the White House Conference on Children and Youth, College Park, Maryland, 3/27/60 [AUDIO]

Radio Address of the President

I think the American public and the American newspapers are certainly creatures of habit. This is one of the warmest evenings that I have ever felt in Washington, D. C., and yet this talk tonight will be referred to as a fireside talk.

Our Government, happily, is a democracy. As part of the democratic process, your President is again taking an opportunity to report on the progress of national affairs, to report to the real rulers of this country–the voting public.

The Seventy-Fifth Congress, elected in November, 1936, on a platform uncompromisingly liberal, has adjourned. Barring unforeseen events, there will be no session until the new Congress, to be elected in November, assembles next January.

On the one hand, the Seventy-Fifth Congress has left many things undone.

For example, it refused to provide more businesslike machinery for running the Executive Branch of the Government. The Congress also failed to meet my suggestion that it take the far-reaching steps necessary to put the railroads of the country back on their feet.

But, on the other hand, the Congress, striving to carry out the Platform on which most of them were elected, achieved more for the future good of the country than any Congress did between the end of the World War and the spring of 1933.

I mention tonight only the more important of these achievements.

(1) The Congress improved still further our agricultural laws to give the farmer a fairer share of the national income, to preserve our soil, to provide an all-weather granary, to help the farm tenant towards independence, to find new uses for farm products, and to begin crop insurance.

(2) After many requests on my part the Congress passed a Fair Labor Standards Act, what we call the Wages and Hours Bill. That Act–applying to products in interstate commerce–ends child labor, sets a floor below wages and a ceiling over hours of labor.

Except perhaps for the Social Security Act, it is the most far-reaching, the most far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted here or in any other country. Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.

Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000.00 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you–using his stockholders– money to pay the postage for his personal opinions–tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry. Fortunately for business as a whole, and therefore for the Nation, that type of executive is a rarity with whom most business executives most heartily disagree.

(3) The Congress has provided a fact-finding Commission to find a path through the jungle of contradictory theories about the wise business practices–to find the necessary facts for any intelligent legislation on monopoly, on price-fixing and on the relationship between big business and medium-sized business and little business. Different from a great part of the world, we in America persist in our belief in individual enterprise and in the profit motive but we realize we must continually seek improved practices to insure the continuance of reasonable profits, together with scientific progress, individual initiative, opportunities for the little fellow, fair prices, decent wages and continuing employment.

(4) The Congress has coordinated the supervision of commercial aviation and air mail by establishing a new Civil Aeronautics Authority and it has placed all postmasters under the civil service for the first time in our national history.

(5) The Congress has set up the United States Housing (Administration) Authority to help finance large-scale slum clearance and provide low rent housing for the low income groups in our cities. And by improving the Federal Housing Act, the Congress has made it easier for private capital to build modest homes and low rental dwellings.

(6) The Congress has properly reduced taxes on small corporate enterprises, and has made it easier for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to make credit available to all business. I think the bankers of the country can fairly be expected to participate in loans where the Government, through the (Reconstruction Finance Corporation) R. F. C., offers to take a fair portion of the risk.

(7) So, too, the Congress has provided additional funds for the Works Progress Administration, the Public Works Administration, the Rural Electrification Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps and other agencies, in order to take care of what we hope is a temporary additional number of unemployed at this time and to encourage production of every kind by private enterprise.

All these things together I call our program for the national defense of our economic system. It is a program of balanced action–of moving on all fronts at once in intelligent recognition that all of our economic problems, of every group, and of every section of the country are essentially one problem.

(8) Finally, because of increasing armaments in other nations and an international situation which is definitely disturbing to all of us, the Congress has authorized important additions to the national armed defense of our shores and our people.

On (another) one other important subject the net result of a struggle in the Congress has been an important victory for the people of the United States–what might well be called a lost battle which won a war.

You will remember that a year and a half ago, nearly, on February 5, 1937, I sent a Message to the Congress dealing with the real need of Federal Court reforms of several kinds. In one way or another, during the sessions of this Congress, the ends–I spoke of, the real objectives–sought in (the) that Message, have been substantially attained.

The attitude of the Supreme Court towards constitutional questions is entirely changed. Its recent decisions are eloquent testimony of a willingness to collaborate with the two other branches of Government to make democracy work. The Government has been granted the right to protect its interests in litigation between private parties (involving the constitutionality of Federal statutes) when the constitutionality of Federal statutes is involved, and to appeal directly to the Supreme Court in all cases involving the constitutionality of Federal statutes and no single judge is any longer empowered to suspend a Federal statute on his sole judgment as to its constitutionality. A justice(s) of the Supreme Court may now retire at the age of seventy after ten years of service, and a substantial number of additional judgeships have been created in order to expedite the trial of cases, and finally greater flexibility has been added to the Federal judicial system by allowing judges to be assigned to congested districts.

Another indirect accomplishment of this Congress has been, I think, its response to the devotion of the American people to a course of sane and consistent liberalism. The Congress has understood that under modern conditions Government has a continuing responsibility to meet continuing problems, and that Government cannot take a holiday of a year, or a month, or even a day just because a few people are tired or frightened by the inescapable pace, fast pace, of this modern world in which we live. Some of my opponents and some of my associates have considered that I have a mistakenly sentimental judgment as to the tenacity of purpose and the general level of intelligence of the American people.

I am still convinced that the American people, since 1932, continue to insist on two requisites of private enterprise, and the relationship of Government to it. The first is a complete honesty, a complete honesty at the top in looking after the use of other people’s money, and in apportioning and paying individual and corporate taxes (according to) in accordance with ability to pay. And the second is sincere respect for the need of all people who are at the bottom, all people at the bottom who need to get work–and through work to get a (really) fair share of the good things of life, and a chance to save and a chance to rise.

After the election of 1936 I was told, and the Congress was told, by an increasing number of politically–and worldly–wise people that I should coast along, enjoy an easy Presidency for four years, and not take the Democratic platform too seriously. They told me that people were getting weary of reform through political effort and would no longer oppose that small minority which, in spite of its own disastrous leadership in 1929, is always eager to resume its control over the Government of the United States.

Never in our lifetime has such a concerted campaign of defeatism been thrown at the heads of the President and the Senators and Congressmen as in the case of this Seventy-Fifth Congress. Never before have we had so many Copperheads among us–and you will remember that it was the Copperheads who, in the days of the Civil War, the War between the States, tried their best to make President Lincoln and his Congress give up the fight in the middle of the fight, to let the Nation remain split in two and return to peace–yes, peace at any price.

This Congress has ended on the side of the people. My faith in the American people–and their faith in themselves–have been justified. I congratulate the Congress and the leadership thereof and I congratulate the American people on their own staying power.

One word about our economic situation. It makes no difference to me whether you call it a recession or a depression. In 1932 the total national income of all the people in the country had reached the low point of thirty-eight billion dollars in that year. With each succeeding year it rose. Last year, 1937, it had risen to seventy billion dollars–despite definitely worse business and agricultural prices in the last four months of last year. This year, 1938, while it is too early to do more than give (an) a mere estimate, we hope that the national income will not fall below sixty billion dollars, and that is a lot better than thirty- eight billion dollars. We remember also that banking and business and farming are not falling apart like the one-hoss shay, as they did in the terrible winter of 1932 (-) to 1933.

Last year mistakes were made by the leaders of private enterprise, by the leaders of labor and by the leaders of Government –all three.

Last year the leaders of private enterprise pleaded for a sudden curtailment of public spending, and said they would take up the slack. But they made the mistake of increasing their inventories too fast and setting many of their prices too high for their goods to sell.

Some labor leaders goaded by decades of oppression of labor made the mistake of going too far. They were not wise in using methods which frightened many well-wishing people. They asked employers not only to bargain with them but to put up with jurisdictional disputes at the same time.

Government too made mistakes–mistakes of optimism in assuming that industry and labor would themselves make no mistakes–and Government made a mistake of timing in not passing a farm bill or a wage and hour bill last year.

As a result of the lessons of all these mistakes we hope that in the future private enterprise–capital and labor alike–will operate more intelligently together, (and) operate in greater cooperation with their own Government than they have in the past. Such cooperation on the part of both of them will be very welcome to me. Certainly at this stage there should be a united stand on the part of both of them to resist wage cuts which would further reduce purchasing power.

This afternoon, only a few hours ago, I am told that a great steel company announced a reduction in prices with a view to stimulating business recovery. And I was told, and I am gratified to know, that this reduction in prices has involved no wage cut. Every encouragement ought to be given to industry which accepts the large volume and high wage policy.

If this is done throughout the Nation, it ought to result in conditions which will replace a great part of the Government spending which the failure of cooperation has made necessary this year.

You will remember that from March 4, 1933 down to date, not a single week has passed without a cry from the opposition, a small opposition, a cry “to do something, to say something, to restore confidence.” There is a very articulate group of people in this country, with plenty of ability to procure publicity for their views, who have consistently refused to cooperate with the mass of the people, whether things were going well or going badly, on the ground that they required more concessions to their point of view before they would admit having what they called “confidence.”

These people demanded “restoration of confidence” when the banks were close–and demanded it again when the banks were reopened.

They demanded “restoration of confidence” when hungry people were thronging (the) our streets–and demanded it again now when the hungry people were fed and put to work.

They demanded “restoration of confidence” when droughts hit the country–and demanded it again now when our fields are laden with bounteous yields and excessive crops.

They demanded “restoration of confidence” last year when the automobile industry was running three shifts day and night, turning out more cars than the country could buy–and they are demanding it again this year when the industry is trying to get rid of an automobile surplus and has shut down its factories as a result.

But, my friends, it is my belief that many of these people who have been crying aloud for “confidence” are beginning today to realize that that hand has been overplayed, and that they are now willing to talk cooperation instead. It is my belief that the mass of the American people do have confidence in themselves–have confidence in their ability, with the aid of Government, to solve their own problems. It is because you are not satisfied, and I am not satisfied, with the progress that we have made in finally solving our business and agricultural and social problems that I believe the great majority of you want your own Government to keep on trying to solve them. In simple frankness and in simple honesty, I need all the help I can get–and I see signs of getting more help in the future from many who have fought against progress with tooth and nail in the past.

And now following out this line of thought, I want to say a few words about the coming political primaries.

Fifty years ago party nominations were generally made in conventions–a system typified in the public imagination by a little group in a smoke-filled room who made out the party slates.

The direct primary was invented to make the nominating process a more democratic one–to give the party voters themselves a chance to pick their party candidates.

What I am going to say to you tonight does not relate to the primaries of any particular political party, but to matters of principle in all parties–Democratic, Republican, Farmer-Labor, Progressive, Socialist or any other. Let that be clearly understood.

It is my hope that everybody affiliated with any party will vote in the primaries, and that every such voter will consider the fundamental principles for which his or her party is on record. That makes for a healthy choice between the candidates of the opposing parties on Election Day in November.

An election cannot give the country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as peas in the same pod.

In the coming primaries in all parties, there will be many clashes between two schools of thought, generally classified as liberal and conservative. Roughly speaking, the liberal school of thought recognizes that the new conditions throughout the world call for new remedies.

Those of us in America who hold to this school of thought, insist that these new remedies can be adopted and successfully maintained in this country under our present form of government if we use government as an instrument of cooperation to provide these remedies. We believe that we can solve our problems through continuing effort, through democratic processes instead of Fascism or Communism. We are opposed to the kind of moratorium on reform which, in effect, (is) means reaction itself.

Be it clearly understood, however, that when I use the word “liberal,” I mean the believer in progressive principles of democratic, representative government and not the wild man who, in effect, leans in the direction of Communism, for that is just as dangerous to us as Fascism itself.

The opposing or conservative school of thought, as a general proposition, does not recognize the need for Government itself to step in and take action to meet these new problems. It believes that individual initiative and private philanthropy will solve them–that we ought to repeal many of the things we have done and go back, for (instance) example, to the old gold standard, or stop all this business of old age pensions and unemployment insurance, or repeal the Securities and Exchange Act, or let monopolies thrive unchecked–return, in effect, to the kind of Government that we had in the nineteen twenties.

Assuming the mental capacity of all the candidates, the important question which it seems to me the primary voter must ask is this: “To which of these general schools of thought does the candidate belong?”

As President of the United States, I am not asking the voters of the country to vote for Democrats next November as opposed to Republicans or members of any other party. Nor am I, as President, taking part in Democratic primaries.

As the head of the Democratic Party, however, charged with the responsibility of carrying out the definitely liberal declaration of principles set forth in the 1936 Democratic platform, I feel that I have every right to speak in those few instances where there may be a clear-cut issue between candidates for a Democratic nomination involving these principles, or involving a clear misuse of my own name.

Do not misunderstand me. I certainly would not indicate a preference in a state primary merely because a candidate, otherwise liberal in outlook, had conscientiously differed with me on any single issue. I should be far more concerned about the general attitude of a candidate towards present day problems and his own inward desire to get practical needs attended to in a practical way. (We) You and I all know that progress may be blocked by outspoken reactionaries, (and also) but we also know that progress can be blocked by those who say “yes” to a progressive objective, but who always find some reason to oppose any special specific proposal to gain that objective. I call that type of candidate a “yes, but” fellow.

And I am concerned about the attitude of a candidate or his sponsors with respect to the rights of American citizens to assemble peaceably and to express publicly their views and opinions on important social and economic issues. There can be no constitutional democracy in any community which denies to the individual his freedom to speak and worship as he wishes. The American people will not be deceived by anyone who attempts to suppress individual liberty under the pretense of patriotism.

This being a free country with freedom of expression–especially with freedom of the press, as is entirely proper–there will be a lot of mean blows struck between now and Election Day. By “blows” I mean misrepresentation and personal attack and appeals to prejudice. It would be a lot better, of course, if campaigns everywhere could be waged with arguments instead of with blows.

I hope the liberal candidates will confine themselves to argument and not resort to blows. For in nine cases out of ten the speaker or the writer who, seeking to influence public opinion, descends from calm argument to unfair blows hurts himself more than his opponent.

The Chinese have a story on this–a story based on three or four thousand years of civilization: Two Chinese coolies were arguing heatedly in the (midst) middle of a crowd in the street. A stranger expressed surprise that no blows were being struck by them. His Chinese friend replied: “The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.”

I know that neither in the summer primaries nor in the November elections will the American voters fail to spot the candidate whose ideas have given out.

Ronald Reagan's Presidential Radio Addresses: Themes of Unity

When U.S. President Ronald Reagan left office in 1989, he enjoyed a reputation as one of the most rhetorically dynamic Presidents of the twentieth century. His remarkable speaking ability was not surprising because, before his transition into politics, most people remembered his career as a Hollywood movie star. By the time of his 1981 inauguration, his half century of public speaking allowed him to captivate audiences around the globe just like he did as an actor.

In 1982, Reagan began a series of Saturday radio addresses. During these addresses, he would informally address the nation on current events. Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt&rsquos Fireside Chats had an incumbent President spoken to his constituents over the radio. Initially conceived for only nine talks, the addresses&rsquo popularity ensured that he would stay on the air for the rest of his Presidency. Like Roosevelt, Reagan was socially-inclusive in order to strengthen partisan identity against the media while gaining constituent groups through the use of humor and allusions.

Ronald Reagan&rsquos public speaking career began in 1932 at the age of 21. By this time, the recent Eureka College graduate was hired as a sports radio broadcaster. The following year, Franklin D. Roosevelt became President and began the Fireside Chats radio series. According to political historian J. Jeffrey Auer (1992): &ldquoEach listener received the impression that Roosevelt was talking directly to him. Millions of Americans sat at their radios and agreed that they &ldquocould practically feel him physically in the room.&rdquo His voice communicated his expansive personality it registered what was in him and what he wanted other people to grasp&mdashconviction, sympathy, humility, gravity, humor&mdashin harmony with situations as he saw them&rdquo (Auer, 100).

Reagan, who was a Democrat until 1962, was among those influenced by Roosevelt&rsquos manner of speaking. Years later, Reagan recalled (1992): &ldquoI soon idolized FDR. He&rsquod entered the White House facing a national emergency as grim as any the country has ever faced and, acting quickly, he had implemented a plan of action to deal with the crisis. During his Fireside Chats, his strong, gentle, confident voice resonated across the nation with an eloquence that brought comfort and resilience to a nation caught up in a storm and reassured that we could lick any problem. I will never forget him for that&rdquo (Reagan, 66).

When Ronald Reagan was hired as a sports broadcaster, he prepared for each occasion when he spoke over the radio. Since sports announcers had to give up-to-the-minute accounts of popular sports games, Reagan had to speak quickly and clearly, as well as carefully observing fast-paced events and employing descriptive language to convey imagery. He recalled (1992):

&ldquoOnce I was on the air, I tried to make the most of my opportunity and chose phrases and adjectives I hope would give listeners visual images that would make them think they were in the stadium, and I laced my descriptions about the players and teams that I hoped would demonstrate that I knew what I was talking about&rdquo (Reagan, 66).

In 1937, Ronald Reagan debuted as a Hollywood actor in the film Love is on the Air. During his acting career, he developed the important rhetorical skills, political ideas and public identity in the film world that transcended the real and imaginary (Cannon, 37). Unlike radio, Reagan&rsquos audience could visually see him on-screen. When audiences heard his radio-friendly voice, they could also see his confident manner for themselves. From 1937-1965, he was a popular actor, appearing in 77 films (Internet Movie Database, 2011). In an acting career that spanned nearly three decades, he laid cornerstone for his Presidential rhetoric. Like movie-goers paying to be entertained, he could appeal to a wide audience crossing nearly every socio-economic boundary. As Lou Cannon writes (1991): &ldquoThese [skills] made it possible, no matter how divisive his rhetoric, to win personal approval&rdquo (106).

Upon the release his last film, 1964&rsquos The Killers, Reagan was asked by a reporter about entering politics. &ldquoI&rsquom an actor, not a politician&hellipI&rsquom in show business&rdquo he replied. When the question was asked later on, he thought for a moment and cleverly quipped, &ldquoI don't know&mdashI&rsquove never played a governor before&rdquo (Auer, 95). When he left acting and ran for Governor of California in 1966, he possessed an enviable resume that was brimming with speaking experience. This familiarity undoubtedly helped him to beat two-term incumbent Edmund G. Brown in January 1967.

Ronald Reagan served as the 33 rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975. Toward the end of his second term, his &ldquoViewpoint Commentary&rdquo radio series began to take root. He recalled his idea for this series when he wrote: &ldquoAlthough the Democrats controlled the legislature, it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to go over their heads. Franklin D. Roosevelt gave me the idea with his Fireside Chats, which made an indelible mark on me during the Depression. By going on television or radio and telling the people what was going on in Sacramento and what we were trying to do about it, I thought I might be able to get public opinion on my side&rdquo (Reagan, 169). Although his addresses as Governor were more formalized than his addresses as President, the philosophy was the same. First and foremost, when Reagan addressed the public over the radio, he wanted to connect to them. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this was to build partisan support for the Republican Party.

After his tenure as Governor, Reagan busily worked on his &ldquoViewpoint Commentaries.&rdquo The addresses were, for the most part, un-interrupted between 1975-1979. The only year that he did not broadcast was in 1976, when he was campaigning for the Republican Presidential nomination. Although he was defeated by incumbent-President Gerald R. Ford, Reagan focused on building a political rapport through his radio talks.

Reagan&rsquos hand-written notes for his &ldquoViewpoint Commentaries&rdquo reveal a keen awareness to then-current domestic and foreign policy issues. Staying aware of these issues required hard work (Airoldi, 503). Nancy Reagan remembered her husband poring over his speaking drafts in their home. According to the former First Lady, Reagan had a unique work ethic. She recalled: &ldquoHe worked a lot at home. I can see him sitting at his desk writing, which he seemed to do all the time. Often he&rsquod take a long shower because he said that was where he got a lot of his thoughts. He&rsquod stand in the shower and think about what he wanted to write. And then, when he got out, he&rsquod sit down and write&rdquo (Skinner, xv). Given that a great deal of effort was spent organizing his thoughts, Reagan clearly cared about the image he conveyed in his discourses. By not rushing the process, Reagan could ensure that his addresses were always concise, yet with enough flexibility to be candid. Continued on Next Page »

Presidents Emeritus

What should be done with ex-Presidents? William Howard Taft once remarked that perhaps the best way to handle a former President was to chloroform and ceremonially cremate him when he left office, in order to “fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” Taft did not insist on this ritual for himself, however, accepting instead a professorship at the Yale Law School when he finished his presidential term, and later serving as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. These occupations were dignified and moderately remunerative. Taft thus chose a course of ex-presidential behavior midway between that of Jefferson, for example, who retired to his plantation and died heavily in debt, and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, both of whom hired theatrical agents, signed a number of exclusive contracts, and began earning millions of dollars for television and publishing commitments.

The evolution of the ex-Presidency has been, until recently, rather haphazard. For most of its history the nation has left the former Presidents to fend for themselves and to work out their own post-Executive careers. But in the last thirty years, the quasi-public “Office of the Ex-President” has emerged with quite well-defined perquisites, and some of the trappings of power.

Yet despite the growth of the office and of the sums of public funds spent on his maintenance, a former Chief Executive is under virtually no obligation to do, or not to do, anything at all. Until the last few years—since the ex-Presidency of Richard Nixon—no federal rules or guidelines existed to direct or restrict him.

As in almost everything else, George Washington set precedents as the first presidential retiree. Perhaps the most important decision ever made concerning an ex-President was Washington’s decision to become one. Conceivably, he might have stayed in office until he died, establishing a far different tradition than the voluntary relinquishing of power.

Returning to his plantation, Washington tried not to interfere unduly with his successor, John Adams. The old hero retained enormous popularity, however, and when the nation faced the possibility of war with France in 1798, Adams found himself forced into appointing Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Armies, a title constitutionally reserved for the President. Adams’ successor, Jefferson, did not have to confront such a powerful figure. Washington died in 1799, and the unpopular Adams became the first expresidential “exile,” banished into political inactivity.

Although a number of former Chief Executives in the ensuing century and a half remained important figures in their parties, not many achieved new elective office. Only Cleveland proved able to recapture the Presidency after a hiatus, a testimony to his ability to unite the Democratic party. The others who tried—Van Buren, Fillmore, and Theodore Roosevelt—failed at the head of so-called third parties. Three former Presidents won re-election to lesser offices—John Quincy Adams to the House of Representatives, John Tyler to the Confederate Congress, and the impeached Andrew Johnson to the U.S. Senate. They showed that a President who lost his national majority could sometimes retain a power base in his home constituency.

More common, especially in the twentieth century, has been the use of former Chief Executives in nonpartisan public service. Cleveland accepted an offer from Theodore Roosevelt to head a study commission during the coal strike of 1902. Taft co-chaired the War Labor Board in 1918 and later, as noted, became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Hoover headed a committee on relief of famine in Europe after World War II, and in 1947 was appointed by Truman to lead a commission to study the executive branch of the government.

Ex-Presidents also had to maintain themselves and their families economically, and until 1958 there was no government pension for them. They pursued a variety of post-White House careers, but a consensus soon developed that these should be consistent with maintaining the dignity of the Presidency. Neither the public nor most ex-Presidents have wanted to see former heads of state become hucksters or financial speculators, and genteel poverty plagued many former Chief Executives. Except for Washington, who was a good businessman, most of the Presidents of the Virginia dynasty who retired to their plantations soon discovered they were deeply in debt. Madison and Monroe, like their friend Jefferson, died virtually penniless.

To help avoid this specter, Congress doubled the President’s salary in 1873 to $50,000. At the same time, legislators recognized the old tension between dignity and earning potential, for they justified the increase so that “the President could save enough money to retire [after leaving office] from all active or at least from all money-making pursuits.”

The incumbent, Ulysses S. Grant, paid little heed to this, however, and the disaster that befell him probably reinforced the belief that ex-Presidents should avoid direct involvement in the commercial marketplace. Grant and his son joined a Wall Street investment banking house with an unscrupulous speculator who swindled the gullible hero out of his money and his reputation. When Grant & Ward went bankrupt in 1884, the savings of thousands of people were destroyed. Nevertheless, the penniless old soldier went on to become the first ex-President to make money out of his memoirs, which he finished only three days before he died of cancer. They earned his family nearly $450,000.

The ex-Presidents who followed Grant saved money from their salary, which was raised to $75,000 in 1909, and while avoiding positions in business, they did supplement their incomes through the practice of law. Benjamin Harrison argued cases before a Supreme Court partially filled with his own appointees. Cleveland declined to appear in court, but wrote briefs and served as a court-appointed arbiter. Accepting a law professorship at Yale, Taft described it as “a dignified retirement … and one which would approve itself to the general propriety of the country.”

In 1912 steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, a man who dabbled in both politics and pension programs, tried to provide pensions for ex-Presidents. To embarrass Congress into giving a regular allowance to future ex-Presidents and their widows, Carnegie offered them pensions of $25,000 a year until the government provided for them. The public, however, seemed to disapprove of a millionaire paying former heads of state, and Taft rejected the offer.

Perhaps the principle of avoiding exploitation of the private earning ability of ex-Presidents was most pithily stated by the taciturn New Englander, Calvin Coolidge. Turning down several lucrative business offers, he asserted that “these people are trying to hire not Calvin Coolidge, but a former president of the United States. I cannot do anything that might take away from the presidency any of its dignity, or any of the faith the people have in it.” Later, Truman and Eisenhower quoted Coolidge’s remarks as a guideline for ex-Presidents. Meanwhile, Hoover had no difficulty in maintaining dignity, which was natural to him, or a high income, which came from an engineering and mining fortune he had established before entering public service.

Harry Truman, on the other hand, was never really a wealthy man. Since he rejected half a dozen corporate offers when he left office in 1953, his income stemmed primarily from the sale of his father’s farm, the publication of his memoirs, and his appearance in 1958 on Edward R. Morrow’s “See It Now” program. This was the first television portrait of a former President speaking informally and at length before a vast audience, and Truman received a substantial fee, although this was not publicized at the time.

When the Democrats returned to power in the 1960’s, they honored Truman as an elder statesman. Kennedy held a White House dinner for him Johnson sent him to Greece to represent the United States at the funeral of King Paul. When Truman died in 1972, his peppery forthrightness was being hailed in a reaction against presidential manipulation and deceit.

Eisenhower, too, fared well as an ex-President. The income from the sale of his wartime and presidential recollections and the substantial fees for his television memoirs in 1961 and 1964 enabled him to live comfortably on his Gettysburg farm. Despite the turmoil at the end of his term, Eisenhower remained extremely popular. He cultivated the image of a kindly grandfather dispensing advice to his posterity. Congressional committees solicited his testimony, and Democratic Presidents sought his support for their foreign policy.

But despite Ike’s paternal image, many noticed an anomaly. The man who had seemed almost apolitical in the White House appeared a vigorous partisan in retirement. Within four months after leaving Washington, he opened an attack upon the Democrats’ domestic policies which he maintained until he died in 1969.

With Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower, the shared prestige of living ex-Presidents may have reached a kind of zenith. The three sat bare-headed together at Kennedy’s funeral, a powerful image of solidarity and continuity at a time when the nation felt the need for reassurance. But public support for exPresidents sank to the nadir in the early 1970’s. Both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were forced into political retirement and seclusion.

Deeply embittered by what he considered a misunderstanding of his policies, Johnson returned to Texas and immersed himself in ensuring his memorials. All bore his brand: the LBJ Ranch, the Johnson Birthplace and Homestead, the Johnson School of Public Affairs, and the Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas. Money posed no problem for the richest ex-President in American history. With ranches, banks, radio and television stations, and a sizable trust fund, he and his wife controlled a fortune estimated at between $15,000,000 and $20,000,000. Furthermore, Johnson received around $1,000,000 for his memoirs and $300,000 for exclusive contractual rights to television interviews. Even though he turned the proceeds over to the Johnson Library and School of Public Affairs, his television deal raised public questions, for the first time, about the propriety of an ex-President granting such a media monopoly.

In August, 1974, Richard Nixon fled the White House under threat of impeachment. Sick, depressed, and near financial ruin, he later recalled that his life then became nearly a “life without purpose,” an “almost unbearable” existence. Gradually, however, he began to recover physically, emotionally, and financially. In a surprise visit to Communist China, he was feted as a visiting dignitary. In 1978 he went to England and France and was treated with some respect. Nevertheless, although he wished to remain active within the GOP, Republican leaders believed that his actions and the controversial pardon by President Ford had hurt the party. Nixon’s search for a useful purpose thus proved unavailing, but he did find economic security. During the first three years of his retirement, he augmented nearly $800,000 in federal funds with more than $1,000,000 from exclusive television interviews with David Frost.

As an ex-President, Gerald Ford has maintained an active life of speech making and politicking, remaining one of the major spokesmen of the Republican party. He is also on his way to becoming a multimillionaire. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds he and his staff receive, Ford personally will earn nearly $500,000 a year during the first five years of his ex-Presidency from lucrative part-time commitments, and from fulfillment of his network contract for television appearances, including commentary on current events. Ford’s rapid rise to affluence as an ex-President has led to significant questioning of what one journalist called the “huckstering and hustling and merchandising of the presidency.” “I have to earn a living,” Ford explained in a TV interview.

The most significant development in the last three decades, however, has not been the activities of the former Presidents, but rather the rapid emergence of the ex-Presidency as a form of public office. This has not been a result of any coherent, deliberate policy developments have often been fortuitously related to other events. Nevertheless, more codification has occurred in the last 30 years than in the first 150 years of the Republic.

One of the most important aspects of the office concerned the extension of the doctrine of executive privilege to ex-Presidents. In 1953 Harry Truman, even though at that time a private citizen, successfully resisted a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee, which wanted him to provide information about the promotion of an alleged Communist in government. Truman claimed he could not be forced to testify about his actions in an office which had been protected by executive privilege and separation of powers. Although constitutional authorities differed, public sympathy for Truman’s claim of Republican harassment led the committee to drop the matter.

Citing this precedent nearly twenty-five years later in 1977, Richard Nixon refused to testify before a House subcommittee investigating earlier negotiations with North Vietnam. When Nixon eventually agreed to talk informally on the phone with a few selected committee members, a confrontation was avoided. However, the two cases suggest de facto recognition that exPresidents continue to maintain some aspects of the executive power.

The first federal appropriation regarding the ex-Presidency came in 1955 with the congressional decision to maintain presidential libraries and museums. Franklin D. Roosevelt had begun the practice of deeding his presidential papers to the public and placing them in a special depository, but he did not live to see the Roosevelt Library open at Hyde Park, New York, in 1948. Encouraged by those planning the Truman and Eisenhower libraries, Congress recognized the new practice. In the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 it authorized federal funds for staffing and maintaining these institutions, which were built with privately raised contributions, and which, incidentally, each included a replica of the Oval Office where a former Chief Executive could spend his last working years, like a living Cheops in his pyramid.

Still, there was no presidential pension. One was enacted as part of the congressional pension program in 1942, but the whole program was quickly repealed in the wake of a vehement public outcry against congressional avarice during a period of wartime sacrifice. After the war, Congress enacted its own pension program, but the presidential pension was not adopted for another dozen years. Instead the legislature increased the presidential salary to $100,000 in 1949. Recently it has been increased to $250,000.

In considering the proposal for a stipend for ex-Presidents in 1957, Congress addressed the old dilemma between earning potential and the need to maintain decorum. As a Senate committee asserted in recommending federal funding: “We expect a former President to engage in no business or occupation which would demean the office he has held or capitalize upon it in any improper way. There are many ways in which a former President can earn a large income, but ought not to.”

With the Former Presidents Act of 1958, Congress essentially established an office of the ex-President. It declared that each former Chief Executive was entitled to receive “a monetary allowance” of $25,000 a year. (Since this represented a kind of salary rather than a contributory pension, the Internal Revenue Service later determined that it was taxable, like the President’s salary.)

Congress also authorized a staff to assist the ex-President. The former Chief Executive could select, without regard to the Civil Service and classification laws, assistants and secretaries who would then become federal employees. They would be responsible solely to him in the performance of their duties. The staff allowance paid by the government was not to exceed that of the senator from the least populous state, which in 1958 meant $50,000 a year. The ex-President also received office space, furnishings, and equipment at a place in the United States determined by him. He was also given free mailing privileges. Like the comparable allowances for a President in office, these allowances for the ex-President were considered by Internal Revenue to be tax free.

Finally, Congress provided a pension of $10,000 a year for presidential widows. Previously they had been given federal assistance only upon petition, and then by special acts of Congress.

The Former Presidents Act stemmed most immediately from the plight of Harry Truman. He found his resources drained by the $30,000 he said it cost him each year just to answer his mail and fulfill requests for speeches and public appearances. He had to have federal assistance, he told House Speaker Sam Rayburn, in order “to keep ahead of the hounds.”

Seeking passage of the bill, congressional leaders emphasized that a Chief Executive remained an important public figure for the rest of his life. “The American people,” declared Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, “still look to an ex-President for advice, for counsel, and for inspiration in their moments of trial.”

Nevertheless, dissatisfied Republicans in the House delayed action for two years. Publicly they warned that the bill gave ex-Presidents official standing, and that in the future they might use the governmental services to mount a campaign for public office at the taxpayers’ expense. Privately they complained that they were being asked to subsidize Truman’s attacks upon their party. Overwhelming support for the bill, however, came from the mass media and from the public, and it became law in 1958.

Since then the ex-presidential allowances have been increased to counter the erosion of inflation. In 1970 Congress adopted an escalator clause, making the stipend for former Presidents equal to the annual salary of Cabinet officers, an amount that rose from $60,000 in 1970 to $66,000 in 1976.

Former Presidents also have obtained the prerogative of addressing the U.S. Senate, a modification of the proposal championed by Harry Truman to make them lifetime, nonvoting members of the Upper Chamber. This was not a new idea. President Hayes had rejected it, declaring that representation in the Senate was already inequitable. President Taft said there was already too much discussion in the Senate. Hoping to encourage Franklin D. Roosevelt not to run for re-election, Thomas E. Dewey revived the idea during World War II, but had no luck.

In the postwar era, Congress considered several such bills, but failed to adopt any. Yet, in deference to Truman’s wishes, the Senate modified its rules in 1963 to give former Chief Executives the right to use it as a forum whenever they wished. The following year, on his eightieth birthday, Truman became the first ex-President to address the Senate in formal session.

Several other measures in the 1960’s added to the perquisites and privileges of the ex-Presidency. The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 substituted federal for private funds to cover the cost of changing administrations. Although the incoming President received the bulk of the money, the outgoing Executive was allotted $300,000 during the six months after he left the Presidency. In 1976 this was raised to $1,000,000.

With the expansion of security measures after President Kennedy’s assassination, Congress provided Secret Service agents to protect former Presidents and their families.

President Johnson’s own flamboyant style led him to put Air Force jets and helicopters, complete with crews and stewards, at the disposal of Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower and this privilege has been continued.

In 1969 a Victorian townhouse across from the White House was designated the official Former Presidents’ Residence to accommodate the former heads of state whenever they visited the nation’s capital. Eight years later Gerald Ford became the first to use it.

Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon in 1974 led to questioning of some of the privileges and prerogatives and, for the first time, to restrictions on the exPresidency. When it was disclosed that nearly $10,000,000 had been spent by the government to make the estates of President Nixon at Key Biscayne and San Clémente more secure and comfortable for him and his staff, some challenged such expenditures on property that would remain private after he became an ex-President.

Extending the doctrine of accountability, a federal court ruled in 1976 that an ex-President would be accountable for personal misconduct while President. The judge held former President Nixon personally liable for damages because he had initiated and overseen a wiretap program without setting specific limits on it. (While asserting the moral principle, in a suit initiated by former National Security Staff member Morton Halperin, the judge reduced its effectiveness by assessing only a token fine of one dollar.)

In the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974, Congress deprived Nixon of control over his papers and tapes because of the Watergate investigation. Four years later, the lawmakers passed the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which made an outgoing President’s papers public property. However, it permitted a former President to restrict access to some of his public materials for up to twelve years.

Finally, an important shaping force in the evolution of the exPresidency has been the growth of the Presidency itself, for the ex-Presidency is always a shadow of the larger institution. The increased power and codification of the Presidency in the postwar era encouraged similar developments in the ex-Presidency. Conversely, the ex-Presidency may be facing greater responsibility and accountability as the Imperial Presidency is dismantled. Limitation of ownership and control over White House materials may be only the first step. Congress may one day establish governmental restrictions upon the sources and amount of outside income, or reconsider the definition of eligibility. Under the Former Presidents Act, for instance, anyone who has held the office of the President—and has not been removed by impeachment and conviction—qualifies a person who was President for even a day might qualify for lifetime allowances. Whatever future regulations may be imposed on the office of the ex-Presidency, however, one thing seems certain. It will remain a position of security, privilege, and even power that would have astonished at least the first twenty-four of the twenty-nine men who outlived their own Presidencies.

Radio and TV Address to the American People on July 25, 1961 - History

The Commonwealth Club of California - San Francisco, California - January 28, 2004

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is one of the most prominent African American intellectuals of his time. He is a renowned scholar of black studies and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Gates is a prolific writer, an engaging speaker and a public television star. His accomplishments read more like a course catalog than one man's resume. Gates has defined a new critical approach to black literature. He has unearthed lost artifacts of African American history, including rediscovering the first novel by a black writer, Our Nig. He helped produce a vast new collection of reference works on black history and culture. He elevated the place of African American Studies in higher education. He has drawn wide attention to the complicated stew of America's genetic lineage, with television programs that reveal the mixed ancestry of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Yo Yo Ma, Chris Rock and Meryl Streep. Finally, Gates's 2009 arrest, as he tried to enter his own home, made headlines and provoked a national dialog on race.

Gates was born in northern West Virginia and grew up in the town of Piedmont, a small community in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. "Skip," as Gates is known to friends, is the younger of two boys. His mother worked as a housekeeper. His father held down two jobs, loading trucks during the day at a paper mill and working as a janitor at the local telephone company in the evenings. In a memoir titled, Colored People, Gates describes Piedmont as a segregated town where blacks and whites lived largely separate lives, where there was little open friction between the races, and where the civil rights movement played out as a relatively muted drama compared to elsewhere in the nation. There were no big protest marches or lunch counter sit-ins in Piedmont. "Civil rights took us all by surprise," he recalls in Colored People. It was a conflict his family watched on the TV news. "Whatever tumult our small screen revealed&hellipthe dawn of the civil rights era could be no more than a spectator sport in Piedmont. It was almost like a war being fought overseas." 1

The Piedmont public schools responded to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning school segregation by promptly, and rather quietly, opening the doors of white schools to black children. Young Skip's parents encouraged their boys to excel in the newly integrated schools. Gates remembers being recognized and nurtured as a gifted child by the white faculty. He also developed an early sense of ease and friendship with white children. "We were pioneers, people my age, in cross-race relations, able to get to know each other across cultures and classes in a way that was unthinkable in our parents' generation," Gates says. "To speak to white people was just to speak. No artificial tones, no hypercorrectness." 2

Gates grew up in an African American community &ndash in terms of both geography and his extended family &ndash that was rich in culture and characters. He tells their tales with the affection and relish of a natural storyteller, a trait he credits to his father's love of a good yarn. He also describes an early "avidity for information on the Negro," anticipating his life calling as a student and exponent of African and African American heritages. 3 As a teenager in the 1960s, Gates and his cohort experimented with the ideologies of black power and afro-centrism they increasingly saw on TV and read about in the newspapers. Gates fondly remembers developing elaborate soul-brother handshakes, spouting the few phrases of Swahili he managed to master, and growing the tallest afro in town. He also chuckles at his father's sardonic reaction: "KKK hair, Daddy called it: Knotty, Kinky, and Kan't-comby." 4

In 1968, Gates left home for college. He majored in history at Yale University, then won a fellowship to Cambridge University, where he earned a Ph.D. in English literature in 1979. Gates taught at Yale, Cornell and Duke, establishing himself as a powerful new figure in English literary criticism and the interpretation of African American literature. He has published prolifically, branching out from literary studies to co-produce extensive reference works on African American history and culture. These include a massive encyclopedia called Africana, first imagined a century earlier by scholar W.E.B. Du Bois as a Negro equivalent to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

In 1991, Harvard recruited Gates to revive and lead its struggling Afro-American Studies department. Gates lured eminent scholars from other leading universities to his program, including Cornel West, William Julius Wilson, and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Gates and his dream team resuscitated the program at Harvard. They are also widely credited with lifting the academic status of black studies as a whole. Gates's mission was to free black studies from the grip of afro-centrism, and to welcome interested students and scholars of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. "We stand as a rebuttal to the idea that Afro-American studies is primarily about building the self-esteem of other African Americans, or that only African Americans can understand, interpret and therefore teach black studies," Gates told an interviewer. 5 Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson says he has never met Gates's match for intellectual leadership and interpersonal skills. "He's probably done more to create a positive image for African-American studies than any other scholar in the world," Wilson told The Boston Globe. 6

As his academic reputation soared, Gates also established himself as one of America's leading public intellectuals. He has published widely in the non-academic press &ndash from Newsweek to Jet and Art in America to Sports Illustrated. He has appeared in seven major PBS television series on race and African American culture. In 1997, Time declared Gates one of the 25 most influential Americans, saying he combines "the braininess of the legendary black scholar W.E.B. Du Bois and the chutzpah of P.T. Barnum." 7 The British magazine The Economist describes Gates as a "silver-tongued intellectual imp" who has emerged as the "chief interpreter" of the black experience for the white, American establishment. 8

While Gates is certainly a high-profile figure compared to most academics, he is perhaps best known to some Americans as the Harvard professor who got into a scuffle with a cop, and then made peace over a beer on the White House patio. On July 16, 2009, Gates was returning home to Cambridge, Massachusetts, after an overseas trip. His front door was stuck, so Gates and his taxi driver tried to push it open. A neighbor called the police to report a suspected burglary. Gates and a white officer got into a verbal confrontation and Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct. The charges were dropped, but the incident sparked a vociferous national conversation over the persistence of racial discrimination in the United States. Commentators found reason to blame both parties for the fracas. The story culminated with a White House "beer summit" between Gates and the officer, James Crowley, hosted by President Barack Obama.

Gates gave this speech at the Commonwealth Club of California, in San Francisco, the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. He was speaking in advance of the premiere of his 2004 PBS project, America Beyond the Color Line. The program was a kind of State of the Union report on black America at the dawn of the 21st century. Gates describes what he learned travelling the country to interview a cross-section of African Americans for the show, and concludes with his own declaration of the most pressing obstacles in the nation's long struggle for racial equality.


I'm going to show you a clip from my new film series, and I'm going to tell you about it. In 1900, W.E.B. Du Bois, of course, the greatest black intellectual of all time &ndash you know they talk about our generation of black intellectuals and writers &ndash they talk about my main man, Cornel West, and they talk about Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Manning Marable and Claude Steele up at Stanford &ndash you could add us all up together, and put us in a Cuisinart and pour us out, and we would not be worthy of tying W.E.B. Du Bois' shoelaces. W.E.B. Du Bois was the man. And he woke up in 1900 and he predicted, famously, that the problem of the 20th century would be the problem of the color line. And that turned out to be true, certainly, no one could dispute that.

So at the beginning of the 21st century, I wanted to ask, and attempt to answer, the same question: What will the problem of the 21st century be? But unlike the lordly Du Bois, who sat at his desk up in Harlem and just pronounced the answer, I wanted to travel all throughout the United States, interviewing a cross-section of the African-American community, and address the question the following way: Where are we, as a people, 35 years after the brutal assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King? Where are we as a people? Have we progressed? Have we gone far enough? How much further do we have to go?

And the result is, as you heard in the marvelous introduction, I interviewed dozens of people. From the rich and powerful and famous, to the homeless, the not-so-powerful, the impoverished, the infamous, the imprisoned. I interviewed Colin Powell, I interviewed Vernon Jordan, I interviewed Russell Simmons, I interviewed Alicia Keys, Maya Angelou. I went and did a segment on black Hollywood I interviewed Chris Tucker and Bernie Mac I mean it was hilarious, I could barely ask the questions for laughing for the whole time. But I also interviewed single heads of households on the South Side of Chicago. I went to Cook County Jail and interviewed prisoners. I interviewed people who formerly were drug dealers, who were now reformed drug dealers and most probably will fall off the wagon and be drug dealers again. I wanted to ask black America, in every possible shape and size and even color, "Where are we as a people?" The result is a four-hour series, fortunately I was lucky enough to have PBS and BBC give me a film crew and let me travel around the country, interviewing people, and the result's a four-hour film series that will air on PBS on February 3 and February 4, it's called "America Beyond the Color Line."

Now part one is called, "Ebony Towers," and it's about the new, black middle class that's emerged since Dr. King was killed in 1968. Part two is about the amazing phenomenon of black people from the North reverse-migrating to the South. You could look through all of the annals of African-American literature, and you'll find tens of thousands of references to black people in the South following the North Star, or following the Drinking Gourd &ndash which was a metaphor for the Big Dipper, which, of course, involves the North Star &ndash but you will not find one, not one, that says, "Black man or black woman, find your freedom by heading back to Mississippi." Or as my dad says, "Missibama" or any of them other "Misses." But in the 1990s, the most incredible thing happened, which was far more black people from the North started migrating back to the South. And I wanted to ask, why? Because for me, when I was growing up in the '50s, the South was a litter of crosses and the corpses of black men. And why would these people &ndash and these are upper-middle-class black people &ndash moving back to Atlanta, moving into all-black neighborhoods, all million-dollar homes, all-black country clubs, all-black swimming pools? And I wanted to ask them, "Is this what Dr. King died for? If Dr. King came back, would he like this? Or would he not like this?" I wanted to ironize it and put them on camera and see how they felt.

Part three is called "Black Hollywood." And, I shot this in the wake of Denzel [Washington] and Halle Berry getting the Academy Awards and Sidney [Poitier], of course, getting a lifetime achievement award from the Academy. So I wanted to go to Hollywood and ask, "Has racism disappeared in Hollywood because we have so many black actors on the A-list?" Chris Tucker takes me to church. Bishop Noel Jones' church, he's Grace Jones' brother, in South Central. And we went, I mean rocking. And so we're sitting there, and I look up, and Stevie Wonder walks in, with his new baby, and I guess his new wife. And Stevie Wonder performs a duet with Ali Wilson from the old Temptations. You know, if Bishop Jones' sermon didn't make me get the Holy Ghost, Stevie Wonder almost did. It was fantastic. And the answer to that question is: No, racism has not disappeared in Hollywood, in case anyone's holding their breath to wonder if there's a news flash that I had received that you hadn't.

And finally, I wanted to go to the inner city. And so I chose the Robert Taylor Homes on the South Side of Chicago. The Robert Taylor Homes, set up in the early 1960s, symbolized all that was possible, all that was supposed to be good about public housing. And my film crew was the last, or one of the last, film crews in the Robert Taylor Homes, because the problems had become so severe that the city of Chicago had decided that they couldn't be fixed, that they had to tear them down. And I wanted to record that history, that movement, over a 40-year period &ndash from the time the Robert Taylor Homes represented optimism and hope, to the time that the Robert Taylor Homes became synonymous with poverty, and the self-perpetuation of poverty, by a significant segment of the African-American community.

Now, I went to Yale University in September, 1969. I was one of 96 black men and women to go up to Yale in September of 1969. By contrast, the class of '66 at Yale had six black men to graduate. What was there a genetic blip in the race? And all of a sudden there were 90 smart black men and women who existed in 1969 who hadn't existed in 1966? Of course not. We got in because of affirmative action. We were the affirmative action, crossover generation. It doesn't mean that we weren't qualified to get into Yale. It's just that we couldn't have gotten into Yale before because there were strict racist quotas on the number of black boys &ndash Yale didn't go co-ed until 1969 &ndash the number of black boys who were allowed to be entered into Yale. And I wouldn't have gotten into Yale, definitely, without affirmative action, no matter what my scores were. Why is that?

Well, my daddy, who is 90 years old, my dad, God bless him, my dad turned ninety on June 8 of this past year. My dad is so funny. My dad makes Red Foxx look like an undertaker. We asked my father, we had this big party, right? [laughter] We asked my father, "Daddy what do you want for your 90th birthday party? What's your fondest ambition, your greatest wish, your dream?" He thought about it for a nano-second and then he said, "Boy&hellip" that's his term of endearment for me, for the last 53 years &ndash "boy." He said, "Boy, all I want is to bump Bob Dole off that Viagra commercial." [laughter] I said, "I don't want to think about that daddy, I don't want to go there." Anyway, my dad, for 37 years worked two jobs to put me and my brother through college. I have one brother, no sisters, my brother's five years older, he's a very successful oral surgeon, chief oral surgeon at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York. Then there's little old me bringing up the rear. My daddy would go to work at 6:30 in the morning, at a paper mill, and we lived in a company town basically &ndash an Irish and Italian company town.

In 1950, the year I was born, there we 2,100 people in Piedmont, West Virginia, 386 of whom were black, most of them were my relatives, which made it very rough about dating time, you know what I mean? People say, "Vice is nice by incest is best," especially in West Virginia, but I don't want to play that! [laughter] So the mill &ndash daddy would go to work at 6:30 in the morning, and at 3:30 in the afternoon, the mill whistle would blow and we would get out of school, because basically it was a company town. He'd come home and wash up. We'd have our evening meal at four o'clock, and at 4:30 he'd go to his second job as a janitor at the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company. He'd get home about 7:30 or eight o'clock. We'd do our homework, then we'd watch TV, and then we'd go to bed.

So, he worked two jobs for 37 years. Now, no matter how intelligent I may or may not be, I would not have had the class profile, within the African-American community, to be one of those six black boys who went to Yale. What am I talking about? All the black people in here know what I'm talking about. If you look at the biographies of the fathers of those black boys &ndash one's father was a doctor one was a lawyer one was an undertaker one worked at the postal office and one was a numbers runner. [laughter] That put you in the black upper class in the old days. I was stone working class, so it means I wouldn't have been allowed, I wouldn't have been allowed to make it through the filters within the race behind closed doors &ndash behind what Du Bois called "the veil," in order to show up for Yale. Affirmative action was a class escalator when it started, as well as a race integrator.

So, ladies and gentlemen, all that's happened to me in my fortunate life, has been enabled by affirmative action. And for me, who's benefited so much from affirmative action, to stand at the gate &ndash no matter how small my gate &ndash it would be disingenuous for me to say I'm not a gate-keeper. Of course I'm a gate-keeper. For me to stand at that gate, and then to oppose other people of color or women, because no one has benefited from affirmative action more than white women in American society &ndash everybody leaves that out of the discussions of affirmative action, but that's the truth. For me to be a gate-keeper, standing at the gate, and keep out women or other people of color, would be for me to be a hypocrite as big as Mr. Justice Clarence Thomas. And I am not going to be that kind of person. [applause]

So we all were the affirmative action babies. And you have to imagine what I looked like: I had a two-foot-high afro. You've got to imagine this head with a two-foot-high afro. My daughter Maggie just graduated from Weslayan University in Connecticut. She looked at my year book a couple of years ago and she said, "Daddy you're not on the page." And I said, "Yes I am baby, there I am." And she said, "That's you daddy?" And I said, "Yeah." She said, "You look just like a Klingon!" [laughs] I said, "I was a good looking Klingon." I had a closet full of dashikis &ndash I looked like a ball of black cotton candy walking down the street. You know Cornel West, Cornel West's afro looked like a crew cut next to my afro.

And we were going to be the revolutionary vanguard for our people. We were going to reclaim W.E.B. Du Bois' notion of the talented tenth. You all know what that is &ndash what he called the "college-bred Negro." At the time Du Bois wrote that essay in 1900, it was probably the talented "oneth," in terms of black people with a four-year college degree. In fact, we only, our people only hit double-digits with a four-year college degree in the 1990s, and today, only 17 percent of us have a bachelor's degree among the African-American people. But we were going to be the vanguard. And we were going to show Du Bois that he had been wrong, that you could produce a talented tenth that would be socially responsible. We were going to reach back in the ghetto and pull all the brothers and sisters &ndash whether kicking and screaming or not &ndash we were going to drag them into historically white, elite institutions, symbolized by places like Mother Yale. We called Yale the "the Yale plantation." [laughs] And we were the nouveau black people, coming to change the shape of the plantation.

Well, at the end of my first year at Yale &ndash this great year when we had all these black people there &ndash we shut Yale down. In April of 1970, we had a big strike. Remember on May Day of 1970, the whole country went on strike? Remember? Because Nixon and Kissinger invaded Cambodia. Then, after that, was Kent State, then Jackson State. Everybody forgets about Jackson State, but kids were killed at Kent State then there were killed at Jackson State. Two weeks before, at Yale, we went on strike. The strike was led by Kurt Schmoke. Black man &ndash used to be mayor of Baltimore. Was a Rhodes Scholar, became my hero. In fact I went to Cambridge largely because Kurt had become a Rhodes Scholar two years before. And we persuaded all of our colleagues to go on strike, because the Black Panther Party &ndash which started out here in Oakland of course &ndash the Black Panthers were being persecuted by the police. Bobby Seale was on trial in New Haven. And we persuaded Kingman Brewster, the president of Yale, to issue a statement saying that he was skeptical of the ability of a black revolutionary to get a fair trial in any court in the United States. Of course, it cost him his job, but it led to the strike at Yale. And so all these revolutionaries came to Yale. And their lawyers, like Garry, who defended the Panthers, and William Kunstler. David Hilliard got out of jail, and he came. Huey Newton was in jail, Eldridge Cleaver was in exile, but everybody else was there, right? And so, we had this huge rally.

Now you have to imagine this: 5,000 people &ndash most of them, they were white &ndash and then the 96 black kids at Yale. So, we waited till they were seated, and we all walked in, march step. You know, we were bad. Man, we had our dashikis, our 'fros were all teased out &ndash we knew we were the vanguard, we were the revolutionaries! Fists on your chests and all that stuff. Remember the soul handshake? We had that elaborate soul handshake? We would change, you know like your security code for your computer that changes every month? We would change the soul handshake every month just to make sure you were still black, you know, to make sure you were up to blackness. [laughter] You had to do the dap, the Vietnam guys would teach you all that. It was great, so we were smoking man. Some of us had berets on, like the Panthers, some of us had those long black leather jackets on, most of us had dashikis on. So we walked in, lock step, sat down. Jean Genet, the French playwright and revolutionary, had been flown over from Paris to address us. Man, this was the revolution. It was happening! Right before our very eyes! And he had this beautiful woman, I'll never forget, he had this beautiful woman who was translating, because he spoke no English. And so amidst, you know officially we were supposed to be learning Swahili and stuff, but I made a mental note: Learn French. [laughter]

So Jean Genet gives us this great stirring speech &ndash this was the end of capitalism, corporate capitalism was in its final days! Sure as shootin,' as Marx had predicted, Western capitalism was being brought down. Marx predicted it would collapse &ndash it was collapsing. And the revolution was being led not only by the great American Negro people, as he said at that time, but by the lumpenproletariat from the inner cities, the natural leaders of whom were the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, being unjustly imprisoned, persecuted by that fascist J. Edgar Hoover, etc, etc, etc. So we were jumping up and cheering. This was our moment. Then he said, he wanted to make a final address, a direct comment to us, the new black students at Yale. And he looked at us, and he said, "If there was a revolution &ndash and he was convinced there was a revolution &ndash if there was a revolution it would occur in spite of the fact that we had accepted admission into Yale University." [laughter] And we all looked at each other and said, "That woman musta got that translation wrong."

We were nouveau race traitors. We were the new Uncle Toms. The system was smart enough to adapt just enough to save itself. And it was adapting through the creation of this new concept called affirmative action, and the 96 black people sitting there, in spite of their afros, their dashikis, their berets and their black leather jackets, were tools or pawns of the system, diffusing the genuine revolutionary fervor of the lumpenproletariat, represented by its true leaders, Bobby Seale, Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. Man we were flabbergasted, man! [laughter] Everybody, 5,000 white people are looking at us, you know? [laughter] And we'd been jumping up and down with our fists and stuff. Then he quoted Herbert Marcuse, how many of you remember Herbert Marcuse? The great Marxist philosopher. Who was Herbert Marcuse's greatest student? Come on anybody. Angela Davis. Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis. Angela Davis, he said, was his most brilliant student. He then, Genet, cites an essay Herbert Marcuse had written in 1958, in which Marcuse predicted that the principal outcome of a successful civil rights movement would be the creation of a new black middle class. And that would be it. And things, then, would go back to normal. OK? How cynical! We thought, "What did this Frenchman know?" Let him go back to Paris. So you know, we got up and tried to save the day [laughs], and moved on with our business. But that thought haunted us.

Putney Swope. How many of you saw the film Putney Swope? Who were our heroes? Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, Thurgood Marshall. Not so much Dr. King, to be honest. Dr. King had fallen out of favor with the young, with the revolutionary &ndash we were Stokely Carmichaelites. You know, Martin Luther King was old. His day had passed. No. We wanted the revolution. And Stokely was going to lead us. But Putney Swope? Putney Swope, the first blacksploitation film. Robert Downey Sr&hellipeven a young Mel Brooks is in this film. It opens: the board of directors' room at a Madison Avenue advertising firm. One token Negro in a three-piece suit, sitting at the board meeting. Everybody else, of course, is white. Chairman of the board is giving this rousing speech about making money &ndash very, very greedy speech &ndash has a heart attack, falls face down on the table at the board of directors' meeting. All the white guys jump up, pick his pockets [laughs], they push his body out the way, and call for the election, on the spot, of a new CEO. So you do it by secret ballot, of course. So, they count the votes, and the man says, "Hmm. We have to count the votes again." They count the votes again. Then he stands up and announces the vote had been nine to two, nine votes for Putney Swope. The camera pans in on one white guy, and he says, "I thought nobody would vote for him but me." [laughs] Next scene &ndash so you think, what's going to happen? Next scene: Putney comes in, first day at work, he got rid of his three-piece suit, he has on military fatigues, looks like a Black Panther. Has a little military hat on, fires all the white people in the advertising agency, changes the name to The Truth and Soul Advertising Agency, hires inner-city black people and revolutionizes the advertising industry by mounting new approaches to the marketing of products, such as Victrola Cola, Ethereal Cereal and &ndash my favorite &ndash Face Off Pimple Cream. [laughter]

Putney Swope amasses $156 million in the next six months. $156 million sounds like a lot now, it was a hell of a lot in 1969. And when he's so hot, you know he becomes famous on the cover of all the magazines. He's descended on by all the black revolutionaries &ndash four guys representing the four major streams of the black movement: there's a Black Panther figure there's a figure, a cultural nationalist from Karenga and Amiri Baraka there's a Stokely Carmichael figure for Black Power and then there's a Whitney Young figure &ndash remember Whitney Young? &ndash a Whitney young figure from the National Urban League. And they all have their stock slogans. The Panther guy says, "We need power for the people." The Stokely Carmichael guy says that "Black power is the only way." And the guy from the cultural nationalists says, "Violence is a cleansing force." And then the hapless, suited figure from the National Urban League, the Whitney Young figure, says, "Violence&hellip" he looks at them and says, "Violence will not help our people violence will get us nowhere violence will not get us a job." And one of the Panther figures looks at him and says, "Yeah, violence might not get us a job, but it will certainly eliminate the competition." [laughter] So, they all then unite in one thing. Which is they're only there to hustle Putney Swope. They want money, and Putney Swope throws them out, says they're all frauds and the real revolution will come by penetrating the system and transforming the system from the inside.

Putney Swope was our secret hero. What we wanted to do ladies and gentlemen &ndash our self-styled, revolutionary vanguard that integrated Yale in large numbers &ndash was to go in the system and transform it from the inside, forever eliminating racism, and fundamentally changing the class structure of the African-American community. Thirty-five years later, ladies and gentlemen, where are we?

Well, since 1968 &ndash since, in fact, that day Martin Luther King was killed &ndash the black middle class has almost quadrupled, which is a wonderful thing. But at the same time, the percentage of black children living at or beneath the poverty line is 40 percent. Four out of 10 black kids live at or beneath the poverty line. You know what the figure was the day Martin Luther King died? Forty percent.

Was Herbert Marcuse right? Was the principal outcome of the civil rights movement and affirmative action the production of a new black middle class, or not? For the African-American community, in other words, it's the best of times, but it is the worst of times. Do you know that in 1990, there were 2,280,000 prisoners, black men in prison, on probation or parole. You know how many black men got a college degree in that year? Twenty-three thousand. That's a ratio of ninety-nine to one. Do you know what the ratio that year was for white males in prison, on probation and parole, who got college degrees was? Six-to-one. In Chicago, right now, 45 percent of all black males between the ages of twenty and twenty-four are both out of school and out of work. And most of them who are out of school didn't finish school, or if they finished school, they are essentially functionally illiterate, which means you can't read the front page of the Chronicle or the LA Times or The New York Times, and pass an examination on it. Sixty-nine percent of all of the households in Chicago are headed by single mothers, the black households, are headed by single mothers. The average lifespan for a black man in Chicago is fifty-nine. And in any given week in Chicago, only forty-five percent of the members of the African-American community are gainfully employed. Fifty-five percent of the African-American community, of all ages, in Chicago, are unemployed.

So what did I learn when I traveled the country, interviewing this cross-section of the African-American community? What did I learn when we talked about where are we as a people? We learned that the causes of our poverty are both structural and behavioral. Now what's that mean? Well, first of all, structural &ndash you cannot enslave a people for three centuries, followed by a century of de jure segregation, and then cure it with 35 years of affirmative action and post-civil rights, entitlement legislation. Institutional racism is a fundamental aspect of the American society, and our people have suffered disproportionately from that. In addition, the economic structure began to change in the 1960s. The traditional way of moving from the no-class to the working class, and the working class to the middle class, was through factories in the cities. That's why we went to the cities in the first place, and all the white immigrants did it. What happened in the '60s and the '70s? Factories moved south, shut down in the cities. First they moved South, to the southern part of the United States, then they moved south of the border. Now they're dispersed wherever people can most efficiently exploit a large labor force. So that the traditional way of moving up the economic scale in America disappeared.

How do we address these structural problems? We need a federal jobs program that will create meaningful job opportunities for those most impoverished in this society, whether they're black, white, Hispanic or whatever. We need to give people hope in the system again. We need to make it worthwhile &ndash make them feel worthwhile &ndash that it's worthwhile for them to stay in school, to work hard, to take a job-trainings program, because they're going to get a meaningful job in a 21st century, highly technological, global economy. And not flipping burgers down at McDonald's. I interviewed a drug dealer who was &ndash if we had played the tape you would have seen him. An ex-drug dealer who was making $6,000 a day dealing drugs. And he realized &ndash just why he realized it, I don't know &ndash but he realized he was headed directly to Cook County Jail. And so he decided he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in jail, even for $6,000 a day. So he just finished his first semester in college. But when I interviewed him, he was working at Popeye's. His name is Lyndell. I said, "Lyndell, may I ask you &ndash how much money do you make a month working at Popeye's?" And he said, "$600 a month." And I said, "Do you ever think about that $6,000 a day that you used to make selling drugs?" He said, "Are you crazy? I think about it all day long while I'm flipping them burgers down at Popeye's." He is the exception. Who among us could resist the lure of $6,000 a day of, ostensibly, easy money, if you didn't feel that you had a stake in the system, if you didn't feel that you could be successful if you stayed in school?

We need school reform, ladies and gentlemen. I went to Boston English High School last Black History Month. I was waiting for all the kids to be assembled. It was an all-school assembly. I asked the teacher &ndash I mean I was in school, right? &ndash I raised my hand and asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom, which I thought was the appropriate thing to do. She said, "Oh, certainly, Dr. Gates. Um. It will only take ten minutes and you can go." I said, "No ma'am, you don't understand. I have to go to the bathroom." She said, "No. You don't understand. You cannot go to the bathroom without a police escort. And it will take ten minutes for the policeman to be here." Our schools have become nightmares. How could any of us have learned what we learned when we were growing up, if we hadn't had order in our schools? We need to establish a safe learning environment for our children. We need to change the way taxes are distributed for our schools. The amount of money spent per-student should be exactly the same in the poorest, blackest, most-Hispanic neighborhood, as being allocated per-student in the richest, whitest suburb. This is only fair. It is only fair. [applause] The Department of Education needs to look at programs that are working in our public schools. And I'll tell you briefly about three.

Many of my friends are Jewish, and they would all tell me about how horrible Hebrew school was. I'd listen to them tell me about Hebrew school. Then I'd think, horrible? Man, that Hebrew school sound like a pretty good thing. Then I'd think, how come we can't have Hebrew school? If Jewish people had to wait on the state, on the public school system, for the perpetuation of Jewish culture, and the Hebrew language, there wouldn't be Jewish culture and there wouldn't be Hebrew language. Why can't we use our churches and our mosques to start after-school programs that teach African-American history and culture? In other words, we go around the public school system. I got a $500,000 grant from the Markle Foundation, wired the Rev. Eugene Rivers' church in the inner-city in Roxbury. We have an after-school program that teaches black history, African history, they learn about the black pharaohs of the Nile, and learn computer skills using Encarta Africana. It is a runaway success. It has spread to the city of Baltimore, it's going to Philadelphia, and it's going to Cleveland. How come our churches can't do that, like the Jewish people did through Hebrew school? Of course they can.

We need to transform our great black sororities and fraternities &ndash the Deltas, the Kappas, the Alphas, etc. etc. &ndash into self-esteem, black self-help factories. We need to begin to teach our people about entrepreneurial opportunities. We need to use these secular and sacred organizations to sponsor what you might think of as the new face of the civil rights movement, which will stress our traditional values of education. Ladies and gentlemen, when I was growing up in the '50s, the blackest thing you could be was Thurgood Marshall, or Martin Luther King. The blackest thing you could be was a doctor or a lawyer &ndash not a basketball player or a football player. What's happened to our people? Learning the ABCs, staying in school, getting straight A's, was firing a bullet straight into George Wallace's racist white heart. That's what we were taught in school. You know, my father must have told me a thousand times, "Get all the education you can, boy, because no white racist can take it away from you." Our people have lost that. I read the results of a poll from The Washington Post recently that interviewed inner-city black kids, and it said, "List things white." You know what they said? The three most prevalent answers: getting straight A's in school, speaking standard English and visiting the Smithsonian. Had anybody said anything like this when we were growing up, they would have smacked you upside your head, and checked you into an insane asylum. Somehow, we have internalized our own oppression.

Far too many members of our own community have internalized our own oppression. Which brings me &ndash since I've been getting this sign from this woman right here, that I should get off this podium &ndash which brings me&hellipthere are two other programs that I wanted to talk about but you can see them in the film series&hellipbut it brings me to the other reason that our people are still impoverished. I said that half of the reason was for structural causes like institutional racism. The other half, ladies and gentlemen is because we need a revolution in attitude and behavior within the African-American community itself. [applause] Nobody makes you, no white racist makes you get pregnant when you're 16 years old. I'm sorry, we do not have time for this form of behavior anymore. It is killing our people. No white racist makes you drop out of school. No white racist makes you not do your homework. No white racist makes you equate academic or intellectual success with being white. If George Wallace and Bull Connor and Orval Faubus had sat down, in their wildest drunken, bourbon fantasies, in 1960 and said, "How can we continue to control them niggras," as they would have said, one of them would have said, "You know, we could persuade them to have babies in their teens, do crack cocaine, run drugs, and equate education, not with being Thurgood Marshall or Martin Luther King, but with being white &ndash then we'll have them."

Ladies and gentlemen, that's what's happened to our people. We have lost the blackest aspect of the black tradition. Frederick Douglass famously said, the slave had "to steal a little learning" from the white man. We've all been stealing a little learning. We've all been embracing education as if the collective life of the African-American people depended on it &ndash until recently. And now, for far too many of our people, getting an education is something alien to our tradition. It's much easier to become a professional basketball player. Well listen to these statistics: In 1991, I did a piece for Sports Illustrated, and I asked them &ndash on the black athlete &ndash and I asked them&hellipand before I tell you this, don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are athletes. I'm going to go to the Super Bowl this weekend. You know, I love watching the Final Four. I love championship sports. And I love the fact that so many black people have done well. But here's the reality: 1990 census &ndash the number of black lawyers, black doctors, black dentists and black professional athletes &ndash 20,000 black lawyers, 14,000 black doctors, 5,600 black dentists. You know how many black professional athletes? Remember, there are 35 million black Americans. You know how many black professional athletes? One-thousand two-hundred black professional athletes in all sports. It's easier to be a black brain surgeon than to make it into the NBA, but somehow our people are like Jimmy the Greek &ndash they think we have an extra basketball gene. [laughter] My daddy&hellipwhen I was a professor at Duke, my house was near a black neighborhood that had a basketball court that was lit. I go to bed at midnight, I pass it, it would be packed. I wake up, go to work at nine in the morning, it would be packed. [laughs] I don't know if they played basketball all night long, because I would be asleep. My daddy said, and I will censor what he said, my daddy said, "Ain't this a damn shame." He said, "If our people studied calculus like we study basketball, we would be running MIT." And you know that that's true.

We also have to stop scapegoating other people who we should be emulating. Homophobia is rampant in the African-American community. We have to stand up as leaders and fight homophobia in the black community we have to fight sexism and misogyny in the black community we have to fight anti-immigrant feeling in the black community. Do you know that 75 percent of my black students at Harvard are of West Indian descent? You know what that figure was when I was an undergrad at Yale? Ninety-nine percent of us had four African-American grandparents. Now, of the black kids at Harvard, only 25 percent have four African American grandparents, 75 percent are second-generation West Indian, and that leads to a lot of scapegoating. We need to be more like black immigrants from the West Indies and stop scapegoating them. And finally, we have to stop scapegoating the Jewish people. We need to emulate the best aspects of Jewish culture. And leaders have to stand up and say, "The Jews are not our problem. The Jews did not run the slave trade. Thirteen rabbis do not rule the world and sit there and decide that black people are going to be impoverished. This is rubbish." Why should we do this? We do this for the Jewish people? No, we have to do it for ourselves. You cannot get the solutions to your problems straight until you understand the nature of the problem itself. You have to understand what the target is, and the target is not Haitians, it's not West Indians, it's not gay people, and it's certainly not the members of the Jewish community.

Our goal, ladies and gentleman, in sum, is to change the bell curve of class within the African-American community. We need the same percentage of black poor as white poor, the same percentage of black rich as white rich, the same percentage of black people in the middle class as white people, and black people in the working class as white people. And we can only do this with a two-prong attack, addressing the structural causes of poverty on the one hand, and the individual, behavioral, attitudinal problems that we, ourselves, are causing for ourselves. We have internalized our own oppression. We are perpetuating our own poverty, and leaders &ndash whether it is Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Colin Powell, Farrakhan, whomever &ndash have to have the courage to stand up, join together and lead a moral revolution within the African-American community. Because, if we don't, the class divide within the African-American community is destined to be permanent. And never the twain between those two classes shall meet. And I, for one, will not be content until we do something about that, ladies and gentlemen, because Martin Luther King did not die so that some of us would make it and most of us would be left behind in the inner-city of hopelessness and despair. Thank you very much. [applause]

1 . Henry Louis Gates Jr., Colored People (New York: Vintage, 1995), 25-27.
2 . Gates, 150.
3 . Gates, 83.
4 . Gates, 186.
5 . Jack E. White, Sharon Epperson and James L. Graff, "The Black Brain Trust," Time, February 26, 1996, 59.
6 . Marcella Bombardiere, "Harvard's Gates to Step Down as Department Head," The Boston Globe, April 16, 2005, 1.
7 . "Time's 25 Most Influential Americans," Time, April 21, 1997, 46.
8 . "Mary Poppins is a Black Man," The Economist, August 7, 1999, 72.

Farewell Address to the American People

Harry S. Truman’s popularity was at a record low when he delivered his Farewell Address in early 1953 from the White House. The status of the Cold War was a major reason for the outgoing president’s low approval rating. Although Truman was the primary architect of U.S. Cold War policies (Documents 2–4 and 6), the stalemated war in Korea (Documents 8–9) and Republican calls to replace containment with a “policy of boldness” (Document 12) had taken their toll.

Shrugging off the criticism, Truman called on all citizens to support the new president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also reviewed the many actions his administration had taken to contain communism: aid to Greece and Turkey, the Marshall Plan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and defense of South Korea (Documents 2–3 and 8.) As a Cold War document, the speech is much more than a review of the conflict’s first eight years. Truman also expressed his belief that the United States and its allies would ultimately prevail. “I have a deep and abiding faith in the destiny of free men. With patience and courage, we shall some day move on into a new era.”

Truman’s prediction proved to be accurate. The Cold War’s finish did, in fact, result from “trouble in the satellite states” that caused a change in the way that the Soviet leadership thought about Eastern Europe. This “change inside the Kremlin” spurred further democratization efforts, helping to bring down the Iron Curtain. Although Truman did not live to see the end of the Cold War, he forecast it.

Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1952-1953 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966), 1197-1202. Available at

I am happy to have this opportunity to talk to you once more before I leave the White House.

. . . I have no new revelations to make – no political statements – no policy announcements. There are simply a few things in my heart that I want to say to you. I want to say “goodby” and “thanks for your help.” And I want to talk to you a little while about what has happened since I became your President. . . .

I want all of you to realize how big a job, how hard a job, it is – not for my sake, because I am stepping out of it – but for the sake of my successor. 1 He needs the understanding and the help of every citizen. It is not enough for you to come out once every 4 years and vote for a candidate, and then go back home and say, “Well, I’ve done my part, now let the new President do the worrying.” He can’t do the job alone.

Regardless of your politics, whether you are Republican or Democrat, your fate is tied up with what is done here in this room. The President is President of the whole country. We must give him our support as citizens of the United States. He will have mine, and I want you to give him yours.

I suppose that history will remember my term in office as the years when the “cold war” began to overshadow our lives. I have had hardly a day in office that has not been dominated by this all-embracing struggle – this conflict between those who love freedom and those who would lead the world back into slavery and darkness. And always in the background there has been the atomic bomb.

But when history says that my term of office saw the beginning of the cold war, it will also say that in those 8 years we have set the course that can win it. We have succeeded in carving out a new set of policies to attain peace – positive policies, policies of world leadership, policies that express faith in other free people. We have averted world war III up to now, and we may already have succeeded in establishing conditions which can keep that war from happening as far ahead as man can see. . . .

. . . [I]n early 1947, the Soviet Union threatened Greece and Turkey. The British sent me a message saying they could no longer keep their forces in that area. Something had to be done at once, or the eastern Mediterranean would be taken over by the Communists. On March 12th, I went before the Congress and stated our determination to help the people of Greece and Turkey maintain their independence. Today, Greece is still free and independent and Turkey is a bulwark of strength at a strategic corner of the world.

Then came the Marshall plan which saved Europe, the heroic Berlin airlift, 2 and our military aid programs. . . .

Most important of all, we acted in Korea. . . .

. . . If we let the Republic of Korea go under, some other country would be next, and then another. And all the time, the courage and confidence of the free world would be ebbing away, just as it did in the 1930’s. . . . 3

As I have thought about our worldwide struggle with the Communists these past 8 years – day in and day out – I have never once doubted that you, the people of our country, have the will to do what is necessary to win this terrible fight against communism. . . .

Then, some of you may ask, when and how will the cold war end? I think I can answer that simply. The Communist world has great resources, and it looks strong. But there is a fatal flaw in their society. Theirs is a godless system, a system of slavery there is no freedom in it, no consent. The Iron Curtain, the secret police, the constant purges, all these are symptoms of a great basic weakness – the rulers’ fear of their own people.

In the long run the strength of our free society, and our ideals, will prevail over a system that has respect for neither God nor man.

Last week, in my State of the Union Message to the Congress – and I hope you will all take the time to read it – I explained how I think we will finally win through.

As the free world grows stronger, more united, more attractive to men on both sides of the Iron Curtain – and as the Soviet hopes for easy expansion are blocked – then there will have to come a time of change in the Soviet world. Nobody can say for sure when that is going to be, or exactly how it will come about, whether by revolution, or trouble in the satellite states, or by a change inside the Kremlin.

Whether the Communist rulers shift their policies of their own free will – or whether the change comes about in some other way – I have not a doubt in the world that a change will occur.

I have a deep and abiding faith in the destiny of free men. With patience and courage, we shall some day move on into a new era – a wonderful golden age – an age when we can use the peaceful tools that science has forged for us to do away with poverty and human misery everywhere on earth. . . .

And now, the time has come for me to say good night – and God bless you all.

Study Questions

A. What does Truman say about the Cold War? Which policies carried out during his presidency does he mention? Why do you think he chooses to bring them up? Why he is optimistic that the United States will triumph over communism? What is communism’s basic failing? What possible ways could the Cold War end?

B. How does this speech compare to President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (Document 19)? What are the major similarities and differences? How do other presidents emphasize the cause of worldwide freedom in their speeches (Documents 20, 27, 31, 40, and 43)?

Watch the video: America the Story of Us: Declaration of Independence. History