The farewell speech of U.S.A. President, Dwight Eisenhower. Given on 17 January 1961 and televised in the U.S.A. (Link to audio recording.)
Good evening, my fellow Americans.
First, I should like to express my gratitude to the radio and
television networks for the opportunities they have given me over the
years to bring reports and messages to our nation. My special thanks go
to them for the opportunity of addressing you this evening.
Three days from now, after a half century in the service of our
country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in
traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is
vested in my successor.
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and
farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will
labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed
with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential
agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will
better shape the future of the nation. My own relations with the
Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a
member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to
the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and finally
to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years. In this
final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most
vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the nation good, rather than
mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation
should go forward. So, my official relationship with Congress ends in a
feeling -- on my part -- of gratitude that we have been able to do so
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has
witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved
our own country. Despite these holocausts, America is today the
strongest, the most influential, and most productive nation in the
world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that
America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched
material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our
power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes
have been to keep the peace, to foster progress in human achievement,
and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among peoples and among
nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious
people. Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension
or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt, both at
home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the
conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention,
absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope,
atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method.
Unhappily, the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To
meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional
and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to
carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a
prolonged and complex struggle with liberty the stake. Only thus shall
we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward
permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or
domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that
some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution
to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our
defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in
agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these
and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be
suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader
consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national
programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance
between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly
necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential
requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the
individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national
welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress. Lack of
it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many
decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, i