Dwight D. Eisenhower (January 7, 1954)
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Eighty-third Congress:
It is a high honor again to present to the Congress my views on the state
of the Union and to recommend measures to advance the security, prosperity,
and well-being of the American people.
All branches of this Government--and I venture to say both of our great
parties--can support the general objective of the recommendations I make
today, for that objective is the building of a stronger America. A nation
whose every citizen has good reason for bold hope; where effort is rewarded
and prosperity is shared; where freedom expands and peace is secure--that
is what I mean by a stronger America.
Toward this objective a real momentum has been developed during this
Administration's first year in office. We mean to continue that momentum
and to increase it. We mean to build a better future for this nation.
Much for which we may be thankful has happened during the past year.
First of all we are deeply grateful that our sons no longer die on the
distant mountains of Korea. Although they are still called from our homes
to military service, they are no longer called to the field of battle.
The nation has just completed the most prosperous year in its history. The
damaging effect of inflation on the wages, pensions, salaries and savings
of us all has been brought under control. Taxes have begun to go down. The
cost of our government has been reduced and its work proceeds with some
183,000 fewer employees; thus the discouraging trend of modern governments
toward their own limitless expansion has in our case been reversed. The
cost of armaments becomes less oppressive as we near our defense goals; yet
we are militarily stronger every day. During the year, creation of the new
Cabinet Department of Health, Education, and Welfare symbolized the
government's permanent concern with the human problems of our citizens.
Segregation in the armed forces and other Federal activities is on the way
out. We have also made progress toward its elimination in the District of
Columbia. These are steps in the continuing effort to eliminate
Some developments beyond our shores have been equally encouraging.
Communist aggression, halted in Korea, continues to meet in Indo-china the
vigorous resistance of France and the Associated States, assisted by timely
aid from our country. In West Germany, in Iran, and in other areas of the
world, heartening political victories have been won by the forces of
stability and freedom. Slowly but surely, the free world gathers strength.
Meanwhile, from behind the iron curtain, there are signs that tyranny is in
trouble and reminders that its structure is as brittle as its surface is
There has been in fact a great strategic change in the world during the
past year. That precious intangible, the initiative, is becoming ours. Our
policy, not limited to mere reaction against crises provoked by others, is
free to develop along lines of our choice not only abroad, but also at
home. As a major theme for American policy during the coming year, let our
joint determination be to hold this new initiative and to use it.
We shall use this initiative to promote three broad purposes: First, to
protect the freedom of our people; second, to maintain a strong, growing
economy; third, to concern ourselves with the human problems of the
Only by active concern for each of these purposes can we be sure that we
are on the forward road to a better and a stronger America. All my
recommendations today are in furtherance of these three purposes.
I. FOREIGN AFFAIRS
American freedom is threatened so long as the world Communist conspiracy
exists in its present scope, power and hostility. More closely than ever
before, American freedom is interlocked with the freedom of other people.
In the unity of the free world lies our best chance to reduce the Communist
threat without war. In the task of maintaining this unity and strengthening
all its parts, the greatest responsibility falls naturally on those who,
like ourselves, retain the most freedom and strength.
We shall, therefore, continue to advance the cause of freedom on foreign
In the Far East, we retain our vital interest in Korea. We have negotiated
with the Republic of Korea a mutual security pact, which develops our
security system for the Pacific and which I shall promptly submit to the
Senate for its consent to ratification. We are prepared to meet any renewal
of armed aggression in Korea. We shall maintain indefinitely our bases in
Okinawa. I shall ask the Congress to authorize continued material
assistance to hasten the successful conclusion of the struggle in
Indo-china. This assistance will also bring closer the day when the
Associated States may enjoy the independence already assured by France. We
shall also continue military and economic aid to the Nationalist Government
In South Asia, profound changes are taking place in free nations which are
demonstrating their ability to progress through democratic methods. They
provide an inspiring contrast to the dictatorial methods and backward
course of events in Communist China. In these continuing efforts, the free
peoples of South Asia can be assured of the support of the United States.
In the Middle East, where tensions and serious problems exist, we will show
sympathetic and impartial friendship.
In Western Europe our policy rests firmly on the North Atlantic Treaty. It
will remain so based as far ahead as we can see. Within its organization,
the building of a united European community, including France and Germany,
is vital to a free and self-reliant Europe. This will be promoted by the
European Defense Community which offers assurance of European security.
With the coming of unity to Western Europe, the assistance this Nation can
render for the security of Europe and the free world will be multiplied in
In the Western Hemisphere we shall continue to develop harmonious and
mutually beneficial cooperation with our neighbors. Indeed, solid
friendship with all our American neighbors is a cornerstone of our entire
In the world as a whole, the United Nations, admittedly still in a state of
evolution, means much to the United States. It has given uniquely valuable
services in many places where violence threatened. It is the only real
world forum where we have the opportunity for international presentation
and rebuttal. It is a place where the nations of the world can, if they
have the will, take collective action for peace and justice. It is a place
where the guilt can be squarely assigned to those who fail to take all
necessary steps to keep the peace. The United Nations deserves our
continued firm support.
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE AND TRADE
In the practical application of our foreign policy, we enter the field of
foreign assistance and trade.
Military assistance must be continued. Technical assistance must be
maintained. Economic assistance can be reduced. However, our economic
programs in Korea and in a few other critical places of the world are
especially important, and I shall ask Congress to continue them in the next
The forthcoming Budget Message will propose maintenance of the Presidential
power of transferability of all assistance funds and will ask authority to
merge these funds with the regular defense funds. It will also propose that
the Secretary of Defense have primary responsibility for the administration
of foreign military assistance in accordance with the policy guidance of
the Secretary of State.
The fact that we can now reduce our foreign economic assistance in many
areas is gratifying evidence that its objectives are being achieved. By
continuing to surpass her prewar levels of economic activity, Western
Europe gains self-reliance. Thus our relationship enters a new phase which
can bring results beneficial to our taxpayers and our allies alike, if
still another step is taken.
This step is the creation of a healthier and freer system of trade and
payments within the free world--a system in which our allies can earn their
own way and our own economy can continue to flourish. The free world can no
longer afford the kinds of arbitrary restraints on trade that have
continued ever since the war. On this problem I shall submit to the
Congress detailed recommendations, after our Joint Commission on Foreign
Economic Policy has made its report.
ATOMIC ENERGY PROPOSAL
As we maintain our military strength during the coming year and draw closer
the bonds with our allies, we shall be in an improved position to discuss
outstanding issues with the Soviet Union. Indeed we shall be glad to do so
whenever there is a reasonable prospect of constructive results. In this
spirit the atomic energy proposals of the United States were recently
presented to the United Nations General Assembly. A truly constructive
Soviet reaction will make possible a new start toward an era of peace, and
away from the fatal road toward atomic war.
Since our hope is peace, we owe ourselves and the world a candid
explanation of the military measures we are taking to make that peace
As we enter this new year, our military power continues to grow. This power
is for our own defense and to deter aggression. We shall not be aggressors,
but we and our allies have and will maintain a massive capability to strike
Here are some of the considerations in our defense planning:
First, while determined to use atomic power to serve the usages of peace,
we take into full account our great and growing number of nuclear weapons
and the most effective means of using them against an aggressor if they are
needed to preserve our freedom. Our defense will be stronger if, under
appropriate security safeguards, we share with our allies certain knowledge
of the tactical use of our nuclear weapons. I urge the Congress to provide
the needed authority.
Second, the usefulness of these new weapons creates new relationships
between men and materials. These new relationships permit economies in the
use of men as we build forces suited to our situation in the world today.
As will be seen from the Budget Message on January 21, the airpower of our
Navy and Air Force is receiving heavy emphasis.
Third, our armed forces must regain maximum mobility of action. Our
strategic reserves must be centrally placed and readily deployable to meet
sudden aggression against ourselves and our allies.
Fourth, our defense must rest on trained manpower and its most economical
and mobile use. A professional corps is the heart of any security
organization. It is necessarily the teacher and leader of those who serve
temporarily in the discharge of the obligation to help defend the Republic.
Pay alone will not retain in the career service of our armed forces the
necessary numbers of long-term personnel. I strongly urge, therefore, a
more generous use of other benefits important to service morale. Among
these are more adequate living quarters and family housing units and
medical care for dependents.
Studies of military manpower have just been completed by the National
Security Training Commission and a Committee appointed by the Director of
the Office of Defense Mobilization. Evident weaknesses exist in the state
of readiness and organization of our reserve forces. Measures to correct
these weaknesses will be later submitted to the Congress.
Fifth, the ability to convert swiftly from partial to all-out mobilization
is imperative to our security. For the first time, mobilization officials
know what the requirements are for 1,000 major items needed for military
uses. These data, now being related to civilian requirements and our supply
potential, will show us the gaps in our mobilization base. Thus we shall
have more realistic plant-expansion and stockpiling goals. We shall speed
their attainment. This Nation is at last to have an up-to-date mobilization
base--the foundation of a sound defense program.
Another part of this foundation is, of course, our continental transport
system. Some of our vital heavy materials come increasingly from Canada.
Indeed our relations with Canada, happily always close, involve more and
more the unbreakable ties of strategic interdependence. Both nations now
need the St. Lawrence Seaway for security as well as for economic reasons.
I urge the Congress promptly to approve our participation in its
Sixth, military and non-military measures for continental defense must be
and are being strengthened. In the current fiscal year we are allocating to
these purposes an increasing portion of our effort, and in the next fiscal
year we shall spend nearly a billion dollars more for them than in 1953.
An indispensable part of our continental security is our civil defense
effort. This will succeed only as we have the complete cooperation of State
Governors, Mayors, and voluntary citizen groups. With their help we can
advance a cooperative program which, if an attack should come, would save
many lives and lessen destruction.
The defense program recommended in the 1955 Budget is consistent with all
of the considerations which I have just discussed. It is based on a new
military program unanimously recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and
approved by me following consideration by the National Security Council.
This new program will make and keep America strong in an age of peril.
Nothing should bar its attainment.
The international and defense policies which I have outlined will enable us
to negotiate from a position of strength as we hold our resolute course
toward a peaceful world. We now turn to matters which are normally
characterized as domestic, well realizing that what we do abroad affects
every problem at home--from the amount of taxes to our very state of mind.
Under the standards established for the new employee security program, more
than 2,200 employees have been separated from the Federal government. Our
national security demands that the investigation of new employees and the
evaluation of derogatory information respecting present employees be
expedited and concluded at the earliest possible date. I shall recommend
that the Congress provide additional funds where necessary to speed these
From the special employment standards of the Federal government I turn now
to a matter relating to American citizenship. The subversive character of
the Communist Party in the United States has been clearly demonstrated in
many ways, including court proceedings. We should recognize by law a fact
that is plain to all thoughtful citizens-that we are dealing here with
actions akin to treason--that when a citizen knowingly participates in the
Communist conspiracy he no longer holds allegiance to the United States.
I recommend that Congress enact legislation to provide that a citizen of
the United States who is convicted in the courts of hereafter conspiring to
advocate the overthrow of this government by force or violence be treated
as having, by such act, renounced his allegiance to the United States and
forfeited his United States citizenship.
In addition, the Attorney General will soon appear before your Committees
to present his recommendations for needed additional legal weapons with
which to combat subversion in our country and to deal with the question of
II. STRONG ECONOMY
I turn now to the second great purpose of our government: Along with the
protection of freedom, the maintenance of a strong and growing economy.
The American economy is one of the wonders of the world. It undergirds our
international position, our military security, and the standard of living
of every citizen. This Administration is determined to keep our economy
strong and to keep it growing.
At this moment we are in transition from a wartime to a peacetime economy.
I am confident that we can complete this transition without serious
interruption in our economic growth. But we shall not leave this vital
matter to chance. Economic preparedness is fully as important to the nation
as military preparedness.
Subsequent special messages and the economic report on January 28 will set
forth plans of the Administration and its recommendations for Congressional
action. These will include flexible credit and debt management policies;
tax measures to stimulate consumer and business spending; suitable lending,
guaranteeing, insuring, and grant-in-aid activities; strengthened old-age
and unemployment insurance measures; improved agricultural programs;
public-works plans laid well in advance; enlarged opportunities for
international trade and investment. This mere enumeration of these subjects
implies the vast amount of study, coordination, and planning, to say
nothing of authorizing legislation, that altogether make our economic
If new conditions arise that require additional administrative or
legislative action, the Administration will still be ready. A government
always ready, as this is, to take well-timed and vigorous action, and a
business community willing, as ours is, to plan boldly and with
confidence, can between them develop a climate assuring steady economic
I shall submit to the Congress on January 21 the first budget prepared by
this Administration, for the period July 1, 1954, through June 1955. This
budget is adequate to the current needs of the government. It recognizes
that a Federal budget should be a stabilizing factor in the economy. Its
tax and expenditure programs will foster individual initiative and economic
Pending the transmittal of my Budget Message, I shall mention here only a
few points about our budgetary situation.
First, one of our initial acts was to revise, with the cooperation of the
Congress, the Budget prepared before this Administration took office.
Requests for new appropriations were greatly reduced. In addition, the
spending level provided in that Budget for the current fiscal year has been
reduced by about $7,000,000,000. In the next fiscal year we estimate a
further reduction in expenditures of more than $5,000,000,000. This will
reduce the spending level over the two fiscal years by more than
$12,000,000,000. We are also reducing further our requests for new
Second, despite the substantial loss of revenue in the coming fiscal year,
resulting from tax reductions now in effect and tax adjustments which I
shall propose, our reduced spending will move the new budget closer to a
Third, by keeping new appropriation requests below estimated revenues, we
continue to reduce the tremendous accumulation of unfinanced obligations
incurred by the Government under past appropriations.
Fourth, until those claims on our Government's revenues are further
reduced, the growth in the public debt cannot be entirely stopped. Because
of this--because the government's bills have to be paid every month, while
the tax money to pay them comes in with great unevenness within the fiscal
year--and because of the need for flexibility to manage this enormous debt,
I find it necessary to renew my request for an increase in the statutory
The new budget provides for a lower level of taxation than has prevailed in
preceding years. Six days ago individual income taxes were reduced and the
excess profits tax expired. These tax reductions are justified only because
of the substantial reductions we already have made and are making in
governmental expenditures. As additional reductions in expenditures are
brought gradually but surely into sight, further reductions in taxes can
and will be made. When budget savings and sound governmental financing are
assured, tax burdens should be reduced so that taxpayers may spend their
own money in their own way.
While we are moving toward lower levels of taxation we must thoroughly
revise our whole tax system. The groundwork for this revision has already
been laid by the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of
Representatives, in close consultation with the Department of the Treasury.
We should now remove the more glaring tax inequities, particularly on small
taxpayers; reduce restraints on the growth of small business; and make
other changes that will encourage initiative, enterprise and production.
Twenty-five recommendations toward these ends will be contained in my
Without attempting to summarize these manifold reforms, I can here
illustrate their tendency. For example, we propose more liberal tax
treatment for dependent children who work, for widows or widowers with
dependent children, and for medical expenses. For the business that wants
to expand or modernize its plant, we propose liberalized tax treatment of
depreciation, research and development expenses, and retained earnings.
Because of the present need for revenue the corporation income tax should
be kept at the current rate of 52% for another year, and the excise taxes
scheduled to be reduced on April first, including those on liquor, tobacco,
gasoline and automobiles, should be continued at present rates.
Immediate extension of the Renegotiation Act of 1951 is also needed to
eliminate excessive profits and to prevent waste of public funds in the
purchase of defense materials.
The well being of our 160 million people demands a stable and prosperous
agriculture. Conversely, every farmer knows he cannot prosper unless all
America prospers. As we seek to promote increases in our standard of
living, we must be sure that the farmer fairly shares in that increase.
Therefore, a farm program promoting stability and prosperity in all
elements of our agriculture is urgently needed.
Agricultural laws now in effect successfully accomplished their wartime
purpose of encouraging maximum production of many crops. Today, production
of these crops at such levels far exceeds present demand. Yet the laws
encouraging such production are still in effect. The storage facilities of
the Commodity Credit Corporation bulge with surplus stocks of dairy
products, wheat, cotton, corn, and certain vegetable oils; and the
Corporation's presently authorized borrowing authority--$6,750,000,000--is
nearly exhausted. Some products, priced out of domestic markets, and
others, priced out of world markets, have piled up in government hands. In
a world in which millions of people are hungry, destruction of food would,
of course, be unconscionable. Yet surplus stocks continue to threaten the
market and in spite of the acreage controls authorized by present law,
surpluses will continue to accumulate.
We confront two alternatives. The first is to impose still greater acreage
reductions for some crops and apply rigid Federal controls over the use of
the diverted acres. This will regiment the production of every basic
agricultural crop. It will place every producer of those crops under the
domination and control of the Federal government in Washington. This
alternative is contrary to the fundamental interests, not only of the
farmer, but of the Nation as a whole. Nor is it a real solution to the
problem facing us.
The second alternative is to permit the market price for these agricultural
products gradually to have a greater influence on the planning of
production by farmers, while continuing the assistance of the government.
This is the sound approach. To make it effective, surpluses existing when
the new program begins must be insulated from the normal channels of trade
for special uses. These uses would include school lunch programs, disaster
relief, emergency assistance to foreign friends, and of particular
importance the stockpiling of reserves for a national emergency.
Building on the agricultural laws of 1948 and 1949, we should establish a
price support program with enough flexibility to attract the production of
needed supplies of essential commodities and to stimulate the consumption
of those commodities that are flooding American markets. Transition to
modernized parity must be accomplished gradually. In no case should there
be an abrupt downward change in the dollar level or in the percentage level
of price supports.
Next Monday I shall transmit to the Congress my detailed recommendations
embodying this approach. They have been developed through the cooperation
of innumerable individuals vitally interested in agriculture. My special
message on Monday will briefly describe the consultative and advisory
processes to which this whole program has been subjected during the past
I have chosen this farm program because it will build markets, protect the
consumers' food supply, and move food into consumption instead of into
storage. It is a program that will remove the threat to the farmer of these
overhanging surpluses, a program, also, that will stimulate production when
a commodity is scarce and encourage consumption when nature is bountiful.
Moreover, it will promote the individual freedom, responsibility, and
initiative which distinguish American agriculture. And, by helping our
agriculture achieve full parity in the market, it promises our farmers a
higher and steadier financial return over the years than any alternative
Part of our Nation's precious heritage is its natural resources. It is the
common responsibility of Federal, state, and local governments to improve
and develop them, always working in the closest harmony and partnership.
All Federal conservation and resource development projects are being
reappraised. Sound projects now under way will be continued. New projects
in which the Federal Government has a part must be economically sound, with
local sharing of cost wherever appropriate and feasible. In the next fiscal
year work will be started on twenty-three projects that meet these
standards. The Federal Government will continue to construct and operate
economically sound flood control, power, irrigation and water supply
projects wherever these projects are beyond the capacity of local
initiative, public or private, and consistent with the needs of the whole
Our conservation program will also take into account the important role
played by farmers in protecting our soil resources. I recommend enactment
of legislation to strengthen agricultural conservation and upstream flood
prevention work, and to achieve a better balance with major flood control
structures in the down-stream areas.
Recommendations will be made from time to time for the adoption of:
A uniform and consistent water resources policy;
A revised public lands policy; and
A sound program for safeguarding the domestic production of critical and
strategic metals and minerals.
In addition we shall continue to protect and improve our national forests,
parks, monuments and other natural and historic sites, as well as our
fishery and wildlife resources. I hope that pending legislation to improve
the conservation and management of publicly-owned grazing lands in national
forests will soon be approved by the Congress.
To protect the vital interest of every citizen in a safe and adequate
highway system, the Federal Government is continuing its central role in
the Federal Aid Highway Program. So that maximum progress can be made to
overcome present inadequacies in the Interstate Highway System, we must
continue the Federal gasoline tax at two cents per gallon. This will
require cancellation of the 1/2 cent decrease which otherwise will become
effective April 1st, and will maintain revenues so that an expanded highway
program can be undertaken.
When the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations completes its study of
the present system of financing highway construction, I shall promptly
submit it for consideration by the Congress and the governors of the
It is apparent that the substantial savings already made, and to be made,
by the Post Office Department cannot eliminate the postal deficit. I
recommend, therefore, that the Congress approve the bill now pending in the
House of Representatives providing for the adjustment of certain postal
rates. To handle the long term aspects of this, I also recommend that the
Congress create a permanent commission to establish fair and reasonable
postal rates from time to time in the future.
III. HUMAN PROBLEMS
Along with the protection of freedom and maintenance of a strong and
growing economy, this Administration recognizes a third great purpose of
government: concern for the human problems of our citizens. In a modern
industrial society, banishment of destitution and cushioning the shock of
personal disaster on the individual are proper concerns of all levels of
government, including the federal government. This is especially true where
remedy and prevention alike are beyond the individual's capacity.
LABOR AND WELFARE
Of the many problems in this area, those I shall first discuss are of
particular concern to the members of our great labor force, who with their
heads, hearts and hands produce so much of the wealth of our country.
Protection against the hazards of temporary unemployment should be extended
to some 6 1/2 millions of workers, including civilian Federal workers, who
now lack this safeguard. Moreover, the Secretary of Labor is making
available to the states studies and recommendations in the fields of weekly
benefits, periods of protection and extension of coverage. The Economic
Report will consider the related matter of minimum wages and their coverage.
The Labor Management Relations Act of 3947 is basically a sound law.
However, six years of experience have revealed that in some respects it can
be improved. On January 11, I shall forward to the Congress suggestions for
changes designed to reinforce the basic objectives of the Act.
Our basic social security program, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
system, to which individuals contribute during their productive years and
receive benefits based on previous earnings, is designed to shield them
from destitution. Last year I recommended extension of the social insurance
system to include more than 10,000,000 additional persons. I ask that this
extension soon be accomplished. This and other major improvements in the
insurance system will bring substantial benefit increases and broaden the
membership of the insurance system, thus diminishing the need for Federal
grants-in-aid for such purposes. A new formula will therefore be proposed,
permitting progressive reduction in such grants as the need for them
Federal grant-in-aid welfare programs, now based on widely varying
formulas, should be simplified. Concrete proposals on fourteen of them will
be suggested to the appropriate Committees.
The program for rehabilitation of the disabled especially needs
strengthening. Through special vocational training, this program presently
returns each year some 60,000 handicapped individuals to productive work.
Far more disabled people can be saved each year from idleness and
dependence if this program is gradually increased. My more detailed
recommendations on this and the other social insurance problems I have
mentioned will be sent to the Congress on January 14th.
I am flatly opposed to the socialization of medicine. The great need for
hospital and medical services can best be met by the initiative of private
plans. But it is unfortunately a fact that medical costs are rising and
already impose severe hardships on many families. The Federal Government
can do many helpful things and still carefully avoid the socialization of
The Federal Government should encourage medical research in its battle with
such mortal diseases as cancer and heart ailments, and should continue to
help the states in their health and rehabilitation programs. The present
Hospital Survey and Construction Act should be broadened in order to assist
in the development of adequate facilities for the chronically ill, and to
encourage the construction of diagnostic centers, rehabilitation
facilities, and nursing homes. The war on disease also needs a better
working relationship between Government and private initiative. Private and
non-profit hospital and medical insurance plans are already in the field,
soundly based on the experience and initiative of the people in their
A limited Government reinsurance service would permit the private and
non-profit insurance companies to offer broader protection to more of the
many families which want and should have it. On January 18 I shall forward
to the Congress a special message presenting this Administration's health
program in its detail.
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.
The preparation of teachers as, indeed, the control and direction of public
education policy, is a state and local responsibility. However, the Federal
Government should stand ready to assist states which demonstrably cannot
provide sufficient school buildings. In order to appraise the needs, I hope
that this year a conference on education will be held in each state,
culminating in a national conference. From these conferences on education,
every level of government--from the Federal Government to each local school
board--should gain the information with which to attack this serious
The details of a program to enlarge and improve the opportunities for our
people to acquire good homes will be presented to the Congress by special
message on January 25.
This program will include:
Modernization of the home mortgage insurance program of the Federal
Redirection of the present system of loans and grants-in-aid to cities for
slum clearance and redevelopment;
Extension of the advantages of insured lending to private credit engaged in
this task of rehabilitating obsolete neighborhoods;
Insurance of long-term, mortgage loans, with small down payment for
low-income families; and, until alternative programs prove more effective,
Continuation of the public housing program adopted in the Housing Act of
If the individual, the community, the State and federal governments will
alike apply themselves, every American family can have a decent home.
The internal reorganization of the Veterans Administration is proceeding
with my full approval. When completed, it will afford a single agency whose
services, including medical facilities, will be better adapted to the needs
of those 20,000,000 veterans to whom this Nation owes so much.
My few remaining recommendations all relate to a basic right of our
citizens--that of being represented in the decisions of the government.
I hope that the States will cooperate with the Congress in adopting uniform
standards in their voting laws that will make it possible for our citizens
in the armed forces overseas to vote.
In the District of Columbia the time is long overdue for granting national
suffrage to its citizens and also applying the principle of local
self-government to the Nation's Capital. I urge the Congress to move
promptly in this direction and also to revise District revenue measures to
provide needed public works improvements.
The people of Hawaii are ready for statehood. I renew my request for this
legislation in order that Hawaii may elect its State officials and its
representatives in Washington along with the rest of the country this
For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of
peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the
political process that produces this fateful summons. I urge Congress to
propose to the States a constitutional amendment permitting citizens to
vote when they reach the age of 18.
I want to add one final word about the general purport of these many
Our government's powers are wisely limited by the Constitution; but quite
apart from those limitations, there are things which no government can do
or should try to do.
A government can strive, as ours is striving, to maintain an economic
system whose doors are open to enterprise and ambition--those personal
qualities on which economic growth largely depends. But enterprise and
ambition are qualities which no government can supply. Fortunately no
American government need concern itself on this score; our people have
these qualities in good measure.
A government can sincerely strive for peace, as ours is striving, and ask
its people to make sacrifices for the sake of peace. But no government can
place peace in the hearts of foreign rulers. It is our duty then to
ourselves and to freedom itself to remain strong in all those
ways--spiritual, economic, military--that will give us maximum safety
against the possibility of aggressive action by others.
No government can inoculate its people against the fatal materialism that
plagues our age. Happily, our people, though blessed with more material
goods than any people in history, have always reserved their first
allegiance to the kingdom of the spirit, which is the true source of that
freedom we value above all material things.
But a government can try, as ours tries, to sense the deepest aspirations
of the people, and to express them in political action at home and abroad.
So long as action and aspiration humbly and earnestly seek favor in the
sight of the Almighty, there is no end to America's forward road; there is
no obstacle on it she will not surmount in her march toward a lasting peace
in a free and prosperous world.
The Address as reported from the floor appears in the Congressional Record
(vol. 100, p. 62).