January 21, 1957
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr.
Speaker, members of my family and friends, my countrymen,
and the friends of my country, wherever they may be: We
meet again, as upon a like moment four years ago, and again
you have witnessed my solemn oath of service to you.
I, too, am a witness, today testifying in your name to
the principles and purposes to which we, as a people, are
Before all else, we seek, upon our common labor as a nation,
the blessing of Almighty God. And the hopes in our hearts
fashion the deepest prayers of our whole people.
May we pursue the right without self-righteousness.
May we know unity without conformity.
May we grow in strength without pride in self.
May we, in our dealings with all peoples of the earth,
ever speak truth and serve justice.
And so shall America-in the sight of all men of good will-prove
true to the honorable purposes that bind and rule us as
a people in all this time of trial through which we pass.
We live in a land of plenty, but rarely has this earth
known such peril as today.
In our Nation work and wealth abound. Our population grows.
Commerce crowds our rivers and rails, our skies, harbors,
and highways. Our soil is fertile, our agriculture productive.
The air rings with the song of our industry-rolling mills
and blast furnaces, dynamos, dams, and assembly lines -the
chorus of America the bountiful.
Now this is our home-yet this is not the whole of our
world. For our world is where our full destiny lies-with
men, of all people, and all nations, who are or would be
free. And for them-and so for us-this is no time of ease
or of rest.
In too much of the earth there is want, discord, danger.
New forces and new nations stir and strive across the earth,
with power to bring, by their fate, great good or great
evil to the free world's future. From the deserts of North
Africa to the islands of the South Pacific one-third of
all mankind has entered upon a historic struggle for a
new freedom; freedom from grinding poverty. Across all
continents, nearly a billion people seek, sometimes almost
in desperation, for the skills and knowledge and assistance
by which they may satisfy from their own resources, the
material wants common to all mankind.
No nation, however old or great, escapes this tempest
of change and turmoil. Some, impoverished by the recent
World War, seek to restore their means of livelihood. In
the heart of Europe, Germany still stands tragically divided.
So is the whole Continent divided. And so, too, all the
The divisive force is international communism and the
power that it controls. The designs of that power, dark
in purpose, are clear in practice. It strives to seal forever
the fate of those it has enslaved. It strives to break
the ties that unite the free.
And it strives to capture-to exploit for its own greater
power-all forces of change in the world, especially the
needs of the hungry and the hopes of the oppressed. Yet
the world of international communism has itself been shaken
by a fierce and mighty force: the readiness of men who
love freedom to pledge their lives to that love. Through
the night of their bondage, the unconquerable will of heroes
has struck with the swift, sharp thrust of lightning. Budapest
is no longer merely the name of a city; henceforth it is
a new and shining symbol of man's yearning to be free (applause).
Thus across all the globe there harshly blow the winds
of change. And, we- though fortunate be our lot-know that
we can never turn our backs to them. We look upon this
shaken earth, and we declare our firm and fixed purpose-
the building of a peace with justice in a world where moral
law prevails. The building of such a peace is a bold and
solemn purpose. To proclaim it is easy. To serve it will
be hard. And to attain it, we must be aware of its full
meaning-and ready to pay its full price.
We know clearly what we seek, and why.
We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.
And now, as in no other age, we seek it because we have
been warned, by the power of modern weapons, that peace
may be the only climate possible for human life itself.
Yet this peace we seek cannot be born of fear alone: it
must be rooted in the lives of nations. There must be justice,
sensed and shared by all peoples, for without justice the
world can know only a tense and unstable truce. There must
be law, steadily invoked and respected by all nations,
for without law, the world promises only such meager justice
as the pity of the strong upon the weak. But the law of
which we speak, comprehending the values of freedom, affirms
the equality of all nations, great and small.
Splendid as can be the blessings of such a peace, high
will be its cost, in toil patiently sustained, in help
honorably given, in sacrifice calmly borne. We are called
to meet the price of this peace.
To counter the threat of those who seek to rule by force,
we must pay the costs of our own needed military strength,
and help to build the security of others.
We must use our skills and knowledge and, at times, our
substance, to help others rise from misery, however far
from the scene of suffering may be from our shores. For
wherever in the world a people knows desperate want, there
must appear at least the spark of hope, the hope of progress-or
there will surely rise at last the flames of conflict.
We recognize and accept our own deep involvement in the
destiny of men everywhere. We are accordingly pledged to
honor, and to strive to fortify, the authority of the United
Nations. For in that body rests the best hope of our age
for the assertion of that law by which all nations may
live in dignity.
And beyond this general resolve, we are called to act
a responsible role in the world's great concerns or conflicts-whether
they touch upon the affairs of a vast region, the fate
of an island in the Pacific, or the use of a canal in the
Middle East. Only in respecting the hopes and cultures
of others will we practice the equality of all nations.
Only as we show willingness and wisdom in giving counsel,
in receiving counsel, and in sharing burdens, will we wisely
perform the work of peace.
For one truth must rule all we think and all that we do.
No people can live to itself alone. The unity of all who
dwell in freedom is their only sure defense. The economic
need of all nations-in mutual dependence-makes isolation
an impossibility; not even America's prosperity could long
survive if other nations did not prosper. No nation can
longer be a fortress, lone and strong and safe. And any
people, seeking such shelter for themselves, can now build
only their own prison.
Our pledge to these principles is constant, because we
believe in their rightness.
We do not fear this world of change. America is no stranger
to much of its spirit.
Everywhere we see the seeds of the same growth that America
itself has known. The American experiment has, for generations,
fired the passion and the courage of millions elsewhere
seeking freedom, equality, Opportunity. And the American
stow of material progress has helped excite the longing
of all needy peoples for some satisfaction of their human
wants. These hopes that we have helped to inspire, we can
help to fulfill.
In this confidence, we speak plainly to all peoples.
We cherish our friendship with all nations that are or
would be free. We respect, no less, their independence.
And when, in time of want or peril, they ask our help,
they may honorably receive it; for we no more seek to buy
their sovereignty than we would sell our own. Sovereignty
is never bartered among free men (applause).
We honor the aspirations of those nations which, now captive,
long for freedom. We seek neither their military alliance
nor any artificial imitation of our society. And they can
know the warmth of the welcome that awaits them when, as
must be, they join again the ranks of freedom.
We honor, no less in this divided world than in a less-tormented
time, the people of Russia. We do not dread, rather do
we welcome, their progress in education and industry. We
wish them success in their demands for more intellectual
freedom, greater security before their own laws, fuller
enjoyment of the rewards of their own toil. For as such
things come to pass, the more certain will be the coming
of that day when our peoples may freely meet in friendship.
And so we voice our hope and our belief that we can help
to heal this divided world. Thus may the nations cease
to live in trembling before the menace of force.
Thus may the weight of fear and the weight of arms be
taken from the burdened shoulders of mankind.
This, nothing less, is the labor to which we are called
and our strength dedicated.
And so the prayer of our people carries far beyond our
own frontiers, to the wide world of our duty and our destiny.
May the light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands,
flame brightly - until at last the darkness is no more.
May the turbulence of our age yield to a true time of
peace, when men and nations shall share a life that honors
the dignity of each, the brotherhood of all.
Thank you very much.