Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, and fellow citizens,
I accept with humility the honor which the American people
have conferred upon me. I accept it with a deep resolve
to do all that I can for the welfare of this Nation and
for the peace of the world.
In performing the duties of my office, I need the help
and prayers of every one of you. I ask for your encouragement
and your support. The tasks we face are difficult, and
we can accomplish them only if we work together.
Each period of our national history has had its special
challenges. Those that confront us now are as momentous
as any in the past. Today marks the beginning not only
of a new administration, but of a period that will be eventful,
perhaps decisive, for us and for the world.
It may be our lot to experience, and in large measure
to bring about, a major turning point in the long history
of the human race. The first half of this century has been
marked by unprecedented and brutal attacks on the rights
of man, and by the two most frightful wars in history.
The supreme need of our time is for men to learn to live
together in peace and harmony.
The peoples of the earth face the future with grave uncertainty,
composed almost equally of great hopes and great fears.
In this time of doubt, they look to the United States as
never before for good will, strength, and wise leadership.
It is fitting, therefore, that we take this occasion to
proclaim to the world the essential principles of the faith
by which we live, and to declare our aims to all peoples.
The American people stand firm in the faith which has
inspired this Nation from the beginning. We believe that
all men have a right to equal justice under law and equal
opportunity to share in the common good. We believe that
all men have the right to freedom of thought and expression.
We believe that all men are created equal because they
are created in the image of God.
From this faith we will not be moved.
The American people desire, and are determined to work
for, a world in which all nations and all peoples are free
to govern themselves as they see fit, and to achieve a
decent and satisfying life. Above all else, our people
desire, and are determined to work for, peace on earth--a
just and lasting peace--based on genuine agreement freely
arrived at by equals.
In the pursuit of these aims, the United States and other
like- minded nations find themselves directly opposed by
a regime with contrary aims and a totally different concept
That regime adheres to a false philosophy which purports
to offer freedom, security, and greater opportunity to
mankind. Misled by this philosophy, many peoples have sacrificed
their liberties only to learn to their sorrow that deceit
and mockery, poverty and tyranny, are their reward.
That false philosophy is communism.
Communism is based on the belief that man is so weak and
inadequate that he is unable to govern himself, and therefore
requires the rule of strong masters.
Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the
moral and intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable
right, to govern himself with reason and justice.
Communism subjects the individual to arrest without lawful
cause, punishment without trial, and forced labor as the
chattel of the state. It decrees what information he shall
receive, what art he shall produce, what leaders he shall
follow, and what thoughts he shall think.
Democracy maintains that government is established for
the benefit of the individual, and is charged with the
responsibility of protecting the rights of the individual
and his freedom in the exercise of his abilities.
Communism maintains that social wrongs can be corrected
only by violence.
Democracy has proved that social justice can be achieved
through peaceful change.
Communism holds that the world is so deeply divided into
opposing classes that war is inevitable.
Democracy holds that free nations can settle differences
justly and maintain lasting peace.
These differences between communism and democracy do not
concern the United States alone. People everywhere are
coming to realize that what is involved is material well-being,
human dignity, and the right to believe in and worship
I state these differences, not to draw issues of belief
as such, but because the actions resulting from the Communist
philosophy are a threat to the efforts of free nations
to bring about world recovery and lasting peace.
Since the end of hostilities, the United States has invested
its substance and its energy in a great constructive effort
to restore peace, stability, and freedom to the world.
We have sought no territory and we have imposed our will
on none. We have asked for no privileges we would not extend
We have constantly and vigorously supported the United
Nations and related agencies as a means of applying democratic
principles to international relations. We have consistently
advocated and relied upon peaceful settlement of disputes
We have made every effort to secure agreement on effective
international control of our most powerful weapon, and
we have worked steadily for the limitation and control
of all armaments.
We have encouraged, by precept and example, the expansion
of world trade on a sound and fair basis.
Almost a year ago, in company with 16 free nations of
Europe, we launched the greatest cooperative economic program
in history. The purpose of that unprecedented effort is
to invigorate and strengthen democracy in Europe, so that
the free people of that continent can resume their rightful
place in the forefront of civilization and can contribute
once more to the security and welfare of the world.
Our efforts have brought new hope to all mankind. We have
beaten back despair and defeatism. We have saved a number
of countries from losing their liberty. Hundreds of millions
of people all over the world now agree with us, that we
need not have war--that we can have peace.
The initiative is ours.
We are moving on with other nations to build an even stronger
structure of international order and justice. We shall
have as our partners countries which, no longer solely
concerned with the problem of national survival, are now
working to improve the standards of living of all their
people. We are ready to undertake new projects to strengthen
the free world.
In the coming years, our program for peace and freedom
will emphasize four major courses of action.
First, we will continue to give unfaltering support to
the United Nations and related agencies, and we will continue
to search for ways to strengthen their authority and increase
their effectiveness. We believe that the United Nations
will be strengthened by the new nations which are being
formed in lands now advancing toward self-government under
Second, we will continue our programs for world economic
This means, first of all, that we must keep our full weight
behind the European recovery program. We are confident
of the success of this major venture in world recovery.
We believe that our partners in this effort will achieve
the status of self-supporting nations once again.
In addition, we must carry out our plans for reducing
the barriers to world trade and increasing its volume.
Economic recovery and peace itself depend on increased
Third, we will strengthen freedom-loving nations against
the dangers of aggression.
We are now working out with a number of countries a joint
agreement designed to strengthen the security of the North
Atlantic area. Such an agreement would take the form of
a collective defense arrangement within the terms of the
United Nations Charter.
We have already established such a defense pact for the
Western Hemisphere by the treaty of Rio de Janeiro.
The primary purpose of these agreements is to provide
unmistakable proof of the joint determination of the free
countries to resist armed attack from any quarter. Each
country participating in these arrangements must contribute
all it can to the common defense.
If we can make it sufficiently clear, in advance, that
any armed attack affecting our national security would
be met with overwhelming force, the armed attack might
I hope soon to send to the Senate a treaty respecting
the North Atlantic security plan.
In addition, we will provide military advice and equipment
to free nations which will cooperate with us in the maintenance
of peace and security.
Fourth, we must embark on a bold new program for making
the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial
progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped
More than half the people of the world are living in conditions
approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are
victims of disease. Their economic life is primitive and
stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both
to them and to more prosperous areas.
For the first time in history, humanity possesses the
knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering of these
The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the
development of industrial and scientific techniques. The
material resources which we can afford to use for the assistance
of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources
in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible.
I believe that we should make available to peace-loving
peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge
in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better
life. And, in cooperation with other nations, we should
foster capital investment in areas needing development.
Our aim should be to help the free peoples of the world,
through their own efforts, to produce more food, more clothing,
more materials for housing, and more mechanical power to
lighten their burdens.
We invite other countries to pool their technological
resources in this undertaking. Their contributions will
be warmly welcomed. This should be a cooperative enterprise
in which all nations work together through the United Nations
and its specialized agencies wherever practicable. It must
be a worldwide effort for the achievement of peace, plenty,
With the cooperation of business, private capital, agriculture,
and labor in this country, this program can greatly increase
the industrial activity in other nations and can raise
substantially their standards of living.
Such new economic developments must be devised and controlled
to benefit the peoples of the areas in which they are established.
Guarantees to the investor must be balanced by guarantees
in the interest of the people whose resources and whose
labor go into these developments.
The old imperialism--exploitation for foreign profit--has
no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of
development based on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing.
All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit
from a constructive program for the better use of the world's
human and natural resources. Experience shows that our
commerce with other countries expands as they progress
industrially and economically.
Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace.
And the key to greater production is a wider and more vigorous
application of modern scientific and technical knowledge.
Only by helping the least fortunate of its members to
help themselves can the human family achieve the decent,
satisfying life that is the right of all people.
Democracy alone can supply the vitalizing force to stir
the peoples of the world into triumphant action, not only
against their human oppressors, but also against their
ancient enemies-- hunger, misery, and despair.
On the basis of these four major courses of action we
hope to help create the conditions that will lead eventually
to personal freedom and happiness for all mankind.
If we are to be successful in carrying out these policies,
it is clear that we must have continued prosperity in this
country and we must keep ourselves strong.
Slowly but surely we are weaving a world fabric of international
security and growing prosperity.
We are aided by all who wish to live in freedom from fear--even
by those who live today in fear under their own governments.
We are aided by all who want relief from the lies of propaganda--
who desire truth and sincerity.
We are aided by all who desire self-government and a voice
in deciding their own affairs.
We are aided by all who long for economic security--for
the security and abundance that men in free societies can
We are aided by all who desire freedom of speech, freedom
of religion, and freedom to live their own lives for useful
Our allies are the millions who hunger and thirst after
In due time, as our stability becomes manifest, as more
and more nations come to know the benefits of democracy
and to participate in growing abundance, I believe that
those countries which now oppose us will abandon their
delusions and join with the free nations of the world in
a just settlement of international differences.
Events have brought our American democracy to new influence
and new responsibilities. They will test our courage, our
devotion to duty, and our concept of liberty.
But I say to all men, what we have achieved in liberty,
we will surpass in greater liberty.
Steadfast in our faith in the Almighty, we will advance
toward a world where man's freedom is secure.
To that end we will devote our strength, our resources,
and our firmness of resolve. With God's help, the future
of mankind will be assured in a world of justice, harmony,