Dwight D. Eisenhower

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No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.
I'm going to command the whole shebang.

Dwight David Eisenhower (14 October 189028 March 1969), also widely known by his nickname "Ike", was an American soldier and politician. He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, and was later elected the 34th President of the United States.

Quotes[edit]

This is a long tough road we have to travel.
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.
  • When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there in the warmth of the summer afternoon on a river bank, we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said that he'd like to be president of the United States. Neither of us got our wish.
  • If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it.

1940s[edit]

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
Your task will not be an easy one.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
War is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.
  • The chief of staff says I'm the guy.
    • Journal entry after being informed by George Marshall that he would be in command of Operation Overlord, as quoted in Eisenhower : A Soldier's Life (2003) by Carlo D'Este, p. 307
  • This is a long tough road we have to travel. The men that can do things are going to be sought out just as surely as the sun rises in the morning. Fake reputations, habits of glib and clever speech, and glittering surface performance are going to be discovered.
  • Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
    You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
    In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
    Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
    But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
    I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle.
    We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
  • Kinship among nations is not determined in such measurements as proximity of size and age. Rather we should turn to those inner things — call them what you will — I mean those intangibles that are the real treasures free men possess. To preserve his freedom of worship, his equality before law, his liberty to speak and act as he sees fit, subject only to provisions that he trespass not upon similar rights of others — a Londoner will fight. So will a citizen of Abilene. When we consider these things, then the valley of the Thames draws closer to the farms of Kansas and the plains of Texas.
  • I thought so at first, but there is reason to believe that he is still alive. But that in itself does not constitute a problem.
    • On being asked whether he thought Hitler was dead. Reported in the Ottawa Citizen, October 6, 1945: Reason to Believe Hitler is Alive Eisenhower Says, London, Oct. 7 - (CP) - "Gen. Eisenhower was reported by the Dutch radio Saturday to have told Dutch newspapermen there was 'reason to believe' that Hitler was still alive. The broadcast, recorded by BBC, said that one of the correspondents accompanying Eisenhower on a visit to The Hague asked the general if he thought Hitler was dead." [1] [2]
  • I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
    • Speech in Ottawa (10 January 1946), published in Eisenhower Speaks : Dwight D. Eisenhower in His Messages and Speeches (1948) edited by Rudolph L. Treuenfels

1950s[edit]

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose.
A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility today. … That isn't preventive war; that is war. I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.
The work of Dr. Salk is in the highest tradition of selfless and dedicated medical research.
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.
I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.
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.
I believe that the United States as a government, if it is going to be true to its own founding documents, does have the job of working toward that time when there is no discrimination made on such inconsequential reason as race, color, or religion.
  • Censorship, in my opinion, is a stupid and shallow way of approaching the solution to any problem. Though sometimes necessary, as witness a professional and technical secret that may have a bearing upon the welfare and very safety of this country, we should be very careful in the way we apply it, because in censorship always lurks the very great danger of working to the disadvantage of the American nation.
  • The hand of the aggressor is stayed by strength — and strength alone.
    • A speech at an English Speaking Union Dinner (3 July 1951). It is currently on display on the wall of Eisenhower Hall at the USMA at West Point in New York. Eisenhower Memorial Commission
  • Neither a wise man or a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.
    • As quoted in TIME magazine (6 October 1952)
  • Don't join the book burners. Don't think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as that document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.
  • There is one thing about being President — nobody can tell you when to sit down.
    • As quoted in"Sayings of the Week" in The Observer (9 August 1953), and The MacMillan Dictionary of Quotations (1989) by John Daintith, Hazel Egerton, Rosalind Ferguson, Anne Stibbs and Edmund Wright, p. 447
  • 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 hard.
  • Once he called upon General McClellan, and the President went over to the General's house — a process which I as­sure you has been reversed long since — and General McClellan decided he did not want to see the President, and went to bed.
    Lincoln's friends criticized him severely for allowing a mere General to treat him that way. And he said, "All I want out of General McClellan is a victory, and if to hold his horse will bring it, I will gladly hold his horse."
  • Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels—men and women who dared to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
    • Speech at Columbia University's bicentennial (31 May 1954), Public papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower (1961), p. 524
  • All of us have heard this term "preventive war" since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time, if we believe for one second that nuclear fission and fusion, that type of weapon, would be used in such a war — what is a preventive war?
    I would say a preventive war, if the words mean anything, is to wage some sort of quick police action in order that you might avoid a terrific cataclysm of destruction later.
    A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility today. How could you have one if one of its features would be several cities lying in ruins, several cities where many, many thousands of people would be dead and injured and mangled, the transportation systems destroyed, sanitation implements and systems all gone? That isn't preventive war; that is war.
    I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.
    … It seems to me that when, by definition, a term is just ridiculous in itself, there is no use in going any further.

    There are all sorts of reasons, moral and political and everything else, against this theory, but it is so completely unthinkable in today's conditions that I thought it is no use to go any further.
    • News Conference of (11 August 1954)
    • Variant: When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.
      • Quoted in Quote magazine (4 April 1965) and The Quotable Dwight D. Eisenhower (1967) edited by Elsie Gollagher, p. 219
  • Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
  • The work of Dr. Salk is in the highest tradition of selfless and dedicated medical research. He has provided a means for the control of a dread disease. By helping scientists in other countries with technical information; by offering to them the strains of seed virus and professional aid so that the production of vaccine can be started by them everywhere; by welcoming them to his laboratory that they may gain a fuller knowledge, Dr. Salk is a benefactor of mankind.
    His achievement, a credit to our entire scientific community, does honor to all the people of the United States.
  • This is something, eh, that is the kind of thing that must be gone through with what I believe is best not talked about too much until we know whatever answers there will be.
    • Response to questions about the investigation of Robert Oppenheimer's supposed Communist sympathies
    • Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1954), p. 435
    • Cited in Brendon, Piers (1986). "The Dawn of Tranquility". Ike: His Life & Times (1st edition ed.). New York: Harper & Row. pp. p. 270 of 478. ISBN 0-06-015508-6. 
  • Now I think, speaking roughly, by leadership we mean the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.
    • As quoted in The Federal Career Service: A Look Ahead (1954)
  • The history of free men is never really written by chance-but by choice-their choice.
  • We have erased segregation in those areas of national life to which Federal authority clearly extends. So doing in this, my friends, we have neither sought nor claimed partisan credit, and all such actions are nothing more -- nothing less than the rendering of justice. And we have always been aware of this great truth: the final battle against intolerance is to be fought -- not in the chambers of any legislature -- but in the hearts of men.
  • The right of no nation depends upon the date of its birth or the size of its power. As there can be no second class citizens before the law of America, so—we believe—there can be no second-class nations before the law of the world community.
  • I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of "emergency" is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.
    • From a speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington, D.C. (November 14, 1957) ; in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, National Archives and Records Service, Government Printing Office, p. 818 : ISBN 0160588510, 9780160588518
  • I do not believe that all of these problems can be solved just by a new law, or something that someone says, with teeth in it. For example, when we got into the Little Rock thing, it was not my province to talk about segregation or desegregation. I had the job of supporting a federal court that had issued a proper order under the Constitution, and where compliance was prevented by action that was unlawful.
  • The United States strongly seeks a lasting agreement for the discontinuance of nuclear weapons tests. We believe that this would be an important step toward reduction of international tensions and would open the way to further agreement on substantial measures of disarmament.
  • I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.
  • Oh, goddammit, we forgot the silent prayer.
    • Remark at a cabinet meeting, as quoted in Since 1945 : Politics and Diplomacy in Recent American History (1979) by Robert A. Divine, p. 55
  • I do have one instruction for you, General. Do something about that damned football team.
  • I believe that the United States as a government, if it is going to be true to its own founding documents, does have the job of working toward that time when there is no discrimination made on such inconsequential reason as race, color, or religion.

First Inaugural Address (1953)[edit]

First Inaugural Address (20 January 1953)
  • We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose. We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. These basic precepts are not lofty abstractions, far removed from matters of daily living. They are laws of spiritual strength that generate and define our material strength. Patriotism means equipped forces and a prepared citizenry. Moral stamina means more energy and more productivity, on the farm and in the factory. Love of liberty means the guarding of every resource that makes freedom possible--from the sanctity of our families and the wealth of our soil to the genius of our scientists.
  • 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.

The Chance for Peace (1953)[edit]

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors "The Chance for Peace" (16 April 1953)
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. … We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.
We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
  • No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice. … No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.
  • A nation's hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.
  • Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. … Is there no other way the world may live?
  • The free world knows, out of the bitter wisdom of experience, that vigilance and sacrifice are the price of liberty.
  • This we do know: a world that begins to witness the rebirth of trust among nations can find its way to a peace that is neither partial nor punitive. With all who will work in good faith toward such a peace, we are ready, with renewed resolve, to strive to redeem the near-lost hopes of our day.
  • The details of such disarmament programs are manifestly critical and complex. Neither the United States nor any other nation can properly claim to possess a perfect, immutable formula. But the formula matters less than the faith -- the good faith without which no formula can work justly and effectively. The fruit of success in all these tasks would present the world with the greatest task, and the greatest opportunity, of all. It is this: the dedication of the energies, the resources, and the imaginations of all peaceful nations to a new kind of war. This would be a declared total war, not upon any human enemy but upon the brute forces of poverty and need. The peace we seek, founded upon decent trust and cooperative effort among nations, can be fortified, not by weapons of war but by wheat and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and timber and rice. These are words that translate into every language on earth. These are the needs that challenge this world in arms.
  • The hunger for peace is too great, the hour in history too late, for any government to mock men's hopes with mere words and promises and gestures. [...] There is, before all peoples, a precarious chance to turn the black tide of events. If we failed to strive to seize this chance, the judgment of future ages will be harsh and just. If we strive but fail and the world remains armed against itself, it at least would need be divided no longer in its clear knowledge of who has condemned humankind to this fate.
  • The purpose of the United States, in stating these proposals, is simple. [...] They aspire to this: the lifting, from the backs and from the hearts of men, of their burden of arms and of fears, so that they may find before them a golden age of freedom and of peace.
  • These proposals spring, without ulterior motive or political passion, from our calm conviction that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all people -- those of Russia and of China no less than of our own country. They conform to our firm faith that God created man to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth and of their own toil.

Remarks at the United Negro College Fund luncheon (1953)[edit]

Remarks at the United Negro College Fund luncheon (19 May 1953)
  • I believe the only way to protect my own rights is to protect the rights of others.
  • I believe as long as we allow conditions to exist that make for second-class citizens, we are making of ourselves less than first-class citizens.

Atoms for Peace (1953)[edit]

The gravity of the time is such that every new avenue of peace, no matter how dimly discernible, should be explored.
The United States would seek more than the mere reduction or elimination of atomic materials for military purposes. It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace.
Against the dark background of the atomic bomb, the United States does not wish merely to present strength, but also the desire and the hope for peace.
Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy "Atoms for Peace" (8 December 1953)
  • I know that the American people share my deep belief that if a danger exists in the world, it is a danger shared by all; and equally, that if hope exists in the mind of one nation, that hope should be shared by all.
  • I feel impelled to speak today in a language that in a sense is new--one which I, who have spent so much of my life in the military profession, would have preferred never to use. That new language is the language of atomic warfare. The atomic age has moved forward at such a pace that every citizen of the world should have some comprehension, at least in comparative terms, of the extent of this development of the utmost significance to every one of us. Clearly, if the people of the world are to conduct an intelligent search for peace, they must be armed with the significant facts of today's existence.
  • The free world, at least dimly aware of these facts, has naturally embarked on a large program of warning and defense systems. That program will be accelerated and extended. But let no one think that the expenditure of vast sums for weapons and systems of defense can guarantee absolute safety for the cities and citizens of any nation. The awful arithmetic of the atomic bomb does not permit of any such easy solution. Even against the most powerful defense, an aggressor in possession of the effective minimum number of atomic bombs for a surprise attack could probably place a sufficient number of his bombs on the chosen targets to cause hideous damage.
  • Occasional pages of history do record the faces of the "Great Destroyers" but the whole book of history reveals mankind's never-ending quest for peace, and mankind's God-given capacity to build. It is with the book of history, and not with isolated pages, that the United States will ever wish to be identified. My country wants to be constructive, not destructive. It wants agreement, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom, and in the confidence that the people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way of life. So my country's purpose is to help us move out of the dark chamber of horrors into the light, to find a way by which the minds of men, the hopes of men, the souls of men every where, can move forward toward peace and happiness and well being.
  • The gravity of the time is such that every new avenue of peace, no matter how dimly discernible, should be explored.
  • The United States would seek more than the mere reduction or elimination of atomic materials for military purposes. It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace.
  • The governments principally involved, to the extent permitted by elementary prudence, should begin now and continue to make joint contributions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable materials to an international atomic energy agency. We would expect that such an agency would be set up under the aegis of the United Nations. [...] The atomic energy agency could be made responsible for the impounding, storage and protection of the contributed fissionable and other materials. The ingenuity of our scientists will provide special safe conditions under which such a bank of fissionable material can be made essentially immune to surprise seizure. The more important responsibility of this atomic energy agency would be to devise methods whereby this fissionable material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind. Experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine and other peaceful activities. A special purpose would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.
  • I would be prepared to submit to the Congress of the United States, and with every expectation of approval, any such plan that would, first, encourage world-wide investigation into the most effective peacetime uses of fissionable material, and with the certainty that the investigators had all the material needed for the conducting of all experiments that were appropriate; second, begin to diminish the potential destructive power of the world's atomic stockpiles; third, allow all peoples of all nations to see that, in this enlightened age, the great Powers of the earth, both of the East and of the West, are interested in human aspirations first rather than in building up the armaments of war; fourth, open up a new channel for peaceful discussion and initiative at least a new approach to the many difficult problems that must be solved in both private and public conversations if the world is to shake off the inertia imposed by fear and is to make positive progress towards peace.
  • Against the dark background of the atomic bomb, the United States does not wish merely to present strength, but also the desire and the hope for peace. The coming months will be fraught with fateful decisions. In this Assembly; in the capitals and military headquarters of the world; in the hearts of men every where, be they governors, or governed, may they be decisions which will lead this work out of fear and into peace. To the making of these fateful decisions, the United States pledges before you--and therefore before the world--its determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma--to devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.

Second Inaugural Address (1957)[edit]

Second Inaugural Address (21 January 1957)
  • 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.

Address to the American People on the Situation in Little Rock (1957)[edit]

Address to the American People on the Situation in Little Rock (24 September 1957)
  • A foundation of our American way of life is our national respect for law.
  • It was my hope that this localized situation would be brought under control by city and State authorities. If the use of local police powers had been sufficient, our traditional method of leaving the problems in those hands would have been pursued. But when large gatherings of obstructionists made it impossible for the decrees of the Court to be carried out, both the law and the national interest demanded that the President take action.

Remarks on the Observation of Law Day (1958)[edit]

Remarks on the Observation of Law Day (30 April 1958)
  • Freedom under law is like the air we breathe.
  • It is only as we govern ourselves that we are well-governed.

1960s[edit]

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.
The Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. … I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.
I share the sense of shock and dismay that the entire nation must feel at the despicable act that took the life of the nation's president.
Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.
  • Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.
    During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude...
    • The White House Years: Mandate for Change: 1953–1956: A Personal Account (1963), pp. 312-313
  • I am convinced that the French could not win the war because the internal political situation in Vietnam, weak and confused, badly weakened their military position. I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai. Indeed, the lack of leadership and drive on the part of Bao Dai was a factor in the feeling prevalent among Vietnamese that they had nothing to fight for. As one Frenchman said to me, "What Vietnam needs is another Syngman Rhee, regardless of all the difficulties the presence of such a personality would entail.
    • The White House Years: Mandate for Change: 1953–1956: A Personal Account (1963); longer passage quoted at Montclair State University
  • Un-American activity cannot be prevented or routed out by employing un-American methods; to preserve freedom we must use the tools that freedom provides.
    • The White House Years: Mandate for Change: 1953–1956: A Personal Account (1963), p. 331
  • I was against it on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.
    • On his stated opposition to the use of the atomic bomb against the Japanese at the end of World War II, as quoted in Newsweek (11 November 1963), p. 107
  • I share the sense of shock and dismay that the entire nation must feel at the despicable act that took the life of the nation's president. On the personal side, Mrs. Eisenhower and I share the grief that Mrs. Kennedy must now feel. We send to her our prayerful thoughts and sympathetic sentiments in this hour.
  • One circumstance that helped our character development: we were needed. I often think today of what an impact could be made if children believed they were contributing to a family's essential survival and happiness. In the transformation from a rural to an urban society, children are — though they might not agree — robbed of the opportunity to do genuinely responsible work.
    • At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends (1967); also quoted in Childhood Revisited (1974) by Joel I. Milgram and Dorothy June Sciarra, p. 90
  • Character in many ways is everything in leadership. It is made up of many things, but I would say character is really integrity. When you delegate something to a subordinate, for example, it is absolutely your responsibility, and he must understand this. You as a leader must take complete responsibility for what the subordinate does. I once said, as a sort of wisecrack, that leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.
    • As quoted in Nineteen Stars : a Study in Military Character and Leadership (1971) by Edgar F. Puryear Jr., p. 289
  • We are so proud of our guarantees of freedom in thought and speech and worship, that, unconsciously, we are guilty of one of the greatest errors that ignorance can make — we assume our standard of values is shared by all other humans in the world.
    • As quoted in Strategies of Containment : A Critical Appraisal of Post-war American National Security Policy (1982) by John Lewis Gaddis
  • It is my personal conviction that almost any one of the newborn states of the world would far rather embrace Communism or any other form of dictatorship than acknowledge the political domination of another government, even though that brought to each citizen a far higher standard of living.
    • As quoted in Eisenhower and the Suez Crisis of 1956 (1995) by Cole C. Kingseed, p. 27

Farewell address (1961)[edit]

We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.
This world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Farewell address (17 January 1961)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
  • Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.
    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
  • As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."
  • During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
  • Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.


Disputed[edit]

  • Biggest damfool mistake I ever made.
    • Referring to his appointment of Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; reported in Fred Rodell, "The Complexities of Mr. Justice Fortas", The New York Times Magazine (July 28, 1968), p. 12. William B. Ewald, Jr., research assistant for Eisenhower's memoirs, says in Eisenhower the President, p. 95 (1981), "I myself once, and once only, heard him say in Gettysburg in 1961, 'The two worst appointments I ever made came out of recommendations from the Justice Department: that fellow who headed the Antitrust Division, Bicks, and Earl Warren'".


Misattributed[edit]

  • The John Birch Sociey is a good, patriotic society. I don't agree with what its founder said about me, but that does not detract from the fact that its membership is comprised of many fine Americans dedicated to the preservation of our libertarian Republic.
    • Reported in an editorial in the Alton Evening Telegraph (July 14,1964), A-4; appeared in a display ad in the Los Angeles Times (September 27, 1964), D14. Reported as misattributed in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 24, stating that an aide of Eisenhower's had denied that Eisenhower had made the remark.

Quotes about Eisenhower[edit]

Eisenhower was known as a harmonizer, a man who could get diverse factions to work toward a common goal... ~ David M. Oshinsky
I LIKE IKE!
  • No doubt history will say that Eisenhower was a soldier. For my part, I will remember, above all, his goodness. He was a fundamentally good man who knew how to be loved by the Americans. I was fond of Ike.
  • Of all the many talks I had in Washington, none gave me such pleasure as that with you. There were two reasons for this. In the first place, you are about my oldest friend. In the second place, your self-assurance and to me, at least, demonstrated ability, give me a great feeling of confidence about the future … and I have the utmost confidence that through your efforts we will eventually beat the hell out of those bastards — "You name them; I'll shoot them!"
    • George S. Patton, in a letter to Eisenhower (1942), to this he replied: "I don't have the slightest trouble naming the hellions I'd like to have you shoot; my problem is to figure out some way of getting you to the place you can do it." as quoted in Eisenhower : A Soldier's Life (2003) by Carlo D'Este, p. 301
  • Sometimes I think your life and mine are under the protection of some supreme being or fate, because, after many years of parallel thought, we find ourselves in the positions we now occupy.
    • George S. Patton, in a letter to Eisenhower (May 1942), as quoted in Eisenhower : A Soldier's Life (2003) by Carlo D'Este, p. 301
  • In The Hidden-Hand Presidency : Eisenhower as Leader, Greenstein attributed part of the public's discontent with presidential performance to the conflict built into the Constitution between the president's apolitical and unifying role as chief of state and his partisan and divisive role as head of government. … Eisenhower was able to bridge the built-in contradictions of the office and provide an effective leadership style. In his analysis of Eisenhower, Greenstein focused on three classes of variables: the personal properties of the man, his leadership strategies, and his organizational style. Eisenhower's political psychology exhibited antithetical qualities in public and private, a duality well suited for adapting to contradictory public expectations. His leadership strategies involved making his job as chief of state readily visible while covertly exercising much of his public leadership. In parallel fashion, his organizational style focused public attention on the formal machinery but left unpublicized his use of informal organization.
  • Eisenhower had about the most expressive face I ever painted, I guess. Just like an actor's. Very mobile. When he talked, he used all the facial muscles. And he had a great, wide mouth that I liked. When he smiled, it was just like the sun came out.
    • Norman Rockwell, as quoted in A Rockwell Portrait : An Intimate Biography‎ (1978) by Donald Walton, p. 198
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower was a reluctant politician. His decision to run for president in 1952 was rooted in a deep concern over the scope of the domestic debate about how best to respond to the Communist challenge.
    • Andreas Wenger, in Living with Peril : Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Nuclear Weapons (1997), Ch. 1, p. 14

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