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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
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
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 of life.
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
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
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
Communism maintains that social wrongs can be corrected only by
Democracy has proved that social justice can be achieved through
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 God.
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
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 to others.
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 among nations.
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 democratic principles.
Second, we will continue our programs for world economic recovery.
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 world trade.
Third, we will strengthen freedom-loving nations against the dangers of
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 never occur.
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
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 areas.
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 people.
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-lovi