Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957

Author: Dwight D. Eisenhower  | Date: April 2, 1957

Remarks at Thirteenth Annual Washington Conference for the Advertising Council.
April 2, 1957

General Cutler and Gentlemen:

It is always a pleasure to come over here and greet the Advertising Council, not only because among your membership I see so many old friends, but because in your long record of service with the Federal government there is no group activity that has been more satisfactory, successful and patriotic from a government standpoint than has yours.

So it is both an official and personal pleasure to say to you: Welcome once again to this Washington meeting.

There are many things, of course, that could be said about the effort to promote understanding in the world today. Personally, I believe that, both domestically and in the international field, there is nothing else quite so important.

There is a Biblical quotation that goes about like this: Panic strikes like a storm and calamity comes like a whirlwind to those who hate knowledge and ignore their God.

Since God is the personification, also, of truth, we could say: To those who hate knowledge and ignore the truth.

A body such as yours is dedicated in the long run to dispelling ignorance, promoting knowledge, respect for the truth. I amstruck so often by the simplest functions of government that are misunderstood.

For example, the school program.

I think that we could take a vote here and all of us would say that the Federal government should keep its fingers out of the educational process. That process belongs to the communities-belongs to the States—and the Federal government should not interfere.

But, let’s take a look at just a few of the facts that are involved here. We had a long depression of the thirties. We had two wars in the forties and early fifties. Such things as school construction fell way behind.

We have a situation today throughout the country of schools running two sessions a day, with teachers overburdened—often teachers having to be employed who are not really qualified. The school situation is suffering very, very badly for lack of facilities.

If we believe Franklin and others who came after him, the educational process is absolutely necessary to the continuation of a vital democracy. There must be that understanding.

In the very years that all this has been going on and school construction has been neglected, the Federal government has been taking a very heavy portion of the tax revenues of the whole country. And so it begins to look that with this need for education, if Democracy is to be vital, the fact is that its facilities and schools are material things in which we are behind, even more, possibly, than in the teaching end. The Federal government might well by its actions help in the proposition and inspire the States to do more; to help on a one-time basis to get these schools built, to catch up and get out. That would be doing the least if we are not to damage the basic principle that the educational process belongs to the locality, to the educational district and to the State.

I understand that Secretary Humphrey was over here last evening and gave you a lot of facts about the budget. Many of themare disagreeable facts, but they are facts. And it is my conviction that when the people of the United States understand what they are, when they get a grasp of the whole problem, they are perfectly ready to put their money in those things that they need to have done.

Many people have thought the Federal government should not take any part in the providing of welfare funds in our country-old age security—unemployment insurance—and health processes. Things like that require money. Now, one of the things that the Federal government can help with as long as it is kept within bounds that are beneficial is just this: It helps to provide an equalizing factor among the several States.

If you had no Federal government leadership or Federal participation and help in this field at all, one State would be establishing certain levels, and another one something very differently. We would have migrations in this country, with dislocations in industry and in the labor force, merely because in one State people would say we can get better help when misfortune, old age, or something of that kind strikes by moving to such a State.

The problem of government, as I see it today, is to get a new definition almost each day of Lincoln’s old exhortation: that government should do for people what they cannot well do for themselves or not do at all, but certainly keep out of those things which people can do for themselves. We will provide the line for the massive single leadership that is necessary and then keep the Federal government out of operations so far as it is possible, whether it be education, the care of the sick, or whatever else we do.

In the same way in those programs that apply to veterans, to farmers, to teaching, to research, development—all of that sort of thing—there is unquestionably a proper phase for the Federal government. But it cannot be carried to the extreme without great challenge to our form of government. And that, I submit, is a field in which I think your talents could be directed, in order to help establish the lines of danger in these severaldirections, and thereafter, with the great resources at your disposal to help educate our people.

In the foreign field, this process is equally important. You know, it is a startling thing, when traveling in some foreign country, to hear our country—and I am sure many of you have had this experience—referred to as a warmonger, a believer in force, a provocative institution, a provocative government.

We believe that living as we do under the will of the people and knowing that the people do not want war, that that of itself absolves us from any such accusation. But it is astonishing to find how far it is believed in many of the countries, and by no means simply the backward countries of the world.

To establish the authenticity, then, of our peaceful purposes, one of the jobs that we always have is to show that the strength that we are now providing—military strength, sometimes in prodigal measure—is because we want to use that strength for promoting peace, by seeing that wars shall not occur. Because of this great preventive instrumentality we have at our command, it must not be merely a negative portion of a great program that must challenge the best talents, the brains, the hearts, of every thinking American: How do we promote peace?

In the long run, I am quite certain that the world must have peace, or we will come close to that point that we would say it must perish. We must do this.

So as you look around the world, knowing all the things which we are trying to promote, the ideas, the beliefs, the common convictions, we use what we call mutual aid. We use all of our diplomatic force, all of our foreign offices, every means that is available, to get across to others an understanding of ourselves, of our motives and of our way of life—even as we struggle at the ,same time, to get to our people an understanding of what these other people believe, the traditions by which they live, the aspirations that they have for their own future. As we understand these things, we are not so quick to criticize, and to say they are wrong because they have not, in the initial case, agreed with us.

So, as I picture in my own mind opportunities are open to such a body as this to act not only as an instrumentality in carrying out policy, but in helping to make policy because of your vast experience and your composite judgment.

The great aspirations of humankind for peace, a just peace, one that we know can endure, is one that again, I say, must be achieved. It will be achieved only with the cooperation and the urgent work of all thinking people everywhere. They will have to place that objective above all else.

Much as we hate taxes, it is an objective that over-rides our aversion to high taxes—if taxes are needed. It is an objective which must over-ride everything we have for immediate material comfort, or joining a new club, or doing anything else. We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single over-riding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.

There are, of course, on each of us, different types of responsibilities. They are family, they are community, they are business. And I do not mean, for one second, those things are neglected as you pursue the major objective. But they are pursued with the certainty that by doing them correctly, you will help advance progress toward the major objective: the peace of the world.

Again I say, thank you for the great services you perform to this country. I even more deeply say that I am fully appreciative of what you are going to do in the future, both because of the capabilities of the group and because of its dedication.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at the District Red Cross Building at 11:00 a.m. His opening words "General Cutler" referred to General Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, who served as Chairman of the Conference.


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Chicago: Dwight D. Eisenhower, "60 Remarks at Thirteenth Annual Washington Conference for the Advertising Council.," Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.852-853 234–236. Original Sources, accessed March 21, 2019,

MLA: Eisenhower, Dwight D. "60 Remarks at Thirteenth Annual Washington Conference for the Advertising Council." Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.852-853, pp. 234–236. Original Sources. 21 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Eisenhower, DD, '60 Remarks at Thirteenth Annual Washington Conference for the Advertising Council.' in Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.852-853, pp.234–236. Original Sources, retrieved 21 March 2019, from