Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954

Author: Dwight D. Eisenhower  | Date: August 19, 1954

Address at the Illinois State Fair at Springfield.
August 19, 1954

Governor Stratton, Governor Craig, and distinguished members of this great audience:

For a number of reasons I am highly honored to be with you today. In the first place, I was invited here by your distinguished Governor, one of those young, virile men in our country who is giving his life to public service for the betterment of all of us.

Incidentally, just now, as I left the luncheon table of GovernorStratton and his charming family, he remarked to me that he had a special reason for being glad I was here; because, he said, otherwise, this being Governor’s Day, he would be worrying about a speech. He felt it was quite a job—a good piece of work—if you could pass on your chores to the President.

There is a very deep personal reason for my feeling of gratification in being with you today. Of course, during the last 2 or 3 years, I have been privileged to meet many old friends, to make many new ones, whose friendships I hope will be as durable as the old ones. But more than that, I was born and reared in this great Mississippi Basin. When I get back to the familiar sights of the farmlands, the corn, and the wheat, the vast horizons, the friendly people with whom I was raised, I feel more at home than I do any other place in this world that I have been roaming for long over 40 years.

And then, of course, it is inspiring to visit this spot where Lincoln lived. And by happy coincidence, this is the year—the centennial year—of the party of which Lincoln is still the hero and the everlasting spiritual inspiration.

I want to say that I believe he would be proud of the delegation the party has sent to Washington during this last 2 years. The reason I believe that is this: they have been in the forefront of the battle to get enacted into law a vast program for the betterment of America, for making certain that here at home there is a growing prosperity, a sound economy, a wide sharing of our productivity. And at home—and abroad—an ever-growing security and safety for ourselves.

This delegation of yours has been there to help carry out the promises that they made to you people. They have been helping me carry out my promises, my promises that I made 2 years ago, to go to Washington to work for one thing, and one thing only: the good of the United States of America.

I asserted then that I believed we could have a prosperous economy without war. And that we could begin the process of taking America back from the bureaucrats and giving it back to America.

Now today I could not possibly review for you in detail the long record of constructive accomplishment of that Congress, which is just now engaged in the last of the long series of bills which will be of the most lasting and tremendous importance to every one of us meeting here today.

But I think it would be profitable to take a quick look to see what this Congress, under the leadership of the party of Lincoln, has done if we can hit only the very highest of the high spots.

A year ago, last January, we were still reading casualty lists in our daily newspapers. America’s heart was bleeding for all those mothers, brothers, sweethearts, wives, and children who were deprived of a loved one through the operation of that war. Obviously all of us know that the composition that was reached in Korea is not satisfactory to America, but it is far better than to continue the bloody, dreary, sacrifice of lives with no possible strictly military victory in sight.

In Indochina the Communists have added new groups to their already great expanse of people that they are enslaving with the hope of destroying all of us. But even there the composition reached by one of our friends was one that was dictated by almost sheer necessity. In the unhappy circumstances of that land, we at least have a chance now to rally the people of good feeling and goodwill, the people who believe in the dignity of the human man, and make a line to develop a concert of nations that the Communists will not dare attack.

Think what has happened in Iran, a country that we were almost certain was going under the Communist banner—and it is now associating strongly with the Western World.

The long, dreary quarrels in the Suez region have been composed with the greatest possible promise for the security and the prosperity of the west, including the United States of America.

In Guatemala, the people of that region rose up and rejected the Communist doctrine, and said in the terms of the spirit of the agreement at Caracas, "You shall not come here and establish yourselves."

Of course, the international scene is still troubled. It is not the kind of problem that can be solved in a day, but if we make steady progress in the terms of this past year and a half, each day will see the free world stronger, and more and more reach that point where none will dare any aggression against us.

Here at home, my friends, one of the first duties, one of the most pleasurable duties I had was to lift from the economy of the United States the stifling controls that had been called necessary in order to control prices and keep down the cost of living. And the American people proved that if we would let this economy alone, to respond to the natural lawsunder which it was established and has so far developed, it would be conducted in such a way as to meet the needs of 160 million people.

And so, instead of the great inflation that was predicted, prices have shifted scarcely at all. At this moment there have been effected reductions in the actual expenditures—cash expenditures of government-almost exactly $10 billion below the levels that were scheduled for expenditure 1 year ago last January. There have been laws passed expanding social security and old age pensions. Governmental workers have been insured so that they do not have to look forward to a life of penury. There has been enacted a farm program, my friends, that has a chance to stand solidly behind the agricultural community indefinitely. It is not one that will break down of its own weight because of unmanageable surpluses.

There has been, at long last, after many, many years, a great tax reform. There has been refunded, restored to the American people something of the order of 7 billion dollars, in the belief that they know better how to expend their own money than bureaucrats know how to expend it for them.

These are just a few of the highlights, and during these long months, while this program was being developed and brought before the national Legislature—debated, argued, and enacted—there have been sitting on the sidelines, of course, the prophets of gloom and doom. Some of them saw a great inflation that the policies of the administration in taking off controls was leading to. They have been proved wrong.

Others then started preaching depression. Every time we turned around we were all going to be in the poorhouse. Something has gone wrong with their calculations. They remind me a little bit of the story of Lincoln’s crooked fence. You remember he said a farmer built a fence that was so crooked that every time a pig bored a hole through it, he found himself on the same side from which he started.

Now these economic prophets of doom have been building up a lot of fences of what they call economic statistics. But they built them up so crookedly that every time they bored through them, they came out on the side of pessimism and depression. It seems lately that they would like to forget the whole thing. And I think all of us are getting rather tired of crooked-fence economic politics.

Riding out here this morning, ladies and gentlemen, I picked up a paper, published in your neighboring State, and it had a wonderful littleeditorial about the settling of the Studebaker labor-management argument. A man named Horvath is apparently president of that union. The last sentence of this editorial quoted Mr. Horvath as follows: "When you are allowed to tell the truth, the people will always agree to the right thing."

I wish today I could meet Mr. Horvath and shake him by the hand. I believe he has given us—every man who has the responsibility of public office—a proper philosophy: trying to give people the truth, to do it to the best of his ability, and they will follow the correct line.

Now ladies and gentlemen, I came out here today for the opportunity of greeting you, of seeing you, because I must assure you that in Washington, too often, one gets the feeling that he is drifting just a bit away from the heart of the United States.

True, my mail is vast, and a great portion of it I try to read and answer myself, but there is no substitute for coming out and seeing the people of the United States.

Before I leave here, I want to thank you. I want to thank each person that I have met along your beautiful streets for the warmth of the welcome they have given me, and I hope that they will not consider it a political speech if I should say that in view of the record this Congress has made in advancing your interests, in protecting your country, in making sure that we have a steady, sound prosperity, widely shared, if I should suggest to you the possibility that it might be a good thing to increase the size of the delegation that you send from Lincoln’s party to Washington.

Because I must tell you one thing: some months ago I pledged a group with whom I was meeting that never again as long as I was President would I meet privately or publicly with anyone and make a statement for publication, unless I insisted that I wanted every bit of help I could get in enacting that program to make America strong, for you, and for our children and theirs.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. His opening words "Governor Stratton, Governor Craig" referred to William G. Stratton, Governor of Illinois, and George N. Craig, Governor of Indiana. Later in the address he referred to Louis Horvath, President of Studebaker Local 5, United Auto Workers.


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Chicago: Dwight D. Eisenhower, "203 Address at the Illinois State Fair at Springfield.," Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1118 730–733. Original Sources, accessed August 19, 2019,

MLA: Eisenhower, Dwight D. "203 Address at the Illinois State Fair at Springfield." Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1118, pp. 730–733. Original Sources. 19 Aug. 2019.

Harvard: Eisenhower, DD, '203 Address at the Illinois State Fair at Springfield.' in Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1118, pp.730–733. Original Sources, retrieved 19 August 2019, from