October 1952, Chicago, Illinois, USA
(Approximately a week before election he would lose to Dwight Eisenhower)
I have tried to educate, if I have not succeeded altogether, I have certainly educated myself about these questions and about these wonderful human beings that are Americans.
Just remember who you are, you are Americans. Your forebearers’ found a wilderness and they began to convert it into a fair land with only three weapons: with a Bible, an axe, and the plow.
Nothing stayed them, neither the perils of death, nor wounds nor savage mountains, nor wide rivers, nor the unknown in which they plunged.
They were of every racial stock and every religious belief and they brought something of the old country to the new country.
And different thought they were, they became one.
This is our heritage and this is our true glory. We are a people, I tell you, that is just beginning this high adventure on this continent. It is an adventure in which young, though we are, we have done this: our people have had more happiness and prosperity over a wider area and a longer time than men have ever had since they began to live in ordered society’s four thousand years ago.
Since we have come so far, who shall be rash enough to set limits on our future progress, who shall say that since we have gone so far, we can go no farther? Who shall say that the American dream has ended? For myself, I believe that all we have done on this continent so far is but a prelude to a future in which we will become, not only a bigger people, but also a wiser people, a better people, an even greater people.
I believe that we not only achieve a higher standard of living, but also a higher standard of life.
Never forget this, there is little that we Americans cannot do if only we can imagine ourselves wanting to do it.
Power alone is not enough, either is faith alone equal to the task.
The future is to those who take it.
We shall strike off the shackles that still bind the United States.
It is the duty of the leaders to lead, the creative to create, of the daring to do.
The free world expects leadership from us, its fate and our fate depends upon our leadership.
The life or death issue of war or peace hangs upon it.
We are 155 million strong. We are industrious, inventive, restless with the fires that burn within us. We are a free-striding people with a confident free-swinging stride that marks the American everywhere he goes upon this earth. We are conquerors of time and of distance, we have explored the awful jungles of matter and emerged with the powers of the exploding sun.
Our cause is just, our heart is high, and let us then, I say, press forward, toward the new world that we can create in the name of America and of suffering humanity still in chains.
Now you say words, beautiful words, but how do we do all of this, with a staggering budget of heavy taxes, surrounded by the communist menace, an enfeebled Europe, Asia in ferment, our boys in war, training for war?
Well, I say nothing is easy, and the best things are the hardest. But consider what it was done at valley ford, what was done in the dark days of dissension and disaster, in the civil war, in the two world wars, when the very survival of western civilization trembled; and in the depression; there is nothing new only different, and all our troubles, all our immense difficulties, now and in the future, can I say, be solved if we have the will, the courage, the boldness to face them squarely.
To use Seneca’s’ phrase, “Man is more than a rational animal.” And invoking the guidance of providence, rational men, animated by the destiny of greatness can think and can act and can do greatly. Thank you.