HARRY S. TRUMAN READY FOR ROUND TWO
Truman's Second Inaugural Address
Go here for more about
Harry S. Truman.
Go here for more about
Truman's Second Inaugural Address.
It follows the full text transcript of
Harry S. Truman's Second Inaugural Address, delivered at
Washington D.C. - January 20, 1949.
President, Mr. Chief Justice, and fellow
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 together.
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
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
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 by equals.
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
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 abilities.
Communism maintains that social wrongs can be
corrected only by violence.
Democracy has proved that social justice can be
achieved through peaceful change.
Communism holds that the world is so deeply
divided into opposing classes that war is
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
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 lasting peace.
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
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
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
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
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 aggression.
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
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-loving peoples the benefits of our store
of technical knowledge in order to help them
realize their aspirations for a better life.
And, in cooperation with other nations, we
should foster capital investment in areas
Our aim should be to help the free peoples of
the world, through their own efforts, to produce
more food, more clothing, more materials for
housing, and more mechanical power to lighten
We invite other countries to pool their
technological resources in this undertaking.
Their contributions will be warmly welcomed.
This should be a cooperative enterprise in which
all nations work together through the United
Nations and its specialized agencies wherever
practicable. It must be a worldwide effort for
the achievement of peace, plenty, and freedom.
With the cooperation of business, private
capital, agriculture, and labor in this country,
this program can greatly increase the industrial
activity in other nations and can raise
substantially their standards of living.
Such new economic developments must be devised
and controlled to benefit the peoples of the
areas in which they are established. Guarantees
to the investor must be balanced by guarantees
in the interest of the people whose resources
and whose labor go into these developments.
The old imperialism-exploitation for foreign
profit-has no place in our plans. What we
envisage is a program of development based on
the concepts of democratic fair-dealing.
All countries, including our own, will greatly
benefit from a constructive program for the
better use of the world's human and natural
resources. Experience shows that our commerce
with other countries expands as they progress
industrially and economically.
Greater production is the key to prosperity and
peace. And the key to greater production is a
wider and more vigorous application of modern
scientific and technical knowledge.
Only by helping the least fortunate of its
members to help themselves can the human family
achieve the decent, satisfying life that is the
right of all people.
Democracy alone can supply the vitalizing force
to stir the peoples of the world into triumphant
action, not only against their human oppressors,
but also against their ancient enemies-hunger,
misery, and despair.
On the basis of these four major courses of
action we hope to help create the conditions
that will lead eventually to personal freedom
and happiness for all mankind.
If we are to be successful in carrying out these
policies, it is clear that we must have
continued prosperity in this country and we must
keep ourselves strong.
Slowly but surely we are weaving a world fabric
of international security and growing
We are aided by all who wish to live in freedom
from fear-even by those who live today in fear
under their own governments.
We are aided by all who want relief from the
lies of propaganda-who desire truth and
We are aided by all who desire self-government
and a voice in deciding their own affairs.
We are aided by all who long for economic
security-for the security and abundance that men
in free societies can enjoy.
We are aided by all who desire freedom of
speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to live
their own lives for useful ends.
Our allies are the millions who hunger and
thirst after righteousness.
In due time, as our stability becomes manifest,
as more and more nations come to know the
benefits of democracy and to participate in
growing abundance, I believe that those
countries which now oppose us will abandon their
delusions and join with the free nations of the
world in a just settlement of international
Events have brought our American democracy to
new influence and new responsibilities. They
will test our courage, our devotion to duty, and
our concept of liberty.
But I say to all men, what we have achieved in
liberty, we will surpass in greater liberty.
Steadfast in our faith in the Almighty, we will
advance toward a world where man's freedom is
To that end we will devote our strength, our
resources, and our firmness of resolve. With
God's help, the future of mankind will be
assured in a world of justice, harmony, and