Click on the link here for Audio Player – President Truman – Fourth of July address – July 4, 1947 – Mutual Broadcasting – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Since we’re coming up on the Fourth of July, and since most everyone will be celebrating in one form or another, I thought I would get a jump on the holiday and run the Fourth of July 1947 Address by President Harry Truman.
In 1947 we were knee-deep in reconstruction in Europe and Asia, areas of the world most devastated by the War. But we were also rapidly sinking into a state of Cold War with The Soviet Union. There was a need for balance in the world – and Harry Truman was responsible for finding it.
President Truman: “It is now the duty of all nations to converge their policies toward common goals of peace. Of course, we cannot expect all nations, with different histories, institutions, and economic conditions, to agree at once upon common ideals and policies. But it is not too much to expect that all nations should create, each within its own borders, the requisites for the growth of worldwide harmony.
The first requisite of peace among nations is common adherence to the principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. There must be genuine effort to translate that principle into reality.
The respective constitutions of virtually all the members of the United Nations subscribe to the proposition that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. In many countries, however, progress toward that goal is extremely slow. In other countries, progress in that direction is nonexistent. And in still others, the course of government is in the opposite direction.
It is necessary, if we are to have peace, that the peoples of the earth know each other, that they trade with each other and trust each other, and that they move toward common ideals. And yet, when governments do not derive their powers from the consent of the governed, these requirements are usually denied, and the peoples are kept in isolation.
The stronger the voice of a people in the formulation of national policies, the less the danger of aggression. When all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, there will be enduring peace.
A second requisite of peace among nations is common respect for basic human rights. Jefferson knew the relationship between respect for these rights and peaceful democracy. We see today with equal clarity the relationship between respect for human rights and the maintenance of world peace. So long as the basic rights of men are denied in any substantial portion of the earth, men everywhere must live in fear of their own rights and their own security.
We have learned much in the last 15 years from Germany, Italy, and Japan about the intimate relationship of dictatorship, aggression, and the loss of human rights. The problem of protecting human rights has been recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, and a Commission is studying the subject at this time.
No country has yet reached the absolute in protecting human rights. In all countries, certainly including our own, there is much to be accomplished. The maintenance of peace will depend to an important degree upon the progress that is made within nations and by the United Nations in protecting human rights.
The third requisite of peace is the free and full exchange of knowledge, ideas, and information among the peoples of the earth, and maximum freedom in international travel and communication.
Jefferson well understood this principle. On one occasion he said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of peace, it expects what never was and never will be.” Today, we can paraphrase these words in international terms as follows: “If the nations of the world expect to live in ignorance and suspicion of each other in a state of peace, they expect what never was and never will be.”
Many members of the United Nations have jointly created and now support the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for the purpose of promoting the free exchange of ideas and information among the peoples of the earth. In the preamble to the Constitution of this Organization the member nations have declared that “the wide diffusion of culture and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and peace… constitute a sacred duty which all the nations must fulfill.”
The United States has taken a leading role in furthering this ideal. We believe that it is essential to a peaceful and prosperous world. We believe that common knowledge and understanding among men can be greatly expanded in the years to come. We have the mechanical facilities-the radio, television, airplanes–for the creation of a worldwide culture. We have only to set them to work for international good.”
True words – even some 67 years later, particularly in the area of Education.
We still have a very long way to go.
Enjoy the 4th.