EISENHOWER, Dwight D. Typed letter signed ("Dwight D. Eisenhower") as president of Columbia University, to J. Meyrick Colley, New York, 22 December 1949. 2 pages, 4to, on Columbia University letterhead, with some holograph additions. Paper clip burn at top of both sheets.
EISENHOWER ON THE AMERICAN SYSTEM, GEORGE WASHINGTON AND VALLEY FORGE
"I believe," Eisenhower tells a fellow World War I vet, "that the great problem of today is that of advancing the culture, living standards, opportunities and personal security of all of our citizens, but without sacrificing fundamental parts of our individual rights and privileges (which are the essence of our American system) and without material loss in those qualities of initiative, enterprise and sturdiness that have been so largely responsible for our unique material development. If we go completely to the socialized state, I firmly believe that all of these will be lost-at least they will be lost to such an extent that we will become nothing less than a regimented state....Without freedom there can be no dignity for the individual and...if we are to become fully socialized, we will become also fully regimented." Americans had to preserve "the essentials of our great system" while struggling to make sure "that its fruits reach every last one of all our citizens."
Colley wrote Eisenhower to praise his newly published Crusade in Europe, and to express his doubts about government's ability to make social reforms without destroying freedom. Eisenhower says he shares those fears, and agrees that the harsh facts of life often undermine plans for human betterment. But, he adds, "It is also true that human beings have in the past, in human affairs, produced new sets of facts. It would have been easy to say, in the winter of 1777, that the Revolutionary War was lost. During that bitter winter, Washington lost more than 3500 men from his little army just by reason of starvation, cold and disease. His spirit and the determination of a small band of patriots in each of the colonies brought about, finally, a set of facts that, in the midst of that winter, would have been called just the dreams of a visionary." An eloquent statement of Eisenhower's faith in the American free-enterprise system, and his hopeful attitude about the power of people to change things for the better.