Dwight D. Eisenhower: Farewell Address


Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In his Farewell Address, Eisenhower very much casts himself as a senior statesman and wise old soldier in a performance devoid of bells and whistles. His speech pattern is untheatrical, and his prose is sparse, workmanlike, and designed to communicate to, not uplift, America. Eisenhower could not draw upon the Bostonian twang or the rhetorical elegance that would make President Kennedy's Inaugural Address a piece of superbly staged drama, designed to energize a presidency and embrace a people. Nor could Eisenhower draw upon the fire, zeal, visionary splendor, and biblical oratory that Martin Luther King, Jr., would memorably present in his “I Have a Dream” Speech. What is extraordinary about Eisenhower's swan song is the spare prose and the impression produced by a military man relieved that his eight years as commander in chief had allowed the country to find “essential agreement on issues of great moment.”


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Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address (National Archives and Records Administration)

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