Reagan’s Heroes – A 100th Birthday Celebration


It is my honor to introduce
one of Mr. Reagan’s earliest heroes. This Founding Father championed
small government, penned the Declaration of
Independence, doubled the size of the United States, and looked
West with boundless optimism for the people
of the New Republic. Reagan, in his old age, would
joke that he knew this founding father personally. And this evening, we, too, have
the privilege of getting to know him a little better. Ladies and gentlemen, please
join me in welcoming the third president of the United States,
Thomas Jefferson. I can tell by the music
I’m here in Western Virginia, am I not? Here out in the wilderness,
on the frontier. What a pleasure it is
to travel this far. And is it not the most
remarkably unrecorded moment in this nation’s history that
we can all be together? I declare that I’ve made
good time on horseback. It’s only taken me several
months from Washington City. And as you know, I still make
the same time no matter where I travel, as I did when
I was a young man. Brought up in the wilderness
of Virginia, traveling east was 120 miles to the city of
Williamsburg, where I attended the school. Read law, practiced the
law, elected to my first public office. Do you know, it still takes me
five days in the saddle to travel 120 miles? Well, those of you who own a
horse would well understand you never ride any further in
one day’s ride than about 35 or 40 miles. You never travel any faster in
the saddle than about five miles an hour, that is
a comfortable pace. If you tried to ride six or
seven miles an hour, it would cause immediate indigestion. And consider, most people across
the globe do not even own a horse, now do they? Horses are expensive —
to purchase, to breed. No, most people travel one place
to the other how so? Walk, your own God-given method
of transportation, your own two legs! That shall take you
comfortably about three miles an hour. This is a point I delight to
ponder in the saddle, the calculation of the average rate
of speed upon, as I know of, between the minority —
those who are privileged to own a horse and ride comfortably
five miles an hour and yet, the great majority,
who have not that privilege walk comfortably three
miles an hour. And there you have it. Imagine, after all of these
years it still remains a four mile an hour world,
does it not? That is the world that I know. I know of no place upon the
globe where you can travel any faster than a ship at sea
or a horse on land. I do not deny there have been
remarkable advances. This extraordinary steam and
powered mechanical device, will we ever get
over the news? That my fellow collaborator on
our Declaration, Robert R. Livingston and our
friend, Robert R. Fulton, improved the
steam engine. They put it in a boat on the
Hudson River to sail the distance between the port of
New York and Albany City. A distance of 150 miles. And it covered that distance
in 36 hours, is that not fantasmagorical? What is next? Citizens, I hope we never
forget whatever may transpire shortly. For the improvement of
transportation and the more swift conveyance of information,
that we never forget the principles that we
installed, that we created using our own hands
and our own mind. To become the first people in
the history of man to found a nation upon principle. Not upon monarchy, not
upon aristocracy. Principles that have been argued
and debated from time in memoriam as to whether
man is capable of governing himself. And is it not extraordinary,
in our young nation? Many of our fellow citizens,
oh they do not believe so. No, not as yet. Oh, they express their
mind freely. And where would they be more
free to express their mind so than here? A citizen of this extraordinary
nation at the same time to be opposed by
others, their fellow citizens who freely express their opinion
and to recognize collaboratively that we made
a remarkable achievement in human history. That in the midst of the
diversity of our opinions, we brought together 13 individual
nations. It should continue
to provoke us. How did we ever do it? Each one of those nations,
divided in the tedium of their own political differences. And yet recognizing they would
have to reconcile, compromise, in order to move forward
for the common good. That is what was achieved
in Philadelphia in 1776. You know, as I dismounted out of
doors, I took off my riding boots, I put on my shoes and
I dusted myself off. I thought, well I’ll be
looked upon as rather peculiar in my apparel. So I venture to tell you, I
conjured up an apology until I heard my introduction. And when I walked in, gazing
amongst all of you, I wondered, why should I apologize
for the apparel I have tonight? I’ve always believed in dressing
for comfort, but you overwhelm me in that regard. And now, I find I’d rather
be overdressed. What has become quite the modern
cut of the gentleman’s suit of clothes since the
turn of the century. Perhaps you’ve noticed,
gentlemen have been cutting away their old frock coats,
oh the frocks were so fashionable. Before, during, after the
American Revolution, I remember vividly in
Williamsburg, a proud gentleman would button
his frock all the way down to his knees. You rarely see them
any longer. Gentlemen have been cutting
away the points of their waistcoats. And, I declare, without the
excess of material, this is far more comfortable
in the saddle. I’m never a day out
of the saddle. It appears that the age of the
cocked hats is now in the past. Gentlemen are now sporting
top hats, growing ever the higher. But you can see, I’m still
old-fashioned, I enjoy wearing breeches. I’m very comfortable in
breeches, easy to put on and take off your boots. I have not succumbed to this
modern fashion of gentlemen’s pantaloons buttoning all the way
— I declare, some of our women folk are sporting
them as well. You must all be from
France, all of you! I beg your pardon, citizens. I know this must seem contrary
to what you’ve read in the newspapers. What you may have heard by word
of mouth, that Jefferson is an American sphynx. Solemn, reticent, cerebral. Oh, quite the contrary. Speak with my family and my
friends and they would tell you I’m unrestrained
in conversation. And the mere point of my
meandering into the subject of fashion is to remind us, as I
have often written: In matters of fashion, simply swim
with the current. In matters of principle,
let us continue to stand like a rock. As Americans, never let us allow
a difference of opinion to allow for a difference
in principle. We’re all Federalists, we’re
all Republicans. And I welcome this opportunity
this evening to be introduced to others, who I know to hold
the same mind upon principle. The same mind upon free
expression, the same mind of a government invigorated of,
by, and for the people. But I look forward to making
their acquaintences. I have looked forward to being
here in your presence. I thank you, Godspeed. Thank you, Mr. Jefferson. It is now my honor to introduce
a Republican president whose portrait was
brought into the Oval Office shortly after this president
was inaugurated. And there it would hang for
the next eight years. Mr. Reagan admired this
president’s determination to cut taxes and keep the national
government within well-defined limits. He also admired the toughness
this former Massachusetts governor showed when a police
force went on strike saying, and I quote here: “There Is no
right to strike against the public safety by anybody,
anywhere, any time.” Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome
the 13th President the United States, Calvin Coolidge. You know, we talk about
Jefferson, but we do not follow him. Any man who had as many ideas
as Thomas Jefferson did, was bound to find that some of
them would not work out. Yet, in his advocating that the
people of America be left to manage their government and
not be managed by it, he was everlastingly right. I was born on the fourth day of
July, 1872 in the town of Plymouth, Vermont in a five
room, story and a half cottage attached to the post office
and the general store, of which my father, John Calvin
Coolidge was the proprietor. He was successful. He trusted nearly everybody. Sometimes, people would return
and they would pay him their entire bill when he had never
thought he was going to see them again. Well, it was at our homestead
in August of 1923 that we received the news that President
Harding had died in San Francisco at the
Palace Hotel. Of course, at the homestead
we had no electricity, we had no telephone. There was a telephone in the
general store, but its ringing couldn’t wake up
the proprietor. And so a fellow drove up from
Woodstock, knocked on our door sometime after midnight
and woke up my father. They conversed, and then my
father came up the stairs calling my name. His voice trembled, and I knew
that something of the gravest nature had occurred. He placed in my hand
an official report. He had been the first to address
me as President of the United States when President
Harding had died. Well, the oath of office was
taken in what we always called the sitting room, by the light
of the kerosene lamp. The Bible, that had belonged
to my mother, lay on the table at hand. I know of no other case in
history where succession comes by election, where the
qualifying oath of office is administered by a father
to his son. It seemed a simple and
a natural thing to do at the time. I can now appreciate something
of a dramatic force of the event. Later, the newspaper reporters
asked my father what made him think that he had, as a notary,
the authority to administer the presidential
oath. He said there was nothing
that made him think he didn’t have it. Well, will I make a
speech tonight? I don’t know, if I get conjured
up by people wanting me to make speeches, and it is
represented to me that on this occasion I am the only
individual that can save the progress of civilization, and
that if I am not to do it, civilization will fail. When that proposal is made, it
is hard for one to say they won’t make a speech. But I shouldn’t want you to
ascertain anything one way or the other about my
making speeches or not making speeches. I found, in the course of a long
public career, that the things I did not say
never hurt me. I remember a fellow who went
down from Vermont, he went down to Texas. And he attended a large
political gathering. And in the course of that
gathering, at one point the speaker said, how many
Republicans are there in this audience? And no one put up their hand. Finally, this fellow from
Vermont put up his hand. The speaker looked at him and
said, sir, would you stand up? And the fellow stood up. And the speaker said, why
are you a Republican? And the fellow from Vermont
said, well you know my father was a Republican, and his father
before him, I suppose that is why I am a Republican. And the speaker in Texas said,
why that is no reason at all. If your father or your
grandfather had been a horse thief would that make
you one too? The fellow from Vermont said no,
I suppose in that case, I would have been a Democrat. I recall an occasion when I was
out walking in Washington with my Secret Service man,
Colonel Edmund Starling, and we rounded the corner and that
familiar white house on Pennsylvania Avenue
came into view. And Colonel Starling said to me,
well President Coolidge, who lives there? I said nobody. Nobody lives there, they
just come and go. When you are President, you have
to stand every day three or four hours of visitors. 9/10 of them want something
they ought not to have. I found that if you will keep
dead still, after a while, they’ll start to wind down. But if you even cough or smile,
they’ll start up all over again. So I repeat, I found in the
course of a long public career, the things I did
not say never hurt me. My last public address was at
Madison Square Garden in New York City in October of 1932. We were trying to get that great
engineer Herbert Hoover another term in office. After my address, which was
broadcast on the radio, a lady rushed up to me and she said,
oh Mr. Coolidge, what a marvelous address. I stood up all through it. I told her, so did I. She said if she could only vote
for me, it would be the end of our horrible
depression. I told her it would be the
beginning of mine. Well, I was trying to cheer up
President Hoover because it didn’t matter what he did to
halt the spiral of depression, nothing produced a beneficial
result. He tried many, many imaginative
measures, but nothing produced
a good result. And as I say, I tried
to cheer him up. I said, well Hoover, you know
they can’t expect to see calves running in the field the
morning after you put the bull to the cow. Hoover said no, but you would
expect to see contented cows. He always wondered how I was
able to transact so much business when I was
in Washington. I said, well you know the
trouble with you, Hoover? You talk back to them. When they elected that superman,
I knew he was going to have trouble. He was going to have
to spend money. And he did. But it just will not produce a
beneficial result, and the Democrats will get in and they
will spend money like water. But they don’t know anything
about money, and they’ll want me to come back and save
money for them. But I won’t do it, I won’t. I feel I no longer fit
in these times. When I was President, we
succeeded on measures of tax reform, peace, and
the economy. I read of the new-fangled
things that are now so popular, and I realize
that my time is gone. When I left Washington, I spoke
from the rear platform of the train as we
were pulling out of the Union Station. And I said to the crowd
assembled there, I said, good bye. I’ve had a very fine time
here in Washington. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Coolidge. Now it is my honor to introduce
the Democratic president for whom Ronald
Reagan voted four times. A great communicator in his
own right, this former New York governor had the uncanny
ability to connect with people in his radio addresses. All his life, Mr. Reagan admired
this public servant’s optimism and the way this
president marshaled the resources of the national
government, first to confront economic problems and then
a wartime machine abroad. Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome the 32nd President the United States, Franklin
Roosevelt. Oh there, isn’t that perfect? Now, I love that song. Did you all hear that? “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
I’m very proud to be here. Gentlemen, good evening. Good evening, sir. Very proud to be here in Grand
Rapids and to address all of you this evening. This is quite a treat for me. I’m thinking back to the number
of changes that have taken place here in our
great nation since the time of Mr. Jefferson. Great changes indeed. I’m sure all of you remember
what this nation was like when I took the oath of
office in 1933. Well, we were in
a terrible fix. A quarter of the workers
out of work. Factories shut down. People losing their savings,
their homes, and their farms. A great pall had descended
over our great nation and people were beginning to
doubt the merits of our American ideals. They were beginning to say,
well, democracy doesn’t work. Republic doesn’t work. We need to look at
people like Mr. Mussolini, what he’s doing. Mr. Hitler, what he’s doing. Take lessons from them. They had lost confidence in
themselves and in our American way of life. As I look back over those dark
days, perhaps I’m most proud of being able to go onto the
radio and tell the American people, no there’s nothing
wrong with you. You have not made a mistake. The ideals of America are still
strong, the ideals that were established by
our founders. That we are a Republic. An independent nation of
independent people. And if we act as such, if the
farmer, the businessman, the miner, all join hands and move
forward together, we indeed cannot fail. And that is what happened. Everybody came together
and began to work. Business was unable — or
unwilling in some cases — to provide employment. Well, then it became the job of
the people’s government to be the employer of last resort
with programs such as the CCC, the PWA, the WPA, all of which
were established to give people work. Because I was convinced that
people didn’t want a handout, they wanted a hand up. They wanted to be helped, but
they desired the pride of employment. And that is what we provided
them until such time as business got back on its feet
and could provide those jobs on their own. This was part of a big bill that
I came up with in 1933 — that’s what we always called
it, it was the “Big Bill.” Again, with the idea that the
government, your government, is a positive force in the lives
of the people because the government is
your servant. I think people lose track
of that fact. They begin to think that the
government is simply for themselves. But the government is the
servant of the people, always. Always. And it is the people who
must determine how that government functions. You must keep an eye on it. It is yours. I seem to think that there are
those today who see the government as the enemy. It’s the enemy. How can it be the enemy? It’s your government. And it is a faithful servant. Now, what would a faithful
servant do? A faithful servant will — if
your desires are made known, you, the master, express your
desires that you want thus and so — a faithful servant will go
out and beg, steal, or more commonly, borrow to see
that you’ll get it. A faithful servant. But you must be the governors. Now, somewhat after my time
there will be a very wise man who will say, “Goverment can’t
solve the problem, government is the problem.” Well, I would
suggest it’s not government that’s the problem,
it’s governance. Personal, and of those of the
representatives, those in Congress who represent us. Having the willpower, the
vision, to do what is right for America. This business of deficit
spending and certainly during the depression the deficit began
to mount, began to mount even more to astronomical
heights during this terrible war. During times of emergency. But this was a necessity,
a necessity. We could not have survived
those two crises in our nation’s history without it. And I’m convinced that the
deficit will be paid off, but it must not happen
again except in times of dire emergency. When it is the life of the
nation that is at stake. That is when we must dip
into the cookie jar. That is when we must borrow
money to help us along, with the idea that it would be
paid back very quickly. I know some you will point your
fingers at me and say, well this is the father of the
deficit, sitting right here. Well, I have to tell you I was
always convinced of the old philosophy of economics. That you don’t spend more
than you take in. And when I came into office, I
cut the federal employees, I cut the budget, with the idea
from the very beginning of balancing the budget. Well, I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t do it. Well, people would say, well
you’ve got all these programs, they’re going to cost
all this money. How are you going
to pay for it? It’s bad for the economy
in the long run. Well, Harry Hopkins had
an answer for that. He said, “People don’t
eat in the long run. They eat every day.”
We had to do it. In 1937, I thought we were far
enough along that I could begin to withdraw some of these
public programs. To reduce the funding, to start
eliminating this debt and to eventually balance
our accounts. Well, that led to what the
Republicans glowingly called the Roosevelt Recession. In 1937. Obviously, we weren’t far enough
along, and so I had to increase the spending again,
back to the former levels. We all love America. We all wish it to
be successful. It doesn’t matter whether
you’re a Democrat or Republican or Independent. We all pray for its success. And through the years, we have
come through many crises, but what we have found always is
that we are most able to beat these crises, to get over these
bumps on the road, by joining hands and working
together. That’s the secret of America. That’s the magic of America. Where there are no
aristocrats. Where there’s no one
to beg for favor. Where we join hands and do
the hard work to bring us successfully to the future. That is what I look forward
to in this nation. I hope, I hope that future
generations will look back and not repeat some of the mistakes
that administrations have made in the past. Learn
from history, learn from it. It’s a wise, wise teacher. Well I’m nattering on
too much, so I’m going to stop now. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt. It is my privilege now, to
introduce the Democratic president whom Mr. Reagan
referenced in a number of conversations and speeches,
the way this former Massachusetts Senator appealed
to our nation’s youth and how he took a tough stand
against communists during the Cold War. He also thought this president’s
Harvard education gave him a good grasp of
economics, especially when he called for tax cuts to stimulate
the economy. Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome the 35th president of the United States,
John Kennedy. [THE TIMES THEY ARE
A-CHANGIN’ PLAYS] Ladies and gentlemen, I do
not think it entirely inappropriate to begin my
remarks by expressing my gratitude to some of
you who might have voted for me in 1960. Michigan did go for
Kennedy in 1960. You all are perhaps familiar
with the returns. I barely beat Vice
President Nixon. It was comfortable in the
electoral college, 303-219. But up to my trip to Dallas, I
did often times carry a slip of paper in my pocket to remind
me of the razor-thin margin of victory over Nixon in
the popular vote, 118,574. Now, also I found out, when the
Gallup Organization broke down all of the data, it said
if women had been the only ones voting in 1960, Vice
President Nixon would have won comfortably. And after getting over that
piece of information, after my recovery, I should have taken
my father at his word. He said, Jack, I’m not going
to pay for a landslide. And so from then on out, from
thence forward, when I was running for President of the
United States — and my esteemed predecessors here
on stage talking about leadership. Leadership, not salesmanship,
is what is needed from a chief executive. That’s what I said repeatedly
during the campaign of 1960 and I would reiterate it
throughout until my trip to Dallas in 1963. I was the first president to
come into office when you had an adversary — the Soviet
Union, the United States as well, that adversarial
relationship — nuclear arsenals capable of killing
300 million people in the short space of a day. And so the great issues of war
and peace would constantly preoccupy me. I was also fascinated with the
gentlemen behind me when it comes to leadership and
what does it take to be a great leader. Going back to childhood, so
very young — many people don’t realize and I would have
never said this in my lifetime — but I was born with a bad
back and yes, I did have Addison’s Disease. And some had called me a medical
miracle that I was even able to walk
certain days. And, of course, growing up I
wanted people to believe that I was an otherwise normal boy
who was just sick a great deal of the time. And, of course, my mother was
so good in providing me with all kinds of reading material. History, biography. I became fascinated with those
who held positions of authority and power. Of course, I was inspired by
them and of course, I wanted to go on and be an inspiration
to others. Many of you know my story. I came from a large family and
I think that alone was preparation for leadership. I had eight brothers and sisters
and, of course, I was the second born and
the second son. And so my brother, as you
perhaps well know, was groomed to be President of the
United States. And people would ask, what might
you have done had Joe not died in World War II? And I was thinking perhaps that
I would go into teaching, or perhaps journalism. Maybe even the law. Of course, Joe was
killed in 1944. I remember my father,
he went into seclusion for about a month. And, of course, he loved
listening to certain records. He would listen to the same
records over and over. And so when he finally emerged,
he told me what, of course, we already knew. That Joe was gone and that
I needed to step up and to take his place. People think that I was drafted
by my father to run for president, to be the first
Irish Catholic President of the United States. But the truth was and
is, I wanted it. I wanted to run for office and
once I ran for the Congress in 1946 and had my first taste of
it, real taste of it, I found that I liked it and
I wanted more. I served three terms in
the Congress, House of Representatives, and then ran
for the United States Senate — 1952 — and won. I ran for re-election in ’58 and
won, and then ran for the presidency in 1960 and, as
you know, barely won. So I thank you again, those have
you who did vote for me. And perhaps a few Republicans
out there who were under the impression that I was
my father’s son voted for me as well. When I took the oath of office
in 1961, I asked my fellow Americans to ask not what their
country could do for them but what they could
do for their country. And tried to continue that theme
throughout, particularly with the Peace Corps. Now, I was here in Michigan in
October of 1960 and at 2 a.m., I appeared on the campus of
the University of Michigan before 10,000 students. Two in the morning,
10,000 students. And it was in a speech on that
October 14, 1960 that I alluded to my intention to
create a Peace Corps. And I asked members of that
audience, how many of you would like to go into
public service? And, of course, public service
— you know the reputation of politicians. Not the greatest. In some polls,
used car salesmen poll higher than politicians. So the most maligned, mistreated
of the professions. And, of course, I wanted
to change that. I wanted to inspire the young
people, in particular, to go into public service for it
was, and is, worthy. And so for the first time, as
I was traveling around the state of Michigan, the number
of students, the number of young people who came up and
said, you know we want to go serve our country. We don’t want to — with
respect and regard to financial considerations, so
many college students, and that’s understandable,
they’re thinking about a future paycheck. For the first time, here in
Michigan, I was sensing that many of the students, that
wasn’t their primary consideration. That it was serving
the public. I know many did, eventually,
go into the Peace Corps and serve in other capacities, and
perhaps were inspired to run for office. So all of those considerations,
as far as the great issues of war and peace,
inspiring the youth of this country, that’s what
I believe the election of 1960 was about. That’s what I believe, at
core, the essence of my presidency was about. And so I thank you, I’m going
to sit down and join my esteemed colleagues. I look forward to speaking
more with you later. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Kennedy. Well now, ladies and gentlemen,
it is my distinct honor that I introduce the
president whose 100th birthday we celebrate this evening. This former governor of
California was known as the Great Communicator, tax
cutter, cold warrior. He was determined to restore
pride in America. His optimism about the American
people guided his philosophy, his politics. So, not surprisingly, his
philosophy of governance was simply to get big government
out of the way and let the people solve their
own problems and create a better future. Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome the 40th President of the United States,
Ronald Reagan. [HAIL TO THE CHIEF PLAYS] Well, my fellow Americans, I
can’t tell you how happy I am to be here tonight, to be with
some of the greatest influences of my
life here, too. Thomas Jefferson, Calvin
Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy,
and of course Jeeves. [LAUGHTER] Everybody’s favorite butler. When I became president, many
people had their ideas, and they thought that maybe I was
just a little bit too old to be president. But it was Tom Jefferson who
said we should not judge a president by the number of his
years, but by his works. Believe me, when Tom told me
that, I knew I was home safe. The path for any president, of
course, is not set in stone. As a young man who grew up in
Dixon, Illinois — our family didn’t have a whole lot of money
and as a matter of fact, when I was 14 yeas old,
I was offered a job. And boy, was this a doozy. A construction man asked me if I
would dig ditches 10 hours a day, six days a week
for $0.35 an hour. Out of that, I saved $200, which
I put towards my tuition at Eureka College. My friends, this taught me
two valuable lessons. The first lesson is that the
things that you most admire, you work the hardest for and
mean the most to you. And the second thing
is, who in the hell likes digging ditches? I’m telling you that
right now. Sometimes it’s better to know
what you don’t want to do. It helps guide you in
the right direction. Well, as I was in Eureka
College, now some of you may not know this, in my freshman
year I organized — believe it — a strike. We stroke against the
administration and we told them that they were trying
to cut curriculum. But I banded together with
fellow students, and good enough, there was Ronnie
the strike guy. It taught me a lot of things. It taught me that if you really
care about something, the first thing that you have
to do is you have to gather people around you, people
with like minds. And you have to go up against
forces that sometimes you think you may not win. But we did. As I graduated from college, I
thought I was going to be a football star. I played their football four
years and, by gosh, I thought I was pretty gosh darn good. But the pros thought otherwise,
so I ended up getting a job with WHO
— “Who” — radio in Des Moines, Iowa. There, I was the announcer
for the Chicago Cubs. Now some of you may know this,
but at the time announcing the games, it wasn’t as if I was
sitting in the ballparks. Often I would be sitting there
and a ticker tape would come across and you would see the
line, and it would say Davis hits into a single. So there I would be,
it’s a great day at the ballpark, folks. Davis is standing up to the
plate, he looks like he’s determined, he’s knocking
the dirt off his cleats. He’s blowing a Farmer John, or
he’s doing whatever the heck, you know, and he’s
ready to hit. But you had to make it
up as you go along. And that sure helped me when
I became president, too. You know, in my inaugural
address, I told the American people, I said, some
people think the government is the solution. Well actually, the government
is the problem. Of course, there’s people who
would say after eight years of governing the country,
I proved my point. But no, that’s not what was. It was the idea that government
is the panacea of all people. You know what they say
about government, this idea about things. If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving,
regulate it. If it stops moving,
subsidize it. I wanted to get America off
the backs of the American people and get us starting
to work. There were many other things
that I had to work against and, of course, that
was communism. I believe that there
was an evil empire. I believe that there were people
out there who wanted to end our way of life and it was
is my job to do everything in my power to keep this
from happening. As you know, a lot of people
say, what is a communist? Well, some people say a
communist is someone who follows Marx and Lennon. What is an anti-communist? That’s somebody who actually
understands what Marx and Lennon wrote about, too. But listen, I could go on
like this for years — and well, I did. Before I sit down and take some
questions, I do want to give out a special thanks to a
dear friend who is not here with us tonight, Mr.
Ralph Hauenstein. You know, I used to
call him Junior. Always had that guy by a year. But I’m glad to see that he
is still active and still working, and still has a great
love for this country. And we are indeed grateful that
he has done everything in his power and for this great
city to establish this center, too. So this is for Ralph. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Reagan and thank
you so much for that shout out to Ralph Hauenstein. You know, at this point the
presidents have agreed to put questions to each other. So please, gentlemen. If you will, I have a curiosity
that perhaps Mr. Roosevelt may answer
for me, gentlemen. And it is with no disinterest
or disrespect in your messages, which have intrigued
me greatly. But I’m curious, Mr. Roosevelt,
that as you perhaps might know, I have come to
represent the Democratical Republican platform. And therefore I’m trying
to understand your particular platform. You are wont to pronounce, quite
correctly in my opinion, that government must always be
the servant of the people, not the master. It governs through their
recognition and their aprobation, and that alone. And yet, you are wont to go
on to suggest that such a government should
be responsible for deficit of spending. Now, the one I see as servant. The mission of the government
is strictly, indeed in my opinion, Republican and very
much a foundation of the Democratical Republican
platform. And yet your other — that the
government should support the deficit of spending — appears
to me very Federalist and Hamiltonian, suggesting large
and central governments. As you know, I always objected
to this particular philosophy of General Hamilton. So I’m curious, which
do you stand upon? Is it the Republican principle,
Federalist principle, or Democratical
Republican principle? Yes. [LAUGHTER] And I am curious, indeed, are
you related to one successful merchant in the port
of New York by the name of Isaac Roosevelt? Indeed I am. You are a Federalist. Mr. Jefferson, you must
understand that things have changed dramatically
since your day. The day of the honest yeoman
farmer — who could control his means of production through
his own hard work, supply for himself and his
family and his betterment — those days are largely over. We’ve become a great
industrial power. Perhaps the greatest on
the face of the Earth. Many don’t work on the farms
anymore, they don’t own their own land, in fact some don’t
own any land at all. They work for wages in
the factories and the mines of our nation. And so the economics of this
United States has been altered over the years. No, no one likes deficit
spending. But I think you will agree that
as the servant of the people, the government must see
to the security and the opportunity of the people to
survive, to better themselves, to have opportunity to go
forward and fulfill those talents which God
has given them. Well, some of these have been
taken away from people. Where you fought against
Royalists to gain our freedom so that we would no longer be
under their [? control ?] I myself have fought against
economic royalists. And I believe that our
government should be a servant to all the people, not simply
those with big bank accounts. That’s all the people. Now, as to the size
of government. With the depression, the
size had to increase. But you’ll notice now
that we’re here in 1944, the CCC is gone. The WPA is gone. I think government should expand
and contract, depending upon the needs of the people. And I think if we ever get to
the point that this government is self-perpetuating, where
it grows on its own, when suddenly politicians realize
that, I can be elected if I promise people I’m going to
give them something for nothing, then we’re going to be
in a great deal of trouble. No. Again, governance
in all things. That’s the key to a republic,
and I think you will agree. I do indeed, Mr. Roosevelt. As you know, I have written
that the only purpose of government and its laws is
simply to protect its people from injury by one another. Otherwise, to leave them free
that they might pursue their own industry and their
own improvement. Do we still have a
national bank? No, we do not. We have the Federal
Reserve System. Doesn’t sound over to me. Well, President Reagan, I
have a question for you. Fire away. What in the world possessed
you to become a Republican after voting for me
for four times? Well you know, Frank, there’s
an old saying. If a man is 18 and he’s not a
Democrat, he has no heart. But if a man is 35
and he’s not a Republican, he has no brain. What I believe that happened —
of course, you know I’m a great admirer of yours. When I became president,
the top income bracket was taxed 70%. The top income bracket, anything
that people made, they only got to keep 30%. When I left office, that
same bracket was 28%. Some people would say that,
well you’re just trying to make it easy for rich folks. No. I was just trying to encourage
everyone else to get rich and reap the benefits too. It’s more kind of like the
carrot and carrot approach. The carrot and carrot. Very good. I think Cal is going to sleep,
we better ask him a question. I have a question I’d like
to ask of the president. Why, in 1928, did you choose not
to run for office again, to run for re-election? Well, of course, that was
in August of 1927. I was out in South Dakota and I
held one of my twice-weekly press conferences at the
Rapid City High School. And I had the reporters line up
in front of me and, as they filed by, I gave each one of
them a slip of yellow paper. And when they opened it up, it
read, “I do not choose to run for president in 1928.” And
many, many people speculated on what did I mean by
the word “choose”. Well, I meant I did not choose
to run for president in 1928. And as you look back at our
presidents, you will usually find that in their second term,
there are often some gravely disappointing
occurrences, often embarrassing in nature. And it seemed to be a very good
idea to get out while they still wanted me. If I had stayed in Washington, I
would have been there for 10 years, and that seemed
entirely too long. Aside from that, I chose not to
run for president because I didn’t see any opportunity
for advancement. I’m inclined to believe
accordingly, Mr. Reagan, and yet I’ve heard astounding
information this evening with Mr. Roosevelt’s revelation about
becoming a nation of merchants, and merchandising,
and industry, and manufacture. You thereby say that their
greatest advantage, the greatest opportunity they
had, lest we forget? Go to America. Come here, acquire land. An opportunity available to the
hundredth and thousandth generation of farmers
yet to come. I hope so. That we still have a
title to our land. I hope so, that a farmer will
recognize that he truly holds the reins of self government. For providing for himself
his sustinence. The sustenance of his family,
his neighborhood, his nation. He is not prone to someone that
stands in between him and those who receive the product
of his resources. So I look with great hope to
what Mr. Reagan has said, and I hope that we can continue to
claim the land and to provide that, as well, for generations
yet unborn. He can talk, can’t he? Moving along. In the final segment of this
evening’s program, the five gentlemen here on stage have
agreed to step out of character and field your
questions as historians, actors, character
interpreters. And first i’d just like to say
a word about each of the five so you get to know them just
a little bit better. Starting from your left
to the right. Bill Barker has been a frequent
star at Hauenstein Center programs. He comes to
us from Tidewater, Virginia where he’s been at Colonial
Williamsburg portraying Thomas Jefferson for about 18 years. Jim Cooke also has starred in
Hauenstein Center programs. He’s based in Quincy,
Massachusetts and he’s regaled Americans as Calvin Coolidge,
by my count, for more than 35 years. Paddy Morrissey hails from San
Francisco and has been doing his Ronald Reagan shtick
for more than a quarter of a century. Thirty years! John Hamant also comes to us
from colonial Williamsburg where he has portrayed Franklin
Roosevelt for more than 17 years. And Brian Hilton teaches high
school in Virginia and he’s been entertaining audiences with
his John Kennedy act for some 23 years.

About the author

Comments

  1. if this was real, i´d be doing a major double take at the man on the far left of the stage….i would be doing more than just shaking his hand…i would stare at him and bow down to him…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *