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Remarks at Dedication of General Motors Research Center in Detroit.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  General Motors

Remarks at Dedication of General Motors Research Center in Detroit.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
May 16, 1956

[Broadcast from the White House over closed circuit television]

Members of the General Motors family:

It is truly an honor to participate with you today in this dedication of this new and great research center of America. It is a new adventure for frontiersmen. The history of America is a history of frontiers, and each frontier has been a challenge to Americans to dare more, to do more, to go forward faster and on a broader front.

We had geographical frontiers, always lying out there to the West of the Appalachians, challenging every person that was an inhabitant of those first thirteen Colonies. And so we had Lewis and Clark, and Pike, and all the rest opening up that great country. Even today some of those frontiers still remain, and we have great and gallant Americans exploring the Antarctic and the Arctic. Always a frontier--the challenge--and the response.

We had our economic frontiers. We started as a nation of small farms and little shops when the fur trade was in its infancy. And we learned about the gold in California; we learned about the great expanses of the West where we could raise cattle and produce our food. Frontiersmen went into them. We built roads and railroads to open up all those lands. Inventors came along and we had great machines to meet our needs. And so we had the great economic revolution of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that has so changed our lives.

We were a nation of political frontiersmen. The reason that today we so admire Franklin and Washington and Patrick Henry--Jefferson, Lincoln, is because they dared to think new thoughts about the way that men should govern themselves--the institutions and the procedures they should set up--and devised a scheme that has stood the test of time and has met our need for progress, with men enjoying equal justice, rights, and the great opportunities.

So it might be said that the frontiersman is symbolic of the United States. General Motors was rounded by frontiersmen, people who were not satisfied with what we had and were determined to make it possible for men to travel faster and better and in greater comfort. Among those frontiersmen, two of your greatest were, of course, Alfred Sloan, Jr., and Mr. Kettering. Their accomplishments were so great in the technological field that today their names are household words in our country. Even since they have at least partially laid aside their work in that regard, they are still frontiersmen, showing us all how duties and citizenship can better be performed, how men can better discharge their duties in this country as citizens.

Here with me today is another frontiersman. I have just had lunch with him--the President of the great country of Indonesia. America is honored that President Sukarno has come to visit us. He wants to see, among other things, this great research center you are establishing, and he is going to visit you on May twenty eighth.

This particular Center is a place for leadership in furthering new attacks on the technological frontier. Beyond that frontier lie better and fuller employment, opportunities for people to demonstrate yet again the value of a system based on the dignity of human beings, and on their free opportunities in life. Beyond it lie people, better capable of working with others so that they may share what they learn with our friends in the world.

We hope that we will be fortunate enough to be able to give President Sukarno something that he may carry to his people. We would be very proud indeed if he should find something here worthwhile carrying back.

So in this technological center, we have this development of new machines responding in their efficiency to the constantly inquiring mind of the technician, that they in turn will produce yet broader freedoms and richer dignity for human beings, more rewarding lives, for all America and we hope through all the world.

So now, as I say goodbye, good luck to each of you, let me wish every success to this new technological center of General Motors.

Good afternoon.

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