"Chance for Peace" Speech - Dwight Eisenhower


"Chance for Peace" Speech - Dwight Eisenhower


The Chance for Peace speech, also known as the Cross of Iron speech, was an address given by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 16, 1953, shortly after the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Speaking only three months into his presidency, Eisenhower likened arms spending to stealing from the people, and evoked William Jennings Bryan in describing "humanity hanging from a cross of iron." Although Eisenhower, a former military man, spoke against increased military spending, the Cold War deepened during his administration and political pressures for increased military spending mounted. By the time he left office in 1961, he felt it necessary to warn of the military-industrial complex.

The speech was addressed to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, in Washington D.C., on April 16, 1953. Eisenhower took an opportunity to highlight the cost of continued tensions and rivalry with the Soviet Union While addressed to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the speech was broadcast nationwide, through use of television and radio, from the Statler Hotel. He noted that not only were there military dangers (as had been demonstrated by the Korean War), but an arms race would place a huge domestic burden on both nations:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron"


White House


May 29, 1959



- excellent video provided on this webpage


Eisenhower Presidential Library


Eisenhower Presidential Library, U.S. Embassy, History.com


White House, U.S. Embassy, History.com









Arms Spending, Eisenhower, Poverty, Public Needs, Priorities, Defense


United States.




White House, "Chance for Peace" Speech - Dwight Eisenhower, Eisenhower Presidential Library, U.S. Embassy, History.com, May 29, 1959

Cite As

White House , “"Chance for Peace" Speech - Dwight Eisenhower,” Virtual Museum of Public Service, accessed August 19, 2022, https://vmps.omeka.net/items/show/692.