Eisenhower Library Releases New Records on Ike’s Farewell Speech

Recently discovered memos, letters, and drafts documenting the evolution and writing of the most famous presidential farewell address in modern American history are now open to researchers at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. The Eisenhower Presidential Library received the material from Grant Moos, son of Malcolm Moos, a special assistant to President Eisenhower and his chief speechwriter at the time of the speech.

“The new records constitute a remarkable addition to what is known about this landmark speech,” said Karl Weissenbach, Library director. “We are all familiar with the phrase ‘military-industrial complex.’ Now we know even more of its history. One interesting new fact is that planning for the January 1961 speech began in May 1959.”

The addition of the Moos papers to Library holdings fills a gap in the records, according to Weissenbach. Library staff was aware of the Moos collection but did not know where the records were for 50 years. This mystery was solved by Grant Moos when he found the papers in the family’s Minnesota cabin.

The new records document the evolution of the Farewell Address from the earliest plans for the speech in May 1959 to multiple drafts in the final weeks leading up to the speech. Researchers now have access to 21 new drafts never before seen by the public. The drafts are annotated by Moos, fellow speechwriter Ralph Williams, and most significantly, Dr. Milton Eisenhower. “The Milton Eisenhower draft is quite significant,” added Weissenbach.

The records also document Moos’ involvement with Republican Party politics, as well as multiple drafts of the 1961 State of the Union address, including annotations in Eisenhower’s own hand.

January 17, 2011, will mark the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s farewell address. The Newseum in Washington, D.C. will host a symposium on January 18 to discuss the legacy of the speech. This event is co-sponsored by the Eisenhower Institute and Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

The Moos materials are available for research in the research room of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum and select documents are available online. Researcher application forms and other helpful information for conducting research at the Library are available on the web site (www.eisenhower.archives.gov). The research room is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Due to the heavy demand for access to the newly-released documents, there may be a time limit imposed upon researchers wishing to examine them.