7. Editorial Note

On July 15, 1976, former Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter accepted the Democratic nomination for President and addressed delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Madison Square Garden in New York. In his acceptance speech, Carter referenced the relationship between security and peace and discussed the American character as it related to U.S. interactions with the world:

“The foremost responsibility of any President, above all else, is to guarantee the security of our nation—a guarantee of freedom from the threat of successful attack or blackmail, and the ability with our allies to maintain peace.

“But peace is not the mere absence of war. Peace is action to stamp out international terrorism. Peace is the unceasing effort to preserve human rights. Peace is a combined demonstration of strength and good will. We will pray for peace and we will work for peace, until we have removed from all nations for all time the threat of nuclear destruction.

“America’s birth opened a new chapter in mankind’s history. Ours was the first nation to dedicate itself clearly to the basic moral and philosophical principles: that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the power of government is derived from the consent of the governed.

“This national commitment was a singular act of wisdom and courage, and it brought the best and bravest from other nations to our shores. It was a revolutionary development that captured the imagination of mankind. It created a basis for a unique role of America—that of [Page 39]a pioneer in shaping more decent and just relations among people and among societies.

“Today, two hundred years later, we must address ourselves to that role, both in what we do at home and how we act abroad—among people everywhere who have become politically more alert, socially more congested, and increasingly impatient with global inequities, and who are now organized, as you know, into some one hundred and fifty different nations. This calls for nothing less than a sustained architectural effort to shape an international framework of peace within which our own ideals gradually can become a global reality.

“Our nation should always derive its character directly from the people and let this be the strength and the image to be presented to the world—the character of the American people.

“To our friends and allies I say that what unites us through our common dedication to democracy is much more important than that which occasionally divides us on economics or politics. To the nations that seek to lift themselves from poverty I say that America shares your aspirations and extends its hand to you. To those nation-states that wish to compete with us I say that we neither fear competition nor see it as an obstacle to wider cooperation. To all people I say that after two hundred years America still remains confident and youthful in its commitment to freedom and equality, and we always will be.” (The Presidential Campaign 1976, volume I, part I: Jimmy Carter, pages 351–352)

The full text of the speech was printed in The New York Times on July 16. Memoranda and comments on the speech drafts are in the Carter Library, 1976 Presidential Campaign, Issues Office, Issues Office—Stuart Eizenstat, Box 1, Acceptance Speech, 7/76.