June 19, 2017

President Kennedy, Independence Hall July 4th 1962





Governor Powell, Your Excellency the Archbishop, Governor Lawrence, Mayor Tate, Senator Clark, Congressman Green, distinguished Governors, ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Philadelphia:

It is a high honor for any citizen of our great Republic to speak at this Hall of Independence on this day of Independence. To speak as President of the United States to the Chief Executives of our 50 States is both an opportunity and an obligation. The necessity for comity between the National Government and the several States is an indelible lesson of our long history.

Because our system is designed to encourage both differences and dissent, because its checks and balances are designed to preserve the rights of the individual and the locality against preeminent central authority, you and I, Governors, recognize how dependent we both are, one upon the other, for the successful operation of our unique and happy form of government. Our system and our freedom permit the legislative to be pitted against the executive, the State against the Federal Government, the city against the countryside, party against party, interest against interest, all in competition or in contention one with another. Our task--your task in the State House and my task in the White House--is to weave from all these tangled threads a fabric of law and progress. We are not permitted the luxury of irresolution. Others may confine themselves to debate, discussion, and that ultimate luxury--free advice. Our responsibility is one of decision--for to govern is to choose.