Sep 17, 2020
Donald Trump Speech Transcript September 17: White House History Conference
President Donald Trump and VP Mike Pence spoke at the White House Conference on American History on September 17. President Trump announced that he will soon sign an executive order to establish a “national commission to promote patriotic education.” He is calling it the “1776 Commission” after criticizing the New York Times’ 1619 Project. Read the transcript of their speeches here.
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Vice President Mike Pence: (00:10)
Thank you all. To Secretary Carson, Secretary Devos, Dr. Larry Yarn, educators, students, and participants, and all those looking on for this White House Conference on American history, welcome to the National Archives. It’s an honor to be with you all.
Vice President Mike Pence: (00:37)
Vice President Mike Pence: (00:39)
Today is Constitution Day, a day in which we celebrate the work of genius that’s preserved in these very halls. 233 years ago today, our founders completed what for them was the work of a nation, but for humanity, a work for the ages: the Constitution of the United States of America.
Vice President Mike Pence: (01:10)
For the first time in history, a government was founded by we, the people, to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty for themselves and their posterity. John Adams, our first Vice-President, aptly described our Constitution in his words as, “The single greatest effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.” And so it was. But we all know the summer of 1787 didn’t just happen. It was preceded by the summer of 1776 and the signing of our Declaration of Independence, whose magisterial words continue to echo into our time, that we as Americans hold certain truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. And that among these are life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Vice President Mike Pence: (02:22)
With those words, America laid the foundations for a government whose purpose, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln was, and I quote, “to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all.” As the word, inscribed on the walls of these National Archives read: “This building holds, in trust, the records of our national life and symbolizes our faith in the permanency of our national institutions.” The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the greatest charters of freedom the world has ever known.
Vice President Mike Pence: (03:12)
The character of our people and the principles enshrined there are the reason for our nation’s unparalleled success, and they remain the greatest bulwark against tyranny in history. And the reason is simple: our founders knew history. Sadly, we live in a time when too many are forgetting history. Today, Thomas Jefferson warned that, “if a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” But sadly, we live in a time when some seek to erase our history and deny our nation’s relentless march toward a more perfect union.
Vice President Mike Pence: (04:06)
As President Trump has observed, in too many of our schools and universities, millions of young people are educated by those who seek to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. But we gather here today, soon to hear from the President of the United States, as Americans who are committed to affirming the greatness of this nation and the ideals of our founders.
Vice President Mike Pence: (04:46)
Our President understands what we all understand, if we don’t teach the next generation the principles enshrined in these halls, we can’t expect them to preserve them. No one can preserve what they do not love, and no one can love what they do not know. That’s why on this Constitution Day, our President will reaffirm our commitment to the principles and liberties that this administration has championed from day one, and take measurable steps to ensure that future generations will continue to understand the historical and philosophical roots of our nation.
Vice President Mike Pence: (05:29)
What we do here today is a part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that the rising generation will be able to do their part, as we know they will, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. And this we know they will do because these principles are not just enshrined in these National Archives, they’re enshrined in the hearts of the American people.
Vice President Mike Pence: (05:59)
And I know these great principles will prevail because like our President, I have faith in the American people. And I have faith that he who guided our founders on this day, 233 years ago, guides us still. For as the father of our Constitution, James Madison, reflected on this day. And I quote, “it is impossible not to perceive in it a finger of that almighty hand, which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief at critical stages of the revolution.” So it’s Constitution Day in America, and with gratitude to all of those who have gone before and gratitude to all of you who are gathered here, who love and cherish our heritage of freedom, with gratitude to God who has ever guided the destiny of this land, and gratitude to a President who has ever championed the freedoms and ideals enshrined in this place, it is now my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to you the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump: (07:21)
Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. Great Vice-President.
President Donald Trump: (08:04)
I’m truly honored to be here at the very first White House Conference on American History. So important. Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character. We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.
President Donald Trump: (08:56)
To grow up in America is to live in a land where anything is possible, where anyone can rise, and where any dream can come true. All because of the immortable principles our nation’s founders inscribed nearly two and a half centuries ago. That’s why we’ve come to the National Archives, the sacred home of our national memory. In this great chamber, we preserve our glorious inheritance, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights. On this very day in 1787, our founding fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization. Our Constitution was the product of centuries of tradition, wisdom, and experience. No political document has done more to advance the human condition or propel the engine of progress. Yet, as we gather this afternoon, a radical movement is attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance. We can’t let that happen.
President Donald Trump: (10:30)
The left wing mobs have torn down statues of our founders, desecrated our memorials, and carried out a campaign of violence and anarchy. Far left demonstrators have chanted the words, “America was never great.” The Left has launched a vicious and violent assault on law enforcement, the universal symbol of the rule of law in America. These radicals have been aided and abetted by liberal politicians, establishment, media, and even large corporations. Whether it is the mob on the street or the cancel culture in the boardroom, the goal is the same: to silence dissent, to scare you out of speaking the truth, and to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage, and their very way of life.
President Donald Trump: (11:33)
We are here today to declare that we will never submit to tyranny. We will reclaim our history and our country for citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed. The radicals burning American flags want to burn down the principles enshrined in our founding documents, including the bedrock principle of equal justice under law. In order to radically transform America, they must first cause Americans to lose confidence in who we are, where we came from, and what we believe.
President Donald Trump: (12:18)
As I said at Mount Rushmore, which they would love to rip down and rip it down fast, that’s never going to happen. Two months ago, the left wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution. As many of you testified today, the left wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left wing indoctrination in our schools. It’s gone on far too long. Our children are instructed from propaganda tracks like those of Howard Zinn that try to make students ashamed of their own history. The Left has warped, distorted, and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods, and lies.
President Donald Trump: (13:16)
There’s no better example than the New York Times totally discredited 1619 Project. This project rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s founding set in motion the unstoppable chain of events that abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated communism and fascism, and built the most fair, equal, and prosperous nation in human history.
President Donald Trump: (14:10)
The narratives about America being pushed by the far left and being chanted in the streets bear a striking resemblance to the anti-American propaganda of our adversaries, because both groups want to see America weakened, derided, and totally diminished. Students in our universities are inundated with Critical Race Theory. This is a Marxist document holding that America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression, and that our entire society must be radically transformed. Critical Race Theory is being forced into our children’s schools, it’s being imposed into workplace trainings, and it’s being deployed to rip apart friends, neighbors, and families.
President Donald Trump: (15:16)
A perfect example of Critical Race Theory was recently published by the Smithsonian Institution. This document alleged that concepts such as hard work, rational thinking, and the nuclear family, and belief in God were not values that unite all Americans, but we’re instead aspects of whiteness. This is offensive and outrageous to Americans of every ethnicity and it’s especially harmful to children of minority backgrounds who should be uplifted, not disparaged. Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words. For many years now, the radicals have mistaken American’s silence for weakness, but they’re wrong. There is no more powerful force than a parent’s love for their children, and patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country. American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at our work, or the repression of traditional faith, culture, and values in the public square. Not anymore.
President Donald Trump: (17:26)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
President Donald Trump: (17:30)
We embrace the vision of Martin Luther King, where children are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. The Left is attempting to destroy that beautiful vision and divide Americans by race, in the service of political power. By viewing every issue through the lens of race, they want to impose a new segregation and we must not allow that to happen. Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda. Ideological poison, that if not removed will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together, will destroy our country. That is why I recently banned trainings in this prejudiced ideology from the federal government and banned it in the strongest manner possible.
President Donald Trump: (18:51)
The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans. That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools. Under our leadership, the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant to support the development of a pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.
President Donald Trump: (19:30)
We’re joined by some of the respected scholars involved in this project, including Professor Wilford McClay. Wilford? Please. Thank you very much, Wilford. Thank you.
President Donald Trump: (19:53)
Dr. Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars. Dr. Peter?
President Donald Trump: (20:04)
And Ted Rebarber. Thank you, Ted. Thank you very much, Ted.
President Donald Trump: (20:13)
Today, I’m also pleased to announce that I was soon sign an executive order establishing a national commission to promote patriotic education. It will be called the 1776 Commission.
President Donald Trump: (20:45)
Thank you. It will encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of our founding. Think of that, 250 years. Recently, I also signed an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans who have ever lived. Today, I’m announcing a new name for inclusion. One of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence was a Patriot from Delaware. In July of 1776, the Continental Congress was deadlocked during the debate over independence. The delegation from Delaware was divided. Caesar Rodney was called upon to break the tie. Even though he was suffering from very advanced cancer, he was deathly ill, Rodney rode 80 miles through the night, through a severe thunderstorm, from Dover to Philadelphia, to cast his vote for independence.
President Donald Trump: (22:18)
For nearly a century, a statue of one of Delaware’s most beloved citizens stood in Rodney Square, right in the heart of Wilmington. But this past June, Caesar Rodney’s statue was ordered removed by the mayor and local politicians as part of a radical purge of America’s founding generation. Today, because of an order I signed, if you demolish a statue without permission, you immediately get 10 years in prison.
President Donald Trump: (23:12)
And there have been no statues demolished for the last four months, incredibly, since the time I signed that act. Joe Biden said nothing as to his home state’s history and the fact that it was dismantled, and dismembered, and a founding fathers statue was removed. Today, America will give this founding father, this very brave man who was so horribly treated, the place of honor he deserves. I am announcing that the statue of Caesar Rodney will be added to the National Garden of American Heroes.
President Donald Trump: (24:17)
From Washington to Lincoln, from Jefferson to King, America has been home to some of the most incredible people who have ever lived. With the help of everyone here today, the legacy of 1776 will never be erased. Our heroes will never be forgotten. Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their soul. We will save this cherished inheritance for our children, for their children, and for every generation to come. This is a very important day. Thank you all once again for being here. Now I will sign the Constitution Day proclamation. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much.