Quote Origin: Don’t Join the Book Burners. Don’t Think You Are Going To Conceal Faults by Concealing Evidence That They Ever Existed

Dwight D. Eisenhower? William Safire? Apocryphal?

Question for Quote Investigator: Historically, the censorship impulse has been enormously powerful and nearly universal. Interestingly, the nature of the repressed material has been highly variable. It has included sexual, ideological, religious, cultural, and military topics.

The opposition to censorship has also been forcefully expressed. Apparently, a U.S. President once said:

Don’t join the book burners … Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.

Do you know who said this? Would you please help me to find a citation?

Reply from Quote Investigator: U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower delivered the commencement address at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire on June 14th, 1953. A transcript appeared in “The New York Times” the following day. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1

Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book as long as any document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.

How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is? What it teaches—why does it have such an appeal for men? Why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It’s almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.

Additional details and citations are available in the article on the Medium platform which is located here.

Image Notes: Illustration of a burning book from Freddy Kearney at Unsplash. The image has been cropped.

Acknowledgement: Great thanks to Sue Ferrara whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.

[1] 1953 June 15, New York Times, The Texts of Eisenhower Speeches at Dartmouth and Oyster Bay: Speech at Dartmouth, Quote Page 10, Column 5, New York. (ProQuest)