THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 18, 2001
FAREWELL ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE NATION
The Oval Office
8:00 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, tonight is my last
opportunity to speak to you from the Oval Office as your President. I am
profoundly grateful to you for twice giving me the honor to serve -- to
work for you and with you to prepare our nation for the 21st century.
And I'm grateful to Vice President Gore, to my Cabinet
Secretaries, and to all those who have served with me for the last eight
This has been a time of dramatic transformation, and you have
risen to every new challenge. You have made our social fabric stronger,
our families healthier and safer, our people more prosperous. You, the
American people, have made our passage into the global information age an
era of great American renewal.
In all the work I have done as President -- every decision I have
made, every executive action I have taken, every bill I have proposed and
signed, I've tried to give all Americans the tools and conditions to build
the future of our dreams in a good society, with a strong economy, a
cleaner environment, and a freer, safer, more prosperous world.
I have steered my course by our enduring values -- opportunity
for all, responsibility from all, a community of all Americans. I have
sought to give America a new kind of government, smaller, more modern, more
effective, full of ideas and policies appropriate to this new time, always
putting people first, always focusing on the future.
Working together, America has done well. Our economy is breaking
records, with more than 22 million new jobs, the lowest unemployment in 30
years, the highest home ownership ever, the longest expansion in history.
Our families and communities are stronger. Thirty-five million
Americans have used the Family Leave law; 8 million have moved off welfare.
Crime is at a 25-year low. Over 10 million Americans receive more college
aid, and more people than ever are going to college. Our schools are
better. Higher standards, greater accountability and larger investments
have brought higher test scores and higher graduation rates.
More than 3 million children have health insurance now, and more
than 7 million Americans have been lifted out of poverty. Incomes are
rising across the board. Our air and water are cleaner. Our food and
drinking water are safer. And more of our precious land has been preserved
in the continental United States than at any time in a hundred years.
America has been a force for peace and prosperity in every corner
of the globe. I'm very grateful to be able to turn over the reins of
leadership to a new President with America in such a strong position to
meet the challenges of the future.
Tonight I want to leave you with three thoughts about our future.
First, America must maintain our record of fiscal responsibility.
Through our last four budgets we've turned record deficits to
record surpluses, and we've been able to pay down $600 billion of our
national debt, on track to be debt-free by the end of the decade for the
first time since 1835. Staying on that course will bring lower interest
rates, greater prosperity, and the opportunity to meet our big challenges.
If we choose wisely, we can pay down the debt, deal with the retirement of
the baby boomers, invest more in our future, and provide tax relief.
Second, because the world is more connected every day, in every
way, America's security and prosperity require us to continue to lead in
the world. At this remarkable moment in history, more people live in
freedom than ever before. Our alliances are stronger than ever. People
all around the world look to America to be a force for peace and
prosperity, freedom and security.
The global economy is giving more of our own people and billions
around the world the chance to work and live and raise their families with
dignity. But the forces of integration that have created these good
opportunities also make us more subject to global forces of destruction --
to terrorism, organized crime and narco trafficking, the spread of deadly
weapons and disease, the degradation of the global environment.
The expansion of trade hasn't fully closed the gap between those
of us who live on the cutting edge of the global economy and the billions
around the world who live on the knife's edge of survival. This global gap
requires more than compassion; it requires action. Global poverty is a
powder keg that could be ignited by our indifference.
In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson warned of
entangling alliances. But in our times, America cannot, and must not,
disentangle itself from the world. If we want the world to embody our
shared values, then we must assume a shared responsibility.
If the wars of the 20th century, especially the recent ones in
Kosovo and Bosnia, have taught us anything, it is that we achieve our aims
by defending our values, and leading the forces of freedom and peace. We
must embrace boldly and resolutely that duty to lead -- to stand with our
allies in word and deed, and to put a human face on the global economy, so
that expanded trade benefits all peoples in all nations, lifting lives and
hopes all across the world.
Third, we must remember that America cannot lead in the world
unless here at home we weave the threads of our coat of many colors into
the fabric of one America. As we become ever more diverse, we must work
harder to unite around our common values and our common humanity. We must
work harder to overcome our differences, in our hearts and in our laws. We
must treat all our people with fairness and dignity, regardless of their
race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, and regardless of when they
arrived in our country; always moving toward the more perfect union of our
Hillary, Chelsea and I join all Americans in wishing our very
best to the next President, George W. Bush, to his family and his
administration, in meeting these challenges, and in leading freedom's march
in this new century.
As for me, I'll leave the presidency more idealistic, more full
of hope than the day I arrived, and more confident than ever that America's
best days lie ahead.
My days in this office are nearly through, but my days of
service, I hope, are not. In the years ahead, I will never hold a position
higher or a covenant more sacred than that of President of the United
States. But there is no title I will wear more proudly than that of
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.
END 8:10 P.M. EST