Peace with Honor

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"Peace with Honor" was a phrase U.S. President Richard M. Nixon used in a speech on January 23, 1973 to describe the Paris Peace Accord to end the Vietnam War. The phrase is a variation on a campaign promise Nixon made in 1968: "I pledge to you that we shall have an honorable end to the war in Vietnam."[1] The treaty specified that a ceasefire would take place four days later. According to the plan, within sixty days of the ceasefire, the North Vietnamese would release all U.S. prisoners, and all U.S. troops would withdraw from South Vietnam. On March 29, 1973, the last U.S. soldier left Vietnam. On 30 April 1975, Saigon fell to North Vietnamese troops.[2] While Nixon's campaign used the phrase, as a rhetorical trope it has a very long pedigree of use by politicians as can be seen by the list below.

Earlier uses[edit]

  • 49 BC Cicero "Until we know whether we are to have peace without honour or war with its calamities, I have thought it best to for them to stay at my house in Formiae and the boys too."[3]
  • ca. 1145 Theobald II, Count of Champagne "Peace with honor" written in a letter to King Louis VII of France.[4]
  • 1607 William Shakespeare "That it shall hold companionship in peace/With honour, as in war."[5]
  • 1775 Edmund Burke "The superior power may offer peace with honor and with safety....But the concessions of the weak are concessions of fear." [6]
  • 1878 Benjamin Disraeli (British prime minister) "Lord Salisbury and myself have brought you back peace—but a peace I hope with honour, which may satisfy our sovereign and tend to the welfare of our country."[7] Said upon returning from the Congress of Berlin. Wags paraphrased this as "Peace with honour -- and Cyprus too."
  • 1916 Wilson Business Men's League "Wilson and peace with honor or Hughes with Roosevelt and War?" Part of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's reelection campaign.[8]
  • 1934 A. A. Milne (English writer) "'Peace with Honour' a denunciation of war" A. A. Milne#Biography
  • 1938 Neville Chamberlain (British prime minister) "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is 'peace for our time.' Go home and get a nice quiet sleep." Said upon returning from the Munich Conference.[9]
  • 1938 Winston Churchill criticizing Chamberlain's appeasement with Hitler, commented: "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war."[10] Churchill's position was later vindicated by the German invasion of Poland, which compelled Britain to enter the war.


  1. ^ Nixon TV ad
  2. ^ Gilbert Morales, Critical Perspectives on the Vietnam War, p. 120-125, 2005, ISBN 1-4042-0063-0, ISBN 978-1-4042-0063-0
  3. ^ Cicero, Cicero: Letters to Atticus, Volume 4, Books 7.10-10, p. 29.
  4. ^ Hoyt's New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations, 1922.
  5. ^ Shakespeare, William, Coriolanus Act iii. Sc. 2.
  6. ^ Burke, Edmund, "On Conciliation with the Colonies" (1775).
  7. ^ Safire, William, Safire's Political Dictionary (2008), p. 531
  8. ^ Commager, Henry Steele and Richard B. Morris, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era 1910-1917 (1972).
  9. ^ Chamberlain, Neville, "Peace for Our Time, September 30, 1938.
  10. ^ Churchill, W.S., "Dishonour and War, September 30, 1938.

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