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Richard G. Trefry Archives Exhibits

American Public University System’s Richard G. Trefry Archives contain documents and items that represent the history, development, and progress of the institution as its recorded memory.

Military-Industrial Complex

Seldom does a writer put forth a phrase that encapsulates so perfectly and so succinctly an idea, and seldom still does that phrase come to life and stumble out of the grasps of its creator to live a wholly independent life. That though is what happened when President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the eve of his presidency before handing matters over to John F. Kennedy.

During his farewell address, President Eisenhower uttered the phrase "military-industrial complex" espousing caution of allowing this coalition of the military and defense industries from gaining amounts of influence in American society. It was an astonishing argument for both coming from one of American's greatest military leaders and also one of the more milquetoast presidents.

These forces helped turn "military-industrial complex" into a fire starter of sorts of that still reverberate to this day. The genius of its phrasing and that it can be pulled out and interpreted in a variety of different ways and for a variety of different purposes.

Through the donation of Lt. Gen. Richard G. Trefry's personal papers, the University Archives is making available this series of illuminating letters and interviews from President Eisenhower's speechwriters and researchers to provide important context to such a misunderstood and misused phrase.