Eisenhower Presidential Library Store

Gently in Manner Desk Plate

SKU E9487

This is a replica of the Desk Plate that sat on President Eisenhower’s desk in the Oval Office. Like the original, which now sits in The Smithsonian Institution, this replica carries a motto inscribed in Latin on one side,

Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re

and on the other side it displays both the Latin and its English translation:

Gently in Manner, Strongly in Deed

Documents in the Eisenhower Presidential Library reveal Ike’s admiration for Teddy Roosevelt extended to Roosevelt’s motto, “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” Ike surmised the motto had Latin origin. When his staff researched the phrase, they discovered a similar Latin proverb which applied to Ike’s leadership style, Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re, or “Gently in manner, strongly in deed.”

In August 1954, former State Department official Dudley Kirk wrote his friend Gabriel Hauge, Administrative Assistant to President Eisenhower. Kirk’s letter closed with a hope that Hauge was “helping to justify our motto for the President – ‘Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re.’” Hauge wrote to Ann Whitman, Ike’s personal secretary, suggesting she mention the motto and its translation to Eisenhower. She verified the translation and origination from a 1606 treatise by Claudio Aqua Viva, a Jesuit priest.

On August 24, Hauge wrote to Kirk indicating he had shared the motto with the President. He continued, “Shortly thereafter I was sitting across his desk…when I noted facing me the quotation placed on the back of his pen set. I thought that you would want to know that he was obviously pleased that these words could be interpreted as a symbol of his approach to his work.”

The Eisenhower Presidential Library holdings provide insight into Ike’s extraordinary leadership and legacy. With over 26 million pages in the archives, there are countless research topics available. The history of Ike’s desk plate is just one example. For more information on researching the holdings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, please visit www.eisenhower.archives.gov.

Made of wood sandwiched by black matte board, the original Desk Plate bore gold lettering. Our replica is close to the original’s dimensions, but in re-creating it we decided to use only wood so as to provide you with an artifact that would not only be a source of daily inspiration, but would also be durable as well. We think it will be a handsome addition to your desk or book shelf. The Desk Plate’s dimensions are 8” x 1-3/4”x 3/4”. Please click on "More Pictures" to see larger views of the Desk Plate, it's packaging, and pictures of President Eisenhower at his desk with the Desk Plate in front of him.

Your purchase supports the education and exhibit programs of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

    Your Price $35.00

    Customer Reviews

    this is a great, quality item. like the quote and it's a good reminder for each day.

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