Study Guide

Executive Order 10730: Little Rock Nine Quotes

By Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • Choices

    Certain persons in the state of Arkansas […] have wilfully obstructed the enforcement of orders of the United States District Court. (2)

    The United States District Court had agreed that the law (integration) is valid. Some individuals in Arkansas have decided it's not. Eisenhower's got the subtweet down when he calls out "certain persons" who aren't following the law. He's basically saying, "you know who you are." They made their choice, and he's making his.

    Such wilful obstruction of justice […] makes it impracticable to enforce such laws by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. (3)

    Usually, when a law goes into effect, people obey it. That's not happening here, and Eisenhower's had enough. In this line, he emphasizes how destructive this is to the judicial process in general—if people continue to blatantly ignore laws, then the whole system starts to fall apart.

    The command contained in that Proclamation [No. 3204] has not been obeyed and wilful obstruction of enforcement of said court orders still exists and threatens to continue. (6)

    The lawbreakers were given the opportunity to stop, but they chose not to. It's one thing to choose not to obey a law; it's way worse to actively obstruct it, Faubus's choice is about to bring the hammer down on Little Rock.

    The Secretary of Defense is authorized and directed to take all appropriate steps to enforce any orders of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas for the removal of obstruction of justice. (9)

    Since the courts can't function in their usual capacity (i.e., the law was disregarded), the military will help them out. We're guessing it's a bit easier to say no to a judge than it is to the 101st Airborne. These folks were dispersed by guys with rifles and bayonets, some of whom probably had their own doubts about integration. Unlike the protestors, they chose to follow orders.

  • Justice and Judgment

    WHEREAS certain persons in the state of Arkansas, individually and in unlawful assemblages, combinations, and conspiracies, have wilfully obstructed the enforcement of orders of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas with respect to matters relating to enrollment and attendance at public schools, particularly at Central High School, located in Little Rock School District, Little Rock, Arkansas […] (1)

    Ike opens with a justification of his Executive Order: I've tried to enforce justice by the usual means, guys; I followed the law, but you didn't. To make it clear that what he's gonna do next is justified, he has to lay out what came before. No president wants to be seen as issuing orders that are arbitrary or illegal, like deciding that underwear now has to be worn on the outside.

    WHEREAS such wilful obstruction of justice hinders the execution of the laws of that State and of the United States, and makes it impracticable to enforce such laws by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings; (3)

    Eisenhower points out that there are already provisions in the law to deal with this kind of situation, but that the events in Little Rock, but they've been ignored. Obstructing justice is a very big deal.

    Such obstruction of justice constitutes a denial of the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution. (4)

    Disobeying the law to integrate doesn't just keep Black kids from going to white schools. It's a major challenge to the Constitution, which is why it was so important to enforce the law.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United States, under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the United States, including Chapter 15 of Title 10 of the United States Code, particularly sections 332, 333 and 334 thereof […] (5)

    Ike's no dictator handing down his own form of prairie justice; he's got the law to back up his actions and he lets us know it.

  • Presidential Power

    I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United States, under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the United States […] do command all persons engaged in such obstruction of justice to cease and desist therefrom, and to disperse forthwith. (5)

    Eisenhower was pointing out that the Constitution and other U.S. laws give him the right to tell opponents to stop breaking the law. He's got the Presidential Seal, he's up on the Presidential podium—and his mama loves him.

    I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of Defense to order into the active military service of the United States […] any or all of the units of the National Guard […] and of the Air National Guard […] within the State of Arkansas. (8)

    By ordering the National Guard into federal service, the president was saying that the governor could no longer command those troops to prevent integration. Gotcha, Orval!

    The Secretary of Defense is authorized to use such of the armed forces of the United States as he may deem necessary. (10)

    If the National Guard couldn't or wouldn't carry out the president's orders, U.S. regular troops would be there as back up.

    [signed] DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, THE WHITE HOUSE, September 24, 1957. (11)

    You know, just in case anyone forgets.