304 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI FAULKNER SPEECH TO DELTA COUNCIL On May 15, 1952, William Faulkner, one of the most celebrated writers in American literature, delivered the keynote address at the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Delta Council in Cleveland. On the day of the address, the audience consisted of several thousand farmers and businessmen representing eight counties. The Delta Council, an organization founded in 1935 to promote economic security and agricultural development in the post-Great Depression Mississippi Delta, invited the Oxford native and Nobel Prize-winning author to speak on a topic of his choosing. In his speech, entitled “Man’s Responsibility to Fellow Man: Freedom is Each Citizen’s Charge,” Faulkner interpreted the nation’s founding principles as a present-day call to action. Expanding on the inalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence, Faulkner explained with these rights comes personal responsibility. Faulkner noted that in establishing a new nation, the founding fathers bestowed upon America’s citizens—and its future citizens—a duty to maintain their freedom and independence. He stated that man is “…not just responsible to and for his fellow man, but to himself,” and that the forefathers intended for each individual “to be responsible for the consequences of his own acts, to pay his own score, owing nothing to any man.” Citing what he considered to be flaws in American government, specifically the welfare system, Faulkner argued that man had somehow lost his sense of individual responsibility. Faulkner suspected the current state of the country had caused many to lose faith in the future of man but assured the audience he had not. Near the end of the speech, Faulkner stated: “I believe that the true heirs of the old tough durable fathers are still capable of responsibility and self-respect, if only they can remember them again.” PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DELTA COUNCIL