Selling America

A tribute to American free enterprise

  • Speech premiered in the 1960s
  • Commemorated on an LP record; secured Rich’s reputation as a speaker.
  • He reflects on the speech more than 20 years after he first delivered it.
A man's face in foreground, arena crowd in background, words "Selling America" at bottom.

“Selling America,” first delivered by Rich in the 1960s, was an unabashed tribute to the American free enterprise system. Rich gave many versions of this talk during the ‘60s and ‘70s, but each extolled how all Americans have a responsibility to encourage each other, to seize opportunity and to “sell America.”

When it was commemorated as an LP record, “Selling America” brought Rich’s message to a wider audience and secured his reputation as an in-demand speaker. The recording received the Alexander Hamilton Award for Economic Education from the Freedoms Foundation.


In the excerpt below, Rich reconsiders “Selling America” more than 20 years after he first delivered the speech.

About 20 years ago I gave a talk called “Selling America” and at that time I thought about the greatness of this land as I saw it, and recounted some of the examples of that greatness.

Today, I want to refresh your memory, because all our memories are so short. We live in water-tight compartments, we live parcels of life.

We say we’re going to accomplish this or that in 30 days or 90 days or a year. Sometimes our long-term goals are overshadowed by the day-to-day activities which seem so important. Similarly, we can lose sight of the positive aspects of our nation if we spend most of our time complaining about those specific problems which plague us for the moment.

I speak of the promise of America and the free world. We are propelled by the most fundamental of principles — the right to be free. People from oppressed societies know that. They continue to risk their lives in leaky boats to cross hundreds of miles of ocean carrying a few personal belongings and clinging to a ray of hope — hope that they, too, may taste freedom.

The first “boat people” to come to this continent seeking freedom landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Others landed in 1620 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and they have been coming ever since. Today they come from Southeast Asia…from Cuba and Haiti…and they all come seeking economic and personal freedom

In his own words

Selling AmericaDownload a transcript of the full speech

The world watches those little ships or crowded boats moving across the straits of Florida — people willing to do anything to be free, to escape tyranny.

From time to time I believe it is well to take a look at ourselves — our nation—and to recognize that for all of our faults, and despite all of our complaining, this is the most wonderful nation on earth.

There is no question that there is much to be done in America. We all must play a part in making this nation even better for those generations which succeed us.

But that is no reason to berate the system, to give up on all that free people have accomplished in less than 400 years.

I am proud to be part of this system … this land. I am grateful for the opportunities I have enjoyed. I am prepared to defend all of it in any forum at any time.

Yes. I have taken another look at our country and the achievements of its people and I am committed to “Selling America” for another 20 years … and more!