Presidential Speeches

October 28, 1932: Campaign speech in Indianapolis, Indiana.

About this speech

Herbert Hoover

October 28, 1932

Source (not specified)

My fellow citizens, my friends in Indianapolis, and may I also include Senator Watson, for I wish to add that he must be your next Senator--we require his services in Washington:
Now, my fellow citizens, my major purpose tonight is to discuss those long-view policies by which we not only cement recovery but also by which we secure over the years the enlarged comfort and the steady progress of the American people. I propose to contrast them with the ideas which have been developed by the Democratic House of Representatives, the Democratic platform, and the Democratic candidate in the course of this campaign.
When I refer to the views of these groups I wish to say at once that I do not refer to all members of the Democratic Party. Many of them, as in 1896 and in 1928, have signified their intention to support us against these notions. I also wish on all occasions to pay tribute to those Democratic Members of the Congress who supported the unprecedented measures which we presented during the course of the last winter and through which we saved this country from destruction and chaos.
I would like also to reiterate the statement which I recently made at Detroit, that the most important issue before the American people right now is to overcome this crisis, that we may secure a restoration of normal jobs to our unemployed, recovery of our agricultural prices and of our business, and that we may extend generous help in the meantime to tide our people over until these fundamental restorations are established.
I pointed out on that occasion that the battle has now changed from a successful defense of our country from disaster and chaos to forward marching attack on a hundred fronts through a score of instrumentalities and weapons toward recovery. Since that time I have had further positive evidence showing that the measures and policies that we have set in motion are driving the forces of depression into further retreat with constantly increasing rapidity. If there shall be no change in the strategy of this battle, if there shall be no delay and hesitation, we shall have the restoration of men and women to their normal jobs and we shall have that lift to agriculture from its anxieties and its losses.
But before I begin the major discussion of the evening, I wish to take a moment of your time to revert to those methods and policies for protection and recovery from this depression in the light of certain recent misstatements of the Democratic candidate in respect to them.
I presume the Governor of New York will announce that I am acting upon the defensive if I shall expose the self-interested inexactitude which he has broadcasted to the American people. I am equally prepared to defend, attack, or expound. I shall not be deterred from my purpose to lay before the people of the United States the truth as to the issues which they confront, and I shall do it with a sense of responsibility of one who has carried out and must carry into effect these issues.
I wish to call your attention to the fact that the Governor of New York in a speech on October 25 stated:
"This crash came in October 1929. The President had at his disposal all of the instrumentalities of the Government. From that day until December 31, 1931, he did absolutely nothing to remedy the situation. Not only did he do nothing, but he took the position that Congress could do nothing."
That is the end of the quotation, and it is a charge which extends over the first 2 years and 2 months of this depression. It seems almost incredible that a man, a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, would broadcast such a violation of the truth. The front pages of every newspaper in the United States for the whole of those 2 years proclaimed the untruth of that statement. And I need remind you but of a few acts of the administration to demonstrate what I say.
The Governor dismisses the agreements brought about between the leaders of industry and labor under my assistance less than 1 month after the crash by which wages of literally millions of men and women were, for the first time in 15 depressions of a century, held without reduction until after profits had ceased and the cost of living had decreased.
He ignores the fact that today real wages in the United States are higher than at any other depression period, higher in purchasing power than in any other country in the world. And above all, he dismisses the healing effect of that great agreement by which this country has been kept free from industrial strife and class conflicts.
He would suppress from the American people the knowledge of the undertaking brought about within 2 months after the crash amongst the industries of the United States to divide the existing work in such fashion as to give millions of families some measure of income instead of discharging a large portion of them into destitution, as had always been the case in previous depressions and was the case abroad. He ignores the fact that these agreements have held until this day for the staggering unemployment.
If the Governor will look up his own files of his official correspondence, he will find that within a month after the crash I appealed to him, amongst the other Governors, for cooperation in creating employment and stabilization of wages, in which I set out to him the gravity of the national situation and urged that he should present in turn the great need to the counties and cities of his State. If he says nothing was done, it was a violation of the promise which he wrote to me on that occasion.
Nevertheless, the other States and the municipalities, including the great State of Indiana, entered into the general definite organization between the States to increase construction work in relief of unemployment during the winters not only of 1930 but of 1931. Not only were Federal, State, and municipal agencies mobilized, but private agencies were mobilized to that end. And by this, the Governor seems to have forgotten, I succeeded in reversing the whole usual process of decreasing construction work of this character in time of depression.
This type of work was increased during the first year of the depression by over $800 million above normal, thus giving a living to thousands of families who otherwise would have been destitute.
The Governor says nothing had been done. The Governor would also suppress the fact of the mobilization of the American people under my direction during the winters of 1930 and '31 of private charity and of public support to relief of distress in every town, village, and hamlet in the United States through which we carried them over these winters without serious suffering or loss, as is proved by the public health statistics of today.
The Governor cannot be ignorant of the recommendations which I made to the Congress within a month after the crash, and again in the session a year later, for the great increase of Federal public works in aid of employment, and he cannot be ignorant of the appropriations made at my recommendation for the care of farmers stricken by drought or the public funds raised under my leadership for these purposes.
The Governor ignores the most patent fact in the history of this depression: that, under the wise policies pursued by this administration, recovery of the United States from the first phase of the depression-that is, the collapse from our own speculation and boom--began about a year after the crash and continued definitely and positively until April 1931, when the general world crash took place which was not of our doing.
The Governor is probably ignorant of the international measures taken to limit the extension of this prairie fire under American leadership. He ignores the German moratorium and the standstill agreements in June 1931, which not only saved Germany from complete collapse but prevented much of the extended distress from reaching the United States. He neglects the creation, after the collapse of England, of the National Credit Corporation with a capital of $500 million in cooperation amongst American banks, which saved over 700 institutions involving the deposits of upwards of 10 millions of our people, and that was doing something.
The Governor entirely misrepresents the fact that the plan to meet this crisis which swept upon us from Europe was proposed by me to the political leaders of the United States at a White House conference on October 6, 1931. He ignores the fact that that plan was laid before the Congress by a message on December 8, and that it was not the creation of the Democratic leaders at the end of December, as he would imply. Although the leaders of the Democratic Party had promised 14 months before they would produce a plan, they produced no plan until they began their destructive program some months later. And not one of those acts has been disavowed by the Governor. He ignores the fact that the unprecedented measures proposed and carried through by the administration with the help of some of the Democratic colleagues in the Congress would have put us on the road to recovery 8 months ago instead of having had to await the adjournment of the Democratic House of Representatives only 4 months ago.
And again the Governor, despite every proof, keeps reiterating the implication that the measures taken by this administration have had no fruitful result to the common man. He has been told, at least by some of the men who advise him in this campaign, that the gigantic crisis with which the United States was faced was escaped by the narrowest margins and that it was due to unprecedented measures adopted by this administration. If some of these men will tell him the whole truth, they will tell him that they personally sought to buy and withdraw large sums of gold because of their belief that we could not maintain the gold reserves of the United States.
Would it not be well that every American citizen should take pride in the fact that America carried this Nation through this crisis safely and soundly and did it as a matter of national and united action?
Why cannot the Governor of New York be frank enough to recognize the successful care of the distressed in the United States; that a vast amount of employment has been provided by cooperative action amongst our citizens; that the savings of more than 95 percent of the depositors in our banks have been held secure; that the 20 million borrowers who otherwise would have been bankrupt by destructive pressures from forced selling of their assets in order to pay their debts have been protected; that the 70 million life insurance policies which represent the greatest act of self-denial of a people in provision for the future safety of their loved ones have been sustained in their vitality; and foreclosure of hundreds of thousands of mortgages upon homes and farms has been prevented ? Those are national accomplishments for which the whole American people are proud.
The Governor knows that the integrity of our currency has been sustained, that the credit of the Federal Government has been maintained, that credit and employment are being expanded day by day.
The living proof of these measures, which were conceived from the human heart as well as the human mind, can be found in the men and women in every city, every town, every township, and every block in this broad land, for they have been saved their jobs and their homes and secured from suffering and that by the action of the American people as a whole.
I have stated that my major purpose this evening is to speak upon some of the continuing policies of this administration and the Republican Party in contrast with the policies of our opponents.
Many of these continuing policies are dealt with in our platform. I dealt with some of them in my acceptance speech. Some have developed in the course of this campaign. Having had the responsibility of this office for 30 years, my views upon most public questions are already set out in many cases in the public record and by definite public action. I do not have to engage in promises in respect to them. I may point to performance.
The opposition has shown its true purposes by its legislation in the last session of the Democratic House of Representatives, through their platform, and through the statements or evasions of their candidate.
Of these subjects I may first refer to the tariff.
In a recent speech, in discussing the agricultural tariffs, I pointed out the specific disaster to our farms from the Democratic proposal to reduce the protective tariff. I pointed out that the Democratic Party had, in 1913, not been content with merely lowering the tariff, but had put a large part of the farm products on the free list. I pointed out that the Republican Party had passed an emergency farm tariff bill in 1921, as soon as they had a majority in the Congress, and that a Democratic President had vetoed it. I pointed out that the Democratic minority in Congress, in 1921, had voted against the revival of the emergency farm tariff, and that the Republican majority had passed it, and a Republican President had signed it. I pointed out that the Democratic minority had voted against an increase in agricultural tariffs in the Republican tariff act of 1922. I pointed out that most of the Democratic Members of Congress voted against the bill carrying the increases in tariffs on agricultural products in the special session of Congress which I called in 1929 for that purpose on which occasion we passed the Hawley-Smoot bill.
In the light of this historic attitude it is but natural that our opponents express their bitter opposition to the Republican tariff. They have habitually voted against these tariffs. And now they propose in their platform a "competitive tariff for revenue," and they denounce the Smoot-Haw ley bill which is mainly devoted to the increase of farm tariffs. The Democratic candidate from the day of his nomination iterated and reiterated that he proposed to reduce the tariff. He stated that it was an unwarranted increase in the tariff.
During the first 7 weeks of this campaign he not only adopted the historic position of his party, but he constantly repeats their platform, and has reinforced it by repeated statements, as for instance:
"I support the competitive tariff for revenue."
"The tariff law of 1932 was a drastic revision of the tariff upward in spite of the fact that the existing tariff levels were already high enough to protect American industries."
"We sit on the high wall of the Hawley-Smoot tariff."
"I condemn the Hawley-Smoot tariff."
"A wicked and exorbitant tariff."
"Sealed by the highest tariff in the history of the world."
"Our policy declares for lowered tariffs."
"A ghastly jest of the tariff."
Mr. Roosevelt and his party knew that the major increases in the Hawley-Smoot act were farm tariffs when that platform was drawn, and he knew it was in effect when he made the statements that I have quoted. The evidence is complete that he and they intend to reduce the farm tariffs.
During the past 3 weeks I have reiterated this plain and evident purpose of their party and their candidate. Unquestionably my exposition has given their candidate great anxiety, because on the 25th of this month some 6 or 7 days ago, just 21 days after my first statement on the subject he announced another new deal. I call this a new shuffle. He now announces within 2 weeks of the election that he does not propose to reduce tariffs on farm products.
This is the most startling shift in position by a Presidential candidate: in the midst of a political campaign in all recent political history. What do you think Grover Cleveland or Samuel Tilden or Woodrow Wilson would have said to such a shift as that? Does the candidate realize that he has overnight thrown overboard the great historic position of his party? That he has rewritten the Democratic platform? Does he realize that he must withdraw large parts of the speeches in which he has denounced this Hawley-Smoot bill as the origin of all the world's calamity?
I have the privilege of informing him that 66 percent of all the duties collected on all of the imports into the United States are directly on imports of agricultural origin and the reduction of which would affect American farmers.
Are we to take it that all the diatribes we have heard from the Democratic orators throughout this campaign are in respect to only one-third of the American tariffs? For just 7 days ago the Democratic candidate said, "The Hawley-Smoot tariff law carried the decline in world trade, and what amounted to a world calamity became a general international calamity." Since that time he must have concluded that the farm tariffs have done the world no harm.
You will further remember that under the tariff act two-thirds of our imports are free of duty, and now he excludes two-thirds of the remaining one-third that are dutiable. Does the Democratic Party now pretend that this terrible world calamity which we have encountered was caused by the tariffs on one-ninth of the imports into the United States ? And further, do they know--and they do know--that of this one-ninth of the imports of nonagricultural commodities less than one-half of them were increased by the Hawley-Smoot tariff bill?
Now to continue our mathematical explorations a little further, I'm wondering if they pretend that this calamity was caused by increase of tariffs on one-eighteenth of the imports of the United States ? And I may pursue this mathematical course still further. Do they recognize that the whole of our imports, that is, the imports of the United States, constitute less than 12 percent of the imports of the world all taken together, and thus, in this revised view, the increased duties on one-eighteenth of one-twelfth or less than one-half of 1 percent of the world's import trade brought about this gigantic calamity by which 30 nations failed or gone to revolution.
Should not the Democratic candidate now at last search in the aftermath of the World War for the origins of our difficulties and stop this nonsense?
I wish to extend this discussion a little further. It is desirable that the Governor may explain himself some further on other tariff questions. Does he include the reduction of the tariff on cotton textiles, so largely manufactured in the South ? I have included but a part of the textile duties in the agricultural tariffs--the tariffs on agricultural products-inasmuch as only a part of the raw cotton is dutiable. And I wonder whether he proposes to close up the Southern cotton mills?
In view of this new light of maintaining tariffs, I wonder if he has considered the grievous position that the oil industry might be in in the States of California, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, if they are left out ? Has he considered the copper industry in the States of Arizona, Montana, Michigan, and Utah? Has he considered the tariffs on metal and other products which affect the welfare of the whole of the people of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, and other States ? Has he considered the tariff on pottery and chemicals and its effect upon New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, California, and a lot of other States? And will he consider the tariffs on lumber and their effect on Oregon, Washington, California, and Wisconsin? If we are going to retreat from a reduction of the tariff those people ought to have some word of comfort also.
Perhaps if he would give the same consideration as to the effect of reducing the tariff for these other people, he will come to the same conclusion as that which he has been forced to come by this debate in respect to agriculture. Now, if political exigencies have forced this temporary conversion on agricultural products, how far is the Governor authorized to change at will the traditional policies and the platform of the Democratic Party ? How far can he guarantee to bring with him the Democratic Members of the House and the Senate who voted against the bills carrying the increases in agricultural tariffs, and how about the men who wrote that plank in the Democratic platform ? Now do you who are farmers believe in eleventh-hour conversion? Do you consider that your livelihood is safe in the hands of the traditional and the present enemy of the protective tariff?
Perhaps the Governor and the whole Democratic Party will now withdraw and apologize for the defamation to which I have been subjected for the past 2 years because I called a special session of the Congress and secured an increase in agricultural tariffs.
Now I am, myself, taking heart over this debate. If it could be continued long enough, I believe we could drive him from every solitary position he has taken in this campaign. They are equally untenable. But even on the tariff, he perhaps remembers the dreadful experience of the chameleon on the Scotch plaid. And I can illustrate this to you.
As to the balance of the protective tariffs, unless this late conversion extends further than agriculture, he proposes to reduce them in the face of the fact that during the last 12 months there has been a violent change in the economy of the entire world through the depreciation of currencies in some 30 European nations and thus a lowering of their standards of living and the creation of still greater differences between the costs of production in the United States and abroad.
Now, the Republican Party is squarely for the protective tariff. I refuse to put the American workers and farmers into further unemployment and misery by any such action as the unrepented principles of their Members of the Democratic Congress and their platform.
The Governor's new shuffle, however, requires that he give some further assurances to our farmers in order to make it consistent. The Democratic House of Representatives and their allies in the Senate passed a bill directing me to call an international conference for the purpose of reducing tariffs. The Governor has supported this in his program. That means that we should surrender to foreigners the determination of a policy which we have zealously held under American control for nearly 150 years, ever since the first protective tariff was enacted under George Washington's administration. This would, in that manner, place the fate of American workers and American farmers in the hands of foreign nations, and I vetoed the bill.
But the point that I wish to make now is that the Governor should give to the farmers that if he calls this conference which he has assured he will do, that he will exempt agricultural tariffs from the discussion therein.
Further than this the Democratic Party and their candidate propose to enter upon reciprocal tariffs. That idea is not entirely new in our history, although it is a violation of what has now become a firmly fixed principle of uniform and equal treatment of all nations without preferences, concessions, or discriminations. It is just such concessions and discriminations that are producing today a large part of the frictions over tariffs in Europe. I suppose our Democratic friends blame these European tariff wars on the Hawley-Smoot bill.
Though reciprocal tariffs are a violation of well-established American principles, this Nation has fallen from grace at times and attempted to do this very thing. At one time 22 such treaties were negotiated for this purpose. Congress refused to confirm 16 of them; 2 of the remaining failed of confirmation by other governments; and 4 others were so immaterial as to be forgotten. On another occasion Congress conferred on the Executive a limited authority to make treaties of this character. Twenty-two of them were agreed upon, all of which were repealed by tariff acts. Now this demonstrates just one thing: that in an intelligent democracy you cannot surrender the welfare of one industry or one locality in order to gain something for another.
But there is an overriding objection to a reciprocal tariff upon which the Governor's new shuffle requires that he give these further assurances to the farmers. The vast majority of the wishes of foreign countries about our tariffs is to get us to reduce our farm tariffs so that they may enter our agricultural market. The only concessions that we could grant through reciprocal tariffs of any great importance would be at the cost of our farmers. Since the Governor has assured the Nation of a policy of reciprocal tariffs, he should give an assurance to the farmers that the farm tariffs will not be included and that he will abandon the whole idea of reciprocal tariffs in relation to agriculture. This, of course, takes away the whole foundation of the trading value in reciprocal tariffs. And we may as well abandon the further discussion of that in this campaign.
In all this discussion about reducing tariffs it should be remembered that if any one of the rates or schedules in our tariff is too high, it has been open to our opponents during the whole of the last session of the House of Representatives to pass a simple resolution and thereby secure its review by the Tariff Commission. Did they do that ? They did not.
The establishment of the Tariff Commission with this authority destroyed one of the campaign methods of the Democratic Party, and that was to conduct their campaigns by exhibiting kettles and pans to the housewives of the Nation and explaining what unjust cost was imposed upon them by the tariff. Now that maneuver is no longer effective, with the bipartisan Tariff Commission open to give remedy to the housewives of the United States.
The Democrats propose, in fact, passed a bill in the last session in the lower House, to destroy the authority of the bipartisan Tariff Commission by which it may change the tariff so as to correct inequities or to alter the schedules to meet the changing tides of an economic world. Thus, they propose to return to the old logrolling, the old orgies of greed, viciousness, and stagnation of business during general congressional action in review of the tariff.
The increased authority to the bipartisan Tariff Commission to make changes in the tariff with the approval of the President was brought about at my insistence, and with the sterling courage of your Senator, 2 years ago. That was the greatest reform in tariff legislation in half a century. And it originated from Theodore Roosevelt.
No better example of the vital importance of the flexible tariff exists than today, when we are in the crisis of men and women being thrown out of employment due to depreciated currencies abroad and of low-priced farm products moving over our borders. The commission is today reexamining the new differences in the cost of production at home and abroad that action may be taken to restore men and women to their jobs.
Sound public policy maintains the necessity of this Commission and its authorities. The Democratic policy is to destroy it, but perhaps the Governor of New York will offer us a new deal in this matter, also.
Now, related to the tariff, the Democratic candidate proposes to place the payment of the war debts owed to us by foreign countries squarely on the shoulders of the American workman and the American farmer by lowering the tariffs for this special purpose. He would let down the bars to the American market for foreign commodities to the extent necessary that foreign nations may collect from the profits of their manufactures the money with which to pay these debts. Will he now exclude the 66 percent of dutiable imports, which are farm products, from this proposal ?
My own view in opposition to cancellation of the war debts is a matter of public record through many public statements and messages to Congress. I have proposed that if opportunity offers we should use the foreign debts, payment by payment, to expand foreign markets for our labor and our own farmers. That is not cancellation and that is the reverse of the announced policy of the Democratic candidate.
At no point in this campaign have our opponents stated clearly and definitely their position on immigration. I have looked for it. I may have overlooked it. If I have I apologize. I have stated that I favor rigidly restricted immigration. I endeavored to secure from the Congress the return of the quota bases from the national origins to the base previously given. I have recommended that a more humane provision should be made for bringing in the near relatives of our citizens. I shall persist in these matters.
I have limited immigration by administrative order during the depression in order to relieve us of unemployment or, alternatively, to save the jobs of our people who are now at work. Two years prior to that order going into effect slightly under half a million immigrants came into the United States. Since it went into effect, more have gone out of the United States than have come in. The distressed people with lowered standards of living that would have come in would have been a far greater addition to our unemployed than even this amount. The Democratic candidate, incidentally, overlooked that little item in stating that the Republican administration had done nothing in the first 2 years and 2 months of this depression.
I have repeatedly recommended to the Congress a revision of our railway transportation laws in order that we might create greater stability and greater assurance in this vital service of transportation. The regulation should be extended to other forms of carriers, both to prevent the cutthroat destruction going on in their own business amongst themselves and to prevent their destruction of the other great major arm of our transportation. I have set this matter out in numerous messages to the Congress. I have supported the recommendations of the Interstate Commerce Commission, which are specific and not generalities. Our opponents have adopted my program in this matter during this campaign except for certain glittering generalizations, as to which they do not inform us how they are to be accomplished and upon which I enter a reservation.
I have repeatedly recommended the Federal regulation of interstate power. I stated as early as 7 years ago that "glass pockets are the safety of the industry as well as of the public." I secured the creation of an independent Power Commission by Congress 2 years ago under the leadership of your Senator. I have opposed and I will continue to oppose, the Federal Government going into the power business and the further extension of Federal bureaucracy.
The intention of many of the men at least that are campaigning for the Democratic Party and under the auspices of and with money provided by the Democratic National Committee, are certainly to put the Government into the power business, and it would seem that they must have confidence that their notions will be put over by the Democratic candidate.
The Democratic candidate assures us that he will preserve the great water powers of the country for the people. That is already provided by the law passed 20 years ago-passed in 1920--and it, therefore, presents no difficulty to vigorous campaign promises.
In my acceptance speech I stated that this depression had exposed many weaknesses in our economic system. It has shown much wrongdoing. There has been exploitation and abuse of financial power. These weaknesses must be corrected, and that wrongdoing must be punished. We will continue to reform such abuses and correct such wrongdoing as falls within the powers of the Federal Government.
Furthermore, the American people must have protection from insecure banking through a stronger banking system. They must have relief from conditions which permit the credit machinery of the country being made available without adequate check for wholesale speculation in securities, with its ruinous consequences to millions of our citizens and to our national economy. This the Federal Reserve System by its present constitution has proven incapable of bringing about. I recommended to the Congress the sane reform of our banking laws. The Democratic House of Representatives did not see fit to pass that legislation in the last session, but we shall persist until it has been accomplished.
About a year ago, I recommended to the Congress an emergency relief to our depositors in closed banks that through temporary use of the credit of the Federal Government a substantial portion of their assets should be forthwith distributed in order to relieve distress and to enable depositors to reestablish their business. The Democratic Congress refused to pass such legislation in the last session, except for a minor provision of authority to the Reconstruction Corporation which does not reach to the heart of the question.
The Democratic candidate and his corps of orators have not yet disclosed their position on this subject. It concerns the welfare of 4 or 5 million Americans.
We have listened to much prattle from the opposition about reducing Government expenses. Having a record of earnest performance, I naturally exposed those insincerities in the last address which I made at Detroit.
My only comment on this occasion is that if I receive a mandate from the American people in this election, I shall be able not only to force upon this Democratic House real economies, but I shall be able to stop further raids by the Democratic Party on the Treasury of the United States.
Now, through some misinformation presented to him, the Democratic candidate has annexed, as if it were a new discovery, the recommendations which I made in 1922 and have been continuously advocating ever since for the reorganization of the whole Federal administrative structure for purposes of economy by consolidation of bureaus and the elimination of useless boards and commissions. The candidate in a speech 3 days ago was thus led to misrepresent the present situation in suggesting that I, having these powers, had not executed them. He did not realize that the Congress having no longer been able to oppose this reform, did pass a measure during the last session granting such an authority to the Executive to bring it about. They, however, denied my request for immediate action, except on minor questions, and made that authority dependent upon the approval of the Congress, which cannot be given before next March under the terms of the law. If the Democratic candidate will read the law and inform himself fully on the subject I have no doubt he will withdraw that statement.
I recently gave an address at Des Moines devoted largely to specific measures now in action and to be put in action for agriculture.
I also, likewise at Cleveland, gave an extended exposition of the measures and policies which we have in action and propose for labor and employment. I am in hopes that these statements may be carefully considered, and our time is too short this evening to go into those items in detail although I hope to take them up again in this campaign.
One of the most important issues of the campaign arises from the fact that the Democratic candidate has not yet disavowed the bill passed by the Democratic House of Representatives under the leadership of the Democratic candidate for Vice President to issue $2,300 million of greenback currency--that is, unconvertible paper money. That is money purporting to come from the horn of plenty but with the death's head engraved upon it. Tampering with the currency has become a perennial policy of the Democratic Party. The Republican Party has had to repel that many times before now. In the absence of any declaration by the Democratic candidate on this subject during 7 weeks of this campaign, no delayed promise now can efface that policy. The taint of it is firmly embedded in the Democratic Party, and the dangers are embedded in this election. If you want to know what this "new deal" and this sort of money does to a people, ask any of your neighbors who have relatives in Europe, especially in Germany.
I have stated that I do not favor the prepayment of the soldiers' bonus of $2,300 million. It was passed by the last Democratic House of Representatives. It will no doubt be attempted again. The Democratic candidate has not yet stated to the American people fairly and squarely what his attitude will be upon that subject.
The reasons why I do not approve of it can be illustrated by the father who in a generous moment promised his young son a bonus of $100 when he was 21 years old. That boy was led to ask his father for the $100 13 years in advance. His father said: "Times are bad. I am hard-pressed. I have to bring up and educate a great many children, and I haven't the money. I am placing $5 per annum in the savings bank and as it is compounded it will amount to the $100 when you are 21 years old." Some of his friends added that he might pay the boy in stage money.
Now, the moral of that story is that you cannot eat your loaf of compound interest before the dough has had time to rise. And the further political moral of that story is that it was said by the father's political opponents that his son would never vote for his father for public office.
There is no one in high public office who knows better than I do from personal observation the service given by the youth of this country in the Great War. I have insisted upon their care when in distress. I have expanded the services given to the veterans at the cost of much personal criticism. But with all of my regard and my feeling I cannot endanger the stability of this country in this special demand of a part of the veterans or any other special group.
Someone just asked the difference between this payment and the loans given by the Reconstruction Corporation. There is just this difference: One of them is a large gift from the Government and the other is loans upon security for a period of 6 months only.
But of one thing I will assure the veterans, and that is, when they are paid, they will be paid in real American money.
During the past few weeks the Democratic candidate has had a great deal to say in endeavoring to establish the idea in the minds of the American people that I am personally responsible for the bad loans by American bankers and investors to numerous foreign countries. He says: "This is an unsavory chapter in American finance." I agree with part of that. "These bonds are in large part the fruit of the distressing policies pursued by the present administration in Washington. None other, if you please, than the ability of lending to backward and crippled countries." That is the end of the quotation from him.
The Governor does not inform the American people that there is no Federal law regulating the sale of securities and that there is doubtful constitutional authority for such a law. And he fails to state that most of these bonds are issued from the State of New York, which sovereignty has such an authority, and where the government has done nothing of a reform to that evil, if it be one. I recollect a Republican Governor of New York who, believing that wrong was being done to the citizens of his own and other States on life insurance, found a man named Charles Evans Hughes who cleaned that mess up once and for all.
The Governor has not stated to the American people my oft-repeated warnings that American loans made in foreign countries should be upon sound security and confined to reproductive purposes. I have defined these loans as being the loans made for creative enterprise on which their own earnings would repay interest and capital. In one of his addresses the Governor pretends at least not to understand what a reproductive loan is, and yet, as I will show you in a moment, he does know something about it. I will say at once that when we have surplus capital, properly secured loans for reproductive purposes abroad are an advantage to the American people. They furnish work to American labor in the manufacture of plants and equipments; they furnish continuing demand for American labor in supplies and replacements. The effect of such creative enterprise is to increase the standards of living amongst the people in those localities and enable them to buy more American Products and furnish additional work for American labor.
I have no apologies to make for that statement. It is sound; it makes for the upbuilding of the world; it makes for employment of American workmen and profits for American investors. If it be followed there would be no losses. In these statements made by the Governor he entirely omits the conditions and warnings with which I have repeatedly surrounded the statements upon this subject and the warnings which indeed I have given broadcast over the last 7 years in respect to this type of investment. Although no Federal official has any authority to control the security offered on these loans, none of them have defaulted where the safeguards proposed by me have been followed.
It is obvious from the Governor's many speeches that he now considers that all foreign loans are wrong. He seems to consider the selling of foreign bonds in our country to be wicked and the cause of our calamities. And an interesting part of all this tirade is that I have never yet been engaged in the selling of foreign bonds and foreign loans. I have not been accused of that. The Governor, however, has an advantage over me in experience in that particular. As late as 1928 the Governor was engaged in that business for profit and actively occupied in promotion of such loans. At that time he was the chairman of the organization committee of the Federal International Banking Company, a corporation organized for the selling of foreign securities and bonds to the American people. I have in my hand a prospectus of that corporation in which the foreword, written by Mr. Roosevelt before he resigned that position to take the Governorship, reads as follows:
"The organizers of the Federal International Banking Company feel that foreign investments are in the nature of alliances ....The Federal International Banking Company will provide a new source of supply from which American demand for foreign investments may be satisfied .... It is intended to promote the expansion of American foreign trade .... Investments in the Federal International Banking are intended to be self-liquidating .... It will be put to sound protective uses a part of the surplus capital of our Nation."
"... its operations can be widely distributed in foreign countries and various industries."
"... that we must aid foreign debtors to purchase our products, rehabilitate themselves, expand and develop, and earn money with which to liquidate their debts, that foreign loans should be facilitated to aid the export sale of American products."
Now I'll ask you if any more vivid statement of the policies which I have just pronounced to you was ever made than that.
Throughout this prospectus constant reference is made to the fact that it is organized under the law, and the impression is given that in consequence it has some sort of official blessing from the Federal Government, including quotations from myself.
I have no reason to believe, I do not believe, that the Governor's enterprise on this occasion was not perfectly proper and was soundly rounded. I do not wish to convey any such an impression. But the Governor as a private promoter for profit during the boom of 1928 believed and practiced what the Governor, a Presidential candidate, now denounces immoral and a cause of our calamities.
Two weeks ago at Cleveland I felt it was necessary to denounce certain calumnies being circulated in this campaign by the Democratic National Committee in official instructions to their campaign speakers. That committee privately acknowledged that these have not a shred of foundation, and yet they refuse to take the manly course and withdraw those statements. They have sought to maintain their continuing poison by silence.
I now have before me other calumnies of the Democratic National Committee, circulated in the same fashion by instructions to their campaign speakers. These instructions bristle with titles such as these-and these questions will interest American women--they are entitled:
"How President Hoover has failed children."
"His real interest in the Nation's children may be gained by his re-corded effort to emasculate and disrupt the Children's Bureau."
"The bunk of the Home Loan Bank."
Governor Roosevelt implies his endorsement of these calumnies by repeating these implications in his speeches when he speaks of what he calls "... attempts that have been made to cut appropriations for child welfare."
And again when he states that: "the United States Public Health Service has said that over 6 million of our public school children have not enough to eat; many of them are fainting at their desks; they are the prey of disease; and their future health is menaced."
In another speech he uttered a slur on the Home Loan Banking System created by this administration largely through the leadership of your Senator.
These things have importance only as indicating the desperate attempts to mislead the American voter. No woman in the United States believes that I am called upon to defend my interest in children over the past score of years. But more to the point of this discussion, I have a letter from the Chief of the United States Public Health Service to the effect that no such statement as that quoted by Governor Roosevelt has ever been put out by him or by that Service. Furthermore, I have an address, only a week old, by the president of the American Public Health Association, who is not a Government official, saying that "by and large, the health oњ the people as measured in sickness and in death has never been better in the history of the United States despite this depression." That shows the devoted work of thousands of American women and men whom his statements in this campaign sought to slur.
As to the Children's Bureau, I may demonstrate the untruth of that statement by the fact that the first year of my administration, despite hard times, I increased the appropriations of that Bureau from $320,000 to $368,000, which was every cent the Bureau asked for, and in the second year I recommended appropriations of $399,000, which was every cent they said they could advantageously spend, and in the third year I recommended appropriations of $395,000, but the Democratic House of Representatives reduced this by $20,000. That scarcely looks like an attempt to ruin the Children's Bureau--especially on my part.
In the matter of the home loan banks, the Governor states that this idea was brought out in the middle of the campaign, and, like the instructions to speakers sent out by the Democratic National Committee he makes slurs upon it. That statement falls a little to the ground in the same slough of untruth as the others when it is recollected that I rounded the Better Homes movement in the United States more than 10 years ago, whose activities in over 9,000 different communities through the devoted service of thousands of American women finally blossomed into the White House Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership more than a year ago. On that occasion I proposed and secured the backing of the men and women of the United States for the plan which ultimately resulted in the home loan banks. And that bill was drafted and presented to Congress in December last. The refusal of the Democratic House of Representatives to act prevented its passage until the last hour of the session 8 months later and then only when the pressures from the women and the men devoted to the upbuilding of the American home had become so great that they dare not defeat it in the face of this political campaign.
Had that bill been passed when it was introduced, nearly a year ago, the suffering and losses of thousands of small homeowners in the United States would have been prevented. I consider that that act was the greatest act yet undertaken by any government at any time on behalf of thousands of owners of small homes. It provides the machinery, through the mobilization of building and loan associations and savings bank, by which we may assure to men and women the opportunity to bring up their children in the surroundings which make for true unity and true purpose in American life.
Now, in conclusion, in Governor Roosevelt's address delivered on October 25, he stated:
"After March 4, 1929, the Republican Party was in complete control of all branches of the Government--Executive, Senate, and House, and I may add, for good measure . . . the Supreme Court as well."
I invite your attention to that statement about the Supreme Court. There are many things revealed in this campaign by our opponents which should give American citizens concern for the future. One of the gravest is the state of mind revealed by my opponent in that statement. He implies that it is the function of a party in power to control the Supreme Court. For generations the Republican and Democratic Presidents alike have made it their most sacred duty to respect and maintain the independence of America's greatest tribunal. President Taft appointed a Democratic Chief Justice; President Harding mated a Democratic Justice; my last appointment was a Democrat from the State of New York whose appointment was applauded by Republicans and Democrats alike the Nation over. All appointees of the Supreme Court have been chosen solely on the basis of their character and their mental power. Not since the Civil War have the members of that Court divided on political lines.
Aside from the fact that the charge that the Supreme Court has been controlled by any political party is an atrocious one, there is a deeper implication in that statement. Does it disclose the Democratic candidate's conception of the functions of the Supreme Court? Does he expect the Supreme Court to be subservient to him and his party ? Does that statement express his intention by his appointments or otherwise to attempt to reduce that tribunal to an instrument of party policy and political action for sustaining such doctrines as he may bring with him?
My countrymen, I repeat to you, the fundamental issue of this campaign, the decision that will fix the national direction for a hundred years to come, is whether we shall go on in fidelity to American traditions or whether we shall turn to innovations, the spirit of which is disclosed to us by many sinister revelations and veiled promises.
My friends, I wish to make my position clear. I propose to go on in the faith and loyalty to the traditions of our race. I propose to build upon the foundations which our fathers have laid over this last 150 years.
 

Presidential Speeches |

October 28, 1932: Campaign speech in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Transcript