Herbert Hoover Speeches: October 28, 1932
The New Deal
HERBERT HOOVER ADDRESS
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-interest 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 of employment.
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. . . .
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 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 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 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. . . .
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 the 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. . . .
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. . . .
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 recorded 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.”. . .
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 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.