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Franklin D. Roosevelt Speeches


At Indianapolis [the President] spoke of my arguments, misquoting them.  But at Indianapolis he went further.  He abandoned argument for personalities. . . .

The Administration attempts to undermine reason through fear by telling us that the world will come to an end on November 8th if it is not returned to power for four years more.  Once more it is a leadership that is bankrupt, not only in ideals but in ideas.  It sadly misconceives the good sense and the self-reliance of our people. . . .

The present leadership in Washington stands convicted, not because it did not have the means to plan, but fundamentally because it did not have the will to do.  That is why the American people on November 8th will register their firm conviction that this Administration has utterly and entirely failed to meet the great emergency.

The President complains, President Herbert Hoover, because I have charged that he did nothing for a long time after the depression began.  I repeat that charge.  It is true.  I can further add to that charge by saying that from the time this report by Secretary of Commerce Hoover was published in 1923, for the six years that preceded the crash in 1929, he did nothing to put into effect the provisions advocated in 1923 against the possibility of a future depression.

Instead of doing something during these six years, and especially the last year or two, he participated in encouraging speculation, when the sound business brains of the country were saying that speculation should be discouraged, and in spite of the fact that his own report in 1923 said that depressions are in large part due to over-speculation.  He failed to prepare by positive action against the recurrence of a depression.  On the contrary—the exact contrary—he intensified the forces that made for depressions by encouraging that speculation. . . .

Immediate relief of the unemployed is the immediate need of the hour.  No mere emergency measures of relief are adequate.  We must do all we can.  We have emergency measures but we know that our goal, our unremitting objective, must be to secure not temporary employment but the permanence of employment to the workers of America. But when the President speaks to you, he does not tell you that by permitting agriculture to fall into ruin millions of workers from the farms have crowded into our cities.  These men have added to unemployment.  They are here because agriculture is prostrate.  A restored agriculture will check this migration from the farm.  It will keep these farmers happily, successfully, at home; and it will leave more jobs for you.  It will provide a market for your products, and that is the key to national economic restoration.

One word more.  I have spoken of getting things done.  The way we get things done under our form of Government is through joint action by the President and the Congress.  The two branches of Government must cooperate if we are to move forward.  That is necessary under our Constitution, and I believe in our constitutional form of government.

But the President of the United States cannot get action from the Congress.  He seems unable to cooperate.  He quarreled with a Republican Congress and he quarreled with a half Republican Congress.  He will quarrel with any kind of Congress, and he cannot get things done. . . .

I decline to accept present conditions as inevitable or beyond control.  I decline to stop saying, "It might have been worse.”  I shall do all that I can to prevent it from being worse but—and here is the clear difference between the President and myself—I go on to pledge action to make things better.