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Address to a Joint Session of the Illinois State Legislature in Springfield.

June 17, 1931

I WISH to thank you for your courteous and most generous greeting. It is a great honor to meet with the joint session of the Illinois Legislature.

It is a fitting thing that the celebration of this day should be participated in officially by the assembly of the State of Illinois, in which Mr. Lincoln took so distinguished a part, and by the President of the United States, in whose office Mr. Lincoln became the savior of our Republic. In the presence of this assembly one thought expressed by Mr. Lincoln recurs to my mind in the relation of the State legislatures to the whole function and scheme of our Government. It is indeed a much larger part than the immediate problems of the States with which they deal, for the legislatures today, as in Mr. Lincoln's time, are the laboratories in which new ideas are developed and in which they are tried out.

A study of national legislation and national action will show that an overwhelming proportion of the ideas which have been developed nationally have first been born in the State legislatures as the result of the problems which have developed within the States. They have been given trial; they have been hammered out on the anvil of local experience. It is true that not all of the ideas come through this successfully. But even the negative values of the trial, especially in some parts of the Union, are of themselves of inestimable value to the Nation as a whole. And the ideas which develop with success become of vital importance to our people at large. Ours must be a country of constant change and progress because of one fact alone amongst many others, and that is that the constant discoveries in science and their product in new invention shift our basis of human relationships and our mode of life in such a fashion as to require a constant remodeling and the remolding of the machinery of the government. That does not imply that the eternal principles of justice and right and ordered liberty, upon which the Republic was rounded, are subject to change, for they are not. But our machinery of government must shift in order to enable us to enforce these principles against the shift of economic and social forces due to constant discovery and invention. And in these great processes our State legislatures occupy a position of dominant importance to the Nation as a whole.

I wish again to thank you for the cordiality of your reception.

Note: The President spoke at 11 a.m. to the Illinois State Legislature and an audience of approximately 6,000, assembled in the State arsenal in Springfield.

A reading copy of this item with holograph changes by the President is available for examination at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Herbert Hoover, Address to a Joint Session of the Illinois State Legislature in Springfield. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211202

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