Herbert Hoover photo

Address to the California Society of Washington, D.C.

November 02, 1932

I am speaking tonight to our California association in this city and to my fellow Californians and my friends in Oregon and Washington over the telephone and radio.

I find myself speaking with no feeling of being removed or apart from the people at home in my own State. There is no separation of time or distance which the longing of the heart and mind cannot span between those whose common experience in daily living, fundamental aspirations and ideals give common sympathy and common understanding.

The telephone and the radio which convey my voice to you across the continent are not quicker in their errand than is the spirit which prompts the message they bring to you.

It is almost 48 years since I came as a boy to Oregon where, under the tender care of my uncle, I spent 7 years amid the glories of the Willamette Valley, and it was there that I began to earn my own living. Still a boy I, 40 years ago, came to California in search of an engineering education, with little means beyond the savings I had made. That opportunity was made possible for me by a citizen of California in the endowment of Stanford University free of tuition.

After having worked in the mines of California with my own hands, through the same gentle kindliness of another great citizen of California, I was started on my professional career. A great chance came to me through the world leadership California had attained in the mining industry, and I participated in responding to the demand of foreign countries for the training and skill that California had developed in that profession. I have never gone so far away, nor remained so long, except during the Great War and the Presidency, that the homing instinct has not carried me back every year to sink more deeply and more firmly the roots of my being in the fertile soil of California's spiritual and cultural life.

During the 4 years of the Great War, I represented the United in great enterprises which brought credit and distinction to our country and to my State. But I was deprived during those years of return to my home. Fearful that my sons should grow up without that imprint of California; that they might fail in touch with their own people, they with their mother spent a large part of that period in our California home, to be educated there in the prime school of democracy-our public schools.

After the war we came home with the hope and long-treasured enterprise of every normal American family of building a new house. I am not one of those Californians whose heart needs the awakening influence of absence to quicken his appreciation of the State of his birth or adoption. When sooner or later the time arrives which permits me to do so, I propose to return to my home in Palo Alto to live with my fellow Californians.

Elevated to the Presidency of the United States as a son of California, it has been my task to contend with the greatest peacetime disaster which has ever come to the American people. That crisis has extended over every hour and every day for the whole of the last 2 years. It has not so far permitted me to be away from the nerve center of the Nation, the headquarters of a great battle, a distance of more than a night's journey.

Our family has each year made fond plans for return to spend a summer at our own home for normal change and relief from work, but new crises and new emergencies have compelled me to remain at the Capital of the Nation. The improved situation in the country affords me the deep satisfaction of coming home to vote, but not for the purpose of carrying on a political campaign amongst my neighbors, who are my friends, but to satisfy that proper instinct inherent in every American to cast his vote amongst his neighbors at his own home. I trust I may not be prevented from exercising this privilege.

My friends, in addressing you tonight as a Californian, I am asking you for support in this contest because, in the outcome of this fight for the Republican Party, the people of the State of California have a great stake. I am addressing the people of Oregon and Washington because they, too, might be faced with the sacrifices of their most vital interests.

No more serious moment has ever brought the people of California and myself together in counsel as friends and neighbors than that which challenges us now. California has been honored by the Nation with its leadership during a period even more dangerous than a great war. I do not take seriously the claims of our opponents, however loudly voiced, that California will contribute to the responsibility of interrupting that leadership to the Nation which California has itself provided.

I do not need to remind Californians of the stages by which this crisis developed. While our opponents lay it largely to the mania of speculation, which indeed did contribute, all Californians know the ease with which our own State has time and again recuperated from such reverses by a short wait for the solid forces of growth to catch up with the over advancement and overdevelopment of hope and enterprise.

Our opponents further claim that this great calamity was also due to increases in the tariff. Pacific Coast States can scarcely agree to this idea because they themselves were among the largest beneficiaries from these increases.

The Democratic candidate stated at Seattle: "When this tariff was passed with its outrageous rates, these laws started us on the road where we now find ourselves and that is the road of ruin."

He further states: "Here on the Pacific coast it has had a destructive effect in our oriental trade."

He repeated at Sacramento: "I have called immediate attention to the tariff that has done so much to destroy foreign trade by making foreign trade virtually impossible. I called for consideration of means by which trade with the Orient, which has so largely been destroyed, may be restored."

In the face of the facts no one has a right to broadcast such statements blaming the people of the Pacific coast. I may mention after that tariff bill was passed our exports to China increased from $80 million in the fiscal year 1931 to $93 million in the fiscal year 1932; exports to Japan increased from $146 million in the fiscal year 1931 to $240 million in the fiscal year 1932. And even this is not the whole story, for if we were to analyze the effect of the decrease in world prices we would find on a quantity basis that our oriental trade is even larger than is shown by dollar valuation. While our opponent is ignorant of the facts he reveals his hostility to the tariffs on Pacific coast products.

In fact, the true cause of the real calamity which interrupted our entry into the road of recovery some 18 months ago lies deep in the World War and its aftermath, the inability of Europe to longer stand the strain without enormous readjustments of debts, overexpansion of armaments, et cetera, which finally brought about economic collapse of 30 nations. In every quarter of the globe confidence, which is the foundation of the faith on which the economic structure is builded, crumbled; business came to a standstill; European institutions, with a hundred years of financial stability, collapsed; European social order received such reverses that the whole structure of civilization was at one time on the brink of chaos, collapse, and ruin, and we alone held the last fortress of stability in the world. The invasion of this army of fear destroyed confidence, sapping the defenses of our financial system and stifling our exports of goods to those nations, threatened to bring down our entire industrial and commercial structure.

This was the new world war, a war of fearful and invisible enemies. Its spectral hosts, recruited in Europe and gathering allies from every land, turned their final march of assault upon our shores and even upon our Pacific Coast States.

As the responsible head of the Nation, I, following the historic policy of our past, abjured partisanship. I called for national unity in the face of national danger; I set before the leaders of both parties a complete program of measures for national defense and recovery. To the credit of my countrymen, they answered this call with almost complete unanimity; many patriotic Democrats in the Congress aligned themselves with patriotic Republicans under the banner of a united nation.

I need not recite the long series of over 30 measures initiated by my administration to sustain wages and employment; to prevent hunger and cold among millions of men, women, and children; to hold impregnable our Government credit as the basis of all stability to maintain the structure of private credit system through the Federal Reserve System, the Reconstruction Corporation, the land banks, the agricultural banks, home loan banks, the Farm Board; the expansion in public works; the mobilization of cooperation in all parts of our country; and a score of other activities. Their whole purpose was to hold the Nation steady in this crisis and to maintain the validity of the deposits of our people in the banks, the savings, the insurance policies of our people, and to hold the jobs for those who had work, to care for the distressed, and keep the economic machine functioning until the hurricane was passed. These actions saved this Nation from a score of years of destructive degeneration.

Nor were these dangers just general to the Nation. These invasions swept from State to State and from city to city throughout the country. It was a battle not alone against a nationwide startling growth of fear but against local and separate dangers in which at times each one of our Pacific Coast States has been the object of acute anxiety and direct action on the part of the Federal Government in their defense.

One great difficulty which arose to halt our progress was the development by the Democratic House of Representatives and the allies which they had secured to themselves of a series of disastrous measures for vast raids on the Public Treasury, the issuance of greenback money, and other interferences with the currency. The flank attacks had to be fought, coincident with fighting a hundred battles on the whole economic front, and they delayed the effectiveness of our potent measures for recovery until the Democratic House of Representatives and their allies adjourned. Our opponents at no time have proposed a single constructive measure to meet this emergency.

Finally, confidence being restored, we have been able to mobilize these measures into counterattack on the depression. Since the adjournment of Congress a million men have returned to work, new courage and enterprise have come into the lives and souls of men, and again America has begun the march forward which she has moved over these 150 years. The poignant question which citizens are asking today is whether we are going to check this progress and subject harried business, employment, and agriculture to a new term of waiting and uncertainty by the threat of new policies which are destructive in character both in the short and long view of our Nation.

I cannot better illustrate the measures of defense and attack than to point to a few of their applications to our Pacific Coast States.

Bear in mind that the head of a nation has the obligation to exert equal concern for the necessities of every State. I use this illustration merely to bring home to my neighbors and friends in the West the practical application to them of the vast program we have put in motion.

No man can say I was unmindful of the Pacific Coast States when immediately upon taking office and in the face of every prophecy and every precedent of political disaster to Presidents who demand tariff revisions, I called Congress into special session for upward revision of all farm tariffs, including the products of every farm, orchard, ranch, and garden in California and the other Pacific Coast States. And, further, that I secured the support of Republican States not interested in the setting up of the oil and lumber tariffs, so that we gained for these industries and their workers a much-needed relief to their unemployment.

There are no States in the Union where prosperity is so dependent upon the maintenance of the protective tariff as in those of the Pacific coast. There is scarcely a commodity now produced within your borders that could be produced on a commercial basis tomorrow if we were to take down the barriers which prevent a flood of goods outside our boundaries from the North, the South, across the Atlantic and the Pacific.

You are familiar with the proofs. I need recite but a few. For instance, southern California should be interested that lemons can be laid down in New York from Europe at $3.50 a box, while through tariff protection California is able to sell her product for $6.50. Petaluma is interested that the import of over 3-million dozens of eggs has dropped to 300,000 this year under Republican tariff, and through the recent order I signed in connection with dried eggs upon the determination of facts by the Tariff Commission we saved that industry. New Zealand butter could be sold at this moment over the whole Pacific coast at less than 14 cents per pound; similar grades of butter bring 22 cents per pound because of the tariff. Against Asiatic beans the tariff has afforded, during the last 2 years, a nearly 100 percent protection for the Pacific coast farmer. Raisins and figs of Fresno and prunes of the Willamette and Santa Clara Valleys would sell in the common markets of the East at rates that would, despite the low level of present prices, reduce returns to those producers by nearly 50 percent. The price of California wool in the Boston market is 38 cents today, whereas your Australian competitors could sell the same kind of wool there for less than 22 cents, and the difference is due solely to the tariff.

It is not difficult to gauge the shallow hypocrisy of Democratic pretentions of tariff consideration in behalf of the Pacific coast farmer. The same story could be told of every farm product--nuts, grapes, melons, tomatoes, celery, and a score of commodities.

Turning to another of our great coast products, 60 cents out of each dollar produced in the Pacific Coast Northwest comes from the forests, where higher wages are paid to lumber workers than in any other district in the world. Since the passage of the tariff act, British Columbian lumber exports into the United States have almost disappeared, and those from Russia, which had rapidly developed into a large trade, have almost ceased.

I would like to repeat here a statement made on Friday, October 28, by Mr. W. D. Euler, former National Minister of Canada and now a Member of the Canadian House of Commons. He said:

"I have no particular love for our American friends so far as business is concerned, but I would not cut off my nose to spite my face. It may be that after the next election--and it looks that way--the United States Government may change its attitude, and you may find President Roosevelt, if he is elected, making certain proposals possibly as to allowing our lumber to come into that country, or our fish, or something else."

And this protection afforded to Pacific coast industries by the tariff of 1930 and since has become doubly imperative within the last few months, due to depreciation of currencies as a part of the world collapse. As many of you know, due to a more than 50 percent depreciation in Japanese currency since last spring, the competitors of our Pacific coast fish industries, which employ nearly 90,000 workers and have an invested capital of more than $103 million, have been confronted with the gravest peril. As a result of this depreciation of currency, foreign salmon is now quoted at about half the price of our Pacific coast product. Our imports of canned sardines, which come largely from depreciated currency countries, were almost 90 percent larger in September of this year than in September 1931. And other branches of our important Pacific coast industries, such as canned vegetables, dried fruits, beans and pulp, iron and steel may also be threatened with a similar peril.

In the light of this grave emergency, I have asked the Tariff Commission to investigate the situation immediately and, if the findings warrant, I shall at once increase the protection to these industries. The fact is, we on the Pacific coast are faced with the necessity to consider increases in the tariff instead of the proposals of the Democratic Party to reduce them. Our citizens should not be fooled by promises of local Democratic candidates not to reduce these tariffs.

Every man who knows the constitution, the character platform, and the traditional policy of the Democratic Party knows perfectly well that these products will rot on the farms and in our forests of the Pacific coast under such a regime. Furthermore, it must be obvious that the progress the Pacific coast has made from the crisis in certain industries toward upward movement of the last 4 months would wither under any such proposal. We would go back to conditions of depression worse than that through which we have passed.

I would call your attention to another phase of the tariff question, that is, the proposal of negotiated reciprocal tariff by the Democratic Party. I have just examined again the protests which were lodged with the State Department at the time of the increases in our tariff 2 years ago. I find that protests were made by 40 different countries. They are nothing new. They occur with every tariff bill, and the Democrats always ventilate them as being threats to our national welfare just as the Democratic candidate did while in our State. I found, however, that these protests in large part relate to items of interest to the Pacific Coast States: wool, hides, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, onions, potatoes, carrots, cattle, hogs, butter, cheese, eggs, canned goods, canned fish, sugar, preserved cherries, oranges, lemons, raisins and dried fruits, apples, olive oil, beans, peas, cement, pottery manufactures, iron and steel manufactures, lumber, and oil.

No reciprocal agreement would be made with these countries at all except at the expense of the Pacific Coast States. Because we have determined to protect the civilization upon which the Coast States rest, and their distance from States of predominant interest to that party, the Democratic candidate tells us that we have been unjust to foreign nations and that we have brought calamities on all other States and the world by our insistence upon your protection.

To indicate the practical application of our measures to protect the Pacific coast from destruction in this crisis and to advance that recovery, I may cite a few of the direct applications to California, Oregon, and Washington.

The National Credit Association and the Reconstruction Corporation at one time advanced over $150 million to some 409 banks, including branches, in the State of California; to 62 in Oregon; and to 99 in Washington. This sum has been largely repaid. Those banks have more than 3 million depositors, every one of whom was helped by these loans which were made solely for the purpose of protecting their deposits and savings, and of preventing undue pressure on borrowers from those banks during the period of panic. Had these advances not been made your entire banking system would have collapsed beyond any doubt. But this action has tided over the panic, has reestablished the banking system of the Pacific coast again on a sound basis, and has kept practically every family from despair at loss of their deposits.

I may call attention to the fact that during this period loans were made to 24 different building and loan associations on the Pacific coast and to 5 mortgage concerns, with a view to preventing foreclosure of mortgages on the homes and farms of hundreds of thousands of people.

The Federal Farm Board, created by my activities, has advanced to California farm cooperatives a total of $31,298,000 to prevent their collapse in this time of distress and thus aided hundreds of thousands of families. On top of this, in order to aid in employment, the Federal Government has expended, during my administration, on and let contracts for public works, buildings, roads, and other items $100 million in California, $45 million in Oregon, and $50 million in Washington. This has provided work for hundreds of thousands.

Beyond this again the Reconstruction Corporation, under provisions for advancing employment through reproductive works, has authorized advances to great projects in the Pacific Coast States which were held in abeyance because of the credit paralysis, such as the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, the bringing of Colorado River water into southern California--which enterprises will finally expend upwards of $400 million for the invigoration of the industries of California and the whole of the Nation. Beyond this the Reconstruction Corporation has authorized loans to States on the Pacific coast for the care of distress among unemployed.

Under these measures which I have inaugurated, we have set up new agricultural credit banks on the Pacific coast in order that there shall be no question as to the ability of our farmers to borrow money for productive purposes. We have set up new home loan banks in those States in order that we may protect and expand the activities of the building and loan associations and savings banks, not alone to protect homeowners from foreclosure but to free capital with which new homes can be built and new labor employed.

These great actions by the use of Federal credit to tide Pacific Coast States across the trough of this depression reflect directly and indirectly into every home and fireside in those States.

These measures which I have cited are but a partial picture of the reasons why I have not been able, during the whole of these 4 years, to renew the friendships and those associations in my home State, or even to have the pleasure of attending the Olympic games.

In all the stress of these past years, especially in these past few weeks when we have been battling that the rehabilitation of this Nation may be carried forward without interruption, nothing has been more heartening than the messages of confidence and hope that I have received from the mobilized women of California. I realize that when difficulties come of the character we have been meeting it is the women who first feel the effects of economic pressures on their shoulders, the burden of thousands of small economies that must be made for the preservation of the home and the safety of the children. They are proving the great steadying influence in the Nation, the great preservers. They will refuse to risk the fate of their families through the abandonment of those safeguards which we have builded during the past 150 years or to risk the programs of reconstruction we have inaugurated, by the adoption of the proposals of the Democratic Party which will inherently destroy it. I should like to pay a tribute to the organization of your young voters who are fighting this battle with us to such telling effect.

I have been requested by the Republican State Committee to comment on two calumnies being circulated by the Democratic agents in my home State. I had not supposed it necessary, but I can do so categorically. As to the first calumny, I have not, since I entered public service 15 years ago, owned any interest directly or indirectly in any kind of business outside of the boundaries of the United States, including any concern producing, transporting, or distributing oil. Twenty years ago I invested $5,000 in the California Oil Company, and I still have it. The second defamation that I am asked to denounce which has been industrially circulated is to the effect that the ranch at Wasco, my interest in which I disposed of 2 or 3 years ago, refused to employ white workers. To support this cheap political trick, a notice was prepared and hung on the gates and photographed for circulation despite repeated public statements of its fraudulent character by various substantial men.

I might add one further note of interest to the Pacific Coast States. Repeatedly in these last 4 years in illustrating what may be accomplished under the American System of government, and by a virile people, I have pointed out publicly and privately, time and again, the great example of the Pacific Coast States, an empire to itself--where 8 million people have settled in a period of less than 85 years, have builded a state of society in which there has been a degree of comfort, an addition to the sum total of human possessions, a diffusion of wealth, and a security that is not exceeded by any similar area on the face of the globe, no matter how old. And where, with it all, they have advanced in education and intellectual pursuits to the degree that the total number of students in institutions of higher learning amongst only 8 million people, is greater than the attendance in similar institutions in the whole of Great Britain with its population of 45 million.

I am asking you should vote to maintain our American institutions which have given you this well-being, not halt them because of temporary dissatisfactions with forces outside the control of our Government. And it is my purpose tonight to bring to your minds that this march and progress should not be halted nor destroyed.

I do not hesitate to ask you to so express your citizenship next Tuesday as to insure the continuance of this progress, which over the years has made California what it is. It must not deter me from the solemn duty of appealing to you to vote on the basis of the constructive measures and policies of the Republican Party which have protected you from great disasters in the past and have turned the country toward recovery and not allow your votes to be inspired by misrepresentations and general and special appeals to discontent with temporary forces forced upon us from abroad rather than your own well-being.

Note: The President spoke at 11:15 p.m. at the Carlton Hotel in Washington. D.C., in ceremonies celebrating California Day. The address was carried by wire to Los Angeles, Calif., and the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network broadcast the address in the Pacific Coast States.

Herbert Hoover, Address to the California Society of Washington, D.C. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208106

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