Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Campaign Address at Baltimore, Maryland

October 25, 1932

Governor Ritchie, and my friends:

Today, for me, is a double anniversary. It was some years ago in this great Armory that I had some small part in the convention that resulted in the nomination of our great leader, Woodrow Wilson. The other anniversary is one in advance, for it is two weeks from tonight that the American people are going to speak.

I cannot tell you how deeply I feel and appreciate this great reception which you have given me in a State whose people from the beginning have led in the fundamental principles of Democracy, whose people from the first settlement of Maryland have preached and practiced the doctrine of the liberty of mind and the liberty of soul.

And may I say here, and over the radio to my friends in the District of Columbia, that it was only because of this meeting in Maryland that I could not stop there today to greet them at the station, and that I shall have to defer that honor and privilege until the 4th of March.

It is well that the people of our Nation should keep in mind that it. was this colony of Maryland which first proclaimed freedom of religious belief, freedom of practice according to the dictates of one's own conscience and soul.

As you and I know, that principle was greeted by the skeptics of the time as an idea visionary, fantastic and unworkable.

A worthy spokesman for this principle, a gallant defender of it year in and year out, a brave and tried general in the war to preserve human rights and human liberty, is your great Governor, Albert C. Ritchie. We are approaching the end of this campaign — I am all here, except a small fraction of my voice — and I am determined now, as I have been from the beginning, that the people of this country keep before them the fundamental issues of this campaign. To that end I have refused to be diverted or confused by the misrepresentations of my opponents, the fears of the weak, the madness of the unreasoning. No amount of hysteria on the part of a bankrupt Republican leadership will divert the American people at the eleventh hour from the decision they have already reached.

I am waging a war in this campaign — a frontal attack — an onset — against the "Four Horsemen" of the present Republican leadership: The Horsemen of Destruction, Delay, Deceit, Despair. And the time has come for us to marshal this "Black Horse Cavalry"!

First of all, the "Horseman of Destruction": The embodiment of governmental policies so unsound, so inimical to true progress that it has left behind in its trail everywhere economic paralysis, industrial chaos, poverty and suffering. You have heard that Horseman clattering down your streets.

Echoing down the trail of this first "Horseman" we might imagine the voice of the Book of Revelations saying, "A measure of wheat for a penny, three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."

Next comes the "Horseman of Delay": Emblazoned on his banner also are words of the Revelation, "And it was sad unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season."

I suppose this is what the Republican leaders mean when they say, "Don't change horses while crossing the stream." What they really mean is, "Don't run the risk of crossing the stream at all."

The delay that they have practiced is the delay that they want you to adopt when they say, "Give us another term, and maybe we can do better," or, perhaps, that inspiring battle cry, "Give us another term and we will not do worse."

There is no time for delay when we have been led by these people into quicksand. There is no time for delay when nearly half of our people cannot buy the bare necessities of life. There is no time for delay when eleven millions of honest, industrious and willing men and women are tramping the streets and roads of our Nation looking for work. There is no time to wait when the prosperity and happiness of this country are at stake.

And we of the Democratic Party will not wait!

Next in line is the third Horseman — the "Horseman of Deceit." It is his purpose to cover the trail of the Horsemen of Destruction and Delay. He tells you things that are not true. He wears a mask. He attempts by misrepresentation and the distortion of facts to blind your eyes, to destroy your sense of direction, and to paralyze your power of action.

He carries a great shield to hide from you the ugly ruin and terror which his comrades have left in their wake.

Bringing up the rear, is the fourth Horseman — the "Horseman of Despair." He tells you that our Government has no control over conditions that are handled from overseas. He tells you that economic conditions must work themselves out. He tries to close the door of hope in your face.

Take them up one by one: The first Horseman of Destruction suddenly appeared on the scene of this country, the most powerful in the world, with the greatest potentiality in wealth, in natural resources, intelligence and the efficiency of its people; where starvation and serious unemployment did not exist. Abroad in this land, however, was an unsound spirit of speculation which had been encouraged by the false doctrine of "borrow and buy."

The Horseman of Destruction in the Republican Administration gleefully gave encouragement to this speculation. The Presidential candidate of that Party in 1928 said unwisely that there would never be another panic in this country; that we were on the eve of the greatest prosperity that we had ever known. That is when we heard about the "chicken in every pot."

The White House and the Treasury Department issued statements that definitely encouraged and stimulated that speculative boom. They led the people on to certain and disastrous destruction.

There is the record. No partisan words will ever wipe it out. That record stands, and the lost savings of millions bid us remember it all our days.

The Horseman of Destruction came likewise from the false policy of lending money to backward and crippled countries. The Administration encouraged the policy that sought to open markets in foreign lands through the lending of American money to these countries. This was definitely sponsored by the Republican candidate for President in 1928, and for a time it became a cardinal factor in the policy of his Administration. It was utterly and entirely unsound, as I have demonstrated many times. It brought upon us a terrible retribution, and the record shows that this charge which I have made repeatedly in this campaign has never been answered. The State Department presented a laborious alibi which was immediately answered in such a devastating fashion by Senator Glass of Virginia and other members of the Congress that the State Department has gone fishing ever since.

You will search the President's speeches in vain for any attempt to explain this policy of destruction.

The Horseman of Destruction rode into every town and every county when the Grundy Tariff Bill was passed and signed, for this Horseman was insatiable.

He struck at the crumbling prosperity of the country.

A special session of Congress was called by the President for the declared purpose of "farm relief and limited changes in the tariff." The farmers were denied adequate relief while the President and his Administration raised practically unscalable tariff walls against international trade. This foolish act was done notwithstanding that our tariff already carried unreasonably high rates, in spite of the protests of thirty foreign Governments and threats of retaliation. Our doors were closed to our principal European purchasers. Retaliatory walls were erected against us by forty foreign Governments. The President is making no answer to this plain fact when he says, as he did in Des Moines, that there had been retaliatory tariffs before the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act was passed. Of course there were such acts passed before the Hawley-Smoot Act. No one said there were not; but remember, my friends, that eight years before the Hawley-Smoot Act the Republican Congress had passed the Fordney-McCumber Act which was itself the cause of retaliation by foreign Governments.

After the Hawley-Smoot Act foreign trade throughout the world fell into a condition of stagnation.

Our exports between the passage of the Act in June, 1930, up to the present time fell off more than sixty percent. Two hundred and fifty-eight of our American factories were moved to foreign countries. And our factories are still moving daily — moving abroad. Demand for labor has dropped. Our surplus productions, excluded from their normal foreign markets, were thrown back on the domestic markets to the destruction of commodity prices. The purchasing power of over half of our people was destroyed and demand for products in the domestic market fell, resulting in bankruptcy, foreclosures and unemployment. Every city and every farm knows these facts. Every city and every farm is waiting for Tuesday, November 8th, to arrive.

My distinguished opponent is declaring in his speeches that I have proposed to injure or destroy the farmers' markets by reducing the tariff on products of the farm. That is silly. Of course I have made no such proposal, nor can any speech or statement I have made be so construed. I said in my Sioux City speech, in discussing the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930:

"Of course outrageously excessive rates in that bill as it became law, must come down. But we should not lower them beyond a reasonable point indicated by common sense and facts."

The point indicated was that no tariff duty should be lowered to a point where our natural industries would be injured. Again in my Sioux City speech I made the Democratic position plain, where I said that negotiated treaties would be accomplished "by consenting to reduce, to some extent, some of our duties in order to secure a lowering of foreign tariff walls that a larger measure of our surplus may be sold abroad." Of course, it is absurd to talk of lowering tariff duties on farm products. I declared that all prosperity in the broader sense springs from the soil. I promised to endeavor to restore the purchasing power of the farm dollars by making the tariff effective for agriculture, and raising the price of the farmers' products. I know of no effective excessively high tariff duties on farm products. I do not intend that such duties shall be lowered. To do so would be inconsistent with my entire farm program, and every farmer in the United States knows it and will not be deceived.

Next in line I want to talk to you about the Horseman of Delay, who followed closely on the heels of the Horseman of Destruction. To take action — strong, vigorous action — to repair and rebuild destruction, is to admit that there has been destruction.

The Republican leaders would never be willing to admit that. And so they delayed. When they should have taken vigorous action to relieve the Federal budget of its crushing burden in December, 1929, they failed to do so. Their delay to take action to reduce expenditures continued from year to year, 1929, 1930, 1931.

With regard to unemployment relief their action was the same. Far-sighted people told them long ago that here was a human emergency that demanded action. But they were at all times hoping — guessing — that things somehow would get better and that they would not be brought to a stern reckoning for the consequences of their acts. So they kept on delaying providing relief. On this tombstone of the present Republican leadership will be written for all time the words "Too late."

My friends, this is one of the most inexcusable actions of the present Administration. I want to say with all of the emphasis that I can command, that this Administration did nothing and their leaders are, I am told, still doing nothing. Their leaders are still ridiculing my proposal for action. They still maintain the policy of delay. They ask for the right to continue it for four years more.

And now we come to the Horseman of Deceit: The Horseman of Deceit rides by night. He rode when the Administration told the public that the crash of 1929 was not serious. He rode when it said prosperity was just around the corner. He rode when people were told to buy and invest and to continue business as usual. He is riding now, when spokesmen of the Administration misrepresent what I say and what my Party says and what my associates say. Let me illustrate.

The President contends that the danger to our credit structure was due primarily to the failure of the Government to balance its budget. Right now, let us see who is responsible for that failure. After March 4, 1929, the Republican Party was in complete control of all branches of the Federal Government — the Executive, the Senate, the House of Representatives and, I might add for good measure, the Supreme Court as well.

The crash came in October, 1929. The President had at his disposal all the instrumentalities of Government. From that day to December 31st of that year, he did absolutely nothing to remedy the situation. Not only did he do nothing, but he took the position that Congress could do nothing. The deficit in the Treasury continued to increase, but never once did he urge that the budget be balanced, until December, 1931 — two long years later after the leaders of the new Democratic House of Representatives had announced their determination to balance the budget. Then, my friends, the President urged that this same thing be done. He was right — dead right — but as usual, he was right at the wrong time — two years too late.

The passage of the revenue bill was delayed because the President and the Secretary of the Treasury constantly changed their estimates as to the amount of revenue necessary to balance the budget. It will be recalled that on December 3, 1930, the President estimated that on June 30, 1932 — this year the Treasury would have a deficit of only $150,000,000. But the people of America now know that on that date the deficit amounted to three and three-quarter billion dollars. I care not whether this misleading statement was due to deliberate misrepresentation, or to inefficiency; in either event it must convince the thoughtful people of this Nation that the conduct of our fiscal affairs should be placed in the hands of men upon whose financial statements some reliance can be placed. I propose that the Treasury, in issuing statements as to the condition of our finances, shall substitute efficiency for inefficiency, and candor for deception.

I know that it cannot be successfully contradicted that after the budget estimate was submitted to the last Congress by the President, the Democrats of the House and Senate voted to reduce appropriations for the departments. I know that the President publicly announced his approval of a policy of economy. But the members of his Cabinet appeared before the committees of Congress and opposed the efforts of the Congress to reduce appropriations of the departments.

Under the provisions of the old Budget Act of 1921, the President has specific authority to recommend the elimination and consolidation of bureaus — not only bureaus, but boards and commissions. If he has recommended the consolidation of any of these bureaus it has certainly escaped my attention, and that of the people of the country as well. Then, on top of that, the economy bill of 1932 gave to him the absolute power to consolidate Government activities. That act was approved June 3o, and to this day there has been no consolidation of such activities; and therefore there is no justification for our entertaining the hope of any reorganization of the departments of the Government under the leadership of President Hoover.

I think the President's idea of economy is illustrated pretty well by the only section of the relief bill which is of Republican origin, namely, the appropriation of $15,000,000 for the construction of theaters, gymnasiums, service clubs, recreation halls and riding academies at army posts throughout the Nation; construction projects, by the way, which the Congress itself had failed to provide for in the regular appropriation bills; problems that were unessential and placed an unjust and unfair burden upon the American taxpayers. The President's idea of economy is further illustrated by his approval of an appropriation of $500,000 for the creation of something that you have all heard about — the Wickersham Commission, one of the outstanding achievements of the present Administration.

The Horseman of Deceit rode when the Republican Convention wrote its plank on prohibition. While nothing could be more clear than the declaration of the Democratic Platform and nothing can be more clear than my acceptance of that Platform, the Republican Convention, as you know, adopted a Prohibition statement that was intended to sound wet to the wets, and dry to the drys. The trouble was that it ended by deceiving no one. It sounded dry to the wets, and wet to the drys.

And so, after a month and a half of keeping his ear to the ground, the Presidential candidate attempted to correct it. He added new elements of confusion. In his speech of acceptance, he promised to work for the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment with some very important reservations. Everything went well for several days, but suddenly the Vice President was heard from. He attempted to make provision for a dry interpretation of what the President meant as an appeal to the wets. Thus it looked as if the ticket was facing both ways. But on close examination it was found that the Vice Presidential candidate was without a doubt wholly dry, and the Presidential candidate was only half dry. The result of this curious attempt to move both ways on a one-way street was not only to get traffic all tangled up from the point of view of Republican votes, but also to resolve the Republican Ticket in a sort of whirling motion — round and round — that meant to the voter honestly attempting to make a choice, only a dizzy exhibition of uncertainty. So that is where the issue stands, my friends. No honest wet and no honest dry can approve of such political tactics. It seems to me that it is the most palpable attempt to defraud the American people that we have seen in our day's generation.

Now a word as to beer. I favor the modification of the Volstead Act to permit States to authorize the manufacture and sale of beer just as fast as the law will let us. This is a way to divert three hundred million dollars or more by way of taxes from the pockets of the racketeers to the Treasury of the United States.

The Horseman of Deceit was certainly riding high when the Republican leaders were trying to make up their minds about the Eighteenth Amendment.

Finally there now rides abroad in a stricken country, among a people impoverished, confused, sore and weary, the fourth Horseman. He is the Horseman of Despair.

This Administration has resorted finally to the most plaintive diagnosis of a doctor in despair that any country has ever heard from responsible statesmen. The most devastating example of this kind of preaching is contained in the President's acceptance speech when he addressed himself to the farmers of the Nation. He told them that he sympathized with their stricken condition; that he wished he could do something to help them; that his attempt to help them through stabilization had been a disastrous failure; that he had considered various remedies and had finally come to the conclusion that nothing but the general revival of business could restore the American farmer. That was bitter medicine for the agricultural population of the United States. Its fallacy was apparent, for we all know that only by restoring this vast potential market, involving the needs of fifty million people, can American industry in the cities also be restored. How, it may be asked, can industry, which depends for its restoration upon the farming population, recover and thus contribute to the recovery of agriculture? That this economic doctrine is absurd is attested by the fact that industrialists have come to the conclusion that the future of industry depends upon establishing a market for American-made goods among American farmers.

Another example of the doctrine of despair has been uttered recently by the President of the United States. In his speech at Detroit he quarrels with the statement which I made to the effect that it was the responsibility of Government to see to it that workers should be kept on their jobs wherever possible and that when they were out of jobs they should be restored. I have no apology for that statement. It means precisely what it says. But the President's interpretation of it, however, is based on what he apparently has come to believe, that ten million people of the United States must remain unemployed unless the Government provides employment for all of them. The exact meaning of his statement is, if I understand English correctly, that there is no hope for a restoration of normal employment for these ten million people.

Despair is written all over this statement of the President. It is a despairing cry which says to the ten million or more American unemployed that normal employment is not for them and is not in sight. That is pure unadulterated despair. He apparently is opposed to any optimism in the face of present conditions. He apparently feels that the way to restore the spirit of the American people is to tell the ten million unemployed — the vast, weary army of unemployed — that they are going to remain unemployed. That is pure and unadulterated pessimism. It is, I submit, hair-shirt hypocrisy with a vengeance.

If my opponents feel that I am to be diverted by puerile criticism, I answer them by returning to the attack.

My statements are a matter of public record. They are correct. They are clear. They are directly and clearly addressed to the needs of the country.

Do not be deceived in these, the last moments of the campaign, by false lights on the shore, by smoke screens, by theatrics, by magic, by juggling, by the calling of names, by misrepresentation.

The Four Horsemen about which I have told you tonight have passed on their way.

Destruction has done its worst. But there still remains a country of vast resources, filled with people of spirit and strength.

Delay has made destruction ten times the worse. But it is not too late to build a policy of reconstruction.

They have sought to deceive. They have sought to confuse. But the American people have learned how to know deceit because they met it. They will take care of that, too, on Tuesday, November 8th. We, the people of this country, have lived too long and suffered too deeply to be frightened, to be intimidated by selfish and unAmerican employers, and other mongers of fear. We Americans will rise from destruction; we Americans will conquer despair; we Americans are facing new things. With confidence we accept the promise of a "New Deal."

APP Note: In the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, this document is sub-titled, "I Am Waging a War in This Campaign against the 'Four Horsemen' of the Present Republican Leadership—Destruction, Delay, Deceit, Despair."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Campaign Address at Baltimore, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/289327

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