Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

May 07, 1943

THE PRESIDENT: I want to say a word in commendation of the Treasury Department. The Secretary of the Treasury sent me this morning the latest figures on the last bond issue. They have completed the Second War Loan Drive with a total sale of Government securities of $18,300,000,000, which is more than $5,000,000,000 over the goal that was set.

It is rather interesting to analyze those figures a little. More than $13,000,000,000 came from investors other than commercial banks, as compared with the original goal in that category of $8,000,000,000; in other words, that subscription by investors other than commercial banks shows the largest increase. Also, the savings of the people that were invested in other words, the average individual, like you and me—came to the extent of $3,000,000,000 by direct purchases; and another $3,500,000,000 through the purchases by insurance companies and savings banks, which of course act in a very true sense as the repository of the savings of millions of people, through insurance premiums.

The people participated to a much larger extent in the Second War Loan than in the First War Loan of last December. The figures I have given you show that the sales to individuals are almost double those of last December, which means that since what they call technically the "E" bonds have been issued by the Treasury for about two years, that over $10,000,000,000 have been put into those savings bonds, meaning a total—I think this figure is quite a significant one —of over 50,000,000 Americans.

And another interesting thing is that people who today are at work or in the armed services—which is about 60,000,000 people—five-sixths of them own one or more bonds ....

I don't think there's anything else.

Somebody is sure to ask me the question about the second mission to Moscow. (Laughter)

Mr. Joseph E. Davies is leaving, almost at once, on a mission to Moscow. He will not be gone very long; he is coming right back. He is carrying with him a letter from me, of which he himself does not know the contents. And I assume that, after it is opened over there, he will learn what is in it, and they may talk to him about it, and he will come back.

It is a special mission. It has nothing to do with a regular mission to Moscow.

And what is in the letter—I will forestall somebody who is about to say something—he doesn't know, and you don't know. And number three, your guesses were nearly always wrong in the past. (Laughter)

Q. Do we understand you told him to whom the letter is addressed?

THE PRESIDENT: It is addressed to Mr. Joseph Stalin. (Laughter)...

Q. Mr. President, under your Executive Order to Secretary Ickes, are the coal miners employees of the Government? If so, have they the right to strike against the Government?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you've got two questions in there. The first is, are they employees of the Government? I should say yes on that. On the second, I would say that I have been in the Government for a great many years, and I can't recollect any strike by Government employees against the Government ....

Q. Mr. President, can you say something about your talks with the President of Bolivia, Enrique Penaranda?

THE PRESIDENT: We had a very satisfactory conference. And there is no question about it, that all through the Latin American Republics, people are looking ahead.

One phase of that, for example, relates to what I said down in Mexico, about the era of exploitation being over. I apologized to him on behalf of the thing that happened a great many years ago- way back in 1926 or 1927—when certain Americans went down to Bolivia and told them they needed a lot of money. Well, Bolivia had not realized that, up to that time; but these Americans were such good salesmen that they persuaded Bolivia that they did need the money. And so we lent them some money on bonds at 8 percent. Also, about another 8 percent that went to the houses of issue. Bolivia only got 92 instead of 100 on their bonds, and of course, obviously, were completely unable to repay either the 8 percent interest or the principal.

And I apologized on behalf of my fellow citizens of that age—rather an interesting era in our history—and I told him that if I had anything to do with it again we would never lend money to anybody on that basis again ....

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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