Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

March 29, 1933

Q. What type of organization are you going to set up to mobilize the unemployed on this forestation program?

THE PRESIDENT: I cannot tell you anything definite yet. Probably I will have to have somebody to act as director of the whole works, but that means, of course, that he will have to work through existing Federal agencies. For instance, on the initial enrollment, it will be the Department of Labor plus Army facilities such as trucks and things like that. Then the actual taking of the men to camp and maintaining them at camp will be an Army feature. The supervision of the work will be either an Interior problem or an Agriculture problem, one or the other.

Q. Or both?


Q. Will that mean concentration camps?

THE PRESIDENT: Do not use that word. It sounds too much like that which some of us older people remember as used in the Cuban episode of 1907 and 1908. I do not know what you would call them. They are merely way-stations to be used on the way to the camps, at which the boys will be properly treated, outfitted and given a complete medical examination.. That is about all.

Q. Why not call them cantonments?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, a cantonment has a more permanent sound. I hope that we can keep them there just as short a time as possible. The Army, in talking in a preliminary way, says two weeks. I think that is much too long. I think we could keep them in camp a maximum of one week, which would be quite enough. It saves money to keep them out on the job as long as we can.

Q. How soon do you think we can get them out, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: I should think we can get the first people enrolled within two weeks after the passage of the bill. That means they probably could not get to camp until three weeks. Of course, we cannot start off with 250,000 at one time. That will take quite a while.

Q. What is new, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: I have something about the Securities Bill today. I dictated the message just before I left the White House and it has not gone up yet. There are copies out there. The general idea is that it provides publicity rather than any guaranty to the investing public. What we want to avoid is having the public think that an issue of securities, the facts on which have been filed with the Department, and for which a license has been issued, is necessarily a good investment. For, of course, that is not so at all.

The simplest example is this: If a company is organized to develop a gold mine and it has got what it and the engineers honestly believe to be a perfectly good speculation and if it is not over-capitalized, there is no reason why it should not get a license to operate, provided the public is informed that it is, like most gold-mining operations, a speculative venture. Of course, it must be started in good faith. In other words, what we are trying to do is to get the kind of information before the investing public as to each issue so that, if they do invest, they will know at least that the representations that have been made to them are true.

What I am saying to Congress in the message—I don't suppose you will use any of this before it actually goes to Congress—is that it applies the new doctrine of caveat vendor in place of the old doctrine of caveat emptor. In other words, "let the seller beware as well as the buyer." In other words, there is a definite, positive burden on the seller for the first time to tell the truth.

Q. Does this bill complete the program or is there more to come?

THE PRESIDENT; What we are trying to do, among other things, is to carry out the Democratic platform; and the big objective is to restore the old idea that a person who uses other people's money does so in a fiduciary capacity. That applies whether he is a dealer in new securities or whether he is a dealer in old securities. The same thing applies to commodities. In other words, a person who works in either a stock or a commodity exchange is acting as the agent for other people in a fiduciary capacity.

This particular message only takes up one phase and that is the issuing of new securities. You can say that there are three other phases: The first is the supervision of the buying and selling of securities and commodities. On that we are not yet ready. We are working on it and it will probably take another week or ten days. Of course, there are all sorts of complications and I think the Fletcher Committee is also working on that phase of it. They may have to do some more looking into the problems and analyzing them from the standpoint of the information they are gathering through the hearings.

The third phase relates to the fiduciary position of directors and officers of corporations and their subsidiaries. That would be just to restore the old—I was going to say the old Biblical rule, but I don't think they had corporations in those days, but it amounts to that. The idea is that they are trustees for the stockholders.

The fourth phase primarily relates to banking. That relates to the question of affiliates, and to the separation of investment buying and selling from banking, and to the separation of commercial banking from trust banking. It also covers the matter of private banking affairs, bringing them in under the same rule that governs public banks and things of that kind.

Well, we are working on all these phases; and we are not ready yet. It will take another ten days. . . .

Q. Do you propose to put this whole program before this session of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT: It might take too long to work out parts of it so as to get it all in. It is a very complicated thing. . . .

Q. Would you care to comment on the local stories about the changes in the I.C.C. and Federal Trade Commission? There have been stories that they may be abolished.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, they won't be abolished. That is a pretty good guess.

Q. To get started on foreign affairs for a moment. I understand that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has taken action on the American adherence to the World Court. Is it your desire, can you tell us whether you want the Senate to act at this session?

THE PRESIDENT: Not even off the record. You can make a guess. . . .

Q. How about the veterans' regulations that are due some time this week?

THE PRESIDENT: The veterans' regulations have been drafted; and the Director of the Budget and General Hines are giving a chance to the veterans' organizations to come in and look them over and make suggestions.

Q. Is that going on now?

THE PRESIDENT: That is going on now. . . .

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

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