Herbert Hoover photo

Radio Address to the Women of America.

October 07, 1932

I AM GLAD to have this opportunity to talk directly to the women who are organizing the support of the administration in this election. We have passed through 3 years of strain, of depression unprecedented in its sweep and suffering. Our people have suffered great losses. The gravity of the issues of the campaign affect women and men equally. When the women of America attained the vote they naturally forced certain questions into wider attention of the Nation. These were questions of education, home protection, and child welfare. You are interested in even wider fields. I do not minimize the importance of women in the home. That is the very heart of life. But on November 8, you will be confronted with issues that will determine the future hopes of America for many years to come. The attainment of the vote also contributed an increased quality of idealism and spiritual purpose to all national issues. I can add that I have observed in public discussions in this campaign that women take a longer view of national life than a great many men.

To build the home, to give a chance for better education for children and to gain a fuller life--this is, I conceive, the dream of every American mother. Courage and high hope and faith builded the greatness of America yesterday. Courage, high hope, and faith, with wise action on November 8, will build a still greater America tomorrow. To achieve this purpose I am asking you to consider with me some of the problems confronting our Nation.

Three great tasks lie before the Nation. The first of these is the battle for recovery from this depression which is now in the stage of winning counterattack on a long-extended front. Second, we must correct economic weaknesses and wrongs which have been brought vividly to the surface in the depression. We must set up protection against recurrence of these terrible calamities for the future. Third, we must advance political and social organization for the accomplishment of the real purposes of life, which are security and independence of the family and the home, wider opportunity, and equal opportunity for the individual, the development of moral and spiritual equality in the Nation, the strengthening of national ideals and national character. We must upbuild the moral leadership of America in the world.

The election on November 8 is of deep seriousness in its consequences to this future. It will not only determine whether proven measures now winning this battle against depression shall be exchanged for unknown experiments, but it will determine the course to be pursued by the Nation for many years to come in the solution and advancement of these great questions. The women will be voting not alone on one issue but on all these issues. Twenty years from now, 30 years from now, and a century from now there will be an America. What sort of an America concerns you at this critical moment.

In immediate matters of the depression men and women are equally affected. But on you, the women, falls the full anxiety of the direct effect of the impact of burdens upon the home. Moreover, some 10 millions of you are engaged in gainful employment, so that employment not only presses indirectly but it also presses directly upon you through loss of your jobs. In thousands of homes you have had to undertake the whole responsibility as the only breadwinner. You are gallantly carrying that burden. It is certain that if it were not for your earnings the depression would have brought greater suffering to a multitude of families. Whatever the different burdens of men and women may be, recovery from the depression is the same for both.

The forces moving against our people from outside our borders proved to be beyond the control of a single individual or a single institution. In such emergencies the Government, which must represent the whole people, has been faced with one or two alternatives. The first, to do nothing, which would have meant degeneration over a score of years, with dangers to every one of you and to our very national life. That I refused to accept. The second was for the Government to adopt an unprecedented emergency program fitted to the battle as the forces developed against us, but holding absolutely to proven principles, preserving the safety of American ideals and the future of American life. This course we have taken. The emergency measures now in action represent an unparalleled use of national power to relieve distress, to hold jobs and make more jobs, to serve agriculture, to preserve the stability of our institutions and maintain the integrity of our Government.

And they include not only the official powers of the Government. I have used every influence of the Presidential office to mobilize and organize the whole community in cooperative action in attack to overcome the depression in a score of directions which can be attained through the combined initiative of individuals and communities.

Our policies in protective tariff have saved our people during this depression from enormous increased unemployment of labor. They have saved our farmers from even lower prices due to competitive products from abroad because of the breakdown in living standards and currencies in foreign countries. Our opponents would loosen these destructive forces upon us. Our policy of practical stoppage of immigration has saved the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs during this period of stress. Our opponents have given no indication of their intentions upon this question.

In our emergency governmental measures, we have adhered to the principle of bringing government aid to our people through already existing institutions. We have confined it to those institutions definitely affected with public interest, not to save their owners--although they too represent millions of our people and should have our concern-but for the final purpose of protecting the whole people in holding their homes, their farms from loss through debt, to protect their savings deposited in banks, their insurance policies, to promote their employment. We have won that safety for them and for you.

The measures and weapons we have set up to break the depression may appear to the eye as cold, mechanical things. If they are analyzed, however, in their ultimate result they are effective and human things. They have real hearts behind the mechanism designed to create precious human blessings as their product. Many of you have seen the savings of a family's lifetime, slowly accrued to secure comfort and independence in old age, swept away by the failure of the bank where they were kept. You have seen foreclosure of mortgages on farms and homes at your own towns, not from lack of security but from the inability of institutions to renew mortgages because of the demands upon them. Records of thousands of such pitiful incidents have passed over my desk and have deeply touched my sympathies. But sympathy alone does not save lives and property when the house is burning. Fire engines, hose, and axes have to be brought. They too are cold and mechanical contrivances, but they are the only effective instruments of human helpfulness which is eager to protect and save. It has been my duty in this emergency to devise such mechanical but effective instruments to save homes and jobs.

Governmental institutions in a democracy move slowly, but the work of one of these agencies can be well illustrated by the fact that in the 20 months between my recommendation to Congress for the creation of the Reconstruction Corporation and the time it was actually enacted into law and established, the net bank failures, measured in terms of deposits were about $499,700,000. In the 21/2 months following the establishment of the Corporation the bank failures decreased to $29,400,000, or by 94 percent. In the last 2ð months banks which have reopened have, in terms of deposits, actually exceeded deposits in closed banks by $15 million. This represents the protection of literally millions of families from the despair of loss of their savings, protection to millions of others from being crowded to the wall of bankruptcy through demands for payment of their debts which they could not meet without the sacrifice of everything they possessed.

This pledging of national credit has saved thousands of our benevolent trusts and the endowments of our great educational institutions upon which the future development of our national life greatly depends.

As a further instance of the great instrumentalities we have brought to bear in this great battle, I would cite to you not only the Reconstruction Corporation but also the newly established system of home loan banks which function through the great mutual thrift institutions of America, the building and loan associations, savings banks, and insurance companies, all of which hold mortgages on over 5 million different homes. This mechanism by pooling the lending resources of the Nation will obtain for them the supply of credit which will bring to an end the tragedies of foreclosures and reopen opportunity for men and women to acquire homes, while destroying nothing of the individuality and character of these institutions. We have also strengthened the mortgage institutions upon which farmers are dependent. We shall strengthen them further.

It is the organized women who can interpret the working of these agencies in their human results to the individual and to the family. Throughout these measures we have insisted upon maintaining the fundamental principle of American life, that we should not use the Government to destroy or replace the functioning, the enterprise, or responsibility of individuals or institutions. We are aiding them across an emergency. We will withdraw these agencies except the home loan banks when the battle is won. We will leave the initiative and the enterprise and the courage of our people unimpaired. The home loan banks not only serve an emergency but they are also continuous, permanent institutions which will provide the machinery through which it will be more easy in the early years of their married life for men and women through their combined effort to acquire homes in which to rear their children and to retain that home for comfort and security in their old age.

I desire that you should study and compare the whole program that we have set during the past 3 years for meeting and overcoming the depression with the proposals of our opponents. The program of their party has had its only true expression in the measures which they introduced or passed through the House of Representatives, which was fully controlled by the Democratic organization during the past session. I would ask you to ponder carefully upon the Collier bill, passed on January 9; upon the Gasque bill, passed on March 4; upon the Goldsborough bill, passed on May 2; upon the treatment they accorded to the recommendations of the administration for economy in the bill passed on May 3; upon the Garner-Rainey bill, introduced on June 3; upon the Patman bill, passed on June 15; upon the Rainey bill passed on July 7. These measures would have put a burden of $3,500 million upon the country. They would have created enormous issues of fiat money. They would have destroyed the effectiveness of the Tariff Commission. They would have led us to place the fate of American workers and American farmers in the hands of foreigners through placing our tariff subject to foreign determination. They would have put the Government into wholesale personal banking. They would have broken down every safeguard that we have established to prevent pork-barrel legislation. Had we not been able to stop these measures, they would have destroyed recovery. They would have thrown us from the foundations of 150 years of careful upbuilding.

Passing from the immediate battle against depression, the second great series of constructive measures before us which I have mentioned are those which will be necessary to correct abuses and weaknesses in some of our economic machinery which has been so vividly exposed during this depression. You are well aware that for 40 years, and in some cases 100 years, the Federal and State Governments have regulated the insurance companies, savings bank and other financial institutions. They have also regulated the railways, the electrical, gas and other public utilities. All these agencies have been fully accepted in American life as having a public and human interest beyond the sole question of their right to competitive profits. As a result of weaknesses which have developed we must have constructive revision of these regulations in a form that will not destroy but will give greater service and greater security to the whole people. The spirit in which we must develop these remedies and reforms is the preservation of initiative of our people, that we should punish and prevent wrongdoing, not that we should destroy them by our Government foisting great bureaucracies upon the country which only deaden and do not heal. We must not lose faith in the ability of democracy to be master of its own house without burning it down because some men have proved unfaithful to their trusts.

These are all things of direct importance to women for they involve the long view of holding open equality of opportunity for the future of our boys and girls. I have presented such measures to a Democratic House without response from them except speeches in this campaign.

Another of our great problems is the safeguards which we should erect against recurrence of such calamities.

This is a primary necessity to the future of the Nation. We cannot as a people run the risk of having our whole civilization degenerate by such recurrences. There is a fundamental source of prevention which has been too much overlooked in this campaign. No one will deny the fact that such a depression would never have taken place had it not been for the destructive forces loosened by the Great War. If we are to assure that our country shall not be wracked and endangered by such calamities as we have gone through in the past few years, the first measure for safety is that we should have peace in the world. We have, therefore, a vital part to play in the setting up of machinery and in striving to replace war and force with peaceful settlement of controversies between nations. We properly refuse to entangle ourselves in age-old controversies in other parts of the world. Our face is turned forward, not backward. I have taken the position that we will not participate in trying to compel people to engage in settlement of controversies by the use of force.

The Kellogg Pact, which was established largely by my eminent predecessor, has been advanced by this administration to a point now accepted by the world as of far greater potency than was even contemplated at the time of its inauguration. Under the policies we have advanced we have definitely secured that the public opinion of the world will be mobilized and concentrated against those who violate that pact. We have advanced the further doctrine that the world should not recognize the benefits that any nation may obtain by its violation. By these new concepts we advance the settlement of controversies by peaceable means, and we keep the United States free from the dangers of war. They are the true expressions of moral leadership of the United States.

In order to further attain these safeguards against war, I have initiated a vital plan for the reduction of armaments throughout the world. By the acceptance of these proposals the world will be relieved of an enormous burden of taxes which in the last analysis are paid by the laboring men and women whether in the home, at the shop, or at the desk. I have proposed methods of disarmament which would make it harder for one nation to attack another and easier for one nation to defend itself from aggression of another. And thus we build up a sense of security amongst nations. We reduce the fears and apprehensions and hates which in themselves lead to constant instability in the world and ultimately to the dangers of war.

And another, and not the least amongst the many questions of the long view of the future and those which the enfranchisement of women have advanced to public understanding and insistent action, is the question involving development of education, the protection of children, the upbuilding of home life and its security. Men approach these questions also, but you approach them instinctively with a surety of judgment.

Two years ago, when I began to organize the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection and to find in the country those individuals who could take up the hard drudgery of committee work, to determine facts and draw conclusions from them, I found that the great majority fitted for that work of leadership, by skill and experience, were the women. Again, when I organized the Conference on Home Ownership and Home Building, it was necessary to create similar research committees to present conclusions to the Conference. Again the skill and spirit was found largely among the women. Both these conferences brought high results in the advancement of public thought. They are already ringing through our national life in concrete public action.

The Nation is faced with many other grave problems, many of which reach the very foundations and hopes of America for the future. I know from experience the power of women to help decisively in the solution of such great national problems through their capacity for definite organization and support of unselfish and patriotic causes.

Today I would ask the women of America to study deeply the issues before the Nation. Upon your actions rests a large measure of the responsibility for the future of our country. Upon those of you who are taking an active part in the work of the Republican Party in this campaign falls a major share of responsibility that the issues be clearly understood. I ask every woman everywhere who believes in our cause to join actively in it from today to the election. I not only express my very deep appreciation of your fine and unselfish efforts, but my confident hope that your continued efforts will gain a final success next month.

Turning from these questions ! should like to express a further thought. We are emerging from this depression. We shall continue if our constructive policies are maintained. One of the greatest things that might come from this 3 years of depression would be a realignment of public thought about the realities of living. And if we do get that out of it, the depression will yet be worth all it has cost. In the last few years our purpose has been largely to pile up money. We have reveled in huge figures with dollar signs before them, in the fascination of enormous numbers. We have been fond in these times of talking about our tremendous losses in terms of these dollar signs. We have not paused to reflect that these dollar signs represent only our homes, our churches, our schools, and the great tools of our factories, our farms and our railways, whose only purpose is to serve the home and the purpose of living itself.

The true purpose of living is to find a continuing expansion of the Powers of body and mind, a noble outlet for the exercise of these powers, to place ourselves in tune with the purpose of an Almighty Providence.. The proper aim of education is growth. The proper aim of moneymaking and saving is to assure us relief from bondage and fear for our daily bread so that we may have time and means to enlarge our knowledge, to give a more generous response to the promptings of the spirit. The proper aim of our Government is to preserve equality of opportunity, to hold open the door of opportunity that there may be an expression of the creative power of our people by rewards distributed on the basis of service and effort. Our economic life should be viewed in this philosophy as a means to a high and worthy end.

Good government is the gift of good people to themselves for the fountain of social justice cannot rise higher than its source. The times call for a soul-searching reexamination of our national purpose in life. We shall call in vain on others to be patriotic if our own patriotism has failed. We shall demand 'good government in vain if we neglect our own duties in the precinct and at the polls.

Note: The President spoke at 3:15 p.m. from the Cabinet Room in the White House. Mrs. Alvin T. Hert, vice chairwoman of the Women's Division of the Republican National Committee, introduced the President.

The National Broadcasting Company and the Columbia Broadcasting System radio networks carried the address.

Herbert Hoover, Radio Address to the Women of America. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207790

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