Herbert Hoover photo

Rear platform and Other Informal Remarks in Illinois and Wisconsin

November 05, 1932

[1.] FREEPORT, ILLINOIS (Rear platform, 6:45 a.m.)

I am afraid you are going to have to let me off from delivering a speech. I used my voice pretty much last night, and I am going to have to use it again tonight. But I do want to express my appreciation to you for this greeting. It is generous. It indicates that you get up powerful early in the morning, but what is more, it indicates what you are likely to do on the 8th day of November, which is more important.

[2.] ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS (Rear platform, 8:30a.m.)

You will realize that an occasion of this sort is not one on which one can go far into national issues. You will also realize that it is rather difficult on one's voice to be making public addresses at night and still talk outdoors in the daytime. Nevertheless, I would like to remind you of one national issue that is of vital importance to you, and that is that a long series of unprecedented steps and measures have been taken by this administration to protect this country from the catastrophe that swept over this country from Europe; that these measures have begun to show their vitality and their results; that since the adjournment of the Democratic House of Representatives they have had a fair chance and during these last 4 months clearly show the reemployment of nearly 1 million men, and they are going back at the rate of 500,000 a month. The reemployment of these men adds to the market for the farmer, and thereby we shall see the restoration of this economic machine of ours, provided that it is not interrupted on the 8th day of November.

There is one other issue that is of vital importance to Rockford, and that is the continued maintenance of the protective tariff. The tariff is being greatly undermined through the falling currencies of Europe. These currencies have fallen through the catastrophies which have come to those countries, with which the United States has had no relation. It has decreased their cost of living and their wages, which makes it more difficult for American manufacturers and workmen to maintain their standards of living and wages.

And our Democratic opponents, in the face of the actual decrease in currency that is going on today through these causes, now propose to further reduce the tariff. Already two or three plants in different parts of the country have closed down because of this competition. We have set up through the Tariff Commission a method of remedy. We are proceeding as rapidly as possible toward that remedy. Our opponents propose to destroy the Tariff Commission. In other words, they cannot use information in the West with regard to the tariff which differs from the information which they use in the East.

I thank you for your reception. It is encouraging, and I am deeply touched by it.

[3.] BELVIDERE, ILLINOIS (Rear platform, 9:35 a.m.)

I always find it difficult to formulate the phrases that express the gratitude which I feel for these receptions. They are encouraging to continue this fight, and they are an evidence oœ the support which you are going to give to us on the 8th day of November.

Every one of you has an interest in this election that is an interest to you personally. You have in this city an interest in the maintenance of the protective tariff. Your manufactures here are all of them protected, and the jobs of the men in the factories here are protected through the tariff. We have not only to meet today the normal competition of the world with our manufactures, but we have to meet, as the result of the cataclysm which has come over Europe, the effect of their depreciated currencies. Those currencies have lowered wages, lowered standards of living, and have made competition with you more severe than ever before in your history.

Our Democratic friends, in the face of these added difficulties, say they will lower the tariff and destroy the protection which you now have. They wish a competitive tariff for revenue only, and they are asking you to undertake competition with the lower-paid labor of the world.

Not long ago I had a survey made as to the standards of living in different countries. We used as a common denominator the amount of bread and butter that could be purchased with a week's wages. We found that in Japan, which is now exporting to the United States large quantities of goods, that the Japanese workman could buy only one-eighth of the amount of bread and butter which you can buy with your present wage scale. That is the sort of competition which you are expected to meet in a competitive tariff for revenue only. Our party is not alone to maintain the protective tariff but to increase it wherever it may be necessary in order to maintain American workmen in their jobs.

You have many other things which interest you personally. Above all, the primary issue of this campaign is the measures which are to be continued for the recovery of the country from its unemployment and the distressing plight of its agriculture. The Republican administration has set up a long list of instrumentalities that are engaged in that purpose today, and they are succeeding since the adjournment of the Democratic House of Representatives. We have approximately 4 months to test out the efficacy of those measures, and during that time over 1 million men have been returned to their jobs. They are returning now at the rate of 500,000 a month. And it is in the restoration of employment that we shall secure the added markets and the added prices to our agriculture.

Now, I could go on and discuss national issues, but length of time does not permit. I do want to express to you my gratitude for your reception and the encouragement which you have given by your coming here this morning.

[4.] BELOIT, WISCONSIN (Rear platform, 10:25 a.m.)

My friends:

This is a great welcome and a great greeting from the State of Wisconsin. I thank you for it. It is a sign of what Wisconsin will do on the 8th day of November.

Now, this is not an occasion on which one can discuss national issues at great length. I speak again in St. Paul tonight, and I hope that you may through the radio participate in that discussion.

I have long known of Beloit more through her college than through her larger activities. I live myself in a college town. For 40 years I have had association with their ideals and dreams, and I value them greatly, and I envy any citizen privileged to live in a community that has so much of a fermenting ( ? ) 1 influence as a great college.

1 The question mark appears in the original transcript.

There are other matters of great interest to you in this campaign and in this forthcoming election. One of them is the protective tariff.

[At this point the train pulled out oœ the station without allowing the President to finish his remarks.]

[5.] MADISON, WISCONSIN ( University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse, 12 noon )

It is a great pleasure to come to a city which has made itself famous by the contribution of a great university to the thought and leadership in modern life. My own home for 40 years has been on the campus of another great university, and I have valued to the highest degree the constant refreshment that has come to me from the idealism and dreams of youth who come to these institutions to fit themselves for this leadership in national life. I know your minds are alive to the great problems of our times, and that you are conscious of the new forces that have entered into the world and into our national life.

It is not my purpose to discuss at length with you economic issues. I would rather discuss with you those fundamentals for which America stands. These fundamentals are being tested daily in this the greatest peacetime crisis that has come to our country. We have builded a nation on certain conceptions of equality and personal freedom that are unique in the whole world. As a people we have sought a system that would give opportunity and stimulate each individual to his intellectual uttermost, and by the accretion of the contributions to thus enrich national life and to produce progress and through the sum of them to produce a new intellectual standard for the world and the guarantee of a national progress that will be worth all we have poured into it. We have created political equalities. We have created equality for men at birth, equality of men before the law, and we have set the ideal of an equal opportunity for all men and women. However much it may have fallen short of the ideal, it is yet infinitely more advanced than that held up before men in any other nation in the world. By these social conceptions, by the form of government, there have been created and given to our people the opportunity of expression that has set new standards, created a unique society in the world.

A fundamental part of this equality of opportunity and the part in which the United States is unique and envied of all people is our system of universal free education, by which the child of the humblest farm may learn from the alphabet to the Einstein theory--all that the mind of man has accumulated down the ages for his instruction and equipment to meet the battle of life. So zealous have we been to maintain this fundamental of an equal opportunity of men, and the sum of these accomplishments which produce the progress of the Nation, that it is not remarkable that, in the fullness of the freedom which we have protected, there has periodically appeared in our history its transformation into license, especially in the economic field and field of crime, which must be vigilantly restrained. Our fundamental purpose is the development of moral and spiritual growth and the strengthening of national ideals and national character. But in the restraints we have had to be constantly on guard that we do not stifle the intellectual opportunities and the initiative of men, for out of these flows the new strength upon which the Nation constantly feeds. We are, therefore, constantly confronted with the degree to which these restraints can be set up and still preserve that vital initiative and intellectual freedom which have elements of self-control which belong alone to self-government. On the other side we have to constantly guard lest in our restraints we regiment men instead of creating free men.

One of the very pertinent questions which arise out of this liberal license to men is the violation of law. Lawlessness and crime have unquestionably grown in our country. Some ascribe it to the too great license of individual liberty; some to the breaking down of moral restraints due to the Great War; and some to prohibition and a hundred other causes. Some have urged that we must change the whole basis of our Federal system, and that we should place the burden of this restraint upon the Federal Government because of the failure of some States and some municipalities to give proper function to their own responsibilities. Yet this would be a destruction of State sovereignty and local responsibility, the destruction of individual responsibility, and make a nation of vassals through bureaucracy concentrated at a far distant point.

The responsibility for the control of crime rests emphatically upon the States and the local communities. Our civilization will rise no higher than the concepts of order that reside in the self-control of an educated people. I think you are all conscious of the humiliation that comes to our countrymen when the Federal Government must deliberately use the violation of income ,tax laws to collect gains on crime in order to curb these criminals who are uncontrolled, unprosecuted, and unconvicted by the States and municipalities.

I can discuss this subject with more heart in the State of Wisconsin than any other State in the Union, because you have recognized your responsibilities, and you have sought to preserve your people from the forms of crime which in other places dictate the very conduct of communities, and indicate a clear sense of responsibility and vigilance in your people.

The gangster life which has developed in some of our cities and some of our States is one of the most dangerous elements to the whole of our civilization. It would seem that with the opportunities that were given the Governor of New York, who is a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, he might have made a larger contribution in these last 3 years to the solution of the gang life in that State, under the great powers conferred and the obligations bestowed by the constitution and laws of his own State.

Now, for a moment on economic issues.

The workers in the great industries of Wisconsin, both agricultural and industrial, are peculiarly dependent for their standards of living as never before upon the maintenance of the protective tariff. Dependent also is the fate of the small businessman upon the prosperity which must be thus protected. In the agricultural field I need only to refer to your great dairy industry where you lead the entire Union. Today its products, distressingly low as their prices are, would be 20 to 30 percent lower if it were not for the tariff wall which surrounds them. The consequence of the collapse of 30 foreign governments and the consequent depreciation of their currency, which means also the lowering of their wages and standards of living, are constantly endeavoring to make breaches in our tariff walls which [have] retard[ed] the recuperation in agriculture during the whole of these last 6 or 8 months. This has indeed grown to such a point of seriousness that you have need to consider, not the reduction of these tariffs which our Democratic opponents propose, but the strengthening of this wall of protection. Fortunately we have been able to thwart our opponents in their endeavor to destroy the independent authority of the Tariff Commission with its flexible potencies. We now have before that Commission a reconsideration of the necessities of this primary industry in your State.

Nor are your manufacturing industries less dependent upon it than your agricultural industries. Without the protective tariff, with the lowering of the tariffs which our opponents propose, you must be faced with an increasing unemployment instead of the steady march of recovery and of employment which are evident on every hand. We have passed, in the last 3 years, through the greatest crisis in our peacetime history. We have witnessed the economic crash of two-thirds of the world, and its repercussions have moved in upon our people in a manner which has at times endangered even our national stability. We have been the last fortress of strength in a crashing world. By the unprecedented measures, which we have taken we have prevented a chaos which might have extended over generations.

This battle of defense has now through these measures been turned into a great offensive for recovery. There was little opportunity for it to make itself felt in recovery until after the adjournment of Congress, with their constant destruction of confidence and spreading of fears from measures which were being presented to the American people and passed by a Democratic House of Representatives. But in these 4 months since that time we have seen the return of 1 million men to work, and the records show that they are returning today at a rate of nearly half a million a month. Materially it is of the greatest importance to you and every American citizen that this great battle which is in progress on the whole economic front shall not be interrupted by the long delays which are proposed to you in order that there shall be a change in policies and strategies.

I have endeavored in the last month in the presentation of these and many other issues to appeal to the thoughtful people of the United States, and I accept your demonstration as evidence of the support which you are giving to me out of your conviction in this battle. I have made no endeavor to appeal to emotion, but I have made an endeavor to appeal to reason. I have fixed my faith upon the logical conclusions of a thoughtful people.

[6.] BARABOO, WISCONSIN (Rear platform, 1:45 p.m.)

My friends:

My chief recollection of this town comes from the fact that for many years it was the hometown of the Ringling Circus which I attended with great industry during my early life.

I wish to thank you for your greeting. It is heartening. It is encouraging to continue a fight for the fundamentals that have built up this Nation. It is encouraging to keep on with that fight until the last moment. And it is an evidence of your desire to see that the Republican Party is returned on the 8th day of November.

Many of you have radio sets. Many of you will be able to listen in this evening, and I hope to have something more to say about the problems that are before us and perhaps something to say about our opponents.

[7.] ELROY, WISCONSIN (Rear platform, 2:40 p.m.)

My friends:

We haven't long to stop on this occasion. It is not much of an opportunity to discuss national issues. I shall be on the radio again tonight from St. Paul. Most of you have the opportunity to listen in and join in that discussion.

I do appreciate your coming down and giving me this greeting. It is very encouraging. It is helpful to carry on this fight. It is a sign of what you will do on the 8th day of November, and I thank you for it.

[8.] MERRILLAN, WISCONSIN (Rear platform, 4:25 p.m.)

My friends:

I do wish to express my appreciation for this greeting. It is a great encouragement in making a fight to find the people ready to come down and give you such a generous welcome as this, and it is also to me an indication of where your heart is going to lie on the 8th day of November.

Now, a stop like this is too short a time to discuss national issues. I am going to speak from St. Paul tonight, provided I can get the speech written in time. You will then have an opportunity to hear not only what this administration has been doing but something about what I think of our opponents.

I wish to thank you for this reception because it is a great encouragement.

[9.] EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN (Rear platform, 5:40 p.m.)

My friends:

It is very difficult for one to formulate phrases of the eloquent order that so generous and so cordial a reception as this would warrant in response. It is encouraging. It is inspiring, and it is stimulating in a great battle to know that there are so many devoted supporters to that cause. And it is a promise of what the action of Wisconsin will be on the 8th day of November.

This is not an occasion on which to discuss national issues. It is an occasion on which you may take a look at me, and it is an occasion in which I may have the great pleasure of meeting with you. Within a few hours I shall be speaking from St. Paul and from there try to traverse some more of our national problems and to express my opinions to you on some questions raised by the opposition party.

I cannot hope on this occasion to make a long address or a prolonged address. It is necessary, and I think you will be helpful to me, that I save my voice for the strains which it must encounter during the next 2 or 3 hours. But I do wish to express my appreciation for this manifestation of real friendship, and I thank you for it.

[10.] HUDSON, WISCONSIN (Rear platform, 7:10 p.m.)

My friends:

I want to express the appreciation I have for so tremendous a reception as this. It is heartening. It is a fine expression of your confidence. It is stimulating to continue this fight to the end. And it is an evidence of the action which you will take on the 8th day of November.

This is not a time to enter upon a discussion of national issues. Within a couple of hours, I shall be speaking over the radio from St. Paul, and there I will undertake to expound some of the views of the administration, some of our problems of the past, and hopes for the future. I probably will also make some comments on our opponents.

It is indeed difficult for me to express that gratitude I have for your coming to see me and for this reception. I thank you.

Note: Times provided for the President's remarks are approximations based on his itinerary.

Herbert Hoover, Rear platform and Other Informal Remarks in Illinois and Wisconsin Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207485

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