Herbert Hoover photo

Remarks to Iowa Newspaper Editors at the Fort Des Moines Hotel

October 04, 1932

My friends:

I thought perhaps if you had been listening to me for the past 2 hours you had enough. I confess to the feeling, whenever I come before editors, that an amoeba must have when looked at through a microscope. I inquired of Mr. Spangler as to what I should say, and, having exhausted the subject on my own mind, he suggested that I talk about an entirely nonpartisan subject, such as my early life in Iowa.

I can always talk about that with pleasure and with cheerfulness because I do not know much of anything that happens to a small boy in Iowa that is not really cheerful. It is a life of more nearly complete joy than any other form of existence I can imagine; especially in the small towns and on the farms the varied landscape, shifting scenes, working in the fields and the thousand adventures there are in creeks and woods, filled with the real joy of living.

As you know, I grew up in a Quaker community where there were many restraints. They were not exerted so strenuously as some people think. The maximum extent to which it went was the complete inhibition on the Youth's Companion which was at that time considered a journal of misleading guile which a youth should not have. Consequently, my brother and I used to walk the half mile to the market where they were not Quakers to read it.

But there were characteristics of that village which have long since passed away with that generation. As you know the Quakers had an old-fashioned meetinghouse where they were divided as to the sexes. I have a vivid recollection of an elderly Aunt Hannah who delivered herself one day very emphatically on the subject of increasing wickedness of the world. Particularly on certain semidoctrinal schisms in the fold, and she prophesied that if these habits were followed the day would come when that meetinghouse would be turned into the mockery of a theatre. That was the worst thing she could think of. I went back 25 years later and to my astonishment her prophesy had come true. The community had become affluent enough to build a better meetinghouse, and they had moved the old one across the street and changed it into a moving-picture house.

I have recollections of other restraints. An uncle of mine who was a little wayward went away to the county seat and was discovered smoking a cigar. I have a keen recollection of all that happened when he returned as he had extreme difficulties with all in the meeting, and we children were much excited as to whether or not he might possibly be hung.

You see there were limitations', but really there were no limitations on the joys of small boys. The swimming hole, rabbit chasing and all-and I don't know of anything that rises to greater heights in sportsmanship than chasing a rabbit through the snow to his lair, and never greater human valor than bringing him home alive.

The wonders of Iowa to a 10-year-old are greater than any of you appreciate. You live in the community, and they fade out and you perhaps do not get the vividness that I do in having to remember them. My early visions of the railway track is of a vast area containing the most important stones in the world in the shape of agates and corals. If you worked with them on a grindstone for hours and polished them you could show them off to great advantage if you just licked them with your tongue.

In any event, Iowa is a mystery to me. Within the geographical boundary of the most fertile piece of soil in the world, nothing compares with its wealth of productivity. God gives to us every year a most magnificent return for human labor and yet a manmade mess defies even the work of Providence in aid to mankind. Everything has been given to your State that could be given in natural resources and other possibilities, and yet we prove ourselves unable to capably administer it. We have that problem in front of us at the forthcoming election, of more gravity to the American people than any we have met since the Civil War.

I thank you.

Note: The President spoke to the editors following his visit to the State House Plaza.

In his remarks, the President referred to Harrison E. Spangler, Iowa Republican national committeeman.

Herbert Hoover, Remarks to Iowa Newspaper Editors at the Fort Des Moines Hotel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207763

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives