Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks at Wilmington, Delaware

October 27, 1944

This is like a homecoming. As a matter of fact, I think I am a little superstitious. Eight years ago, I came here, on the way to Philadelphia, and I said a few words; and four years ago I came here and said a few words. The results go by threes.

Somebody tells me that we are holding a national election, but remember that we are holding a national election while the Nation is at war—and this is the first time that an election has been held under these conditions since 1864—eighty years ago.

And that recalls to my mind a remark made by Abraham Lincoln- and I think I quoted him here the last time, or the time before—when Lincoln was campaigning against Stephen A. Douglas—a remark that I think is particularly timely and applicable in this campaign.

Lincoln said, about something that Douglas had said, "In every way possible he tried to prove that a horse chestnut is a chestnut horse."

It seems to me that that applies very neatly to some of the Republican political oratory that has lately been agitating the air waves.

I do not believe that this oratory is really disturbing the progress of events here in Wilmington, or in the State of Delaware. You have shown the way before, what to believe and what not to believe.

I think you all know the difference between a chestnut horse and a horse chestnut.

You know a great deal about the size and the quality of the effort that has gone into the performance of our great job of production.

The products of Wilmington have made quite a lot of noise around the world.

I myself—being, I might say, "amphibious-minded"—am particularly interested in the landing ships that you have built right here along the Delaware River.

Remember that those landing ships—built in your back yards, so to speak—and all the various types of landing craft, have played a tremendous part in the winning of this war.

In the Pacific and eastern seas, and the European seas, we have had to send our troops thousands of miles, across both oceans, to land on beaches held by the enemy. We had to have entirely new kinds of vessels to do the final and the toughest job of all—Sicily, Salerno, and Normandy, the Marshalls, the Gilberts, the Marianas, and now, thank God, the Philippines—all of those historic operations have been made possible by the brilliant work of our Navy and our Army in developing new methods of amphibious attack.

And the workers—the ship builders—the industrial engineers—the chemists—and the plain citizens of this State of Delaware have contributed mightily to the victories that we have won.

And when I mention the word "workers," I want to make it clear that I include all kinds of work. For example, there are the white-collar workers, who do jobs that are unspectacular but are of vital importance in our war effort and our whole American life.

In this national election, held in wartime, I hope that every citizen of Wilmington and of Delaware—every man and woman who is qualified to vote—will step up to the polls on election day and cast his or her ballot—in this State two ballots. I don't want to advise you to vote early and often, because I might go to jail.

But a big vote in this State, in this city, and every State in the Union this year will speak powerfully for the cause of democracy all over the world.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks at Wilmington, Delaware Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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