Herbert Hoover photo

The President's News Conference

March 08, 1929

THE PRESIDENT. I find questions today, as usual many of them directed towards the same objects, and I have prepared a note or two on them in order that you may have it accurately and for quotation.


I have this request to make of you. No one in this position wishes to be put in the attitude of constant pronunciamentos on public questions. That has been one of the difficulties in handling the twilight zone that we have discussed before, and I am giving you these answers, which we will have transcribed for you, with the understanding that you will quote this little opening: "In reply to a question from representatives of the press the President stated today." That avoids the psychology of [p.17] my making pronunciamentos at all times on diverse subjects. That is one of the reasons for your own difficulties hitherto in dealing with this problem.


The first relates to the enforcement commission, and I have said here:

"The purpose and scope of the Law Enforcement Commission, as stated in my inaugural address, is to critically consider the entire Federal machinery of justice, the redistribution of its functions, the simplification of its procedure, the provision of additional special tribunals, the better selection of juries, the more effective organization of our agencies of investigation and prosecution. It is intended to cover the entire question of law enforcement and organization of justice. It will also naturally include consideration of the method of enforcement of the 18th amendment and abuses which have grown up, together with the enforcement of the laws in respect to narcotics, to immigration, to trade restraint and every other branch of Federal Government law enforcement. The whole constitutes one problem of better and more effective organization and enforcement. Such reorganization in various directions, some of them affecting the civil side as well as the criminal side, have been recommended and advocated for years by men of responsibility from the Chief Justices of the United States down to the local bar associations.

"The first step in law enforcement is adequate organization of our judicial and enforcement system."

That is in response to a number of questions as to the scope of the Law Enforcement Commission.


And the other one that I am handling the same way is in reply to questions from the press as to whether extensive changes are intended in the personnel of the Government.

"The President said today that there were comparatively few changes contemplated. He proposes to adhere to the principle of retaining as [p.18] many as possible of those public servants who have given honest and zealous service.

"It is traditional for the principal directing heads of the Government whose appointments are at the pleasure of the President, both at home and in foreign service, to tender their resignations with the advent of a new President. Out of several hundred such officials, there are probably not more than 20 or 30 changes likely to be made at the present time. Some of these are the result of the determination of the incumbents that they have given sufficient of their time to public service and wish to take this occasion to retire to private life. Some changes will be the result of promotion and shifts from one position in the Government to another.

"There are some 820,000 people on the Federal payroll. It will be seen, therefore, that the number of changes contemplated do not offer an opportunity for the large recruiting of new personnel."

Now, questions that are, under the present arrangements, not for quotation but for your information.


I have had a number of questions on what action will be taken as to the national origins clause in the Immigration Act. I have asked the Attorney General for his opinion on that section of the act, and I have no opinion to offer until I know his views.


I have another question as to whether we plan to make an early appointment for the governorship of Hawaii. The Governor's term does not expire before the first of July--certainly the first of June. So there is no necessity to work with that question at the present moment.


I have had a number of other questions referring to what suggestions have to make in connection with the tariff. Those matters will be dealt [p.19] with in the message which I will send to Congress when it convenes. So I don't think I could properly ventilate it before.


Another question relates to appointments to fill the Radio Commission. I have not had time to consider that matter at all. So I can give no opinion on it.


I have a number of questions relating to Mexico. In that matter the Secretary of State has issued or is issuing authorizations for the shipment of arms by private concerns to the Government of Mexico. Further than that, applications have been made from the Mexican Government for the purchase of some of our surplus war materials, and such items as we possess in surplus and that they happen to wish will be supplied by the War Department.


Another serious question I have covered somewhat by this statement: that there is no difference of opinion as between the War Department and the State Department as to the disposition to be made for the protection of American citizens on the border. In fact, it has not been deemed by either the War Department or the State Department necessary to take any special disposition in that matter in addition to the forces that are already there.

That covers in a general way the various categories of questions.


Q. Mr. President, would you mind telling us what you hear as to the exact state of affairs--how serious this revolt is?

THE PRESIDENT. Our understanding is that the revolt has quite collapsed in Vera Cruz. We are informed--and now I can't answer for the accuracy of such information any more than one can answer for the accuracy of your dispatches--[because they are] coming from different spots and may not comprehend the whole story. But we are told [p.20] that about nine-tenths of the revolt troops in the Vera Cruz area have rejoined the National Government and that the general is now attempting to hide out with a small number of men. The revolt in the north is spreading because along the northern frontier there is no resistance yet. We have a message that the revolutionary troops had occupied Juarez completely. That I am not able to substantiate. It may be true or not. The Mexican Government is concentrating its forces on the north of the City of Mexico. As you know, they have occupied Juarez 1 and seem to be making some progress north from there. That at least is the situation as we have it--and your information is sometimes faster than ours.

1 "Juarez" was written in by an unknown hand after the conference notes had been typed. The accuracy of the change is doubtful.


Q. Mr. President, will you tell us a little something about the Cabinet meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. The matters under discussion ranged around the various departments. Of course, the members have had but 48 hours to go into their problems. Nothing of very great importance was taken up, mostly matters of pure routine. Obviously there was a discussion of the Mexican situation as it involves a number of the departments.


Q. Mr. President, could you tell us, please, if any airplanes are being shipped to Mexico from the surplus war material ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think so. I understood they were making some purchases of private planes, but I haven't heard of anything from the War Department.


I might say that I understand that the committee for discussion of our general program is to meet with me this evening.

Note: President Hoover's second news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 1929.

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209166

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