PresidentHoover, Mr. Chief Justice, my friends:
This is a day of national consecration. And I am certain that on this day my fellow Americansexpectthat on my inductioninto the Presidency, I will address them with a candor and a decision whichthe present situation of our people impels.
This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor needwe shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure,as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief thatthe only thing we have to fear is fear itself nameless,unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts toconvert retreatinto advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigorhas met with that understanding and support of the people themselves whichis essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will againgive that support to leadership in these critical days.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thankGod, only material things.
Values have shrunk to fantastic levels. taxes have risen. our abilityto pay has fallen. government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income. themeans of exchange are frozenin the currents of trade. the withered leaves of industrialenterprise lie on every side. farmers find no markets for their produce. and the savings ofmany years in thousands of families are gone. More important, a host of unemployed citizensface the grim problem of existence, and an equally greatnumber toil with little return. Only afoolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.
And yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague oflocusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered, because they believed andwere not afraid, we have stillmuch to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty andhuman efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of itlanguishes in the very sight of the supply.
Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed,through their own stubbornness and their ownincompetence, have admitted their failure, and haveabdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of publicopinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. True,they have tried. But their efforts havebeen cast in the pattern of an outworntradition. Faced by failure of credit, they haveproposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by whichto induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfullyfor restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of selfseekers.
They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. Wemay now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in theextent to which we apply social values more noble thanmere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money. it lies in the joy of achievement, in thethrill of creative effort. The joy, the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten inthe mad chase of evanescentprofits. These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they costus if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but tominister to ourselves, to our fellow men.
Recognition of that falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in handwith the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to bevalued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit. and there mustbe an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too oftenhas given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.
Small wonder that confidence languishes, for itthrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, andon unselfish performance. withoutthem it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone.
This Nation is asking for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is toput people to work. This is nounsolvable problem if we face itwisely and courageously.
It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by theGovernment itself, treating the task as we would treatthe emergency of a war, but at thesame time, through this employment, accomplishing great greatlyneeded projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our greatnatural resources.
Hand in hand with that we must frankly recognize the overbalance of populationin our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to providea better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.
Yes, the task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products, andwith this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventingrealistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our smallhomes and ourfarms. It can be helped by insistence thatthe Federal, the State, and the local governmentsact forthwith on the demand thattheir cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by theunifying of relief activities which today are often scattered,uneconomical, unequal. It can behelped by national planning for and supervisionof all forms of transportation and ofcommunications and other utilities thathave a definitely public character. There are manyways in which it can be helped, but it cannever be helped by merely talking aboutit.
We must act. We must act quickly.
And finally, in our progress towards a resumption of work, we require twosafeguards against a return of the evils of the old order. There must be a strict supervision of all banking andcredits and investments. There must be anend to speculation with other people's money. Andthere must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.
These, my friends, are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress inspecial session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shallseek the immediate assistance of the 48 States.
Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house inorder and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, thoughvastly important, are in point of time, and necessity, secondary tothe establishment of a sound national economy. Ifavor, as a practical policy, the putting of firstthings first. I shall spare no effort torestore world trade by international economic readjustment. but the emergency athome cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thoughtthat guides these specific means of national recovery is notnationally narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a firstconsideration, upon the interdependenceof the various elements in and parts of the United States of America arecognition of the old and permanently importantmanifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the wayto recovery. It is the immediate way. Itis the strongest assurance that recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy, I would dedicate this Nationto the policy of the good neighbor: theneighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights ofothers. the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreementsin and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize, as we have never realized before,our interdependence on each other. that we can not merely take, but we must give as well.
that if we are to goforward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice forthe good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress can be made,no leadership becomes effective.
We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and our property to such discipline,because it makes possible a leadership which aims atthe larger good. This, I propose to offer,pledging that the larger purposes will bind uponus, bind upon us all as a sacred obligationwith a unity of duty hithertoevoked only in times of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of ourpeople dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.
Action in this image, action to this end is feasible under the form of government which wehave inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is sosimple, so practicalthat it is possible always tomeet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss ofessential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superblyenduring political mechanism the modern worldhas ever seen.
It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife,of world relations. And it is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislativeauthority may be wholly equal, wholly adequate to meetthe unprecedented task before us.
But it may be that anunprecedented demand and need for undelayed actionmay call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty torecommend the measures that a strickennation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measuresas the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within myconstitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.
But, in the event that the Congress shall failto take one of these two courses, in the eventthat the national emergency is still critical, I shallnot evade the clear course of duty that will thenconfront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisisbroad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power thatwould be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
For the trust reposed in me, I will return the courage and the devotion that befitthe time. I can do no less.
We face the arduous days thatlie before us in the warm courage of nationalunity. with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moralvalues. with the clean satisfactionthat comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance ofa rounded, a permanent national life.
We do not distrust the the future of essential democracy. The people of the United Stateshave not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate thatthey want direct, vigorousaction. They have asked for discipline and directionunder leadership. They have made me thepresent instrument of their wishes. Inthe spirit of the gift I take it.
In this dedication Inthis dedication of a Nation, we humbly ask the blessing of God.
May He protect each and every one of us.
May He guide me in the days to come.