President Hoover, Mister Chief Justice, my friends:
This is a day of national consecration, and I amcertain that on this day, my fellow Americans expectthat on my induction in 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, thewhole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing the conditions facingour country today. This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.So first of all, let me express my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreatinto advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and vigor hasmet with that understanding and support of the people themselves, which is essential tovictory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these criticaldays.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours, we face our common difficulties. They concern, thankGod, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen, ourability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; themeans of exchange are frozen in 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 and thousands of families are gone.
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equaland great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of themoment.
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 so much to be thankful for. Nature surrounds us with her bounty, andhuman efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishesin the very sight of the supply. Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange ofmankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence,have admitted their failure and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changersstand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True, they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the patten of an outworn tradition.Faced by a failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped ofthe lure of profit by which they induce our people to follow their false leadership, they haveresorted to exhortation, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rulesof a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision, the peopleperish.
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. A measure of that restoration lies in theextent to which we apply social value, more noble than mere monetary profits.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in thethrill of creative efforts, the joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten inthe mad chase of evanescent profits.These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they costus, if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered on to, but to minister toourselves, to our fellow men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand withthe abandonment of a false belief that public office and high political position are to be valuedonly by the standards of pride of place and personal profits, and there must be an end to ourconduct in banking and in business, which too often has given to a sacred trust the likenessof callous and selfish wrong-doing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrivesonly on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of our obligation, on faithful protection andon unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This nation is asking for action, andaction now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we take itwisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the governmentitself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time,through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganizethe use
of our great natural resources.
Hand in hand with that, we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in ourindustrial centers and by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution in an effort toprovide better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.
Yes the task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the value of the agricultural product andwith this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventingrealistically, the tragedy of the growing losses through fore closures of our small homes and ourfarms. It can be helped by insistence that the federal, the state, and the local government actforthwith on the demands that their costs be drastically reduce. It can be helped by the unifyingof relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, unequal. It can be helped bynational planning for, and supervision of all forms of transportation, and of communications,and other utilities that have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can behelped, but it can never be helped by merely talking about it. We must act, we must actquickly.
And finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work, we require two safeguards againstthe return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking andcredits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money; andthere must be provisions for an adequate but sound currency.
These, my friends, are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in specialsession, detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance ofthe 48 states.
Through this program of action, we address ourselves to putting our own national house inorder, and making income balance outflow. Our international trade relations, though vastlyimportant, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a soundnational economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare noeffort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency athome cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowlynationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration upon the inter-dependence of thevarious elements in all parts of the United States of America – a recognition of the old and thepermanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way torecovery, it is the immediate way, it is the strongest assurance that recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy, I would dedicate this nation to 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 obligation, and respects the sanctity of his agreement,in and with, a world of neighbor.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize what we have never realized before,our inter-dependence on each other, that we cannot merely take, but we must give as well.That if we are to go forward, 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 all ready and willing to submit our lives and ourproperty to such discipline because it makes possible a leadership which aims at the largergood. This, I propose to offer, we are going to larger purposes, bind upon us, bind upon us all,as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty, hitherto evoked 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 we have inherited from myancestors. Our constitution is so simple, so practical, that it is possible always, to meetextraordinary needs, by changes in emphasis and arrangements without loss of a centralform, that is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduringpolitical mechanism the modern world has ever seen. It has met every stress of vastexpansion 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 legislative authority will befully equal, fully adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that anunprecedented demand and need for undelay ction may call for temporary departure fromthat normal balance of public procedure.
We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity, in theclearest consciousness of seeking all and precious moral values, with the clean satisfactionthat comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike, we aim at theassurance of a rounded, a permanent national life.
We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States havenot failed. In their need, they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorousaction. They have asked for discipline, and direction under leadership, they have made me thepresent instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift, I take it.
In this dedication, in this dedication of a nation, we humbly ask the blessings of God, mayHe protect each and every one of us, may He guide me in the days to come.