HumanitiesWeb.org - Address at the Republican National Convention by Herbert Clark Hoover
HumanitiesWeb HumanitiesWeb
WelcomeHistoryLiteratureArtMusicPhilosophyResourcesHelp
Regions Alphabetically Nationality Timelines Topics Glossary
pixel

Hoover
Index
Selected Works
Quotations
According To...
Suggested Reading
Chronology
Related Materials

Search

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

& etc
FEEDBACK

(C)1998-2012
All Rights Reserved.

Site last updated
28 October, 2012
Real Time Analytics

Address at the Republican National Convention

by Herbert Clark Hoover

Chicago

[July 8, 1952]

This is the fifth time I have had the high honor of addressing the conventions of the Republican Party. From the inexorable course of nature, this is likely to be the last time I shall attend your conventions.

The Issue of Free Men

In our country one dominant issue overshadows all others.

That is, the freedom of men. And that today includes our relations to the rest of the world.

At each of those four-year intervals I have pointed out the inch-by-inch destruction of the ramparts of free men in the United States.

The issue far transcends in importance the transitory questions of national life. It is a matter of life itself.

Throughout the centuries of history freedom has been the constant quest of men. For this the best and bravest on earth have fought and died.

The tablets of free men, lost in the Dark Ages, were again handed down to the American people. Those tablets bore not only the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution but they expressed the very spirit of free men.

Do you not believe the words have been distorted and their spirit violated?

Let Us Look at the Record

The genius of our Founding Fathers which preserved this Republic longer than any Republic in history was the concept of the limitation of powers within our government. One of their strong purposes was to protect free men by restriction of Presidential power.

For 20 years we have seen constant attrition of those Constitutional safeguards of free men.

I do not need recall to you the Rubber Stamp Congress; the packed Supreme Court; war without approval of Congress and a score of dire secret international commitments without consent of the Senate.

And now comes, after 170 years, a new discovery in Presidential power. That is an "inherent" power to seize anything, anytime. All Republican Presidents were densely ignorant of those inherent powers.

Over these 20 years we have seen pressure groups fostered and appeased by Presidents until they intimidate and paralyze the life of the nation. No man has been elected by the people to have such powers. If freedom is to live, we can no more have economic tyranny than we can have political tyranny. Representative government has not been maintained to the mastery of its own house.

Our social order does not rest upon Constitutional safeguards alone. This Republic was founded on a pledge of sacred honor. Yet we have writhed under shocking disclosures of intellectual dishonesty and unpunished corruption in high places-greater in aggregate than all such sins in our history put together.

The grandeur of a people comes from their moral and spiritual character. Today that grandeur is corroded by intellectual dishonesty and corruption among public officials. The drip, drip, drip from dishonor in high places plays a part in the increasing of crime among the people.

These acts do not make for free men.

Other Assignations of Free Men

And there have been other assassins of freedom.

Within 8 years since victory, we will have seen tax-and-tax-spend-and-spend reach a fantastic total greater than in all the previous 170 years of our Republic.

Behind this plush curtain of tax and spend, three sinister spooks or ghosts are mixing poison for the American people. They are the shades of Mussolini, with his bureaucratic fascism; of Karl Marx, and his socialism; and of Lord Keynes, with his perpetual government spending, deficits and inflation. And we added a new ideology of our own. That is government give-away programs.

I will in a few moments measure for you the blight of inflation from this mixture that has poured into every American home.

By way of the bureaucracy part of the mixture, within 20 years we have seen it grow from under 600,000 Federal officials under Republican Administration to over 2,300,000 officials today-with the addition of almost a thousand of government agencies. In fascist fashion, they dictate and give orders and favors to our citizens. Still worse, they do have a real inherent power. Their inherent power is that of all bureaucracy to lay its paralyzing hand more and more heavily upon free men. They rush headlong into its phantasies of the millennium and send the bills to the Treasury.

If you want to see pure fascism mixed with give-away programs, take a look into the Brannan Plan.

If you want to see pure socialism mixed with give-away programs, take a look at socialized medicine and socialized electrical power.

These things do not make for free men.

Man was created somewhat lower than the angels, but to him the Creator gave the right to plan his own life, to dare his own adventure, to earn his own reward so long as he does no harm to his fellows.

Either we shall have a society based upon ordered liberty and the creative energy of free men or we shall have a dictated society.

I have said before now that there are immutable principles which neither the rigors of depression, nor the tricks of inherent powers, nor lost statesmanship, nor wars, nor New Dealers, nor militarists can change. These immutable principles came into the universe along with the shooting stars of which worlds are made, and they have always been and ever will be true. Such are the presence of God, the laws of gravitation, and the ceaseless struggle of mankind to be free.

Shall we keep the faith? Must we condemn unborn generation to fight again and die for the right to be free?

These Foreign Polices

For nearly forty years I have had need to deal with international relations. I would be less than frank if on this, my last address to you, I did not speak from my heart and from that hard experience. And I can relieve all candidates of embarrassment by stating in their behalf at once that these are my views alone.

And if I seem to stress our foreign policies, I do so because within them lies the future of freedom of men and women in America. And because in the First World War I witnessed the Communists give rebirth to slavery on earth. One Democratic and three Republican Presidents refused to recognize their government and thus admit their official agents into our household.

Over those years I have known of a long roll of good men and women in many foreign lands, with whom I worked in intimacy to save their starving peoples, who died in Communist dungeons or dangled at the end of the hangman's rope.

For years I have protested the lost statesmanship of dealing with them would drag the world into great calamities. However, there is no satisfaction in having been proved right by disasters to the American people.

Until twenty years ago our dedication to free men was admired and aspired to by all mankind. The undertakings of our government were trusted throughout the whole earth. Today, that respect and trust have been blemished by a hundred actions.

Twelve years ago we were led into a great war crusade on the promise of freedom to men and to nations under the banner of the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Charter. Then at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam we sacrificed the freedom of 650 millions of human beings on the altar of appeasement to Communism. The souls of one-quarter of mankind have been seared by the violation of that American promise. The ghosts of the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Charter now wander amid the clanking chains of a thousand slave camps.

Where have we arrived after this war crusade for freedom? I need not remind you that we lost the peace despite the valor and the sacrifice of our manhood on a hundred battlefields. Our bewildered statesmanship has brought no return from the sacrifices and the tears of millions of mothers and wives. There is less freedom in the world today than at any time for a whole century. Have our foreign policies over those years been a success? They certainly did not make free men.

The Communists

Our opponents frequently remind me that this is all in the past. The past is the father of right now. And we have to deal with the menace they created.

Nurtured by policies participated in by our government and by Communists in the highest echelons of our Washington Administration, the Kremlin now cracks its whip over a horde of 800 million people. They are now armed with 300 divisions, 30,000 tanks and 20,000 war planes. American and British traitors have given them the atomic bomb.

Our need today is a cold and objective look at where we have got to both abroad and within the United States under the Truman-Acheson foreign and military policies dealing with the Communists.

Time tonight only permits me to appraise where we have got to on three major fronts. That is Korea, Western Europe and the United States. And I shall add some constructive alternatives.

Korea

The situation in Korea was born at Yalta, and nourished by American support of so-called "agrarian liberals" in China.

We joined with more than two-score of non-Communist members of the United Nations to defeat this Communist aggression. But we find ourselves furnishing 90% of the military forces sent there and taking 90% of the losses.

America's price so far is 120,000 dead, wounded and sick with 300,000 of our youth still fighting.

General MacArthur well said that in war there is no substitute for victory. Instead of victory, the Administration substituted appeasement on the 38th Parallel, just where we started from. After 12 months of negotiation, the Communists so far do not seem to want to be appeased. In the meantime they have so increased their forces that the military initiative is now in their hands. The end is not yet.

But can anyone say these policies in Korea have been a great success?

Continental Europe

We may also take a cold look at the second major area of the Truman-Acheson policies. That is-Western Europe.

Beginning six years ago with an unrepayable loan of over $3 billions to Britain, the Administration has poured $35 billions into Europe trying to build up their will power, their military strength and furnishing them an American ground army.

For six years we have listened to a multitude of plans, agreements, pronouncements and promises of great European armies. What is the net result of these efforts?

Three years ago, with the signing of the North Atlantic Pact, we were told that great ground armies would at last spring up on that continent. And to pass that Treaty, a pledge was given to the Senate by the Administration that we would not contribute more ground troops to Europe. Then we shipped them 200,000 more American boys.

Three years after the Atlantic Pact, in February of this year, there was another conference at Lisbon. It was impressively announced that by the end of this year there would be, exclusive of American and British divisions, an army of about 15 battleworthy and 25 reserve divisions in Europe.

The London Times, commenting on the Lisbon agreement, published an editorial entitled "A Phantom Army." The Times pointed out that even this small army could not possibly be ready in 1952.

Six weeks ago we witnessed the signing of a step toward freedom of Western Germany. That was a good deed. A few days later we saw the signing of the European Defense Community treaty by six Continental nations. That will be an advance in European unity provided it is ratified by six distracted parliaments. But is was announced in the New York Times of May 28th that, by a secret agreement, these six nations would by 1954 or 1955, create 55 divisions of which 15 would be reserve divisions.

Aside from American and British divisions, this European army seems determined to keep its phantom quality.

Can anyone say that this size army even three years hence is any real deterrent in a ground war to the already 6 times greater forces of the Communist horde? Or that it could even avert a Dunkirk of the six American Divisions we have placed there?

Compare this promised 50 odd division army three years hence with the 160 effective divisions these same six Western European nations comprising 160 million people put in the field within 60 days in both World War I and World War II. Today their manpower and productive capacity is greater than in either of those wars. The potential is there, but we must by this time realize that the will is lacking.

The only other explanation of their attitude is that these six nations of Western Europe have no stirring belief in present danger. We have heard no clamor from these countries to spend their lives, their fortunes or their sacred honor to defend their liberties. They have proclaimed no such emergencies, carried on no such propaganda of peril nor stimulated such war psychoses as have emanated from Washington, D.C.

Can anyone honestly say that these policies of making great ground armies in Western Europe have been a great success?

The Effect of These Policies on Freedom in the United States

Now let us take a cold look at the economic and social effect of these Administration policies on the United States. It is no news to you that the federal and local governments are spending about 35 per cent of the national income. That is more than any nation can bear.

I have long had great sympathy for the humble decimal point. He has to jump three zeros every little while. He had to make three jumps to punctuate our present deficit.

We do not need to look far to find the blazing proof in our midst that we cannot carry this economic burden.

If you think these policies are not producing an inflation which is wrecking American lives, just recall but a few things: Already after this six years of these Washington policies the American worker must have an annual income of $4,500 today to live as well as he did on $3,000 six years ago. If this does not convince you, look about you at the necessary round of wage increases going on today which means you can buy less with your money tomorrow.

Look around and you will see millions who have earned pensions or saved to protect their old age being reduced to the tragedy of want.

Look still further and you will find not only inflation but that the intolerable taxes stifle initiative and are driving millions of our people to become more and more dependent upon the Government.

Look again and you will find this tax-and-spend used as a vehicle to mix collectivism into American life.

You can look even more deeply. No government can spend such sums of money and not corrupt the spenders. And no government can levy such taxes without breeding a horde of tax dodgers and bribers.

Do you want to go on with this spending, inflation, and corruption?

If free men are to survive in America, we must reduce spending and taxes. It is true we can make some cuts in spending by stopping waste, corruption and private privilege. But the total of all such reductions would not even reduce the prospective budget deficit by one-half. To say nothing of stopping inflation of reducing taxes.

It is not enough just to say we will balance the budget and reduce taxes. Or to say we will do it some years hence. We must face the grim reality of how and where to do it now.

The reality is that we cannot ever balance the budget and reduce taxes except by cutting into this military and foreign spending.

To find this how and where, and still do our part in the world, we must take a new look into these military policies.

The Administration and the Pentagon have been building up four gigantic military programs. First, they insist upon huge ground armies; second, naval forces; third, air forces; and fourth munitions and cash subsidies to other nations. And now they propose to add huge numbers to these armies by compulsory universal military service. All this step-by-step building of great ground armies is the road to militarism. That is at its base a threat to all freedoms. That has brought ruin to freedom ever since Rome. That wrecked Germany and Japan.

Moreover, the military strength of America does not lie today in great ground armies.

How many mistakes do we have to make before we learn that our genius lies in the invention, production and operation of great weapons? Our future is in these great weapons, not in bayonets. And we can furnish these great weapons to nations who have the will to defend themselves.

Lest you think the Pentagon is not determined on bayonets, I may mention their bulletin of February 1st of this year which I quote. They say:
"The individual rifleman is the most effective and most essential weapon against the enemy. All other services exist to support the infantry soldier."
The Alternative

All Americans wish to see Civilization preserved in Western Europe. But we must recognize their lack of will in preparedness which might have been a deterrent to Communist aggression. Therefore, we must determine what real deterrent America can furnish within our economic and manpower capacities.

The effective deterrent which American resources can contribute is not bayonets against overwhelming land forces, but the expansion of air power and navies to make up a great striking force, which could destroy the communist military potential if they started any aggression anywhere. And this striking force naturally includes strategic bases with a stretch of water in front of them over which Communist armies cannot pass our Navy.

It is asserted today that our air force is now inferior to that of Russia. Yet simply as an example we could add one-half more to our air strength and maintain it at less cost than we can recruit, train, arm, and maintain ten divisions of ground troops. And those planes, so essential to our own safety, would be a far better defense of Europe.

The American people will start no wars. But the sure defense of New York, London and Paris is the fear of counter-attack on Moscow by air. The Kremlin will not be much frightened over an American ground war against their overwhelming forces. In that area of menace the military initiative is on the Communist side today.

Sometime ago when, as a mere civilian, I proposed this alternative program of less armies and an overwhelming striking force at less cost, a yell went up, "Here comes the armchair strategist." But promptly this proposal was supported by seven of our most distinguished retired Army, Navy and Air officers. It was supported by six of our most seasoned diplomats.

Such a program would restore the advantage of military initiative to us.

It would extend our effectiveness to aid all menaced countries.

It would assure American youth that their lives will not be widely interrupted and that they will not be sent into the overwhelming Communist quicksands.

It would enable us to stop this creeping Fascism and Socialism.

It would balance our budget and start to cut our taxes.

It would avoid our bankruptcy which is Stalin's greatest hope.

It has been said that in these evil times peace can be preserved only through strength. That is true. But the center and final reserve of strength of the free world lies now in the Western Hemisphere. I am not ashamed to say that our first duty is to defend the United States. For if we fall, the freedom of men falls in the whole world.

What I propose is an entire reconsideration of these policies based on the realities which have today developed both in the United States and abroad. I do not propose that we retreat into our shell like a turtle. I do propose the deadly reprisal strategy of a rattlesnake. The way out from the perils, begotten from this 12 years of lost statesmanship, is not easy. Certainly sane policies cannot be made amid college yells of "isolationist" or "internationalist," nor by smears and slanted news which are the ugly instruments of those who would dictate.

Other Tasks Before Us

The Republican Party must not blink the other many difficulties of the times and the other tasks before us. Our Party welcomes change in the social and economic order when it will produce a more fair, a more free and more satisfying civilization. But change which destroys the safeguards of free men and women will be only an apple of Sodom. Again I may say I have great sympathy for those who honestly seek for short cuts to solve our complex problems. But the structure of betterment can only be built brick by brick by men and women free in spirit and mind. The bricks must come from the mold of religious faith, of justice, of integrity, of fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution. Any other mold is distorted; any other bricks are without straw.

This Election

This election may well be the last chance for the survival of freedom in America.

In a time of confusion and crisis the action of a Republican Convention 90 years ago saved this nation for free men.

The Whig Party temporized, compromised upon the issue of freedom for the negro. That party disappeared. It deserved to disappear. Shall the Republican Party receive or deserve any better fate if it compromises upon the issue of freedom for all men, white as well as black?

If you make free men your issue, you can again revive the call which your and my ancestors issued 90 years ago when this party was born to make all men free.

Also there was a Convention in 1776. Their Declaration stirred the world with its ringing appeal for free men, its righteous recital of transgressions and its pledge of Life, Fortune and sacred Honor.

American needs today a new Declaration that will raise the hearts of our people to their spiritual purpose and their eyes into the sunlight of freedom.

Its first sentence should read:
"The Republican Party is determined to restore free men in the United States."
That declaration really needs nothing more to revive again hope in a frustrated people.

That is your great issue.

Yours is the task to stop this retreat; to lead the attack and recapture the citadels of liberty in the United States. Thus can America be preserved. Thus can it hold the lamp of free men aloft to a confused world. Thus can we wipe out coercion and corruption. Thus can the peace, plenty, and security be reestablished and expanded. Thus can the opportunity, and the spiritual future of your children be guaranteed. And thus you will win the gratitude of posterity, and the blessing of Almighty God.

In my opening remarks I stated that form the inexorable course of nature, this is most likely the last time I will have the honor of attending your Conventions. Therefore in closing, I wish to express my deep gratitude to this great party you represent, for many honors you have bestowed upon me. If I have won some measure of your affections, it is a high award. But the greatest glory that can come to man is to be given the opportunity to fight for free men. And I shall continue to fight for those principles which made the United States the greatest gift of God to freedom. I pray to Him to strengthen your hands and give you courage.
Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works