State of the Union Address
December 6, 1923
Since the close of the last Congress the Nation has lost President Harding
. The world knew his kindness and his humanity, his greatness and his character.
He has left his mark upon history. He has made justice more certain and
peace more secure. The surpassing tribute paid to his memory as he was
borne across the continent to rest at last at home revealed the place lie
held in the hearts of the American people. But this is not the occasion
for extended reference to the man or his work. In this presence, among
these who knew and loved him, that is unnecessary. But we who were associated
with him could not resume together the functions of our office without
pausing for a moment, and in his memory reconsecrating ourselves to the
service of our country. He is gone. We remain. It is our duty, under the
inspiration of his example, to take up the burdens which he was permitted
to lay down, and to develop and support the wise principles of government
which he represented.
For us peace reigns everywhere. We desire to perpetuate it always by
granting full justice to others and requiring of others full justice to
Our country has one cardinal principle to maintain in its foreign policy.
It is an American principle. It must be an American policy. We attend to
our own affairs, conserve our own strength, and protect the interests of
our own citizens; but we recognize thoroughly our obligation to help others,
reserving to the decision of our own Judgment the time, the place, and
the method. We realize the common bond of humanity. We know the inescapable
law of service.
Our country has definitely refused to adopt and ratify the covenant
of the League of Nations. We have not felt warranted in assuming the responsibilities
which its members have assumed. I am not proposing any change in this policy;
neither is the Senate. The incident, so far as we are concerned, is closed.
The League exists as a foreign agency. We hope it will be helpful. But
the United States sees no reason to limit its own freedom and independence
of action by joining it. We shall do well to recognize this basic fact
in all national affairs and govern ourselves accordingly.
Our foreign policy has always been guided by two principles. The one
is the avoidance of permanent political alliances which would sacrifice
our proper independence. The other is the peaceful settlement of controversies
between nations. By example and by treaty we have advocated arbitration.
For nearly 25 years we have been a member of The Hague Tribunal, and have
long sought the creation of a permanent World Court of Justice. I am in
full accord with both of these policies. I favor the establishment of such
a court intended to include the whole world. That is, and has long been,
an American policy.
Pending before the Senate is a proposal that this Government give its
support to the Permanent Court of International Justice, which is a new
and somewhat different plan. This is not a partisan question. It should
not assume an artificial importance. The court is merely a convenient instrument
of adjustment to ?which we could go, but to which we could not be brought.
It should be discussed with entire candor, not by a political but by a
judicial method, without pressure and without prejudice. Partisanship has
no place in our foreign relations. As I wish to see a court established,
and as the proposal presents the only practical plan on which many nations
have ever agreed, though it may not meet every desire, I therefore commend
it to the favorable consideration of the Senate, with the proposed reservations
clearly indicating our refusal to adhere to the League of Nations.
Our diplomatic relations, lately so largely interrupted, are now being
resumed, but Russia presents notable difficulties. We have every desire
to see that great people, who are our traditional friends, restored to
their position among the nations of the earth. We have relieved their pitiable
destitution with an. enormous charity. Our Government offers no objection
to the carrying on of commerce by our citizens with the people of Russia.
Our Government does not propose, however, to enter into relations with
another regime which refuses to recognize the sanctity of international
obligations. I do not propose to barter away for the privilege of trade
any of the cherished rights of humanity. I do not propose to make merchandise
of any American principles. These rights and principles must go wherever
the sanctions of our Government go.
But while the favor of America is not for sale, I am willing to make
very large concessions for the purpose of rescuing the people of Russia.
Already encouraging evidences of returning to the ancient ways of society
can be detected. But more are needed. Whenever there appears any disposition
to compensate our citizens who were despoiled, and to recognize that debt
contracted with our Government, not by the Czar, but by the newly formed
Republic of Russia; whenever the active spirit of enmity to our institutions
is abated; whenever there appear works mete for repentance; our country
ought to be the first to go to the economic and moral rescue of Russia.
We have every desire to help and no desire to injure. We hope the time
is near at hand when we can act.
The current debt and interest due from foreign Governments, exclusive
of the British debt of $4,600,000,000, is about $7,200,000,000. 1 do not
favor the cancellation of this debt, but I see no objection to adjusting
it in accordance with the principle adopted for the British debt. Our country
would not wish to assume the role of an oppressive creditor, but would
maintain the principle that financial obligations between nations are likewise
moral obligations which international faith and honor require should be
Our Government has a liquidated claim against Germany for the expense
of the army of occupation of over $255,000,000. Besides this, the Mixed
Claims Commission have before them about 12,500 claims of American citizens,
aggregating about $1,225,000,000. These claims have already been reduced
by a recent decision, but there are valid claims reaching well toward $500,000,000.
Our thousands of citizens with credits due them of hundreds of millions
of dollars have no redress save in the action of our Government. These
are very substantial interests, which it is the duty of our Government
to protect as best it can. That course I propose to pursue.
It is for these reasons that we have a direct interest in the economic
recovery of Europe. They are enlarged by our desire for the stability of
civilization and the welfare of humanity. That we are making sacrifices
to that end none can deny. Our deferred interest alone amounts to a million
dollars every day. But recently we offered to aid with our advice and counsel.
We have reiterated our desire to see France paid and Germany revived. We
have proposed disarmament. We have earnestly sought to compose differences
and restore peace. We shall persevere in well-doing, not by force, but
Under the law the papers pertaining to foreign relations to be printed
are transmitted as a part of this message. Other volumes of these papers
The foreign service of our Government needs to be reorganized and improved.
Our main problems are domestic problems. Financial stability is the
first requisite of sound government. We can not escape the effect of world
conditions. We can not avoid the inevitable results of the economic disorders
which have reached all nations. But we shall diminish their harm to us
in proportion as we continue to restore our Government finances to a secure
and endurable position. This we can and must do. Upon that firm foundation
rests the only hope of progress and prosperity. From that source must come
relief for the people.
This is being, accomplished by a drastic but orderly retrenchment, which
is bringing our expenses within our means. The origin of this has been
the determination of the American people, the main support has been the
courage of those in authority, and the effective method has been the Budget
System. The result has involved real sacrifice by department heads, but
it has been made without flinching. This system is a law of the Congress.
It represents your will. It must be maintained, and ought to be strengthened
by the example of your observance. Without a Budget System there can be
no fixed responsibility and no constructive scientific economy.
This great concentration of effort by the administration and Congress
has brought the expenditures, exclusive of the self-supporting Post. Office
Department, down to three billion dollars. It is possible, in consequence,
to make a large reduction in the taxes of the people, which is the sole
object of all curtailment. This is treated at greater length in the Budget
message, and a proposed plan has been presented in detail in a statement
by the Secretary of the Treasury which has my unqualified approval. I especially
commend a decrease on earned incomes, and further abolition of admission,
message, and nuisance taxes. Tile amusement and educational value of moving
pictures ought not to be taxed. Diminishing charges against moderate incomes
from investment will afford immense relief, while a revision of the surtaxes
will not only provide additional money for capital investment, thus stimulating
industry and employing more but will not greatly reduce the revenue from
that source, and may in the future actually increase it.
Being opposed to war taxes in time of peace, I am not in favor of excess-profits
taxes. A very great service could be rendered through immediate enactment
of legislation relieving the people of some of the burden of taxation.
To' reduce war taxes is to give every home a better chance.
For seven years the people have borne with uncomplaining courage the
tremendous burden of national and local taxation. These must both be reduced.
The taxes of the Nation must be reduced now as much as prudence will permit,
and expenditures must be reduced accordingly. High taxes reach everywhere
and burden everybody. They gear most heavily upon the poor. They diminish
industry and commerce. They make agriculture unprofitable. They increase
the rates on transportation. They are a charge on every necessary of life.
Of all services which the Congress can render to the country, I have no
hesitation in declaring t neglect it, to postpone it, to obstruct it by
unsound proposals, is to become unworthy of public confidence and untrue
to public trust. The country wants this measure to have the right of way
over an others.
Another reform which is urgent in our fiscal system is the abolition
of the right to issue tax-exempt securities. The existing system not only
permits a large amount of the wealth of the Notion to escape its just burden
but acts as a continual stimulant to municipal extravagance. This should
be prohibited by constitutional amendment. All the wealth of the Nation
ought to contribute its fair share to the expenses of the Nation.
The present tariff law has accomplished its two main objects. It has
secured an abundant revenue and been productive of an abounding prosperity.
Under it the country has had a very large export and import trade. A constant
revision of the tariff by the Congress is disturbing and harmful. The present
law contains an elastic provision authorizing the President to increase
or decrease present schedules not in excess of 50 per centum to meet the
difference in cost of production at home and abroad. This does not, to
my mind, warrant a rewriting g of the whole law, but does mean, and will
be so administered, that whenever the required investigation shows that
inequalities of sufficient importance exist in any schedule, the power
to change them should and will be applied.
The entire well being of our country is dependent upon transportation
by sea and land. Our Government during the war acquired a large merchant
fleet which should be transferred, as soon as possible, to private ownership
and operation under conditions which would secure two results: First, and
of ?prime importance, adequate means for national defense; second, adequate
service to American commerce. Until shipping conditions are such that our
fleet can be disposed of advantageously under these conditions, it will
be operated as economically as possible under such plans as may be devised
from time to time by the Shipping Board. We must have a merchant marine
which meets these requirements, and we shall have to pay the cost of its
The time has come to. resume in a moderate way the opening of our intracoastal
waterways; the control of flood waters of the Mississippi and of the Colorado
Rivers; the improvement of the waterways from the Great Lakes toward the
Gulf of Mexico; and the development of the great power and navigation project
of the St. Lawrence River, for which efforts are now being made to secure
the necessary treaty with Canada. These projects can not all be undertaken
at once, but all should have the immediate consideration of the Congress
and be adopted as fast as plans can be matured and the necessary funds
become available. This is not incompatible with economy, for their nature
does not require so much a public expenditure as a capital investment which
will be reproductive, as evidenced by the marked increase in revenue from
the Panama Canal. Upon these projects depend much future industrial and
agricultural progress. They represent the protection of large areas from
flood and the addition of a great amount of cheap power and cheap freight
by use of navigation, chief of which is the bringing of ocean-going ships
to the Great Lakes.
Another problem of allied character is the superpower development of
the Northeastern States, consideration of which is growing under the direction
of the Department of Commerce by joint conference with the local authorities.
Criticism of the railroad law has been directed, first, to the section
laying down the rule by which rates are fixed, and providing for payment
to the Government and use of excess earnings; second, to the method for
the adjustment of wage scales; and third, to the authority permitting consolidations.
It has been erroneously assumed that the act undertakes to guarantee
railroad earnings. The law requires that rates should be just and reasonable.
That has always been the rule under which rates have been fixed. To make
a rate that does not yield a fair return results in confiscation, and confiscatory
rates are of course unconstitutional. Unless the Government adheres to
the rule of making a rate that will yield a fair return, it must abandon
rate making altogether. The new and important feature of that part of the
law is the recapture and redistribution of excess rates. The constitutionality
of this method is now before the Supreme Court for adjudication. Their
decision should be awaited before attempting further legislation on this
subject. Furthermore, the importance of this feature will not be great
if consolidation goes into effect.
The settlement of railroad labor disputes is a matter of grave public
concern. The Labor Board was established to protect the public in the enjoyment
of continuous service by attempting to insure justice between the companies
and their employees. It has been a great help, but is not altogether satisfactory
to the public, the employees, or the companies. If a substantial agreement
can be reached among the groups interested, there should be no hesitation
in enacting such agreement into law. If it is not reached, the Labor Board
may very well be left for the present to protect the public welfare.
The law for consolidations is not sufficiently effective to be expeditious.
Additional legislation is needed giving authority for voluntary consolidations,
both regional and route, and providing Government machinery to aid and
stimulate such action, always "subject to the approval of the Interstate
Commerce Commission. This should authorize the commission to appoint committees
for each proposed group, representing the public and the component roads,
with power to negotiate with individual security holders for an exchange
of their securities for those of the, consolidation on such terms and conditions
as the commission may prescribe for avoiding any confiscation and preserving
fair values. Should this permissive consolidation prove ineffective after
a limited period, the authority of the Government will have to be directly
Consolidation appears to be the only feasible method for the maintenance
of an adequate system of transportation with an opportunity so to adjust
freight rates as to meet such temporary conditions as now prevail in some
agricultural sections. Competent authorities agree that an entire reorganization
of the rate structure for freight is necessary. This should be ordered
at once by the Congress.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
As no revision of the laws of the United States has been made since
1878, a commission or committee should be created to undertake this work.
The Judicial Council reports that two more district judges are needed in
the southern district of New York, one in the northern district of Georgia,
and two more circuit judges in the Circuit Court of Appeals of the Eighth
Circuit. Legislation should be considered for this purpose.
. It is desirable to expedite the hearing and disposal of cases. A commission
of Federal judges and lawyers should be created to recommend legislation
by which the procedure in the Federal trial courts may be simplified and
regulated by rules of court, rather than by statute; such rules to be submitted
to the Congress and to be in force until annulled or modified by the Congress.
The Supreme Court needs legislation revising and simplifying the laws governing
review by that court, and enlarging the classes of cases of too little
public importance to be subject to review. Such reforms would expedite
the transaction of the business of the courts. The administration of justice
is likely to fail if it be long delayed.
The National Government has never given adequate attention to its prison
problems. It ought to provide employment in such forms of production as
can be used by the Government, though not sold to the public in competition
with private business, for all prisoners who can be placed at work, and
for which they should receive a reasonable compensation, available for
Two independent reformatories are needed; one for the segregation of
women, and another for the segregation of young men serving their first
The administration of justice would be facilitated greatly by including
in the Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice a Division
of Criminal Identification, where there would be collected this information
which is now indispensable in the suppression of crime.
The prohibition amendment to the Constitution requires the Congress.
and the President to provide adequate laws to prevent its violation. It
is my duty to enforce such laws. For that purpose a treaty is being negotiated
with Great Britain with respect to the ri lit of search of hovering vessels.
To prevent smuggling, the Coast Card should be greatly strengthened, and
a supply of swift power boats should be provided. The major sources of
production should be rigidly regulated, and every effort should be made
to suppress interstate traffic. With this action on the part of the National
Government, and the cooperation which is usually rendered by municipal
and State authorities, prohibition should be made effective. Free government
has no greater menace than disrespect for authority and continual violation
of law. It is the duty of a citizen not only to observe the law but to
let it be known that he is opposed to its violation.
Numbered among our population are some 12,000,000 colored people. Under
our Constitution their rights are just as sacred as those of any other
citizen. It is both a public and a private duty to protect those rights.
The Congress ought to exercise all its powers of prevention and punishment
against the hideous crime of lynching, of which the negroes are by no means
the sole sufferers, but for which they furnish a majority of the victims.
Already a considerable sum is appropriated to give the negroes vocational
training in agriculture. About half a million dollars is recommended for
medical courses at Howard University to help contribute to the education
of 500 colored doctors needed each year. On account of the integration
of large numbers into industrial centers, it has been proposed that a commission
be created, composed of members from both races, to formulate a better
policy for mutual understanding and confidence. Such an effort is to be
commended. Everyone would rejoice in the accomplishment of the results
which it seeks. But it is well to recognize that these difficulties are
to a large extent local problems which must be worked out by the mutual
forbearance and human kindness of each community. Such a method gives much
more promise of a real remedy than outside interference.
The maintenance and extension of the classified civil service is exceedingly
important. There are nearly 550,000 persons in the executive civil service
drawing about $700,000,000 of yearly compensation. Four-fifths of these
are in the classified service. This method of selection of the employees
of the United States is especially desirable for the Post Office Department.
The Civil Service Commission has recommended that postmasters at first,
second, and third class offices be classified. Such action, accompanied
by a repeal of the four-year term of office, would undoubtedly be an improvement.
I also recommend that the field force for prohibition enforcement be brought
within the classified civil service without covering in the present membership.
The best method for selecting public servants is the merit system.
Many of the departments in Washington need better housing facilities.
Some are so crowded that their work is impeded, others are so scattered
that they lose their identity. While I do not favor at this time a general
public building law, I believe it is now necessary, in accordance with
plans already sanctioned for a unified and orderly system for the development
of this city, to begin the carrying out of those plans by authorizing the
erection of three or four buildings most urgently needed by an annual appropriation
Cooperation with other maritime powers is necessary for complete protection
of our coast waters from. pollution. Plans for this are under way, but
await certain experiments for refuse disposal. Meantime laws prohibiting
spreading oil and oil refuse from vessels in our own territorial waters
would be most helpful against this menace and should be speedily enacted.
Laws should be passed regulating aviation.
Revision is needed of the laws regulating radio interference.
Legislation and regulations establishing load liner, to provide safe
loading of vessels leaving our ports are necessary and recodification of
our navigation laws is vital.
Revision of procedure of the Federal Trade Commission will give more
constructive purpose to this department.
If our Alaskan fisheries are to be saved from destruction, there must
be further legislation declaring a general policy and delegating the authority
to make rules and regulations to an administrative body.
ARMY AND NAVY
For several years we have been decreasing the personnel of the Army
and Navy, and reducing their power to the danger point. Further reductions
should not be made. The Army is a guarantee of the security of our citizens
at home; the Navy is a guarantee of the security of our citizens abroad.
Both of these services should be strengthened rather than weakened. Additional
planes are needed for the Army, and additional submarines for the Navy.
The defenses of Panama must be perfected. We want no more competitive armaments.
We want no more war. But we want no weakness that invites imposition. A
people who neglect their national defense are putting in jeopardy their
Conditions in the insular possessions on the whole have been good. Their
business has been reviving. They are being administered according to law.
That effort has the full support of the administration. Such recommendations
as may conic from their people or their governments should have the most
EDUCATION AND WELFARE
Our National Government is not doing as much as it legitimately can
do to promote the welfare of the people. Our enormous material wealth,
our institutions, our whole form of society, can not be considered fully
successful until their benefits reach the merit of every individual. This
is not a suggestion that the Government should, or could, assume for the
people the inevitable burdens of existence. There is no method by which
we can either be relieved of the results of our own folly or be guaranteed
a successful life. There is an inescapable personal responsibility for
the development of character, of industry, of thrift, and of self-control.
These do not come from the Government, but from the people themselves.
But the Government can and should always be expressive of steadfast determination,
always vigilant, to maintain conditions under which these virtues are most
likely to develop and secure recognition and reward. This is the American
It is in accordance with this principle that we have enacted laws for
the protection of the public health and have adopted prohibition in narcotic
drugs and intoxicating liquors. For purposes of national uniformity we
ought to provide, by constitutional amendment and appropriate legislation,
for a limitation of child labor, and in all cases under the exclusive jurisdiction
of the Federal Government a minimum wage law for women, which would undoubtedly
find sufficient power of enforcement in the influence of public opinion.
Having in mind that education is peculiarly a local problem, and that
it should always be pursued with the largest freedom of choice by students
and parents, nevertheless, the Federal Government might well give the benefit
of its counsel and encouragement more freely in this direction. If anyone
doubts the need of concerted action by the States of the Nation for this
purpose, it is only necessary to consider the appalling figures of illiteracy
representing a condition which does not vary much in all parts of the Union.
I do not favor the making of appropriations from the National Treasury
to be expended directly on local education, but I do consider it a fundamental
requirement of national activity which, accompanied by allied subjects
of welfare, is worthy of a separate department and a place in the Cabinet.
The humanitarian side of government should not be repressed, but should
Mere intelligence, however, is not enough. Enlightenment must be accompanied
by that moral power which is the product of the home and of rebellion.
Real education and true welfare for the people rest inevitably on this
foundation, which the Government can approve and commend, but which the
people themselves must create.
American institutions rest solely on good citizenship. They were created
by people who had a background of self-government. New arrivals should
be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship.
America must be kept American. For this i purpose, it is necessary to continue
a policy of restricted immigration. It would be well to make such immigration
of a selective nature with some inspection at the source, and based either
on a prior census or upon the record of naturalization. Either method would
insure the admission of those with the largest capacity and best intention
of becoming citizens. I am convinced that our present economic and social
conditions warrant a limitation of those to be admitted. We should find
additional safety in a law requiring the immediate registration of all
aliens. Those' who do not want to be partakers of the American spirit ought
not to settle in America.
No more important duty falls on the Government of the United States
than the adequate care of its veterans. Those suffering disabilities incurred
in the service must have sufficient hospital relief and compensation. Their
dependents must be supported. Rehabilitation and vocational training must
be completed. All of this service must be clean, must be prompt and effective,
and it must be administered in a spirit of the broadest and deepest human
sympathy. If investigation reveals any present defects of administration
or need Of legislation, orders will be given for the immediate correction
of administration, and recommendations for legislation should be given
the highest preference.
At present there are 9,500 vacant beds in Government hospitals, I recommend
that all hospitals be authorized at once to receive and care for, without
hospital pay, the veterans of all wars needing such care, whenever there
are vacant beds, and that immediate steps be taken to enlarge and build
new hospitals to serve all such cases.
The American Legion will present to the Congress a legislative pro 'gram
too extensive for detailed discussion here. It is a carefully matured plan.
While some of it I do not favor, with much of it I am in hearty accord,
and I recommend that a most painstaking effort be made to provide remedies
for any defects in the administration of the present laws which their experience
has revealed. The attitude of the Government toward these proposals should
be one of generosity. But I do not favor the granting of a bonus.
The cost of coal has become unbearably high. It places a great burden
on our industrial and domestic life. The public welfare requires a reduction
in the price of fuel. With the enormous deposits in existence, failure
of supply ought not to be tolerated. Those responsible for the conditions
in this industry should undertake its reform and free it from any charge
The report of the Coal Commission will be before the Congress. It comprises
all the facts. It represents the mature deliberations and conclusions of
the best talent and experience that ever made a national survey of the
production and distribution of fuel. I do not favor Government ownership
or operation of coal mines. The need is for action under private ownership
that will secure greater continuity of production and greater public protection.
The Federal Government probably has no peacetime authority to regulate
wages, prices, or profits in coal at the mines or among dealers, but by
ascertaining and publishing facts it can exercise great influence.
The source of the difficulty in the bituminous coal fields is the intermittence
of operation which causes great waste of both capital and labor. That part
of the report dealing with this problem has much significance, and is suggestive
of necessary remedies. By amending, the car rules, by encouraging greater
unity of ownership, and possibly by permitting common selling agents for
limited districts on condition that they accept adequate regulations and
guarantee that competition between districts be unlimited, distribution,
storage, and continuity ought to be improved.
The supply of coal must be constant. In case of its prospective interruption,
the President should have authority to appoint a commission empowered to
deal with whatever emergency situation might arise, to aid conciliation
and voluntary arbitration, to adjust any existing or threatened controversy
between the employer and the employee when collective bargaining fails,
and by controlling distribution to prevent profiteering in this vital necessity.
This legislation is exceedingly urgent, and essential to the exercise of
national authority for the protection of the people. Those who undertake
the responsibility of management or employment in this industry do so with
the full knowledge that the public interest is paramount, and that to fail
through any motive of selfishness in its service is such a betrayal of
duty as warrants uncompromising action by the Government.
A special joint committee has been appointed to work out a plan for
a reorganization of the different departments and bureaus of the Government
more scientific and economical than the present system. With the exception
of the consolidation of the War and Navy Departments and some minor details,
the plan has the general sanction of the President and the Cabinet. It
is important that reorganization be enacted into law at the present session.
Aided by the sound principles adopted by the Government, the business
of the country has had an extraordinary revival. Looked at as a whole,
the Nation is in the enjoyment of remarkable prosperity. Industry and commerce
are thriving. For the most tart agriculture is successful, eleven staples
having risen in value from about $5,300,000,000 two years ago to about.
$7,000,000,000 for the current year. But range cattle are still low in
price, and some sections of the wheat area, notably Minnesota, North Dakota,
and on west, have many cases of actual distress. With his products not
selling on a parity with the products of industry, every sound remedy that
can be devised should be applied for the relief of the farmer. He represents
a character, a type of citizenship, and a public necessity that must be
preserved and afforded every facility for regaining prosperity.
The distress is most acute among those wholly dependent upon one crop..
Wheat acreage was greatly expanded and has not yet been sufficiently reduced.
A large amount is raised for export, which has to meet the competition
in the world market of large amounts raised on land much cheaper and much
No complicated scheme of relief, no plan for Government fixing of prices,
no resort to the public Treasury will be of any permanent value in establishing
agriculture. Simple and direct methods put into operation by the farmer
himself are the only real sources for restoration.
Indirectly the farmer must be relieved by a reduction of national and
local taxation. He must be assisted by the reorganization of the freight-rate
structure which could reduce charges on his production. To make this fully
effective there ought to be railroad consolidations. Cheaper fertilizers
must be provided.
He must have organization. His customer with whom he exchanges products
o he farm for those of industry is organized, labor is organized, business
is organized, and there is no way for agriculture to meet this unless it,
too, is organized. The acreage of wheat is too large. Unless we can meet
the world market at a profit, we must stop raising for export. Organization
would help to reduce acreage. Systems of cooperative marketing created
by the farmers themselves, supervised by competent management, without
doubt would be of assistance, but, the can not wholly solve the problem.'
Our agricultural schools ought to have thorough courses in the theory of
organization and cooperative marketing.
Diversification is necessary. Those farmers who raise their living on
their land are not greatly in distress. Such loans as are wisely needed
to assist buying stock and other materials to start in this direction should
be financed through a Government agency as a temporary and emergency expedient.
The remaining difficulty is the disposition of exportable wheat. I do
not favor the permanent interference of the Government in this problem.
That probably would increase the trouble by increasing production. But
it seems feasible to provide Government assistance to exports, and authority
should be given the War Finance Corporation to grant, in its discretion,
the most liberal terms of payment for fats and grains exported for the
direct benefit of the farm.
The Government is undertaking to develop a great water-power project
known as Muscle Shoals, on which it has expended many million dollars.
The work is still going on. Subject to the right to retake in time of war,
I recommend that this property with a location for auxiliary steam plant
and rights of way be sold. This would end the present burden of expense
and should return to the Treasury the largest price possible to secure.
While the price is an important element, there is another consideration
even more compelling. The agriculture of the Nation needs a greater supply
and lower cost of fertilizer. This is now imported in large quantities.
The best information I can secure indicates that present methods of power
production would not be able profitably to meet the price at which these
imports can be sold. To obtain a supply from this water power would require
long and costly experimentation to perfect a process for cheap production.
Otherwise our purpose would fail completely. It seems desirable, therefore,
in order to protect and promote the public welfare, to have adequate covenants
that such experimentation be made and carried on to success. The great
advantage of low-priced nitrates must be secured for the direct benefit
of the farmers and the indirect benefit of the public in time of peace,
and of the Government in time of war. If this main object be accomplished,
the amount of money received for the property is not a primary or major
Such a solution will involve complicated negotiations, and there is
no authority for that purpose. therefore recommend that the Congress appoint
a small joint committee to consider offers, conduct negotiations, and report
By reason of many contributing causes, occupants of our reclamation
projects are in financial difficulties, which in some cases are acute.
Relief should be granted by definite authority of law empowering the Secretary
of the Interior in. his discretion to suspend, readjust, and reassess all
charges against water users. This whole question is being considered by
experts. You will have the advantage of the facts and conclusions which
they may develop. This situation, involving a Government investment of
more than $135,000,000, and affecting more than 30,000 water users, is
serious. While relief which is necessary should be granted, yet contracts
with the Government which can be met should be met. The established general
policy of these projects should not be abandoned for any private control.
HIGHWAYS AND FORESTS
Highways and reforestation should continue to have the interest and
support of the Government. Everyone is anxious for good highways. I have
made a liberal proposal in the Budget for the continuing payment to the
States by the Federal Government of its share for this necessary public
improvement. No expenditure of public money contributes so much to the
national wealth as for building good roads.
Reforestation has an importance far above the attention it usually secures.
A special committee of the Senate is investigating this need, and I shall
welcome a constructive policy based on their report.
It is 100 years since our country announced the Monroe doctrine. This
principle has been ever since, and is now, one of the main foundations
of our foreign relations. It must be maintained. But in maintaining it
we must not be forgetful that a great change has taken place. We are no
longer a weak Nation, thinking mainly of defense, dreading foreign imposition.
We are great and powerful. New powers bring new responsibilities. Our ditty
then was to protect ourselves. Added to that, our duty now is to help give
stability to. the world. We want idealism. We want that vision which lifts
men and nations above themselves. These are virtues by reason of their
own merit. But they must not be cloistered; they must not be impractical;
they must not be ineffective.
The world has had enough of the curse of hatred and selfishness, of
destruction and war. It has had enough of the wrongful use of material
power. For the healing of the nations there must be good will and charity,
confidence and peace. The time has come for a more practical use of moral
power, and more reliance upon the principle that right makes its own might.
Our authority among the nations must be represented by justice and mercy.
It is necessary not only to have faith, but to make sacrifices for our
faith. The spiritual forces of the world make all its final determinations.
It is with these voices that America should speak. Whenever they declare
a righteous purpose there need be no doubt that they will be heard. America
has taken her place in the world as a Republic--free, independent, powerful.
The best service that can be rendered to humanity is the assurance that
this place will be maintained.