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Handout B: Excerpts from Hoover and Roosevelt Speeches

Excerpts from Hoover and Roosevelt Speeches

Directions: Distribute one or two speech excerpts to each student and follow the directions for the Activity.

  1. It is the duty of government to avoid regulation as long as equal opportunity to all citizens is not invaded and public rights violated.
  2. These unhappy times call for the building of plans … that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
  3. As I see it, the task of government in relation to business is to assist the development of an economic declaration of rights, an economic constitutional order.
  4. Government should not engage in business in competition with its citizens.
  5. The responsible heads of finance and industry, instead of acting each from himself, must work together to achieve the common good.
  6. It is the duty of business to conduct itself so that government regulation or government competition is unnecessary.
  7. The public must be protected from any domination or from predatory business.
  8. Equality of opportunity is the right of every American. This ideal of individualism based upon equal opportunity of every citizen is the negation of socialism. Equality of opportunity is a fundamental principle of our nation.
  9. The government should assume the function of economic regulation only as a last resort.
  10. Government in this regard is the maintenance of a balance, within which every individual may have a place if he will take it; in which every individual may find safety if he wishes it; in which every individual may attain such power as his ability permits, consistent with his assuming the accompanying responsibility.
  11. If we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline.
  12. Every step of bureaucratizing of the business of our country poisons … political equality, free speech, free assembly, free press, and equality of opportunity.
  13. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and our property to [military-like discipline], because it makes possible a leadership which aims at the larger good.
  14. Economic freedom cannot be sacrificed if political freedom is to be preserved.
  15. The very essence of equality of opportunity and of American individualism is that there shall be no domination by any groups or combination in this republic, whether it be business or political.
  16. Our Constitution is so simple, so practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form.
  17. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan.
  18. The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it.
  19. We are nearer today to the ideal of the abolition of poverty and fear from the lives of men and women than ever before in any land.
  20. By using the new materials of social justice we have undertaken to erect on the old foundations a more enduring structure for the better use of future generations.
  21. I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad; ill-nourished.
  22. The preservation of self-government; the perfection of justice whether in economic or in social fields; the maintenance of order liberty; the denial or domination by any group or class; the building up and preservation of equality of opportunity; the stimulation of initiative and individuality … [are American ideals.]
  23. Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement.
  24. The federal government is engaged upon the greatest program of waterway, harbor, flood control, public building, highway, and airway improvement in all our history.
  25. In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up; or else we all go down, as one people.
  26. Some new plan is needed to our economic life … to organize concerted plans for the better use of our resources.
  27. It is not an issue as to whether people shall go hungry or cold in the United States. It is solely a question of the best method by which this hunger and cold shall be prevented.
  28. The opening of the doors of the federal treasury is likely to stifle private giving and thus destroy far more resources than the proposed charity from the government.
  29. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work.
  30. The [New Deal methods and objectives] are an attempt to fasten upon the American people some sort of a system of personal government, of a government of laws; a system of centralization under a political bureaucracy; a system of debt; a system of inflation; a system which would stifle the freedom and liberty of men.
  31. These gigantic plans of a dictated economy … were undertaken in disregard of the Constitution.
  32. This is a conflict between a philosophy of orderly individual liberty and a philosophy of government dictation.
  33. Americans must forswear that conception of the acquisition of wealth which, through excessive profits, creates undue private power over private affairs and, to our misfortune, over public affairs as well.
  34. It is the spirit of liberty which made … the Constitution.
  35. There must never be confusion in the Bill of Rights, the balance of powers, local government, and a government of laws, not men.
  36. I stated that our first job was to restore men to work.
  37. Either we shall have a society based upon ordered liberty and the initiative of the individual, or we shall have a planned society that means dictation, no matter what you call it or who does it.
  38. All emergency works shall be united in a single, new, and greatly enlarged plan.
  39. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.
  40. Freedom both requires and makes increased responsibilities.
  41. Labor Day symbolizes our determination to achieve an economic freedom for the average man which will give his political freedom reality.
  42. It is the Supreme Court defending the people’s rights and securities guaranteed by the Constitution which time and again has protected the people from those who seek for economic power or political power, or to suppress free worship and free thoughts.


  • Presidential Nomination Acceptance Address (August 11, 1928)
  • Campaign Speech (October 22, 1928)
  • Inaugural Address (March 4, 1929)
  • Second Annual Message to Congress (December 2, 1930)
  • Statement to the Press (February 3, 1931)
  • Lincoln Birthday Dinner Address (February 12, 1936)
  • Crisis to Free Men Speech (June 10, 1936)
  • Hands Off the Supreme Court Speech (February 20, 1937)

Hoover excerpts are numbers 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 42


  • Address to Conference of Governors (June 2, 1931)
  • The Forgotten Man Radio Address (April 7, 1932)
  • Commonwealth Club Address (September 23, 1932)
  • First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1933)
  • First Fireside Chat (March 12, 1933)
  • Annual Message to Congress (January 4, 1935)
  • The Dignity of Labor Speech (September 6, 1936)
  • Second Inaugural Address (January 20, 1937)

Roosevelt excerpts are numbers 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 25, 26, 29, 33, 38, 39, 41