Election 1940: F.D.R. — New Deal Vote Is a Vote For Liberty (10-23-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 23, 1940)

By T. F. Reynolds, United Press Staff Writer

Aboard Roosevelt Train at Wilmington, Del., Oct. 23 –

President Roosevelt, opening his home-stretch drive for a third term, said today that a vote for the New Deal November 5 will be a vote for “liberty.”

Mr. Roosevelt spoke from the rear platform of his special train while en route to Philadelphia, where he will deliver a major political address tonight. He recalled that his victory in Delaware in 9136 caused surprise and expressed confidence that the state will remain in the Democratic column this year.

Mr. Roosevelt’s address will be carried by WCAE and WJAS at 9:15 tonight.

Mr. Roosevelt used a definition of “liberty” expressed by Abraham Lincoln to define the objectives, toward which he is directing the New Deal.

The President left Washington at noon and this was the only scheduled stop en route. Once in Philadelphia, he will inspect defense projects at Camden, N.J.; Frankfort, Pa., and Philadelphia before his political address at 9:15 tonight. He will speak at a Democratic rally at Convention Hall.

The trip is the President’s first political sally, as such, in the current campaign. The expenses, including payment for the 45-minute radio talk tonight, will be borne by the Democratic National Committee.

Following is the text of Mr. Roosevelt’s remarks:

I remember very well my visit to Wilmington during the election of 1936. Some of the political experts of those days were somewhat amused at my visit to Delaware in a political campaign. They told me that I certainly was optimistic if I thought that noon for the Pennsylvania trip and Delaware would go Democratic in that presidential election.

They were surprised at the result of that election.

Four years ago Wilmington was the hometown of the famous Liberty League. It was created for several purposes, but its major objective was to defeat the New Deal and drive it from office.

In view of that fact I thought that Wilmington was a good place to read from a speech made by President Abraham Lincoln, the definition which he gave of the word “liberty.”

This year, that definition is of even greater significance. This is what President Lincoln said:
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declared for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.

With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor.

Two Incompatible Things

Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the prospective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.

And then Abraham Lincoln used this example. He said:

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty… Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the qword liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among us human creatures…and all professing to love liberty.

Hence we behold the process by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty.

Quotes Lincoln

And then Lincoln said this:

Recently, as it seems, the people…have been doing something to define liberty, and thanks to them that in what they have done, the wolf’s dictionary has been repudiated.

In 1936, the people of the United States took definite action to define what they intended liberty to mean in this country for the next four years. They repudiated the wolf’s dictionary.

I am sure that this year the people not only of Delaware, but of the United States are all taking a renewed interest in that word “liberty.” There are not so many countries left where the word has any real meaning.

I hope that by their votes on Election Day the people of the state of Delaware will reaffirm their own definition of “liberty” – the same definition they made four years ago.

The President was accompanied by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Lewis Compton, Security Administrator Paul V. McNutt and Senator Joseph F. Guffey (D-PA).

The Philadelphia address, to be broadcast by the major radio networks, will be the first of five major political speeches Mr. Roosevelt will make before election. He abandoned earlier plans not to campaign in order to answer what he described as “deliberate falsification of issues.” Tonight’s address will be entitled “American Looks to the Future.”

He began his campaign with the support of former Postmaster General James A. Farley, then man who managed the 1932 and 1936 New Deal campaigns.

In a statement issued in New York, Mr. Farley did not mention Mr. Roosevelt or his running-mate, Henry A. Wallace, but appealed to Democrats to follow his lead and vote a straight ticket November 5.

While Mr. Roosevelt bids for Pennsylvania’s 36 electoral votes today, political observers here were describing this year’s presidential contest as the bitterest since 1928 preliminary to the closest election since 1916.

Most polls and reports from the political battle grounds indicate that G.O.P. candidate Wendell L. Willkie has increased hi strength, but New Deal confidence does not appear to diminish.

Mr. Roosevelt made his own seated election forecast three weeks ago and yesterday told press conference questioners that if he had to do it over again now he would not make much change in the figures. He said his original forecast was conservative.

There is no reason to believe Mr. Roosevelt expects to be defeated and every reason to believe his sealed prediction is that more than 266 electoral votes – enough for re-election – will be cast in his column.

There are unmistakable to believe signs of renewed confidence among Mr. Willkie’s supporters after a slump which began shortly after his August 17 acceptance speech. Political observers are writing and talking of a photo finish sometime November 6, the day after the election.

Such confusion as may exist in these discussions regarding the outcome arises largely from the fact that there will be two sets of returns, a tabulation of popular votes and a tabulation of electoral votes.

So far as electoral votes are concerned, Mr. Roosevelt is conceded the “Solid South,” which accounts for 113, and a better than even chance to carry the border states with 55 or electoral votes. Those areas add up to 168 electoral votes which is only 98 short of the majority necessary to win.

Willkie enthusiasm developing in this final fortnight is based on re-recognition in such states as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and even Michigan and on the spending belief that outside the Solid South the popular vote is likely this year to be extremely close.

In 1932-34-36, the Democrats ran away with the elections but in 1938, excluding the Solid South, Republicans regained their former place as then majority party by a slim margin.

Republicans believe that 1938 trend has continued and Democrats contend that with Mr. Roosevelt an active candidate this year it either has been halted or reversed.

But the consensus appears to be that the popular vote, at least, will be close with some political experts predicting that one million votes outside the Solid South will be the margin of victory whoever wins.

Mr. Roosevelt confirmed that one of the speeches he will deliver has been shifted from October 30 to November 1. That address will be delivered on the night of November 1 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Greater New York whose vote will have an important influence on the disposition of New York State’s 47 electoral votes.

He said, however, that he is retaining the radio network time reserved for the night of October 39 because it is a good idea to have such a reservation “up your sleeve.” He said he may or may not utilize that reserve time for a speech but if he does not speak personally, someone would speak for him.

The President said his final pre-election swing would not take him to New England and would not take him into the Midwest beyond the limit of the overnight journey radius he set for himself. He said, however, that much pressure has been exerted upon him to go into the Midwest.

Gov. John H. Stelle announced in Springfield, Ill., today that President Roosevelt had accepted an invitation to visit defense projects in Illinois and an aide of the Governor said the visit would come before the Nov. 5 election.

Mr. Roosevelt said he believes it is in the interest of peace for him to stay in Washington. But he said that when the situation eases up in the foreign field, he expects to go to the Midwest because there are several defense projects in that area he would like to inspect.

Mr. Roosevelt professed complete indifference to reports that President John L. Lewis of the CIO will endorse Mr. Willkie in a radio address Friday night. He said he had not the faintest idea as to what Mr. Lewis was going to say and there was no indication of the CIO chieftain’s plans as a result of Mr. Lewis’ White House conference last week.