It is mighty good to come back again to Minnesota, the state of that gallant leader, Cdr. Harold Stassen. As a great Governor and as a bold and courageous leader of opinion, he rendered services to his country equaled only by his present services in the Navy.
To the people of Minnesota, he gave something else very precious and too long absent from our national life. He gave teamwork government, not one-man government.
As a result, when he left for the Navy, there was a first-class man ready and able to fill his shoes. That man has so ably and successfully conducted the affairs of the state that everyone agrees you will reelect by an overwhelming majority my good friend Governor Edward J. Thye.
The experience of the people of Minnesota under these great Republican administrations points the way toward the progressive, forward-looking teamwork government the people will install in the nation next January 20.
I had intended to talk tonight about some of the problems of the American farmer. I have deferred that talk so that I can, without delay, correct some errors and omissions in the speech of my opponent of last Saturday night. But before doing so, I want here and now to repledge my adherence to the farm program of the Republican platform, which was drawn by the farm leaders themselves.
The wide fluctuation of prices of farm products that followed the last war will not be tolerated. A floor will be placed and maintained under farm prices with assurance of seal-up crop loans. A proper farm program will be created and so operated that it will leave with the farmers the administration, the control and operation of their program without domination or dictation from appointed bureaucrats.
On three great objectives we, the American people, are wholly agreed. We are determined to carry through this war to swift and total victory. We are determined that the United States shall take the lead, even before victory in the war is won, in the establishment of a world organization to prevent future wars. We are determined that our fighting men shall find, when they return victorious, a vigorous and productive America, the kind of America in which there will be jobs and opportunity for all.
It was for the purpose of keeping our unity for peace that, last August, I lifted our peace plans wholly out of partisan conflicts – by joining hands with Secretary Hull in work on the proposed organization to prevent future wars.
In my addresses on that subject, I have tried to keep it out of partisan debate.
Unhappily, however, last Saturday night, my opponent once again sowed among us the seeds of disunity. He made a long speech on foreign affairs. We had hoped he would speak to the American people as grown-ups and tell us what our foreign policy is and where it is going.
We had also hoped to hear some word of cheer about the smaller nations, so important to the conscience of the American people – some word about the fate of Poland, some hope for the people of Italy, some assurance that the Scandinavian countries which have suffered so much, and the other small countries, might soon be admitted to their full partnership in the work for organized peace.
But Mr. Roosevelt gave us none of that. Instead, he sat by the fireside and dreamed of yesterday. He paraded before the American people the ghosts of the dead past. He told us a few bits of history, carefully selected, and then said in effect, “Ask me no questions – you are not entitled to know where we are going. Just leave everything to me.”
Now, Mr. Roosevelt said in that speech, “I am giving you the whole story.” But the isolated bits of history he gave were only a very small part of the story.
My opponent says the heavy hand of isolationism governed our country in the 1920s. Does he mean to apply that term to the three great Republican Secretaries of State, Charles Evans Hughes, Frank B. Kellogg, and Henry L. Stimson, his own present Secretary of War? If so, I am afraid he has a convenient memory. It was my opponent himself who said of the day he took office, the 4th of March, 1933:
The world picture was an image of substantial peace. International consultation and widespread hope for the bettering of relations between the nations gave to all of us a reasonable expectation that the barriers to mutual confidence, to increased trade and to the peaceful settlement of disputes could be progressively removed.
And that was the truth. My opponent did inherit a progressively improving structure of international cooperation – from the disarmament conference of 1921 led by Charles Evans Hughes, through the great Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, in which most of the nations of the world renounced war as an instrument of national policy.
But it was on March 5, 1933, that Adolf Hitler made himself dictator of Germany. That was a fateful year. Germany walked out of the disarmament conference. Germany and Japan quit the League of Nations. And tragically, under the leadership of Mr. Roosevelt, America did her own bit toward the breakdown of international cooperation for peace.
Mr. Roosevelt now speaks fondly of the League of Nations. But it was he who in 1933 said this of the league: “We are not members and we do not contemplate membership.”
He rejected the policy of collaboration with the League which had previously been established, and in 1935, the American representative at Geneva was instructed “that we desire to follow our course independently.”
Here are two parts of the story my opponent conveniently forgot. Now let’s look at some more.
It was also in 1935 that instead of the policy of consultation with other nations, an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress adopted the fruitless neutrality act and the President signed it.
But it was in 1933 that we really had our last chance to bring order out of the chaos of international money exchange and trade. The London economic conference had been labored over for months by Republican Secretary of State Stimson. Yet, as one of his early acts as President, Mr. Roosevelt deliberately scuttled that conference. That was the most completely isolationist action ever taken by an American President in our 150 years of history. It was that event that led at least one European statesman to say there was then nothing ahead in Europe but war.
Year after year, from 1933 to 1939, our representatives in Berlin and Tokyo, in their confidential reports which are now partly made public, warned of the growing danger.
Year after year, our chiefs of staff reported on the utterly impoverished and pitifully small man power of our Army. Year after year, the Budget Bureau, which is under the personal direction of the President, cut down the amount requested. It was right in the fall of 1939, after the second world war had actually begun, that Mr. Roosevelt’s Budget Bureau cut out $552 million of amounts certified by the Army for critical and essential items.
It was in January 1940 that Mr. Roosevelt told the Congress that $1,800,000,000 for national defense was, in his judgment, “a sufficient amount for the coming year,” although he admitted that it was “far less than many experts on national defense think should be spent.”
It was in that month that I called publicly for a two-ocean Navy, a concept which Mr. Roosevelt still later called “just plain dumb.”
It was in those terrifying days of the Nazi blitz, in May of 1940, that he told us we should not become “discombobulated.” Then, with France about to fall, he publicly announced on June 4 that he saw no reason for Congress to stay in session. It was an election year – so in that hour of national peril he said that a continued session of Congress would serve no useful end except, sarcastically, the laudable purpose of making speeches.
It was that American Congress which refused at that historic time to go home. It stayed in Washington and worked.
It was that Congress which then passed the national Selective Service Act, sponsored by a Republican Congressman and an anti-New Deal Democrat. It was that Congress that stayed after it had been told to go home, which ran the appropriations and authorizations for national defense up to twelve billion dollars.
Here, then, are some more chapters of the story – all of which my opponent conveniently forgets. But the American people will not forget them when they go to the polls in November.
In his speech of last Saturday night, my opponent did remember the Washington arms conference by which, for the first time, we succeeded in restricting Japan to an inferior naval relationship of 5-5-3. But he forgot that he was supposed to be telling “the whole story.” He complained that we “scuttled” part of the strength of our navy. But that is not what he said at the time. Then, in a magazine article, Mr. Roosevelt asked America to trust Japan and complained of “the delay in the scrapping of United States ships as provided for and pledged in accordance with the treaty.” What he also forgot last Saturday night was that as late as 1934, he called the Washington arms conference a “milestone in civilization.”
How election times change men’s memories! If we are going to learn the lessons for future use, we have to keep the record straight.
It was in that year, 1934, that Japan served notice of termination of the limitation treaty which kept her navy inferior to ours. Yet, it was in the first two administrations of the New Deal that this country sent ten million tons of scrap iron and steel to Japan, unchecked by my opponent until October 16, 1940. The weight of that scrap iron alone was ten times the tonnage of the whole Japanese Navy.
Mr. Roosevelt said last Saturday that we could have “compromised” with Japan, “by selling out the heart’s blood of the Chinese people.” Well, let’s see what he did.
In addition to scrap iron, he permitted the shipment of as much as three million barrels a month of oil, the heart’s blood of war, for use against China and for storage against America. It continued to flow until July of 1941, four months before Pearl Harbor.
Let those who claim to have exercised great foresight remember these lessons in history. And let us as a nation never forget them.
Now, my opponent in his speech actually blamed a handful of Republicans for our failure to go into the World Court in 1935.
That was when Mr. Roosevelt was still on the crest of his leadership, with three-fourths of the United States Senate Democratic. Even with the help of nine Republicans, he still could not muster a two-thirds vote. Since then, he has warred with Congress at every major turn. He has insulted its integrity, and its members have learned the bitter lesson that legislation asked for one purpose, is twisted to another. This is a sad foundation on which to build the teamwork necessary for the future. That’s why it’s time for a change.
Three times in recent months I have discussed at length what I consider the sound and successful program for lasting peace. I have emphasized that this work must be pressed forward without waiting for the end of the war. I have emphasized, as my opponent has not, that “we must make certain that our participation in this world organization is not subjected to reservations that would nullify the power of that organization to maintain peace and to halt future aggression.” That means, of course, that it must not be subject to a reservation that would require our representative to return to Congress for authority every time he had to make a decision. Obviously, Congress and only Congress, has the constitutional power to determine what quota of force it will make available and what discretion it will give our representative to use that force.
I have not the slightest doubt that a Congress which is working in partnership with the President will achieve the result we all consider essential and grant adequate power for swift action to the American representative. But those who would attempt to ride roughshod over Congress and to dictate the course it should follow before it has even been acquainted with the facts are trifling with the hope of the world. They are deliberately, in my judgment, seeking to precipitate a hardening of minds. If this stubborn course is pursued, it can only result once again, as in 1919, in a disastrous conflict between the President and the Congress. To that I will never be a party.
I deeply believe that we cannot build an understanding and a purpose for our future if we are to continue to have abuse from the President of the members of Congress.
None of us has been all-wise in these matters. Individual Congressmen and Senators of both parties have made mistakes. Individual citizens have made mistakes. Every one of us – both in and out of office – has made mistakes.
I am not interested in the mistakes of any individual, in either party. I am interested – the people of this country are interested – in what the next Congress will do. We must not find ourselves after next January 20 stalled on dead center as a result of this series of recriminations between my opponent and the Congress. He has already demonstrated that he cannot work with a Congress of his own party. It is unmistakably clear that our future demands that we have a new Chief Executive who can and will work with the new Republican Congress beginning next January 20. We must be able to go forward harmoniously and effectively if we are to meet the mighty problems of peace.
Who will lead the next Senate and the next House? Well, here are the acknowledged leaders today:
- Senator Wallace H. White Jr. of Maine, Acting Minority Leader of the United States Senate.
- Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Committee.
- Senator Warren R. Austin of Vermont, chairman of the Republican National Convention Foreign Relations Subcommittee.
- Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, chairman of the Republican Steering Committee.
- Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, Republican Senate whip.
- Joseph W. Martin Jr. of Massachusetts, the minority Republican leader of the House of Representatives.
I hold in my hand a telegram from each of these gentlemen. Let me read you the wire from Senator Wallace H. White, the Acting Minority Leader of the United States Senate. It reads:
Your statements in support of a post-war organization and your vigorous leadership in developing and clarifying our country’s foreign policy have my respect and approval. Your views will be accorded enthusiastic and loyal support by Republicans of the Senate and by the American people.
Now let me read a wire from Joseph W. Martin, whom my opponent last Saturday night conceded is likely to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives. It reads:
When elected President, you can count on enthusiastic support of the Republican House of Representatives to carry into effect your plan for United States leadership in organization to co-operate with other nations for world peace. I shall personally be very pleased to follow your splendid leadership in bringing this plan into reality.
I have made public the rest of these messages tonight. Here is the kind of unity we need in this country – the kind we will need so desperately in these important years ahead.
From the beginning of this campaign, I have insisted that organization for world peace can and must be a bipartisan effort. I shall continue to insist on that approach.
The avoidance of future wars is too important to be in the sole custody of any one man – of any one group – or of any one party. It is too important to hang by the slender thread of one man’s continuity in office.
Only with the unity now demonstrated by the telegrams I have read to you tonight from the next leaders of the Congress and the Senate can we achieve the kind of action necessary to preserve peace. Only with a chief executive who will work with the Congress in harmony can our future be assured.
Our work for future peace must and will become on January 20 next year, a bipartisan effort, bringing to it the ablest men in our country from both political parties.
That sense of unity can also be brought to our domestic affairs. With a President who will cooperate with the Congress, we need not fear the peace. For agriculture, for labor and for business, we have an unlimited future before us, if we will seize it and unite to bring it about.
Certainly, this is the least we can do in the name of those who are fighting today to make that future possible. With God’s help we shall unite America and go forward once again.