Herbert Hoover on "Rugged Individualism" (1928)

The son of a blacksmith, Herbert Hoover earned millions through his work as a geologist and mining engineer. While his economic successes led to political positions, he believed that American progress is rooted in the separation of government and business. Here are some words from the October 22, 1928 speech that capped his campaign to become the 31st President.

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. policy
    argument rationalizing the course of action of a government
    It detracts nothing from the character and energy of the American people, it minimizes in no degree the quality of their accomplishments to say that the policies of the Republican Party have played a large part in the building of this progress of these last seven and one-half years. I can say with emphasis that without the wise policies which the Republican Party has brought into action in this period, no such progress would have been possible.
  2. stability
    a constant order, especially of society
    It has only by keen large vision and cooperation by the Government that stability in business and stability in employment has been maintained during this past seven and a half years.
  3. contribution
    the part played by a person in bringing about a result
    But in addition to this great record of contributions of the Republican Party to progress, there has been a further fundamental contribution — a contribution perhaps more important than all the others — and that is the resistance of the Republican Party to every attempt to inject the Government into business in competition with its citizens.
  4. initiative
    readiness to embark on bold new ventures
    It is founded upon the conception that self-government can be preserved only by decentralization of Government in the State and by fixing local responsibility; but further than this, it is founded upon the social conception that only through ordered liberty, freedom and equal opportunity to the individual will his initiative and enterprise drive the march of progress.
  5. production
    manufacturing or mining or growing something for sale
    When the war closed the most vital of all issues was whether Governments should continue war ownership and operation of many instrumentalities of production and distribution.
  6. rugged
    sturdy and strong in constitution or construction; enduring
    We were challenged with the choice of the American system “ rugged individualism” or the choice of a European system of diametrically opposed doctrines — doctrines of paternalism and state socialism.
  7. unparalleled
    radically distinctive and without equal
    The acceptance of these ideas meant the destruction of self-government through centralization of government; it meant the undermining of initiative and enterprise upon which our people have grown to unparalleled greatness.
  8. individual
    a human being
    The Democratic administration cooperated with the Republican Party to demobilize many of her activities and the Republican Party from the beginning of its period of power resolutely turned its face away from these ideas and these war practices, back to our fundamental conception of the state and the rights and responsibilities of the individual.
  9. enterprise
    an organization created for business ventures
    Thereby it restored confidence and hope in the American people, it freed and stimulated enterprise, it restored the Government to its position as an umpire instead of a player in the economic game.
  10. socialism
    a political theory advocating state ownership of industry
    Because we are faced with difficulty and doubt over certain national problems which we are faced — that is prohibition, farm relief and electrical power — our opponents propose that we must to some degree thrust government into these businesses and in effect adopt state socialism as a solution.
  11. deprive
    take away
    When the Federal Government undertakes a business, the state governments are at once deprived of control and taxation of that business; when the state government undertakes a business it at once deprived the municipalities of taxation and control of that business.
  12. competent
    properly or sufficiently qualified, capable, or efficient
    Every time the Federal Government goes into business 530 Senators and Congressmen become the Board of Directors of that business. Every time a state government goes into business 100 or 200 state senators and assemblymen become directors of that business. Even if they were supermen, no bodies of such numbers can competently direct that type of human activities which requires instant decision and action.
  13. speculate
    invest at a risk
    New methods and new ideas are the outgrowth of the spirit of adventure of individual initiative and of individual enterprise. Without adventure there is no progress. No government administration can rightly speculate and take risks with taxpayers’ money.
  14. competition
    business relation in which two parties vie to gain customers
    But even more important than this — leadership in business must be through the sheer rise of ability and character. That rise can take place only in the free atmosphere of competition. Competition is closed by bureaucracy.
  15. bureaucracy
    a government administered primarily by nonelective officials
    Bureaucracy does not spread the spirit of independence; it spreads the spirit of submission into our daily life, penetrates the temper of our people; not with the habit of powerful resistance to wrong, but with the habit of timid acceptance of the irresistible might.
  16. liberalism
    an economic theory advocating a self-regulating market
    The bureaucratization of our country would poison the very roots of liberalism that is free speech, free assembly, free press, political equality and equality of opportunity.
  17. benefit
    something that aids or promotes well-being
    True liberalism seeks freedom first in the confident belief that without freedom the pursuit of all other blessings and benefits is vain.
  18. economic
    relating to the production and consumption of goods
    Liberalism is a force truly of the spirit, a force proceeding from the deep realization that economic freedom cannot be sacrificed if political freedom is to be preserved.
  19. political
    of or relating to the profession of governing
    The very essence of equality of opportunity is that there shall be no domination by any group or trust or combination in this republic, whether it be business or political. It demands economic justice as well as political and social justice.
  20. injustice
    the practice of being unfair
    I have witnessed not only at home but abroad the many failures of government in business. I have seen its tyrannies, its injustices, its undermining of the very instincts which carry our people forward to progress.
  21. interfere
    get involved, so as to alter or hinder an action
    One of the great problems of government is to determine to what extent the Government itself shall interfere with commerce and industry and how much it shall leave to individual exertion.
  22. abuse
    improper or excessive use
    We have had abuses in the conduct of business that every good citizen resents.
  23. adherence
    faithful support for a cause or political party or religion
    By adherence to the principles of decentralization, self-government, ordered liberty, and opportunity and freedom to the individual our American experiment has yielded a degree of well-being unparalleled in all the world.
  24. cooperative
    done with or working with others for a common purpose
    We have ten thousand examples of this cooperative tendency in the enormous growth of the associational activities during recent years. Chambers of commerce, trade associations, professional associations, labor unions, trade councils, civic associations, farm cooperatives — these are all so embracing that there is scarcely an individual in our country who does not belong to one or more of them.
  25. obligation
    the state of being bound to do or pay something
    The government in its obligation to the public can through skilled specialists cooperate with these various associations for the accomplishment of high public purposes.
  26. ethics
    motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
    The second form that this cooperation can take is in the cure of abuses and the establishment of a higher code of ethics and a more strict standard in its conduct of business.
  27. dependent
    relying on or requiring a person or thing for support
    If we are to be wholly dependent upon government to cure every evil we shall by this very method have created an enlarged and deadening abuse through the extension of bureaucracy and the clumsy and incapable handling of delicate economic forces.
  28. regulation
    the act of controlling or directing according to rule
    And much abuse has been and can be cured by inspiration and cooperation, rather than by regulation of the government.
  29. extension
    act of expanding in scope
    There is here a fundamental relief from the necessity of extension of the government into every avenue of business and welfare and therefore a powerful implement for the promotion of progress.
  30. opportunity
    a possibility from a favorable combination of circumstances
    Equality of opportunity is the right of every American, rich or poor, foreign or native born, without respect to race or faith or color, to attain that position in life to which his ability and character entitle him.
  31. capacity
    capability to perform or produce
    The first steps to equality of opportunity are that there should be no child in America that has not been born and does not live under sound conditions of health, that does not have full opportunity for education from the beginning to the end of our institutions, that is not free from injurious labor, that does not have stimulation to accomplish to the fullest of its capacities.
  32. safeguard
    a precautionary measure warding off impending danger
    It is a matter for concern to our Government that we shall strengthen the safeguards to health, that we shall strengthen the bureaus given to research, that we shall strengthen our educational system at every point, that we shall develop cooperation by our Federal Government with state governments and with the voluntary bodies of the country that we may bring not only better understanding but action in these matters.
  33. lag
    hang or fall in movement, progress, development, etc.
    Furthermore, equality of opportunity in my vision requires an equal opportunity to the people in every section of our country. In these past few years some groups in our country have lagged behind others in the march of progress. They have not had the same opportunity.
  34. assist
    give help; be of service
    We can assist in solving these problems by cooperation of our Government. To the agricultural industry we shall need advance initial capital to assist them, to stabilize and conduct their own industry.
  35. conduct
    direct the course of; manage or control
    But this proposal is that they shall conduct it themselves, not by the Government.
Created on March 29, 2017 (updated September 9, 2019)

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