You have found an item located in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
"American Liberty League" Speech by Jouett Shouse, September 7, 1934. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_3 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. "American Liberty League" Speech by Jouett Shouse, September 7, 1934. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1934. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. have been abuses. They must not be allowed to recur. There have been inequities. They must be righted. But the tree must not be destroyed merely because some branches need to be removed. The helpful friend of an administration is not he who merely acclaims or agrees unthoughtedly with all that is done. The most valuable aid that can be rendered is to point out the mistakes as well as the accomplishments. The purpose of the American Liberty League is not to tear down or destroy. Rather its aim is to help to build for a better future and to provide a medium of expression for a large group of citizens, aggregating millions in number, constituting the very bone and sinew of the country to the end that the form of government under which we have grown to be the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world may be preserved. We do not for a moment impugn the good faith of those who disagree with our point of view. We have no words of rancor or condemnation for the motives of others. We are entering upon a huge task with full realization of our responsibility as American citizens and with the single desire of contributing our full part toward a restoration of prosperity and amity among all our people. American Liberty League Speech of JOUETT SHOUSE President National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING Washington, D. C. (Speech of Jouett Shouse, President, American Liberty League, made over the Blue Network of the National Broadcasting Co. Friday night, September 7, 1934.) Announcement of the formation of the American Liberty League was made two weeks ago. That the League has the opportunity to fill a definite need is evident from the flood of responses that has come from every section of the country. Telegrams and letters by the thousands, expressing desire to join and asking for information concerning the League, have been received. With many of these letters checks or currency have been enclosed. The number of donations in amounts of $1.00 and $2.00 each, indicates that the appeal of the organization has reached far down into the mass of American people. Equally indicative that the League has struck a chord upon which a vast number of men and women are thinking was the storm of public praise and criticism with which the mere announcement of its organization was greeted. It was front page news in every city in America and virtually all of the newspapers, radio speakers, and other agencies of public opinion followed with editorial comment. All this is the more remarkable when you consider the simple fundamentals for which the League stands. Principles and Aims First, it proposes to "defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States." Second, it aims "to teach the necessity of respect for the rights of persons and property as fundamental to every successful form of government." And finally it proposes to "teach the duty of government to encourage and protect individual and group initiative and enterprise, to foster the right to work, earn, save and acquire property, and to preserve the ownership and lawful use of property when acquired." Yet the mere statement that an organization had been founded for the purpose of promoting these simple objectives created a national sensation, a fact which of itself indicates a belief in the minds of many people that such an organization was necessary. Property Rights Some critics have suggested that the American Liberty League places too great an emphasis on property rights. If one thing more than another has been proved by historical experience it is that the denial of property rights has always been the prelude to a denial of human rights. The man who doubts this premise need only trace the course of events in any one of a half dozen European countries during the last decade. The government that begins by coercing property owners ends by coercing labor. Confiscation of old was the prelude to the guillotine and this today merely has been replaced by the firing squad. We hear much of each man's inherent right to work. He works to earn and to be able to spend his earnings for the maintenance of his family and for their pleasure and advancement. But almost equally important is the right to save and the need for assurance that money which is put away will have the same purchasing power in the future as it has at the present. This is an example of the property rights that the League is upholding. It is not intended that property shall be placed above human rights. Human rights and property rights are practically inseparable, but to the extent that separation is possible certainly all agree that human rights should be paramount. Obligation of the Government We thoroughly recognize the obligation of the government to come to the relief of the men and women who are in distress because of unemploy-   ment through no fault of their own, or who are suffering from any affliction over which they could have no control. This can be done without violence to our Constitution or to American traditions. What is property? There is scarcely a man in this country who is not a property owner in the sense that we interpret it. The insurance policy holder has a deep interest in property. Whether his policy be a five hundred dollar policy or a fifty thousand dollar policy the premiums he has paid are not held in cash but are invested by the insurance corporation for his benefit in securities of various kinds the country over. The savings bank depositor who places to his credit a dollar a week must realize that his deposit is not kept in the bank in currency but that it is invested for his benefit in state and federal securities and in bonds of various kinds which have a ramification that is country-wide. The owner of a modest five hundred dollar dwelling is a property owner in the sense we mean. The clothes that a man wears, the shoes on his feet, the hat on his head are property. The smallest holdings, the most meager savings are classes of property which the League recognizes and which it will endeavor to protect. League Is Non-partisan As prescribed by its charter the League will be absolutely non-partisan. The suggestion that it is the beginning of a new political party is wholly foreign to the plans and purposes of its founders. 'It has no particular "ism" to promote. It will act for its members, be they liberal or conservative, as the issues demand. Primarily, its aims are educational. It will study and dissect without partisan bias or individual prejudice important pieces of pending legislation, and will attempt to advise its members, comprising a huge mass of people at present inarticulate, as to the effect of such legislation  upon their general welfare. Spokesmen for the League will request the opportunity to appear before committees of Congress and to present helpful and constructive conclusions reached after careful study. Such influence as it may try to exert upon elections will be through education of the people to whom primarily its appeals will be made. As stated by the Executive Committee in the newspapers today, it will be the first of December before the League can hope to be effectively organized. No undue haste will be permitted in setting up its organization. It will try intelligently to take the steps necessary to the achievement of its purposes and it does not propose to be rushed or hurried into the assumption of positions or the espousal of causes without the opportunity for the most careful advance consideration. Membership It is our hope to enlist promptly a membership of several millions. Divisions will be established for home-owners, farmers, labor, savings depositors, life insurance policy holders, bondholders, stockholders, storekeepers, and perhaps other classes of citizens, and through these various divisions every man and woman in the nation will have a means of presenting his or her problems. The desire is that there thus will be established a medium through which the great middle class of the American people may at last have an influential voice in the conduct of their government. To join the League is a very easy matter. All of those who believe in the clear, concise, definite statement of principles for which the League stands are welcome. The more who join, the more effective will be its appeal. There are two classes of membership. First, there is the regular membership, embracing all those who believe in the principles enunciated, and to this every American citizen is eligible without financial contribution. Second, there is a con- f S] tributing membership, embracing those who in addition are able and willing to give monetary help for the League's support. All desiring to join should simply send their names and addresses to the American Liberty League, National Press Building, Washington, D. C. Inalienable Rights Let us go back for a moment to the foundation of our government. Its cornerstone was the basic principle that the individual is endowed with certain inalienable rights. The Declaration of Independence proclaims this as a self-evident truth, and the Supreme Court has declared that the Declaration of Independence is the very thought and spirit of the Constitution. Therefore, the letter of the Constitution should be read in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Amendments "9" and "10" to the Constitution expressly establish the principle that certain rights are retained by and reserved to the people and are not delegated to the government. All of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, popularly called the "Bill of Rights," were added in order that individual rights might be safeguarded constitutionally. In the Constitution, no distinction is made between so-called "property rights" and so-called "human rights." The ownership of property is a natural right, an inalienable right which government can neither destroy nor deny. Property, however, has a social as well as an individual aspect. It cannot be arbitrarily enjoyed to the exclusion of all social responsibility. Its owner is accountable for its equitable administration and he must utilize it with the full sense of his responsibilities to the society of which he is a member. Moreover, membership in any society imposes social responsibility. It is perhaps pertinent to suggest that there is no such thing as property right per se. There is a right of property or a right to property. In other words, there is the right of a person to enjoy or to possess property, and for that reason the invasion of so-called property rights is the invasion of human rights. Denial of Liberty Therefore, the American Liberty League stands for the sacred principle of American tradition and of the Constitution of the United States that the enjoyment of property rights, with due respect to social and political obligation, is an inalienable privilege, that property rights are an integral part of human rights, and that the impairment of either is a denial of liberty. If these principles be challenged the American people must be made conscious of the fact that they are confronted with the possibility of a new order of things contrary to existing tradition, contrary to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, contrary to the express terms of the Constitution and contrary to existing law. Who challenges, who objects to that interpretation of American tradition? In his inaugural address President Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." None can deny that there has been real improvement in many ways during the past eighteen months. On the other hand, it is obvious to every observer that our people are today filled with apprehension. Recreate Confidence The Liberty League will do all it can to help recreate confidence. Without confidence capital will not be invested. Without capital industry cannot go ahead. Without industry there cannot be jobs. Without jobs there cannot be well-being, satisfaction, happiness and security. We do not oppose change, but we would not sacrifice the form of government under which our country has grown strong and prosperous. There f6] [71