Address of President Hoover at the Annual Luncheon of the Associated Press at New York City

April 22, 1929
Entire Report

Members and Friends of the Associated Press:

I have accepted this occasion for a frank statement of what I consider the dominant issue before the American people. Its solution is more vital to the preservation of our institutions than any other question before us. That is the enforcement and obedience to the laws of the United States, both Federal and State.

I ask only that you weigh this for yourselves, and if my position is right, that you support it—not to support me but to support something infinitely more precious—the one force that holds our civilization together—law. And I wish to discuss it as law, not as to the merits or demerits of a particular law but all law. Federal and State, for ours is a government of laws made by the people themselves.

A surprising number of our people, otherwise of responsibility in the community, have drifted into the extraordinary notion that laws are made for those who choose to obey them. And in addition, our law-enforcement machinery is suffering from many infirmities arising out of its technicalities, its circumlocutions, its involved procedures, and too often, I regret, from inefficient and delinquent officials.

We are reaping the harvest of these defects. More than 9.000 human beings are lawlessly killed every year in the United States. Little more than half as many arrests follow. Less than one-sixth of those slayers are convicted, and but a scandalously small percentage are adequately punished. Twenty times as many people in proportion to population are lawlessly killed in the United States as in Great Britain. In many of our great cities murder can apparently be committed with impunity. At least fifty times as many robberies in proportion to population are committed in the United States as in Great Britain, and three times as many burglaries.

Even in such premeditated crimes as embezzlement and forgery our record stands no comparison with stable nations. No part of the. country, rural or urban, is immune. Life and property are relatively more unsafe than in any other civilized country in the world. In spite of all this we have reason to pride ourselves on our institutions and the high moral instincts of the great majority of our people. No one will assert that such crimes -would be committed if we had even a normal respect for law and if the laws of our country were properly enforced.

In order to dispel certain illusions in the public mind on this subject, let me say at once that while violations of law have been increased by inclusion of crimes under the eighteenth amendment and by the vast sums that are poured into the hands of the criminal clashes by the pat

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Hoover, Herbert
Dec. 03, 1929  Message of the President of the United States
Dec. 03, 1929  Message of the President of the United States
Nov. 29, 1929  Address of President Hoover
Nov. 11, 1929  Address of President Hoover
Oct. 21, 1929  Address of President Hoover
Jul. 24, 1929  Address of President Hoover
May 30, 1929  Address of President Hoover at the Memorial Exercises at Arlington National Cemetary
Apr. 22, 1929  Address of President Hoover at the Annual Luncheon of the Associated Press at New York City
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