The Origins and Development of Federal Crime Control Policy: Herbert Hoover's Initiatives

By James D. Calder | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
March 4, 1933: Report Card on Crime and Justice Reforms

Impartial justice has offered mankind its most certain escape from arbitrary power. Justice is also the safest cornerstone upon which peoples may erect their entire social organization.1

The ride from the White House to the Capitol steps was a somber affair for Hoover and Roosevelt.2 An overcast and windy day, at least there was no rain to dampen an already strained circumstance. As Hoover and the throngs listened to the words of the inaugural address, they heard nothing of crime or of the federal justice system. Only mild reference was made to "a conduct in banking and business" in terms of "the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing." The words of Roosevelt's inaugural spoke of hope and containment of "fear itself."

Two weeks before leaving office, Hoover gave his final public speech to onlookers at the laying of the cornerstone for the new U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington. Law, democracy, and justice formed the cornerstones of civilized society, he implied: "Justice . . . knows neither station, position, wealth, nor poverty; and justice can act only with the most efficient, honest organization of the enforcement machinery. For this, public officers and equipment are indispensable, but equally indispensable to their success are the self-discipline and cooperation of the people." Modifying the inscription on the stone, which read, "Let justice prevail, though the heavens fall," Hoover substituted, "Justice shall prevail, because that is the people's will."3

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