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Mr. Fish. Mr. Smith, do you think that the greatest issue before the American public today is to keep us out of war?
Mr. Smith. Yes; and I think that was demonstrated in the recent campaign. When Mr. Willkie came west he was rather cool on the subject of intervention, but after he had visited with the western politicians and had toured the West he came back with a major emphasis on peace, and his emphasis was so effective that I think it was instrumental in changing the original plans of the President, and the President came out then in the campaign, and it is our contention that the reason the President was reelected was because he promised peace more convincingly than Mr. Willkie.
Mr. Fish. What percentage of the American people do you believe want to keep out of foreign wars?
Mr. Smith. I would not answer as an authority on the subject, Mr. Fish, but I will express my personal opinion.
Mr. Fish. Well, you get around a great deal among people, do you not?
Mr. SMITH. Yes. I speak each week to a population area of, approximately, 25,000,000 Americans. The most popular things that can be said at any time over this series of stations are suggestions having to do with steps necessary to keep us out of this war.
Immediately upon the introduction of this bill I alluded to this bill and analyzed it as I have today, and my mail immediately broke all records. We had been using 20 girls to open our letters, and immediately we had to take on 20 more with night shifts to handle the mail of people who demonstrated a desire to cooperate in the defeat of this bill.
Mr. Fish. Do you believe that a very large percentage of the American people want to defeat this bill as it is written?
Mr. SMITH. No; because they do not know what it is all about. I believe that if these hearings can be prolonged deliberately and spokesmen for the opposition can be given ample opportunity with the use of the radio and the press to define this bill to the people that the resentment against it will surpass the court bill, the Executive reorganization bill, and the embargo bill in arousing public resentment.
Mr. Fish. But is not this bill far more dangerous to our form of government than the court-packing bill and all the other bills combined that you mentioned?
Mr. Smith. In the first place, Mr. Fish, before answering that question, I want to always make it known that I am not posing as an authority on anything, except one thing, the interpretation of how my people feel. With that understanding, I answer your question this way: It is dangerous for two reasons-first, because of the nature of the bill; and, second, because of the nature of the President.
Mr. Fish. Breaking that down, do you not believe that this bill is dangerous and that it practically destroys free government in America?
Mr. Smith. If we have received the wrong impression, it is because of our limited understanding of government. Our impression is that it is virtually the same as the legislation that was approved by the Reichstag that led to the government now in Germany, and Hitler became supreme dictator of Germany.
Mr. Fish. Do you not agree that when the Congress surrenders its two great constitutional powers, control of the purse and the sword to any one man, that we are setting up a totalitarian form of government and surrendering our free government?
Mr. JOHNSON. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. Fish. I just want to say to the witness that my interpretation of this clause is, and I have been here as long as, if not longer than, the gentleman, that this gives the President unlimited scope to spend money, and then there will be a moral obligation upon the Congress to appropriate any sum of money that the President spends.
Mr. Johnson. Why did not the section say there is hereby appropriated instead of an authorization?
Mr. Fish. Because we are not an appropriating committee. That is an authorization to the President to spend $20,000,000,000 or $40,000,000,000, and we have a moral responsibility to get the money.
Mr. Smith. It is our contention, Mr. Fish, that if this bill passes, as it has been written, it will make Mr. Roosevelt a dictator absolutely. Now, if that is wrong, I think it would be wise for the administration to change that impression rapidly, if they desire to promote unity among the people.
Mr. Fish. I think that Congress will have something to say about it. Mr. Smith. I assume Congress is included in the administration.
Mr. Fish. I have always assumed that Congress did the legislating; that that was an important function of the Congress, not the President.
Mr. Smith. I assume the administration is a combination of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government.
Mr. Fish. Do you not think, Mr. Smith, if this bill passes unamended, in its present form, giving this vast power to one man that it will cause bitterness and disunity throughout the land?
Mr. Smith. Unless a program of public education is conducted, which is now not evident
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Mr. Smith, will you permit an interruption? In answering the questions please answer them briefly, if you can, as we would like to get along. If you can, answer the question without making a little speech. That is very interesting, and we would like to hear you, but just answer the question.
Mr. Smith. You understand that we private citizens are limited somewhat, and we do not get the opportunities that you Congressmen have.
The CHAIRMAN. Proceed.
(The question was thereupon repeated by the reporter, as above recorded.)
Mr. Smith. My mail, in the last 10 days, has contained more bitterness, by at least three times, than it contained at any time previously, not excluding the Presidential campaign.
The CHAIRMAN. What you want to say is “Yes”; is that right?
Mr. EATON. I have no questions.
Mrs. Rogers. I have one question. Does it not seem to you that this bill would embark the administration upon a policy of enormous expenditures? While it is an authorization bill, as Congressman Fish has said, if we authorize the President, or give him the authority to go ahead and make tremendous commitments to various munitions plants, shipbuilding plants, and so forth, all over the country, we will be under a moral obligation to pay those bills?
Mr. Smith. Yes, Mrs. Rogers; it is very necessary that whenever the President is granted any unusual or extraordinary powers that with the granting of those powers should go a yardstick with which to control those powers.
Mrs. ROGERS. In addition to that, the President is authorized to give, or lend, or lease any amount of war commodities, not only to Great Britain but to Greece and China, or any of the so-called democracies that need help for our national defense, and that would mean that, naturally, if he gives our own supplies away, Congress would bave to replace those ships and munitions?
Mr. Smith. Naturally, if a certain number of airplanes and soldiers and a certain amount of equipment are necessary to produce what is agreed to by the military experts as a real national-defense program, any dissipation of those supplies would impair our own national defense.
Mrs. Rogers. There must be a place where they are paid for, and there must be appropriations.
Mr. Smith. My impression is that if this bill passes unamended, the President could throw the whole Navy into the English Channel in April.
Mrs. Rogers. Thank you very much.
Mr. CHIPERFIELD. How do the people that you represent feel toward England?
Mr. Smith. My mail is overwhelmingly in favor of constitutional or justifiable aid to England on the assumption that we love England second, but not first, and, therefore, that with such a law should go a yardstick. I have made up three or four memos of what that yardstick should be, if you want to hear them.
Mr. CHIPERFIELD. I would be glad to hear them.
Mr. Smith. First, we should place a limit on the funds the President may use to aid Britain-I am not going to set an arbitrary sum, but just $1,000,000,000 or $2,000,000,000, since it comes out of the pockets of American taxpayers.
Second, place a limit on the articles the President can turn over to Britain, by exempting those articles which Congress determines are of vital necessity to our national defense, such as battleships, warships of all kinds, submarines and destroyers alike, and the new cargo ships now being constructed for our own merchant marine, and which are so vitally needed for the American Navy, whether Britain wins or loses.
Third, we should prohibit the use of American warships to convoy any merchant ships to Britain, and this would be in keeping with the President's own declaration that no such convoying is contemplated.
Fourth, prohibit the use of American armed forces in Europe, either aviators, soldiers, or sailors, and this, too, would be in keeping with the President's declaration to Congress.
Fifth, we should provide specifically that Britain need not pay in cash for such items we advance, but rather that she pay us in those raw materials which we so urgently need for our Army, Navy, and national defense-minerals of which she has either a world monopoly or would control; and I suggest such minerals as, say, chrome ore, of which we get 70 percent of our total supply from the British monopoly; or platinum, of which we get 41 percent of our total supply from Britain. I would add nickel, of which Britain has a monopoly, and cobalt, monazite sand, so vitally needed in our gas industry; phosphate, of which Britain has such a tremendous supply and which we must import; rubber, over which Britain has a world monopoly. If these items are not enough to pay for what we intend to give her in munitions, then Congress can include such minerals as asbestos, graphite, mica, shellac, tin, wood pulp, manganese, and vanadium.
Take wood pulp for instance. I am certain Canada would like to help pay for any items we send Britain, and Canada could help pay by giving our Government huge quantities of wood pulp. I am certain our friendly neighbors to the North would welcome such an opportunity to help the Mother Country, even though it meant some sacrifice on their part.
In all such transactions Britain could turn the minerals over to the United States Government-say to the R. F. C. or the Department of Commerce and I am certain every man in this room will agree that Jesse Jones would be able to sell these minerals or distribute them to American industry in a way that would extend the greatest benefits to our national defense.
Mr. CHIPERFIELD. Thank you very much.
Mr. VORYS. Mr. Smith, you said you were not an expert. Do you believe that in subjects like this, where experts differ and where the ultimate decision involves not only military questions but questions of economics, and the kind of government you like and cultural problems, that the ultimate decision must be made by those who are not experts, based on ordinary commonsense and judgment after considering what experts say?
Mr. Smith. Definitely; inasmuch as these people that are not experts elect public officials.
Mr. Vorys. Well, public officials themselves are not experts either, not all of us Congressmen are experts on military affairs or foreign affairs, or economics, or finances, and so forth, but if it is not understandable to just a common, ordinary person, with good sense, if there is something that such a person cannot understand or cannot be told, then there is something wrong with the proposal; isn't that true?
Mr. Smith. Definitely.
Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Smith, do you not think that it is very important that Members of Congress who are not experts on military and other matters should obtain the best possible information before arriving at any decision, rather than depending on themselves?
Mr. Smith. Yes. I believe that expert opinion belongs both to the Congress and to the people, and should not be confined to executive sessions.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Courtney?
Mr. MuNDT. Mr. Smith, did I understand the chairman brought out in introducing you to us that you were president or chairman of a Committee of One Million?
Mr. Smith. Yes. I am known as the national chairman.
Mr. MUNDT. May I inquire what the purpose of the committee is, its platform and program? Is it a political organization or a nonpartisan organization?
Mr. Smith. It is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, nonprofit, patriotic organization.
Mr. MUNDT. You believe in a program of strong national defense, do you?
Mr. Smith. Not only that, we presented through Senator Vandenberg a petition calling for national defense second to none, signed by over 1,000,000 people.
Mr. MUNDT. Would you say that your committee more or less reflects the position indicated by many polls taken that approximately 9 people out of 10 in America want to keep out of war first and, secondly, provided they can do so and keep out of war, they wish to aid England in her fight?
Mr. Smith. The petition which I have presented by proxy here today demonstrates the fact that more than 2,000,000 people have used our committee as an instrumentality through which to express their convictions against intervention, and in favor of national defense. They represent that section of the population which impresses us as being most positively against war and against intervention, and we believe that they represent by far more than a majority of the people.
Mr. MUNDT. Did I understand you to say that those names came from over an area of 18 States?
Mr. Smith. Thirty-eight States?
Mr. Smith. Yes; but the concentrated strength of our committee is between St. Louis and Pittsburgh, and between Louisville and Detroit. As an illustration of the sentiment in the State carrying the greatest load involving national defense, our committee has over 320,000 enlistments in Michigan alone.
Mr. Mundt. That is all; thank you.