HOOVER, Herbert. Illuminated calligraphic manuscript signed ("Herbert Hoover") as President, entitled "The Spirit of '31," also signed by the Governors of the 48 states, including future President Franklin D. Roosevelt ("Franklin D. Roosevelt") as New York Governor. [Washington, D.C.,?, 1931].
27¾ x 19½ in. ON FINE PARCHMENT, FULLY ILLUMINATED IN COLORS AND GOLD: at the top is a large, finely executed watercolor of the Presidential Seal (4½ in. in diameter); beneath it is an olive spray, behind it are depicted a billowing American flag, factory buildings, a large merchant ship and an airplane in flight (Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis"); title "The Spirit of '31," in large letters of blue and gold, central text block in a large calligraphic hand with large initial capitals in colors and gold, flanking the text are 48 rectangular compartments, each containing the signatures of a different state Governor, with the name of each state lettered above. In very fine condition.
THE SPIRIT OF '31'": PRESIDENT HOOVER AND THE 48 GOVERNORS CONCEDE THAT "CONDITIONS HAVE BEEN DEPRESSING," AND CALL FOR A REJUVENATION OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY IN 1931
An exceptionally elaborate proclamation, probably prepared for ceremonial purposes (or to be reproduced as a broadside), as part of Hoover's efforts to allay the burgeoning fears and growing uncertainty of the worst depression of the last century. "Harking back to the times that tried men's souls of the founders of our republic a century and a half ago, we the President of the United States and the Governors...call upon the American people to make 1931 a year that will go down in our history as marking the greatest 'come-back' ever staged by the business men, the farmers and the working folk of the United States" Hoover and the Governors point to the example of Washington at Valley Forge, and declare that although "conditions have been depressing during the last year," and many have suffered, "the clouds are breaking, the corner is being turned. With our financial institutions sounder than ever, with our leaders of industry, agriculture and labor eager to co-operate in the good work...the wheels of our mighty machinery of production are beginning to turn faster." Expressing confidence in the American people and the resources of the nation, they resolve "to banish the evil spirit of pessimism from our land," and, "under the guidance of President Hoover," to "rout the specter of want and uncertainty and make this country the permanent abiding place of a happy and contented people."
In the mid-term election of November 1930, Hoover's party had lost control of Congress to the Democrats, and by the end of that year, his "anti-depression leadership was increasingly challenged in and out of Congress by those who wanted more government spending" (J.H. Wilson, Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive, p.147). The opportunity to significantly ameliorate the Great Depression by simple optimism had long passed. In January 1931, about the date the present proclamation was signed, Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that he was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Provenance: Philip D. Sang (sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 20 June 1979, lot 714).