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  Warren Harding - Second Annual Message (December 8, 1922)
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ContributorThomas Walker 
Post Date ,  12:am

So many problems are calling for solution that a recital of all of them, in the face of the known limitations of a short session of Congress, would seem to lack sincerity of purpose. It is four years since the World War ended, but the inevitable readjustment of the social and economic order is not more than barely begun. There is no acceptance of pre-war conditions anywhere in the world. In a very general way humanity harbors individual wishes to go on with war-time compensation for production, with pre-war requirements in expenditUre. In short, everyone, speaking broadly, craves readjustment for everybody except himself, while there can be no just and permanent readjustment except when all participate.

The civilization which measured its strength of genius and the power of science and the resources of industries, in addition to testing the limits of man power and the endurance and heroism of men and women--that same civilization is brought to its severest test in restoring a tranquil order and committing humanity to the stable ways of peace.

If the sober and deliberate appraisal of pre-war civilization makes it smee a worth-while inheritance, then with patience and good courage it will be preserved. There never again will be precisely the old order; indeed, I know of no one who thinks it to be desirable. For out of the old order came the war itself, and the new order, established and made secure, never will permit its recurrence.

It is no figure of speech to say we have come to the test of Our civilization. The world has been passing--is today passing through of a great crisis. The conduct of war itself is not more difficult than the solution of the problems which necessarily follow. I am not speaking at this moment of the problem in its wider aspect of world rehabilitation or of international relationships. The reference is to our own social, financial, and economic problems at home. These things are not to be considered solely as problems apart from all international relationship, but every nation must be able to carry on for itself, else its international relationship will have scant importance.

Doubtless our own people have emerged from the. World War tumult less impaired than most belligerent powers; probably we have made larger progress toward reconstruction. Surely we have been fortunate in diminishing unemployment, and our industrial and business activities, which are the lifeblood of our material existence, have been restored as in no other reconstruction period of like length in the history of the world. Had we escaped the coal and railway strikes, which had no excuse for their beginning and less justification for their delayed settlement, we should have done infinitely better. But labor was insistent on holding to the war heights, and heedless forces of reaction sought the pre-war levels, and both were wrong. In the folly of conflict our progress was hindered, and the heavy cost has not yet been fully estimated. There can be neither adjustment nor the penalty of the failure to readjust in which all do not somehow participate.

The railway strike accentuated the difficulty of the American farmer. The first distress of readjustment came to the farmer, and it will not lie a readjustment fit to abide until he is relieved. The distress brought to the farmer does not affect him alone. Agricultural ill fortune is a national ill fortune. That one-fourth of our population which produces the food of the Republic and adds so largely to our export commerce must participate in the good fortunes of the Nation, else there is none worth retaining.
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