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MY FELLOW AMERICANS: I am speaking tonight to the American people, and in particular to those of our citizens who are coal miners.
Tonight this country faces a serious crisis. We are engaged in a war on the successful outcome of which will depend the whole future of our country.
This war has reached a new critical phase. After the years that we have spent in preparation, we have moved into active and continuing battle with our enemies. We are pouring into the world-wide conflict everything that we have -- our young men, and the vast resources of our nation.
I have just returned from a two weeks' tour of inspection on which I saw our men being trained and our war materials made. My trip took me through twenty states. I saw thousands of workers on the production line, making airplanes, and guns and ammunition. Everywhere I found great eagerness to get on with the war. Men and women are working long hours at difficult jobs and living under difficult conditions without complaint.
Along thousands of miles of track I saw countless acres of newly ploughed fields. The farmers of this country are planting the crops that are needed to feed our armed forces, our civilian population and our Allies. Those crops will be harvested. On my trip, I saw hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Young men who were green recruits last autumn have matured into self-assured and hardened fighting men. They are in splendid physical condition. They are mastering the superior weapons that we are pouring out of our factories.
The American people have accomplished a miracle. However, all of our massed effort is none too great to meet the demands of this war. We shall need everything that we have and everything that our Allies have to defeat the Nazis and the Fascists in the coming battles on the Continent of Europe, and the Japanese on the Continent of Asia and in the Islands of the Pacific.
This tremendous forward movement of the United States and the United Nations cannot be stopped by our enemies.
And equally, it must not be hampered by any one individual or by the leaders of any one group here back home.
I want to make it clear that every American coal miner who has stopped mining coal -- no matter how sincere his motives, no matter how legitimate he may believe his grievances to be -- every idle miner directly and individually is obstructing our war effort. We have not yet won this war. We will win this war only as we produce and deliver our total American effort on the high seas and on the battle fronts. And that requires unrelenting, uninterrupted effort here on the home front.
A stopping of the coal supply, even for a short time, would involve a gamble with the lives of American soldiers and sailors and the future security of our whole people. It would involve an unwarranted, unnecessary and terribly dangerous gamble with our chances for victory.
Therefore, I say to all miners -- and to all Americans everywhere, at home and abroad -- the production of coal will not be stopped.
Tonight, I am speaking to the essential patriotism of the miners, and to the patriotism of their wives and children. And I am going to state the true facts of this case as simply and as plainly as I know how.
After the attack at Pearl Harbor, the three great labor organizations -- the American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and the Railroad Brotherhoods -- gave the positive assurance that there would be no strikes as long as the war lasted. And the President of the United Mine workers of America was a party to that assurance.
That pledge was applauded throughout the country. It was a forcible means of telling the world that we Americans -- 135,000,000 of us -- are united in our determination to fight this total war with our total will and our total power. At the request of employers and of organized labor - including the United Mine Workers -- the War Labor Board was set up for settling any disputes which could not be adjusted through collective bargaining. The War Labor Board is a tribunal on which workers, employers and the general public are equally represented.
In the present coal crisis, conciliation and mediation were tried unsuccessfully.
In accordance with the law, the case was then certified to the War Labor Board, the agency created for this express purpose with the approval of organized labor. The members of the Board followed the usual practice which has proved successful in other disputes. Acting promptly, they undertook to get all the facts of this (the) case from both the miners and the operators.
The national officers of the United Mine Workers, however, declined to have anything to do with the fact-finding of the War Labor Board. The only excuse that they offer is that the War Labor Board is prejudiced.
The War Labor Board has been and is ready to give this (the) case a fair and impartial hearing. And I have given my assurance that if any adjustment of wages is made by the Board, it will be made retroactive to April first. But the national officers Of the United Mine Workers refused to participate in the hearing, when asked to do so last Monday.
On Wednesday of this past week, while the Board was proceeding with the case, stoppages began to occur in some mines. On Thursday morning I telegraphed to the officers of the United Mine Workers asking that the miners continue mining coal on Saturday morning. However, a general strike throughout the industry became effective on Friday night.
The responsibility for the crisis that we now face rests squarely on these national officers of the United Mine Workers, and not on the Government of the United States. But the consequences of this arbitrary action threaten all of us everywhere.
At ten o'clock, yesterday morning -- Saturday -- the Government took over the mines. I called upon the miners to return to work for their Government. The Government needs their services just as surely as it needs the services of our soldiers, and sailors, and marines -- and the services of the millions who are turning out the munitions of war.
You miners have sons in the Army and Navy and Marine Corps. You have sons who at this very minute -- this split second -- may be fighting in New Guinea, or in the Aleutian Islands, or Guadalcanal, or Tunisia, or China, or protecting troop ships and supplies against submarines on the high seas. We have already received telegrams from some of our fighting men overseas, and I only wish they could tell you what they think of the stoppage of work in the coal mines.
Some of your own sons have come back from the fighting fronts, wounded. A number of them, for example, are now here in an Army hospital in Washington. Several of them have been decorated by their Government.
I could tell you of one from Pennsylvania. He was a coal miner before his induction, and his father is a coal miner. He was seriously wounded by Nazi machine gun bullets while he was on a bombing mission over Europe in a Flying Fortress. Another boy, from Kentucky, the son of a coal miner, was wounded when our troops first landed in North Africa six months ago.
There is (still) another, from Illinois. He was a coal miner -- his father and two brothers are coal miners. He was seriously wounded in Tunisia while attempting to rescue two comrades whose jeep had been blown up by a Nazi mine.
These men do not consider themselves heroes. They would probably be embarrassed if I mentioned their names over the air. They were wounded in the line of duty. They know how essential it is to the tens of thousands -- hundreds of thousands --and ultimately millions of other young Americans to get the best of arms and equipment into the hands of our fighting forces -- and get them there quickly.
The fathers and mothers of our fighting men, their brothers and sisters and friends -- and that includes all of us -- are also in the line of duty -- the production line. Any failure in production may well result in costly defeat on the field of battle.
There can be no one among us -- no one faction powerful enough to interrupt the forward march of our people to victory.
You miners have ample reason to know that there are certain basic rights for which this country stands, and that those rights are worth fighting for and worth dying for. That is why you have sent your sons and brothers from every mining town in the nation to join in the great struggle overseas. That is why you have contributed so generously, so willingly, to the purchase of war bonds and to the many funds for the relief of war victims in foreign lands. That is why, since this war was started in 1939, you have increased the annual production of coal by almost two hundred million tons a year.
The toughness of your sons in our armed forces is not surprising. They come of fine, rugged stock. Men who work in the mines are not unaccustomed to hardship. It has been the objective of this Government to reduce that hardship, to obtain for miners and for all who do the nation's work a better standard of living.
I know only too well that the cost of living is troubling the miners' families, and troubling the families of millions of other workers throughout the country as well. A year ago it became evident to all of us that something had to be done about living costs. Your Government determined not to let the cost of living continue to go up as it did in the first World War.
Your Government has been determined to maintain stability of both prices and wages -- so that a dollar would buy, so far as possible, the same amount of the necessities of life. And by necessities I mean just that -- not the luxuries, not the (and) fancy goods that we have learned to do without in wartime.
So far, we have not been able to keep the prices of some necessities as low as we should have liked to keep them. That is true not only in coal towns but in many other places.
Wherever we find that prices of essentials have risen too high, they will be brought down. Wherever we find that price ceilings are being violated, the violators will be punished.
Rents have been fixed in most parts of the country. In many cities they have been cut to below where they were before we entered the war. Clothing prices have generally remained stable.
These two items make up more than a third of the total budget of the worker's family.
As for food, which today accounts for about another (a) third of the family expenditure on the average, I want to repeat again: your Government will continue to take all necessary measures to eliminate unjustified and avoidable price increases. And we are today (now) taking measures to "roll back" the prices of meats.
The war is going to go on. Coal will be mined no matter what any individual thinks about it. The operation of our factories, our power plants, our railroads will not be stopped. Our munitions must move to our troops.
And so, under these circumstances, it is inconceivable that any patriotic miner can choose any course other than going back to work and mining coal.
The nation cannot afford violence of any kind at the coal mines or in coal towns. I have placed authority for the resumption of coal mining in the hands of a civilian, the Secretary of the Interior. If it becomes necessary to protect any miner who seeks patriotically to go back and work, then that miner must have and his family must have -- and will have -- complete and adequate protection. If it becomes necessary to have troops at the mine mouths or in coal towns for the protection of working miners and their families, those troops will be doing police duty for the sake of the nation as a whole, and particularly for the sake of the fighting men in the Army, the Navy and the Marines -- your sons and mine -- who are fighting our common enemies all over the world.
I understand the devotion of the coal miners to their union. I know of the sacrifices they have made to build it up. I believe now, as I have all my life, in the right of workers to join unions and to protect their unions. I want to make it absolutely clear that this Government is not going to do anything now to weaken those rights in the coal fields.
Every improvement in the conditions of the coal miners of this country has had my hearty support, and I do not mean to desert them now. But I also do not mean to desert my obligations and responsibilities as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy.
The first necessity is the resumption of coal mining. The terms of the old contract will be followed by the Secretary of the Interior. If an adjustment in wages results from a decision of the War Labor Board, or from any new agreement between the operators and miners, which is approved by the War Labor Board, that adjustment will be made retroactive to April first.
In the message that I delivered to the Congress four months ago, I expressed my conviction that the spirit of this nation is good.
Since then, I have seen our troops in the Caribbean area, in bases on the coasts of our ally, Brazil, and in North Africa. Recently I have again seen great numbers of our fellow countrymen -- soldiers and civilians -- from the Atlantic Seaboard to the Mexican border and to the Rocky Mountains.
Tonight, in the fact of a crisis of serious proportions in the coal industry, I say again that the spirit or this nation is good. I know that the American people will not tolerate any threat offered to their Government by anyone. I believe the coal miners will not continue the strike against their (the) Government. I believe that the coal miners (themselves) as Americans will not fail to heed the clear call to duty. Like all other good Americans, they will march shoulder to shoulder with their armed forces to victory. Tomorrow the Stars and Stripes will fly over the coal mines, and I hope that every miner will be at work under that flag.
Theodore Roosevelt unexpectedly became the 26th president of the United States in September 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley. Young and physically robust, he brought a new energy to the White House, and won a second term on his own merits in 1904. Roosevelt, a Republican, confronted the bitter struggle between management and labor head-on and became known as the great “trust buster” for his strenuous efforts to break up industrial combinations under the Sherman Antitrust Act. He was also a dedicated conservationist, setting aside some 200 million acres for national forests, reserves and wildlife refuges during his presidency. In the foreign policy arena, Roosevelt won a Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese War and spearheaded the beginning of construction on the Panama Canal. After leaving the White House and going on safari in Africa, he returned to politics in 1912, mounting a failed run for president at the head of a new Progressive Party.
But his complex legacy includes not just his achievements as a progressive reformer and conservationist who regulated big business and established the national park system. Like many of his time, he also believed firmly in the existence of a racial hierarchy topped by those of white Anglo-Saxon descent, a belief that shaped his attitudes𠅊nd policies—on race relations, land rights and American imperialism.
The Great Depression Acknowledgments
Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression by David E. Kyvig. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2002, 2004.
William Edmondson: A Retrospective. edited by Georganne Fletcher. catalog produced by the Tennessee State Museum. Nashville: Tennessee Arts Commission, 1981.
&ldquoWilliam Edmondson and the African-American Community,&rdquo by Bobby Lovett in The Art of William Edmondson catalog produced by the Cheekwood Museum of Art. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.
William Edmondson: A Retrospective. an exhibit catalog produced by the Tennessee State Museum, edited by Georganne Fletcher. Nashville: Tennessee Arts Commission, 1981.
&ldquoWilliam Edmondson,&rdquo by Stacy Hollander in The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & culture, edited by Carroll Van West. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society, 1998.
&ldquoFall Creek Falls State Park&rdquo by Ruth Nichols in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and culture edited by Carroll Van West, editor-in-chief. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society, 1998.
&ldquoFDR&rsquos Fireside Chats&rdquo from &ldquoDo You Speak Presidential?&rdquo at From Sea to Shining Sea, Public Broadcasting Service. www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/standardamerican/presidentia
&ldquoGreat Depression&rdquo by Robert Samuelson at Concise Encyclopedia of Economics website. www.econlib.org/Library/Enc/GreatDepression.html
&ldquoThe Great Depression&rdquo in The American Experience: Surviving the Dust Bowl, Public Broadcasting Service Online. www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dustbowl/peopleevents/pandeAMEX05.html
&ldquoThe Great Depression and the New Deal&rdquo at Digital History, University of Houston. www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/us34.cfm
&ldquoThe Great Depression: Disaster in the Making&rdquo in Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum website. www.hoover.nara.gov/exhibits/Hooverstory/gallery06/gallery06.html
The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s by Kriste Lindenmeyer. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005.
&ldquoMyles Horton, Highlander Folk School, and the Wilder Coal strike of 1932,&rdquo Thesis by Angela Smith, 2003, posted on Highlander Center website. www.highlandercenter.org
Cordell Hull: A Biography, by Harold Hinton, Mebane, NC: Hinton Press, 2007
Memphis in the Great Depression by Roger Biles. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986.
"Memphis Minnie." Trail of the Hellhound: Delta Blues in the Lower Mississippi Valley. National Park Service. www.nps.gov/history/delta/blues/people/memphis_minnie.htm
&ldquoMemphis: Satrapy of a Benevolent Despot&rdquo by Dr. Gerald M. Capers, Our Fair City, edited by Robert Allen. New York: Arno Press, 1974.
"Minor League Baseball," by Marie Tedesco in The Encyclopedia of History and culture , edited by Carroll Van West. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society, 1998.
&ldquoMusic&rdquo by Charles K.Wolfe. Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and culture edited by Carroll Van West. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society, 1998.
"Jess Neely." National Football Foundations, College Football Hall of Fame. www.collegefootball.org/famersearch.php?id=40054
Soft-cover-s for Hard Times: Quiltmaking & The Great Depression by Merikay Waldvogel. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1990.
“Art in America has always belonged to the people and has never been the property of an academy or a class. . . . The Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration is a practical relief project which also emphasizes the best tradition of the democratic spirit. The WPA artist, in rendering his own impression of things, speaks also for the spirit of his fellow countrymen everywhere. I think the WPA artist exemplifies with great force the essential place which the arts have in a democratic society such as ours.”
Thomas Hart Benton, Twentieth-Century Fox Film Corporation, Departure of the Joads, 1939, lithograph in black on wove paper, Reba and Dave Williams Collection, Florian Carr Fund and Gift of the Print Research Foundation, 2008.115.14
Does art “work” or have a purpose? How?
Is making art a form of work? Make your argument for why or why not.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated that art in America has never been the sole province of a select group or class of people. Do you agree or disagree?
Define what you think Roosevelt meant by “the democratic spirit.” How do you think art can represent democratic values?
The Great Depression spanned the years 1929 to about 1939, a period of economic crisis in the United States and around the world. High stock prices out of sync with production and consumer demand for goods caused a market bubble that burst on October 24, 1929, the famous “Black Thursday” stock market crash. The severity of the market contraction affected Americans across the country. The most visible effects included widespread unemployment, homelessness, and a marked decrease in Americans’ standard of living. In addition, a severe drought produced the Dust Bowl—a series of damaging dust storms. This environmental disaster ruined many farmers during a period when the economy was largely agricultural.
In office at the time of the crash, President Herbert Hoover (term 1929–1933) was unable to stop the free fall of the American economy. His successor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was elected president in a landslide in 1933 with campaign promises to fix the economy. Roosevelt acted quickly to create jobs and stimulate the economy through the creation of what he called “a New Deal for the forgotten man”—a program for people without resources to support themselves or their families. The New Deal was formalized as the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA), an umbrella agency for the many programs created to help Americans during the Depression, including infrastructure projects, jobs programs, and social services.
Through the WPA, artists also participated in government employment programs in every state and county in the nation. In 1935, Roosevelt created the Federal Art Project (FAP) as the agency that would administer artist employment projects, federal art commissions, and community art centers. Roosevelt saw the arts and access to them as fundamental to American life and democracy. He believed the arts fostered resilience and pride in American culture and history. The art created under the WPA offers a unique snapshot of the country, its people, and art practices of the period. There were no government-mandated requirements about the subject of the art or its style. The expectation was that the art would relate to the times, reflect the place in which it was created, and be accessible to a broad public.
Artists working in the FAP and for other WPA agencies created prints, easel paintings, drawings, and photographs. Public murals were painted for display in post offices, schools, airports, housing developments, and other government buildings. Community art centers hosted exhibitions of work made by artists employed in government programs and offered hands-on workshops, led by artists, for everyone. Illustrators made detailed drawings that cataloged the physical culture and artifacts of American daily life—clothing, tools, household items. The WPA intentionally seeded arts programs and supported artists outside of urban centers. In so doing, it introduced the arts to a much more diverse swath of Americans, many of whom had previously never seen an original painting or work of art, had not met a professional artist, nor experimented with art making.
II. Hope, Recovery, Reform:The Great Depression &FDR’s New Deal1933 &ndash 1939
It was a cold, bleak day in the nation’s capital when Franklin D. Roosevelt placed his left hand on a three-hundred-year-old family Bible and, after closing the oath of office with the words “so help me God,” gripped the podium and prepared to address the American people for the first time as their president.
Many of the faces looking back at FDR wore a “terror-stricken look,” as incoming secretary of labor Frances Perkins would recall. On March 4, 1933, the Great Depression was at its appalling nadir.
But as FDR promised “action and action now,” people in the crowd began to stomp their feet in enthusiastic assent. When he proclaimed that “our greatest primary task is to put people to work” and assured the audience his administration would treat the economic crisis “as we would treat the emergency of a war,” some onlookers wept with relief. After the speech, nearly half a million Americans wrote FDR to wish him success in the great effort ahead.
The New Deal was first and foremost a response to the calamity of the Depression. But over the course of a decade, it came to encompass a multifaceted domestic policy that transformed the role of the federal government, improved the lives of countless Americans immediately and for generations to come, and marked the American landscape with an array of new public features, from swimming pools to hydroelectric dams.
The first one hundred days
In the first hundred days of his administration, FDR had the political winds at his back a hopeful nation and Democratically controlled Congress pledged their support. In turn, FDR and his team brought enormous vigor and drive to these first days in the White House. They worked day and night forging solutions that were muscular, pragmatic, myriad, and largely untried.
The day after his inauguration, FDR closed the nation’s banks to halt a disastrous bank panic, and he set advisors working on a bill to reopen solvent institutions. Three days after inauguration, he had dozens of farmers boarding late-night trains to Washington, DC, to advise him on a bill to buoy sagging farm incomes. The approach: pay farmers to reduce plantings of certain crops, curbing the oversupply that had driven down prices. The bill, passed in May, was “in the nature of an experiment,” FDR told the press. “If the darn thing doesn’t work, we can say so quite frankly, but at least try it.”
The same day FDR signed the farm bill, he approved an ambitious program of federal grants for cash relief of the destitute jobless—the first of its kind. Its administrator would be the social worker Harry Hopkins. Within two hours, working in a crowded hallway, Hopkins gave out more than $5 million in grants to state agencies he urged governors to wire their requests immediately. To those who criticized his haste, Hopkins replied dryly, “People don’t eat in the long run. They eat every day.”
Together, in their first one hundred days, FDR and his team racked up a record unmatched by any administration before or since, winning passage for sixteen major pieces of legislation.
The Second New Deal
The work continued in what many have called the Second New Deal of 1935. In some cases, this entailed midcourse adjustments to earlier approaches. By 1935, for example, the administration had labored to help the unemployed and lift the economy through large-scale public-works projects, on the one hand, and cash relief on the other. But one of its most popular ventures had been the temporary Civil Works Administration, which helped the unemployed by giving them jobs. In May 1935, FDR built on this model by creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The largest program of the New Deal and one of its most successful, the WPA gave millions of people a desperately needed wage and built useful new facilities in nearly every American community.
The Second New Deal also saw passage of the Social Security Act establishing federal retirement benefits, unemployment insurance, and the first federal welfare program for the poor—all ways to not only gird individual Americans against future hard times, but also protect the economy from the drastic reductions in consumption that occur when the people find themselves penniless.
FDR won the election of 1936 in a historic landslide a mere eight electoral votes (those of Maine and Vermont) went to his opponent. The people had thunderously affirmed their support for the New Deal.
The year 1937 brought a loss of momentum. FDR, thinking the worst was past, had cut back on government spending. The so-called Roosevelt recession followed. Meanwhile, FDR’s unpopular postelection proposal to appoint additional Supreme Court justices—a bald attempt to override a court that had proved hostile to New Deal policies—split the Democratic Party and emboldened Republican opponents.
Though New Deal lawmaking slowed, in ‘37 and ‘38 the administration nevertheless pushed through legislation to promote the construction of public housing, offer loans to tenant farmers, and establish a federal minimum wage.
Looking back and ahead
Some programs worked better than others. Despite government refinancing and delayed foreclosures, for example, the farm foreclosure crisis continued unabated until World War II. Assessing the New Deal in 1938, FDR frankly admitted that insufficient knowledge and the need to experiment had led to inconsistencies of method.
But one thing is certain: by the end of the ‘30s, the United States was no longer a nation prostrated by fear and despair. Americans had gone to work by the millions to feed their families, create new social institutions, and build the national infrastructure. They knew their own strength.
The New Deal left the country far better equipped to face the next calamity—World War II—and set the stage for the G.I. Bill, a tide of postwar prosperity, and the broadest middle class the world had ever seen.
A Alphabet Soup
A. Alphabet Soup
The New Deal revamped labor relations and inaugurated old-age pensions, built bridges and planted trees, reformed banking and managed farming output. It was magisterial in scope. Critics, then and
(1) Franklin D. Roosevelt, speech in Boston (October, 1932)
We have two problems: first, to meet the immediate distress second, to build up on a basis of permanent employment.
As to immediate relief, the first principle is that this nation, this national government, if you like, owes a positive duty that no citizen shall be permitted to starve.
In addition to providing emergency relief, the Federal Government should and must provide temporary work wherever that is possible. You and I know that in the national forests, on flood prevention, and on the development of waterway projects that have already been authorized and planned but not yet executed, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of our unemployed citizens can be given at least temporary employment.
(2) Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, Fireside Chat (12th March, 1933)
Some of our bankers have shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in their handling of the people's funds. They had used money entrusted to them in speculations and unwise loans. This was, of course, not true of the vast majority of our banks, but it was true in enough of them to shock the people for a time into a sense of insecurity. It was the government's job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible. And the job is being performed. Confidence and courage are the essentials in our plan. We must have faith you must not be stampeded by rumours. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system it is up to you to support and make it work. Together we cannot fail.
(3) John Gates, The Story of an American Communist (1959)
We planned a demonstration of the unemployed for the occasion of President Roosevelt's first inauguration on March 4, 1933. At City Hall we asked the mayor for a permit, which he promptly refused. I protested so loudly right in his office that the mayor lost his temper and called me a "young snotnose," which not only made me indignant but humiliated me terribly. Perhaps I gave him some cause.
Naturally we decided to go through with our plans, permit or not, and I was designated to open the demonstration. The newspapers had given the matter considerable publicity and on the day of the demonstration the courthouse square was full of police and curious onlookers, as well as demonstrators.
He announced the closing of the banks and the inauguration of a New Deal for the American people. Listening to the broadcast there in jail, it did not sound exactly like a New Deal to me. I did not believe the President serious and had no confidence in him. Nor were Communists the only ones to feel this way. Edmund Wilson, in his essay "Washington: Inaugural Parade," written at the time, said of the address: "There is a suggestion, itself rather vague, of a possible dictatorship."
(4) Frances Perkins was secretary for labour in Franklin D. Roosevelt's first cabinet. She wrote about this period in her book, The Roosevelt I Knew (1946)
Franklin Roosevelt was not a simple man. That quality of simplicity which we delight to think marks the great and noble was not his. He was the most complicated human being I ever knew and out of this complicated nature there sprang much of the drive which brought achievement, much of the sympathy which made him like, and liked by, such oddly different types of people, much of the detachment which enabled him to forget his problems in play or rest, and much of the apparent contradiction which so exasperated those associates of his who expected "crystal clear" and unwavering decisions. But this very complicated of his nature made it possible for him to have insight and imagination into the most varied human experiences, and this he applied to the physical, social, geographical, economic and strategic circumstances thrust upon him as responsibilities by his times.
(5) Father Charles Coughlin, radio broadcast (17th January, 1934)
President Roosevelt is not going to make a mistake, for God Almighty is guiding him. President Roosevelt has leadership, he has followers and he is the answer to many prayers that were sent up last year.
If Congress fails to carry through with the President's suggestions, I foresee a revolution far greater than the French Revolution. It is either Roosevelt or Ruin.
(6) Franklin D. Roosevelt, speech, New York City (14th August, 1936)
We are not isolationists except in so far as we seek to isolate ourselves completely from war. I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war. I have passed unnumbered hours, I shall pass unnumbered hours, thinking and planning how war may be kept from this Nation.
(7) Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, Fireside Chat (9th March, 1937)
Tonight, sitting at my desk in the White House, I make my first radio report to the people in my second term of office.
I am reminded of that evening in March, four years ago, when I made my first radio report to you. We were then in the midst of the great banking crisis.
Soon after, with the authority of the Congress, we asked the Nation to turn over all of its privately held gold, dollar for dollar, to the Government of the United States.
Today's recovery proves how right that policy was.
But when, almost two years later, it came before the Supreme Court its constitutionality was upheld only by a five-to-four vote. The change of one vote would have thrown all the affairs of this great Nation back into hopeless chaos. In effect, four Justices ruled that the right under a private contract to exact a pound of flesh was more sacred than the main objectives of the Constitution to establish an enduring Nation.
In 1933 you and I knew that we must never let our economic system get completely out of joint again - that we could not afford to take the risk of another great depression.
We also became convinced that the only way to avoid a repetition of those dark days was to have a government with power to prevent and to cure the abuses and the inequalities which had thrown that system out of joint.
We then began a program of remedying those abuses and inequalities - to give balance and stability to our economic system - to make it bomb-proof against the causes of 1929.
Today we are only part-way through that program - and recovery is speeding up to a point where the dangers of 1929 are again becoming possible, not this week or month perhaps, but within a year or two.
National laws are needed to complete that program. Individual or local or state effort alone cannot protect us in 1937 any better than ten years ago.
It will take time - and plenty of time - to work out our remedies administratively even after legislation is passed. To complete our program of protection in time, therefore, we cannot delay one moment in making certain that our National Government has power to carry through.
Four years ago action did not come until the eleventh hour. It was almost too late.
If we learned anything from the depression we will not allow ourselves to run around in new circles of futile discussion and debate, always postponing the day of decision.
The American people have learned from the depression. For in the last three national elections an overwhelming majority of them voted a mandate that the Congress and the President begin the task of providing that protection - not after long years of debate, but now.
The Courts, however, have cast doubts on the ability of the elected Congress to protect us against catastrophe by meeting squarely our modern social and economic conditions.
We are at a crisis in our ability to proceed with that protection. It is a quiet crisis. There are no lines of depositors outside closed banks. But to the far-sighted it is far-reaching in its possibilities of injury to America.
I want to talk with you very simply about the need for present action in this crisis - the need to meet the unanswered challenge of one-third of a Nation ill-nourished, ill-clad, ill-housed.
Last Thursday I described the American form of Government as a three horse team provided by the Constitution to the American people so that their field might be plowed. The three horses are, of course, the three branches of government - the Congress, the Executive and the Courts. Two of the horses are pulling in unison today the third is not. Those who have intimated that the President of the United States is trying to drive that team, overlook the simple fact that the President, as Chief Executive, is himself one of the three horses.
It is the American people themselves who are in the driver's seat.
It is the American people themselves who want the furrow plowed.
It is the American people themselves who expect the third horse to pull in unison with the other two.
I hope that you have re-read the Constitution of the United States in these past few weeks. Like the Bible, it ought to be read again and again.
It is an easy document to understand when you remember that it was called into being because the Articles of Confederation under which the original thirteen States tried to operate after the Revolution showed the need of a National Government with power enough to handle national problems. In its Preamble, the Constitution states that it was intended to form a more perfect Union and promote the general welfare and the powers given to the Congress to carry out those purposes can be best described by saying that they were all the powers needed to meet each and every problem which then had a national character and which could not be met by merely local action.
But the framers went further. Having in mind that in succeeding generations many other problems then undreamed of would become national problems, they gave to the Congress the ample broad powers "to levy taxes . and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States."
That, my friends, is what I honestly believe to have been the clear and underlying purpose of the patriots who wrote a Federal Constitution to create a National Government with national power, intended as they said, "to form a more perfect union . for ourselves and our posterity."
For nearly twenty years there was no conflict between the Congress and the Court. Then Congress passed a statute which, in 1803, the Court said violated an express provision of the Constitution. The Court claimed the power to declare it unconstitutional and did so declare it. But a little later the Court itself admitted that it was an extraordinary power to exercise and through Mr. Justice Washington laid down this limitation upon it: "It is but a decent respect due to the wisdom, the integrity and the patriotism of the legislative body, by which any law is passed, to presume in favor of its validity until its violation of the Constitution is proved beyond all reasonable doubt."
But since the rise of the modern movement for social and economic progress through legislation, the Court has more and more often and more and more boldly asserted a power to veto laws passed by the Congress and State Legislatures in complete disregard of this original limitation.
In the last four years the sound rule of giving statutes the benefit of all reasonable doubt has been cast aside. The Court has been acting not as a judicial body, but as a policy-making body.
When the Congress has sought to stabilize national agriculture, to improve the conditions of labor, to safeguard business against unfair competition, to protect our national resources, and in many other ways, to serve our clearly national needs, the majority of the Court has been assuming the power to pass on the wisdom of these acts of the Congress - and to approve or disapprove the public policy written into these laws.
That is not only my accusation. It is the accusation of most distinguished justices of the present Supreme Court. I have not the time to quote to you all the language used by dissenting justices in many of these cases. But in the case holding the Railroad Retirement Act unconstitutional, for instance, Chief Justice Hughes said in a dissenting opinion that the majority opinion was "a departure from sound principles," and placed "an unwarranted limitation upon the commerce clause." And three other justices agreed with him.
In the case of holding the AAA unconstitutional, Justice Stone said of the majority opinion that it was a "tortured construction of the Constitution." And two other justices agreed with him.
In the case holding the New York minimum wage law unconstitutional, Justice Stone said that the majority were actually reading into the Constitution their own "personal economic predilections," and that if the legislative power is not left free to choose the methods of solving the problems of poverty, subsistence, and health of large numbers in the community, then "government is to be rendered impotent." And two other justices agreed with him.
In the face of these dissenting opinions, there is no basis for the claim made by some members of the Court that something in the Constitution has compelled them regretfully to thwart the will of the people.
In the face of such dissenting opinions, it is perfectly clear that, as Chief Justice Hughes has said, "We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is."
The Court in addition to the proper use of its judicial functions has improperly set itself up as a third house of the Congress - a super-legislature, as one of the justices has called it - reading into the Constitution words and implications which are not there, and which were never intended to be there.
We have, therefore, reached the point as a nation where we must take action to save the Constitution from the Court and the Court from itself. We must find a way to take an appeal from the Supreme Court to the Constitution itself. We want a Supreme Court which will do justice under the Constitution and not over it. In our courts we want a government of laws and not of men.
I want - as all Americans want - an independent judiciary as proposed by the framers of the Constitution. That means a Supreme Court that will enforce the Constitution as written, that will refuse to amend the Constitution by the arbitrary exercise of judicial power - in other words by judicial say-so. It does not mean a judiciary so independent that it can deny the existence of facts which are universally recognized.
How then could we proceed to perform the mandate given us? It was said in last year's Democratic platform, "If these problems cannot be effectively solved within the Constitution, we shall seek such clarifying amendment as will assure the power to enact those laws, adequately to regulate commerce, protect public health and safety, and safeguard economic security." In other words, we said we would seek an amendment only if every other possible means by legislation were to fail.
When I commenced to review the situation with the problem squarely before me, I came by a process of elimination to the conclusion that, short of amendments, the only method which was clearly constitutional, and would at the same time carry out other much needed reforms, was to infuse new blood into all our Courts. We must have men worthy and equipped to carry out impartial justice. But, at the same time, we must have Judges who will bring to the Courts a present-day sense of the Constitution - Judges who will retain in the Courts the judicial functions of a court, and reject the legislative powers which the courts have today assumed.
(8) Pauli Murray, a African American student from Maryland, wrote a letter of protest to Franklin Roosevelt about his lack of civil rights legislation (December, 1938)
Negroes are the most oppressed and most neglected section of your population. 12,000,000 of your citizens have to endure insults, injustices, and such degradation of the spirit that you would believe impossible. The un-Christian, un-American conditions in the South make it impossible for me and other young Negroes to live there and continue our faith in the ideals of democracy and Christianity. We are as much political refugees from the South as any of the Jews in Germany.
Do you feel as we do, that the ultimate test of democracy in the United States will be the way in which it solves its Negro problem? Have you raised your voice loud enough against the burning of our people? Why has our government refused to pass anti-lynching legislation? And why is it that the group of congressmen so opposed to the passing of this legislation are part and parcel of the Democratic Party of which you are leader?
(9) Rexford Tugwell was an assistant secretary in the Agricultural Department in 1933. He wrote about his experiences in The Democratic Roosevelt (1957)
When he died our society was measurably farther forward in every respect than we became President. It is true that he did facilitate our transit from the old individualism to the new collectivism. This is involved, in economists' terms, a change from unlimited to regulated competition with some direction and some weighting in favor of those with the least power to bargain and from individual responsibility for all the risks of life to security for all in sickness, unemployment, and old age. He grasped leadership when we were economically paralyzed and socially divided.
We are a lucky people. We have had leaders when the national life was at stake. If it had not been for Washington we might not have become a nation if it had not been for Lincoln we might have been split in two if it had not been for this later democrat we might have succumbed to a dictatorship. For that was the alternative, much in the air, when he took charge.
(10) William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal (1963)
One of the rare breaks in his composure came at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in 1936. As the President began his stiff-legged march toward the stage in Franklin Field, he reached out to shake the hand of the white-bearded poet Edwin Markham, was thrown off balance, and sprawled to the ground. White-faced and angry, he snapped: "Clean me up."' But most of the time he bore his handicap with astonishing good humor. To board a train, he had to be wheeled up special ramps to go fishing, or to get to the second story of a meeting hall, he had to be carried in men's arms like a helpless child. To walk, he had to be harnessed in leg braces, and endure the strain of dragging, painfully, a cumbersome dead weight of pounds of steel. Yet he carried it all off with a wonderfully nonchalant air, and often made his incapacity the subject of some seemingly carefree jest. He would roar with laughter and say: "Really, it's as funny as a crutch." Or at the end of a conversation, Roosevelt, who had not been able to walk since 1921, would often remark: "Well, I'm sorry, I have to run now!"" Indeed, so vigorous did he seem that most Americans never knew he remained a cripple in a wheelchair. Frequently, in fact, writers gave the impression that Roosevelt had fully conquered his infirmity. One "who had summoned from the depths of character the incredible patience to win his battle for health and make himself walk again."
(11) Joseph E. Persico, Roosevelt's Secret War (2001)
On a gray London morning, May 20, 1940, four men approached a flat at 47 Gloucester Place. Behind the door, a young man, clean-cut and studious-looking, sat amid the remains of his breakfast. He did not respond to the knocking even when a booming voice shouted, "Police!" Instead he bolted the door and called out coolly, "No, you can't come in." A Scotland Yard detective rammed his shoulder against the door and it burst open. The others filed in, a second detective, an officer from M15, the British domestic military intelligence service, and the second secretary of the American embassy. The man they had broken in on was Tyler Kent, a code clerk also attached to the embassy. One of the detectives produced a search warrant, and Kent stood by, unruffled, as his visitors rummaged through his apartment. They found 1,929 U.S. embassy documents, including secret correspondence between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The content of these messages was such that their exposure to the public could harm the President and the Prime Minister, and jeopardize America's presumed neutrality in the European war. What they revealed could also influence the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
One American vigorously disapproved of the collusive nature of the secret correspondence passing between FDR and Churchill, the code clerk Tyler Kent, who had access to these messages. The reserved twenty-nine-year-old lone wolf was a deeply discontented man. Kent believed that he was working well below his station. He possessed all the WASP credentials favoring a successful diplomatic career. Tyler Gatewood Kent descended from an old Virginia family that dated to the 1600s. His father, William Patton Kent, had been a career officer in the U.S. Consular Service. Tyler had been born during his father's posting to Manchuria and thereafter traveled with the family to subsequent assignments in China, Germany, Switzerland, England, and Bermuda. He had received a first-class education, St. Albans, Princeton, the Sorbonne, and spoke French, Greek, German, Russian, Italian, and Spanish. Still, Kent had been hired by the State Department in 1934 not as a fledgling diplomat but as a clerk. He had come to London in October 1939 after serving at the American embassy in Moscow, where he had been assigned to the code room. His political ideas had begun to take shape at that time, characterized by a visceral hatred of communism.
A code clerk was essentially a technician, and Kent's fellow clerks encoded and decoded messages that were shaping history with the indifference with which bank tellers handle bundles of money. Kent, on the contrary, read, reread, and thought deeply about the secrets that passed through his hands. For him, the FDR-Churchill exchanges had taken on an alarming turn from the very first. In a dispatch dated October 5, 1939, Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, asked FDR to have American warships alert the British navy to any German ship movements in the Atlantic. "The more American ships cruising along the South American coast the better," Churchill observed, "as you, sir, would no doubt hear what they saw or did not see." He began signing his dispatches "Naval Person," chummily underlining his present and FDR's former navy affiliation. Roosevelt readily complied with Churchill's request. Admiral John Godfrey, director of British Naval Intelligence, reported on February 26, 1940: "Their (U.S.) patrols in the Gulf of Mexico give us information, and recently they have been thoroughly unneutral in reporting the position of the SS Columbus," a German merchant vessel subsequently captured by the British.
Another secret exchange further punctured the thin membrane of neutrality. American shipowners complained bitterly to the President that the Royal Navy was forcing their vessels into British ports to be searched. The British, seeking to maintain a blockade against shipments that might aid their enemies, believed themselves within their rights in detaining any vessels, including American. Roosevelt told Churchill of the American shipowners' discontent. Churchill made a swift exception. He responded, "I gave orders last night that no American ship under any circumstances be diverted into the combat zone around the British Isles declared by you. I trust this will be satisfactory."
Roosevelt's breaches of neutrality drove Tyler Kent to a desperate act. The American people, he was convinced, did not want to be enmeshed in Europe's fight. A Roper public opinion poll taken immediately after the war began indicated that less than 3 percent of Americans wanted their country to enter the war on the Allied side. The largest percentage, 37.5 percent, preferred to "Take no sides and stay out of the war entirely." Yet, here was an American president, in Kent's view, conniving with the British, risking America's entanglement in a conflict his people decidedly did not want. There could be little doubt of what Churchill wanted as the Prime Minister put it to an Admiralty official, "Our objective is to get the Americans into the war. We can then best settle how to fight it afterwards."
Tyler Kent, as he brooded in the airless silence of the code room translating messages into the State Department's Gray code, fretted that FDR was "secretly and unconstitutionally plotting with Churchill to sneak the United States into the war:" He had developed a corollary obsession: "All wars are inspired, formented and promoted by the great international bankers and banking combines which are largely controlled by the Jews." He had, he later admitted, "anti-Semitic tendencies for many years." Kent finally decided where his duty lay. He had to gather evidence that he could place into the hands of the U.S. Senate and the American press to expose Roosevelt's duplicity and keep the United States out of the war.
(12) Franklin D. Roosevelt, speech at the University of Virginia (10th June, 1940)
This government directed its efforts to doing what it could to work for the preservation of peace in the Mediterranean area, and it likewise exercised its willingness to endeavor to cooperate with the government of Italy when the appropriate occasion arose for the creation of a more stable world order through the reduction of armaments and through the construction of a more liberal international economic system, which would assure to all powers equality of opportunity in the world's markets and in the securing of raw materials on equal terms.
I have likewise, of course, felt it necessary in my communications to Signor Mussolini to express the concern of the government of the United States because of the fact that any extension of the war in the region of the Mediterranean would inevitably result in great prejudice to the ways of life and government and to the trade and commerce of all of the American republics.
The government of Italy has now chosen to preserve what it terms its "freedom of action" and to fulfill what it states are its promises to Germany. In so doing it has manifested disregard for the rights and security of other nations, disregard for the lives of the peoples of those nations which are directly threatened by this spread of the war, and has evidenced its unwillingness to find the means through pacific negotiations for the satisfaction of what it believes are its legitimate aspirations.
(13) Father Charles Coughlin, Social Justice (9th September, 1940)
On previous occasions Congressmen have called for the impeachment of the President.
On those occasions most citizens disagreed with the Congressmen.
At length, however, an event has transpired which now marks Franklin D. Roosevelt as a dangerous citizen of the Republic - dangerous insofar as he has transcended the bounds of his Executive position.
In plain language, without the knowledge or consent of Congress, he has denuded this country of thirty-six flying fortresses, either selling or giving them to Great Britain.
By this action Franklin D. Roosevelt had torpedoed our national defense, loving Great Britain more than the United States.
He has consorted with the enemies of civilization - through the continued recognition of Soviet Russia.
He has deceived the citizens of the United States - telling the newspaper reporters, who are the people's eyes and ears at Washington, that he did not know the whereabouts of these flying fortresses.
He has transcended the bounds of his Executive position - spurning the authority of Congress.
He has invited the enmity of powerful foreign nations- on whose natural resources we depend for essential tin and rubber.
Because he has encouraged the British government to reopen the Burma Road, and encouraged Britain to declare war on the German government, when Britain was unable to care for the English people - he stands revealed as the world's chief war-monger.
All these events, culminating with the transfer of these 36 flying fortresses without the consent of Congress, demand that he be impeached.
(14) Franklin D. Roosevelt first told the American public about Lend-Lease in a radio broadcast on 17th December, 1940.
In the present world situation of course there is absolutely no doubt in the mind of a very overwhelming number of Americans that the best immediate defence of the United States is the success of Great Britain in defending itself and that, therefore, quite aside from our historic and current interest in the survival of democracy in the world as a whole, it is equally important, from a selfish point of view of American defence, that we should do everything to help the British Empire to defend itself.
It isn't merely a question of doing things the traditional way there are lots of other ways of doing them. I am just talking background, informally I haven't prepared any of this - I go back to the idea that the one thing necessary for American national defence is additional productive facilities and the more we increase those facilities - factories, shipbuilding ways, munition plants, et cetera, and so on - the stronger American national defence is.
I have been exploring other methods of continuing the building up of our productive facilities and continuing automatically the flow of munitions to Great Britain. I will just put it this way, not as an exclusive alternative method but as one of several other possible methods that might be devised toward that end.
It is possible - I will put it that way - for the United States to take over British orders and, because they are essentially the same kind of munitions that we use ourselves, turn them into American orders. We have enough money to do it. And there-upon, as to such portion of them as the military events of the future determine to be right and proper for us to allow to go to the other side, either lease or sell the materials, subject to mortgage, to the people on the other side. That would be on the general theory that it may still prove true that the best defence of Great Britain is the best defence of the United States, and therefore that these materials would be more useful to the defence of the United States if they were used in Great Britain than if they were kept in storage here.
Now, what I am trying to do is to eliminate the dollar sign. That is something brand new in the thoughts of practically everybody in this room, I think - get rid of the silly, foolish old dollar sign. Well, let me give you an illustration: Suppose my neighbor's home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose 400 or 500 feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don't say to him before that operation, "Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15 you have to pay me $15 for it." What is the transaction that goes on? I don't want $15 - I want my garden hose back after the fire is over. All right. If it goes through the fire all right, intact, without any damage to it, he gives it back to me and thanks me very much for the use of it. But suppose it gets smashed up - holes in it - during the fire we don't have to have too much formality about it, but I say to him, "I was glad to lend you that hose I see I can't use it any more, it's all smashed up." He says, "How many feet of it were there?" I tell him, "There were 150 feet of it." He says, "All right, I will replace it." Now, if I get a nice garden hose back, I am in pretty good shape.
In other words, if you lend certain munitions and get the munitions back at the end of the war, if they are intact - haven't been hurt - you are all right if they have been damaged or have deteriorated or have been lost completely, it seems to me you come out pretty well if you have them replaced by the fellow to whom you have lent them.
I can't go into details and there is no use asking legal questions about how you would do it, because that is the thing that is now under study but the thought is that we would take over not all, but a very large number of, future British orders and when they came off the line, whether they were planes or guns or something else, we would enter into some kind of arrangement for their use by the British on the ground that it was the best thing for American defence, with the understanding that when the show was over, we would get repaid sometime in kind, thereby leaving out the dollar mark in the form of a dollar debt and substituting for it a gentleman's obligation to repay in kind. I think you all get it.
(15) Burton K. Wheeler of Montana led the attacks on Lend-Lease in the Senate when it was debated on 12th January 1941.
The lend-lease policy translated into legislative form, stunned a Congress and a nation wholly sympathetic to the cause of Great Britain. The Kaiser's blank check to Austria-Hungary in the First World War was a piker compared to the Roosevelt blank check of World War II. It warranted my worst fears for the future of America, and it definitely stamps the President as war-minded.
The lend-lease-give program is the New Deal's triple-A foreign policy it will plow under every fourth American boy. Never before have the American people been asked or compelled to give so bounteously and so completely of their tax dollars to any foreign nation. Never before has the Congress of the United States been asked by any President to violate international law. Never before has this nation resorted to duplicity in the conduct of its foreign affairs. Never before has the United States given to one man the power to strip this nation of its defenses. Never before has a Congress coldly and flatly been asked to abdicate.
If the American people want a dictatorship - if they want a totalitarian form of government and if they want war - this bill should be steam-rollered through Congress, as is the wont of President Roosevelt.
Approval of this legislation means war, open and complete warfare. I, therefore, ask the American people before they supinely accept it - Was the last World War worthwhile?
If it were, then we should lend and lease war materials. If it were, then we should lend and lease American boys. President Roosevelt has said we would be repaid by England. We will be. We will be repaid, just as England repaid her war debts of the First World War - repaid those dollars wrung from the sweat of labor and the toil of farmers with cries of "Uncle Shylock." Our boys will be returned - returned in caskets, maybe returned with bodies maimed returned with minds warped and twisted by sights of horrors and the scream and shriek of high-powered shells.
(16) Franklin D. Roosevelt, message to Congress (6th January, 1941)
I have called for personal sacrifice. I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call. A part ofof the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my budget message I recommend that a greater portion of this great defense e program be paid for from taxation than we are paying today. No person should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of this program and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation. If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear - which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor - anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
To that new order we oppose the greater conception - the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.
Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change - in a perpetual peaceful revolution - a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions - without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.
This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is in our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.Arthur Szyk, Don't Vote for Roosevelt (1944)
(17) Studs Terkel interviewed Hamilton Fish about his views on Franklin D. Roosevelt for his book, The Good War (1985)
Franklin Roosevelt took us into a war without telling the people anything about it. He served an ultimatum which we knew nothing about. We were forced into the war. It was the biggest cover-up ever perpetrated in the United States of America.
I'd led the fight for three years against Roosevelt getting us into war. I was on the radio every ten days. I stopped him until he issued this ultimatum. That is the greatest thing I did do in my life. He would have gotten us into the war six months or a year before Pearl Harbor. We would have been fighting those Germans, plus probably the Russians, because they made a deal with them. Every American family owes an obligation to me because we would have lost a million or two million killed. That's the biggest thing I ever did, and nobody can take it away from me.
(18) Anthony Eden, Memoirs: The Reckoning (1965)
The big question which rightly dominated Roosevelt's mind (March 1943) was whether it was possible to work with Russia now and after the war. He wanted to know what I thought of the view that Stalin's aim was to overrun and communize the Continent. I replied that it was impossible to give a definite opinion. Even if these fears were to prove correct, we should make the position no worse by trying to work with Russia and by assuming that Stalin meant what he said in the Anglo-Soviet Treaty. I might well have added that Soviet policy is both Russian and communist, in varying degree.
On the future of Germany the President appeared to favour dismemberment as the only wholly satisfactory solution. He agreed that, when the time came, we should work to encourage separatist tendencies within Germany and foresaw a long 'policing' of that country. More surprisingly, he thought that the three Powers should police Europe in general. I pointed out that the occupied countries, as they then were, would want to put their own house in order and I thought we should encourage them to do so. We should have our hands quite full enough with Germany.
In the Balkans, Mr. Roosevelt favoured separating Serbia from Croatia and Slovenia. I told him that in principle I disliked the idea of multiplying smaller states, I hoped the tendency would now be reversed and that we should aim at grouping. I could not see any better solution for the future of either the Croats or the Slovenes than forming some union with the Serbs.
(19) Emanuel Celler, wrote about President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal in his autobiography, You Never Leave Brooklyn (1953)
The first days of the Roosevelt Administration charged the air with the snap and the zigzag of electricity. I felt it. We all felt it. It seemed as it you could hold out your hand and close it over the piece of excitement you had ripped away. It was the return of hope. The mind was elastic and capable of crowding idea into idea. New faces came to Washington - young faces of bright lads who could talk. It was contagious. We started to talk in the cloak rooms we started to talk in committees. The shining new faces called on us and talked.
In March of 1933 we had witnessed a revolution - a revolution in manner, in mores, in the definition of government. What before had been black or white sprang alive with color. The messages to Congress, the legislation even the reports on the legislation took on the briskness of authority. I have asked myself often, "Did one man do this? If one did this, what manner of man was he?" I don't know. I think nobody does. Since those days I have read every bit of writing on Roosevelt: Perkins, Sherwood, Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Flynn, Gunther. Out of these cascades of words no definite or sharp outline arises. Whenever I visited Roosevelt on official business, I found a man adroit, voluble, assured, and smiling. I was never quite sure he was interested in the purpose of my visit we spent so little time on it.
Mostly he talked. He talked with seeming frankness, and when I left, I found that he had committed himself to no point of view. At the end of each visit I realized that I had been hypnotized. His humor was broad, his manner friendly without condescension. Of wit there was little -of philosophy, none. What did he possess? Intuition, yes. Inspiration, yes. Love of adventure, the curiosity of the experimental. None of these give the answer. None of these give the key. I believe his magic lay in one facet of his personality. He could say and he did say, "Let's try it." He knew how to take the risk. No other man in public life I knew could so readily take the challenge of the new.
(20) William Leahy, chief of staff to the commander in chief of the United States, wrote about the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in his autobiography, I Was There (1950)
Franklin Roosevelt was a world figure of heroic proportions. He also was my friend, whom I had known and admired for thirty-six years, since we began to work together in World War I. A thousand memories crowded my mind as I sat in the compartment of the train returning to Washington.
I had seen him almost every morning since he appointed me his Military Chief of Staff late in July, 1942. The range of his mind was infinite. The official matters I had selected to bring to his attention usually were disposed of quickly, and he listened attentively as I talked. He was likely thereafter, at these daily sessions, to do most of the talking and to bring up anything he had on his mind. A flood of memories of Quebec, Cairo, Teheran, Honolulu, Alaska and the still-fresh impression of Yalta came to my mind.
I remembered partisan criticism that he had made this or that war move with an eye on the date of a national election. Franklin Roosevelt was the real Commander-in-Chief of our Navy, Army, and Air Force. He had fought this war in close co-operation with his military staff. To my knowledge, he never made a single military decision with any thought of his own personal political fortunes.
There were many of his domestic policies which I, being of a conservative mind, had little liking for, but I admired the skill he possessed in playing the complex and to me almost inexplicable "game of politics." That skill was frequently displayed at his famous weekly conferences with the Washington newsmen, many of which I attended. He gave them all the information he could, easily and cheerfully. He even scolded them at times, but they seemed to like it.
(21) Studs Terkel interviewed W. Averell Harriman about his experiences during the Second World War for his book, The Good War (1985)
Roosevelt was the one who had the vision to change our policy from isolationism to world leadership. That was a terrific revolution. Our country's never been the same since. The war changed everybody's attitude. We became international almost overnight.
I found that Churchill felt it was very important to help Stalin. I certainly agreed. There was that meeting at sea between Roosevelt and Churchill. I attended it. Churchill decided to send Beaverbrook and Roosevelt decided to send me. We both went to Moscow in October 1941. We both agreed that Stalin was determined to hold out against the Germans. He told us he'd never let them get to Moscow. But if he was wrong, they'd go back to the Urals and fight. They'd never surrender. We became convinced that, regardless of Stalin's awful brutality and his reign of terror, he was a great war leader. Without Stalin, they never would have held.
Much of the aid we first gave to Russia we took away from what we promised Britain. So in a sense, Britain participated in a very real way in the recovery of Russia. After that, the Russians got mean. Poland, of course, was the key country. I remember Stalin telling me that the plains of Poland were the invasion route of Europe to Russia and always had been, and therefore he had to control Poland.
It was fear. He didn't want to see a united Germany. Stalin made it clear to me - I spoke with him many times - that they couldn't afford to let Germany build up again. They'd been invaded twice, and he wasn't willing to have it happen again.
There's a myth that Roosevelt gave Stalin Eastern Europe. I was with Roosevelt every day at Yalta. Roosevelt was determined to stop Stalin from taking over Eastern Europe. He thought they finally had an agreement on Poland. Before Roosevelt died, he realized that Stalin had broken his agreement.
I think Stalin was afraid of Roosevelt. Whenever Roosevelt spoke, he sort of watched him with a certain awe. He was afraid of Roosevelt's influence in the world. If FDR had lived, the cold war wouldn't have developed the way it did, because Stalin would have tried to get along with Roosevelt.
(22) Isaiah Berlin, Personal Impressions (1980)
The most insistent propaganda in those days declared that humanitarianism and liberalism and democratic forces were played out, and that the choice now lay between two bleak extremes, Communism and Fascism - the red or the black. To those who were not carried away by this patter the only light that was left in the darkness was the administration of Roosevelt and the New Deal in the United States. At a time of weakness and mounting despair in the democratic world Roosevelt radiated confidence and strength. He was the leader of the democratic world, and upon him alone, of all the statesmen of the 1930s, no cloud rested - neither on him nor on the New Deal, which to European eyes still looks a bright chapter in the history of mankind. It is true that his great social experiment was conducted with an isolationist disregard of the outside world, but then it was psychologically intelligible that America, which had come into being in the reaction against the follies and evils of a Europe perpetually distraught by religious or national struggles, should try to seek salvation undisturbed by the currents of European life, particularly at a moment when Europe seemed about to collapse into a totalitarian nightmare. Roosevelt was therefore forgiven, by those who found the European situation tragic, for pursuing no particular foreign policy, indeed for trying to do, if not without any foreign policy at all, at any rate with a minimum of relationship with the outside world, which was indeed to some degree part of the American political tradition.
His internal policy was plainly animated by a humanitarian purpose. After the unbridled individualism of the 1920s, which had led to economic collapse and widespread misery, he was seeking to establish new rules of social justice. He was trying to do this without forcing his country into some doctrinaire strait-jacket, whether of socialism or State capitalism, or the kind of new social organisation which the Fascist regimes flaunted as the New Order. Social discontent was high in the United States, faith in businessmen as saviours of society had evaporated overnight after the famous Wall Street Crash, and Roosevelt was providing a vast safety-valve for pent-up bitterness and indignation, and trying to prevent revolution and construct a regime which should provide for greater economic equality and social justice - ideals which were the best part of the tradition of American life - without altering the basis of freedom and democracy in his country.
But Roosevelt's greatest service to mankind (after ensuring the victory against the enemies of freedom) consists in the fact that he showed that it is possible to be politically effective and yet benevolent and human: that the fierce left- and right-wing propaganda of the 1930s, according to which the conquest and retention of political power is not compatible with human qualities, but necessarily demands from those who pursue it seriously the sacrifice of their lives upon the altar of some ruthless ideology, or the practice of despotism - this propaganda, which filled the art and talk of the day, was simply untrue. Roosevelt's example strengthened democracy everywhere, that is to say the view that the promotion of social Justice and individual liberty does not necessarily mean the end of all efficient government that power and order are not identical with a strait-jacket of doctrine, whether economic or political that it is possible to reconcile individual liberty - a loose texture of society - with the indispensable minimum of organising and authority.
(23) Waldo Heinrichs, Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt & American Entry Into World War II (1988)
The ever worsening position of the British in the Middle East was a matter of grave concern to the American government both in terms of strategic damage done and as evidence of a general weakening of British morale with a corresponding effect on neutral nations and subjugated peoples. This concern for British morale was reflected in a Roosevelt message to Churchill on May 1 (1941), describing the intervention in Greece as a "wholly justifiable delaying action," extending Axis and shortening British lines, though he found it necessary to add, the undercurrent of concern showing, that he was sure the British would not allow any "great debacle or surrender." In the last analysis, wrote the president, the control of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic would decide the war.
Churchill responded with one of the bleakest telegrams of their correspondence. He reflected the profound pessimism of Whitehall. Nothing in Roosevelt's recent messages indicated an inclination to intervene, and the British could not help but feel that, as one Foreign Office official put it, "in their hearts the Americans expect us to be defeated." In his message the prime minister disagreed that the loss of Egypt and the Middle East would be a "mere preliminary to the successful maintenance of a prolonged oceanic war." He could not be sure such a loss would not be "grave" (in the original "mortal"), for a war against an Axis system controlling Europe and most of Africa and Asia was a daunting proposition.
Unless the United States took "more advanced positions now or very soon, the vast balances may be tilted heavily to our disadvantage." More precisely, said Churchill, in absolute frankness, the one counterbalance to growing pessimism in Europe and the Middle East would be American belligerency.
In reply, May 10, Roosevelt assured Churchill that he had no intention of minimizing either the gravity of the situation or the worthiness of the British effort. But he reiterated with a slight change his argument of May 1. No defeat in the Mediterranean, he said, could destroy their mutual interests because the outcome of the war would be decided on the Atlantic: "Unless Hitler can win there he cannot win anywhere in the world in the end."" Churchill could hardly object to this reaffirmation of America's predominant strategic conception from which flowed Lend-Lease and patrolling, but he may have sensed that this was not all the president meant in dwelling on the importance of the Atlantic. While Roosevelt unquestionably considered the Atlantic vital as a bridge to Britain and ultimately the conquest of Germany, he also regarded it as vital for protecting the safety and existence of the United States in case of British defeat. It is tempting to explain Roosevelt's public emphasis on hemisphere security in May as a rationalization for intervention in the Battle of the Atlantic on more fundamental but publicly divisive grounds of Anglo-American mutual interest. But it was not a ploy briefly at this low point in British fortunes but authentically and intensely, the president focused on threats to the safety of the United States in a most direct and visceral sense.
The question was how to prevent German seizure of the Atlantic islands and Dakar, the bridgeheads for German access to the Americas. Crete was important as a demonstration that German power was not landlocked, that it could with control of the air leap across narrow waters and seize strategic focal points. No less important was the Bismarck breakout. It was a relief no longer to have to count this mammoth in capital ship balances, but the loss of the Hood and near escape of the Bismarck left Roosevelt uneasy about the Royal Navy. Above all, the rediscovery of the ship by aircraft showed that air power was critical in maintaining control of the sea, and for this bases such as Bermuda and the Azores were indispensable. Knowing the British were ready to send expeditions to the Azores and Cape Verdes in case of a German move on Portugal and Spain, Roosevelt nevertheless set out to learn whether the Portugese government in that case would accept protection of the Azores by the United States. On May 22, before learning the answer, he ordered the armed services to prepare an expeditionary force of 25,000 troops, to be ready by June 22.
(24) William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal (1963)
In a few months, some who had voted for the resolution had second thoughts. The Spanish "civil war," they feared, was being used by Hitler and Mussolini as a testing ground for the great war that lay ahead. Tens of thousands of Italian soldiers fought for Franco, and the Fascist press celebrated the fall of Malaga as a national victory. The Nazis made no attempt to disguise the airplanes that bombed Bilbao. A number of isolationist progressives came to believe the threat to democratic government more compelling than the doctrines of neutrality. Senator Nye, to the discomfiture of the pacifists, introduced a resolution to repeal the embargo on arms to the Loyalists. Both Secretaries Ickes and Morgenthau supported Nye, and fifteen prominent scientists, including Arthur Compton and Harold Urey, pleaded with the President to lift the embargo to "save the world from a fascist gulf." In January, 1938, sixty members of Congress ostentatiously sent greetings to the Spanish Cortes. For many American intellectuals, the Spanish war was the crucial event of the decade, for it signified an apocalyptic struggle between the forces of democracy and fascism. Placards on college bulletin boards announced: "We dance that Spain may live." A few did more than that. Two or three thousand American volunteers fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and other Loyalist units most who went died there, including Ring Lardner's son James, who lost his life in the Ebro campaign."
For a brief time in the spring of 1938, it appeared that Roosevelt would lift the embargo, but the American ambassador to Great Britain, Joseph Kennedy, warned him that such a move might spread the Spanish war to the rest of the world. Hull insisted that such action would destroy the work of the Nonintervention Committee. The President also had to reckon with the state of American opinion. Most of the country was indifferent one poll found the remarkably high figure of 66 per cent of respondents neutral or with no opinion. Pro-Loyalist intellectuals were a negligible political force compared to the large bloc of pro-Franco Catholics. Although Catholic laymen like Kathleen Norris and George Schuster were anti-Franco, and most Catholics did not regard themselves as Franco supporters, the Catholic press and hierarchy were almost uniformly pro-Franco, and polls revealed that the proportion of Catholics who backed Franco was more than four times as great as the proportion of Protestants."
Ickes has recorded that Roosevelt told him that to raise the embargo "would mean the loss of every Catholic vote next fall and that the Democratic Members of Congress were jittery about it and didn't want it done." So the cat was out of the bag, Ickes complained, the "mangiest, scabbiest cat ever."
Although it has been argued that the neutrality laws handcuffed Roosevelt in his efforts to check the aggressors, Congress can scarcely be assigned sole responsibility for American policy toward Spain. Ironically, it was Senator Nye, the symbol of congressional isolationism, who led the move to lift the embargo, while Roosevelt, who had originally opposed such legislation, upheld it. The President's Spanish policy had unfortunate consequences. It helped sustain Neville Chamberlain's disastrous policy of appeasement which permitted Germany and Italy to supply Franco while the democracies enforced "nonintervention" against themselves. "My own impression," wrote Ambassador Claude Bowers in July, 1937, "is that with every surrender beginning long ago with China, followed by Abyssinia and then Spain, the fascist powers, with vanity inflamed, will turn without delay to some other country such as Czechoslovakia-and that with every surrender the prospects of a European war grow darker."
(25) Waldo Heinrichs, Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt & American Entry Into World War II (1988)
The establishment of a war economy had its own dynamics, as Roosevelt knew from World War I. The theoretical sequence was simple enough: first allocation of resources, then building plant and obtaining machine tools and manpower, and finally switching on the assembly line. Setting up priorities and sequences for the economy as a whole was a different matter. First one needed timber, girders, cement, riggers, masons, and skilled machinists. Bringing together the components of new factories at the right time and place was itself impossible in 1941 delay was inevitable. The steel industry was reaching full capacity. Plant construction, ship hulls, and tank production would have to vie with each other for a limited output until steel could build new plants itself. Keeping the completely different aircraft-engine and air-frame industries in tandem so that one did not wait upon the other was another headache, to say nothing of propellers, generators, ammunition, and radios. Manpower problems were always acute. Should industry and the armed services maintain existing units-factories, warships, infantry divisions-because of their present efficiency or withdraw cadres of skilled personnel to form new units, thereby multiplying size?
These immediate questions raised larger ones. At what point in time was this national effort aiming? Should the nation ready itself for war immediately, sacrificing time-consuming armaments like battleships, or for the longer pull? What kind of war would be waged with what arms and what enemies? Defending the Western Hemisphere or invading Europe? Germany alone or the Axis? America alone or with allies, and which allies? These questions were impossible to answer in any satisfactory way in the spring of 1941.
Roosevelt went about these problems with his distinctive decision-making style. Never given to formal bureaucratic ways, he dealt with officials in terms of competence and function rather than hierarchical position, as well as the relative importance of a particular policy domain and his interest in it. Thus, as usual, his involvement varied widely across the policy spectrum.
His closest involvement was in regulating, as commander in chief, the strength, dispositions, and rules of engagement of the United States Atlantic Fleet. Of course naval affairs had always aroused Roosevelt's keenest interest. Over the mantelpiece in the Oval Study hung a painting of the four-stack destroyer Dyer on which he had traveled to Europe as assistant secretary of the navy in World War I. This was the same type of destroyer exchanged for bases with the British in 1940, the same that still in March 1941 composed most of the destroyer force of the Atlantic Fleet.
(26) Raymond Gram Swing, Good Evening (1964)
In 1936, I was critical of his decision not to press his proposal to enlarge the Supreme Court. At that time I regarded the Court, as then functioning, as the chief roadblock to social progress in the United States and wanted to see it enlarged by Roosevelt appointees. I thought President Roosevelt compromised too easily in this matter, for political reasons - and while I slid not vote for London in 1936, I did not vote for Roosevelt either. It was only after the second New Deal was under way that my earlier enthusiasm for Roosevelt returned, and it mounted and continued mounting as war came and his capacities for leadership were unfolded. And as to the Court fight, I was to learn that I was mistaken, for the very threat of enlarging the Court had been sufficient to liberalize the tenor of its rulings after 1936.
My one private meeting with the President was in the evening of May 24, 1942, and came about through Harry Hopkins. I had just finished a broadcast which was largely devoted to a speech by Hermann Goring on the ardors of the Nazi winter campaign in the heart of Russia. Mr. Hopkins called me at the studio. "How would you like to come over to the White House," he asked, "and meet the President? We have just been listening to your broadcast." Naturally, I said I would be there as quickly as my car could bring me. I arrived shortly before 10:30.
I was at once ushered into the President's office, where he had been working in shirt sleeves, his desk piled high with papers. He greeted me warmly and asked what I should like to drink. "I am going to take a gin and tonic with a slice of lemon rind," he said. I do not remember what Harry Hopkins took, but I joined him in a gin and tonic.
The President opened the conversation by discussing my broadcast and the difficulties the Nazis had experienced with the Russian winter.
Then he told me I had been asked to come over for a particular reason. He wanted my opinion of Elmer Davis as possible head of the Office of Facts and Figures, a position then occupied by Archibald MacLeish. I liked MacLeish and asked why he should be replaced. "Archie is a poet," Mr. Roosevelt said, with what seemed to me a tone of disparagement. I missed my cue at this point, and it did not occur to me until I was on the way home. I should have replied that John Milton, also a poet, had lost his eyesight working overtime as Latin Secretary to the Council of State under Cromwell. But I did speak up to voice my admiration for Elmer Davis, Mr. Roosevelt asked me if I thought newspaper correspondents would consider him a good appointment, and I assured him that I did riot believe any colleague would be held in higher esteem. Davis's nomination to head the Office of War Information (replacing the OFF) followed within a week or so.
As a talker Mr. Roosevelt went rapidly from one subject to another, almost by a kind of compulsiveness, not actually conversing with me or with Mr. Hopkins. I had the impression that in his way he was garrulous, which is certainly no fault, but it nevertheless astonished me to find a trace of it in as great a man as Franklin Roosevelt. Both he and I had a refill of gin and tonic. I did not miss the opportunity to tell the President to what extent he had been responsible for my broadcasting career in making his proposal to Sir John Reith for an exchange of broadcasts with the BBC, and I warmly thanked him. By midnight I knew the time for my departure had come, and I left. The visit had been a rare treat, and I knew that Harry Hopkins had engineered it as a special favor to me.
This was the only time I saw President Roosevelt and Mr. Hopkins alone together. I knew they were as nearly intimate friends as that term could be used to describe the association of anyone with the President. But I was struck by the deference Mr. Hopkins showed to his chief. He did not speak familiarly to him at any time and always addressed him formally as "Mr. President."
My esteem for President Roosevelt had not been without certain reservations. I have mentioned his readiness to be guided by purely political advantage in domestic questions. He also said things to callers which apparently were meant to he misunderstood as agreement with them in a way that stirred the roots of my puritanical disapproval. But he was a complex person, and out of this complexity rose a stature in national and world affairs that both astonished and ultimately overwhelmed me. I came to regard him as one of the greatest men of his age. Though he was an aristocrat, he liked common people. He enjoyed meeting them, and he put their welfare uppermost in his domestic policy. When I bad to write my commentary on the day of his death, I was too deeply moved to use more though, two-thirds of my time and had to ask the studio to fill the remainder with music. And having written it, I threw myself on my bed and wept as I had not done since I was a boy.
(27) Archibald MacLeish, radio broadcast on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt (13th April 1945)
It has pleased God in His infinite wisdom to take from us the immortal spirit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 3rd president of the United States.
The leader of his people in a great war, he lived to see the assurance of the victory but not to share it. He lived to see the first foundations of the free and peaceful world to which his life was dedicated, but not to enter on that world himself.
His fellow countrymen will sorely miss his fortitude and faith and courage in the time to come. The peoples of the earth who love the ways of freedom and of hope will mourn for him.
But though his voice is silent, his courage is not spent, his faith is not extinguished. The courage of great men outlives them to become the courage of their people and the peoples of the world. It lives beyond them and upholds their purposes and brings their hopes to pass.
American History The Great Depression
In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President. He received 23 million votes while Hoover got fifteen million. When Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933 he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Roosevelt felt the government should have a say in how business is carried on. He wanted laws to control business and help the people. He called it social legislation. Others called it the New Deal.
The first set of laws was to declare a Bank Holiday. Banks were closed for a short time to recover. Roosevelt went on the radio in what he called a Fireside Chat. He told people he had closed the banks to help them. He asked people to leave their money in the banks as long as possible. People listened to Roosevelt. The bank panic ended.
Roosevelt had three goals for his New Deal.
Help the people hurt by the Depression
Bring the U.S. out of the Depression
Make changes for the better
In the first 100 days after Roosevelt was in office Congress passed many laws needed to get this done. They were:
The government lent banks money.
Money in banks was insured.
The government helped the farmers by lending them money.
The government controlled the prices of farm products.
Not everything Roosevelt tried worked. The National Recovery Act (NRA) was passed in June of 1933. This was to help people by cutting down the number of hours a person could work, so more could be hired. The law set a minimum wage. The NRA tried to bring the prices of goods down. The NRA did not work because there was no way to set limits for production in every business. In 1935 the Supreme Court found the NRA unconstitutional.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 paid farmers to not plant certain crops including corn, wheat, cotton, rice, peanuts, and tobacco on part of their land and to kill off excess livestock. The purpose was to reduce crop surplus, thereby raising the value of crops. This act was declared unconstitutional in 1936.
CCC Men at Work Building a Road
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began in 1933. The CCC offered outdoor work to unemployed men between the ages of 18 to 25. They planted trees, cleared brush, and made reservoirs. They were given rooms, food, and a salary of $30 a month.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an agency that tried to put out-of-work people back to work. They built roads, schools, wrote books, painted pictures and worked in hospitals and libraries. From 1935 to 1943 the WPA built 651,087 miles of road and constructed, repaired, or improved 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 airport landing fields.
1942 photograph of carpenter at work on Douglas Dam, Tennessee (TVA)
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was set up in 1933. The TVA built dams to supply electricity and water and to stop floods.
- 1934 – $2,500
- 1935 – $5,000
- 1950 – $10,000
- 1966 – $15,000
- 1969 – $20,000
- 1974 – $40,000
- 1980 – $100,000
- 2008 – $250,000
The Social Security Actwas passed in 1935. This took care of the sick and the old.
The Unemployment Insurance Act in 1935 made it possible for states to give money to the people who were out of work.
The Subsistence Homesteads Division (DSH or SHD) was a New Deal agency designed to help the urban poor. Families were given a homestead with a house, outbuildings, and a small plot of land. To get the homestead a family member must have a part-time job. The plot of land was to be used to grow food for the family.
Cumberland Homesteads in Tennessee is one of the communities developed by the SHD. It was to help farmers, coal miners, and factory workers in the area. After World War II, the government no longer supported this project.
Several hundred of the sandstone buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Roosevelt's New Deal programs built or renovated 13,000 parks. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park between Tennessee and North Carolina was chartered by the United States Congress in 1934 and dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1940. It was the first national park whose land was paid for in part by federal funds. Other parks were funded by state money and private funds.
By 1937 the U. S. Economy was almost back to where it had been. The Depression ended with the Second World War in 1939 - 1940.
Credit unions: Coronavirus fears and lessons from Rosie the Riveter
Most of us living today have never seen anything like what we’re experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic. We now all live in some state of worry and fear. As leaders, as employees, and as members, these are scary times. And I would never try to minimize how serious it is to realize that hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions worldwide may die from this terrible health threat. And countless others are and will be impacted financially.
And for baby boomers like me, and for my children and grandchildren, we have never had to face a major national or international crisis in our lifetimes. Not like this one. But there are some World War II veterans and families who might have a different perspective.
So, it might be time to invoke a reality check. That is, our world and our lives have always been prone to sudden threats and even monumental domestic and world crises. And the world has always made it through stronger and better prepared for the next challenge.
History helps us remember times that were far more daunting than what we face today. For instance, we can be inspired by the courage and commitment by that “Greatest Generation,” also known as the World War II generation. These were our parents and grandparents born between 1901 and 1927. They were shaped by the Great Depression and were the primary participants in World War II.
I often wonder what life must have been like for the soldiers, for the young men about to enlist or to be drafted, and for the countless families who waited at home anxiously for their loved ones to return home. And consider the cumulative years of stress and worry between the outbreak of the war in 1939, the war in the pacific between 1941 and ‘43, and until the end of the war in August of 1945, when over 400,000 American lives and over 70 million worldwide were lost.
One of my most loyal and dedicated employees, Karen Biestek, is leaving our organization on April 6 th , in the middle of our Michigan “Work from Home” order. We won’t be able to celebrate Karen’s 40 years of service until our lives return to normal someday soon. But there will be a celebration to thank Karen then.
Karen lives with and provides support for her 96-year-old mother Jane, one of the original “Rosie the Riveters” from that Greatest Generation during World War II.
Jane came from Bearcreek, Montana, a town of only 300. Her father worked in the Smith Mine that was working overtime producing coal for the war. The mine exploded on February 27, 1943, killing 74 miners. She lost her dad, her uncle and her cousin. And the mine explosion pretty much shut down the town. The residents of Bearcreek knew then what true hopelessness felt like.
Karen’s mom moved to Detroit to take a job with Ford Motor Company at a plant where she worked on the assembly line. But during wartime, the factories halted production of automobiles for civilian use and began rapidly producing jeeps, M-5 tanks and B-24 bombers. By the summer of 1944, Ford’s Willow Run plant cranked out one bomber an hour. And Jane and the other “Rosies” riveted the cockpits of the B-24 bomber, also known as the “Liberator.”
Within the first year and a half following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 350,000 workers from the American south and elsewhere moved to Detroit to join the war effort in producing planes, trucks and munitions for the war.
Consider some staggering statistics from World War II and try to imagine how the challenges of that era help keep our current crisis in perspective.
First of all, the casualties. Over 24 million soldiers lost their lives, over 400,000 of them were Americans. Fathers, brothers, sons, cousins, friends of millions of families who never saw their loved ones return home. And an unbelievable additional 34 million civilians were killed worldwide. And of course, the life-altering injuries and the incredible impact on family after family were unimaginable.
The U.S. produced 325,000 aircraft, 88,000 tanks and 2.4 million military trucks during the war. And I’m proud to say that no American city contributed more to the Allied powers during the war than Detroit. Detroit became known as “The Arsenal of Democracy” after a fireside chat conducted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In that speech, the president made a ‘call to arm and support’ the Allied power with weapons, planes, trucks and tanks. He said this production would “enable the allies to fight for their liberty and for our security.”
At the time of the president’s speech, the U.S. had not yet entered World War II, but the president implored Americans to stand up as the “arsenal of democracy” as though it was their own country at war. He called on the nation to unite with swift cooperation in producing vast shipments of weaponry to aid Europe.
Back to the story of Jane the Riveter…
She was one of Michigan’s original “Rosie the Riveters,” among the millions of women encouraged to work in factories due to the massive conscription of men leading to a shortage of available workers. “Rosie the Riveter” was a cultural icon of the war, representing these courageous and dedicated women who took up the call to arm and support the war. Their iconic slogan was “We can do it!”
What an apt slogan for the time and one for our current crisis as well. That self-determination, courage and hope in the face of adversity is what we need today.
Many of the women who took these jobs were mothers, like Karen’s mom, Jane. They pooled together in their efforts to raise their families. They assembled into groups and shared such chores as cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. Many who had young children shared apartments and houses so they could save time, money, utilities and food. If they both worked, they worked different shifts so they could take turns babysitting.
Over 6 million women took on these WWII jobs African American, Hispanic, White and Asian American women worked side by side. For a time, the world put gender and ethnic bias aside to unite for a cause.
What an inspiration in a time of great international crisis!
In March of 2016, Karen’s mom, Jane was among 31 original Michigan “Rosies” honored in Washington, D.C., in celebration of Women’s History Month. The majority of those honored were in their 90s and they had worked at Ford’s Willow Run bomber plant. They wore their red bandanas and were honored in ceremonies throughout the day culminating in a visit to the World War II Memorial. I can picture them flexing their arms while uttering, “We can do it!” or the new slogan, “We did it!”
One of the Rosies, Frances Masters, had this reflection: “It gives me chills,” she said. “I feel like I should still be working to fight this enemy. I would do it tomorrow if I had to.”
And so it is today, in this international crisis, our generation is now called upon to arm and support in the battle against a new and unseen enemy, one that struck as suddenly as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust the United States into a devastating worldwide war that would ultimately take over 70 million lives.
But today’s war will ultimately pale in comparison. And our worries and sacrifices will be miniscule compared to those of the Greatest Generation. Perhaps our worries and fears can be tempered by the memory of past crises that were far more catastrophic.
I’m sure that Jane the Riveter and other living survivors of the Greatest Generation would give us wise counsel, that we can do this!
Credit unions nationwide and their 200,000 employees are now called on to provide essential financial services during a major health risk that puts their health and lives in jeopardy. And while all protective measures are being taken for the well-being of members and those who serve them, I can’t help but think of the tremendous credit union commitment as one that is a call to arm and support during this crisis. Not a crisis brought on by war, but rather a health and financial threat that creates a different kind of physical and mental stress for millions of Americans.
The story of not-for-profit credit unions is rarely thought of as “life or death” activities like those during wartime, but the financial well-being of families during these unprecedented times is a significant need that credit unions are courageously addressing with deferred loan payments, emergency loans, waived fees and words of financial encouragement that calm and support.
Behind the scenes, these employees and the over 100 million members whom they serve are living during a time of great worry and strife. But credit unions are there to help, just like they always are.
Karen’s mom, Jane, and the millions of men and women who took up the call to arm and support the war with necessary planes, weapons, munitions and vehicles necessary to maintain our liberty and freedom remind us that patience, sacrifice, and service are what define true heroes. And the millions of families who endured the perils of the Great Depression and World War II remind us what true sacrifice means. To that Greatest Generation, we are forever grateful, and we now learn from their stories.
And to Rosie and Jane, and the millions of “Rosie the Riveters” who sacrificed and inspired us so much, we gladly adopt your slogan “We can do it!” as we face these difficult months that lie ahead.
The Last of the New Deal Reforms
During the final stage of the New Deal, the Roosevelt administration introduced far fewer initiatives than during FDR’s first term but still passed some influential legislative initiatives.
Examine the last New Deal programs pushed through by the Roosevelt administration
- Historians continue to debate when the New Deal ended. While some identify its end as early as the beginning of FDR’s second term (1936-37), most agree that the New Deal eventually and gradually ended in 1938. Some historians refer to the final stage of the agenda as the Third New Deal. The 1937-38 Recession, for which Roosevelt’s opponents blamed the President, resulted in another round of New Deal initiatives. In response to the attacks, Roosevelt moved further left, attacked monopoly power, and drastically increased relief spending.
- During Roosevelt’s second term, the number of New Deal programs and reforms paled in comparison with initiatives introduced during the first term. However, some influential legislative projects passed, including the 1937 Housing Act and the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Two main factors had impact on the gradual end of the New Deal: the change in the balance of power in Congress after the 1938 midterm election and the threat of global war.
- Third New Deal: A term used by some historians to refer to the final stage of the New Deal: the period around and following the Recession of 1937-38 with some pointing to the the 1939 Reorganization Act as the end point.
- Harold Ickes: A United States administrator and politician serving as United States Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, from 1933 to 1946, the longest tenure of anyone to hold the office, and the second longest serving cabinet member in U.S. history. He was responsible for implementing much of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
- court-packing plan: A common term that refers to failed legislation proposed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who wanted to add up to six more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to change the political balance of the court and ensure the court’s support for the New Deal legislation.
- The 1937 Housing Act: A 1937 New Deal law that introduced government subsidies for local public housing agencies to improve living conditions for low-income families.
- Fair Labor Standards Act: A 1938 New Deal law that established a national minimum wage, overtime standards, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor.” It also limited the work week to 44 hours.
- Henry Morgenthau: The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He played a major role in designing and financing the New Deal.
- Roosevelt Recession: The major 1937–38 economic downturn that occurred in the United States in the midst of the Great Depression, known also as the Recession of 1937–38.
- second Agricultural Adjustment Act: A 1938 New Deal law that authorized crop loans, crop insurance against natural disasters, and large subsidies to farmers who cut back production.
The Third New Deal
Historians continue to debate when the New Deal ended. While some identify the end of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s unprecedented reform agenda as early as the beginning of his second term (1936–37), others agree that while the number and scale of initiatives introduced during the second term pale in comparison with those passed during Roosevelt’s first term, the New Deal eventually and gradually ended in 1938. That was a time when Republicans recovered from their 1936 devastating loss and recorded substantial gains in Congress in the aftermath of the 1938 midterm election. On the one hand, the new balance of power in Congress made the passing of new legislation more and more challenging for the Roosevelt administration. On the other, first the threat and then the 1939 outbreak of World War II in Europe shifted Roosevelt’s focus from domestic reforms to the war effort long before the U.S. formally joined the war. Although traditionally the New Deal is divided into two stages (First New Deal, 1933–34/5 and Second New Deal 1935–38), some historians refer to the final phase of the New Deal as the “Third New Deal.” The Third New Deal usually refers to the period around and following the Recession of 1937–38 with some pointing to the 1939 Reorganization Act (which allowed the president to reorganize the executive branch) as the end of the final phase of the New Deal.
Still in the midst of the Great Depression, the U.S. economy entered another period of economic downturn in the spring of 1937, which continued through most of 1938. The Roosevelt administration was under assault and the president’s opponents even referred to the crisis as the “Roosevelt Recession.” While some argued that the downturn was a result of a premature effort to curb government spending and balance the budget, conservatives believed that it was caused by what they saw as Roosevelt’s attacks on business and the empowered position of organized labor. In response to this criticism, Roosevelt and his proponents intensified their earlier anti-monopoly efforts and blamed big business for the negative economic trends. Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, attacked automaker Henry Ford, steelmaker Tom Girdler, and the super rich “Sixty Families” who supposedly comprised “the living center of the modern industrial oligarchy which dominates the United States.” Ickes warned that they would create “big-business Fascist America—an enslaved America.” In 1937, Roosevelt appointed Robert Jackson as the aggressive new director of the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. However, this effort lost its effectiveness once World War II began, and big business was urgently needed to produce war supplies. The anti-monopoly campaign aimed to hurt big business that Roosevelt and his advisers saw as obstructing economic recovery. However, the Roosevelt administration failed to pass any major trust-busting legislation.
Roosevelt rejected the advice of his Secretary of Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, to cut spending and announced more New Deal programs. In the fall of 1937, the Housing Act (known also as the Wagner-Steagall Act) introduced government subsidies for local public housing agencies to improve living conditions for low-income families. In February 1938, Congress passed the second Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), which authorized crop loans, crop insurance against natural disasters, and large subsidies to farmers who cut back production. In April of the same year, the president sent a new large-scale spending bill to Congress, requesting $3.75 billion for various government projects, including those focused on unemployment relief. One of the most influential pieces of legislation passed in the final stage of the New Deal was also the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It established a national minimum wage (25 cents per hour in the first year after the Act was passed), overtime standards, and prohibited most employment of minors (individuals under the age 16 or 18, depending on the nature of work) in “oppressive child labor.” It also limited the work week to 44 hours (amended to 40 hours a week in 1940). FLSA did not apply to all industries. Historians estimate that the Act’s provisions covered not more than 20 percent of the labor force. Also, the ban on child labor introduced in FLSA did not cover agriculture where child labor was rampant. However, FLSA was critical to establishing the labor standards that remain the foundation of labor law in the United States.
The End of the New Deal
Roosevelt intended to introduce more legislation during his second term (1937–1941), but two main factors made this a much more challenging task than during his first term: the lack of political support and the threat of war. In 1938, Republicans gained seven Senate seats and 81 House seats. In the aftermath of the failure of the 1937 court-packing plan and the 1938 election, the bipartisan Conservative Coalition solidified and strengthened in Congress and many liberal proposals were defeated. A handful of liberal measures did pass when the Conservative Coalition was divided (most notably the minimum wage laws).
The Depression continued with decreasing effect until the United States entered World War II in December 1941. Under the special circumstances of war mobilization, massive war spending doubled the GNP. Civilian unemployment was reduced from 14 percent in 1940 to less than 2 percent by the end of 1943.
Historians and economists disagree whether and, if yes, to what extent the New Deal helped the U.S. economy recover from the Great Depression. However, they all agree that the primary factor of the eventual economic growth that followed the New Deal was driven by the demands of the war effort.
A homeless family of seven walks along U.S. 99 bound for San Diego, where the father hopes to enroll on welfare because he once lived there. They walked from Phoenix, Arizona, where they picked cotton. Author: Dorothea Lange 1939 the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs
Despite the continuous economic crisis and hardships, the New Deal was largely over by 1939, where this family was seeking New Deal benefits.
The spotted owl, designated a bellwether species of a healthy ecology by the Endangered Species Act (1973), is featured on the cover of Time magazine.
The 1.3 mile Metro bus tunnel opens beneath downtown Seattle today, it accommodates 25% of the city's rush-hour commuter bus traffic.
Local grunge band Nirvana releases Nevermind, which sells more than 10 million copies.
Frederick & Nelson, Seattle's grand department store, closes its doors after 102 years in business.
Mariner Ken Griffey, Jr. earns the American League home-run crown with 40, breaking Babe Ruth's record, and is the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game.
Redmond-based Microsoft debuts Windows 95, beginning its domination of the personal computing industry.
John Stanford is the first African American Seattle Schools superintendent.
Seattle Public Schools' mandatory busing ends.
The City of Shoreline incorporates.
Sound Transit adopts a 10-year regional transit plan, including a mix of transportation improvements: high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lane access improvements, Express bus routes and commuter rail.
The Boeing Company merges with its greatest competitor, McDonnell-Douglas.
The U.S. Department of Justice and 20 state attorneys general sue Microsoft for violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Sam Smith Park in Seattle's Mount Baker neighborhood is named after first African American Seattle City Council member, who died in 1995.
In November, protestors and police clash in the streets of Seattle as the World Trade Organization meets.