FDR – Fireside Chat – Purging the Democratic Party

FDR – Fireside Chat – Purging the Democratic Party

June 24, 1938. Listen to Fireside Chat: Fireside Chat FDR 1938-06-24 Our government, happily, is a democracy. As part of the democratic process, your President is again taking an opportunity to report on the progress of national affairs, to report to the real rulers of this country—the voting public. The Seventy-Fifth Congress, elected in November, 1936, on a platform uncompromisingly liberal, has adjourned. Barring unforeseen events, there will be no session until the new Congress, to be elected in November, assembles next January. On the one hand, the Seventy-Fifth Congress has left many things undone. For example, it refused to provide more businesslike machinery for running the Executive Branch of the government. The Congress also failed to meet my suggestion that it take the far-reaching steps necessary to put the railroads of the country back on their feet. But, on the other hand, the Congress, striving to carry out the platform on which most of its members were elected, achieved more for the future good of the country than any Congress did between the end of the World War and the spring of 1933. I mention tonight only the more important of these achievements. (1) It improved still further our agricultural laws to give the farmer a fairer share of the national income, to preserve our soil, to provide an all-weather granary, to help the farm tenant towards independence, to find new uses for farm products, and to begin crop insurance. (2) After many requests on my part the Congress passed a Fair Labor Standards Act, commonly called the Wages and Hours Bill. That act— applying to products in...
FDR – Fireside Chat – Economic Conditions

FDR – Fireside Chat – Economic Conditions

April 14, 1938. Listen to Fireside Chat: Fireside Chat FDR 1938-04-14 My Friends: Five months have gone by since I last spoke to the people of the nation about the state of the nation. I had hoped to be able to defer this talk until next week because, as we all know, this is Holy Week. But what I want to say to you, the people of the country, is of such immediate need and relates so closely to the lives of human beings and the prevention of human suffering that I have felt that there should be no delay. In this decision I have been strengthened by the thought that by speaking tonight there may be greater peace of mind and that the hope of Easter may be more real at firesides everywhere, and therefore that it is not inappropriate to encourage peace when so many of us are thinking of the Prince of Peace. Five years ago we faced a very serious problem of economic and social recovery. For four and a half years that recovery proceeded apace. It is only in the past seven months that it has received a visible setback. And it is only within the past two months, as we have waited patiently to see whether the forces of business itself would counteract it, that it has become apparent that government itself can no longer safely fail to take aggressive government steps to meet it. This recession has not returned us the disasters and suffering of the beginning of 1933. Your money in the bank is safe; farmers are no longer in deep...
FDR – Fireside Chat – Unemployment Census

FDR – Fireside Chat – Unemployment Census

NOVEMBER 14, 1937: I am appealing to the people of America tonight to help in carrying out a task that is important to them and to their government. It is a part, but an essential part, of the greater task of finding jobs for willing workers who are idle through no fault of their own; of finding more work for those who are insufficiently employed and of surveying the needs of workers and industry to see if we can find the basis of a better long-range plan of re-employment than we have now. Enforced idleness, embracing any considerable portion of our people, in a nation of such wealth and natural opportunity, is a paradox that challenges our ingenuity. Unemployment is one of the bitter and galling problems that now afflicts man-kind. It has been with us, in a measure, since the beginning of our industrial era. It has been increased by the complexity of business and industry, and it has been made more acute by the depression. It has made necessary the expenditure of billions of dollars for relief and for publicly created work; it has delayed the balancing of our national budget, and increased the tax burden of all our people. In addition to the problem faced by the national government our states and local governments have been sorely pressed to meet the increased load resulting from unemployment. It is a problem of every civilized nation–not ours alone. It has been solved in some countries by starting huge armament programs but we Americans do not want to solve it that way. Nevertheless, as a nation we adopted the...
FDR – Fireside Chat – Recommended Legislation

FDR – Fireside Chat – Recommended Legislation

October 12, 1937. Listen to Fireside Chat: Fireside Chat FDR 1937-10-12 My Friends: This afternoon I have issued a Proclamation calling a special session of the Congress to convene on Monday, November 15, 1937. I do this in order to give to the Congress an opportunity to consider important legislation before the regular session in January, and to enable the Congress to avoid a lengthy session next year, extending through the summer. I know that many enemies of democracy will say that it is bad for business, bad for the tranquility of the country, to have a special session—even one beginning only six weeks before the regular session. But I have never had sympathy with the point of view that a session of the Congress is an unfortunate intrusion of what they call “politics” into our national affairs. Those who do not like democracy want to keep legislators at home. But the Congress is an essential instrument of democratic government; and democratic government can never be considered an intruder into the affairs of a democratic nation. I shall ask this special session to consider immediately certain important legislation which my recent trip through the nation convinces me the American people immediately need. This does not mean that other legislation, to which I am not referring tonight, is not important for our national well-being. But other legislation can be more readily discussed at the regular session. Anyone charged with proposing or judging national policies should have first-hand knowledge of the nation as a whole. That is why again this year I have taken trips to all parts of the country....
FDR – Fireside Chat – Reorganization of the Judiciary

FDR – Fireside Chat – Reorganization of the Judiciary

March 9, 1937 Listen to Fireside Chat: Fireside Chat FDR 1937-03-09 Last Thursday I described in detail certain economic problems which everyone admits now face the Nation. For the many messages which have come to me after that speech, and which it is physically impossible to answer individually, I take this means of saying “thank you.” 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...
FDR – Fireside Chat – Drought Conditions

FDR – Fireside Chat – Drought Conditions

September 6, 1936 Listen to Fireside Chat: Fireside Chat FDR 1936-09-06 I have been on a journey of husbandry. I went primarily to see at first hand conditions in the drought states; to see how effectively Federal and local authorities are taking care of pressing problems of relief and also how they are to work together to defend the people of this country against the effects of future droughts. I saw drought devastation in nine states. I talked with families who had lost their wheat crop, lost their corn crop, lost their livestock, lost the water in their well, lost their garden and come through to the end of the summer without one dollar of cash resources, facing a winter without feed or food — facing a planting season without seed to put in the ground. That was the extreme case, but there are thousands and thousands of families on western farms who share the same difficulties. I saw cattlemen who because of lack of grass or lack of winter feed have been compelled to sell all but their breeding stock and will need help to carry even these through the coming winter. I saw livestock kept alive only because water had been brought to them long distances in tank cars. I saw other farm families who have not lost everything but who, because they have made only partial crops, must have some form of help if they are to continue farming next spring. I shall never forget the fields of wheat so blasted by heat that they cannot be harvested. I shall never forget field after field of...