Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937

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Author: Franklin D. Roosevelt  | Date: September 24, 1937

134 Remarks at Casper, Wyoming.
September 24, 1937

I am very glad to come to Casper because I have heard about it many times from Senator Schwartz; and I had heard about it even before that because, the very first year I was in Washington-I am not sure it was not the first week I was in Washington- I had a visit from Senator Kendrick and Mr. Wilkinson to tell me all about the Casper-Alcova project. That was the beginning of it and you know what has been done since.

I am glad that this great project is being constructed. People all over the country ought to know about it: the fact that the diversion dam is going to irrigate from thirty-three to forty thousand acres of land, the fact that the power plant is going to furnish electric power at reasonable rates not only to many communities in this State but even across the Nebraska line.

That is just one illustration of what the Government has been doing these last four years. In this delightful drive that I have just taken I have seen other evidence of what the Government is doing in the way of useful work: your high school stadium and Old Fort Casper, that I read so much about in my younger days.

One hates to talk figures to the people of any state; but the fact remains—and the other states have shared in proportion that in the past four years the State of Wyoming has had spent in it sixty million dollars of Federal funds. It is not going to be spent nearly as fast as that in the next four years, because today there isn’t anything like the unemployment that existed when I first came into office. As a matter of fact, in the past year the number of people on relief in this State has decreased from eleven thousand to under six thousand. All of that, of course, is helping me to balance the budget, and we are doing it.

The country is beginning to understand all of these problems in national terms. I said the other day, that in my judgment the past four years marked the first occasion, certainly since the Civil War, and probably during the whole of the one hundred and fifty years of our Government, that we are not only acting but thinking in national terms. That is a statement with which only those who are intellectually dishonest or blindly partisan will seriously disagree.

And it is worth repeating, also, in every part of the Nation that democratic processes of government can always meet the problems of an emergency, if the leadership in public life recognizes and has the courage to tackle the problems of the day. Unless those problems are met, uncertainty and fear on the part of the people are likely to result—as they resulted in 1932 and early 1933. And uncertainty and fear, if allowed to continue, would lead ultimately to a dictatorial form of government and the destruction of our personal liberties.

I am well convinced that the rank and file of the people of this country approve the objectives of their Government. They approve and support those who really work for those objectives and propose methods to obtain the objectives, even though those methods may be changed by consultation and conference. But they do not become very enthusiastic about those who give only lip service to the objectives but actually do nothing towards attaining them.

There was a man I knew once in Upstate New York in a prosperous community—a leading citizen. He gave away a lot of money, and made many speeches about improving the lot of the working man and working woman. He was an advocate of civic righteousness; but, all the time, he was one of the heaviest contributors to a reactionary State-wide association. Whenever that association needed money to fight and block some bill in the Legislature which would have stopped child labor or compelled the shortening of over-long hours of work in the factories of the State, he generously contributed. He gave lip service in public; but fought civic betterment in private.

I am glad to say that in this country that type of person has less influence in government today than ever before in our history. We can get along very well in local and state and Federal Government without the services of those who are good citizens only so long as it does not cost their pocketbooks anything to be good citizens.

Taking it by and large, the conduct of public affairs in this country has, I think, shown consistent improvement during our generation. Government servants are more concerned with the public good, and more unselfish in the work they do, than ever before. That is due in large part to the fact that the public as a whole—the rank and file of American citizenship, men and women—are taking more interest in their Government than ever before.

Constitutional democracy in this country is succeeding despite the obstacles thrown in its way by a few people who, in their hearts, do not want to see democracy work. You and I, my friends, are .making it work and we are going to keep on making it work.

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Chicago: Franklin D. Roosevelt, "134 Remarks at Casper, Wyoming.," Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937 in Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 184 Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CQXSK3RGX1GRP9F.

MLA: Roosevelt, Franklin D. "134 Remarks at Casper, Wyoming." Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937, in Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 184, Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CQXSK3RGX1GRP9F.

Harvard: Roosevelt, FD, '134 Remarks at Casper, Wyoming.' in Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937. cited in , Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 184. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CQXSK3RGX1GRP9F.