Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address Delivered at Green Bay, Wisconsin

August 09, 1934

Governor Schmedeman, Mr. Mayor, my friends:

This is an inspiration to be here today. This is a wonderful setting on the shores of the Bay and I am glad to take part in this commemoration of the landing in Green Bay of the man who can truly be called the first white pioneer of this part of the United States. Over all the years, as your distinguished Representative in Congress has suggested, the purposes of the men and women who established civilization in Wisconsin and in the Northwest were the same as those that stimulated the earlier settlers of the Atlantic Seaboard. Men everywhere throughout Europe—your ancestors and mine—had suffered from the imperfect and often unjust Governments of their home land, and they were driven by deep desire to find not alone security, but also enlarged opportunity for themselves and their children. It is true that the new population flowing into our new lands was a mixed population, differing often in language, in external customs and in habits of thought. But in one thing they were alike. They shared a deep purpose to rid themselves forever of the jealousies, the prejudices, the intrigues and the violence, whether internal or external, that disturbed their lives on the other side of the ocean.

Yes, they sought a life that was less fettered by the exploitations of selfish men, set up under Governments that were not free. They sought a wider opportunity for the average man.

Having achieved that initial adventure of migrating to new homes, they moved forward to the further adventure of establishing forms of government and methods of operating these forms of government that might assure them the things they sought. They believed that men, out of their intelligence and their self-discipline, could create and use forms of government that would not enslave the human spirit, but free it and nourish it throughout the generations. They did not fear government, because they knew that government in the new world was their own.

! do not need to tell you that here in Wisconsin they built a State destined for extraordinary achievements. They set up institutions to enforce law and order, to care for the unfortunate, to promote the arts of industry and agriculture. They built a university and school system as enlightened as any that the world affords. They set up against all selfish private interests the organized authority of the people themselves through the State. They transformed utilities into public servants instead of private means of exploitation.

People know also that the average man in Wisconsin waged a long and bitter fight for his rights. Here, and in the Nation as a whole, in the Nation at large, this battle has been two-fold.

It has been a fight against Nature. From the time that the settlers started to clear the land until now, they have been compelled to assert the power of their brains and courage over the blind powers of the wind and the sun and the soil. They have paid no heed to the reactionaries who would tell them that mankind must stand impotent before the forces of nature. Year after year, as science progressed and mastery of the mysteries of the physical universe increased, man has been turning nature, once his hard master, into useful servitude.

That is why, on this trip across the northern part of this Continent, I have been so moved by the distressing effects of a widespread drought, and at the same time so strengthened in my belief that science and cooperation can do much from now on to undo the mistakes that men have made in the past and to aid the good forces of nature and the good impulses of men instead of fighting against them.

Yes, we are but carrying forward the fundamentals behind the pioneering spirit of the fathers when we apply the pioneering methods to the better use of vast land and water resources— what God has given us to use as trustees not only for ourselves but for future generations.

But man has been fighting also against those forces which disregard human cooperation and human rights in seeking that kind of individual profit which is gained at the expense of his fellows.

It is just as hard to achieve harmonious and cooperative action among human beings as it is to conquer the forces of Nature. Only through the submerging of individual desires into unselfish and practical cooperation can civilization grow.

In the great national movement that culminated over a year ago, people joined with enthusiasm. They lent hand and voice to the common cause, irrespective of many older political traditions. They saw the dawn of a new day. They were on the march; they were coming back into the possession of their own home land.

As the humble instruments of their vision and their power, those of us who were chosen to serve them in 1932 turned to the great task.

In one year and five months, the people of the United States have received at least a partial answer to their demands for action; and neither the demand nor the action has reached the end of the road.

But, my friends, action may be delayed by two types of individuals. Let me cite examples: First, there is the man whose objectives are wholly right and wholly progressive but who declines to cooperate or even to discuss methods of arriving at the objectives because he insists on his own methods and nobody's else.

The other type to which I refer is the kind of individual who demands some message to the people of the United States that will restore what he calls "confidence." When I hear this I cannot help but remember the pleas that were made by government and certain types of so-called "big business" all through the years 1930, 1931 and 1932, that the only thing lacking in the United States was confidence.

Before I left on my trip on the first of July, I received two letters from important men, both of them pleading that I say something to restore confidence. To both of them I wrote identical answers: "What would you like to have me say?" From one of them I have received no reply at all in six weeks. I take it that he is still wondering how to answer. The other man wrote me frankly that in his judgment the way to restore confidence was for me to tell the people of the United States that all supervision by all forms of Government, Federal and State, over all forms of human activity called business should be forthwith abolished.

Now, my friends, in other words, that man was frank enough to imply that he would repeal all laws, State or national, which regulate business—that a utility could henceforth charge any rate, unreasonable or otherwise; that the railroads could go back to rebates and other secret agreements; that the processors of food stuffs could disregard all rules of health and of good faith; that the unregulated wild-cat banking of a century ago could be restored; that fraudulent securities and watered stock could be palmed off on the public; that stock manipulation which caused panics and enriched insiders could go unchecked. In fact, my friends, if we were to listen to him and his type, the old law of the tooth and the claw would reign in our Nation once more.

The people of the United States will not restore that ancient order. There is no lack of confidence on the part of those business men, farmers and workers who clearly read the signs of the times. Sound economic improvement comes from the improved conditions of the whole population and not a small fraction thereof.

Those who would measure confidence in this country in the future must look first to the average citizen.

Confidence is returning to our agricultural population who, in spite of unpredictable and uncontrollable drought in a large area of the Nation, is giving understanding cooperation to practical planning and the ending of the useless bickering and sectional thinking of the past. Confidence is returning to the manufacturers who, in overwhelming numbers, are comparing the black ink of today with the red ink of many years gone by; to the workers who have achieved under the National Recovery Administration rights for which they fought unsuccessfully for a generation; to the men and women whose willing hands found no work and who have been saved from starvation by Government work and Government relief; to the youngsters whose childhood has been saved to them by the abolition of child labor; to the fair and sincere bankers and financiers and business men, big and little, who now, for the first time, find Government cooperating with them in new attempts to put the golden rule into the temples of finance; to the home owners who have been saved from the stark threat of foreclosure and to the small investors and savers of the Nation who, for the first time, rightly believe that their savings are secure.

These are the elements that make for confidence in the future. This Government intends no injury to honest business. The processes we follow in seeking social justice do not, in adding to general prosperity, take from one and give to another. In this modern world, the spreading out of opportunity ought not to consist of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In other words, we are concerned with more than mere subtraction and addition. We are concerned with multiplication also—multiplication of wealth through cooperative action, wealth in which all can share.

These high purposes must be accompanied by cooperation among those charged by the people with the duties of government. I am glad to be in a State from which I have greatly drawn in setting up the permanent and temporary agencies of the national Administration.

Your two Senators, Bob LaFollette and Ryan Duffy, both old friends of mine, and many others, worked with me in maintaining excellent cooperation, the kind I have been talking about, between the executive and legislative branches of the Government. I take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to them.

Not only in Washington but also in the States it has been necessary, of course, for us to have cooperation by public officials in the achievement of the great purposes we seek. I thank Governor Schmedeman, another old friend of mine, for his patriotic cooperation with the national Administration.

We who support this New Deal do so because it is a square deal and because it is essential to the preservation of security and happiness in a free society such as ours. I like its definition by a member of the Congress. He said:

"The new deal is an old deal- as old as the earliest aspirations of humanity for liberty and justice and the good life. It is as old as Christian ethics, for basically its ethics are the same. It is new as the Declaration of Independence was new, and the Constitution of the United States; its motives are the same. It voices the deathless cry of good men and good women for the opportunity to live and work in freedom, the right to be secure in their homes and in the fruits of their labor, the power to protect themselves against the ruthless and the cunning. It recognizes that man is indeed his brother's keeper, insists that the laborer is worthy of his hire, demands that justice shall rule the mighty as well as the weak.

"It seeks to cement our society, rich and poor, manual worker and brain worker, into a voluntary brotherhood of freemen, standing together, striving together, for the common good of all."

Keep that vision before your eyes and in your hearts; it can, it will be attained.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address Delivered at Green Bay, Wisconsin Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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