Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address at Providence, R.I.

October 21, 1936

My friends, here I am back in Rhode Island and glad to be here. I am glad that Governor Greene spoke of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations as the cradle of religious liberty.

I remember also that this State was so independent that it did not ratify the Constitution of the United States until two years after it was in effect. And I remember also that Rhode Island is a very important part of the United States, for around me lies the most highly industrial and densely populated State in the Union.

I could speak to no people who better understand the interdependence of modern economic life.

I have said that what the present national Administration has tried to do was to adjust statecraft to reality— the reality of forty-eight States which have agreed to live together in a machine age.

When this Administration came to Washington on the fourth of March, 1933, the machine of our national economy had completely broken down. For twelve long years it had been neglected by those who believed that machines did not need tending. We tried to rebuild that machine, to modernize it and to turn on the purchasing power.

It was the biggest peacetime job ever attempted. It called for energy in a hundred directions at once, it called for imagination and for willingness to face facts.

Because it was a modern machine it needed money in circulation to get it going and keep it going. Therefore, we had to obtain purchasing power for the farmer, work for the unemployed, loans to industry, safety and courage for banks.

How much did we spend? Enough to get results—enough to be sure not to fail. There would have been no second chance if we had failed once.

You and I are used to venturing capital to gain profits. And in these three and a half years our venture has succeeded.

Prosperity measured in dollars is coming back. There is none among you to deny it. But there is a higher measure for prosperity: the measure of permanency, the measure of security.

We seek not the prosperity of 1929 but the kind which will mean to every American family an assurance of safety of the home, safety of old age, safety of savings, safety of employment.

You have been talked to about regimentation. I am opposed to the kind of regimentation under which you labored and suffered in the days of the false prosperity and in the days of the great depression.

We believe that people are even more important than machines. We believe that the material resources of America should serve the human resources of America.

We will not again allow people to be regimented by selfish minorities into bankruptcies and breadlines.

I wish that on this visit I might stay longer. But I know Rhode Island, its cities, its farms, its waters and its valleys. I carry to you the same message I have given in the West and in the South: you are a vital and necessary part of a united whole. Your Federal Government seeks your well-being for your own sake and for the sake of your sister States.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at Providence, R.I. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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