Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address at the Dedication of the Federal Building, Buffalo, N.Y.

October 17, 1936

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mayor, Congressman Mead, my friends of Buffalo:

This occasion brings back memories, because it is not so very long ago that I took part in the laying of the cornerstone of this building over here on the left—the State Office Building. And now I am proud to take part in the dedication of this very beautiful Federal Building on the right.

That building is a part of a very great program throughout the Nation. It was a program designed first and foremost to give work to the unemployed. It was what we Americans had decided was an American substitute for the dole. All through the Nation there have been projects like these, most of them smaller, of course, but all designed with that primary objective.

But that was only the primary objective. Of course, there were others. A second purpose which was part of this program was to provide useful public works, each of which would serve a need in every community. All the way from Coast to Coast you will find a series of projects devoted to recreation, or transportation, or sanitation, or Government service, all of which, incidentally, were initiated on the recommendation of the local communities themselves.

All of the money that the Government placed into these structures has already started the wheels of trade and commerce turning again in sections where they had been stagnant for so many years. The money which the workers received in the erection of this building and on all the other projects throughout the United States undoubtedly was a major factor in restoring purchasing power in the hands of the worker, the shopkeeper, the manufacturer and the farmer.

A structure like this is particularly economical, even so far as dollars go. This building will house the Federal Departments which cover Buffalo and the surrounding territory. We must remember that up to now in this case and similar cases the Government was obliged to pay rent for that space, owning nothing and, at the end of the rental period, having nothing. So it seemed just ordinary good business to build our own building and keep the rent in our own treasury, a policy that was adopted in this State many years ago. The State Office Building in Albany, the State Office Building in New York City and now the State Office Building here in Buffalo are testimonials to the foresight and good business sense of the State of New York.

The amount of money which was placed in circulation by what went into this building and similar buildings is hard to estimate. Every dollar that was put in did its work many times over. When the worker spent the dollar in the local shop it resulted in a profit. When the retailer spent it with the wholesaler, it resulted in a profit. When the wholesaler spent it with the manufacturer it resulted in a profit. And when the manufacturer bought his raw materials from the farmer or other producer of raw materials, again there was a profit. And so each dollar as it started in the stream of trade and commerce made new business, new profits, new income, new work and new purchasing power in the community. If you multiply the dollars which went into this building by the thousands of projects all over the United States, you will see what we mean when we say that this great program of the United States served as the first shock troops in the battle against depression, starting anew the processes of business.

I have just returned to my native State from a trip which has · taken me into many parts of the United States—into areas devoted to agriculture, to mining, to cattle and sheep raising, to great manufacturing industries. And everywhere I went I saw the cheerful faces and happy voices which told me that we had come back a long way to a real prosperity.

I need not compare the Buffalo of today with the Buffalo as I saw it the first time I was here. You will recall, I am sure, those years that I had the privilege of being the Chief Executive of this State. Already in 1930 the problem of depression and unemployment had become severe. And you will recall that it was in 1931 that I, as Governor, called the Legislature of the State of New York into Special Session to provide relief for the distressed unemployed of the State. New York was the first State in the Union definitely to accept the responsibility of seeing to it that so far as the State's resources could prevent it, none of its citizens who wished to work should starve.

You will remember in those days, not so long ago, the depression had made it impossible for private agencies and local communities to carry the burden, and so the duty fell upon the State, and New York State was the first to accept the responsibility of carrying on with the task. But again, as the years went on, it was found impossible not only for the great and rich States, like ours, but for every other State to carry the whole of the burden of the depression, and thereafter from the fourth of March, 1933, the Federal Government in Washington undertook to carry that part of the burden which the communities themselves and the States were unable to bear. And, my friends, so long as I am President of the United States, we will continue to carry out that responsibility.

Just one word in closing. I am always glad to get back to my State. I wish for the City of Buffalo and for those communities in the western end of our State every possible success. May we grow not only in material wealth but also in the good citizenship for which we all strive.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at the Dedication of the Federal Building, Buffalo, N.Y. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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