Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter of Greeting to the National Conference of Social Work.

May 23, 1936

My dear Monsignor Keegan:

It is with sincere regret that I find myself unable to be at the 1936 meeting of the National Conference of Social Work. I have great concern for the work of social welfare agencies and the efforts of social workers to make this country a more neighborly place in which to live. Cognizant, therefore, of the value of your deliberations and proceedings, I assure you of my deep interest in the high purposes for which you are convened.

The National Conference of Social Work is indeed an expression of the social conscience of America. Its members have consecrated their lives to the bringing about of a better social order wherein men and women shall have greater opportunity to enjoy the blessings of life. Many of us are accustomed to appealing for the cause of humanity. Let us remember that humanity is not society; humanity is just plain folks. Some of our so-called leaders have made the mistake of looking upon men and women as economic and social units. Logically, therefore, they speak of men and women as individuals, just as they would of other things-of animals or plants or atoms.

In matters of social welfare we should keep sight of the fact that we are not dealing with "units," "individuals" or with "economic men." We are dealing with persons. Human personality is something sacred. It enjoys the light of reason and liberty. It grows by rising above material things and wedding itself to spiritual ideals. Our social order is worthy of human beings only in so far as it recognizes the inherent value of human personality. Our cities, our States and our Nations exist not for themselves but for men and women. We cannot be satisfied with any form of society in which human personality is submerged.

To you as President of the Conference and to all who participate I send my deepest and most heartfelt congratulations.

Very sincerely yours,

Right Reverend Monsignor Robert Fulton Keegan,

President, National Conference of Social Work,

Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter of Greeting to the National Conference of Social Work. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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