Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter on the Florida Ship Canal and the Passamaquoddy Bay Project.

January 16, 1939

My dear Congressman Mansfield:

There are two subjects to which I hope your Committee will give renewed attention.

The first relates to the proposed Florida Ship Canal. Surveys have been completed and a good deal of work has been done on this. It has long been my belief that a Florida Ship Canal will be built one of these days and that the building of it is justified today by commercial and military needs. As you know, it has been my thought that the government should continue its construction but should take its time in doing this, using, as far as possible, relief labor especially in periods when there is a good deal of unemployment. I would not personally object to a construction period lasting as long as ten or fifteen years. This Canal will, according to the engineers, receive in tolls enough revenue to pay for its upkeep and over a period of years to amortize its cost, though it is doubtful that these revenues would take care of accumulated interest charges. In other words, the government would get its money back without interest.

The other project relates to the development of tidal power in the Passamaquoddy Bay. Here again some money has been spent. It is my belief that the time will come when there will be a joint agreement between Canada and the United States for the joint development of the larger project which would utilize all tidal power in that Bay on both sides of the international line. It is a fact that in Eastern Maine the economic situation is, today, at its worst—for the forests have been cut off and the fisheries have greatly declined. In the case of this project, existing surveys are insufficient and it is my thought that an appropriation for the completion of test borings and a determination of the advisability of putting in a small experimental plant on the American side of the border would be justified.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable Joseph J. Mansfield,

Chairman, Rivers and Harbors Committee,

House of Representatives,

Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on the Florida Ship Canal and the Passamaquoddy Bay Project. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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