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Message to Congress on Making the Civilian Conservation Corps a Permanent Agency.

April 05, 1937

To the Congress:

On March 21, 1933, I addressed a message to the Congress in which I stated:

"I propose to create a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work, not interfering with normal employment, and confining itself to forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control and similar projects. I call your attention to the fact that this type of work is of definite, practical value, not only through the prevention of great present financial loss, but also as a means of creating future national wealth."

The prompt consideration given to this message by Congress resulted in the enactment, on March 31, 1933, of Public No. 5, to provide for the relief of unemployment through the performance of useful public works; and on April 5, 1933, by Executive Order, I set up the office of Emergency Conservation Work to carry the above Act into effect.

It is not necessary to go into detail regarding the accomplishments of the Corps. You are acquainted with the physical improvements that have taken place in our forests and parks as a result of the activities of the Corps and with the wealth that is being added to our natural resources for the benefit of future generations. More important than the material gain, however, is the improvement we find in the moral and physical well-being of our citizens who have been enrolled in the Corps and of their families who have been assisted by monthly allotments of pay. The functions of the Corps expire under authority of present law on June 30, 1937.

In my Budget Message to Congress on January 5 of this year I indicated that the Corps should be continued and recommended that legislation be enacted during the present session to establish the Corps as a permanent agency of the Government. Such continuance or establishment is desirable notwithstanding the great strides that have been made toward national recovery, as there is still need for providing useful and healthful employment for a large number of our youthful citizens.

I am convinced that there is ample useful work in the protection, restoration and development of our national resources, upon which the services of the Corps may be employed advantageously for an extended future period. It should be noted that this program will not in any respect reduce normal employment opportunities for our adult workers; in fact, the purchase of simple materials, of food and clothing and of other supplies required for the operations of the Corps tends to increase employment in industry.

I recommend, therefore, that provision be made for a permanent Corps of 300,000 youths (and war veterans), together with 10,000 Indians and 5,000 enrollees in our territories and insular possessions. It would appear, after a careful study of available information, that, with improved business conditions, these numbers represent the maximum expected enrollment. To go beyond this number at this time would open new and difficult classifications of enrollment, and the additional cost would seriously affect the financial position of the Treasury.

I trust that the Congress will deem it wise to enact legislation making permanent the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress on Making the Civilian Conservation Corps a Permanent Agency. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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