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Radio Address on the 50th Anniversary of the First Red Cross Chapter House.

September 09, 1931

THE LAW provides that the Chief Executive of the Nation shall also be the President of the American National Red Cross. This fact adds to the sense of personal pleasure in the privilege which I have today of greeting by the radio those who have assembled at Dansville, New York, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Clara Barton Chapter Number One, the first Red Cross chapter in America. This chapter has the distinction of being organized by Clara Barton herself in 1881. It is a great distinction which your chapter enjoys both for the association with Miss Barton and as the beginners of one of the most beneficent institutions of our history.

The beginnings of human enterprises derive their significance from the service which time proves their ability to perform for humanity. The Nation joins in your celebration because of the success of the great humanitarian agency which sprang from the mind of Clara Barton and the spirit of your community. The establishment of the pioneer chapter in the village of Dansville was the forerunner of 3,500 chapters now in existence throughout the United States, enrolling at times of national need as many as 20 million members. In its lifetime the Red Cross has raised and expended nearly a billion of money in the relief of human distress. The national organization has become our Nation's assurance of adequate, prompt, and efficient handling of any catastrophe within our borders. It is the flowering of the spiritual impulse to serve the common need. It represents both the common impulse of sympathetic help and the mechanism for its practical expression. It stands as a monument to individual and local initiative. It proves the ability of a democracy to create from the people themselves the agencies for their service.

More than a century has passed since Clara Barton was born. And it may be well said that the institution was not only rounded by a noble woman but it has been carried on very largely by the womanhood of our country. The 50 years which have passed since that pioneer beginning have written a chapter in the worldwide relief of human suffering which is a fitting memorial to Miss Barton and a proud tradition to her countrymen.

Women's interest in the prevention of suffering and in ministrations of mercy to those in sickness, peril, and need, is the foundation of the Red Cross organization which has been fittingly described as "The Greatest Mother of Them All." To Miss Barton, Miss Mabel Boardman, and the many thousands of other devoted women, in all localities of this broad land, the cause of prompt, effective, and sympathetic alleviation of suffering and distress owes its debt of gratitude and remembrance. To the men who give their service--of whom there is no greater example than Judge Payne--I also pay tribute.

It is my privilege, on behalf of the Nation, to acknowledge the debt, both to the pioneer founders of the organization and to their successors who are carrying on today.

Note: The President spoke at 1 p.m. from his office in the White House to the assembly in Dansville, N.Y. The Columbia Broadcasting System and the National Broadcasting Company radio networks carried the address.

Mabel T. Boardman was Secretary and John Barton Payne was Chairman of the American National Red Cross.

A reading copy of this item with holograph changes by the President is available for examination at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Herbert Hoover, Radio Address on the 50th Anniversary of the First Red Cross Chapter House. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/212109

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