Franklin D. Roosevelt

Radio Address to the Third Annual Women's Conference.

October 13, 1933

I am glad to have the opportunity of greeting those who are attending the Third Annual Women's Conference on Current Problems.

I note that the subject of this Conference is "This Crisis in History," and this leads me to suggest that the short space of ten minutes will scarcely allow me to do more than congratulate you on your courage in seeking fully to discuss "This Crisis in History" in the space of two days.

May I, however, touch very briefly on two matters which are much in my mind—two problems which can be helped by public interest and public discussion?

One of them relates to the peace of the world. The danger to world peace certainly does not come from the United States of America. As a Nation, we are overwhelmingly against engaging in war. As a Nation we are seeking no additional territory at the expense of our neighbors.

The United States does not seek to annex Canada or any part thereof, to annex Mexico or any part thereof, or to annex Cuba or any part thereof. It is this attitude of the overwhelming majority of our people toward their neighbors—this complete lack of a national desire for territorial expansion- which makes the rest of the world begin to understand that the United States is opposed to war.

I will go one step further in saying that the very great majority of the inhabitants of the world feel the same as we do about territorial expansion or getting rich or powerful at the expense of their neighbors. It is only in the case of such people in the world as still have imperialistic desires for expansion and domination in their minds or in their hearts that threats to world peace lie. And, finally, it seems clear to me that it is only through constant education and the stressing of the ideals of peace that those who still seek imperialism can be brought in line with the majority.

The other thought that I want to express to you is even more definitely along the line of education. It is true, unfortunately, that the economic depression has left its serious mark not only on the science and practice of education but also on the very lives of many hundreds of thousands of children who are destined to become our future citizens.

Every one of us has sought to reduce the cost of government. Every one of us believes that the cost of government, especially of local government, can be reduced still further by good business methods and the elimination of the wrong kind of politics. Nevertheless, with good business management and the doing away with extravagance and frills and the unnecessary elements of our educational practices, we must at the same time have the definite objective in every State and in every school district of restoring the useful functions of education at least to their pre-depression level. We have today, for example, a large surplus of so-called qualified teachers—men and women who even if we had full prosperity would and probably should be unable to find work in the field of education. Even today we are turning out too many new teachers each year. That is just as much an economic waste as building steel rail plants far beyond the capacity of railroads to use steel rails. It goes without saying that we should have enough teachers and not a large excess supply. It goes also without saying that the quality of our teaching in almost every State of which I have knowledge can be definitely and distinctly raised. The main point is that we need to make infinitely better the average education which the average child now receives, and that, through this education, we will instill into the coming generation a realization of the part that the coming generation must play in working out what you have called "this crisis in history." This crisis can be met, but not in a day or a year, and education is a vital factor in the meeting of it.

I am told that tonight I speak not only to the Conference on Current Problems but to colleges and universities throughout the country, many federations of women's clubs, almost two thousand organizations interested in education, public and private schools and State educational associations, numbering among their members many of the educational leaders of America. I mention this because, in closing, I want to enlist your support in the fight we are making on the depression. When this fight is won, your problems will be solved. You can help your Government-Federal, State and local—and we in Government want your help.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Address to the Third Annual Women's Conference. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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