Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks at Birmingham, Ala.

November 18, 1934

My visit through the Tennessee Valley region would be incomplete without a stop here, brief as the visit must be on this trip. I remember with greatest pleasure the last time I was here, nearly two years ago, when as President-elect I acquired some first-hand information of the problems of Tennessee and of Northern Alabama.

I speak of Birmingham as being in the Tennessee region because, while I appreciate that you are located south of the Tennessee watershed, still there are a great many economic and social relationships between this city and the great territory which lies north of you.

I know something of the many difficulties under which you have been laboring in recent years. I well understand the problem, for example, of the heavy industries, such as iron, steel and coal on which you so largely depend. I can assure you that they are matters of the keenest concern to the whole Administration.

The great program of public works, which you know something about, which is in full swing, calls for vast quantities of the iron and steel and other capital goods this area produces. That program is going to help Birmingham and the surrounding territory.

Definite improvement has made its appearance, as you know, in the coal industry. The success of the N.R.A. Coal Code appears not only in the more orderly mining of coal but also in something that lies very close to my heart, steady employment and bigger pay envelopes for the thousands of miners who were in sore straits before the Government acted.

Of Course, for you who live in the economic area of which this is the southern end, the Tennessee Valley Authority must continue to receive your growing interest, as it receives the growing interest and approval of so many other communities. The whole project can succeed fully only if it has the whole-hearted support and cooperation of the people here, and it is getting that support. I particularly request of the people of Birmingham an active cooperation with the Tennessee Valley Authority, and I know that you will give it.

You know, I am always frank, and I am aware, of course, that a few, just a few, of your citizenry are leaving no stone unturned to block, to harass and to delay this great national program. I am confident, however, that these obstructionists, few in number as I have said, few in comparison with the whole population, do not reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of the people of Birmingham or the neighboring cities. I know, too, that the overwhelming majority of your business men, big and little, are in hearty accord with the great undertaking of regional planning now being carried forward. They stand and you stand shoulder to shoulder with T.V.A.—eager to carry forward the development of this region in which Birmingham plays so important a part.

It is good to be with you again. I am glad to have this splendid reception; and I am looking forward to coming back here at a time when I hope I can spend the whole day.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks at Birmingham, Ala. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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