Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks at Hartford, Conn.

October 22, 1936

Governor Cross, Mayor Spellacy, my friends of Connecticut:

You are more than friends in Connecticut, for you are my neighbors. No one could fail to be inspired by this wonderful sight before me—tens of thousands of men, women and children. All of you are taking more of an interest in the problems of Government and the future of the country than at any time before in our American history.

I am here in a twofold capacity. I am here as President to talk with your Governor and your State officials, your Congressmen and your Senators, in regard to the problems of floods. And I am here also, I am told, as a candidate for a high public office.

My friend Tom Spellacy has told me that where I am standing today, at this moment, the water would have been up around my hips if I had been here at the time of the great flood.

I think that we can get a little lesson out of that flood—a lesson relating to Government, to the reason why your Government in Washington has to keep in close touch with the Governments of the States and of the cities of the Nation, and why, under certain circumstances, the Government at Washington has to step in to help.

This river of yours goes through four States—Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. A large part of the flood waters that came upon you recently had their origin in some other State. No matter what you do in Connecticut, no matter how many dikes you build, no matter how many precautions you take, unless the floods are controlled at the source of the river, your work will be in vain. That is why the problem of floods involves more than one State.

There are two approaches to the solution of that problem: The first is by the method of cooperation between States—the interstate compact method—and I am glad to say that these States of New England are working together, planning for the control of floods. But, my friends, that method is insufficient in itself. You cannot ask the State of Vermont, for example, to pay the entire cost of controlling the flood waters that flow through Vermont. The chief benefit is going to be not to Vermont, but to Massachusetts and Connecticut. And so you come to the second approach to the problem—the duty of the Federal Government to control the waters of navigable rivers. You know that your Federal Government stands ready today to do its full share toward flood prevention in the future.

It is a happier Connecticut that I come back to than the Connecticut I saw in 1932.

I do not particularly like figures and neither do you, but just listen for one minute.

In this State, employment in the City of Hartford alone is 45 percent greater this year than it was in 1932. Aggregate payrolls are 82 percent greater than they were in the spring of 1933. Twenty-three thousand workers have been reemployed by private industry and payrolls are running at the rate of forty-four million dollars a year more than before recovery began. Building construction is up four times what it was in those days, and the retail stores are selling 28 percent more merchandise than they sold then.

And because Connecticut, like the State of New York, is also an agricultural State, let me point out to you that the value of the farm products in your State—I mean the money actually received by the farmers of the State—has gone up somewhere between 30 and 40 percent.

And let me point out to you that, as we take stock, we are thinking not only of our own city, not only of our own State, not only of the region of States in which we live, but we are thinking about the Nation as a whole. For we realize that the prosperity of the West is reflected in the prosperity of the East, and that, unless the cotton farmer of the South can get a fair price for his cotton, he will be unable to buy the manufactured products of New England.

That is the lesson that we have learned these past three years, and that is why your Administration in Washington has been thinking about the return of prosperity in terms of the whole Nation and not just in terms of any one part of the Nation. And, my friends, I regard the State of Connecticut as a very integral part of the Nation.

I am glad that prosperity is back with us again and, believe me, it is going to stay.

And I know that on the third of November, some time in the evening, I am going to get a telegram from Wilbur Cross and a lot of my old friends here, telling me that the State of Connecticut is in the Democratic column.

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

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