Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks at Pueblo, Colorado.

July 12, 1938

Governor Ammons, my friends of Pueblo:

It is good to be back here. I was not quite sure this morning whether I was going to be back here or not, because I read in a Denver paper that this was the first time in twenty years that a President had come to Pueblo. I must have been dreaming about my 1936 trip to Pueblo, or else I was not President at that time.

I have been having a very delightful trip across the country. It is a very big country, and there are a great many parts of it that I cannot possibly see on a given trip. But what has impressed me on this trip are two things. The first is that we seem to have had a pretty good agricultural year, even down in the dust bowl. When I got to the last place in the world I thought I could possibly find rain—Amarillo—I got soaking wet.

And the other thing that impressed me was the growing understanding that everybody seems to have of our national problems.

The example that I used back East is one that directly affects this part of the State of Colorado, the Arkansas River. The average person on the Eastern Seaboard thinks of the Arkansas as some kind of a little creek that grows in Arkansas and drops down with a lot of floods into the Mississippi. And when I tell them that the Arkansas River starts way west of Pueblo, Colorado, back of the trans-continental divide, and that you here were once upon a time nearly wiped out by a flood on that river—that it wanders on down through this state and Kansas and Oklahoma and Arkansas before it even reaches the Mississippi—then they go and get their geography books to verify what I said.

It is a pretty good illustration, because that river isn't just the problem of one state or one community. It calls for national planning; and national planning for the Arkansas River involves a great many different angles that you and I know-not only flood prevention but irrigation, reclamation, reforestation, power development and all the things that go with the development of an entire watershed.

The same thing applies of course to practically every other watershed in the state. You people in this State have a pretty well-rounded picture of what that means because you are on two watersheds, one running into the Gulf of Mexico and the other into the Pacific Ocean. You have certain problems—your Governor and I have talked about them—over the use of the water of the Colorado River and some of our friends down in lower Arizona and California, perhaps, have different ideas about the use of that water.

That illustrates why we have to have the Federal Government not running everything but acting as a focal meeting place for all kinds of national problems, so our states can resolve the difficulties they may have between each other. We are getting over the selfish point of view; we are thinking of all of our problems in national terms.

We have been trying—I think all of us sincerely—to make this nation conscious of the fact that it is a nation. If we succeed in that, it means we can make our democracy work, and that is our big objective.

We don't want and we are not going to copy other forms of government—ours is good enough for us.

Today I am going for the third or fourth time up through the Royal Gorge—one of the finest scenic spots in the whole of the United States. More and more this scenery of ours in the Rocky Mountains is being recognized as a national asset by people all over the country, and they are coming here for their vacation time. I believe that also is a good thing. If we could get everybody in the United States to travel all around the United States, we would eliminate in large part our political differences. We would get to know each other better.

It is in that spirit of the traveler, the man who wants to go around the country to take a look-see, to find out more about the problems of every section, that I am passing through Pueblo today. I wish I could stay longer. This trip is helping me to get a re-orientation of what is going on in the United States.

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

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