Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks to the Regional Resettlement Directors.

June 20, 1935

The work you are doing lies particularly close to my heart. I go back a good many years to the time, in Albany, when we undertook what, so far as I know, was the first land-use survey. It related, in part, to soil but mostly to human beings and there, with the cooperation of the Cornell Agricultural College, we started our first land-use survey. I became intensely interested in it.

Since that time, of course, a good many States have been working both on the agricultural and on the human end of it. In the last two years we have put the Federal Government very actively into the major objectives that we all seek.

I have been trying to interest people in the cities in our work. For the first time, I think, we have begun to cause people in the cities to realize that their own prosperity depends, in a very large part, on the prosperity of people who live and work outside of cities. All of the small communities of the country understand it. We want the people in the big cities as well to understand. It is a national problem that relates, in the long run, just as much to people who live in cities as it does to people who live on farms.

The Resettlement Administration has begun a work in which we all believe. You who are here today are entrusted with the duty of bringing not only new hope, but a new program into the lives of a great many thousands of families. Their economic position has been weakened by years of depression and by attempts on their part, either to make a living on land that was unsuitable to begin with, or on land that has been so reduced in fertility through erosion or through improper cropping that it is impossible for them to make a living on it.

One thing that fascinates me about your work is that no two cases are the same. Every single operation you conduct has to be viewed from the point of view of that case alone. For instance, some small financial help will be enough to tide over and put on their feet a great many families that have been hit by the depression. In other cases, families will have to be given an opportunity to move off the land they are on, and will have to be provided with better land. In any of these cases, we have to establish a better relationship between people and the source of their living.

The first benefit expected from this work will be taking and keeping these families off the relief rolls. The money we are using comes within the objective set by the Congress which is to put three and a half million people to work at a cost of four billion dollars.

Another objective we seek is to devote our land resources to their highest uses, not only for this generation but for future generations. We approach this genuine conservation policy with the future in mind.

Under this appropriation act, we are expected to take care of as many families on relief as we possibly. can. You will be doing this in two ways—giving them work on community projects, and providing funds for rehabilitation and resettlement. In this, you will center your attention primarily on those actually on the relief rolls.

I know you won't mind my saying what I said to the Relief Administrators of the forty-eight States the other day. We cannot, must not, and will not let politics enter into this work. It makes no difference what a family in need of rural resettlement, in one form or another, calls itself. The fact is that, if the need exists, you must help out and you have my authority, as I told the Works Progress Administrators the other day, to disregard partisan political pressure in any case where an attempt is made to exert it. You can tell them from me that you are not allowed to do it, and that you are not going to do it.

You are aware, as I am, that the country regions are the great reservoir from which much of our future population will come. It is our duty to see to it that this future population comes out of homes where they have been able to live and grow under proper conditions, according to adequate, American standards. That is the task with which you are entrusted. It is a fascinating job. It is something the results of which will last for many generations to come. That is why your responsibility is much more than a one year responsibility.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks to the Regional Resettlement Directors. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives