Herbert Hoover photo

Remarks Upon Laying the Cornerstone of the New Post Office Department Building

September 26, 1932

It ia a great pleasure to participate in this ceremony. This building is a part of a great national construction program which we have undertaken for the dual purpose of more economical housing of Federal activities and of providing employment for the country. It is a part of the sound policy of speeding the growth of Government facilities in times of depression.

In September 1793, President Washington laid the cornerstone of the Capitol. We meet today in the course of a nationwide commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth to set, with the same trowel which he used 139 years ago, the cornerstone of a new building for the administration of the postal service, which had its origin during Washington's administration.

As you know, Washington was responsible for the original plan of this city. It was a plan which permitted its orderly and beautiful expansion. This building is set into that plan and is well fitted to further beautify the city.

This ceremony today has an especial significance to the people of the city of New York, for it was there that the Government of the United States began its functions under the Constitution, and there was first organized the General Post Office, as it was then called. I extend greetings to those who are assembled in that city today to celebrate these beginnings of our Government and to do honor to Washington's memory.

In those beginning days the country was sparsely settled; travel was difficult; post offices were widely separated, and the postal service was primitive, slow, and costly. But it was the sole means of communication among the States, and the new Government acted vigorously to increase its efficiency. By the time of the removal of the Government to the District of Columbia in the year 1800, the United States Post Office was firmly established.

Postal facilities were looked upon by our early statesmen not merely as an end in themselves, but as a powerful instrumentality for national unity and national growth. In the first years of the Republic, the mails followed the pioneers into our inland territory, and as the great tide of migration set toward the West, it was the rapidly multiplying post routes and the dependable communication which they afforded with the eastern seaboard that made possible the eventual extension of our frontiers to the Pacific.

Since those early days, the postal service has been a factor second to no other in the upbuilding and development of modern America. It has constantly enlarged and broadened its facilities and has steadily grown in usefulness. Today it threads through the daily social and business life of all our people, and extends its benefits to every city, hamlet, and fireside in the land. It furnishes quick communication for business and industry, transports the products of the farm to the city dweller, brings the goods of the manufacturer and the merchant to the farmer's gate, delivers newspapers, magazines, and books into the remotest homes, provides a safe means for transmitting money and valuables, carries messages of gladness and of sorrow between families and friends, and makes neighbors of our most widely separated communities.

The Post Office establishment is not a machine; it is a living service of thousands of skillful and devoted men and women. Two hundred and fifty thousand persons are regularly and continuously engaged in handling the United States mails, and 60,000 others are given part-time or contract employment by the Post Office Department. The esteem and affection in which the Postal Service is held by all our citizens is a deserved tribute to the unfailing fidelity of these efficient and honorable public servants. And as evidence of its continuity and development we have here today a postmaster who has had 60 years of continuous service.

I wish to take this occasion to express my appreciation of the willingness and zeal with which all employees have joined in the plan of sharing work in the establishment during these times so that the service shall hold its personnel and that none shall be deprived of employment.

Thirty-two years ago the Post Office Department moved its offices into the building which it at present occupies. In these 32 years, the population of the country has increased by 65 percent, but the postal business has increased sevenfold. And so today we lay the cornerstone of the new building which is to house the executive offices of this enlarged and growing institution for the next generation. In the future, as in the past, the enlargement of its services will bring increased abundance to the commercial, the social, and the spiritual life of all our citizens.

Note: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m.

On the same day, the White House issued an advance text of the address.

Herbert Hoover, Remarks Upon Laying the Cornerstone of the New Post Office Department Building Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207647

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