Franklin D. Roosevelt

White House Statement on the Virgin Islands.

February 23, 1934

The President today formed an Advisory Council to assist in the formulation of a comprehensive plan for the social and economic advancement of the people of the Virgin Islands, to be financed from public works funds.

The Advisory Council will consist of seven members, including the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture.

The letter to the Secretary of the Interior read:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The Administration has formulated a comprehensive plan for the social and economic advancement of the people of the Virgin Islands which is being financed from public works funds. For the first time, sufficient capital is available to develop a well-rounded program which I believe will bring a permanent benefit to the Islands if properly executed. The economic phases will be con. ducted on a non-profit-sharing basis and will include the develop. ment of cane lands and the operation of sugar mills and a rum distillery. Coincidently, the social aspects will be cared for through adult education, nursery schools, homesteading and improved housing conditions. Cooperative methods will be used wherever practicable, which will enable these people to help themselves toward an improved standard of living.

I desire to form an advisory council of seven members to assist in the program, and I would like you to serve with the Secretary of Agriculture, business and professional men, and others interested in the economic condition of the Negro. As you know, the active functions of management will be assumed by the Governor and his staff and by men who will be engaged for the purpose, Under the general supervision of the Department of the Interior. I believe your support will be helpful in this unique movement and that you will have an opportunity for accomplishment in a field in which I am sure you are interested. Will you please advise me whether you would accept an appointment to the council?

Sincerely yours,

Hon. Harold L. Ickes,

Secretary of the Interior,

Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, White House Statement on the Virgin Islands. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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