The American People
In the Great Depression
Freedom from Fear
David M. Kennedy
(Oxford)Part IIA special treasure for this reader is part of a speech given by FDR --- not in the early days of his administation --- but at the Inauguration of 1937.
As I read these words, it sets me to thinking of what America has lost over the years. In that far-off time, in the midst of a national disaster, we lived under a president who could be confident and articulate; who could speak for all of us not only in beautifully constructed sentences, but replete with exquisitely measured phrases --- all filled with an outrage at the injustices prevailing in the country at the time.I found myself mulling the fact that at one time in our checkered history, we were fortunate enough to have a president who could deliver inspiring words of hope for all of us, letting us know that a just function of a just government is to make sure that the country's great largesse is parceled out, equally, for all to enjoy.We cannot but compare that grandeur of spirit and hope to the current jingoistic, vindictive administration. It makes us long for a time when there was, in this land, a grand sense of generosity for the poor and the troubled. By comparison, we look with dread at the present, at a country mired in envy and greed, where above all statecraft is seen as the trampling of what was once a generous rule of a generous people by a government of hope and charity.
These are Roosevelt's words:
In this nation I see tens of millions of citizens who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.
I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.
I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half-a-
I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.
I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productivity to many other millions.
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope --- because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice of it, proposes to paint it out .... The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.--- A. D. Savage, PhD