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In Their Own Words

August 11, 1938

FDR Spoke of REA Beginnings

In the stadium at Gordon Military College in Barnesville, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the principal speaker at dedication of power lines of the Lamar Electric Membership Corporation. Roosevelt used this occasion to tell the story of the Georgia roots of the Rural Electrification Administration:

“Fourteen years ago a Democratic Yankee [referring to himself] came to a neighboring county in your state in search of a pool of warm water wherein he might swim his way back to health. The place - Warm Springs - was a rather dilapidated, small summer resort. His new neighbors extended to him the hand of genuine hospitality, welcomed him to their firesides and made him feel so much at home that he built himself a house, brought himself a farm, and has been coming back ever since.

“There was only one discordant note in that first stay of mine at Warm Springs: When the first-of-the-month bill came in for electric light for my little cottage, I found that the charge was 18 cents a kilowatt-hour - about four times as much as I paid in Hyde Park, New York. That stated my long study of proper public-utility charges for electric current and the whole subject of getting electricity into farm houses.

“So it can be said that a little cottage at Warm Springs, Georgia, was the birthplace of the Rural Electrification Administration.

“Electricity is a modern necessity of life and ought to be found in every village, every home, and every farm in every part of the United States. The dedication of this Rural Electrification Administration project in Georgia is a symbol of the progress we are making - and we are not going to stop.”

Source: Richard A. Pence (ed.), The Next Greatest Thing (Washington, D.C.: The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, 1984), p. 77.