Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 28th Visit to Georgia
November 10 - December 5, 1934
From 1934 to 1937, Roosevelt was able to visit Warm Springs only once each year. In 1934, it was for the annual Thanksgiving dinner. The year had seen some economic recovery, but the Great Depression was still far from over. The overwhelming tide of support Roosevelt had upon his election had ebbed somewhat, but the voters as a whole still strongly endorsed him; they returned even greater Democratic majorities to Congress in the November elections. He held one press conference while at Warm Springs. Unemployment was still a major problem; Roosevelt’s plan for dealing with it formulated in 1934—and resulted in the Works Progress Administration. Writing a friend from Warm Springs he suggested the idea:
“I suppose there will be a general attack on relief fund expenditures. . . . What I am seeking in the abolition of relief altogether. I cannot say so out loud yet but I hope to be able to substitute work for relief. . . . There will, of course, be a certain number of relief cases where work will not furnish the answer but it is my thought that in these cases all of the relief expenditures should once be borne by the States and localities as they used to be.
I do wish you could have been with me on that Tennessee Valley trip. The whole project is a social step of the greatest importance. I think I shall go on the air to tell the country about it when I get back.
We are having a delightful time here and I find some leisure for reading and for talking more fully with people than I could in Washington. . . .” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 434-5.
Roosevelt held his annual Thanksgiving dinner with the companions at Warm Springs in very high regard, as the following letter indicated:
“. . . If you are not too exhausted why not run down and see me at Warm Springs while I am there—any time except Thanksgiving day and the day before and the day after. . . .” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 432-3.
As mentioned in a previous letter, Roosevelt had toured the Tennessee Valley on his way to Warm Springs:
“. . . The trip through the Tennessee Valley was a great success—especially the visit to the Hermitage. The more I learn about old Andy Jackson the more I love him. . . .” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 433.
After returning to Washington Roosevelt commented on the South and its ongoing recovery from the Depression:
“Having been in the South for more than three weeks, it is perfectly clear to me that the present policy of crop control is working, and it will be continued. The opposition comes from people who cannot be blamed for opposing it. . . . [A]ll of that element—the middle men—the more cotton they handle the more money they make. . . .
Anybody who has been in the South, however, knows that if you can get proper crop limitation of 25 per cent and get a 12-cent crop instead of having an unlimited crop at 51/2 cents, the result is that the South is more prosperous than it has been at any time except in 1917 and 1919 when everything went crazy with 40-cent cotton down there.
I should say that the South has come back faster, economically, than any other part of the country. There is a real reason why the South should come back faster than any other section, and that is because the South is a great deal farther behind in its social development. Education is, from the Northern point of view, antediluvian. They cannot tax themselves to provide better education. They have no taxable values. They have had no wealth from which they could provide better education and a real standard of living. The statistics show pretty clearly that fifty years from now the majority of people will be of Southern origin because they are the only ones now that have large families. The present generation should be able to increase their standard of living so that the second generation from now will be fairly well along in education. It is one of the most important things we have to figure on, nationally, and crop limitation is one of the things that is working. . . .” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 437-8.
One more note about Roosevelt’s 1934 Warm Springs visit— the press corps (which now followed him virtually everywhere) were quite impressed when a mule salesman came to the Little White House, and the President was able to converse with him knowledgeably about his wares! Roosevelt purchased a mule for use on his farm.
Even though Roosevelt only visited Warm Springs once in this year, plans for the development of the foundation were well underway. See the image below of an artist’s rendering of what the architects had in mind for the Warm Springs Foundation.