A Radio Address on the Third Anniversary of C.C.C.

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A Radio Address on the Third Anniversary of C.C.C.

Works of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Speech excerpt

By: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Date: April 17, 1936

Source: Roosevelt, Franklin D. "A Radio Address on the Third Anniversary of C.C.C." April 17, 1936. Available online at New Deal Network. 〈http://www.newdeal.feri.org/speeches/1936c.htm〉 (accessed February 23, 2006).

About the Author: Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) was the thirty-second president of the United States. Born in 1882 in New York, he assumed the office of the President in 1932. The New Deal Program became one highlight of Roosevelt's presidential career. Roosevelt launched the program at the height of the great American Depression in the 1930s. The New Deal Program was initially popular and boosted Americans at a time when the country was deeply in crisis. However, Roosevelt became defensive about the program toward the end of the decade, as he faced considerable criticism about some of his New Deal Programs.


The stock market crash of 1929 left the United States deep in an economic depression. When Roosevelt became President in 1932, more than fifteen million U.S. citizens, who represented more than a quarter of the existing workforce at that time, were unemployed.

Immediately after he assumed power, Roosevelt announced a series of measures that, between 1933 and 1938, collectively came to be known as the New Deal, which were designed to restructure the ailing workforce in the United States following the vice-grip of the Depression. Two of the most well known of these measures were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The economy of the Tennessee Valley was among the worst hit during the Depression. The valley suffered from a number of problems including deforestation, erosion, overuse of farmland, and a depleted rate of agricultural return. The CCC set up camp in the Tennessee Valley and, with their help, the TVA executed a variety of activities such as controlling the flooding of the Tennessee River, preventing the erosion of top soil from Tennessee Valley farms into the river, making the river more navigable to sustain the economy and the commerce of the region, teaching farmers the correct use of fertilizers, and providing cheap electricity for the residents.

The CCC employed more than one and a half million young men and war veterans in several outdoor projects such as forestry, soil conservation, flood control, civilian assistance-in-distress situations, constructing roads, building bridges, laying telephone lines, fire fighting, designating state parks, distinguishing wildlife sanctuaries, erecting observation towers, and others, all over the United States.

Roosevelt delivered the following speech on April 17, 1936—the third anniversary of the formation of the CCC. In his speech, Roosevelt thanked the many volunteers who chose to work with the Corps.


TO THE million and a half young men and war veterans who have been or are today enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps camps, I extend greetings on this third anniversary of the establishment of the first C.C.C. camp. Idle through no fault of your own, you were enrolled from city and rural homes and offered an opportunity to engage in healthful, outdoor work on forest, park, and soil-conservation projects of definite practical value to all the people of the Nation. The promptness with which you seized the opportunity to engage in honest work, the willingness with which you have performed your daily tasks, and the fine spirit you have shown in winning the respect of the communities in which your camps have been located merit the admiration of the entire country. You and the men who have guided and supervised your efforts have cause to be proud of the record the C.C.C. has made in the development of sturdy manhood and in the initiation and prosecution of a conservation program of unprecedented proportions.

I recall that on July 17, 1933, at a time when the corps was just getting into stride, I predicted that through the C.C.C. we would graduate a fine group of strong young men, trained to self-discipline and willing and proud to work. I did not misjudge the loyalty, the spirit, the industry, or the temper of American youth. Although many of you entered the camps undernourished and discouraged through inability to obtain employment as you came of working age, the hard work, regular hours, the plain, wholesome food, and the outdoor life of the C.C.C. camps brought a quick response in improved morale. As muscles hardened and you became accustomed to outdoor work you grasped the opportunity to learn by practical training on the job and through camp educational facilities. Many of you rose to responsible positions in the camps. Since the corps began, some 1,150,000 of you have been graduated, improved in health, self-disciplined, alert, and eager for the opportunity to make good in any kind of honest employment.

Our records show that the results achieved in the protection and improvement of our timbered domain, in the arrest of soil wastage, in the development of needed recreational areas, in wildlife conservation, and in flood control have been as impressive as the results achieved in the rehabilitation of youth. Through your spirit and industry it has been demonstrated that young men can be put to work in our forests, parks, and fields on projects which benefit both the Nation's youth and conservation generally.


The Tennessee River flows through seven southern states, all of which suffered a hard hit during the Depression: Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Much of the river valley, however, is part of the state of Tennessee. The river basin covers an area of approximately 41,000 sq. miles (106,200 sq. kilometers). The CCC undertook many significant conservation efforts in the Tennessee River Valley during this time.

Under the support of the TVA, the CCC were involved with planting trees, preventing soil erosion, controlling floods, repairing canals, replenishing rivers with fish, and other assorted activities in the region. These measures are considered by many to have been greatly responsible for reviving the environmental soundness of these southern states, as well as the economy, during the Depression.

In the early 1940s, the CCC, with TVA guidance, helped create twelve hydroelectric projects that produced a significant portion of the electricity required by the manufacturing industry for the war efforts during World War II. Although the CCC was instrumental in developing various initiatives, it also faced enormous budgetary allocation problems during World War II. Though President Roosevelt desired that the CCC be a permanent agency, Congress voted to discontinue funding it by the end of June 1942. The agency was thereafter disbanded on July 1, 1942.

After the disbanding of the CCC, the TVA continued its development initiatives. In the 1950s, it concentrated on increasing the navigability of the Tennessee River. During the 1960s, it focused on producing electricity, establishing nuclear plants for this purpose. The TVA's business of electric generation continued until the late 1990s, when it began conservation efforts once again.

Ever since its inception, the TVA has initiated various programs that limit the disposal of pollutants in the atmosphere and the Tennessee Valley system. Some of its achievements include the Clean Water Initiative of 1992. It maintains an aggressive clean-air program, under which it has significantly reduced nitrous oxide emissions and is, as of the early 2000s, proceeding to drastically cut its sulfur dioxide emissions also for its coal-fired electric plants. The TVA has also carried out water improvements, and in 2005, completed an extensive two-year-long study on its operations policy for the Tennessee River system.


Web sites

"Document Library: Civilian Conservation Corps." New Deal Network. 〈http://www.newdeal.feri.org/texts/browse.cfm?MainCatID=55〉 (accessed March 8, 2006).

"Document Library: Tennessee Valley Authority." New Deal Network. 〈http://www.newdeal.feri.org/texts/browse.cfm?MainCatID=91〉 (accessed February 20, 2006).

Gupta, Pranav, and Jonathan Lee. "Successes and failures of Roosevelt's 'New Deal' programs." 〈http://www.bergen.org/AAST/Projects/depression/successes.html〉 (accessed March 8, 2006).

"A National Initiative on American History, Civics, and Service." Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. 〈http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/ourdocs.html〉 (accessed March 8, 2006).

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A Radio Address on the Third Anniversary of C.C.C.

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