FDR, Hoover, and the New Rural Conservation, 1920–1932

  • Sarah Phillips
Part of the The World of the Roosevelts book series (WOOROO)


On a June afternoon in the summer of 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) addressed his fellow governors assembled in Indiana for their annual conference. The severe economic situation, he said, called for positive leadership, tangible experiments, and government guidance. Yet Roosevelt confined his remarks that day to one particular aspect of the nation’s troubles—the “dislocation of a proper balance between urban and rural life.” Describing how hundreds of farmers clung to exhausted lands and eked out an existence far below the “American standard of living,” he outlined measures that New York State had initiated to classify lands, relieve tax burdens, purchase and reforest submarginal farmland, and bring cheaper electricity to the agricultural areas. He looked forward to a time when farmers cultivating land too worn to yield a profit would find alternate employment in factories close to rural communities. Planning for “a permanent agriculture,” Roosevelt explained, was the state’s ultimate purpose.1


Federal Government Marginal Land Land Utilization Rural Electrification Agricultural Planning 
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  1. 1.
    Franklin Roosevelt, “Acres Fit and Unfit: State Planning of Land Use for Industry and Agriculture,” address before the Conference of Governors at French Lick, Indiana, June 2, 1931, in Samuel I. Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, vol. 1 (Random House: New York, 1938) (PPA), 485–95.Google Scholar
  2. 39.
    Herbert Hoover, “Statement Before House Committee on Rivers and Harbors,” January 30, 1926, and “The Waterways Outlet From the Middle West,” March 9, 1926, Hoover Papers, Commerce Papers, Box 687, HHL; “St Lawrence O.K., Smith Checkmate,” New York Evening Post, January 3, 1927; Wilbur and Hyde, The Hoover Policies, 270–75; PPA, 159–206. Also see Daniel R. Fusfeld, The Economic Thought of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Origins ofthe New Deal (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956).Google Scholar
  3. 47.
    Hamilton, From New Day to New Deal, 180–85; Richard Kirkendall, Social Scientists and Farm Politics in the Age of Roosevelt (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1966), 20–24. Also see William D. Rowley, M.L. Wilson and the Campaign for Domestic Allotment (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  4. 71.
    Ernest Gruening, “Power as a Campaign Issue,” Current History37 (October 1932): 44–50Google Scholar
  5. Judson King, “Power Records of Hoover and Roosevelt” (Washington, DC: National Popular Government League, 1932).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry L. Henderson and David B. Woolner 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Phillips

There are no affiliations available

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