Chuck Mack: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to miners, part three
October 20, 2007
Craig — Listed below is part 3 of a 5-part speech President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered by radio from the White House on May 2, 1943. The speech was mentioned in Chuck Mack’s column appearing Sept. 22 in the Saturday Morning Press.
The speech was largely aimed at coal miners who gone on strike. Mack wrote that the radio speech makes “good reading” and that he will feature the other four in coming columns.
You miners have ample reason to know that there are certain basic rights for which this country stands, and that those rights are worth fighting for and worth dying for. That is why you have sent your sons and brothers from every mining town in the nation to join in the great struggle overseas. That is why you have contributed so generously, so willingly, to the purchase of war bonds and to the many funds for the relief of war victims in foreign lands. That is why, since this war was started in 1939, you have increased the annual production of coal by almost two hundred million tons a year.
The toughness of your sons in our armed forces is not surprising. They come of fine, rugged stock. Men who work in the mines are not unaccustomed to hardship. It has been the objective of this Government to reduce that hardship, to obtain for miners and for all who do the nations work a better standard of living.
I know only too well that the cost of living is troubling the miners’ families, and troubling the families of millions of other workers throughout the country as well. A year ago, it became evident to all of us that something had to be done about living costs. Your Government determined not to let the cost of living continue to go up as it did in the First World War
Your Government has been determined to maintain stability of both prices and wages – so that a dollar would buy, so far as possible, the same amount of the necessities of life. And by necessities I mean just that – not the luxuries, not the (and) fancy goods that we have learned to do without in wartime.
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So far, we have not been able to keep the prices of some necessities as low as we should have liked to keep them. That is true not only in coal towns but in many other places
Wherever we find that prices of essentials have risen too high, they will be brought down. Wherever we find that price ceilings are being violated, the violators will be punished.
Rents have been fixed in most parts of the country. In many cities they have been cut to below where they were before we entered the war. Clothing prices have generally remained stable.
These two items make up more than a third of the total budget of the worker’s family.
As for food, which today accounts for about another (a) third of the family expenditure on the average, I want to repeat again: your Government will continue to take all necessary measures to eliminate unjustified and avoidable price increases. And we are today (now) taking measures to “roll back” the prices of meats.
The war is going to go on. Coal will be mined no matter what any individual thinks about it. The operation of our factories, our power plants, our railroads will not be stopped. Our munitions must move to our troops.
And so, under these circumstances, it is inconceivable that any patriotic miner can choose any course other than going back to work and mining coal.
The nation cannot afford violence of any kind at the coal mines or in coal towns. I have placed authority for the resumption of coal mining in the hands of a civilian, the Secretary of the Interior. If it becomes necessary to protect any miner who seeks patriotically to go back and work, then that miner must have and his family must have – and will have – complete and adequate protection.
If it becomes necessary to have troops at the mine mouths or in coal towns for the protection of working miners and their families, those troops will be doing police duty for the sake of the nation as a whole, and particularly for the sake of the fighting men in the Army, the Navy and the Marines-your sons and mine-who are fighting our common enemies all over the world.