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FDR urges 'total defense,' warning nation is menaced by foes without and within

By United Press
FDR urges 'total defense,' warning nation is menaced by foes without and within
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a photo from 1935. UPI File Photo | License Photo

ABOARD PRESIDENTIAL SPECIAL, En Route to Charleston, W.Va. -- President Franklin Roosevelt today warned that Americans must make great sacrifices to preserve liberties menaced by history's greatest attack on free men.

He spoke this afternoon at ceremonies at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Newfound Gap, N.C., on the Tennessee border, and dedicated the 200,000-acre preserve to "the free people of America."

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In the morning he had fired an inferential broadside at the private utility background of Republican Presidential Nominee Wendell Willkie in dedicating the $36,000,000 Chickamauga (Tenn.) Dam.

The dam -- the New Deal's first major experiment in economic and social planning for an entire region -- was dedicated by Mr. Roosevelt to "the total defense of the United States of America."

Both speeches, broadcast nationally, transcended the dedications.

Speaking at the Great Smoky Mountains Park, the president said that "the greatest attack that has ever been launched against freedom of the individual, is nearer the Americas than ever before.

"To meet that attack we must prepare beforehand -- for preparing later may and probably would be too late.

"We in this hour must have absolute national unity for total defense. That (American) way of life is menaced We can meet the threat. We can meet it in the old frontier way. We can forge our weapons, train ourselves to shoot, meet fire with fire and with the courage and the unity of the frontiersman."

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Although he insisted that his swing into the Midsouth was non-political, the trip through Chattanooga and Knoxville was virtually a triumphal tour. Bunting-draped streets of Chattanooga were jammed to the curbs as he drove through.

Thousands took advantage of the holiday to drive into the Great Smoky Mountains recreation area to hear Mr. Roosevelt deliver his second address of the day from a mile-high mountain pass.

Here, he warned that the greatest menace free men ever faced is moving ever closer to the America's and that Americans must toughen themselves and make sacrifices if they are to protect their way of life.

He told the nation and the world (the speech was translated into foreign languages for re-broadcast via short wave) that America must prepare "in a thousand ways" against enemies from abroad and at home.

His address represented a presentation of the case for defense measures without precedent in American peace-time history -- a $10,000,000,000 drive to create new weapons, a law to draft American manpower to operate the war machines and a call to colors for National Guardsmen and Army reservists.

Mr. Roosevelt solely asserted that Americans have grown soft with easy living and must toughen and harden themselves for sacrifices and harsh times to come.

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No time is to be lost, he warned, for delay may mean the end of the great American tradition of freedom of the individual.

His afternoon address was devoid of political implications.

He departed from his prepared text to hint that negotiations with Great Britain regarding acquisition of naval and air bases on British possessions in this hemisphere have progressed.

Asserting that "new bases must be established to enable our fleet to defend our shores," he interpolated the worlds "and I think they will be established."

He warned of Fifth-Column dangers, asserting, "We must counter the agents of the dictators within our country.

There is "another enemy at home -- the mean and petty spirit that mocks at ideals, sneers at sacrifice and pretends the American people can live on bread alone," he said.

Mr. Roosevelt said there is "a second danger -- from without --" aggressor nations.

He repeated that in the Nation's drive to rearm there would be no sacrifice of social gains of the New Deal.

Ceremonies at Chickamauga Dam brought Mr. Roosevelt to the scene of the Tennessee Valley Authority development within Willkie, as president of the Commonwealth and Southern Corp., had opposed until TVA purchased C&S holdings in the area for $79,600,000.

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Without mentioning Willkie by name, Mr. Roosevelt appeared obviously to be contrasting the New Deal's program of "yardstick-power" development with that of the private utility company formerly headed by the GOP presidential nominee.

"There were and are those who maintain that the development of this enterprise is not a proper activity of government," he said. "As for me, I glory in it as one of the great social and economic achievements of our time."

He praised the "vital role" played by labor in the seven-year task of constructing the huge dam across the Tennessee River and told of the benefits accruing in "new low-cost energy."

Then, obviously referring to the private utility industry, Mr. Roosevelt observed:

"The only note of sorrow that can properly be sounded on a great day like this lies in the misplaced emphasis which so many people have put on the objectives of the government in building up this great Tennessee Valley project."

Later, he again aimed a barbed shaft at the private utility industry. Defending the project, he said that he had found in planning for the dam that "a saving of $25,000,000 could be made by providing for and insisting on cheaper electric rates and wider distribution of power."

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He followed this up with a remark that the $500,000,000 investment for the development included "incidentally, no watered stock."

From the estimated crowd of 50,000 persons who fringed the huge dam came a scattering of whoops and applause.

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