The Purposes of Peace Are Flowing

In the depths of the Great Depression and 71 years after the battle, President Franklin D Roosevelt speaks of peace and national unity in a speech at Gettysburg, May 30, 1934:

FDR

FDR & ER

In the days before the Brothers’ War not a single line of railroad was projected from the South to the North; not even one from the South reached to the national capital itself. In those days, it was an inspired prophet of the South who said: “My brethren, if we know one another, we will love one another.” The tragedy of the Nation was that the people did not know one another because they had not the necessary means of visiting one another. Since those days, two subsequent wars, both with foreign. Nations, have measurably allayed and softened the ancient passions. It has been left to us of this generation to see the healing made permanent.

We are all brothers now, brothers in a new understanding. The grain farmers of the West and in the fertile fields of Pennsylvania do not set themselves up for preference if we seek at the same time to help the cotton farmers of the South; nor do the tobacco growers complain of discrimination if, at the same time, we help the cattle men of the plains and mountains.

In our planning to lift industry to normal prosperity, the farmer upholds our efforts. And as we seek to give the farmers of the United States a long-sought equality, the city worker understands and helps. All of us, among all the States, share in whatever of good comes to the average man. We know that we all have a stake—a partnership in this Government of this, our country.

Today, we have many means of knowing each other—means that at last have sounded the doom of sectionalism. It is, I think, as I survey the picture from every angle, a simple fact that the chief hindrance to progress comes from three elements which, thank God, grow less in importance with the growth of a clearer understanding of our purposes on the part of the overwhelming majority. These groups are those who seek to stir up political animosity or to build political advantage by the distortion of facts; those who, by declining to follow the rules of the game, seek to gain an unfair advantage over those who are willing to live up to the rules of the game; and those few who, because they have never been willing to take an interest in their fellow Americans, dwell inside of their own narrow spheres and still represent the selfishness of sectionalism which has no place in our national life. Washington and Jefferson and Jackson and Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson sought and worked for a consolidated Nation. You and I have it in our power to attain that great ideal within our lifetime. We can do this by following the peaceful methods prescribed under the broad and resilient provisions of the Constitution of the United States. Here, here at Gettysburg, here in the presence of the spirits of those who fell on this ground, we give renewed assurance that the passions of war are moldering in the tombs of Time and the purposes of peace are flowing today in the hearts of a united people.

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