FDR Address at Bonneville Dam

President Roosevelt traveled to Portland, Oregon in the Fall of 1937 to inaugurate the era of dam construction on the Columbia river. Emerging from the Dust Bowl but still in the throes of the Great Depression, FDR strikes on a number of themes in his brief address that embody the spirit of energy development and the New Deal. FDR notes the soil degradation that led to the Dust Bowl and critiques cities for “oversize” and “unhealthy growth.” On the other hand, FDR argues for smaller communities and the “inherent strength in a wider geographical distribution of population.” Ultimately FDR argues for “regional planning commissions” to coordinate the “progress… from the ground up.” How does energy fit into this vision of society, and how does the political arrangement FDR is promoting connect with, or show inconsistencies in, the energy technologies and and plans of development represented by large hydro?

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