Click on the link here for Audio Player – President Roosevelt signs The Social Security Act of 1935 – August 14, 1935 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Since it’s been a bone of contention and the target of avid attempts at dismantling it, here’s a reminder of what all the fuss is about – and why August 14th is, among many things, a very important day.
In 1935 it sounded like this:
President Roosevelt: “Today, a hope of many years’ standing is in large part fulfilled.
The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, had tended more and more to make life insecure.
Young people have come to wonder what will be there lot when they came to old age.
The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last.
This social security measure gives at least some protection to 50 millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions, and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.
We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-stricken old age.
This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions. It will act as a protection to future administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy. The law will flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.
I congratulate all of you ladies and gentlemen, all of you in the Congress, in the executive departments and all of you who come from private life, and I thank you for your splendid efforts in behalf of this sound, needed and patriotic legislation.
It seems to me that if the Senate and the House of Representatives, in this long and arduous session, had done nothing more than pass this security Bill, Social Security Act, the session would be regarded as historic for all time.”
Clearly, there are many who would like you to forget. But this is something that’s been earned over the years.
Something most Americans are grateful for.
- Bruce’s History Lessons: Social Security was FDR’s most important domestic program (appeal-democrat.com)
- Happy Birthday, Social Security! (aauw.org)
- This Week in History (abcnews.go.com)