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Sources

Roosevelt Speech (Modified)

Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.

Head Note: President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave this speech on August 14, 1935 when he signed the Social Security Act.

Today a long-held hope is largely fulfilled. The civilization of the past 100 years, with its startling industrial changes, has made life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would happen to them in old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last.

This social security measure gives some protection to 30 million of our citizens who will receive 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 ups and downs of life, but we have tried to pass a law which will give some protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden 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 help the needy. 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.

If the Senate and the House of Representatives in this long and difficult session had done nothing more than pass this Bill, the session would be regarded as historic for all time.

Source: August 14, 1935, excerpt from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, Washington, D.C.