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100 years ago in Spokane: Franklin Roosevelt speech foreshadows FDR’s projects years later

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 19, 2020

Franklin Roosevelt, Democratic nominee for vice president gave a speech at the Spokane Armory, in support of his running mate, James Cox, but he also took the opportunity to talk about some of Spokane’s regional interests, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Aug. 20, 1920.  (Spokesman-Review archives)
Franklin Roosevelt, Democratic nominee for vice president gave a speech at the Spokane Armory, in support of his running mate, James Cox, but he also took the opportunity to talk about some of Spokane’s regional interests, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Aug. 20, 1920. (Spokesman-Review archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in Spokane and delivered what the Spokane Daily Chronicle called the “opening gun” in the state’s 1920 presidential campaign.

Roosevelt was the Democratic vice-presidential candidate on the ticket headed by James M. Cox.

Most of FDR’s speech, at the Spokane Armory, was in support of Cox’s candidacy, but he also took the opportunity to talk about some of Spokane’s regional interests.

“Coming through today on the train (from the east) has made me think pretty deeply, as it always does to cross the mountain states, and that part of the Coast state which lies pretty well back from the seaport, to see those great stretches of physical territory, now practically untouched, but destined someday to contain the homes of thousands and hundreds of thousands of citizens like ours, to be developed by the nation and for the nation,” said Roosevelt. “And as we were coming down the river today, I could not help thinking of all that water running down unchecked to the sea.”

Roosevelt predicted that reclamation projects would, “in the immediate years to come,” be undertaken “on a vastly greater scale.”

In fact, the biggest reclamation project of all – the Grand Coulee project – would be undertaken about two decades later, under the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidential administration.

Roosevelt and Cox would lose the 1920 presidential contest, but FDR would later go on to win not just one presidential election, but four.

On this day

(From the Associated Press)

1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, a nearly $1 billion anti-poverty measure.

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