Speeches by John F. Kennedy

From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Reception, Beckley, West Virginia, April 11, 1960

This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Library.

Twenty-seven years ago today, the 73rd Congress was meeting - the famous Congress of the "FIRST HUNDRED DAYS" - the FIRST hundred days with Franklin Roosevelt at the helm.

That Congress, under FDR's leadership, accomplished more in 100 days than has been accomplished in 8 full years under the Eisenhower-Nixon administration.

Franklin Roosevelt gave the American people a New Deal - social security, unemployment compensation, REA, minimum wages, protection to unions and farmers and child labor and all the rest.

And now it is time for another "New Deal" - a New Deal for West Virginia.

This Administration in Washington is talking about prosperity - but they haven't been to West Virginia. They are talking about Americans living better than ever before - but they haven't been to West Virginia. They are talking about employment reaching record levels - but they haven't been to West Virginia.

This state has been forgotten in the White House. Republican prosperity has passed it by. Republican give-aways have gone somewhere else. And that is why I say it is time for a "New Deal" for West Virginia.

Why should there be hungry people in this state while $9 billion worth of surplus food is rotting in warehouses? Why should West Virginians who want to work be out of work - why should great mines and mills lie idle - why should vast resources stay in the ground untapped - at a time when this nation needs all of its powers and energies to match the growing menace of the Soviet Union?

Why should one state of the nation suffer while another prospers? Why should thousands of young people be required to leave a state with such great natural beauty and potential wealth?

This is one nation, under God. Depression in one area hurts all areas. Depression in one industry hurts all industries. And that is why West Virginia's problems are not local but national - that is why the next president must come forth with a New Deal for West Virginia.

I am asking for you help in seeking the Presidency. And I am pledging to you - on the basis of my record of 14 years in Congress, helping the distressed areas of Massachusetts and the Nation - on the basis of my deep convictions, after touring this state, its plants and its mines - I am pledging to you a New Deal for West Virginia.

- a fair share of defense contracts, which ought to go more to areas of unemployment

- Federal loans to build new plants for new industries

- Higher and longer unemployment insurance, to tide a man over until he can find work

- Federal grants to rebuild decaying towns, giving them roads and water and more facilities needed to attract new industry

- a fair share of Federal highway funds for states like West Virginia

- Federal programs to help build new schools and retrain workers for new jobs

- a better distribution of surplus foods to hungry people

- a better break for the elderly, the disabled and sick

- better minimum standards of both pay and safety for those who work in our mills and mines

These are some of the features of what must be included in a "New Deal" for West Virginia. Any nation that can afford to rebuild the economies of Western Europe and Japan can afford to help its own people.

When Winston Churchill called at the start of World War II for our arms and destroyers, he pleaded: "Give us the tools - and we will finish the job." The people of West Virginia do not want the Federal government to do everything for them. They do not want charity and handouts. They are saying instead, with one voice, "Give us the tools - and we will finish the job."

I promise you that voice will be heard.

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