Thursday, August 8, 2013
On this day in 1934, residents of Devils Lake were still talking and enjoying the hype, the charisma and the excitement of seeing a national president—in fact, the first president to visit their city.
On the day before, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife made a small stop in Devils Lake on their way back to Washington, D.C. from the president’s trip to the Hawaiian Islands. Approximately 35,000 excited people welcomed them to North Dakota upon their arrival here.
During the brief visit, F.D.R. took some time to make a tour of the 55-mile lake region, getting first-hand information on what had happened in Devils Lake and what needed to be done for the Missouri River Diversion project.
Immediately following the tour, the president gave a speech, pledging “speedy action” on watershed studies in North Dakota, and saying that the government would help as best as possible to improve conditions, as possible.
The multitude of people there to see the president “heard him give them a word of hope for relief from the drought. They cheered him when he entered the city and they tendered him a tremendous ovation as he departed eastward.”
And everything, all their plans, went off well, as one newspaper man reported. A Chicago Tribune staff writer said that “of all the places Roosevelt has stopped, Devil’s Lake’s committee on handling crowds is the best of all.” This pleased the citizens of Devils Lake, who felt that this reflected the care they had taken in planning “every little detail.” Other than a few people who fainted in the tightly-packed crowds, there were no accidents reported. The crowd was held in check by national guardsmen. Moreover, the president was protected by a bevy of guards: He had a military escort and guard, as well as his own secret service men. A group of Minnesota state highway patrolmen joined in to act as guardians, as well.
F.D.R. was reportedly as pleased with the state as the crowds were with him. He said he was happy to be in the state, and a newspaperman reported that the president even told Senator Nye that he might return, some day.
“Devils Lake has probably had no honor greater than that bestowed upon its people by President Roosevelt,” The Devils Lake Journal reported. The situation was well-handled, and served as “a credit to Devils Lake.”
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
The Hebron Herald, August 9, 1934
The Devils Lake Journal, Friday, August 10, 1934, p.4