September 17, 1937 marked the 150th anniversary of the Constitution. In that year, the country was still in the midst of digging itself out of the worst depression in history, and suffering a second shock in the process. The Anti-FDR factions were loudly trumpeting our certain descent into Socialism. Meanwhile, radical movements were on the rise, with the American Nazi Party and The American Communist Party gaining prominence with the public. The Supreme Court was clogged and stagnant and a remnant of the Coolidge and Hoover administrations. The Recovery was slow and plagued with obstacles. Wall Street was resistant to the point of belligerence. The rest of the world was going through financial turmoil. Nazi Germany was emerging as a new and dangerous world power.
They were, if anything, worrisome times.
But on that Constitution Day in 1937 President Franklin Roosevelt saw the big picture, and his address to a crowd of 75,000 as well as broadcast around the world to countless millions, reiterated the sentiments of the majority that the country was getting better. Slowly, but getting better.
President Roovevelt: "It cost a Civil War to gain recognition of the constitutional power of the Congress to legislate for the territories.
It cost twenty years of taxation on those least able to pay to recognize the constitutional power of the Congress to levy taxes on those most able to pay.
It cost twenty years of exploitation of women's labor to recognize the constitutional power of the States to pass minimum wage laws for their protection.
It has cost twenty years already—and no one knows how many more are to come- to obtain a constitutional interpretation that will let the Nation regulate the shipment in national commerce of goods sweated from the labor of little children.
We know it takes time to adjust government to the needs of society. But modern history proves that reforms too long delayed or denied have jeopardized peace, undermined democracy and swept away civil and religious liberties. —-"
Yes, time more than ever before is vital in statesmanship and in government, in all three branches of it.
We will no longer be permitted to sacrifice each generation in turn while the law catches up with life."
Even in 1937.
Here is the complete Constitution Day Address of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as it was heard on September 17, 1937.