— “The Biggest Day That Denton Had Ever Seen” —
President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a critical address broadcast by radio to the entire nation from this spot at 2:00 p.m. on Labor Day, September 5, 1938.
He arrived in Denton in a large motorcade led by the local fire company, National Guard unit and Boy Scout troop with music by Chestertown Band. His entourage included 90 journalists, photographers and radio personnel together with numerous dignitaries and a 46-man security detail.
The New York Times reported: "The streets were gay with bunting and nearly every home displayed at least one flag. The Courthouse and Law Building were colorfully decorated, improvised refreshment stands were everywhere, and hungry hawkers. . . plied their wares."
The 27-minute speech was given from a specially built "broadcast stand" to a crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 persons who applauded loudly and frequently. Nationwide coverage included the CBS, NBC, and Mutual radio networks plus five newsreel and two telegraph companies.
The President's address was intended to unite farmers with factory workers, as well as to "purge" from Congress specific members of his own political party who opposed his faltering New Deal programs. "Roosevelt's Purge" of 1938 failed, but the President described his visit to Denton as "Wonderful!"
Denton quieted down at about
five o'clock ... It was much the biggest day that Denton had ever seen, and as twilight fell over the town the consensus of opinion was that the town had done a big job well.
- The Preston News, September 8, 1938.
A full-page photograph of the large crowd in Denton appeared in Life magazine on September 19, 1938. The prior Courthouse is in the background.
The President stopped in Federalsburg, then came to Denton.
Seated behind the President in Denton were (left to right): local Congressman T. Alan Goldsborough, Mayor Melvin James & Congressman David J. Lewis.
The site of the speech was a broadcast stand with a ramp for the President in front of the Law Building.
President Roosevelt speaking at the podium, Labor Day, 1938.