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REA Celebrates 88 Years

Today marks the 88th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA).

On May 11, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (center) signed Executive Order 7037, establishing the REA with Representative John Rankin (left), and Senator George William Norris (right).

Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska, a cosponsor of the Rural Electrification Act, shared, 

"I had seen first-hand the grim drudgery and grind which had been the common lot of eight generations of American farm women. I had seen the tallow candle in my own home, followed by the coal-oil lamp. I knew what it was to take care of the farm chores by the flickering, undependable light of the lantern in the mud and cold rains of the fall, and snow and icy winds of winter.

I had seen the cities gradually acquire a night as light as day.

I could close my eyes and recall the innumerable scenes of the harvest and unending punishing taste performed by hundreds of thousands of women, growing old prematurely; dying before their time; conscious of the great gap between their lives and the lives of those whom the accident of birth or choice placed in the towns and cities.

Why should I have been interested in the emancipation of hundreds of thousands of farm women?"

Eighty-eight years later, electric cooperatives power 56% of the nation's landmass. This includes 42 million people, including 92% of persistent poverty counties. Electric Co-ops power over 21 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms in 48 states.

via NRECA, "The Next Greatest Thing" by NRECA, and U.S. Department of Agriculture

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