Franklin D. Roosevelt

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There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (30 January 188212 April 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945, and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms. He was married to Eleanor Roosevelt.

Quotes[edit]

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation.
This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly.
Let us not be afraid to help each other—let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and Senators and Congressmen and Government officials but the voters of this country.
Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
No man can occupy the office of President without realizing that he is President of all the people.
  • Dear Sallie: I am very sorry you have a cold and you are in bed. I played with Mary today for a little while. I hope by tomorrow you will be able to be up. I am glad today [sic] that my cold is better. Your loving, Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Roosevelt’s first letter, written at age five to his mother (addressed here as “Sallie”) who had been ill in her room at Hyde Park. She later supplied the date - "1887" - on beginning her collection.
    • F.D.R.: His Personal Letters, Early Years, 2005, Elliott Roosevelt, ed., Kissinger Publishing, LLC, ISBN 1417989254 ISBN 9781417989256, p. 6. [1]
  • The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach. We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!
  • I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.
    • Speech accepting the Democratic Party nomination in Chicago, Illinois (2 July 1932).
  • I accuse the present Administration of being the greatest spending Administration in peacetime in all American history - one which piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people. Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the taxpayer. We are spending altogether too much money for government services which are neither practical nor necessary. In addition to this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal government is giving the people."
    • "Campaign Address on Agriculture and Tariffs at Sioux City, Iowa, September 29, 1932".
    • The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Samuel Irving Rosenman, 1938, Random House, vol. 1, "The Genesis of the New Deal, 1928-1932," p. 761 [2] [3]
  • I regard reduction in Federal spending as one of the most important issues in this campaign. In my opinion it is the most direct and effective contribution that Government can make to business.
    • "Campaign Address on the Federal Budget at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 19, 1932."
    • The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Volume 1, p. 809. [4][5][6]
  • Let me make it clear that I do not assert that a President and the Congress must on all points agree with each other at all times. Many times in history there has been complete disagreement between the two branches of the Government, and in these disagreements sometimes the Congress has won and sometimes the President has won. But during the Administration of the present President we have had neither agreement nor a clear-cut battle.
    • Campaign address before the Republican-for-Roosevelt League, New York City (November 3, 1932); reported in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1928–1932 (1938), p. 857.
  • I'm just afraid that I may not have the strength to do this job. After you leave me tonight, Jimmy, I am going to pray. I am going to pray that God will help me, that he will give me the strength and the guidance to do this job and to do it right. I hope that you will pray for me, too, Jimmy.
  • This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.
  • Confidence... thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
  • The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
    • First Inaugural Address (4 March 1933).
  • Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
    • First Inaugural Address (4 March 1933).
  • These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
    • First Inaugural Address (4 March 1933).
  • There seems to be no question that [Mussolini] is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy.
    • Comment in early 1933 about Benito Mussolini to US Ambassador to Italy Breckinridge Long, as quoted in Three New Deals : Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939 (2006) by Wolfgang Schivelbusch, p. 31.
  • In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By "business" I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.
  • The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson — and I am not wholly excepting the Administration of W. W. The country is going through a repetition of Jackson's fight with the Bank of the United States — only on a far bigger and broader basis.
  • I don't mind telling you in confidence that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman.
    • Comment on Benito Mussolini in 1933, as quoted in Three New Deals : Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939 (2006) by Wolfgang Schivelbusch, p. 31.
  • Yes, we are on the way back — not by mere chance, not by a turn of the cycle. We are coming back more soundly than ever before because we planned it that way, and don't let anybody tell you differently.
  • Let me warn you, and let me warn the nation, against the smooth evasion that says: "Of course we believe these things. We believe in social security. We believe in work for the unemployed. We believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die! We believe in all these things. But we do not like the way that the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them, we will do more of them, we will do them better and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything!"
  • The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
  • The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.
    • Letter to all State Governors on a Uniform Soil Conservation Law (26 February 1937).
  • Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any other controlling private power.
    The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.
  • Freedom to learn is the first necessity of guaranteeing that man himself shall be self-reliant enough to be free. Such things did not need as much emphasis a generation ago, but when the clock of civilization can be turned back by burning libraries, by exiling scientists, artists, musicians, writers and teachers; by disbursing universities, and by censoring news and literature and art; an added burden, an added burden is placed on those countries where the courts of free thought and free learning still burn bright. If the fires of freedom and civil liberties burn low in other lands they must be made brighter in our own. If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free. If in other lands the eternal truths of the past are threatened by intolerance we must provide a safe place for their perpetuation.
    • Address to the National Education Association (30 June 1938).
  • Let us not be afraid to help each other—let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and Senators and Congressmen and Government officials but the voters of this country.
  • A radical is a man with both feet firmly planted — in the air. A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward. A reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards. A liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest — at the command — of his head.
  • Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
    • Radio address (26 October 1939), as reported in The Baltimore Sun (27 October 1939).
  • I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster.
    • Presidential press conference (May 21, 1940), when America entered WWII, in Complete presidential press conferences of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Volumes 15-16 (Da Capo Press, 1972).
  • We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind.
    • Fireside chat on national defense (May 26, 1940), reported in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940 (1941), p. 240.
  • On this tenth day of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor.
    • Noting Italy's declaration of war against France on that day, during the commencement address at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville (June 10, 1940); reported in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940 (1941), p. 263.
  • All free peoples are deeply impressed by the courage and steadfastness of the Greek nation.
    • Letter to King George of Greece (5 December 1940).
  • In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
    The first is freedom of speech and expression
    — everywhere in the world.
    The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.
    The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.
    The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.
    That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.
  • This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.
    To that high concept there can be no end save victory.
    • The Four Freedoms Speech (January 6, 1941).
  • We must be the great arsenal of Democracy.
    • Fireside Chat on National Security, Washington, D.C. (29 December 1940).
  • Nazi forces are not seeking mere modifications in colonial maps or in minor European boundaries. They openly seek the destruction of all elective systems of government on every continent-including our own; they seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers who have seized power by force. These men and their hypnotized followers call this a new order. It is not new. It is not order.
    • Address to the Annual Dinner for White House Correspondents' Association, Washington, D.C. (15 March 1941). A similar (but misleading 'quote') is inscribed on the FDR memorial, in Washington D. C., which says "They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers... Call this a New Order. It is not new and it is not order".
  • If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.
    • Speech at the Washington Navy Yard (16 September 1942).
  • We have faith that future generations will know that here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.
    • Address to White House Correspondents' Association, Washington, D.C. (12 February 1943).
  • I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of man. Harry [Hopkins] says he's not and that he doesn't want anything except security for his own country, and I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.
    • Response to advice from Ambassador William C. Bullitt to pursue a containment policy against the Soviet Union (1943), quoted in his account in Life (23 August 1948).
  • If you treat people right they will treat you right — ninety percent of the time.
    • As quoted in The Roosevelt I Knew (1946) by Frances Perkins, p. 5.
  • Be sincere, be brief, be seated.
    • Advice to his son James on how to make a public speech, as quoted in Basic Public Speaking (1963) by Paul L. Soper, p. 12.
  • Are you laboring under the impression that I read these memoranda of yours? I can't even lift them.
  • I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.
    • As quoted in The Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations (1998) by Connie Robertson, p. 356.
  • He’s a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.
    • About his policy towards Nicaragua Anastasio Somoza García, president of Nicaragua
    • "The Impact of Corruption on Regime Legitimacy : A Comparative Study of Four Latin American Countries" by Mitchell A. Seligson, in The Journal of Politics Vol. 64 No. 2 (May 2002), p. 409.
  • As a nation we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.

State of the Union Address (1935)[edit]

Second State of the Union Address (4 January 1935)
  • We have undertaken a new order of things; yet we progress to it under the framework and in the spirit and intent of the American Constitution. We have proceeded throughout the Nation a measurable distance on the road toward this new order.
  • Throughout the world, change is the order of the day. In every Nation economic problems, long in the making, have brought crises of many kinds for which the masters of old practice and theory were unprepared. In most Nations social justice, no longer a distant ideal, has become a definite goal, and ancient Governments are beginning to heed the call.
    Thus, the American people do not stand alone in the world in their desire for change. We seek it through tested liberal traditions, through processes which retain all of the deep essentials of that republican form of representative government first given to a troubled world by the United States.
  • We find our population suffering from old inequalities, little changed by vast sporadic remedies. In spite of our efforts and in spite of our talk, we have not weeded out the over privileged and we have not effectively lifted up the underprivileged. Both of these manifestations of injustice have retarded happiness. No wise man has any intention of destroying what is known as the profit motive; because by the profit motive we mean the right by work to earn a decent livelihood for ourselves and for our families.
    We have, however, a clear mandate from the people, that Americans must forswear that conception of the acquisition of wealth which, through excessive profits, creates undue private power over private affairs and, to our misfortune, over public affairs as well. In building toward this end we do not destroy ambition, nor do we seek to divide our wealth into equal shares on stated occasions. We continue to recognize the greater ability of some to earn more than others. But we do assert that the ambition of the individual to obtain for him and his a proper security, a reasonable leisure, and a decent living throughout life, is an ambition to be preferred to the appetite for great wealth and great power.
  • The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is in violation of the traditions of America. Work must be found for able-bodied but destitute workers. The Federal Government must and shall quit this business of relief.
  • I am not willing that the vitality of our people be further sapped by the giving of cash, of market baskets, of a few hours of weekly work cutting grass, raking leaves or picking up papers in the public parks. We must preserve not only the bodies of the unemployed from destitution but also their self-respect, their self-reliance and courage and determination. This decision brings me to the problem of what the Government should do with approximately five million unemployed now on the relief rolls.
  • All work undertaken should be useful — not just for a day, or a year, but useful in the sense that it affords permanent improvement in living conditions or that it creates future new wealth for the Nation.
  • The work itself will cover a wide field including clearance of slums, which for adequate reasons cannot be undertaken by private capital; in rural housing of several kinds, where, again, private capital is unable to function; in rural electrification; in the reforestation of the great watersheds of the Nation; in an intensified program to prevent soil erosion and to reclaim blighted areas; in improving existing road systems and in constructing national highways designed to handle modern traffic; in the elimination of grade crossings; in the extension and enlargement of the successful work of the Civilian Conservation Corps; in non-Federal works, mostly self-liquidating and highly useful to local divisions of Government; and on many other projects which the Nation needs and cannot afford to neglect.

Message to Congress on Tax Revision (1935)[edit]

Message to Congress on Tax Revision (19 June 1935)
If a government is to be prudent its taxes must produce ample revenues without discouraging enterprise; and if it is to be just it must distribute the burden of taxes equitably.
Great accumulations of wealth cannot be justified on the basis of personal and family security. In the last analysis such accumulations amount to the perpetuation of great and undesirable concentration of control in a relatively few individuals over the employment and welfare of many, many others.
The smaller corporations should not carry burdens beyond their powers; the vast concentrations of capital should be ready to carry burdens commensurate with their powers and their advantages.


  • The Joint Legislative Committee, established by the Revenue Act of 1926, has been particularly helpful to the Treasury Department. The members of that Committee have generously consulted with administrative officials, not only on broad questions of policy but on important and difficult tax cases. On the basis of these studies and of other studies conducted by officials of the Treasury, I am able to make a number of suggestions of important changes in our policy of taxation. These are based on the broad principle that if a government is to be prudent its taxes must produce ample revenues without discouraging enterprise; and if it is to be just it must distribute the burden of taxes equitably. I do not believe that our present system of taxation completely meets this test. Our revenue laws have operated in many ways to the unfair advantage of the few, and they have done little to prevent an unjust concentration of wealth and economic power.
  • With the enactment of the Income Tax Law of 1913, the Federal Government began to apply effectively the widely accepted principle that taxes should be levied in proportion to ability to pay and in proportion to the benefits received. Income was wisely chosen as the measure of benefits and of ability to pay. This was, and still is, a wholesome guide for national policy. It should be retained as the governing principle of Federal taxation. The use of other forms of taxes is often justifiable, particularly for temporary periods; but taxation according to income is the most effective instrument yet devised to obtain just contribution from those best able to bear it and to avoid placing onerous burdens upon the mass of our people.
  • Wealth in the modern world does not come merely from individual effort; it results from a combination of individual effort and of the manifold uses to which the community puts that effort. The individual does not create the product of his industry with his own hands; he utilizes the many processes and forces of mass production to meet the demands of a national and international market. Therefore, in spite of the great importance in our national life of the efforts and ingenuity of unusual individuals, the people in the mass have inevitably helped to make large fortunes possible. Without mass cooperation great accumulations of wealth would be impossible save by unhealthy speculation. As Andrew Carnegie put it, "Where wealth accrues honorably, the people are always silent partners." Whether it be wealth achieved through the cooperation of the entire community or riches gained by speculation—in either case the ownership of such wealth or riches represents a great public interest and a great ability to pay.
  • The desire to provide security for oneself and one's family is natural and wholesome, but it is adequately served by a reasonable inheritance. Great accumulations of wealth cannot be justified on the basis of personal and family security. In the last analysis such accumulations amount to the perpetuation of great and undesirable concentration of control in a relatively few individuals over the employment and welfare of many, many others.
  • Social unrest and a deepening sense of unfairness are dangers to our national life which we must minimize by rigorous methods. People know that vast personal incomes come not only through the effort or ability or luck of those who receive them, but also because of the opportunities for advantage which Government itself contributes. Therefore, the duty rests upon the Government to restrict such incomes by very high taxes.
  • Furthermore, the drain of a depression upon the reserves of business puts a disproportionate strain upon the modestly capitalized small enterprise. Without such small enterprises our competitive economic society would cease. Size begets monopoly. Moreover, in the aggregate these little businesses furnish the indispensable local basis for those nationwide markets which alone can ensure the success of our mass production industries. Today our smaller corporations are fighting not only for their own local well-being but for that fairly distributed national prosperity which makes large-scale enterprise possible. It seems only equitable, therefore, to adjust our tax system in accordance with economic capacity, advantage and fact. The smaller corporations should not carry burdens beyond their powers; the vast concentrations of capital should be ready to carry burdens commensurate with their powers and their advantages.

Address at San Diego Exposition (1935)[edit]

The task of Government is that of application and encouragement. A wise Government seeks to provide the opportunity through which the best of individual achievement can be obtained, while at the same time it seeks to remove such obstruction, such unfairness as springs from selfish human motives.
Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged.
I hope from the bottom of my heart that as the years go on, in every continent and in every clime, Nation will follow Nation in proving by deed as well as by word their adherence to the ideal of the Americas—I am a good neighbor.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Address at San Diego Exposition, San Diego, California.," October 2, 1935. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
  • To a great extent the achievements of invention, of mechanical and of artistic creation, must of necessity, and rightly, be individual rather than governmental. It is the self-reliant pioneer in every enterprise who beats the path along which American civilization has marched. Such individual effort is the glory of America.
  • The task of Government is that of application and encouragement. A wise Government seeks to provide the opportunity through which the best of individual achievement can be obtained, while at the same time it seeks to remove such obstruction, such unfairness as springs from selfish human motives. Our common life under our various agencies of Government, our laws and our basic Constitution, exist primarily to protect the individual, to cherish his rights and to make clear his just principles.
  • An American Government cannot permit Americans to starve.
  • It is now beyond partisan controversy that it is a fundamental individual right of a worker to associate himself with other workers and to bargain collectively with his employer. New laws, in themselves, do not bring a millennium; new laws do not pretend to prevent labor disputes, nor do they cover all industry and all labor. But they do constitute an important step toward the achievement of just and peaceable labor relations in industry.
  • Several centuries ago the greatest writer in history described the two most menacing clouds that hang over human government and human society as "malice domestic and fierce foreign war." We are not rid of these dangers but we can summon our intelligence to meet them. Never was there more genuine reason for Americans to face down these two causes of fear. "Malice domestic" from time to time will come to you in the shape of those who would raise false issues, pervert facts, preach the gospel of hate, and minimize the importance of public action to secure human rights or spiritual ideals. There are those today who would sow these seeds, but your answer to them is in the possession of the plain facts of our present condition.
  • This country seeks no conquest. We have no imperial designs. From day to day and year to year, we are establishing a more perfect assurance of peace with our neighbors. We rejoice especially in the prosperity, the stability and the independence of all of the American Republics. We not only earnestly desire peace, but we are moved by a stern determination to avoid those perils that will endanger our peace with the world.
  • Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged. In the United States we regard it as axiomatic that every person shall enjoy the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of his conscience. Our flag for a century and a half has been the symbol of the principles of liberty of conscience, of religious freedom and of equality before the law; and these concepts are deeply ingrained in our national character.
  • It is true that other Nations may, as they do, enforce contrary rules of conscience and conduct. It is true that policies may be pursued under flags other than our own, but those policies are beyond our jurisdiction. Yet in our inner individual lives we can never be indifferent, and we assert for ourselves complete freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the principles for which our flag has so long been the lofty symbol. As it was so well said by James Madison, over a century ago: "We hold it for a fundamental and inalienable truth that religion and the manner of discharging it can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence."
  • As President of the United States I say to you most earnestly once more that the people of America and the Government of those people intend and expect to remain at peace with all the world. In the two years and a half of my Presidency, this Government has remained constant in following this policy of our own choice. At home we have preached, and will continue to preach, the gospel of the good neighbor. I hope from the bottom of my heart that as the years go on, in every continent and in every clime, Nation will follow Nation in proving by deed as well as by word their adherence to the ideal of the Americas—I am a good neighbor.

Speech to the Democratic National Convention (1936)[edit]

Speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (27 June 1936)
We do not see faith, hope, and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.
  • It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.
  • The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor — these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small-businessmen, the investments set aside for old age — other people's money — these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in. Those who tilled the soil no longer reaped the rewards which were their right. The small measure of their gains was decreed by men in distant cities. Throughout the nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.
  • For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor — other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.
    Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people's mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.
  • These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.
  • The brave and clear platform adopted by this convention, to which I heartily subscribe, sets forth that government in a modern civilization has certain inescapable obligations to its citizens, among which are protection of the family and the home, the establishment of a democracy of opportunity, and aid to those overtaken by disaster.
  • We do not see faith, hope, and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.
    Faith — in the soundness of democracy in the midst of dictatorships.
    Hope — renewed because we know so well the progress we have made.
    Charity — in the true spirit of that grand old word. For charity literally translated from the original means love, the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves.
  • Governments can err, presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.
  • There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.

Address at Chautauqua (1936)[edit]

Chautauqua, New York (14 August 1936)
  • Many who have visited me in Washington in the past few months may have been surprised when I have told them that personally and because of my own daily contacts with all manner of difficult situations I am more concerned and less cheerful about international world conditions than about our immediate domestic prospects.
    I say this to you not as a confirmed pessimist but as one who still hopes that envy, hatred and malice among Nations have reached their peak and will be succeeded by a new tide of peace and good-will.
  • We are not isolationists except in so far as we seek to isolate ourselves completely from war. Yet we must remember that so long as war exists on earth there will be some danger that even the Nation which most ardently desires peace may be drawn into war.
  • I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen two hundred limping exhausted men come out of line-the survivors of a regiment of one thousand that went forward forty-eight hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.
  • I wish I could keep war from all Nations; but that is beyond my power. I can at least make certain that no act of the United States helps to produce or to promote war. I can at least make clear that the conscience of America revolts against war and that any Nation which provokes war forfeits the sympathy of the people of the United States.
  • Many causes produce war. There are ancient hatreds, turbulent frontiers, the "legacy of old forgotten, far-off things, and battles long ago." There are new-born fanaticisms. Convictions on the part of certain peoples that they have become the unique depositories of ultimate truth and right.
  • A dark old world was devastated by wars between conflicting religions. A dark modern world faces wars between conflicting economic and political fanaticisms in which are intertwined race hatreds.

"I am that kind of liberal" (1936)[edit]

Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, New York (29 September 1936)
  • The task on our part is twofold: First, as simple patriotism requires, to separate the false from the real issues; and, secondly, with facts and without rancor, to clarify the real problems for the American public.
    There will be — there are — many false issues. In that respect, this will be no different from other campaigns. Partisans, not willing to face realities, will drag out red herrings as they have always done — to divert attention from the trail of their own weaknesses.
  • Desperate in mood, angry at failure, cunning in purpose, individuals and groups are seeking to make Communism an issue in an election where Communism is not a controversy between the two major parties.
    Here and now, once and for all, let us bury that red herring, and destroy that false issue. You are familiar with my background; you know my heritage; and you are familiar, especially in the State of New York, with my public service extending back over a quarter of a century. For nearly four years I have been President of the United States. A long record has been written. In that record, both in this State and in the national capital, you will find a simple, clear and consistent adherence not only to the letter, but to the spirit of the American form of government.
  • The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative.
    Never has a Nation made greater strides in the safeguarding of democracy than we have made during the past three years. Wise and prudent men — intelligent conservatives — have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, "The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve." I am that kind of conservative because I am that kind of liberal.
    • Roosevelt here slightly misquotes Thomas Babington Macaulay, who in a speech on parliamentary reform (2 March 1831) asserted: "The voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you may preserve."

Quarantine Speech (1937)[edit]

The speech was given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on 5 October 1937 in Chicago on the world situation.
Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice, and confidence may prevail in the world.
No nation which refuses to exercise forbearance and to respect the freedom and rights of others can long remain strong and retain the confidence and respect of other nations. No nation ever loses its dignity or good standing by conciliating its differences and by exercising great patience with, and consideration for, the rights of other nations.
  • The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality.
  • Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice, and confidence may prevail in the world. There must be a return to a belief in the pledged word, in the value of a signed treaty. There must be recognition of the fact that national morality is as vital as private morality.
  • There is a solidarity and interdependence about the modern world, both technically and morally, which makes it impossible for any nation completely to isolate itself from economic and political upheavals in the rest of the world, especially when such upheavals appear to be spreading and not declining. There can be no stability or peace either within nations or between nations except under laws and moral standards adhered to by all. International anarchy destroys every foundation for peace. It jeopardizes either the immediate or the future security of every nation, large or small. It is, therefore, a matter of vital interest and concern to the people of the United States that the sanctity of international treaties and the maintenance of international morality be restored.
  • It is true that the moral consciousness of the world must recognize the importance of removing injustices and well-founded grievances; but at the same time it must be aroused to the cardinal necessity of honoring sanctity of treaties, of respecting the rights and liberties of others, and of putting an end to acts of international aggression.
  • It seems to be unfortunately true that the epidemic of world lawlessness is spreading. When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease.
  • No nation which refuses to exercise forbearance and to respect the freedom and rights of others can long remain strong and retain the confidence and respect of other nations. No nation ever loses its dignity or good standing by conciliating its differences and by exercising great patience with, and consideration for, the rights of other nations.
  • War is a contagion, whether it be declared or undeclared. It can engulf states and peoples remote from the original scene of hostilities. We are determined to keep out of war, yet we cannot insure ourselves against the disastrous effects of war and the dangers of involvement. We are adopting such measures as will minimize our risk of involvement, but we cannot have complete protection in a world of disorder in which confidence and security have broken down.
  • If civilization is to survive, the principles of the Prince of Peace must be restored. Shattered trust between nations must be revived. Most important of all, the will for peace on the part of peace-loving nations must express itself to the end that nations that may be tempted to violate their agreements and the rights of others will desist from such a cause. There must be positive endeavors to preserve peace. America hates war. America hopes for peace. Therefore, America actively engages in the search for peace.

Fireside Chat in the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards (1938)[edit]

Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Fireside Chat.," June 24, 1938. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
Under modern conditions government has a continuing responsibility to meet continuing problems and Government cannot take a holiday of a year, a month, or even a day just because a few people are tired or frightened by the inescapable pace of this modern world in which we live.
An election cannot give a country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as peas in the same pod.
There can be no constitutional democracy in any community which denies to the individual his freedom to speak and worship as he wishes.
The speaker or writer who, seeking to influence public opinion, descends from calm argument to unfair blows hurts himself more than his opponent.
  • After many requests on my part the Congress passed a Fair Labor Standards Act, commonly called the Wages and Hours Bill. That Act—applying to products in interstate commerce-ends child labor, sets a floor below wages and a ceiling over hours of labor. Except perhaps for the Social Security Act, it is the most far-reaching, far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted here or in any other country. Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.
    • Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage (June 24, 1938).[1]
  • Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry. Fortunately for business as a whole, and therefore for the Nation, that type of executive is a rarity with whom most business executives heartily disagree.
    • Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage (June 24, 1938).[1]
  • The Congress has provided a fact-finding Commission to find a path through the jungle of contradictory theories about wise business practices—to find the necessary facts for any intelligent legislation on monopoly, on price-fixing and on the relationship between big business and medium-sized business and little business. Different from a great part of the world, we in America persist in our belief in individual enterprise and in the profit motive; but we realize we must continually seek improved practices to insure the continuance of reasonable profits, together with scientific progress, individual initiative, opportunities for the little fellow, fair prices, decent wages and continuing employment.
  • The Congress has understood that under modern conditions government has a continuing responsibility to meet continuing problems, and that Government cannot take a holiday of a year, a month, or even a day just because a few people are tired or frightened by the inescapable pace of this modern world in which we live.
  • I am still convinced that the American people, since 1932, continue to insist on two requisites of private enterprise, and the relationship of Government to it. The first is complete honesty at the top in looking after the use of other people's money, and in apportioning and paying individual and corporate taxes according to ability to pay. The second is sincere respect for the need of all at the bottom to get work—and through work to get a really fair share of the good things of life, and a chance to save and rise.
  • An election cannot give a country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as peas in the same pod.
  • I certainly would not indicate a preference in a State primary merely because a candidate, otherwise liberal in outlook, had conscientiously differed with me on any single issue. I should be far more concerned about the general attitude of a candidate toward present day problems and his own inward desire to get practical needs attended to in a practical way. We all know that progress may be blocked by outspoken reactionaries and also by those who say "yes" to a progressive objective, but who always find some reason to oppose any specific proposal to gain that objective. I call that type of candidate a "yes, but" fellow.
  • And I am concerned about the attitude of a candidate or his sponsors with respect to the rights of American citizens to assemble peaceably and to express publicly their views and opinions on important social and economic issues. There can be no constitutional democracy in any community which denies to the individual his freedom to speak and worship as he wishes. The American people will not be deceived by anyone who attempts to suppress individual liberty under the pretense of patriotism. This being a free country with freedom of expression—especially with freedom of the press—there will be a lot of mean blows struck between now and Election Day. By "blows" I mean misrepresentation, personal attack and appeals to prejudice. It would be a lot better, of course, if campaigns everywhere could be waged with arguments instead of blows.
  • In nine cases out of ten the speaker or writer who, seeking to influence public opinion, descends from calm argument to unfair blows hurts himself more than his opponent.
    The Chinese have a story on this—a story based on three or four thousand years of civilization: Two Chinese coolies were arguing heatedly in the midst of a crowd. A stranger expressed surprise that no blows were being struck. His Chinese friend replied: "The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out."

Address at the Dedication of the Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield (1938)[edit]

Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Address at the Dedication of the Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.," July 3, 1938. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woollsey
Lincoln was commander-in-chief in this old battle; he wanted above all things to be commander-in-chief of the new peace. He understood that battle there must be; that when a challenge to constituted government is thrown down, the people must in self-defense take it up; that the fight must be fought through to a decision so clear that it is accepted as being beyond recall.
But Lincoln also understood that after such a decision, a democracy should seek peace through a new unity. For a democracy can keep alive only if the settlement of old difficulties clears the ground and transfers energies to face new responsibilities.
  • It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future. But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln's nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help. For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people's government for the people's good.
  • The task assumes different shapes at different times. Sometimes the threat to popular government comes from political interests, sometimes from economic interests, sometimes we have to beat off all of them together. But the challenge is always the same—whether each generation facing its own circumstances can summon the practical devotion to attain and retain that greatest good for the greatest number which this government of the people was created to ensure.
  • Lincoln spoke in solace for all who fought upon this field; and the years have laid their balm upon their wounds. Men who wore the blue and men who wore the gray are here together, a fragment spared by time. They are brought here by the memories of old divided loyalties, but they meet here in united loyalty to a united cause which the unfolding years have made it easier to see. All of them we honor, not asking under which flag they fought then—thankful that they stand together under one flag now. Lincoln was commander-in-chief in this old battle; he wanted above all things to be commander-in-chief of the new peace. He understood that battle there must be; that when a challenge to constituted government is thrown down, the people must in self-defense take it up; that the fight must be fought through to a decision so clear that it is accepted as being beyond recall.
  • But Lincoln also understood that after such a decision, a democracy should seek peace through a new unity. For a democracy can keep alive only if the settlement of old difficulties clears the ground and transfers energies to face new responsibilities. Never can it have as much ability and purpose as it needs in that striving; the end of battle does not end the infinity of those needs. That is why Lincoln—commander of a people as well as of an army—asked that his battle end "with malice toward none, with charity for all."
  • To the hurt of those who came after him, Lincoln's plea was long denied. A generation passed before the new unity became accepted fact. In later years new needs arose, and with them new tasks, worldwide in their perplexities, their bitterness and their modes of strife. Here in our land we give thanks that, avoiding war, we seek our ends through the peaceful processes of popular government under the Constitution. It is another conflict, a conflict as fundamental as Lincoln's, fought not with glint of steel, but with appeals to reason and justice on a thousand fronts—seeking to save for our common country opportunity and security for citizens in a free society. We are near to winning this battle. In its winning and through the years may we live by the wisdom and the humanity of the heart of Abraham Lincoln.

State of the Union Address (1941)[edit]

Eighth State of the Union Address (9 January 1941)
  • As a nation, we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.
  • We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests.
  • We are committed to the proposition that principles of morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers. We know that enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom.

Third Inaugural Address (1941)[edit]

Third Inaugural Address. (January 20, 1941)
  • On each national day of inauguration since 1789, the people have renewed their sense of dedication to the United States.
  • In Washington's day the task of the people was to create and weld together a nation. In Lincoln's day the task of the people was to preserve that Nation from disruption from within. In this day the task of the people is to save that Nation and its institutions from disruption from without.
  • To us there has come a time, in the midst of swift happenings, to pause for a moment and take stock—to recall what our place in history has been, and to rediscover what we are and what we may be. If we do not, we risk the real peril of inaction.
  • Lives of nations are determined not by the count of years, but by the lifetime of the human spirit. The life of a man is three-score years and ten: a little more, a little less. The life of a nation is the fullness of the measure of its will to live.
  • There are men who doubt this. There are men who believe that democracy, as a form of Government and a frame of life, is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate — that, for some unexplained reason, tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future — and that freedom is an ebbing tide. But we Americans know that this is not true.
  • Eight years ago, when the life of this Republic seemed frozen by a fatalistic terror, we proved that this is not true. We were in the midst of shock — but we acted. We acted quickly, boldly, decisively.
  • For action has been taken within the three-way framework of the Constitution of the United States. The coordinate branches of the Government continue freely to function. The Bill of Rights remains inviolate. The freedom of elections is wholly maintained. Prophets of the downfall of American democracy have seen their dire predictions come to naught.
  • Democracy is not dying. We know it because we have seen it revive — and grow. We know it cannot die — because it is built on the unhampered initiative of individual men and women joined together in a common enterprise — an enterprise undertaken and carried through by the free expression of a free majority.
  • We know it because democracy alone, of all forms of government, enlists the full force of men's enlightened will.
  • We know it because democracy alone has constructed an unlimited civilization capable of infinite progress in the improvement of human life.
  • We know it because, if we look below the surface, we sense it still spreading on every continent — for it is the most humane, the most advanced, and in the end the most unconquerable of all forms of human society.
  • The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of early peoples. It blazed anew in the Middle Ages. It was written in Magna Charta.
  • In the Americas its impact has been irresistible. America has been the New World in all tongues, to all peoples, not because this continent was a new-found land, but because all those who came here believed they could create upon this continent a new life — a life that should be new in freedom.
  • The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth.
  • We know that we still have far to go; that we must more greatly build the security and the opportunity and the knowledge of every citizen, in the measure justified by the resources and the capacity of the land.
  • But it is not enough to achieve these purposes alone. It is not enough to clothe and feed the body of this Nation, and instruct and inform its mind. For there is also the spirit. And of the three, the greatest is the spirit. Without the body and the mind, as all men know, the Nation could not live. But if the spirit of America were killed, even though the Nation's body and mind, constricted in an alien world, lived on, the America we know would have perished.
  • The destiny of America was proclaimed in words of prophecy spoken by our first President in his first inaugural in 1789 — words almost directed, it would seem, to this year of 1941: "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered ... deeply,... finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people."
  • If we lose that sacred fire — if we let it be smothered with doubt and fear — then we shall reject the destiny which Washington strove so valiantly and so triumphantly to establish. The preservation of the spirit and faith of the Nation does, and will, furnish the highest justification for every sacrifice that we may make in the cause of national defense.
  • In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of democracy. For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of America. We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the will of God.

Response to the attack on Pearl Harbor (1941)[edit]

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy [...]
Address to Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor (8 December 1941)

Listen to an original recording of these quotes:

  • Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
    The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
  • It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
  • As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.
  • Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.
  • I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire

Prayer on D-Day (1944)[edit]

The enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again.
These men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Prayer on D-Day," June 6, 1944. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
  • Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
  • They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. And for us at home - fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas - whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them - help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
  • As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts. Give us strength, too - strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces. And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
  • And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose. With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Fourth Inaugural Address (1945)[edit]

Fourth Inaugural Address (20 January 1945)
We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear. We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, the confidence, and the courage which flow from conviction.
  • We Americans of today, together with our allies, are passing through a period of supreme test. It is a test of our courage—of our resolve—of our wisdom—our essential democracy. If we meet that test—successfully and honorably—we shall perform a service of historic importance which men and women and children will honor throughout all time. As I stand here today, having taken the solemn oath of office in the presence of my fellow countrymen—in the presence of our GodI know that it is America's purpose that we shall not fail.
  • In the days and in the years that are to come we shall work for a just and honorable peace, a durable peace, as today we work and fight for total victory in war. We can and we will achieve such a peace.
  • We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it immediately—but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes—but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.
  • And so today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons— at a fearful cost—and we shall profit by them.
We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away. We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.
We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.
We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that "The only way to have a friend is to be one."
  • We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear. We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, the confidence, and the courage which flow from conviction.


Misattributed[edit]

  • In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens you can bet it was planned that way.
    • There are no records of Roosevelt having made such a statement, and this is most likely a misquotation of the widely reported comment he made in a speech at the Citadel (23 October 1935):
Yes. we are on the way back — not by mere chance, not by a turn of the cycle. We are coming back more soundly than ever before because we planned it that way, and don't let anybody tell you differently.
  • I do not believe in communism any more than you do but there is nothing wrong with the Communists in this country; several of the best friends I have got are Communists.
    • Reported by Representative Martin Dies as having been said in a conversation at the White House, in the Congressional Record (September 22, 1950), vol. 96, Appendix, p. A6832. Reported as "exceedingly dubious" in Paul F. Boller, Jr., Quotemanship: The Use and Abuse of Quotations for Polemical and Other Purposes, chapter 8, p. 361 (1967); Boller goes on to say that "it is most unlikely that FDR would have said anything like it, even flippantly, to the zealous HUAC chairman, though he may have told Dies that he was exaggerating the size of the American communist movement".

Quotes about Roosevelt[edit]

Alphabetized by surname
  • In Franklin D. Roosevelt's record, four things will stand out above everything else. One, his interest in human beings and their welfare, as is exemplified in the social legislation and which is being carried further to this day. Two, as President of the United States and commander-in-chief of its forces, he became the main factor in winning the greatest war of all time. Three, he brought about the creation of a United Nations, in the framework of which, if the nations so willed it, a peace can be written -- a peace which mankind has yearned for over the ages... Four, he gave hope to countless disabled by conquering an affliction which struck him in the prime of his life...Because of his interest in Warm Springs and polio, an advancement has been made in the intensive study of that dread disease that may bring relief from it, an accomplishment which in itself is of first importance.
  • If anything happened to that man … I couldn't stand it. He is the truest friend; he has the farthest vision; he is the greatest man I have ever known.
    • Winston Churchill, to Kenneth Pendar in 1943, as quoted in No Ordinary Time : Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt : The Home Front in World War II (1995) by Doris Kearns Goodwin, p. 408.
  • He was the first chief executive to fly, to leave the country in wartime, to report to the people by radio, to place a woman in the Cabinet, to write directly to the Emperor of Japan -- just because nobody ever had done it before.
  • It was his genius that he could speak clearly in warm-hearted leadership for us in an American period of difficulty never equalled in the history of our nation.
  • No matter when this man might have left us, we would have felt that we had suffered an irreplaceable loss... may he have a lasting influence on the hearts and minds of men!
    • Albert Einstein, Statement on Roosevelt's death, Aufbau, (New York), April 27, 1945. Cited

in The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Alice Calaprice, Princeton University Press, 2000.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President.
  • The greatest fraud this country has ever known. An amusing and charming fellow but a man entirely without a conscience.... Roosevelt was the perfect politician.
  • We really ought to do some celebrating because Franklin's demise is the biggest public improvement that America has experienced since the passage of the Bill of Rights.
    • Albert Jay Nock, on the death of FDR, in Letters from Albert Jay Nock 1924–1945 to Edmund C. Evans, Mrs. Edmund C. Evans and Ellen Winsor (1949).
  • May I say the greatest boon which has come to me in this life was my friendship with this great man, whose interest in the 'forgotten man' was not an empty gesture but the very obsession of his heart and life.
  • The greatest thing he accomplished was to make people all over the world feel that he, and therefore our country, actually was concerned about them and was interested in their problems.
  • [ Official Nazi Party publications ] praised Roosevelt's adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies.
    • Wolfgang Schivelbusch (2006). Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939, Metropolitan Books, p. 191.
  • I must admit Roosevelt's leadership has been very effective and has been responsible for the Americans' advantageous position today.
    • Kantaro Suzuki, as quoted in the Berkeley Daily Gazette, April 9, 1945.

References[edit]

  1. a b c d Tritch, Teresa (March 7, 2014). "F.D.R. Makes the Case for the Minimum Wage". New York Times. Retrieved on March 7, 2014. 

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