Franklin D. Roosevelt

The New Deal

In the spring of 1933, we faced a crisis... We 
were against revolution. And, therefore, we waged war 
against those conditions which make revolution--against 
the inequalites and resentments that breed them.
The vigor of our history comes, largely, from the fact 
that , as a comparatively young nation we have gone 
fearlessly ahead doing things that were never 
done before.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The American farmer, living on his own land, remains 
our ideal of self-reliance and spiritual balance--the 
source from which the reservoirs of the nation's 
strength are constantly renewed.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"The saving grace of America lies in the fact that the 
overwhelming majority of Americans are possessed of 
two great qualities -- 
a sense of humor and a sense of proportion.

American Creed
"The creed of our democracy is that liberty is acquired and kept
by men and women who are strong and self-reliant,
and possessed of such wisdom as God gives mankind --
men and women who are just, and understanding, and generous to others --
men and women who are capable of disciplining themselves.
For they are the rulers and they must rule themselves."
-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
(1882-1945), 32nd US President

"We know that there are chislers.  
At the bottom of every case of criticism and obstruction 
we have found some selfish interest, some private 
axe to grind." 

Commerce Clause
"[The commerce clause was written] in the horse-and-buggy age ... 
since that time  we have developed an entirely different philosophy. ... 
We are interdependent, we are tied in together. And the hope has been 
that we could, through a period of years, interpret the interstate 
commerce clause of the Constitution in the light of these new things that 
have come to the country. It has been our hope that under the interstate 
commerce clause we could recognize by legislation and by judicial 
decision that a harmful practice in one section of the country could be 
prevented on the theory that it was doing harm to another section of the 
country. That was why the Congress for a good many years, and most 
lawyers, have had the thought that in drafting legislation we could depend 
on an interpretation that would enlarge the constitutional meaning of 
interstate commerce to include not only those matters of direct interstate 
commerce, but also those matters which indirectly affect interstate commerce."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
(1882-1945), 32nd US President
Source: May 31, 1935 press conference, responding to a Supreme Court 
decision that defined the commerce clause narrowly enough to interfere 
with his regulation of farm products

"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 are Communists."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Source: The New York Times, May 6th, 1933

"You will find no justification in any of the 
language of the Constitution for the delay in the 
reforms which the mass of all Americans now 

"I am reminded of four definitions: a radical is a man
with both feet planted firmly 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 the command--of his head." 

Court Packing
In effect, four justices ruled that the right 
under a private contract to exact a pound of flesh 
was more sacred than the main objectives of the 
Constitution to establish an enduring nation. 

What is my proposal? It is simply this: whenever 
a judge or justice of any federal court has reached 
the age of seventy and does not avail himself of 
the opportunity to retire on a pension, a new 
member shall be appointed by the president 
then in office, with the approval, as required by 
the Constitution, of the Senate of the United States. 

The Nazi danger to our Western world has long 
ceased to be a mere possibility. The danger is 
here now--not only from a military enemy but 
from an enemy of all law, all liberty, 
all morality, all religion.

"We build and defend not for our generation 
alone.  We defend the foundations laid by our 
fathers.  We build a life for generations yet unborn.  
We defend and we build a way of life, 
not for Americans lone, but for all mankind."
Fireside Chat, May 1940

Declaration Of War (Dec 7th 1941)
"Yesterday, Dec. 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 the 
government and its emperor looking toward 
the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. 
Indeed, after Japanese air squadrons 
had commenced bombing in Oahu, the 
Japanese ambassador to the United States 
and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary 
of State a formal reply to a recent 
American message. While this reply stated 
that it seemed useless to continue the 
existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained 
no threat or hint of war or armed attack. 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. 
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian 
islands has caused severe damage to 
American naval and military forces. Very many 
American lives have been lost. In addition, 
American ships have been reported torpedoed 
on the high seas between San Francisco and 
Honolulu. Yesterday, the Japanese 
government also launched an attack against 
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. 
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam. 
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. 
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island. 
This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island. 
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive 
extending  throughout the Pacific area. The facts of 
yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the 
United States have already formed  their opinions and 
well understand the implications to the very life 
and safety of our nation. As commander in chief of 
the Army and  Navy, I have directed that all measures 
be taken for our defense. Always will we 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. I believe 
I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people 
when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves 
to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this 
form of treachery shall never endanger us again. 
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, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed 
between the United States and 
the Japanese empire. 

"Not only our future economic soundness 
but the very soundness of our democratic 
instutions depends on the determination of 
our Goverment to give employment to idle men."
April, 1938

The constant free flow of communication among 
us--enabling the free interchange of ideas--forms the 
very bloodstream of our nation.  It keeps the mind and 
the body of our democracy eternally vital, eternally 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I respect the aristocracy of learning; I deplore the 
plutocracy of wealth; but thank God for the 
democracy of the heart.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

But while they prate of economic laws, men and women 
are starving.  We must lay hold of the fact that 
economic laws are not made by nature.  They are made by 
human beings.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Accepting the presidential nomination, 1932

True individual freedom cannot exist without economic 
security and independence. People who are humgry and 
out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Message to Congress, 1944

We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad 
morals; we know now that it is bad economics.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Second Inaugural 1937

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 
redezvous with destiny.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"...the ultimate failures of dictatorship cost humanity 
far more than any temporary failures of democracy."

The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature 
throws out of balance also the lives of men.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"Are we going to take the hands of the federal government completely off 
any effort to adjust the growing of national crops, and go right straight 
back to the old principle that every farmer is a lord of his own farm 
and can do anything he wants, raise anything, any old time, in any 
quantity, and sell any time he wants?"
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Source: May 31, 1935 press conference, responding to a Supreme Court 
decision that defined the commerce clause narrowly enough to interfere 
with his regulation of farm products

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.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Financial Element
"The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial
element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since
the days of Andrew Jackson."
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
(1882-1945), 32nd US President
November 21, 1933
Source: in a letter written to Colonel E. Mandell House

"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 perception."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
(1882-1945), 32nd US President
Source: Speech, 30 June 1938

Global Affairs
No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
Arsenal of Democracy speech, 12-29-1940

There is solidarity, an 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.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
10-5-1937, Chicago

We cannot escape danger, or the fear of danger, by 
crawling into bed and pulling the covers over our heads.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

You must master at the outset a simple but unalterable 
fact in modern foreign relations.  When peace has been 
broken anywhere, peace of all countries everwhere is 
in danger.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Government 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 in 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.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The object of government is the welfare of the people. 
The liberty of the people to carry on their business 
should not be abridged unless the larger interests of 
the many are concerned. When the interests of the many 
are concerned the interests of the few must yield.  
It is the purpose of the government to see not only that 
the legitimate interests of the few are protected but 
that the welfare and the rights of the many are conserved. 
These are the principles which we must remember in any 
consideration of the question.  This, I take it, 
is sound government--not politics. Those are the 
essential basic conditions under which government can 
be of service.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

Human Community
"We have learned that we cannot live alone. 
We cannot live alone at peace. We have learned that 
our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of 
other nations far away. We have learned to be citizens 
of the world, members of the human community."

"Knowledge -- that is, education in its true sense -- is our best
protection against unreasoning prejudice and panic-making fear,
whether engendered by special interest, illiberal minorities,
or panic-stricken leaders."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Employers and employees alike have learned that in 
union there is strengh, that a coordination of individual 
effort means an elimination of waste, a bettering of 
living conditions, and is, in fact, the father of 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
Address to Woman's Trade Union League

How could God create the world in six days? No unions.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

It is to the real advantage of every producer, every 
manufacturer and every merchant to cooperate in the 
improvement of working conditions, because the best 
customer of American industry is the well paid worker.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Cleveland Oh, 10-16-1936

No business which depends for existence on paying less 
than living wages to its workers has any right to 
continue in this country. By living wages I mean more 
than a bare subsistence level--I mean the wages of 
decent living.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Organizations of workers, wisely led, temperate in 
their demands and conciliatory in their attitude, make 
not for industrial strife, but for industrial peace.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In every dark hour of our national life a leadership 
of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding 
and support of the people themselfs, which is 
essential to victory.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
First Inaugural

"The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government
strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and
a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain
its sovereign control over the government."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

"We would rather die on our feet than live on our 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1939

We believe that the only whole man is a free man.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Me Too Republican 
Let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion which says: 'Of course 
we believe all 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 
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 best of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

"In the field of world policy I would dedicate this 
nation to the policy of the good neighbor."

Ninety Percent 
"Ninety percent of our people live on salary 
or wages, ten percent on profits alone....People in 
this country whose income is less than two 
thousand a year, buy more than two-thirds of all 
goods sold....If these people are not assured of 
an income, the goods produced cannot be sold." 

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.  But the life of a 
nation is the fullness of it's will to live.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Third Inaugural

We are going to win the war, and we are going to 
win the peace that follows.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
12-9-1942 Address to the American People

Political Control
"It will never be possible for any lenght 
of time for any group of the American people,  
either by reason of wealth or learning or 
inheritance or economic power, to retain any 
mandate, and permanent authority to arrogate 
to itself the political control of the American 
public life."
June 1936

"In politics, nothing happens by accident.
If it happened, you can bet it was planned that way."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to 
the abundance of those who have too is 
whether we provide enough for those who have 
too little.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Progress and Change
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.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"We have had the lesson before us over 
and over again-- nations that were not ready 
and were unable to get ready found themselves 
overrun by the enemy."
Message to Congress, 1940

Race and Ethnicity
They came to us speaking many tongues--but a single 
language, the universal language of human aspiration.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
10-28-1936 address commemorating the Statue of Liberty

"Most Republican leaders have bitterly fought and blocked the 
forward surge of average men and women in their pursuit of 
happiness. Let us not be deluded that overnight those leaders 
have suddenly become the friends of average men and women."
FDR 1940

"I shall give the Republician orators some more 
opportunities to say 'Me, too.' "
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Campaign speech 1944

"Now there is an old and somewhat lugubrious adage 
that says: 'Never speak of rope in the house of a man 
who has been hanged.'  In the same way, if I were a 
Republican leader speaking to a mixed audience, the 
last word in the whole dictionary that I think I would 
use is the word 'Depression.' "
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Campaign speech 1944

Sears, Roebuck Catalog
"Sears, Roebuck catalog."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, answer to the question of 
what single book he'd put in the hands of a 
Russian Communist

"A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car,
but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

I tell the American people solemnly that the 
United States will never survive as a happy and 
fertile oasis of liberty surrounded by a cruel 
desert of dictatorship"

"Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to 
ability to pay. That is the only American principle."

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be 
our doubts of today, so let us move forward with strong 
and active faith.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Speech prepared for a Jefferson Day Dinner, But 
undelivered. He died the day before the event.

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the 
conviction, that there is a better life, a better 
world, beyond the horizon.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Try Something
"The country needs, the country demands, bold persistent 
Above all, try something," 
Roosevelt said in 1932.

Undelivered Speech
If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science 
of human relationships--the ability of all people of all kinds, 
to live together and work together in the same world, at peace.
Franklin Roosevelt
Source:Undelivered speech for Apr 13, 1945
Eleanor:The Years Alone, pp210

I believe now, as I have all my life, in the right of workers to 
join unions and to protect their unions.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Source:Radio Address, May 2, 1943

It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation 
that it have a free and independent labor unions.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Source:Speech to Teamsters' Union, Sep 11, 1940

We must begin the great task that is before us by 
abandoning once and for all the illusion that we can 
ever again isolate ourselfs from the rest of humanity.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

When a country is at war we want Congressmen, regardless 
of party, to back up the government of the United States.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , 1944

Wall Street
"Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. 
If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must 
have equal opportunity in the market place. 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."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt 
Source:1936 Democratic convention

"The American people will not relish the 
idea of any American citizen growing rich and 
fat in an emergency of blood and slaughter 
and human suffering."

As men do not live on bread alone, they do not fight 
by armaments alone.  Those who man our defenses and 
those behind them who build our defense must have the 
stamina and the courage which come from an unshakable 
belief in the manner of life which they are defending.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill has a hundred ideas a day, of which 
four are good.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

We cannot always build the future for our youth, 
but we can build our youth for the future.
University of Penn, 1941

"Flaming youth has become a flaming 
question. And youth comes to us wanting to 
know what we may propose to do about a 
society that hurts so many of them."
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