Quotes by Franklin D. Roosevelt
Welcome to our collection of quotes by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Wikipedia Summary for Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ROH-zə-velt; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the Democratic Party, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which defined modern liberalism in the United States throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II, which ended shortly after he died in office.
Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York, to the Roosevelt family made well known by the reputation of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, as well as by the reputation of prominent businessman William Henry Aspinwall. He graduated from the Groton School and Harvard College, and attended Columbia Law School but left after passing the bar exam to practice law in New York City. In 1905, he married his fifth cousin once removed Eleanor Roosevelt. They had six children, of whom five survived into adulthood. He won election to the New York State Senate in 1910, and then served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Roosevelt was James M. Cox's running mate on the Democratic Party's 1920 national ticket, but Cox was defeated by Republican Warren G. Harding. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted a paralytic illness, believed at the time to be polio, and his legs became permanently paralyzed. While attempting to recover from his condition, Roosevelt founded a polio rehabilitation center in Warm Springs, Georgia. In spite of being unable to walk unaided, Roosevelt returned to public office by winning election as Governor of New York in 1928. He served as governor from 1929 to 1933, promoting programs to combat the economic crisis besetting the United States.
In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover in a landslide. Roosevelt took office in the midst of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. During the first 100 days of the 73rd United States Congress, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal — a variety of programs designed to produce relief, recovery, and reform. He created numerous programs to provide relief to the unemployed and farmers while seeking economic recovery with the National Recovery Administration and other programs. He also instituted major regulatory reforms related to finance, communications, and labor, and presided over the end of Prohibition. He used radio to speak directly to the American people, giving 30 "fireside chat" radio addresses during his presidency and became the first American president to be televised. With the economy having improved rapidly from 1933 to 1936, Roosevelt won a landslide reelection in 1936. After the 1936 election, Roosevelt sought passage of the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (the "court packing plan"), which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court of the United States. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented passage of the bill and blocked the implementation of further New Deal programs and reforms. The economy then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937 and 1938. Major surviving programs and legislation implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
The United States reelected FDR in 1940 for his third term, making him the only U.S. president to serve for more than two terms. With World War II looming after 1938, the U.S. remained officially neutral, but Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China, the United Kingdom, and eventually the Soviet Union. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event he called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a congressional declaration of war on Japan, and, a few days later, on Germany and Italy. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allied Powers against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort, and implemented a Europe first strategy, making the defeat of Germany a priority over that of Japan. He also initiated the development of the world's first atomic bomb and worked with other Allied leaders to lay the groundwork for the United Nations and other post-war institutions. Roosevelt won reelection in 1944, but with his physical health declining during the war years, he died in April 1945, less than three months into his fourth term. The Axis Powers surrendered to the Allies in the months following Roosevelt's death, during the presidency of his successor, Harry S. Truman. Roosevelt is usually rated by scholars among the nation's greatest presidents, with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but has also been subject to substantial criticism.
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. 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.
Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.
A good leader can't get too far ahead of his followers.
We, and all others who believe in freedom as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
Some people can never understand that you have to wait, even for the best of things, until the right time comes.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
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 nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.
And with that inner strength that comes to a free people conscious of their duty, conscious of the righteousness of what they do, they will--with divine help and guidance-- stand their ground against this latest assault upon their democracy, their sovereignty and their freedom.
In a democratic nation, power must be linked with responsibility, and obliged to defend and justify itself within the framework of the general good.
Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough.
It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach.
Confidence thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
Americans today are just as rugged and just as tough as any of the heroes we celebrate on the Fourth of July.
The overwhelming majority of americans are possessed of two great qualities a sense of humor and a sense of proportion.
Happiness if not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Liberty requires opportunity to make a living -- a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.
We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.
The barrier to success is not something which exists in the real world; it is composed purely and simply of doubts about ability.
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.
When a country is at war we want Congressmen, regardless of party, to back up the government of the United States.
No democracy can long survive which does not accept as fundamental to its very existence the recognition of the rights of minorities.
It is highly unlikely that an airplane, or fleet of them, could ever sink a fleet of Navy vessels under battle conditions.
A nation, like a person, has a mind -- a mind that must be kept informed and alert, that must know itself, that understands the hopes and needs of its neighbors -- all the other nations that live within the narrowing circle of the world.
Industrial combination is not wrong in itself. The danger lies in taking government into partnership.
The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation.
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.
There should be no bitterness or hate where the sole thought is the welfare of the United States of America. No man can occupy the office of President without realizing that he is President of all the people.
The true conservative is the man who has a real concern for injustices and takes thought against the day of reckoning.
Our government is based on the belief that a people can be both strong and free, that civilized men need no restraint but that imposed by themselves against abuse of freedom.
In the final analysis, the progress of our civilization will be retarded if any large body of citizens falls behind. Without the help of thousands of others, any one of us would die, naked and starved.
To bring about government by oligarchy, masquerading as democracy, it is fundamentally essential that practically all authority and control be centralized in our Federal government... The individual sovereignty of our states must first be destroyed.
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.
The ultimate victory of tomorrow is democracy, and through democracy with education, for no people in all the world can be kept eternally ignorant or eternally enslaved.
We have the men -- the skill -- the wealth -- and above all, the will.... We must be the great arsenal of democracy.
I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself ... But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.
Wise and prudent men and intelligent conservatives have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time.
In time of this grave national danger, when all excess income should go to win the war, no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000 a year.
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.
They realize that in thirty-four months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a peoples Government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people.
I hope that you have re-read the Constitution of the United States in these past few weeks. Like the Bible, it ought to be read again and again.
The people of America are in agreement in defending their liberties at any cost, and the first line of that defense lies in the protection of economic security.
Continued dependence on relief inducers a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber.
Goods produced under conditions which do not meet a rudimentary standard to decency should be regarded as contraband and not allowed to pollute the channels of international commerce.
Inequality may linger in the world of material things, but great music, great literature, great art and the wonders of science are, and should be, open to all.
People die, but books never die.
People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory.
We want a Supreme Court which will do justice under the Constitution -- not over it. In our courts we want a government of laws and not of men.
There can be little doubt that in many ways the story of bridge building is the story of civilisation. By it we can readily measure an important part of a people's progress.
It is time to extend planning to a wider field, in this instance comprehending in one great project many states directly concerned with the basin of one of our greatest rivers.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace -- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred.
Appeasement is the policy of feeding your friends to a crocodile, one at a time, in hopes that the crocodile will eat you last.
Sometimes the best way to keep peace in the family is to keep the members of the family apart for awhile.
All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S.
We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions-bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities.
Democracy, the practice of self-government, is a covenant among free men to respect the rights and liberties of their fellows.
Freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of a democracy; but there is a difference between freedom and license. Editorialists who tell downright lies in order to advance their own agendas do more to discredit the press than all the censors in the world.
You are, I am sure, aware that genuine popular support in the United States is required to carry out any Government policy, foreign or domestic. The American people make up their own minds and no governmental action can change it.
I consider it a public duty to answer falsifications with facts. I will not pretend that I find this an unpleasant duty. I am an old campaigner, and I love a good fight.
The gains in education are never really lost. Books may be burned and cities sacked, but truth, like the yearning for freedom, lives in the hearts of humble men.
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.
The presidency is not merely an administrative office...It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.
Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.
'Peace on earth, good will toward men' -- democracy must cling to that message. For it is my deep conviction that democracy cannot live without that true religion which gives a nation a sense of justice and moral purpose.
The most difficult place in the world to get a clear and open perspective of the country as a whole is Washington.
Chamberlain's visit to Hitler today may bring things to a head or may result in a temporary postponement of what looks to me likean inevitable conflict within the next five years.
I see an America whose rivers and valleys and lakes hills and streams and plains the mountains over our land and nature's wealth deep under the earth are protected as the rightful heritage of all the people.
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 or mistrust or with fear.
We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.
The public schools shall be free from sectarian influences and, above all, free from any attitude of hostility to the adherents of any particular creed.
A serf-supporting and self-respecting democracy can plead no justification for the existence of child labor, no economic reason for chiseling workers' wages or stretching workers' hours.
I propose to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work...More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.
To return to higher standards of living we must abandon the false prophets and seek new leaders of our own choosing.
Those (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.
Do not confuse objectives with methods. When the nation becomes substantially united in favor of planning the broad objectives of civilization, then true leadership must unite thought behind definite methods.
True wealth is not a static thing. It is a living thing made out of the disposition of men to create and distribute the good things of life with rising standards of living.
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.
We think of our land and water and human resources not as static and sterile possessions but as life giving assets to be directed by wise provisions for future days.
It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labor unions.
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 hands at the behest of his head.
For every advance that the Japanese have made since they started their frenzied career of conquest, they have had to pay a very heavy toll in warships, in transports, in planes, and in men. They are feeling the effects of those losses.
The only thing we have to fear is a giant wheelchair-crushing squid. Well... uh... actually, I guess that's the only thing I have to fear.
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.
I ask especially that no state shall, by law or otherwise, authorize the return of the saloon, either in its old form or in some modern guise.
I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas.
Go for the moon. If you don't get it, you'll still be heading for a star. Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of the creative effort.
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.
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.
Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them.
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.
Against naked force the only possible defense is naked force. The aggressor makes the rules for such a war; the defenders have no alternative but matching destruction with more destruction, slaughter with greater slaughter.
If we do not halt this steady process of building commissions and regulatory bodies and the special legislation like huge inverted pyramids over every one of the simple constitutional provisions, we shall soon be spending many billions of dollars more.
Since 1775 the United States Marines have upheld a fine tradition of service to their country. They are doing so today. I am confident they will continue to do so.
The constant free flow of communication amount us-enabling the free interchange of ideas-forms the very bloodstream of our nation. It keeps the mind and body of our democracy eternally vital, eternally young.
We now realize as we have never before our interdependence on each other; that we cannot merely take, but we must be willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline, no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective.
That is the spiral galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns. Now I think we are small enough.
We must open our eyes and see that modern civilization has become so complex and the lives of civilized men so interwoven with thelives of other men in other countries as to make it impossible to be in this world and out of it.
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.
And while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.
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.
Our national debt after all is an internal debt owed not only by the Nation but to the Nation. If our children have to pay interest on it they will pay that interest to themselves. A reasonable internal debt will not impoverish our children or put the Nation into bankruptcy.
My own party can succeed at the polls only so long as it continues to be the party of militant liberalism.
The chief problem is, of course, whether the marching of the general spirit of things is heading consciously or sub- consciously toward an idea of extension of boundaries.
To carry adequate life insurance is a moral obligation incumbent upon the great majority of citizens.
We may make mistakes-but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.
We know that there are chiselers. At the bottom of every case of criticism and obstruction we have found some selfish interest, some private axe to grind.
The loneliest feeling in the world is when you think you are leading the parade and turn to find that no one is following you. No president who badly misguesses public opinion will last very long.
They have given their sons to the military services. They have stoked the furnaces and hurried the factory wheels. They have made the planes and welded the tanks. Riveted the ships and rolled the shells.
The function of Government must be to favor no small group at the expense of its duty to protect the rights of personal freedom and of private property of all its citizens.
Inside the polling booth every American man and woman stands as the equal of every other American man and woman. There they have no superiors. There they have no masters save their own minds and consciences.
These are bad days for all of us who remember always that when real world forces come into conflict, the final result is never as dark as we mortals guess it in very difficult days.
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.
Labor Day symbolizes our determination to achieve an economic freedom for the average man which will give his political freedom realty.
I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy and seeking to prevent general European trouble.
Beware of that profound enemy of the free enterprise system who pays lip-service to free competition, but also labels every antitrust prosecution as a persecution.
The fate of America cannot depend on any one man. The greatness of America is grounded in principles and not on any single personality.
A program whose basic thesis is, not that the system of free enterprise for profit has failed in this generation, but that it has not yet been tried!
I am ... willing to make it clear that American foreign policy must uphold the sanctity of international treaties. That is the cornerstone on which all relations between nations must rest.
We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.
I have an unshaken conviction that democracy can never be undermined if we maintain our library resources and a national intelligence capable of utilizing them.
It drives on with a courage which is stronger than the storm. It drives on with a mercy which does not quail in the presence of death. It drives on as proof, a symbol, a testimony that man is created in the image of God and that valour and virtue have not perished in the British race.
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.
The Social Security Act offers to all our citizens a workable and working method of meeting urgent present needs and of forestalling future need. It utilizes the familiar machinery of our Federal-State government to promote the common welfare and the economic stability of the Nation.
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.
The driving force of a nation lies in its spiritual purpose, made effective by free, tolerant but unremitting national will.
Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
The Democratic Party will live and continue to receive the support of the majority of Americans just so long as it remains a liberal party.
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.
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.
General de Gaulle was a thoroughly bad boy. The day he arrived, he thought he was Joan of Arc and the following day he insisted that he was Georges Clemenceau.
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.
Competition has been shown to be useful
up to a certain point and no further,
but cooperation, which is the thing
we must strive for today,
begins where competition leaves off.
I sometimes think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.
How many people in the United States do you think will be willing to go to war to free Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania?
The winds that blow through the wide sky in these mounts, the winds that sweep from Canada to Mexico, from the Pacific to the Atlantic -- have always blown on free men.
I am perhaps being a bit facetious but if some of my good Baptist brethren in Georgia had done a little preaching from the pulpitagainst the K.K.K. in the '20s, I would have a little more genuine American respect for their Christianity!
There is much to be said against the climate on the coast of British Columbia and Alaska; yet, I believe that the scenery of one good day will compensate the tourists who will go there in increasing numbers.
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.
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.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.
Quotes by Franklin D. Roosevelt are featured in: