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First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt


FDR's First Inaugural Address

Saturday, March 4, 1933

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. 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. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

 

Internet Sites for Researching the Presidency and Inauguration Ceremonies


http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/

This is the only online resource that has consolidated, coded, and organized into a single searchable database the papers of all presidents. The site at University of California-Santa Barbara contains over 76,000 presidential documents and supplements the 750 page text.  All Presidential Inaugural texts, some in audio and video are found at this site.


http://www.bartleby.com/124/

This site is a repository for Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States. The contents of the site are is also a book available through the Office of Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. The site also contains information on U.S. presidents who did not deliver inaugural speeches.


http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/inaug.asp

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School is also a comprehensive site for Presidential addresses including Inaugural, State of the Union and Farewell Addresses. Audio, video and photographs are available of inaugural events and photos of Inaugural manuscripts.


http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/inaugural-speeches.htm

Maintained by U.S.A Today this interactive site provides audio and background information on inauguration speeches dating back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the present.


 

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