Quotations by Roosevelt, Franklin Delano


When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of countries everywhere is in danger.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
“Fireside Chat” (3 Sep 1939)
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No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
“Fireside Chat” radio address (29 Dec 1940)
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I doubt if there is in the world a single problem, whether social, political, or economic, which would not find ready solution if men and nations would rule their lives according to the plain teaching of the Sermon on the Mount.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
“Greeting to the World’s Christian Endeavor Convention,” Melbourne (15 Jun 1938)
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Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the ideas that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny of every kind. In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
“Message to American Booksellers Association” (23 Apr 1942)
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I doubt there is in the world a single problem, whether social, political, or economic, which would not find ready solution if men and nations would rule their lives according to the plain teaching of the Sermon on the Mount.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
(Atributed)

Quoted in Arthur M. Schlessinger, Jr., The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal, 35.7 (1959)
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Be sincere; be brief; be seated.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
(Attributed)

Advice on speechmaking to his son, James
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No democracy can long survive which does not accept as fundamental to its very existence the recognition of the rights of minorities.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
(Attributed)
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The future lies with those wise political leaders who realize that the great public is interested more in Government than in politics.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
(Attributed)
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
(Attributed)
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I believe in individualism. I believe in it in the arts, the sciences and professions. I believe in it in business. I believe in individualism in all of these things — up to the point where the individualist starts to operate at the expense of society.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Acceptance Speech, Democratic Convention, Chicago (27 Jun 1936)
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Acceptance speech, Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia (27 Jun 1936)

Full text.

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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Acceptance speech, Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia (27 Jun 1936)
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The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody’s business. They granted that the government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Acceptance speech, Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia (27 Jun 1936)
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Address to the National Education Association, New York City (30 Jun 1938)
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Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change — in a perpetual peaceful revolution — a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions — without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Annual Message to Congress (6 Jan 1941)

Full text.

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Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and dignity of all nations, large and small. And the justice of morality must and will win in the end.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Annual Message to Congress (6 Jan 1941)

Full text.

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The millions who are in want will not stand idly by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Commencement Speech at Oglethorpe U. (22 May 1932)
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Commencement Speech at Oglethorpe U. (22 May1932)
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A few timid people who fear progress have tried to give you new and strange names for what we are doing. Sometimes they will call it “Fascism.” Sometimes “Communism.” Sometimes “Regimentation.” Sometimes “Socialism.” But in so doing, they are trying to make very complex and theoretical something that is really very simple and very practical. I believe in practical explanations and in practical policies. I believe what we are doing today is a necessary fulfillment of what Americans have always been doing, a fulfilment of old and tested American ideals.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Fireside Chat #5, “Report on Recovery” (27 Jun 1934)

Audio.
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
First Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1933)
    (Source)

See Bacon.
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We all make mistakes — but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Fourth Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1945)
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The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership. All our great Presidents were leaders of thought at times when certain historic ideas in the life of the nation had to be clarified.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
In The New York Times Magazine (11 Sep 1932)
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To accomplish almost anything worthwhile, it is necessary to compromise between the ideal and the practical.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
In Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen, “How the President Works,” Harper’s (Jun 1936)
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1937)
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In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1933)
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We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Letter to Dr. William Allan Neilson (9 Jan 1940)

http://www.bartleby.com/73/225.html
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There is no question in my mind that it is time for the country to become fairly radical for a generation. History shows that where this occurs occasionally, nations are saved from revolution.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Letter to John A. Kingsbury (May 1930)
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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 controlling private power.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Message to Congress (29 Apr 1938)
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I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Presidential nomination acceptance speech, Chicago (2 Jul 1932)
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We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Second Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1937)
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The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech (Undelivered) for Jefferson Day (13 Apr 1945)
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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 in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the constant omission of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech to the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia (27 Jun 1936)

Quoted in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, ed. Samuel I. Rosenman (1938-1950)
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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. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.

Roosevelt - nation unity - wist_info

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, Brooklyn, New York (1 Nov 1940)
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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 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line — the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war. I have passed unnumbered hours, I shall pass unnumbered hours thinking and planning how war may be kept from this nation.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, Chautauqua, New York (1936)

Full text. FDR, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, visited the front lines of WWI in France after American troops were in service.
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, Madison Square Garden, New York City (31 Oct 1936)

Full text.
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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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, Marietta, Ohio (8 Jul 1938)
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An American Government cannot permit Americans to starve.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, San Diego Exposition (2 Oct 1935)
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Perfectionism, no less than isolationism or imperialism or power politics, may obstruct the paths to international peace. Let us not forget that the retreat to isolationism a quarter of a century ago was started not by a direct attack against international cooperation but against the alleged imperfections of the peace.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
State of the Union address (6 Jan 1945)
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