FDR – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum: fdrlibrary.marist.edu/index.html

Youtube Videos: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


FDR: “Let me warn you…” (1936) Speech [Excerpt]

Let me warn you and 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, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”

“But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity—twelve long years of it.

“Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: The Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job’s being done.” ~  Franklin D. Rooselvelt, Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y. (September 29, 1936) See Video excerpt here. Transcript taken from this article


Radio Address on the Election of Liberals ( November 4, 1938) [Excerpt]

…[T]he other day when I was watching the finishing touches being put on a simple cottage I have recently built–a little cottage which, by the way, is not in any sense of the word a “dream house.” Just watching the building go up made me realize that there was a time not so long ago when I used to think about problems of government as if they were the same kind of problems as building a house–definite and compact and capable of completion within a given time.

Now I know well that the comparison is not a good one. Once you build a house you always have it. On the other hand, a social or an economic gain is a different matter. A social or an economic gain made by one Administration, for instance, may, and often does, evaporate into thin air under the next Administration.

We all remember well known examples of what an ill-advised shift from liberal to conservative leadership can do to an incompleted liberal program. Theodore Roosevelt, for example, started a march of progress during his seven years in the Presidency but, after four years of President Taft, little was left of the progress that had been made. Think of the great liberal achievements of Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom and how quickly they were liquidated under President Harding. We have to have reasonable continuity in liberal government in order to get permanent results.

 The whole United States concedes that we in the State of New York have carried out a magnificent liberal program through our State government during the past sixteen years. If the continuity of that liberal government had been broken in this State during that time, we would be nowhere near the point we have reached today.

The voters throughout the country should remember that need for continuous liberal government when they vote next Tuesday. ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, November 4, 1938

Full Speech Text Here


Franklin Roosevelt’s Statement on the National Industrial Recovery Act  (June 16, 1933 ): 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.”

“[T]o use the words of Abraham Lincoln: ‘The legitimate object of Government is to do for the people what needs to be done but which they cannot by individual effort do at all, or do so well, for themselves.’ Taxes are the price we all pay collectively to get those things done. To divide fairly among the people the obligation to pay for these benefits has been a major part of our struggle to maintain democracy in America. … On the one hand, there has been the vast majority of our citizens who believed that the benefits of democracy should be extended and who were willing to pay their fair share to extend them. On the other hand, there has been a small, but powerful group which has fought the extension of those benefits, because it did not want to pay a fair share of their cost. … Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.  ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Address at Worcester, Mass.,” October 21, 1936.


“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.” ~ U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Oct. 31, 1936

Below is the link to the page with the transcript, and the introduction written there.


There is also an audio link for the speech (runs about 37 minutes) which I strongly recommend. Hearing FDR deliver the speech is dramatically more impressive than simply reading the words.


“The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last…. We can never insure [sic] one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.” ~ FDR’s Statement on Signing the Social Security Act [Excerpt],August 14, 1935



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