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Top 100 President Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes

Top 100 President Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (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 Democrat Party, he won a record four presidential elections.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history led the nation through the Great Depression. His third and fourth terms helped ensure victory in World War II. FDR’s social programs reinvented the role of government in Americans’ lives, while his presidency during World War II established the United States’ leadership on the world stage. FDR’s leadership and courage during the worst years of the Great Depression and World War II are remembered as his lasting achievements. As one biographer named Jean Edward Smith noted, “He lifted himself from a wheelchair to lift the nation from its knees.” He is rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Throughout his career in politics, especially during his unprecedented four terms in office, Franklin D. Roosevelt held 30 “Fireside Chats” radio addresses and made many speeches, many of which contained important phrases for the time. Below you will find a collection of just a few of these famous quotes made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

100 Top Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes On Power, Happiness, Democracy, Success And More

1

“We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it immediately—but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes—but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

2

“The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

3

“A wise Government seeks to provide the opportunity through which the best of individual achievement can be obtained, while at the same time it seeks to remove such obstruction, such unfairness as springs from selfish human motives.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

4

“The program for social security that is now pending before the Congress is a necessary part of the future unemployment policy of the government. While our present and projected expenditures for work relief are wholly within the reasonable limits of our national credit resources, it is obvious that we cannot continue to create governmental deficits for that purpose year after year after year. We must begin now to make provision for the future and that is why our social security program is an important part of the complete picture. It proposes, by means of old-age pensions, to help those who have reached the age of retirement to give up their jobs and thus give to the younger generation greater opportunities for work and to give to all, old and young alike, a feeling of security as they look toward old age.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

5

“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. The life of a nation is the fullness of the measure of its will to live.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

6

“Wealth in the modern world does not come merely from individual effort; it results from a combination of individual effort and of the manifold uses to which the community puts that effort. The individual does not create the product of his industry with his own hands; he utilizes the many processes and forces of mass production to meet the demands of a national and international market. Therefore, in spite of the great importance in our national life of the efforts and ingenuity of unusual individuals, the people in the mass have inevitably helped to make large fortunes possible. Without mass cooperation great accumulations of wealth would be impossible save by unhealthy speculation.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

7

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself–nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

8

“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that 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 other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

9

“It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless we sincerely endeavor to apply to the problems of the present precisely the qualities which in other crises enabled the men of that day to meet those crises.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

10

“As a nation, we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

11

“We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

12

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

13

“Only a very small minority of the people of this country believe in gambling as a substitute for the old philosophy of Benjamin Franklin that the way to wealth is through work.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

14

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

15

“Freedom of speech is of no use to a man who has nothing to say and freedom of worship is of no use to a man who has lost his God.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

16

“We have faith that future generations will know that here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

17

“The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

18

“It is possible that when the banks resume a very few people who have not recovered from their fear may again begin withdrawels. Let me make it clear to you that the banks will take care of all needs except of course the hysterical demands of hoarders–and it is my belief that hoarding during the past week has become an exceedingly unfashionable pastime in every part of our nation. It needs no prophet to tell you that when the people find that they can get their money–that they can get it when they want it for all legitimate purposes–the phantom of fear will soon be laid. People will again be glad to have their money where it will be safely taken care of and where they can use it conveniently at any time. I can assure you, my friends, that it is safer to keep your money in a reopened bank than it is to keep it under a mattress.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

19

“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 D. Roosevelt

20

“Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

21

“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 D. Roosevelt

22

“You often hear people speaking as if life was like striving upward toward a mountain peak. That is not so. Life is as if you were traveling a ridge crest. You have the gulf of inefficiency on one side and the gulf of wickedness on the other, and it helps not to have avoided one gulf if you fall into the other.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

23

“Democracy alone, of all forms of government, enlists the full force of men’s enlightened will.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

24

“Be sincere, be brief, be seated.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

25

“We Americans of today, together with our allies, are passing through a period of supreme test. It is a test of our courage—of our resolve—of our wisdom—our essential democracy. If we meet that test—successfully and honorably—we shall perform a service of historic importance which men and women and children will honor throughout all time. As I stand here today, having taken the solemn oath of office in the presence of my fellow countrymen—in the presence of our God— I know that it is America’s purpose that we shall not fail.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

26

“Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as be seen as a people with such responsibilities.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

27

“If you treat people right they will treat you right — ninety percent of the time.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

28

“It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

29

“Enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people’s freedom.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

30

“I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

31

“We can afford all that we need, but we cannot afford all that we want.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

32

“It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and there can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

33

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

34

“So many figures are quoted to prove so many things. Sometimes it depends on what paper you read or what broadcast you listen in on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

35

“We … would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

36

“To those people who say that our expenditures for public works and for other means for recovery are a waste that we cannot afford, I answer that no country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order. Some people try to tell me that we must make up our minds that for the future we shall permanently have millions of unemployed just as other countries have had them for over a decade. What may be necessary for those other countries is not my responsibility to determine. But as for this country, I stand or fall by my refusal to accept as a necessary condition of our future a permanent army of unemployed. On the contrary, we must make it a national principle that we will not tolerate a large army of unemployed, that we will arrange our national economy to end our present unemployment as soon as we can and then to take wise measures against its return. I do not want to think that it is the destiny of any American to remain permanently on relief rolls.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

37

“Yesterday, December 7th, 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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

38

“Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

39

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

40

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

41

“Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

42

“The success of our whole national program depends, of course, on the cooperation of the public–on its intelligent support and its use of a reliable system.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

43

“Nazi forces are not seeking mere modifications in colonial maps or in minor European boundaries. They openly seek the destruction of all elective systems of government on every continent-including our own; they seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers who have seized power by force. These men and their hypnotized followers call this a new order. It is not new. It is not order.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

44

“The True conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

45

“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 D. Roosevelt

46

“For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor — other people’s lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

47

“To a great extent the achievements of invention, of mechanical and of artistic creation, must of necessity, and rightly, be individual rather than governmental. It is the self-reliant pioneer in every enterprise who beats the path along which American civilization has marched. Such individual effort is the glory of America.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

48

“I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

49

“Men may differ as to the particular form of governmental activity with respect to industry and business, but nearly all men are agreed that private enterprise in times such as these cannot be left without assistance and without reasonable safeguards lest it destroy not only itself but also our processes of civilization.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

50

“The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

51

“I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

52

“We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

53

“I sometimes think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not the bad luck of the early worm.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

54

“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

55

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

56

“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 D. Roosevelt

57

“We must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

58

“There are as many opinions as there are experts.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

59

“The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

60

“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 two hundred limping exhausted men come out of line-the survivors of a regiment of one thousand that went forward forty-eight hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

61

“If a government is to be prudent its taxes must produce ample revenues without discouraging enterprise; and if it is to be just it must distribute the burden of taxes equitably.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

62

“To sit home, read one’s favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon the good men’s doing.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

63

“No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

64

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

65

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

66

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

67

“I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

68

“No nation which refuses to exercise forbearance and to respect the freedom and rights of others can long remain strong and retain the confidence and respect of other nations. No nation ever loses its dignity or good standing by conciliating its differences and by exercising great patience with, and consideration for, the rights of other nations.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

69

“A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

70

“Freedom to learn is the first necessity of guaranteeing that man himself shall be self-reliant enough to be free. Such things did not need as much emphasis a generation ago, but when the clock of civilization can be turned back by burning libraries, by exiling scientists, artists, musicians, writers and teachers; by disbursing universities, and by censoring news and literature and art; an added burden, an added burden is placed on those countries where the courts of free thought and free learning still burn bright. 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 D. Roosevelt

71

“War is a contagion.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

72

“In nine cases out of ten the speaker or writer who, seeking to influence public opinion, descends from calm argument to unfair blows hurts himself more than his opponent.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

73

“The most difficult place in the world to get a clear and open perspective of the country as a whole is Washington.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

74

“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 D. Roosevelt

75

“This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

76

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

77

“We must be the great arsenal of Democracy.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

78

“The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It is human history.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

79

“We find our population suffering from old inequalities, little changed by vast sporadic remedies. In spite of our efforts and in spite of our talk, we have not weeded out the over privileged and we have not effectively lifted up the underprivileged. Both of these manifestations of injustice have retarded happiness. No wise man has any intention of destroying what is known as the profit motive; because by the profit motive we mean the right by work to earn a decent livelihood for ourselves and for our families. We have, however, a clear mandate from the people, that Americans must forswear that conception of the acquisition of wealth which, through excessive profits, creates undue private power over private affairs and, to our misfortune, over public affairs as well. In building toward this end we do not destroy ambition, nor do we seek to divide our wealth into equal shares on stated occasions. We continue to recognize the greater ability of some to earn more than others. But we do assert that the ambition of the individual to obtain for him and his a proper security, a reasonable leisure, and a decent living throughout life, is an ambition to be preferred to the appetite for great wealth and great power.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

80

“Yes, we are on the way back — not by mere chance, not by a turn of the cycle. We are coming back more soundly than ever before because we planned it that way, and don’t let anybody tell you differently.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

81

“The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is in violation of the traditions of America. Work must be found for able-bodied but destitute workers. The Federal Government must and shall quit this business of relief.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

82

“We are not isolationists except in so far as we seek to isolate ourselves completely from war. Yet we must remember that so long as war exists on earth there will be some danger that even the Nation which most ardently desires peace may be drawn into war.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

83

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

84

“We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

85

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

86

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

87

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

88

“The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

89

“Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism. … We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

90

“We count, in the future as in the past, on the driving power of individual initiative, on the incentive of fair private profit, strengthened of course with the acceptance of those obligations to the public interest which rest upon us all.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

91

“No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

92

“Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them, it cannot live.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

93

“America has been the New World in all tongues, to all peoples, not because this continent was a new-found land, but because all those who came here believed they could create upon this continent a new life — a life that should be new in freedom.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

94

“Unless a man is master of his soul, all other kinds of mastery amount to little.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

95

“I cannot consent to take the position that the door of hope — the door of opportunity — is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

96

“We have survived all of the arduous burdens and the threatening dangers of a great economic calamity. We have in the darkest moments of our national trials retained our faith in our own ability to master or own destiny. Fear is vanishing. Confidence is growing on every side, renewed faith in the vast possibilities of human beings to improve their material and spiritual status through the instrumentality of the democratic form of government. That faith is receiving its just reward. For that we can be thankful to the God who watches over America.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

97

“The very employers and politicians and publishers who talk most loudly of class antagonism and the destruction of the American system now undermine that system by this attempt to coerce the votes of the wage earners of this country. It is the 1936 version of the old threat to close down the factory or the office if a particular candidate does not win. It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. Every message in a pay envelope, even if it is the truth, is a command to vote according to the will of the employer. But this propaganda is worse—it is deceit.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

98

“Sometimes the threat to popular government comes from political interests, sometimes from economic interests, sometimes we have to beat off all of them together. But the challenge is always the same—whether each generation facing its own circumstances can summon the practical devotion to attain and retain that greatest good for the greatest number which this government of the people was created to ensure.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

99

“Let me warn you, and let me warn the nation, against the smooth evasion that says: “Of course we believe 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 that 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!”” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

100

“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.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

101

“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 rendezvous with destiny.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

102

“No man can occupy the office of President without realizing that he is President of all the people.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

103

“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 D. Roosevelt

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