Part 6 out of 8
hold in the world.
Some of the best thought of mankind has long been seeking for a
formula for permanent peace. Undoubtedly the clarification of the
principles of international law would be helpful, and the efforts
of scholars to prepare such a work for adoption by the various
nations should have our sympathy and support. Much may be hoped
for from the earnest studies of those who advocate the outlawing
of aggressive war. But all these plans and preparations, these
treaties and covenants, will not of themselves be adequate. One of
the greatest dangers to peace lies in the economic pressure to
which people find themselves subjected. One of the most practical
things to be done in the world is to seek arrangements under which
such pressure may be removed, so that opportunity may be renewed
and hope may be revived. There must be some assurance that effort
and endeavor will be followed by success and prosperity. In the
making and financing of such adjustments there is not only an
opportunity, but a real duty, for America to respond with her
counsel and her resources. Conditions must be provided under which
people can make a living and work out of their difficulties. But
there is another element, more important than all, without which
there can not be the slightest hope of a permanent peace. That
element lies in the heart of humanity. Unless the desire for peace
be cherished there, unless this fundamental and only natural
source of brotherly love be cultivated to its highest degree, all
artificial efforts will be in vain. Peace will come when there is
realization that only under a reign of law, based on righteousness
and supported by the religious conviction of the brotherhood of
man, can there be any hope of a complete and satisfying life.
Parchment will fail, the sword will fail, it is only the spiritual
nature of man that can be triumphant.
It seems altogether probable that we can contribute most to these
important objects by maintaining our position of political
detachment and independence. We are not identified with any Old
World interests. This position should be made more and more clear
in our relations with all foreign countries. We are at peace with
all of them. Our program is never to oppress, but always to
assist. But while we do justice to others, we must require that
justice be done to us. With us a treaty of peace means peace, and
a treaty of amity means amity. We have made great contributions to
the settlement of contentious differences in both Europe and Asia.
But there is a very definite point beyond which we can not go. We
can only help those who help themselves. Mindful of these
limitations, the one great duty that stands out requires us to use
our enormous powers to trim the balance of the world.
While we can look with a great deal of pleasure upon what we have
done abroad, we must remember that our continued success in that
direction depends upon what we do at home. Since its very outset,
it has been found necessary to conduct our Government by means of
political parties. That system would not have survived from
generation to generation if it had not been fundamentally sound
and provided the best instrumentalities for the most complete
expression of the popular will. It is not necessary to claim that
it has always worked perfectly. It is enough to know that nothing
better has been devised. No one would deny that there should be
full and free expression and an opportunity for independence of
action within the party. There is no salvation in a narrow and
bigoted partisanship. But if there is to be responsible party
government, the party label must be something more than a mere
device for securing office. Unless those who are elected under the
same party designation are willing to assume sufficient
responsibility and exhibit sufficient loyalty and coherence, so
that they can cooperate with each other in the support of the
broad general principles, of the party platform, the election is
merely a mockery, no decision is made at the polls, and there is
no representation of the popular will. Common honesty and good
faith with the people who support a party at the polls require
that party, when it enters office, to assume the control of that
portion of the Government to which it has been elected. Any other
course is bad faith and a violation of the party pledges.
When the country has bestowed its confidence upon a party by
making it a majority in the Congress, it has a right to expect
such unity of action as will make the party majority an effective
instrument of government. This Administration has come into power
with a very clear and definite mandate from the people. The
expression of the popular will in favor of maintaining our
constitutional guarantees was overwhelming and decisive. There was
a manifestation of such faith in the integrity of the courts that
we can consider that issue rejected for some time to come.
Likewise, the policy of public ownership of railroads and certain
electric utilities met with unmistakable defeat. The people
declared that they wanted their rights to have not a political but
a judicial determination, and their independence and freedom
continued and supported by having the ownership and control of
their property, not in the Government, but in their own hands. As
they always do when they have a fair chance, the people
demonstrated that they are sound and are determined to have a
When we turn from what was rejected to inquire what was accepted,
the policy that stands out with the greatest clearness is that of
economy in public expenditure with reduction and reform of
taxation. The principle involved in this effort is that of
conservation. The resources of this country are almost beyond
computation. No mind can comprehend them. But the cost of our
combined governments is likewise almost beyond definition. Not
only those who are now making their tax returns, but those who
meet the enhanced cost of existence in their monthly bills, know
by hard experience what this great burden is and what it does. No
matter what others may want, these people want a drastic economy.
They are opposed to waste. They know that extravagance lengthens
the hours and diminishes the rewards of their labor. I favor the
policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I
wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil
are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar
that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the
more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their
life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its
most practical form.
If extravagance were not reflected in taxation, and through
taxation both directly and indirectly injuriously affecting the
people, it would not be of so much consequence. The wisest and
soundest method of solving our tax problem is through economy.
Fortunately, of all the great nations this country is best in a
position to adopt that simple remedy. We do not any longer need
wartime revenues. The collection of any taxes which are not
absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt
contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized
larceny. Under this republic the rewards of industry belong to
those who earn them. The only constitutional tax is the tax which
ministers to public necessity. The property of the country belongs
to the people of the country. Their title is absolute. They do not
support any privileged class; they do not need to maintain great
military forces; they ought not to be burdened with a great array
of public employees. They are not required to make any
contribution to Government expenditures except that which they
voluntarily assess upon themselves through the action of their own
representatives. Whenever taxes become burdensome a remedy can be
applied by the people; but if they do not act for themselves, no
one can be very successful in acting for them.
The time is arriving when we can have further tax reduction, when,
unless we wish to hamper the people in their right to earn a
living, we must have tax reform. The method of raising revenue
ought not to impede the transaction of business; it ought to
encourage it. I am opposed to extremely high rates, because they
produce little or no revenue, because they are bad for the
country, and, finally, because they are wrong. We can not finance
the country, we can not improve social conditions, through any
system of injustice, even if we attempt to inflict it upon the
rich. Those who suffer the most harm will be the poor. This
country believes in prosperity. It is absurd to suppose that it is
envious of those who are already prosperous. The wise and correct
course to follow in taxation and all other economic legislation is
not to destroy those who have already secured success but to
create conditions under which every one will have a better chance
to be successful. The verdict of the country has been given on
this question. That verdict stands. We shall do well to heed it.
These questions involve moral issues. We need not concern
ourselves much about the rights of property if we will faithfully
observe the rights of persons. Under our institutions their rights
are supreme. It is not property but the right to hold property,
both great and small, which our Constitution guarantees. All
owners of property are charged with a service. These rights and
duties have been revealed, through the conscience of society, to
have a divine sanction. The very stability of our society rests
upon production and conservation. For individuals or for
governments to waste and squander their resources is to deny these
rights and disregard these obligations. The result of economic
dissipation to a nation is always moral decay.
These policies of better international understandings, greater
economy, and lower taxes have contributed largely to peaceful and
prosperous industrial relations. Under the helpful influences of
restrictive immigration and a protective tariff, employment is
plentiful, the rate of pay is high, and wage earners are in a
state of contentment seldom before seen. Our transportation
systems have been gradually recovering and have been able to meet
all the requirements of the service. Agriculture has been very
slow in reviving, but the price of cereals at last indicates that
the day of its deliverance is at hand.
We are not without our problems, but our most important problem is
not to secure new advantages but to maintain those which we
already possess. Our system of government made up of three
separate and independent departments, our divided sovereignty
composed of Nation and State, the matchless wisdom that is
enshrined in our Constitution, all these need constant effort and
tireless vigilance for their protection and support.
In a republic the first rule for the guidance of the citizen is
obedience to law. Under a despotism the law may be imposed upon
the subject. He has no voice in its making, no influence in its
administration, it does not represent him. Under a free government
the citizen makes his own laws, chooses his own administrators,
which do represent him. Those who want their rights respected
under the Constitution and the law ought to set the example
themselves of observing the Constitution and the law. While there
may be those of high intelligence who violate the law at times,
the barbarian and the defective always violate it. Those who
disregard the rules of society are not exhibiting a superior
intelligence, are not promoting freedom and independence, are not
following the path of civilization, but are displaying the traits
of ignorance, of servitude, of savagery, and treading the way that
leads back to the jungle.
The essence of a republic is representative government. Our
Congress represents the people and the States. In all legislative
affairs it is the natural collaborator with the President. In
spite of all the criticism which often falls to its lot, I do not
hesitate to say that there is no more independent and effective
legislative body in the world. It is, and should be, jealous of
its prerogative. I welcome its cooperation, and expect to share
with it not only the responsibility, but the credit, for our
common effort to secure beneficial legislation.
These are some of the principles which America represents. We have
not by any means put them fully into practice, but we have
strongly signified our belief in them. The encouraging feature of
our country is not that it has reached its destination, but that
it has overwhelmingly expressed its determination to proceed in
the right direction. It is true that we could, with profit, be
less sectional and more national in our thought. It would be well
if we could replace much that is only a false and ignorant
prejudice with a true and enlightened pride of race. But the last
election showed that appeals to class and nationality had little
effect. We were all found loyal to a common citizenship. The
fundamental precept of liberty is toleration. We can not permit
any inquisition either within or without the law or apply any
religious test to the holding of office. The mind of America must
be forever free.
It is in such contemplations, my fellow countrymen, which are not
exhaustive but only representative, that I find ample warrant for
satisfaction and encouragement. We should not let the much that is
to do obscure the much which has been done. The past and present
show faith and hope and courage fully justified. Here stands our
country, an example of tranquillity at home, a patron of
tranquillity abroad. Here stands its Government, aware of its
might but obedient to its conscience. Here it will continue to
stand, seeking peace and prosperity, solicitous for the welfare of
the wage earner, promoting enterprise, developing waterways and
natural resources, attentive to the intuitive counsel of
womanhood, encouraging education, desiring the advancement of
religion, supporting the cause of justice and honor among the
nations. America seeks no earthly empire built on blood and force.
No ambition, no temptation, lures her to thought of foreign
dominions. The legions which she sends forth are armed, not with
the sword, but with the cross. The higher state to which she seeks
the allegiance of all mankind is not of human, but of divine
origin. She cherishes no purpose save to merit the favor of
INAUGURAL ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
MONDAY, MARCH 4, 1929
Popular opinion for the engineer, humanitarian, and Secretary of
Commerce brought the President-elect to office with expectations
of continued national growth and prosperity. Chief Justice William
Howard Taft administered the oath of office on the East Portico of
the Capitol. On taking his first elective office, the new
President addressed a large crowd in the drizzling rain.
Dirigibles and aircraft flew over the Capitol to mark the
This occasion is not alone the administration of the most sacred
oath which can be assumed by an American citizen. It is a
dedication and consecration under God to the highest office in
service of our people. I assume this trust in the humility of
knowledge that only through the guidance of Almighty Providence
can I hope to discharge its ever-increasing burdens.
It is in keeping with tradition throughout our history that I
should express simply and directly the opinions which I hold
concerning some of the matters of present importance.
If we survey the situation of our Nation both at home and abroad,
we find many satisfactions; we find some causes for concern. We
have emerged from the losses of the Great War and the
reconstruction following it with increased virility and strength.
From this strength we have contributed to the recovery and
progress of the world. What America has done has given renewed
hope and courage to all who have faith in government by the
people. In the large view, we have reached a higher degree of
comfort and security than ever existed before in the history of
the world. Through liberation from widespread poverty we have
reached a higher degree of individual freedom than ever before.
The devotion to and concern for our institutions are deep and
sincere. We are steadily building a new race--a new civilization
great in its own attainments. The influence and high purposes of
our Nation are respected among the peoples of the world. We aspire
to distinction in the world, but to a distinction based upon
confidence in our sense of justice as well as our accomplishments
within our own borders and in our own lives. For wise guidance in
this great period of recovery the Nation is deeply indebted to
But all this majestic advance should not obscure the constant
dangers from which self-government must be safeguarded. The strong
man must at all times be alert to the attack of insidious disease.
THE FAILURE OF OUR SYSTEM OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
The most malign of all these dangers today is disregard and
disobedience of law. Crime is increasing. Confidence in rigid and
speedy justice is decreasing. I am not prepared to believe that
this indicates any decay in the moral fiber of the American
people. I am not prepared to believe that it indicates an
impotence of the Federal Government to enforce its laws.
It is only in part due to the additional burdens imposed upon our
judicial system by the eighteenth amendment. The problem is much
wider than that. Many influences had increasingly complicated and
weakened our law enforcement organization long before the adoption
of the eighteenth amendment.
To reestablish the vigor and effectiveness of law enforcement we
must critically consider the entire Federal machinery of justice,
the redistribution of its functions, the simplification of its
procedure, the provision of additional special tribunals, the
better selection of juries, and the more effective organization of
our agencies of investigation and prosecution that justice may be
sure and that it may be swift. While the authority of the Federal
Government extends to but part of our vast system of national,
State, and local justice, yet the standards which the Federal
Government establishes have the most profound influence upon the
We are fortunate in the ability and integrity of our Federal
judges and attorneys. But the system which these officers are
called upon to administer is in many respects ill adapted to
present-day conditions. Its intricate and involved rules of
procedure have become the refuge of both big and little criminals.
There is a belief abroad that by invoking technicalities,
subterfuge, and delay, the ends of justice may be thwarted by
those who can pay the cost.
Reform, reorganization and strengthening of our whole judicial and
enforcement system, both in civil and criminal sides, have been
advocated for years by statesmen, judges, and bar associations.
First steps toward that end should not longer be delayed. Rigid
and expeditious justice is the first safeguard of freedom, the
basis of all ordered liberty, the vital force of progress. It must
not come to be in our Republic that it can be defeated by the
indifference of the citizen, by exploitation of the delays and
entanglements of the law, or by combinations of criminals. Justice
must not fail because the agencies of enforcement are either
delinquent or inefficiently organized. To consider these evils, to
find their remedy, is the most sore necessity of our times.
ENFORCEMENT OF THE EIGHTEENTH AMENDMENT
Of the undoubted abuses which have grown up under the eighteenth
amendment, part are due to the causes I have just mentioned; but
part are due to the failure of some States to accept their share
of responsibility for concurrent enforcement and to the failure of
many State and local officials to accept the obligation under
their oath of office zealously to enforce the laws. With the
failures from these many causes has come a dangerous expansion in
the criminal elements who have found enlarged opportunities in
dealing in illegal liquor.
But a large responsibility rests directly upon our citizens. There
would be little traffic in illegal liquor if only criminals
patronized it. We must awake to the fact that this patronage from
large numbers of law-abiding citizens is supplying the rewards and
I have been selected by you to execute and enforce the laws of the
country. I propose to do so to the extent of my own abilities, but
the measure of success that the Government shall attain will
depend upon the moral support which you, as citizens, extend. The
duty of citizens to support the laws of the land is coequal with
the duty of their Government to enforce the laws which exist. No
greater national service can be given by men and women of good
will--who, I know, are not unmindful of the responsibilities of
citizenship--than that they should, by their example, assist in
stamping out crime and outlawry by refusing participation in and
condemning all transactions with illegal liquor. Our whole system
of self-government will crumble either if officials elect what
laws they will enforce or citizens elect what laws they will
support. The worst evil of disregard for some law is that it
destroys respect for all law. For our citizens to patronize the
violation of a particular law on the ground that they are opposed
to it is destructive of the very basis of all that protection of
life, of homes and property which they rightly claim under other
laws. If citizens do not like a law, their duty as honest men and
women is to discourage its violation; their right is openly to
work for its repeal.
To those of criminal mind there can be no appeal but vigorous
enforcement of the law. Fortunately they are but a small
percentage of our people. Their activities must be stopped.
A NATIONAL INVESTIGATION
I propose to appoint a national commission for a searching
investigation of the whole structure of our Federal system of
jurisprudence, to include the method of enforcement of the
eighteenth amendment and the causes of abuse under it. Its purpose
will be to make such recommendations for reorganization of the
administration of Federal laws and court procedure as may be found
desirable. In the meantime it is essential that a large part of
the enforcement activities be transferred from the Treasury
Department to the Department of Justice as a beginning of more
THE RELATION OF GOVERNMENT TO BUSINESS
The election has again confirmed the determination of the American
people that regulation of private enterprise and not Government
ownership or operation is the course rightly to be pursued in our
relation to business. In recent years we have established a
differentiation in the whole method of business regulation between
the industries which produce and distribute commodities on the one
hand and public utilities on the other. In the former, our laws
insist upon effective competition; in the latter, because we
substantially confer a monopoly by limiting competition, we must
regulate their services and rates. The rigid enforcement of the
laws applicable to both groups is the very base of equal
opportunity and freedom from domination for all our people, and it
is just as essential for the stability and prosperity of business
itself as for the protection of the public at large. Such
regulation should be extended by the Federal Government within the
limitations of the Constitution and only when the individual
States are without power to protect their citizens through their
own authority. On the other hand, we should be fearless when the
authority rests only in the Federal Government.
COOPERATION BY THE GOVERNMENT
The larger purpose of our economic thought should be to establish
more firmly stability and security of business and employment and
thereby remove poverty still further from our borders. Our people
have in recent years developed a new-found capacity for
cooperation among themselves to effect high purposes in public
welfare. It is an advance toward the highest conception of self-
government. Self-government does not and should not imply the use
of political agencies alone. Progress is born of cooperation in
the community--not from governmental restraints. The Government
should assist and encourage these movements of collective self-
help by itself cooperating with them. Business has by cooperation
made great progress in the advancement of service, in stability,
in regularity of employment and in the correction of its own
abuses. Such progress, however, can continue only so long as
business manifests its respect for law.
There is an equally important field of cooperation by the Federal
Government with the multitude of agencies, State, municipal and
private, in the systematic development of those processes which
directly affect public health, recreation, education, and the
home. We have need further to perfect the means by which
Government can be adapted to human service.
Although education is primarily a responsibility of the States and
local communities, and rightly so, yet the Nation as a whole is
vitally concerned in its development everywhere to the highest
standards and to complete universality. Self-government can
succeed only through an instructed electorate. Our objective is
not simply to overcome illiteracy. The Nation has marched far
beyond that. The more complex the problems of the Nation become,
the greater is the need for more and more advanced instruction.
Moreover, as our numbers increase and as our life expands with
science and invention, we must discover more and more leaders for
every walk of life. We can not hope to succeed in directing this
increasingly complex civilization unless we can draw all the
talent of leadership from the whole people. One civilization after
another has been wrecked upon the attempt to secure sufficient
leadership from a single group or class. If we would prevent the
growth of class distinctions and would constantly refresh our
leadership with the ideals of our people, we must draw constantly
from the general mass. The full opportunity for every boy and girl
to rise through the selective processes of education can alone
secure to us this leadership.
In public health the discoveries of science have opened a new era.
Many sections of our country and many groups of our citizens
suffer from diseases the eradication of which are mere matters of
administration and moderate expenditure. Public health service
should be as fully organized and as universally incorporated into
our governmental system as is public education. The returns are a
thousand fold in economic benefits, and infinitely more in
reduction of suffering and promotion of human happiness.
The United States fully accepts the profound truth that our own
progress, prosperity, and peace are interlocked with the progress,
prosperity, and peace of all humanity. The whole world is at
peace. The dangers to a continuation of this peace to-day are
largely the fear and suspicion which still haunt the world. No
suspicion or fear can be rightly directed toward our country.
Those who have a true understanding of America know that we have
no desire for territorial expansion, for economic or other
domination of other peoples. Such purposes are repugnant to our
ideals of human freedom. Our form of government is ill adapted to
the responsibilities which inevitably follow permanent limitation
of the independence of other peoples. Superficial observers seem
to find no destiny for our abounding increase in population, in
wealth and power except that of imperialism. They fail to see that
the American people are engrossed in the building for themselves
of a new economic system, a new social system, a new political
system all of which are characterized by aspirations of freedom of
opportunity and thereby are the negation of imperialism. They fail
to realize that because of our abounding prosperity our youth are
pressing more and more into our institutions of learning; that our
people are seeking a larger vision through art, literature,
science, and travel; that they are moving toward stronger moral
and spiritual life--that from these things our sympathies are
broadening beyond the bounds of our Nation and race toward their
true expression in a real brotherhood of man. They fail to see
that the idealism of America will lead it to no narrow or selfish
channel, but inspire it to do its full share as a nation toward
the advancement of civilization. It will do that not by mere
declaration but by taking a practical part in supporting all
useful international undertakings. We not only desire peace with
the world, but to see peace maintained throughout the world. We
wish to advance the reign of justice and reason toward the
extinction of force.
The recent treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of
national policy sets an advanced standard in our conception of the
relations of nations. Its acceptance should pave the way to
greater limitation of armament, the offer of which we sincerely
extend to the world. But its full realization also implies a
greater and greater perfection in the instrumentalities for
pacific settlement of controversies between nations. In the
creation and use of these instrumentalities we should support
every sound method of conciliation, arbitration, and judicial
settlement. American statesmen were among the first to propose and
they have constantly urged upon the world, the establishment of a
tribunal for the settlement of controversies of a justiciable
character. The Permanent Court of International Justice in its
major purpose is thus peculiarly identified with American ideals
and with American statesmanship. No more potent instrumentality
for this purpose has ever been conceived and no other is
practicable of establishment. The reservations placed upon our
adherence should not be misinterpreted. The United States seeks by
these reservations no special privilege or advantage but only to
clarify our relation to advisory opinions and other matters which
are subsidiary to the major purpose of the court. The way should,
and I believe will, be found by which we may take our proper place
in a movement so fundamental to the progress of peace.
Our people have determined that we should make no political
engagements such as membership in the League of Nations, which may
commit us in advance as a nation to become involved in the
settlements of controversies between other countries. They adhere
to the belief that the independence of America from such
obligations increases its ability and availability for service in
all fields of human progress.
I have lately returned from a journey among our sister Republics
of the Western Hemisphere. I have received unbounded hospitality
and courtesy as their expression of friendliness to our country.
We are held by particular bonds of sympathy and common interest
with them. They are each of them building a racial character and a
culture which is an impressive contribution to human progress. We
wish only for the maintenance of their independence, the growth of
their stability, and their prosperity. While we have had wars in
the Western Hemisphere, yet on the whole the record is in
encouraging contrast with that of other parts of the world.
Fortunately the New World is largely free from the inheritances of
fear and distrust which have so troubled the Old World. We should
keep it so.
It is impossible, my countrymen, to speak of peace without
profound emotion. In thousands of homes in America, in millions of
homes around the world, there are vacant chairs. It would be a
shameful confession of our unworthiness if it should develop that
we have abandoned the hope for which all these men died. Surely
civilization is old enough, surely mankind is mature enough so
that we ought in our own lifetime to find a way to permanent
peace. Abroad, to west and east, are nations whose sons mingled
their blood with the blood of our sons on the battlefields. Most
of these nations have contributed to our race, to our culture, our
knowledge, and our progress. From one of them we derive our very
language and from many of them much of the genius of our
institutions. Their desire for peace is as deep and sincere as our
Peace can be contributed to by respect for our ability in defense.
Peace can be promoted by the limitation of arms and by the
creation of the instrumentalities for peaceful settlement of
controversies. But it will become a reality only through self-
restraint and active effort in friendliness and helpfulness. I
covet for this administration a record of having further
contributed to advance the cause of peace.
In our form of democracy the expression of the popular will can be
effected only through the instrumentality of political parties. We
maintain party government not to promote intolerant partisanship
but because opportunity must be given for expression of the
popular will, and organization provided for the execution of its
mandates and for accountability of government to the people. It
follows that the government both in the executive and the
legislative branches must carry out in good faith the platforms
upon which the party was entrusted with power. But the government
is that of the whole people; the party is the instrument through
which policies are determined and men chosen to bring them into
being. The animosities of elections should have no place in our
Government, for government must concern itself alone with the
SPECIAL SESSION OF THE CONGRESS
Action upon some of the proposals upon which the Republican Party
was returned to power, particularly further agricultural relief
and limited changes in the tariff, cannot in justice to our
farmers, our labor, and our manufacturers be postponed. I shall
therefore request a special session of Congress for the
consideration of these two questions. I shall deal with each of
them upon the assembly of the Congress.
OTHER MANDATES FROM THE ELECTION
It appears to me that the more important further mandates from the
recent election were the maintenance of the integrity of the
Constitution; the vigorous enforcement of the laws; the
continuance of economy in public expenditure; the continued
regulation of business to prevent domination in the community; the
denial of ownership or operation of business by the Government in
competition with its citizens; the avoidance of policies which
would involve us in the controversies of foreign nations; the more
effective reorganization of the departments of the Federal
Government; the expansion of public works; and the promotion of
welfare activities affecting education and the home.
These were the more tangible determinations of the election, but
beyond them was the confidence and belief of the people that we
would not neglect the support of the embedded ideals and
aspirations of America. These ideals and aspirations are the
touchstones upon which the day-to-day administration and
legislative acts of government must be tested. More than this, the
Government must, so far as lies within its proper powers, give
leadership to the realization of these ideals and to the fruition
of these aspirations. No one can adequately reduce these things of
the spirit to phrases or to a catalogue of definitions. We do know
what the attainments of these ideals should be: The preservation
of self-government and its full foundations in local government;
the perfection of justice whether in economic or in social fields;
the maintenance of ordered liberty; the denial of domination by
any group or class; the building up and preservation of equality
of opportunity; the stimulation of initiative and individuality;
absolute integrity in public affairs; the choice of officials for
fitness to office; the direction of economic progress toward
prosperity for the further lessening of poverty; the freedom of
public opinion; the sustaining of education and of the advancement
of knowledge; the growth of religious spirit and the tolerance of
all faiths; the strengthening of the home; the advancement of
There is no short road to the realization of these aspirations.
Ours is a progressive people, but with a determination that
progress must be based upon the foundation of experience. Ill-
considered remedies for our faults bring only penalties after
them. But if we hold the faith of the men in our mighty past who
created these ideals, we shall leave them heightened and
strengthened for our children.
This is not the time and place for extended discussion. The
questions before our country are problems of progress to higher
standards; they are not the problems of degeneration. They demand
thought and they serve to quicken the conscience and enlist our
sense of responsibility for their settlement. And that
responsibility rests upon you, my countrymen, as much as upon
those of us who have been selected for office.
Ours is a land rich in resources; stimulating in its glorious
beauty; filled with millions of happy homes; blessed with comfort
and opportunity. In no nation are the institutions of progress
more advanced. In no nation are the fruits of accomplishment more
secure. In no nation is the government more worthy of respect. No
country is more loved by its people. I have an abiding faith in
their capacity, integrity and high purpose. I have no fears for
the future of our country. It is bright with hope.
In the presence of my countrymen, mindful of the solemnity of this
occasion, knowing what the task means and the responsibility which
it involves, I beg your tolerance, your aid, and your cooperation.
I ask the help of Almighty God in this service to my country to
which you have called me.
INAUGURAL ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS
SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1933
The former Governor of New York rode to the Capitol with President
Hoover. Pressures of the economy faced the President-elect as he
took his oath of office from Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes on
the East Portico of the Capitol. He addressed the nation by radio
and announced his plans for a New Deal. Throughout that day the
President met with his Cabinet designees at the White House.
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
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
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.
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.
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
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of
success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief
that public office and high political position are to be valued
only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and
there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which
too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and
selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for
it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of
obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance;
without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This
Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no
unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can
be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government
itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a
war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing
greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our
Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance
of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a
national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better
use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can
be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural
products and with this the power to purchase the output of our
cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy
of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our
farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and
local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be
drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief
activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and
unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision
of all forms of transportation and of communications and other
utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many
ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely
by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.
Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require
two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order;
there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and
investments; there must be an end to speculation with other
people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but
There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new
Congress in special session detailed measures for their
fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the
Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our
own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our
international trade relations, though vastly important, are in
point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a
sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting
of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world
trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at
home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national
recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a
first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various
elements in all parts of the United States--a recognition of the
old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit
of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate
way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the
policy of the good neighbor--the neighbor who resolutely respects
himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others--
the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the
sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we
have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that
we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to
go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to
sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without
such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes
effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives
and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a
leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer,
pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a
sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in
time of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of
this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack
upon our common problems.
Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of
government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our
Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always
to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement
without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional
system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political
mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress
of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter
internal strife, of world relations.
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and
legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the
unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented
demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary
departure from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the
measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world
may require. These measures, or such other measures as the
Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek,
within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these
two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still
critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will
then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining
instrument to meet the crisis--broad Executive power to wage a war
against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given
to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the
devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.
We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of
the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old
and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes
from the stem performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim
at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.
We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people
of the United States have not failed. In their need they have
registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They
have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They
have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit
of the gift I take it.
In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God.
May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the
days to come.
INAUGURAL ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
Franklin D. Roosevelt
SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20, 1937
For the first time the inauguration of the President was held on
January 20, pursuant to the provisions of the 20th amendment to
the Constitution. Having won the election of 1936 by a wide
margin, and looking forward to the advantage of Democratic gains
in the House and Senate, the President confidently outlined the
continuation of his programs. The oath of office was administered
on the East Portico of the Capitol by Chief Justice Charles Evans
When four years ago we met to inaugurate a President, the
Republic, single-minded in anxiety, stood in spirit here. We
dedicated ourselves to the fulfillment of a vision--to speed the
time when there would be for all the people that security and
peace essential to the pursuit of happiness. We of the Republic
pledged ourselves to drive from the temple of our ancient faith
those who had profaned it; to end by action, tireless and
unafraid, the stagnation and despair of that day. We did those
first things first.
Our covenant with ourselves did not stop there. Instinctively we
recognized a deeper need--the need to find through government the
instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the
ever-rising problems of a complex civilization. Repeated attempts
at their solution without the aid of government had left us
baffled and bewildered. For, without that aid, we had been unable
to create those moral controls over the services of science which
are necessary to make science a useful servant instead of a
ruthless master of mankind. To do this we knew that we must find
practical controls over blind economic forces and blindly selfish
We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has
innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once
considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered
unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to
master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic
suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We
refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved
by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster.
In this we Americans were discovering no wholly new truth; we were
writing a new chapter in our book of self-government.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the
Constitutional Convention which made us a nation. At that
Convention our forefathers found the way out of the chaos which
followed the Revolutionary War; they created a strong government
with powers of united action sufficient then and now to solve
problems utterly beyond individual or local solution. A century
and a half ago they established the Federal Government in order to
promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to
the American people.
Today we invoke those same powers of government to achieve the
Four years of new experience have not belied our historic
instinct. They hold out the clear hope that government within
communities, government within the separate States, and government
of the United States can do the things the times require, without
yielding its democracy. Our tasks in the last four years did not
force democracy to take a holiday.
Nearly all of us recognize that as intricacies of human
relationships increase, so power to govern them also must
increase--power to stop evil; power to do good. The essential
democracy of our Nation and the safety of our people depend not
upon the absence of power, but upon lodging it with those whom the
people can change or continue at stated intervals through an
honest and free system of elections. The Constitution of 1787 did
not make our democracy impotent.
In fact, in these last four years, we have made the exercise of
all power more democratic; for we have begun to bring private
autocratic powers into their proper subordination to the public's
government. The legend that they were invincible--above and beyond
the processes of a democracy--has been shattered. They have been
challenged and beaten.
Our progress out of the depression is obvious. But that is not all
that you and I mean by the new order of things. Our pledge was not
merely to do a patchwork job with secondhand materials. By using
the new materials of social justice we have undertaken to erect on
the old foundations a more enduring structure for the better use
of future generations.
In that purpose we have been helped by achievements of mind and
spirit. Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been
unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was
bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the
collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality
has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality
pays. We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the
practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an
instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally
This new understanding undermines the old admiration of worldly
success as such. We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the
abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary
decencies of life.
In this process evil things formerly accepted will not be so
easily condoned. Hard-headedness will not so easily excuse
hardheartedness. We are moving toward an era of good feeling. But
we realize that there can be no era of good feeling save among men
of good will.
For these reasons I am justified in believing that the greatest
change we have witnessed has been the change in the moral climate
Among men of good will, science and democracy together offer an
ever-richer life and ever-larger satisfaction to the individual.
With this change in our moral climate and our rediscovered ability
to improve our economic order, we have set our feet upon the road
of enduring progress.
Shall we pause now and turn our back upon the road that lies
ahead? Shall we call this the promised land? Or, shall we continue
on our way? For "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is
coming to birth."
Many voices are heard as we face a great decision. Comfort says,
"Tarry a while." Opportunism says, "This is a good spot." Timidity
asks, "How difficult is the road ahead?"
True, we have come far from the days of stagnation and despair.
Vitality has been preserved. Courage and confidence have been
restored. Mental and moral horizons have been extended.
But our present gains were won under the pressure of more than
ordinary circumstances. Advance became imperative under the goad
of fear and suffering. The times were on the side of progress.
To hold to progress today, however, is more difficult. Dulled
conscience, irresponsibility, and ruthless self-interest already
reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of
disaster! Prosperity already tests the persistence of our
Let us ask again: Have we reached the goal of our vision of that
fourth day of March 1933? Have we found our happy valley?
I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great
wealth of natural resources. Its hundred and thirty million people
are at peace among themselves; they are making their country a
good neighbor among the nations. I see a United States which can
demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national
wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts
hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised
far above the level of mere subsistence.
But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see
tens of millions of its citizens--a substantial part of its whole
population--who at this very moment are denied the greater part of
what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of
I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager
that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.
I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue
under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society
half a century ago.
I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity
to better their lot and the lot of their children.
I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and
factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to
many other millions.
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for
you in hope--because the Nation, seeing and understanding the
injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to
make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest
and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding
group within our borders as superfluous. 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
If I know aught of the spirit and purpose of our Nation, we will
not listen to Comfort, Opportunism, and Timidity. We will carry
Overwhelmingly, we of the Republic are men and women of good will;
men and women who have more than warm hearts of dedication; men
and women who have cool heads and willing hands of practical
purpose as well. They will insist that every agency of popular
government use effective instruments to carry out their will.
Government is competent when all who compose it work as trustees
for the whole people. It can make constant progress when it keeps
abreast of all the facts. It can obtain justified support and
legitimate criticism when the people receive true information of
all that government does.
If I know aught of the will of our people, they will demand that
these conditions of effective government shall be created and
maintained. They will demand a nation uncorrupted by cancers of
injustice and, therefore, strong among the nations in its example
of the will to peace.
Today we reconsecrate our country to long-cherished ideals in a
suddenly changed civilization. In every land there are always at
work forces that drive men apart and forces that draw men
together. In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in
our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we
all go up, or else we all go down, as one people.
To maintain a democracy of effort requires a vast amount of
patience in dealing with differing methods, a vast amount of
humility. But out of the confusion of many voices rises an
understanding of dominant public need. Then political leadership
can voice common ideals, and aid in their realization.
In taking again the oath of office as President of the United
States, I assume the solemn obligation of leading the American
people forward along the road over which they have chosen to
While this duty rests upon me I shall do my utmost to speak their
purpose and to do their will, seeking Divine guidance to help us
each and every one to give light to them that sit in darkness and
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
INAUGURAL ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
Franklin D. Roosevelt
THIRD INAUGURAL ADDRESS
MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 1941
The only chief executive to serve more than two terms, President
Roosevelt took office for the third time as Europe and Asia
engaged in war. The oath of office was administered by Chief
Justice Charles Evans Hughes on the East Portico of the Capitol.
The Roosevelts hosted a reception for several thousand visitors at
the White House later that day.
On each national day of inauguration since 1789, the people have
renewed their sense of dedication to the United States.
In Washington's day the task of the people was to create and weld
together a nation.
In Lincoln's day the task of the people was to preserve that
Nation from disruption from within.
In this day the task of the people is to save that Nation and its
institutions from disruption from without.
To us there has come a time, in the midst of swift happenings, to
pause for a moment and take stock--to recall what our place in
history has been, and to rediscover what we are and what we may
be. If we do not, we risk the real peril of inaction.
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.
There are men who doubt this. There are men who believe that
democracy, as a form of Government and a frame of life, is limited
or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate that, for
some unexplained reason, tyranny and slavery have become the
surging wave of the future--and that freedom is an ebbing tide.
But we Americans know that this is not true.
Eight years ago, when the life of this Republic seemed frozen by a
fatalistic terror, we proved that this is not true. We were in the
midst of shock--but we acted. We acted quickly, boldly,
These later years have been living years--fruitful years for the
people of this democracy. For they have brought to us greater
security and, I hope, a better understanding that life's ideals
are to be measured in other than material things.
Most vital to our present and our future is this experience of a
democracy which successfully survived crisis at home; put away
many evil things; built new structures on enduring lines; and,
through it all, maintained the fact of its democracy.
For action has been taken within the three-way framework of the
Constitution of the United States. The coordinate branches of the
Government continue freely to function. The Bill of Rights remains
inviolate. The freedom of elections is wholly maintained. Prophets
of the downfall of American democracy have seen their dire
predictions come to naught.
Democracy is not dying.
We know it because we have seen it revive--and grow.
We know it cannot die--because it is built on the unhampered
initiative of individual men and women joined together in a common
enterprise--an enterprise undertaken and carried through by the
free expression of a free majority.
We know it because democracy alone, of all forms of government,
enlists the full force of men's enlightened will.
We know it because democracy alone has constructed an unlimited
civilization capable of infinite progress in the improvement of
We know it because, if we look below the surface, we sense it
still spreading on every continent--for it is the most humane, the
most advanced, and in the end the most unconquerable of all forms
of human society.
A nation, like a person, has a body--a body that must be fed and
clothed and housed, invigorated and rested, in a manner that
measures up to the objectives of our time.
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 the needs of its neighbors--all the other nations that
live within the narrowing circle of the world.
And a nation, like a person, has something deeper, something more
permanent, something larger than the sum of all its parts. It is
that something which matters most to its future--which calls forth
the most sacred guarding of its present.
It is a thing for which we find it difficult--even impossible--to
hit upon a single, simple word.
And yet we all understand what it is--the spirit--the faith of
America. It is the product of centuries. It was born in the
multitudes of those who came from many lands--some of high degree,
but mostly plain people, who sought here, early and late, to find
freedom more freely.
The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human
history. It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of
early peoples. It blazed anew in the middle ages. It was written
in Magna Charta.
In the Americas its impact has been irresistible. 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.
Its vitality was written into our own Mayflower Compact, into the
Declaration of Independence, into the Constitution of the United
States, into the Gettysburg Address.
Those who first came here to carry out the longings of their
spirit, and the millions who followed, and the stock that sprang
from them--all have moved forward constantly and consistently
toward an ideal which in itself has gained stature and clarity
with each generation.
The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either
undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth.
We know that we still have far to go; that we must more greatly
build the security and the opportunity and the knowledge of every
citizen, in the measure justified by the resources and the
capacity of the land.
But it is not enough to achieve these purposes alone. It is not
enough to clothe and feed the body of this Nation, and instruct
and inform its mind. For there is also the spirit. And of the
three, the greatest is the spirit.
Without the body and the mind, as all men know, the Nation could
But if the spirit of America were killed, even though the Nation's
body and mind, constricted in an alien world, lived on, the
America we know would have perished.
That spirit--that faith--speaks to us in our daily lives in ways
often unnoticed, because they seem so obvious. It speaks to us
here in the Capital of the Nation. It speaks to us through the
processes of governing in the sovereignties of 48 States. It
speaks to us in our counties, in our cities, in our towns, and in
our villages. It speaks to us from the other nations of the
hemisphere, and from those across the seas--the enslaved, as well
as the free. Sometimes we fail to hear or heed these voices of
freedom because to us the privilege of our freedom is such an old,
The destiny of America was proclaimed in words of prophecy spoken
by our first President in his first inaugural in 1789--words
almost directed, it would seem, to this year of 1941: "The
preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the
republican model of government are justly considered ... deeply,
... finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of
the American people."
If we lose that sacred fire--if we let it be smothered with doubt
and fear--then we shall reject the destiny which Washington strove
so valiantly and so triumphantly to establish. The preservation of
the spirit and faith of the Nation does, and will, furnish the
highest justification for every sacrifice that we may make in the
cause of national defense.
In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong
purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of
For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of
We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As
Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the
will of God.
INAUGURAL ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FOURTH INAUGURAL ADDRESS
SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 1945
The fourth inauguration was conducted without fanfare. Because of
the expense and impropriety of festivity during the height of war,
the oath of office was taken on the South Portico of the White
House. It was administered by Chief Justice Harlan Stone. No
formal celebrations followed the address. Instead of renominating
Vice President Henry Wallace in the election of 1944, the
Democratic convention chose the Senator from Missouri, Harry S.
Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, my friends, you will
understand and, I believe, agree with my wish that the form of
this inauguration be simple and its words brief.
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.
In the days and in the years that are to come we shall work for a
just and honorable peace, a durable peace, as today we work and
fight for total victory in war.
We can and we will achieve such a peace.
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.
I remember that my old schoolmaster, Dr. Peabody, said, in days
that seemed to us then to be secure and untroubled: "Things in
life will not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will be rising
toward the heights--then all will seem to reverse itself and start
downward. The great fact to remember is that the trend of
civilization itself is forever upward; that a line drawn through
the middle of the peaks and the valleys of the centuries always
has an upward trend."
Our Constitution of 1787 was not a perfect instrument; it is not
perfect yet. But it provided a firm base upon which all manner of
men, of all races and colors and creeds, could build our solid
structure of democracy.
And so today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons--
at a fearful cost--and we shall profit by them.
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.
We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human
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 and mistrust or with fear.
We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, the
confidence, and the courage which flow from conviction.
The Almighty God has blessed our land in many ways. He has given
our people stout hearts and strong arms with which to strike
mighty blows for freedom and truth. He has given to our country a
faith which has become the hope of all peoples in an anguished
So we pray to Him now for the vision to see our way clearly--to
see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all
our fellow men--to the achievement of His will to peace on earth.
INAUGURAL ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
Harry S. Truman
THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 1949
A former county judge, Senator and Vice President, Harry S. Truman
had taken the oath of office first on April 12, 1945, upon the
death of President Roosevelt. Mr. Truman's victory in the 1948
election was so unexpected that many newspapers had declared the
Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, the
winner. The President went to the East Portico of the Capitol to
take the oath of office on two Bibles--the personal one he had
used for the first oath, and a Gutenberg Bible donated by the
citizens of Independence, Missouri. The ceremony was televised as
well as broadcast on the radio.
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, and fellow citizens, I
accept with humility the honor which the American people have
conferred upon me. I accept it with a deep resolve to do all that
I can for the welfare of this Nation and for the peace of the
In performing the duties of my office, I need the help and prayers
of every one of you. I ask for your encouragement and your
support. The tasks we face are difficult, and we can accomplish
them only if we work together.
Each period of our national history has had its special
challenges. Those that confront us now are as momentous as any in
the past. Today marks the beginning not only of a new
administration, but of a period that will be eventful, perhaps
decisive, for us and for the world.
It may be our lot to experience, and in large measure to bring
about, a major turning point in the long history of the human
race. The first half of this century has been marked by
unprecedented and brutal attacks on the rights of man, and by the
two most frightful wars in history. The supreme need of our time
is for men to learn to live together in peace and harmony.
The peoples of the earth face the future with grave uncertainty,
composed almost equally of great hopes and great fears. In this
time of doubt, they look to the United States as never before for
good will, strength, and wise leadership.
It is fitting, therefore, that we take this occasion to proclaim
to the world the essential principles of the faith by which we
live, and to declare our aims to all peoples.
The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired
this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have a
right to equal justice under law and equal opportunity to share in
the common good. We believe that all men have the right to freedom
of thought and expression. We believe that all men are created
equal because they are created in the image of God.
From this faith we will not be moved.
The American people desire, and are determined to work for, a
world in which all nations and all peoples are free to govern
themselves as they see fit, and to achieve a decent and satisfying
life. Above all else, our people desire, and are determined to
work for, peace on earth--a just and lasting peace--based on
genuine agreement freely arrived at by equals.
In the pursuit of these aims, the United States and other like-
minded nations find themselves directly opposed by a regime with
contrary aims and a totally different concept of life.
That regime adheres to a false philosophy which purports to offer
freedom, security, and greater opportunity to mankind. Misled by
this philosophy, many peoples have sacrificed their liberties only
to learn to their sorrow that deceit and mockery, poverty and
tyranny, are their reward.
That false philosophy is communism.
Communism is based on the belief that man is so weak and
inadequate that he is unable to govern himself, and therefore
requires the rule of strong masters.
Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the moral and
intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable right, to govern
himself with reason and justice.
Communism subjects the individual to arrest without lawful cause,
punishment without trial, and forced labor as the chattel of the
state. It decrees what information he shall receive, what art he
shall produce, what leaders he shall follow, and what thoughts he
Democracy maintains that government is established for the benefit
of the individual, and is charged with the responsibility of
protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom in the
exercise of his abilities.
Communism maintains that social wrongs can be corrected only by
Democracy has proved that social justice can be achieved through
Communism holds that the world is so deeply divided into opposing
classes that war is inevitable.
Democracy holds that free nations can settle differences justly
and maintain lasting peace.
These differences between communism and democracy do not concern
the United States alone. People everywhere are coming to realize
that what is involved is material well-being, human dignity, and
the right to believe in and worship God.
I state these differences, not to draw issues of belief as such,
but because the actions resulting from the Communist philosophy
are a threat to the efforts of free nations to bring about world
recovery and lasting peace.
Since the end of hostilities, the United States has invested its
substance and its energy in a great constructive effort to restore
peace, stability, and freedom to the world.
We have sought no territory and we have imposed our will on none.
We have asked for no privileges we would not extend to others.
We have constantly and vigorously supported the United Nations and
related agencies as a means of applying democratic principles to
international relations. We have consistently advocated and relied
upon peaceful settlement of disputes among nations.
We have made every effort to secure agreement on effective
international control of our most powerful weapon, and we have
worked steadily for the limitation and control of all armaments.
We have encouraged, by precept and example, the expansion of world
trade on a sound and fair basis.
Almost a year ago, in company with 16 free nations of Europe, we
launched the greatest cooperative economic program in history. The
purpose of that unprecedented effort is to invigorate and
strengthen democracy in Europe, so that the free people of that
continent can resume their rightful place in the forefront of
civilization and can contribute once more to the security and
welfare of the world.
Our efforts have brought new hope to all mankind. We have beaten
back despair and defeatism. We have saved a number of countries
from losing their liberty. Hundreds of millions of people all over
the world now agree with us, that we need not have war--that we
can have peace.
The initiative is ours.
We are moving on with other nations to build an even stronger
structure of international order and justice. We shall have as our
partners countries which, no longer solely concerned with the
problem of national survival, are now working to improve the
standards of living of all their people. We are ready to undertake
new projects to strengthen the free world.
In the coming years, our program for peace and freedom will
emphasize four major courses of action.
First, we will continue to give unfaltering support to the United
Nations and related agencies, and we will continue to search for
ways to strengthen their authority and increase their
effectiveness. We believe that the United Nations will be
strengthened by the new nations which are being formed in lands
now advancing toward self-government under democratic principles.
Second, we will continue our programs for world economic recovery.
This means, first of all, that we must keep our full weight behind
the European recovery program. We are confident of the success of
this major venture in world recovery. We believe that our partners
in this effort will achieve the status of self-supporting nations
In addition, we must carry out our plans for reducing the barriers
to world trade and increasing its volume. Economic recovery and
peace itself depend on increased world trade.
Third, we will strengthen freedom-loving nations against the
dangers of aggression.
We are now working out with a number of countries a joint
agreement designed to strengthen the security of the North
Atlantic area. Such an agreement would take the form of a
collective defense arrangement within the terms of the United
We have already established such a defense pact for the Western
Hemisphere by the treaty of Rio de Janeiro.
The primary purpose of these agreements is to provide unmistakable
proof of the joint determination of the free countries to resist
armed attack from any quarter. Each country participating in these
arrangements must contribute all it can to the common defense.
If we can make it sufficiently clear, in advance, that any armed
attack affecting our national security would be met with
overwhelming force, the armed attack might never occur.
I hope soon to send to the Senate a treaty respecting the North
Atlantic security plan.
In addition, we will provide military advice and equipment to free
nations which will cooperate with us in the maintenance of peace
Fourth, we must embark on a bold new program for making the
benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress
available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.
More than half the people of the world are living in conditions
approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are victims of
disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their
poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more
For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge
and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people.
The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the development
of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources
which we can afford to use for the assistance of other peoples are
limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are
constantly growing and are inexhaustible.
I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples
the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help
them realize their aspirations for a better life. And, in
cooperation with other nations, we should foster capital
investment in areas needing development.
Our aim should be to help the free peoples of the world, through
their own efforts, to produce more food, more clothing, more
materials for housing, and more mechanical power to lighten their
We invite other countries to pool their technological resources in
this undertaking. Their contributions will be warmly welcomed.
This should be a cooperative enterprise in which all nations work
together through the United Nations and its specialized agencies
wherever practicable. It must be a worldwide effort for the
achievement of peace, plenty, and freedom.
With the cooperation of business, private capital, agriculture,
and labor in this country, this program can greatly increase the
industrial activity in other nations and can raise substantially
their standards of living.
Such new economic developments must be devised and controlled to
benefit the peoples of the areas in which they are established.
Guarantees to the investor must be balanced by guarantees in the
interest of the people whose resources and whose labor go into
The old imperialism--exploitation for foreign profit--has no place
in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based
on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing.
All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a
constructive program for the better use of the world's human and
natural resources. Experience shows that our commerce with other
countries expands as they progress industrially and economically.
Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace. And the key
to greater production is a wider and more vigorous application of
modern scientific and technical knowledge.
Only by helping the least fortunate of its members to help
themselves can the human family achieve the decent, satisfying
life that is the right of all people.
Democracy alone can supply the vitalizing force to stir the
peoples of the world into triumphant action, not only against
their human oppressors, but also against their ancient enemies--
hunger, misery, and despair.
On the basis of these four major courses of action we hope to help
create the conditions that will lead eventually to personal
freedom and happiness for all mankind.
If we are to be successful in carrying out these policies, it is
clear that we must have continued prosperity in this country and
we must keep ourselves strong.
Slowly but surely we are weaving a world fabric of international
security and growing prosperity.
We are aided by all who wish to live in freedom from fear--even by
those who live today in fear under their own governments.
We are aided by all who want relief from the lies of propaganda--
who desire truth and sincerity.
We are aided by all who desire self-government and a voice in
deciding their own affairs.
We are aided by all who long for economic security--for the
security and abundance that men in free societies can enjoy.
We are aided by all who desire freedom of speech, freedom of
religion, and freedom to live their own lives for useful ends.
Our allies are the millions who hunger and thirst after
In due time, as our stability becomes manifest, as more and more
nations come to know the benefits of democracy and to participate
in growing abundance, I believe that those countries which now
oppose us will abandon their delusions and join with the free
nations of the world in a just settlement of international
Events have brought our American democracy to new influence and
new responsibilities. They will test our courage, our devotion to
duty, and our concept of liberty.
But I say to all men, what we have achieved in liberty, we will
surpass in greater liberty.
Steadfast in our faith in the Almighty, we will advance toward a
world where man's freedom is secure.
To that end we will devote our strength, our resources, and our
firmness of resolve. With God's help, the future of mankind will
be assured in a world of justice, harmony, and peace.
INAUGURAL ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
Dwight D. Eisenhower
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 1953
The Republican Party successfully promoted the candidacy of the
popular General of the Army in the 1952 election over the
Democratic candidate, Adlai Stevenson. The oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice Frederick Vinson on two Bibles--the
one used by George Washington at the first inauguration, and the
one General Eisenhower received from his mother upon his
graduation from the Military Academy at West Point. A large parade
followed the ceremony, and inaugural balls were held at the
National Armory and Georgetown University's McDonough Hall.
My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I
deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege
of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you
bow your heads:
Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates
in the executive branch of government join me in beseeching that
Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of
the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.
Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong,
and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by
the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall
be for all the people regardless of station, race, or calling.
May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who,
under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing
political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved
country and Thy glory. Amen.
My fellow citizens:
The world and we have passed the midway point of a century of
continuing challenge. We sense with all our faculties that forces
of good and evil are massed and armed and opposed as rarely before
This fact defines the meaning of this day. We are summoned by this
honored and historic ceremony to witness more than the act of one
citizen swearing his oath of service, in the presence of God. We
are called as a people to give testimony in the sight of the world
to our faith that the future shall belong to the free.
Since this century's beginning, a time of tempest has seemed to
come upon the continents of the earth. Masses of Asia have
awakened to strike off shackles of the past. Great nations of
Europe have fought their bloodiest wars. Thrones have toppled and
their vast empires have disappeared. New nations have been born.
For our own country, it has been a time of recurring trial. We
have grown in power and in responsibility. We have passed through
the anxieties of depression and of war to a summit unmatched in
man's history. Seeking to secure peace in the world, we have had
to fight through the forests of the Argonne, to the shores of Iwo
Jima, and to the cold mountains of Korea.
In the swift rush of great events, we find ourselves groping to
know the full sense and meaning of these times in which we live.
In our quest of understanding, we beseech God's guidance. We
summon all our knowledge of the past and we scan all signs of the
future. We bring all our wit and all our will to meet the
How far have we come in man's long pilgrimage from darkness toward
light? Are we nearing the light--a day of freedom and of peace for
all mankind? Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon
Great as are the preoccupations absorbing us at home, concerned as
we are with matters that deeply affect our livelihood today and
our vision of the future, each of these domestic problems is
dwarfed by, and often even created by, this question that involves
This trial comes at a moment when man's power to achieve good or
to inflict evil surpasses the brightest hopes and the sharpest
fears of all ages. We can turn rivers in their courses, level
mountains to the plains. Oceans and land and sky are avenues for
our colossal commerce. Disease diminishes and life lengthens.
Yet the promise of this life is imperiled by the very genius that
has made it possible. Nations amass wealth. Labor sweats to
create--and turns out devices to level not only mountains but also
cities. Science seems ready to confer upon us, as its final gift,
the power to erase human life from this planet.
At such a time in history, we who are free must proclaim anew our
faith. This faith is the abiding creed of our fathers. It is our
faith in the deathless dignity of man, governed by eternal moral
and natural laws.
This faith defines our full view of life. It establishes, beyond
debate, those gifts of the Creator that are man's inalienable
rights, and that make all men equal in His sight.
In the light of this equality, we know that the virtues most
cherished by free people--love of truth, pride of work, devotion
to country--all are treasures equally precious in the lives of the
most humble and of the most exalted. The men who mine coal and
fire furnaces and balance ledgers and turn lathes and pick cotton
and heal the sick and plant corn--all serve as proudly, and as
profitably, for America as the statesmen who draft treaties and
the legislators who enact laws.
This faith rules our whole way of life. It decrees that we, the
people, elect leaders not to rule but to serve. It asserts that we
have the right to choice of our own work and to the reward of our
own toil. It inspires the initiative that makes our productivity
the wonder of the world. And it warns that any man who seeks to
deny equality among all his brothers betrays the spirit of the
free and invites the mockery of the tyrant.
It is because we, all of us, hold to these principles that the
political changes accomplished this day do not imply turbulence,
upheaval or disorder. Rather this change expresses a purpose of
strengthening our dedication and devotion to the precepts of our
founding documents, a conscious renewal of faith in our country
and in the watchfulness of a Divine Providence.
The enemies of this faith know no god but force, no devotion but
its use. They tutor men in treason. They feed upon the hunger of
others. Whatever defies them, they torture, especially the truth.
Here, then, is joined no argument between slightly differing
philosophies. This conflict strikes directly at the faith of our
fathers and the lives of our sons. No principle or treasure that
we hold, from the spiritual knowledge of our free schools and
churches to the creative magic of free labor and capital, nothing
lies safely beyond the reach of this struggle.
Freedom is pitted against slavery; lightness against the dark.
The faith we hold belongs not to us alone but to the free of all
the world. This common bond binds the grower of rice in Burma and
the planter of wheat in Iowa, the shepherd in southern Italy and
the mountaineer in the Andes. It confers a common dignity upon the
French soldier who dies in Indo-China, the British soldier killed
in Malaya, the American life given in Korea.
We know, beyond this, that we are linked to all free peoples not
merely by a noble idea but by a simple need. No free people can
for long cling to any privilege or enjoy any safety in economic
solitude. For all our own material might, even we need markets in
the world for the surpluses of our farms and our factories.
Equally, we need for these same farms and factories vital
materials and products of distant lands. This basic law of
interdependence, so manifest in the commerce of peace, applies
with thousand-fold intensity in the event of war.
So we are persuaded by necessity and by belief that the strength
of all free peoples lies in unity; their danger, in discord.
To produce this unity, to meet the challenge of our time, destiny
has laid upon our country the responsibility of the free world's
So it is proper that we assure our friends once again that, in the
discharge of this responsibility, we Americans know and we observe
the difference between world leadership and imperialism; between
firmness and truculence; between a thoughtfully calculated goal
and spasmodic reaction to the stimulus of emergencies.
We wish our friends the world over to know this above all: we face
the threat--not with dread and confusion--but with confidence and
We feel this moral strength because we know that we are not
helpless prisoners of history. We are free men. We shall remain
free, never to be proven guilty of the one capital offense against
freedom, a lack of stanch faith.
In pleading our just cause before the bar of history and in
pressing our labor for world peace, we shall be guided by certain
These principles are:
(1) Abhorring war as a chosen way to balk the purposes of those
who threaten us, we hold it to be the first task of statesmanship
to develop the strength that will deter the forces of aggression
and promote the conditions of peace. For, as it must be the
supreme purpose of all free men, so it must be the dedication of
their leaders, to save humanity from preying upon itself.
In the light of this principle, we stand ready to engage with any
and all others in joint effort to remove the causes of mutual fear
and distrust among nations, so as to make possible drastic
reduction of armaments. The sole requisites for undertaking such
effort are that--in their purpose--they be aimed logically and
honestly toward secure peace for all; and that--in their result--
they provide methods by which every participating nation will
prove good faith in carrying out its pledge.
(2) Realizing that common sense and common decency alike dictate
the futility of appeasement, we shall never try to placate an
aggressor by the false and wicked bargain of trading honor for
security. Americans, indeed all free men, remember that in the
final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a