Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fourth Inaugural Address

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fourth Inaugural Address



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With the country at war at the start of his unprecedented fourth term as president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a short and somber inaugural address at a simple ceremony without a parade or ball on January 20, 1945.


First Inaugural Address (1933)

Many primary documents relate to multiple themes in American history and government and are curated by different editors for particular collections. In the dropdown menu, we provide links to variant excerpts of the document, with study questions relevant to particular themes.

Related Resources

Introduction

When Franklin Roosevelt became president, the country was in its third year of the Great Depression. Nearly one fourth of workers were unemployed, and approximately one-half of banks had failed.

As a candidate, Franklin Roosevelt argued that Americans needed to renegotiate their social contract to require that government secure economic rights for citizens in addition to political rights. In his 1932 address at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Roosevelt had argued that this would require reorienting but not replacing the American constitutional tradition. As he put it, the country was still dedicated to the Jeffersonian end of equality, but instead of relying on the Jeffersonian means of a limited government, it should now employ more Hamiltonian means to achieve those ends. In other words, Roosevelt argued that the country needed a strong, activist government in order to be effective enough at securing rights.

In his First Inaugural, Roosevelt explained the expanded role that this would require of the national government and of the presidency.

Source: Samuel I. Rosenman, ed., Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Volume Two: The Year of Crisis, 1933 (New York: Random House, 1938), 11-16.

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. [1] This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing the 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. [Monetary] values have shrunken to fantastic levels taxes have risen our ability to pay has fallen government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side farmers find no markets for their produce the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

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 rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. [2]

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 the 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. [3]

The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We many 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 minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

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 national resources.

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 costs 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 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, so that there will be an end to speculation with other people’s money and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

These 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 several States.

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 of 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 cannot 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 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 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 national unity with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern 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 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.

Study Questions

A. President Roosevelt argued in one of his campaign addresses that the social contract had to be renegotiated. Specifically, the country needed to use Hamiltonian means (a strong central government) to achieve Jeffersonian ends (equality). What measures will the government undertake to bring about this renegotiation? What is the role of the president in this process? Will this change our system of separated powers?

B. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt resemble each other in certain ways. For example, each was a victor in a transformative election. Consider their inaugural addresses. How are they similar, and how are they different?


Inaugural Address

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. [ See APP note, below.] This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

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

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

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

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 natural resources.

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, so that there will be an end to speculation with other people's money and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

These 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 several States.

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 considerations, upon the interdependence of the various elements in and 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 cannot 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 national unity with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern 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.

[APP Note: As delivered, this address differed in some respects from the version published in the Public Papers. For example, the spoken address began with the phrase "This is a day of national consecration." The American Presidency Project attempts to reproduce the text of the Public Papers as originally published. However, the FDR papers included a number of "after the fact" explanatory notes and comments from FDR which are not incorporated here.]


FDR Delivers His Fourth Inaugural Address

President Roosevelt talks to war-weary Americans about their role in establishing a lasting peace.

Frame Your Search

Roosevelt, president, inaugural, inauguration, address, speech, white house, fourth term, durable peace

Having been elected to an unprecedented fourth term, on January 20, 1945, a visibly ailing President Roosevelt delivered his inaugural address from the White House balcony to the American people who had just endured three years of war.

The liberation of Rome and the D-Day landings at Normandy had occurred the previous spring and, at the time of Roosevelt&rsquos inauguration, the Allies had already liberated virtually all of France, most of Belgium, and part of southern Netherlands. In Poland, the Soviets had taken Warsaw and Krakow and laid siege to the Hungarian capital of Budapest. The German army was in full retreat and President Roosevelt turned his war-weary nation&rsquos attention to the future and their role in ensuring a just, honorable, and lasting peace. Criticizing isolationists, he reminded the American people: &ldquoWe 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&hellip. We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.&rdquo

Dates to Check

Typically, daily newspapers reported news the morning after it occurred. However, some papers were printed in multiple editions, including evening news. If you are using an evening paper, begin your search on the same day as the event being researched.

January 20-22, 1945 News articles about President Roosevelt&rsquos fourth inaugural address.

January 21-31, 1945 Editorials, op-eds, letters to the editor, and cartoons reacting to President Roosevelt&rsquos fourth inaugural address.

Learn More

    (Encyclopedia Article) (Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum) (Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies) (DocsTeach, NARA)

Bibliography

Breitman, Richard, and Allan J. Lichtman. FDR and the Jews. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.

Newton, Verne W., ed. FDR and the Holocaust. New York: St. Martin&rsquos Press, 1996.

Rosen, Robert N. Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust. New York: Thunder&rsquos Mouth Press, 2006.


Franklin Roosevelt's Fourth Inaugural Address

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 community.

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 world.

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.


1945 – Fourth Inaugural Address of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt makes a brief address following his inauguration to his unprecedented fourth and final Presidential term. President Roosevelt promises victory and peace for his country in the twilight stages of World War II.

Note: From Listening to the speech, the transcript I have from Avalon Law differs – I don’t know if this is due to them going from the original notes or where else this may have diverged in the past. Going to try and mark up my copies as much as possible and figure it out for future posts.

Thoughts on Transcript:

  1. Very brief speech
  2. Almost a prayer rather than an inaugural address
  3. In midst of war, looking forward to lasting peace
  4. Trend of civilization is up and forward
  5. Breaking out of isolationism
  6. Prayer for nation

Phrases I have underlined, starred, or otherwise marked:

“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 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.'”

We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.

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 world.

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.

Thoughts on delivery (audio and/or video of speech):

FDR is much weaker than we have seen him in previous inaugurations. No stops for applause, or applause, until the end. It ends with a Benediction. Below are a couple of links – one is for a newsreel. This inauguration is held at the White House instead of the Capitol Building.

Full audio can be found at the Miller Center link above. The previous post for FDR also contained general inaugural information.


Fourth Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Reproduced here in full from The Avalon Project: documents in law, history and diplomacy, Yale Law School.

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 community.

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 world.

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.


Analysis Of Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fourth Inaugural Address

Its 1945 the climax of the war is going on and America is feeling the effects of it. The dragged out war has the public questioning will the suffering ever end. How did they get through it, is what I ask. It's all from the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, most commonly referred to as FDR now a days. FDR got America through the rough times by using his calm voice to give hope, inspiration, and ultimately help America achieve peace within the troubling times. This was seen in his 4th inarguable address that was told during the time.
America in the beginning of 1945 was defeated. They had just dealt with a depression that had rocked the country and now we're in a war that was being dragged out longer than originally thought. They wanted to give up to be plain. Despite what America was thinking FDR had the belief that America was not defeated. In his fourth inarguable he challenged them to not give up by saying “If we meet that test-.

He does this by saying “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 flows from conviction”. This saying from his fourth inaugural address is telling the people they will never get peace if they don't trust themselves and let them know that everything's going to be ok if you just trust in it. That if you trust it you will be fine but in reality this is just making the people better from having them do that it's making them give it their all trying to reach it. This had helped the American people achieve the lasting peace after the war. All of these things put together had the people believing that tomorrow was going to be a better day. All because FDR had use hope, inspiration, and peace to get them their even during the troubling.


Transcript

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 community.

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 world.

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.


Inauguration Day 1945: FDR's Ceremony at the White House

In what was described as a “homey little ceremony on the back porch of the White House,” Franklin Roosevelt entered into his fourth term as President with stoic optimism.

Top Image: One of 7,000 tickets to FDR's fourth inauguration. Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, US National Archives and Records Administration.

On the 20th of January, 2021 the nation will hold the 59th formal inauguration of the President of the United States of America. Since the inauguration of George Washington on the 30th of April, 1789 in New York, the event has grown in size and duration. Although the US Constitution only requires that the incoming president take the oath of office, modern inaugural festivities typically last days, include a plethora of balls and receptions, and a grand parade with marching bands, floats, and thousands of service members. This year inaugural festivities will be limited to prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. This is not the first time inaugural festivities have been scaled back.

Franklin Roosevelt’s fourth inauguration in 1945 was by all accounts a small and serious event. In January 1945, the nation was entering its last year of the war and President Roosevelt had a lot on his mind. Roosevelt just won a tough election marked by accusations against the President and his family (famously including his dog Fala) and questions about the President’s health. In early January the administration fought with Congress in an attempt to address severe shortages of men for military service and in critical manufacturing sectors. In Europe, US and British forces had beaten back the German Wehrmacht in the Battle of the Bulge. In what turned out to be the largest battle in the history of the US Army, more than 600,000 soldiers fought desperately in horrific conditions to break the determined German assault.

In Italy, conditions in the mountains had deteriorated to the point that the Allies did not have the ability to go on the offensive and a grueling stalemate seemed to endure. On the Eastern Front, Soviet forces captured Warsaw and Krakow, and soon, would liberate the horrific Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp complex. In the Philippines US forces were fighting on the island of Luzon and closing in on the capital city of Manila. Hungary fell and agreed to enter the war on the Allied side while Communists and British forces held a tenuous cease-fire in the Greek capital of Athens. The Navy sank 41 Japanese ships in the Battle of the South China Sea and plans were being finalized for the coming invasion of a small island called Iwo Jima. Finally, Roosevelt was working with his principal advisors for the upcoming meeting with the Allies at Yalta to shape the post-war world.

This was not a time to hold large scale celebrations and Roosevelt gave instructions for the inauguration to be “simple and brief.” When asked about the parade, Roosevelt replied that with the world at war, “who is there here to parade?”

It would turn out to be an inaugural of records. Franklin Roosevelt was the first and, with the passage of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, only president to have four inaugurations. Under the auspices of cutting costs, but also likely in consideration of his health, Roosevelt opted to hold the actual ceremony at the White House for the first time. And this inauguration would be the last time the old tradition of the outgoing vice president swearing in his successor would occur. Since 1945 the incoming vice president has been sworn in by either a Supreme Court justice or member of Congress.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with their grandchildren on Inauguration Day 1945. Eleanor was concerned about an epidemic of childhood disease amongst the children. Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, US National Archives and Records Administration.

Despite all that was weighing on him, FDR was looking forward to the event because it was also going to be a family occasion. In her memoirs Eleanor Roosevelt recalled, “early in January, realizing full well this would certainly be his last inauguration, perhaps even having a premonition that he would not be with us very long, Franklin insisted that every grandchild come to the White House for a few days over the 20th. I was somewhat reluctant to have thirteen grandchildren ranging in age from three to sixteen together, for fear of an epidemic of measles or chickenpox, but he was so insistent that I agreed.” The President also insisted that his son, James, a Marine serving in the Philippines, be temporarily assigned to the White House for the event. James helped his father during the first three inaugurations and FDR was going to make sure he was there for the fourth.

The weather on the day of the ceremony matched the somber mood of the crowd. A mixture of sleet and snow fell in Washington the night before and left a wet white blanket on the ground. Although thousands tried to catch a glimpse from outside of the White House fence, only 7,000 tickets were issued for the south portico grounds. Canvas was put down for the guests but there were no chairs and everyone had to stand. Most notably in attendance, the president insisted that 50 spaces be reserved for wounded service members from around the Washington, DC area. They represented the hundreds of thousands of wounded service members who were in hospitals around the world at the time and their crutches and wheelchairs served as a stark reminder of the cost of war for the rest of the guests.

The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper described the small ceremony as a “homey little ceremony on the back porch of the White House.” The entire ceremony lasted only 12 and a half minutes and was estimated to cost only $2,000. The entire event consisted of an invocation, oaths of office for the vice president and president, Roosevelt’s speech, and the playing of the national anthem.

Franklin Roosevelt delivering his inaugural address on January 20, 1945, the shortest in American history. Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, US National Archives and Records Administration.

At 556 words and a little more than six minutes, Roosevelt’s speech still stands as the shortest inaugural address since George Washington. He described the war as a period of supreme test for democracy. Roosevelt confidently said that he knew it was “America's purpose that we shall not fail” and that as a nation “we shall work for a just and honorable peace, a durable peace.” Roosevelt acknowledged that mistakes would be made both domestically and abroad but that they would not be “mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.” He invoked his old schoolmaster who said that the “trend of civilization is forever upward.” Acknowledging the eternal desire to create a more perfect union, he pointed out that the US Constitution was flawed but “provided a firm base upon which all manner of men, of all races and colors and creeds, could build our solid structure of democracy.” Finally, he committed the nation to what years later would be called a policy of engagement, saying “we cannot live alone, at peace that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations.” Reflecting on one of the greatest lessons of World War II, Roosevelt said that the United States “learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.”

To millions listening around the world it was classic FDR. It was the first time he gave a speech standing in three months, and sadly would be the last time he would do so. Over the radio his voice was strong and confident, but to those watching from the dais it was alarming. Unwilling to show weakness, he shunned his famous cape and appeared on the bitterly cold and windy podium hatless in only a suit coat. His hands shook throughout his speech and it was clear to all he had lost a lot of weight. Speaking with the Secretary of Labor, Woodrow Wilson’s widow stated, “he looks exactly as my husband looked when he went into his decline.” Former Vice President Henry Wallace remarked that Roosevelt “was a gallant figure, but also pitiable.”

Following the formal ceremony, FDR retreated to the Green Room of the White house while Eleanor and other family members greeted the 2,000 guests expected for a luncheon. After dispensing with a few guests, Roosevelt asked to be left with his son. Roosevelt had an angina attack and asked for a half glass of straight whiskey to dull the pain, which he immediately gulped down. The father and son briefly discussed the President’s will and the disposition of some family heirlooms in the event of his death. This was not a topic for a President who expected to live through the term he just began. Sadly, just 82 days later, Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia.


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