Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 April 12, 1945), 32nd President of the United States (1933-1945), is best known for his leading the U.S. through the Great Depression via his New Deal, his building a powerful ... more
The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. Thats the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership. All our great Presidents were leaders of thought at times when certain historic ideas in the life of the nation had to be clarified.
The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.
We have here a human as well as an economic problem. When humane considerations are concerned, Americans give them precedence. The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.
History proves that dictatorships do not grow out of strong and successful governments, but out of weak and helpless ones. If by democratic methods people get a government strong enough to protect them from fear and starvation, their democracy succeeds; but if they do not, they grow impatient. Therefore, the only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over its government.
Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.
Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships... the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world, at peace.
The first theory is that if we make the rich richer, somehow they will let a part of their prosperity trickle down to the rest of us. The second theory was the theory that if we make the average of mankind comfortable and secure, their prosperity will rise upward through the ranks.
The moment a mere numerical superiority by either states or voters in this country proceeds to ignore the needs and desires of the minority, and for their own selfish purpose or advancement, hamper or oppress that minority, or debar them in any way from equal privileges and equal rights -- that moment will mark the failure of our constitutional system.
Those of you who have been there [Haiti] know it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It has everything. It has everything above the ground, and everything under the ground. It is an amazing place. I strongly recommend that whenever you get a chance, if you havent been there, that you go to Haiti. I think it was a certain Queen of England who said that after her death Calais would be found written on her heart. When I die, I think that Haiti is going to be written on my heart.
We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religionsbound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.
An election cannot give a country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names, but are as alike in their principles and aims as two peas in the same pod.
It is said that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo because he forgot his infantryhe staked too much upon the more spectacular but less substantial calvary. The present administration in Washington provides a close parallel. It has either forgotten or it does not want to remember the infantry of our economic army. These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power, for plans like those of 1917 that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
They realize that in thirty-four months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a peoples Government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people.
Is the United States going to decide, are the people of this country going to decide that their Federal Government shall in the future have no right under any implied power or any court-approved power to enter into a solution of a national economic problem, but that that national economic problem must be decided only by the States? We thought we were solving it, and now it has been thrown right straight in our faces. We have been relegated to the horse-and-buggy definition of interstate commerce.
And while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.