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You are watching: Theres nothing to fear but fear itself

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“Only point We have actually to are afraid Is fear Itself”: FDR’s very first Inaugural Address

Franklin D. Roosevelt had campaigned against Herbert Hoover in the 1932 presidential choice by saying as small as possible about what he can do if elected. Through even the closest functioning relationships, none of the president-elect’s most intimate associates felt they knew him well, through the exception perhaps that his wife, Eleanor. The affable, witty Roosevelt supplied his an excellent personal charm to store most people at a distance. In project speeches, that favored a buoyant, optimistic, tenderness paternal ton spiced with humor. But his very first inaugural address took on an abnormally solemn, spiritual quality. And also for great reason—by 1933 the depression had actually reached that is depth. Roosevelt’s an initial inaugural resolve outlined in broad terms just how he hoped to govern and reminded Americans the the nation’s “common difficulties” pertained to “only material things.”Please note that the audio is an excerpt indigenous the full address.

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I am particular that my other Americans intend that on mine induction into the Presidency ns will address them with a candor and also a decision i beg your pardon the present situation of our world impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the entirety truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our nation today. This good Nation will endure together it has actually endured, will certainly revive and also will prosper. So, an initial of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to are afraid is are afraid itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed initiatives to transform retreat right into advance. In every dark hour that our nationwide life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support the the civilization themselves i beg your pardon is necessary to victory. I am convinced that you will certainly again provide that support to management in these an important days.In such a heart on my part and on her we challenge our common difficulties. Castle concern, give thanks to God, only material things. Values have shrunken to great levels; taxes have risen; our capacity to pay has actually fallen; federal government of all kinds is challenged by major curtailment that income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents the trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers uncover no markets for your produce; the to save of numerous years in thousands of families are gone.More important, a organize of unemployed citizens face the grim trouble of existence, and also an equally an excellent number toil with small return. Only a foolish optimist deserve to deny the dark realities of the moment.Yet ours distress originates from no failure of substance. We space stricken by no afflict of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered due to the fact that they believed and were not afraid, we have actually still much to it is in thankful for. Nature still supplies her bounty and human initiatives have multiply it. Lot of is in ~ our doorstep, however a generous use of it languishes in the really sight of the supply. Mainly this is because the rulers that the exchange the mankind’s goods have failed, with their own stubbornness and also their very own incompetence, have admitted your failure, and abdicated. Methods of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rubbish by the hearts and also minds of men.True they have actually tried, however their initiatives have been cast in the sample of an outworn tradition. Challenged by fail of credit they have actually proposed just the loan of an ext money. Stripped of the tempt of profit by which to induce our civilization to follow their false leadership, they have actually resorted come exhortations, pleading tearfully for revitalized confidence. They recognize only the rule of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and also when there is no vision the human being perish.The money changers have actually fled from your high seat in the holy place of ours civilization. We may now restore that temple to the old truths. The measure up of the repair lies in the degree to i m sorry we use social values more noble than mere monetary profit.Happiness lies not in the just possession the money; that lies in the pleasure of achievement, in the thrill of an innovative effort. The joy and also moral stimulation of job-related no longer must be forgotten in the mad follow of evanescent profits. These dark days will certainly be worth all they price us if castle teach us that ours true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister come ourselves and also to our fellow men.Recognition the the falsity of material wealth as the conventional of success works together with the abandonment that the false id that publicly office and high political place are to be valued just by the criter of pride of place and an individual profit; and also there need to be an finish to a conduct in banking and in service which too regularly has provided to a sacred trust the likeness that callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, because that it thrives only on honesty, on honor, top top the sacredness the obligations, top top faithful protection, ~ above unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.Restoration calls, however, not for transforms in values alone. This nation asks for action, and action now.Our best primary task is to put civilization to work. This is no unsolvable difficulty if we confront it wisely and courageously. It deserve to be accomplished in component by straight recruiting through the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency the a war, however at the same time, v this employment, accomplishing significantly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.Hand in hand through this we have to frankly recognize the overbalance of populace in our commercial centers and, by engaging ~ above a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a far better use the the land because that those ideal fitted because that the land. The task can be aided by definite initiatives to progressive the values of farming products and with this the power to acquisition the calculation of our cities. It deserve to be aided by preventing realistically the tragedy the the growing loss with foreclosure of our little homes and our farms. It have the right to be aided by insistence the the Federal, State, and also local governments act forthwith on the need that their expense be considerably reduced. It have the right to be helped by the unifying that relief activities which now are regularly scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and also supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and also other utilities which have actually a absolutely public character. Over there are numerous ways in i m sorry it deserve to be helped, yet it deserve to never be aided merely through talking about it. We need to act and also act quickly.Finally, in our progression toward a resumption of work-related we call for two safeguards versus a return of the malice of the old order; there should be a strict supervision of every banking and credits and investments; there need to be an end to speculation with various other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.There room the lines of attack. Ns shall presently advice upon a brand-new Congress in special session comprehensive measures for their fulfillment, and also I shall seek the immediate help of the several States.Through this regimen of action we resolve ourselves to placing our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our global trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor together a handy policy the placing of an initial things first. Ns shall spare no effort to restore human being trade by international financial readjustment, yet the emergency at residence cannot wait on that accomplishment.The simple thought that guides this specific method of national recovery is not directly nationalistic. That is the insistence, together a an initial consideration, top top the interdependence of the various aspects in all components of the joined States—a acknowledgment of the old and permanently important manifestation the the American heart of the pioneer. It is the means to recovery. It is the immediate way. That is the the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.In the ar of human being policy I would dedicate this country to the plan of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, due to the fact that he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and also respects the sanctity of his agreements in and also with a people of neighbors.If I check out the temper that our human being correctly, we currently realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on every other; the we have the right to not simply take however we must give as well; the if we space to walk forward, we must relocate as a trained and also loyal military willing come sacrifice because that the an excellent of a usual discipline, due to the fact that without such self-control no development is made, no management becomes effective. Us are, ns know, ready and also willing to send our lives and also property to such discipline, because it makes possible a management which aims at a bigger good. This i propose come offer, pledging that the bigger purposes will certainly bind upon united state all as a sacred obligation with a unified of duty hitherto evoked only in time of equipped strife.With this pledge taken, i assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this an excellent army of our people dedicated to a disciplined assault upon our common problems.Action in this image and also to this finish is feasible under the type of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our structure is so straightforward and handy that it is possible always to satisfy extraordinary requirements by alters in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. The is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the contemporary world has actually produced. It has met every anxiety of huge expansion the territory, of foreign wars, that bitter interior strife, of world relations.It is to it is in hoped that the common balance the executive and also legislative authority might be wholly adequate to satisfy the unprecedented task prior to us. Yet it might be that an extraordinary demand and need for undelayed activity may contact for temporary departure from that common balance of publicly procedure.I am ready under my constitution duty to recommend the steps that a stricken country in the middle of a stricken world may require. These measures, or together other steps as the conference may build out of its experience and also wisdom, ns shall seek, in ~ my constitutional authority, to carry to speedy adoption.But in the occasion that the conference shall fail come take among these two courses, and also in the occasion that the national emergency is tho critical, ns shall no evade the clear course of duty that will then challenge me. Ns shall asking the Congress because that the one remaining instrument to accomplish the crisis—broad Executive strength to wage a war against the emergency, as good as the strength that would be provided to me if we were in reality invaded by a international foe. For the to trust reposed in me I will return the courage and also the devotion the befit the time. I have the right to do no less.We challenge the arduous days the lie before us in the warmth courage that the nationwide unity; with the clear awareness of seeking old and also precious ethical values; v the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern power of duty by old and also young alike. We aim in ~ the assurance of a rounded and also permanent nationwide life.We carry out not distrust the future of necessary democracy. The civilization of the joined States have actually not failed. In their need they have actually registered a mandate the they desire direct, vigorous action. They have asked because that discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the existing instrument of your wishes. In the heart of the gift ns take it.In this dedication that a nation we humbly asking the blessing the God. Might He protect each and every one of us. Might He guide me in the days come come.

Source: Franklin D.

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Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, march 4, 1933, as published in Samuel Rosenman, ed., The Public documents of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Volume Two: The Year the Crisis, 1933 (New York: random House, 1938), 11–16.