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
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 whole structure.
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.
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 stimulating crime.
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.
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.
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.
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 peace.
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.
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.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
First Inaugural Address
Saturday, March 4, 1933
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 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
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 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;
there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and
there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.
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 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
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
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
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
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
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Second Inaugural Address
Wednesday, January 20, 1937
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