“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.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) delivered his first inaugural address on March 4, 1933.  The United States was mired in a years-long economic depression, and the public had overwhelmingly voted in November 1932 to replace Herbert Hoover, but there was a nearly four-month lame duck period before FDR took office.  (The 20th amendment to the Constitution went into effect in October 1933 to change the inauguration date to January 20th.)  The passage I’ve excerpted comes from the second paragraph of FDR’s address.  After focusing on the concept of truth, FDR went on to identify very clearly what he considered to be the causes of the ongoing crisis as well as his plans for rectifying the situation.  Rather than letting the public dwell on the dire circumstances, FDR challenged them to set asides their fears and work towards a better future.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library has digitized a published version of this address along with the original typescript used by FDR.  The file also includes several drafts.

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