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Roosevelt's Inaugural Address | Study Guide

Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Franklin D. Roosevelt

Year Delivered



Primary Source


History, Speech

At a Glance

  • At the inauguration to his first term, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945) addressed the nation, which was devastated by the economic downturn known as the Great Depression (1929–39).
  • After the 1929 stock market crash millions of Americans had lost their savings, farms, homes, and jobs. Banks and businesses closed. Poverty and hunger were widespread.
  • With his speech, Roosevelt intended to restore courage and confidence, outline a bold plan for economic recovery, and position the federal government as an active agent of change.
  • The speech describes relief and reform programs Roosevelt would later enact in his famous New Deal legislation between 1933–39. The programs created jobs, stabilized prices, and provided accountability safeguards for banks, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • The speech was praised by both journalists and the public, especially for its confident tone and forthright assessment of America's challenges. Thousands of Americans wrote to the new president saying he'd renewed their courage and hope.
  • Roosevelt's first inaugural address remains noteworthy for the president's call for broad executive powers to address the country's economic crises, as well as for its famous quote, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."


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