Friday, March 4, 2011

Inauguration Day 1933

From the second one in 1793 until 1933, the presidential inaugurals, at least those which followed an election, were held on March 4. The last one held on that date was the day the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech was delivered by our greatest president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The speech is worth listening to and reading in its entirety.

Beyond the phrase that has resounded through the years, though, remain large segments which bear repetition today. Such as:

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 have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.


They [who] only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers....have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

and, of course:

This Nation is asking 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 great -- greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our great natural resources.

Of course...

in our progress towards 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.

And, then, the great point, lost to so many in the Republican party then, and today:

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 can be made, no leadership becomes effective.

We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and our property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at the larger good. This, I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us, bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in times of armed strife.

It is hard to imagine that President Roosevelt would believe that seventy-eight years later, we would need the same lessons to be taught, and the same exhortations to be made.

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