Franklin D. Roosevelt: First Inaugural Address


When Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933, the United States was still in the midst of the Great Depression, which had begun after the stock market crash on what came to be known as Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929. The American economy hit rock bottom in the very month Roosevelt took his oath of office. In his First Inaugural Address, he treated this moment of history as unprecedented. Unlike his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, Roosevelt did not shy away from blaming the business community for incompetent and unethical practices that had led to economic disaster. While he emphasized that “the people of the United States have not failed,” he regarded himself as the leader they elected to restore a sense of “discipline and direction.”

Without outlining a specific program, Roosevelt signaled that the federal government would take a much more direct role in putting people to work and in managing the national economy. Roosevelt argued...

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Franklin D. Roosevelt (Library of Congress)

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