GREAT AMER I CAN SPEECHES
“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. “... 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.” ❝ My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRES IDENT ( 1961 - 1963 )
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 Inaugural Address March 4, 1933 | Washington, D.C.
By 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his inaugural address, the United States had endured more than three years of the Great Depression. In his speech, FDR spoke about the issue of unemployment, which had reached 25 percent when he assumed office. Thousands of banks had failed, destroying people’s savings and wiping out fortunes. With the nation in dire economic straits, the new president’s inaugural speech was eagerly anticipated. Broadcast nationwide on radio, the speech was heard by millions of Americans and set the stage for Roosevelt’s urgent efforts to respond to the Great Depression.
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Excerpts from FDR’s Inaugural Address
“… 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 of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. “… 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. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. 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.
John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address Jan. 20, 1961 | Washington, D.C.
On a cold morning on Jan. 20, 1961, the youngest man ever to be elected president — John F. Kennedy — delivered his first and only inaugural address. Since Kennedy was elected at the height of the Cold War, his challenge was to keep the peace with foreign powers while simultaneously ensuring the U.S. was seen as a powerful nation. This was the main goal of his presidency and one of the topics addressed in the speech. The expertly written speech, which focused on the relationship between duty and power, is regarded as one of the best inaugural speeches in American history.
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Excerpts from JFK’s Inaugural Address
“... We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage — and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. “… Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. “... And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT and outgoing President Herbert Hoover rode in a convertible on their way to the U.S. Capitol for Roosevelt’s first inauguration on March 4, 1933. It was the last presidential inauguration held in March.
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