FDR’s Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937

This Monday, January 20, marks the 77th anniversary of President Roosevelt's historical 1937 second inaugural address. Four years prior, in 1932 he inherited a country on the brink of financial collapse, however, post-election he was not yet granted authority to influence events until inauguration day in March. During this period he experienced the difference those four months could have made, as the banking system collapsed and the Depression got worse. Immediately upon taking office, Roosevelt pushed through the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution, which changed the presidential and legislative inauguration dates from March to January. As this new legislation did not go into effect until his second inauguration, January 20, 1937, Roosevelt became the first president to be inaugurated on this day.

President Roosevelt's second inaugural address voiced his vision for the expanded role that the government would take in American's lives.

Roosevelt aimed to mobilize the country, and the government, to overcome problems that seemed impossible to overcome.  

"We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster..."

"I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished... The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Listen to an excerpt of the speech here.... And be sure to share your favorite presidential inauguration moment with us!