Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes

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Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, led the country both during the Great Depression and World War II. He was charismatic and innovative at a time when the United States needed exactly that kind of leadership.

Throughout his career in politics, especially during his unprecedented four terms in office, Roosevelt held numerous Fireside Chats and made many speeches, many of which contained important phrases for the time or timeless witticisms that are certainly worth remembering.

Below you will find a collection of just a few of these inspirational quotes made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Keys to Success

"Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." — First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1933)

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." — Address at Oglethorpe University (May 22, 1932)

"If you treat people right they will treat you right—ninety percent of the time."

"Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, and on unselfish performance; without them, it cannot live."

"Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships—the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace."

Practical and Pragmatic 

"It isn't sufficient just to want—you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want." 

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." — Kansas City Star (June 5, 1977)

"Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds." — Pan American Day address, April 15, 1939

"Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle." — Address at Worcester, Massachusetts


"We can afford all that we need, but we cannot afford all that we want." — Veto of the Bonus Bill (May 22, 1935) 

"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." — Address at the University of Pennsylvania (September 20, 1940)

"Be sincere; be brief; be seated." — Advice to his son James on giving a speech

"Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off." — Speech at the People's Forum in Troy, New York (March 3, 1912)

Identifying Enemies

"Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth." — Radio Address to the New York Herald Tribune Forum (October 26, 1939)

"No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it." — Fireside Chat: The Great Arsenal of Democracy (December 29, 1940)

"I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm." — to Henry Heymann (December 2, 1919)

"I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made."

Wars Foreign and Domestic

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." — First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1933)

"But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." — Nomination Address at the Democratic National Convention of 1932 (July 2, 1932)

"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." — Day of Infamy Address, December 8, 1941

"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." 

"There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations, much is given. Of other generations, much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with history." 

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Rosenberg, Jennifer. "Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Rosenberg, Jennifer. (2023, April 5). Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes. Retrieved from Rosenberg, Jennifer. "Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).