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Franklin Delano Roosevelt inaugural address

On this day in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president of the United States. Our nation was in the depths of the Great Depression, and Roosevelt outlined his “New Deal” and told Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Dedication of a Nation

Here’s how he closed his famous address:

“We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.

In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.” (emphasis added)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt inaugural adress March 4, 1933 Page 9

President Ronald Reagan first inaugural address

Since 1937, Inauguration Day occurs on January 20th following a presidential election. So, here is a collection of quotes from four January 20 inaugural addresses from four different presidents:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fourth inaugural address, 1945

As I stand here today, having taken the solemn oath of office in the presence of my fellow countrymen–in the presence of our God— I know that it is America’s purpose that we shall not fail.

The Almighty God has blessed our land in many ways. He has given our people stout hearts and strong arms with which to strike mighty blows for freedom and truth. He has given to our country a faith which has become the hope of all peoples in an anguished world.

So we pray to Him now for the vision to see our way clearly–to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men–to the achievement of His will to peace on earth.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, first inaugural address, 1953

My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads:
Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the Executive branch of Government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.

Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling.

May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.

We are summoned by this honored and historic ceremony to witness more than the act of one citizen swearing his oath of service, in the presence of God. We are called as a people to give testimony in the sight of the world to our faith that the future shall belong to the free.

In the swift rush of great events, we find ourselves groping to know the full sense and meaning of these times in which we live. In our quest of understanding, we beseech God’s guidance. We summon all our knowledge of the past and we scan all signs of the future.

It is because we, all of us, hold to these principles that the political changes accomplished this day do not imply turbulence, upheaval or disorder. Rather this change expresses a purpose of strengthening our dedication and devotion to the precepts of our founding documents, a conscious renewal of faith in our country and in the watchfulness of a Divine Providence.

John F. Kennedy, 1961

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution.

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.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

Ronald Reagan, first inaugural address, 1981

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

[Y]ou, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

I’m told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I’m deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

[B]elieve that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.

 

Finally, even with no constitutional requirement for a Bible while taking the oath of office, the custom endures. After all, as Abraham Lincoln said “it is the best gift God has given to man.”

President Ronald Reagan first inaugural address

Franklin Roosevelt

Unprecedented

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is nominated for an unprecedented third term as president. He was on his way to a record four terms.

Previously, it was customary that no U.S. president serve more than two terms. In 1796, the first president, George Washington, declined to run for a third term.

It was not until 1951 that the 22nd Amendment was ratified. It states: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.”

Thus, Roosevelt is the only U.S President to serve more than two terms.

“Sacred fire”

Interestingly, Roosevelt quoted Washington as he closed his third inaugural address in January, 1941:

“The destiny of America was proclaimed in words of prophecy spoken by our first President in his first inaugural in 1789—words almost directed, it would seem, to this year of 1941: “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered … deeply,… finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people.” 

If we lose that sacred fire—if we let it be smothered with doubt and fear—then we shall reject the destiny which Washington strove so valiantly and so triumphantly to establish. The preservation of the spirit and faith of the Nation does, and will, furnish the highest justification for every sacrifice that we may make in the cause of national defense. 
In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of democracy. 
For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of America. 
We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the will of God.”

 

Franklin Roosevelt
It was another quote from George Washington’s first inaugural address that inspired one of Our shirts, available here:

 

Dwight Eisenhower D-Day

On this day in 1944 (D-Day), future president, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces  in World War II launches a massive invasion of Europe called Operation Overlord.

In his Order of the Day, he encouraged the “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces” that The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you” and that he had  “full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.”

Then, he concluded his Order with “Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” (emphasis added)

Dwight Eisenhower D-Day Operation Overlord

 

*****

Thy will be done

Later that night, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the nation to join him in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.
Amen.”

FDR D-Day Prayer

 

 

Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issues his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. His hope was to facilitate reintegration, reorganization and reconstruction in the the postwar South.

Also on this day, in 1941, as indicated in Our December 7th post entitled Pearl Harbor: So Help us God, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made an oath on behalf of the United States when he asked Congress to declare war on Japan in response to the “unprovoked and dastardly” attack on Pearl Harbor.

He said:
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.”

With that in mind, one authorization of Lincoln’s Proclamation allowed for a new state government to be formed when ten percent of eligible voters took an oath of allegiance to the United States. Naturally, that phrase is included in the oath, again emphasizing the intent and obligation of the oath giver.

Permanent Preservation

Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and to reinaugurate loyal state governments within and for their respective states: Therefore–

“I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:–

“I, , do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by congress, or by decision of the supreme court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the supreme court. So help me God.”

Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction

John Adams on this house

On this day in 1800, John Adams finally moves in to the as-yet-unfinished President’s House — now known as the White House — in Washington, D.C. Construction had been ongoing since 1792.

It was the final year of his only term as president, so he and his wife Abigail lived there for only a few months. On February 17, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected president.

“This House…”

On November 2, the day after moving in, President Adams writes to his wife Abigail about their new home:

“I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof!”

John Adams On this House
In 1945, the final year of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had that blessing carved in to the stone fireplace of the State Dining Room, where it is seen today. Perhaps we all ought to pray it again, that it may also be felt.

John Adams White House blessing

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt FDR

On this day 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs his Lend-Lease program. Lend-Lease gave Roosevelt the power to “sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of” military resources as he deemed necessary in defense of the United States.

Primarily, the program was a means of aiding Great Britain in its war effort against Hitler’s Germany. Fittingly, Roosevelt used this simply illustration:

“Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire.”

This captures the essence of what Roosevelt outlined in what he called the “three institutions indispensable to Americans.”

Indispensable Institutions

The basis for his program is clear in his State of the Union address from just two years prior:

“Storms from abroad directly challenge three institutions indispensable to Americans, now as always. The first is religion. It is the source of the other other two—democracy and international good faith.

Religion, by teaching man his relationship to God, give the individual a sense of his own dignity and teaches him to respect himself by respecting his neighbors.

Democracy, the practice of self-government, is a covenant among free men to respect the rights and liberties of their fellows.

International good faith, a sister of democracy, springs from the will of civilized nations of men to respect the rights and liberties of other nations of men.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1939