Monday, December 13, 2004

FDR 1936

Remembering FDR 1936

Franklin D. Roosevelt Speeches
Democratic National Convention (June 27, 1936)
EXCERPTS

Senator Robinson, Members of the Democratic Convention, my friends:


"Here, and in every community throughout the land, we are met at a time of greatmoment to the future of the Nation. It is an occasion to be dedicated to thesimple and sincere expression of an attitude toward problems, the determinationof which will profoundly affect America."...

"But I cannot, with candor, tell you that all is well with the world. Clouds ofsuspicion, tides of ill-will and intolerance gather darkly in many places. Inour own land we enjoy indeed a fullness of life greater than that of mostNations. But the rush of modern civilization itself has raised for us newdifficulties, new problems which must be solved if we are to preserve to theUnited States the political and economic freedom for which Washington andJefferson planned and fought."

"That very word freedom, in itself and of necessity, suggests freedom from somerestraining power. In 1776 we sought freedom from the tyranny of a politicalautocracy-from the eighteenth century royalists who held special privileges fromthe crown. It was to perpetuate their privilege that they governed without theconsent of the governed; that they denied the right of free assembly and freespeech; that they restricted the worship of God; that they put the average man'sproperty and the average man's life in pawn to the mercenaries of dynasticpower; that they regimented the people."...

"It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these neweconomic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Governmentitself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legalsanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, theirlabor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confrontsthe problem that faced the Minute Man."

"The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions oftheir labor-these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposedby this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, thecapital of the small business man, the investments set aside for old age-otherpeople's money-these were tools which the new economic royalty used to digitself in."...

"Throughout the Nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individualinitiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for freebusiness was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became tooprivate. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise."...

"For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless inthe face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their ownhands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people'smoney, other people's labor-other people's lives. For too many of us life was nolonger free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit ofhappiness."...

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions ofAmerica. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind ofpower. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In theirblindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, asalways, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; andagainst a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike."...

"We are poor indeed if this Nation cannot afford to lift from every recess ofAmerican life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in theworld. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of humanfortitude."

"Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tellsus that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of thewarm-hearted in different scales."...

"I believe in my heart that only our success can stir their ancient hope. Theybegin to know that here in America we are waging a great and successful war. Itis not alone a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. Itis more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting tosave a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world."

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