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FDR’s Second Inaugural Address, “One-Third of a Nation”

Let me share with you parts of it Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937.



A century and a half ago they established the Federal Government in order to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to the American people.


Among men of good will, science and democracy together offer an ever-richer life and ever-larger satisfaction to the individual. 


I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great wealth of natural resources. 


I see a United States which can demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised far above the level of mere subsistence.


 In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens…who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.


I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.


I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.


I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.


But it is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope—because the nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. 


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.


Government is competent when all who compose it work as trustees for the whole people. 


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