Failure Gratitude Quotes Reflections

Six Lessons from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president during the worst year of The Great Depression. There were unprecedented levels of unemployment and homelessness. Morale was low and a deep fear spread throughout the country as many lost their life savings, homes, and hopes for the future.

Many Americans anticipated FDR’s inaugural address with the hope that he would take immediate actions to respond to the economic crisis. FDR delivered this speech on March 4, 1933, but over 80 years later, its lessons still apply:

“…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”


  • Lesson #2: Even in dark times, you should always remind yourself what you’re thankful for.

“Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it.”


  • Lesson #3: Happiness grows from achievement and not from the amount of money you have.

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”


  • Lesson #4: Don’t dwell on your mistakes. If you overcome your failures through your own positive actions, the hardships will be worth everything they cost you.

“These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.”


  • Lesson #5: To earn confidence from others, be honest, honorable, and unselfish.

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


  • Lesson #6: You cannot solve your problems by running away from them. Instead, face them with courage.

“This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously.”

. . . . . .

Read the original transcript of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address or watch this version from the C-SPAN archives. Complement it with Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Antidotes for Fear” and Teddy Roosevelt’s infamous “Man in the Arena” quote.

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