Notes and Quotes – Fireside Chats (1933-1944), Franklin D. Roosevelt

– Notes and Quotes –


Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945),

Fireside Chats series (1933-1944) (listen)


1933.3.12.Fireside Chat 1: Banking

Banks invest, puts your money to work

Undermined confidence

Turn deposits into currency or gold

Not enough in the bank


Sound currency backed by good assets


Unfashionable? Who cares about fashion in a world of poverty?




1938.6.24.Fireside Chat 13

…..Use of power by any group, however situated, to force its interest or to use its strategic position in order to receive more from the common fund than its contribution to the common fund justifies, is an attack against and not an aid to our national life.


Self-restraint implies restraint by articulate public opinion, trained to distinguish fact from falsehood, trained to believe that bitterness is never a useful instrument in public affairs. There can be no dictatorship by an individual or by a group in this Nation, save through division fostered by hate. Such division there must never be.




1940.12.29.Fireside Chat 16

Please, Mr. President, don’t frighten us by telling us the facts.


Nazis: Their secret emissaries are active in our own and in neighboring countries. They seek to stir up suspicion and dissension to cause internal strife. They try to turn capital against labor, and vice versa. They try to reawaken long slumbering racist and religious enmities which should have no place in this country. They are active in every group that promotes intolerance. They exploit for their own ends our own natural abhorrence of war. These trouble-breeders have but one purpose. It is to divide our people, to divide them into hostile groups and to destroy our unity and shatter our will to defend ourselves.


We have the men — the skill — the wealth — and above all, the will.




1941.9.11.Fireside Chat 18

One peaceful nation after another has met disaster because each refused to look the Nazi danger squarely in the eye until it had actually had them by the throat.

The United States will not make that fatal mistake.




1941.12.9.Fireside Chat 19

I was about to add that ahead there lies sacrifice for all of us.

But it is not correct to use that word. The United States does not consider it a sacrifice to do all one can, to give ones best to our nation, when the nation is fighting for its existence and its future life.

It is not a sacrifice for any man, old or young, to be in the Army or the Navy of the United States. Rather it is a privilege.

It is not a sacrifice for the industrialist or the wage earner, the farmer or the shopkeeper, the trainmen or the doctor, to pay more taxes, to buy more bonds, to forego extra profits, to work longer or harder at the task for which he is best fitted. Rather it is a privilege.

There is no such thing as security for any nation — or any individual — in a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism. There is no such thing as impregnable defense against powerful aggressors who sneak up in the dark and strike without warning.


The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly field of battle. When we resort to force, as now we must, we are determined that this force shall be directed toward ultimate good as well as against immediate evil. We Americans are not destroyers — we are builders.




1942.2.23.Fireside Chat 20

The American people realize that in many cases details of military operations cannot be disclosed until we are absolutely certain that the announcement will not give to the enemy military information which he does not already possess.

Your Government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst, without flinching or losing heart. You must, in turn, have complete confidence that your Government is keeping nothing from you except information that will help the enemy in his attempt to destroy us. In a democracy there is always a solemn pact of truth between government and the people, but there must also always be a full use of discretion, and that word discretion applies to the critics of government as well.

This is war. The American people want to know, and will be told, the general trend of how the war is going. But they do not wish to help the enemy any more than our fighting forces do, and they will pay little attention to the rumor-mongers and the poison peddlers in our midst.


We of the United Nations are agreed on certain broad principles in the kind of peace we seek. The Atlantic Charter applies not only to the parts of the world that border the Atlantic but to the whole world; disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and peoples, and the four freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.


And General Washington ordered that these great words written by Tom Paine be read to the men of every regiment in the Continental Army, and this was the assurance given to the first American armed forces:


The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the sacrifice, the more glorious the triumph.




1942.4.28.Fireside Chat 21

These stories I have told you are not exceptional.

They are typical examples of individual heroism and skill.




1942.10.12.Fireside Chat 23

The greatest defense against all such propaganda, of course, is the common sense of the common people — and that defense is prevailing.


People should do their work as near their homes as possible. We cannot afford to transport a single worker into an area where there is already a worker available to do the job.


One of the greatest of American soldiers, Robert E. Lee, once remarked on the tragic fact that in the war of his day all of the best generals were apparently working on newspapers instead of in the Army. And that seems to be true in all wars. The trouble with the typewriter strategists is that while they may be full of bright ideas, they are not in possession of much information about the facts or problems of military operations.


Theaters of War




1943.7.28.Fireside Chat 25

The important thing — the all-important thing now is to get on with the war — and to win it.


The next time anyone says to you that this war is in the bag, or says (and) its all over but the shouting, you should ask him these questions: Are you working full time on your job? Are you growing all the food you can? Are you buying your limit of war bonds? Are you loyally and cheerfully cooperating with your Government in preventing inflation and profiteering, and in making rationing work with fairness to all?

Because — if your answer is No — then the war is going to last a lot longer than you think. The plans we made for the knocking out of Mussolini and his gang have largely succeeded. But we still have to knock out Hitler and his gang, and Tojo and his gang. No one of us pretends that this will be an easy matter.

We are a great nation — a rich nation — but we are not so great or so rich that we can afford to waste our substance or the lives or our men by relaxing along the way.




1943.9.8.Fireside Chat 26

This war does not and must not stop for one single instant. Your (our) fighting men know that. Those of them who are moving forward through jungles against lurking Japs — those who are (in) landing at this moment, in barges moving through the dawn up to strange enemy coasts — those who are diving their bombers down on the targets at roof-top level at this moment — every one of these men knows that this war is a full-time job and that it will continue to be that until total victory is won.




1943.12.24.Fireside Chat 27

There have always been cheerful idiots in this country . . .


As I have said before, you cannot order up a great attack on a Monday and demand that it be delivered on Saturday.




1944.6.5.Fireside Chat 29

Other peoples may not want to be conquered.