Video clip: Here FDR takes the oath and the clip shows part
of his speech. Scroll down for the text transcript.
It follows the full text transcript of
Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fourth Inaugural address,
delivered on the south portico of the White House at Washington D.C. -
January 20, 1945.
Mr. Chief Justice,
understand and, I believe, agree with my wish
that the form of this inauguration be simple and
its words brief.
We Americans of today, together with our allies,
are passing through a period of supreme test. It
is a test of our courage--of our resolve--of our
wisdom--our essential democracy.
If we meet that test--successfully and
honorably--we shall perform a service of
historic importance which men and women and
children will honor throughout all time.
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
In the days and in the years that are to come we
shall work for a just and honorable peace, a
durable peace, as today we work and fight for
total victory in war.
We can and we will achieve such a peace.
We shall strive for perfection. We shall not
achieve it immediately--but we still shall
strive. We may make mistakes--but they must
never be mistakes which result from faintness of
heart or abandonment of moral principle.
I remember that my old schoolmaster, Dr.
Peabody, said, in days that seemed to us then to
be secure and untroubled: "Things in life will
not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will be
rising toward the heights--then all will seem to
reverse itself and start downward. The great
fact to remember is that the trend of
civilization itself is forever upward; that a
line drawn through the middle of the peaks and
the valleys of the centuries always has an
Our Constitution of 1787 was not a perfect
instrument; it is not perfect yet. But it
provided a firm base upon which all manner of
men, of all races and colors and creeds, could
build our solid structure of democracy.
And so today, in this year of war, 1945, we have
learned lessons-- at a fearful cost--and we
shall profit by them.
We have learned that we cannot live alone, at
peace; that our own well-being is dependent on
the well-being of other nations far away. We
have learned that we must live as men, not as
ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.
We have learned to be citizens of the world,
members of the human community.
We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson
said, that "The only way to have a friend is to
be one." We can gain no lasting peace if we
approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with
We can gain it only if we proceed with the
understanding, the confidence, and the courage
which flow from conviction.
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