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50 Franklin Roosevelt Quotes That Encourage Progress

Franklin D. Roosevelt had a lot of insightful and inspirational things to say about a variety of topics. These Franklin D. Roosevelt quotes cover everything from politics and Americans to human character and witty one-liners about life.

As the 32nd President of the United States, he is more than qualified to give his opinions about government and freedom.

Also, he remains the only president to serve more than two terms. We only considered it a precedent that presidents serve to fewer than two terms until they ratified the 22nd amendment on March 21, 1947.

Don’t forget to also check out these James Madison quotes from one of the founding fathers.

Just how many terms did Franklin D. Roosevelt serve?

Well, he was elected to a third term on November 5th, 1940. He was sworn in on January 20, 1945, for his fourth term.

The reason his third bid for office was successful was that the country did not want a new president as World War II had just begun.

We were also reeling from The Great Depression. He won the popular vote and the electoral college vote by a landslide.

Franklin Roosevelt quotes about politics and government

1. “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

2. “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

4. “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

5. “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

6. “The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

7. “Yesterday, December seventh, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. We will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us, God.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

8. “The United States Constitution has proved itself the most marvelously elastic compilation of rules of government ever written.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

9. “Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt quotes that mention freedom and Americans

10. “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

11. “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

13. “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations, much is given. Of other generations, much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

14. “I pledge you; I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

15. “The truth is found when men are free to pursue it.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

16. “Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”— Franklin D. Roosevelt

17. “I do not look upon these United States as a finished product. We are still in the making.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

18. “If we can boondoggle ourselves out of this depression, that word is going to be enshrined in the hearts of the American people for years to come.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

19. “The overwhelming majority of Americans are possessed of two great qualities: a sense of humor and a sense of proportion.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt quotes about the character of man

20. “If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

21. “Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another. But by all means, try something.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

22. “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

23. “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

24. “Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, and on unselfish performance. Without them, it cannot live.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

25. “Self-interest is the enemy of all true affection.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

26. “It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

27. “There is nothing I love as much as a good fight.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

28. “Favor comes because for a brief moment in the great space of human change and progress, some general human purpose finds in him a satisfactory embodiment.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

29. “Put two or three men in positions of conflicting authority. This will force them to work at loggerheads, allowing you to be the ultimate arbiter.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt quotes that give some good advice

30. “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

31. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

32. “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 little.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

33. “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

34. “Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

35. “When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

36. “Art is not a treasure in the past or an importation from another land, but part of the present life of all living and creating peoples.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

37. “If I went to work in a factory, the first thing I’d do is join a union.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

38. “To reach a port, we must sail. Sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

39. “It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Meaningful and witty Franklin Roosevelt quotes

40. “I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

41. “There are as many opinions as there are experts.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

42. “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

43. “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

44. “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

45. “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

46. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

47. “Remember, you are just an extra in everyone else’s play.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

48. “It takes a long time to bring the past up to the present.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

49. “Whoever seeks to set one religion against another seeks to destroy all religion.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

50. “The virtues are lost in self-interest as rivers are lost in the sea.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

You might also like these Harry Truman quotes from the unpopular president.

What did you learn from these Franklin Roosevelt quotes?

Unfortunately, Roosevelt could not complete his fourth term in office because he passed away on April 12, 1945; just a few short months after being sworn in. Roosevelt was diagnosed with Polio in 1921, and he had been in declining health for most of the early 40s.

Shortly after turning 62, he underwent testing at Bethesda Hospital and was diagnosed with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease. Doctors prescribed him with rest but the campaign downplayed concerns over his health.

He became more thin and sickly looking as the months after the inauguration wore on. While sitting for a portrait in Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1945, Roosevelt complained of a headache. Suddenly, he slumped forward in his chair. He was unconscious and had to be carried to his bedroom.

Dr. Howard Bruenn determined the president had suffered a massive intracerebral hemorrhage and died later that day. He remains the youngest person elected president and is known for his progressive policy improvements.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Franklin Roosevelt quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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