Fear Itself

President Roosevelt's inaugural address filled the American people with confidence in their new leader. "They hear coming through their loudspeakers this voice so filled with courage, with self confidence, with a sense of leadership," says historian William Leuchtenburg.


Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (archival): I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States...

William Leuchtenburg, Historian: One has to imagine millions of people clustered around their radio sets in towns all across the country. They don't know what to expect of this new president -- he's not shown them much yet -- and then they hear, coming through their loudspeakers, this voice --

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (archival): This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth frankly and boldly.

William Leuchtenburg, Historian: --so filled with courage, with self-confidence, with a sense of leadership.

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (archival): This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.

David Ginsburg, FDR Administration: Suddenly this man came in and he made clear to the country that there was really nothing to fear except the fear that was in one's own heart.

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (archival): Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.

Eli Ginzberg: The country was so excited that one had a live leader finally, at long last in the White House, that he could have suggested we all get ready to walk to the moon and we would have followed him. It was just an unbelievable change in mood.


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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH