From the Museum

80th Anniversary – Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 Presidential Inauguration

Admission ticket to the 1933 Presidential Inauguration.
Admission ticket to the 1933 Presidential Inauguration.

Eighty years ago, on March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States for the first time. As he approached the rostrum to take the oath of office at the Capitol, he braced himself on his son James’s arm. Breaking precedent, he recited the entire oath, instead of simply repeating “I do.” Then, as the crowd grew quiet, he opened his inaugural address.

The new President was addressing a nation that was struggling amidst the greatest economic depression in its history. Roosevelt offered his fellow Americans reassurance: “This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive, and will prosper.” Then, in bold words that reverberate in public memory, he proclaimed, “. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

This now-famous line got little reaction. The greatest applause came when Roosevelt declared that if Congress didn’t act, he would ask for “broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency. . . .” Americans were ready to grant FDR sweeping power. As he proclaimed, “This nation asks for action, and action now.”

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Roosevelt took all four of his presidential oaths of office on this leather bound, Dutch language Bible. The Bible was made in 1686 and contains Roosevelt family records from the early 18th century.

The slideshow below shows images of President Roosevelt taken on March 4, 1933.

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