Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural (1933)

In his first Inaugural Address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously urged his fellow Americans, millions of whom were out of work in the height of the Great Depression, to demonstrate courage, proclaiming: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

He explained that because of the financial crisis of the Depression, he might need to alter the “the normal balance of executive and legislative authority,” or the Constitution’s checks and balances system. He acknowledged the possibility of a “temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure” and said that he would “ask the Congress for…broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.”

A shift in the balance of federal and state power under federalism and the substantial growth of the federal government stems from this period in American history.