In 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt was seeking a second term as president of the United States. Having assuming the office in the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt had stabilized and reformed the banking system, put millions of unemployed people to work building public infrastructure, and created Social Security to bring millions of elderly citizens out of poverty.
The reforms, known collectively as the New Deal, were popular with the majority of citizens. But by the next presidential election year the bankers and businessmen were pushing back hard. Although Roosevelt came from a privileged background, he was despised by many in his social class. Unfazed, Roosevelt boldly proclaimed in his famous campaign speech of October 31, 1936: “I welcome their hatred!”
With President Barack Obama preparing to address the Democratic National Convention tomorrow night it might be an interesting time to listen to a little of Roosevelt’s speech, which he delivered at Madison Square Garden in New York City three days before the election. In the audio clip above he talks about how things were in America before he took office, and about the forces seeking to drag the country back:
For twelve years this nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing government. The nation looked to government but the government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! And, my friends, powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that government is best which is most indifferent to mankind.
Roosevelt defeated his opponent Alf Landon, the Republican governor of Kansas, by a historic landslide, taking more than 60 percent of the popular vote and all but eight of the 531 electoral votes. To read the full text of Roosevelt’s speech, click here.