110 Franklin Roosevelt Quotes on Fear & Leadership

There are surely many things to learn from this collection of Franklin D. Roosevelt quotes.

So, if you’re in need for some tips and pieces of advice to be a successful leader, then this collection might just fit the bill.

In this list, we’re featuring 110 of the most famous quotes from the 32nd president of the United States—someone who helped the country fight through the Second World War and get through the Great Depression.

Start reading the full list below.

And don’t forget to check out these Dwight Eisenhower quotes.

Best Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Moving Forward

1. “Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”

2. “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”

3. “In this war, we know books are weapons; and it is a part of your dedication, always, to make them weapons for man’s freedom.”

4. “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot, and hang on.

5. “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot, and hang on.”

6. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

7. “That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

8. “Remember—remember always—that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

9. “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Progress

10. “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 too little.”

11. “Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die.”

12. “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

13. “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself.”

14. “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 Quotes - The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.

15. “The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

16. “No man and no force can abolish memory.”

17. “To reach a port we must set sail—sail, not tie at anchor; sail, not drift.”

18. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

19. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

Related: Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Effort and Success

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Happiness

20. “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

21. “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money.”

22. “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

23. “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.”

24. “Our strength is our unity of purpose—to that high concept, there can be no end save victory.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do.

25. “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.”

26. “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.”

27. “The truth is found when men and women are free to pursue it.”

28. “Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”

29. “In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them.

30. “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them.”

31. “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.”

32. “I have an unshaken conviction that democracy can never be undermined if we maintain our library resources and a national intelligence capable of utilizing them.”

33. “We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace—that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of nations far away. We have learned that we must live as men, and not as ostriches nor as dogs in the manger. We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.”

34. “We are steering a steady course toward economic oligarchy, if we are not there already.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - Physical strength can never permanently withstand the impact of spiritual force.

35. “Physical strength can never permanently withstand the impact of spiritual force.”

36. “Some people can never understand that you have to wait, even for the best of things, until the right time comes.”

37. “Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself.”

38. “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations, much is given. Of other generations, much is expected.”

39. “The first responsibility for the alleviation of poverty and distress, and for the care of the victims of the depression, rests upon the locality—its individuals, organizations, and government.”

Also read: Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Morals and Good Conduct

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - If you treat people right, they will treat you right.

40. “If you treat people right, they will treat you right—ninety percent of the time.”

41. “Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated.”

42. “We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals. We now know that it is bad economics.”

43. “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people.”

44. “A Reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes About the Government

45. “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”

46. “Great power involves great responsibility.”

47. “They have sold their heritage of freedom for the illusion of a living. They have yielded their democracy.”

48. “A Liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest—at the command—of his head.”

49. “I think we consider too much the luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - The parks stand as the outward symbol of the great human principle.

50. “The parks stand as the outward symbol of the great human principle.”

51. “A Radical is a man with both feet firmly planted in the air.”

52. “Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.”

53. “I sometimes think that the saving grace of America lies in the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans are possessed of two great qualities—a sense of humor and a sense of proportion.”

54. “We and all others who believe in freedom as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Civilization

55. “Today, we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships—the ability of all peoples of all kins to live together and to work together in the same world at peace.”

56. “The essence of our struggle is that men shall be free.”

57. “We have faith that future generations will know that here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.”

58. “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. In this world of ours, in other lands, there are some people, who, in times past, have lived and fought for freedom, and seem to have grown too weary to carry on the fight.”

59. “People, like charity, begin at home.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Wisdom and Knowledge

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

60. “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

61. “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

62. “Books, like ships, have the toughest armor, the longest cruising range, and mount the most powerful guns.”

63. “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”

64. “Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.

65. “A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

66. “A war of ideas can no more be won without books than a naval war can be won without ships.”

67. “Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”

68. “We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.”

69. “People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - War is young men dying and old men talking.

70. “War is young men dying and old men talking.”

71. “You are only an extra in everyone else’s play.”

72. “There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and the wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native.”

73. “Organized money hates me—and I welcome their hatred!”

74. “For out of this modern civilization, economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - I believe in my heart that only our success can stir their ancient hope.

75. “I believe in my heart that only our success can stir their ancient hope.”

76. “They begin to know that here in America, we are waging a war against want, and destitution, and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy.”

77. “It is fun to be in the same decade with you.”

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

79. “Hitler built a fortress around Europe, but he forgot to put a roof on it.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Presidency, Politics, and Government

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - Presidents are selected, not elected.

80. “Presidents are selected, not elected.”

81. “Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.”

82. “Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them.”

83. “Among us today, a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”

84. “In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice—the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Struggle

85. “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.”

86. “We know now that the government by organized money is just as dangerous as the government by organized mob.”

87. “They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs.”

88. “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

89. “No man can occupy the office of President without realizing that he is President of all the people.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea.

90. “I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen two hundred, limping, exhausted men come out of line—the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.”

91. “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson.”

92. “There should be no bitterness or hate where the sole thought is the welfare of the United States of America.”

93. “It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people—that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”

94. “For nearly four years, you have had an administration which instead of twirling its thumbs, has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes About the Purpose of the Government

95. “It is the purpose of the government to see that not only the legitimate interests of the few are protected, but that the welfare and rights of the many are conserved.”

96. “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”

97. “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living.”

98. “We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests.”

99. “It’s a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead—and to find no one there.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes on Confidence

100. “Confidence thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.”

101. “As a nation, we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.”

102. “If we will not prepare to give all that we have and all that we are to preserve Christian civilization in our land, we shall go to destruction.”

103. “We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.”

104. “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 Quotes on Despotism

105. “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.”

106. “Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor—a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”

107. “The very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men.”

108. “Good government should maintain the balance where every individual may have a place if he will take it, where every individual may find safety if he wishes it, where every individual may attain such power as his ability permits, consistent with his assuming the accompanying responsibility.”

109. “Man’s desire to be remembered is colossal.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Quotes - We must be the great arsenal of democracy.

110. “We must be the great arsenal of democracy.”

Did These Quotes Inspire You to Become a Better Leader?

Going through some of the world’s most difficult times, there are many things we can learn from Franklin D. Roosevelt. He abided by certain principles which everyone of us can apply in order to become a successful and effective leader. These principles include having an inspiring vision that people can relate to, leading with optimism and positivity, and making decisions that will benefit the greater good.

Which of these principles are reflected in his quotes and ideals? What lessons did you learn from Franklin D. Roosevelt? Comment your thoughts down below.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

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