Jukebox: Hail to the Chief

Franklin Roosevelt’s fourth inaugural, which was less than 600 words long, focused on the perils of isolationism

President Roosevelt at his fourth inauguration
President Roosevelt shaking hands with Vice President Truman during his fourth inauguration. Bettmann/CORBIS

FDR delivered his fourth and final inaugural address in 1945. With the nation still at war, it was considered inappropriate to mark the occasion with festivities—and his speech, fewer than 600 words, echoed the day's solemn tone. Much of the address focused on the perils of isolationism; Roosevelt declared that World War II had taught Americans to "live as men, not as ostriches." According to Cynthia Koch, director of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library, FDR "was almost a teacher in chief, gently drawing homilies and lessons to help people understand his policies as a reflection of the best of our past."

Hear Anthony G. Pilla.

Music courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. Please click here to purchase or for more information

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