Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks to the Daughters of the American Revolution. Washington, D.C.

April 21, 1938

Daughters of the American Revolution, I couldn’t let a fifth year go by without coming to see you. And I must ask you to take me in a business suit.” [At this point, a photographer’s flash-bulb exploded almost in the President’s face.] “I see you are still in favor of national defense.” [laughter].
   You must take me as I am, with no prepared remarks. You know, as a matter of fact, I would have been here at one of your conventions in prior years—one or more—but it isn’t the time that it takes to come before you and speak for half an hour; it is the preparation for that half hour. And I suppose for every half-hour’s speech that I make before a convention or over the radio that I put in ten hours preparing for it.
   So I have to ask you to bear with me, to let me just come here without preparation and tell you how glad I am to avail myself of this opportunity to tell you how proud I am, as a Revolutionary descendant, to greet you.
   I thought of preaching on a text, but I won’t. I will only give you the text, and I won’t preach on it.
   I think I can afford to give you the text, because it so happens that—through no fault of my own—I am descended from a number of people who came over in the Mayflower. But more than that, my ancestors on both sides—and when you go back four generations or five generations it means thirty- two or sixty-four of them—every single one of them without exception was in this land in 1776. And there was only one Tory among them! [laughter]
   And so, the text is this: Remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
   And I am particularly glad to know that today you are making this fine appeal to the youth of America. The importance to this rising generation, to our sons and grandsons, and great grandsons, we cannot over-estimate; the importance of what we are doing this year, in our own generation, to keep alive the spirit of American democracy, the spirit of opportunity, the kind of a spirit that has led us as a nation, not in a small group but as a nation, to meet the very great problems of the past.
   We look for a younger generation that is going to be more American than we are. We are doing the best that we can, and yet we can do better than that, we can do more than that: by inculcating in the boys and girls of this country today some of the underlying fundamentals, the reasons that impelled our revolutionary ancestors to throw off a Fascist yoke.
   Yes, we have got a great many things to do. Among other things in this troubled world is the need of being very, very certain, no matter what happens, the sovereignty of the United States will never be impaired.
   There have been former occasions, at conventions of the Daughters of the American Revolution, when voices were needed,, needed to be raised, for better national defense. This year you are raising those same voices, and I am glad of it. But I am glad also that the government of the United States can assure you today that it is taking definite, practical steps for the defense of the nation.
   And I am glad to have had an opportunity to come in this way and talk to you very simply and very sincerely. Perhaps some time in the next two and a half years will have an opportunity to come here and make a prepared speech, but this kind of a party appeals to me.
   I am glad to have been with you, and I wish you all the good luck in the world.

APP NOTE:  The published Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt does not include the complete text of these remarks.  The version we present here was compiled from a reading of multiple published newspaper sources including the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Cincinnati Enquirer, The New York Times, and the Associated Press. The President’s remarks had been unscheduled and were made without prepared notes.  He was introduced by Mrs. William A. Becker.


Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks to the Daughters of the American Revolution. Washington, D.C. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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