1936 Madison Square Garden speech

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The 1936 Madison Square Garden speech was a speech given by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on October 31, 1936, three days before that year's presidential election. In the speech, Roosevelt pledged to continue the New Deal and criticized those who, in his view, were putting personal gain and politics over national economic recovery from the Great Depression. The speech was Roosevelt's last campaign speech before the election.[1]


Roosevelt had to wait around 15 minutes for the enthusiastic crowd at Madison Square Garden to calm down before commencing his speech.[2]

Most of the speech outlined Roosevelt's economic policies. He reviewed some of the successes from his first term in the presidency, explained how he saw critics and opponents of the New Deal as hampering economic recovery, especially to the detriment of working-class people. In expressing how strongly his administration would continue to promote New Deal policies, he paraphrased John Paul Jones, stating that "we have only just begun to fight."

With World War II a few years away, Roosevelt expressed his desire for peace at home and abroad in the face of "war and rumor of war."

Perhaps the most memorable line of the speech came when Roosevelt described forces which he labeled "the old enemies of peace: business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering." He went on to claim that these forces were united against his candidacy; that "They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred."


Roosevelt was able to state his goals so plainly because of his strong electoral position. His strong rhetoric, such his suggestions that he would "master" the "forces" against him, privately worried some of his supporters for its political impact.[3] At the time, Democrats held large majorities in both houses of Congress. Additionally, he won the presidential election held three days later, in one of the most lopsided elections in American history.[4] While some contemporary forecasts of the election predicted a much closer contest,[5] most opinion polls pointed to victories in the popular vote and the Electoral College for Roosevelt.[3]

The speech has been called a moment when Roosevelt "abandoned the characteristic balance of his addresses and focused his feelings in a stinging attack."[6]


The Madison Square Garden speech is regarded as a powerful expression of American liberalism. Historian Kenneth S. Davis called the speech "one of the great political speeches in American history."[2] Political analysts have compared the straightforwardness of Roosevelt's rhetoric, such as the "I welcome their hatred" comment, with the relative timidity of later politicians,[7] such as Barack Obama; psychologist Drew Westen made such an argument in The New York Times.[8] Historians, however, have pointed out that Roosevelt delivered the speech in much more favorable political conditions than later politicians have had to face.[4]


  1. ^ Grafton, John, ed. (1999). Great Speeches. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. p. 57. ISBN 0486408949. OCLC 41468459. 
  2. ^ a b Davis, Kenneth S. (1986). FDR: The New Deal Years, 1933–1937. New York: Random House. p. 644. ISBN 0394527534. OCLC 716221223. 
  3. ^ a b Davis, Kenneth S. (1986). FDR: The New Deal Years, 1933–1937. New York: Random House. p. 645. ISBN 0394527534. OCLC 716221223. 
  4. ^ a b Black, Eric (26 August 2011). "What if Obama gave FDR's 'I welcome their hatred' speech?". MinnPost. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Weed, Clyde P. (1994). The Nemesis of Reform. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 104–112. ISBN 0231084862. OCLC 29912165. 
  6. ^ Friedel, Frank (2009). Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous With Destiny. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 031609241X. OCLC 500712611. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Krugman, Paul R. (2009). The Conscience of a Liberal. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0393333132. OCLC 456551564. 
  8. ^ Westen, Drew (6 August 2011). "What Happened to Obama?". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 

External links

  • Full text of the speech from the American Presidency Project
  • Audio excerpt from the speech
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