1938 April 21

FDR: “All Of Us . . . Are Descended From Immigrants”


In a speech to the conservative Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), President Franklin D. Roosevelt reminded listeners that he and members of the audience were all descended from “immigrants and revolutionists.” His comments are usually misquoted, with FDR allegedly addressing the conservative DAR as “my fellow immigrants.” He did not actually say that,  but the meaning of his actual words was the same.

FDR (excerpt): “I thought of preaching on a text, but I shall not. I shall only give you the text and I shall not preach on it. I think I can afford to give you the text because it so happens, through no fault of my own, that I am descended from a number of people who came over in the Mayflower. More than that, every one of 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.

The text is this: Remember, remember always that all Of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

Read FDR’s full speech to the DAR: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=15631

Read the Emma Lazarus poem, The New Colossus, with the famous phrase, “Give me your tired, your poor . . .” (1883):

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

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