When did FDR say the quote "Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds?"

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On April 14th, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave an address to a group of men at a meeting of the Pan American Union.  The Pan American Union was an organization that was made up of the United States and Latin American countries.  The goal was for the various countries to cooperate and communicate.  The Pan American Union was founded in the late 1800s.  In his 1939 speech, Roosevelt called the Pan American Union "the oldest and most successful association of sovereign governments which exists in all the world."  Roosevelt hoped that the long success of the organization would be "a symbol of great hope" in a world full of challenges.  At this time, the world was seeing the rise of Nazism.  The speech took place only a few months before the start of World War II.  The United States and other nations had also suffered for many years from the Great Depression.  

FDR praised the peaceful nature of the meetings of the Pan American Union.  He noted that other nations would have to wage war before holding such a meeting.  With turmoil in Europe and the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia having only been a month before, Roosevelt's words were very relevant in April of 1939.  He hoped that Europe would follow the example of the Pan American Union.  It was then that he spoke the lines of his famous quote:

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. They have within themselves the power to become free at any moment.

He wished for the European nations to choose peaceful meetings and negotiations over invasions and wars.  He did not want them to accept the those tactics as the only option.  He also reaffirmed his support of Allied nations.