Analyzing the Talking Points in the First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address

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Franklin D. Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1933. Many issues were going on in the country. The Great Depression was in full swing, many banks were failing, and millions of people were out of work and searching for jobs. Others were working, but barely had enough to live. America was in a crisis. Many people were becoming discouraged about the government making economic decisions that would benefit our country. Roosevelt delivered his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933, in Washington D.C. He discussed a variety of topics and how he would hope to govern and lead our country.

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He takes leadership immediately and is ready to take on the challenges it brings. In his speech, he says, “With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.” (Roosevelt 1933). Roosevelt prepared the American people for an increase in government power. He stated, “I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption” (Roosevelt 1933). FDR knew it was important for people to be employed. Roosevelt focused on jobs and getting people back to work. He suggests, “It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources” (Roosevelt 1933). Because of the stock market crash, he also wanted to focus on the regulation of banks. Roosevelt also knew that all his plans were not possible if the American people did not support him. He stated, “In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days” (Roosevelt 1933).

The Heritage Foundation views this speech as one of the most powerful American political addresses. They do not think this because of his specific ideas or proposals, but rather because he demanded the United States “to bow with military discipline to his authority” and asked them for war time executive powers. (The Heritage Foundation, 2007). They think Roosevelt cunningly uses the economic crisis to turn our gaze away from just money. He focuses on that social values are more important than just money, and when we realize that, we will be successful. The Heritage Foundation also points out that he starts and ends his speech with biblical references. “They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it” (Roosevelt 1933). This references to Acts 2:38 (The Heritage Foundation, 2007). He asks as a servant for the people and, therefore, The Heritage Foundation thinks that this speech was so powerful and moving to the American people.

Nate Sullivan viewed FDR’s First Inaugural Address as “declaring war on the Great Depression.” (Sullivan 2004). Sullivan said his goal was to comfort and reassure the American people by beginning with a very optimistic tone. Sullivan also pointed out that Roosevelt wanted an active federal government. Roosevelt proposed that the government would have to take on the role of regulation. Sullivan stated that he addressed a “war on poverty” and that Roosevelt proposed “the federal government must take the lead in fixing the Great Depression” (Sullivan 2004).

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