History Podcasts

F.D.R. On Economic Conditions/ 12th Fireside Address [Thursday, April 14, 1938] - History

F.D.R. On Economic Conditions/ 12th Fireside Address [Thursday, April 14, 1938] - History

MY FRIENDS: Five months have gone by since I last spoke to the people of the Nation about the state of the Nation.

I had hoped to be able to defer this talk until next week because, as we all know, this is Holy Week. But what I want to say to you, the people of the country, is of such immediate need and relates so closely to the lives of human beings and the prevention of human suffering that I have felt that there should be no delay. In this decision I have been strengthened by the thought that by speaking tonight there may be greater peace of mind and that the hope of Easter may be more real at firesides everywhere, and therefore that it is not inappropriate to encourage peace when so many of us are thinking of the Prince of Peace.

Five years ago we faced a very serious problem of economic and social recovery. For four and a half years that recovery proceeded apace. It is only in the past seven months that it has received a visible setback.

And it is only within the past two months, as we have waited patiently to see whether the forces of business itself would counteract it, that it has become apparent that government itself can no longer safely fail to take aggressive government steps to meet it.

This recession has not returned to us (to) the disasters and suffering of the beginning of 1933. Your money in the bank is safe; farmers are no longer in deep distress and have greater purchasing power; dangers of security speculation have been minimized; national income is almost 50% higher than it was in 1932; and government has an established and accepted responsibility for relief.

But I know that many of you have lost your jobs or have seen your friends or members of your families lose their jobs, and I do not propose that the Government shall pretend not to see these things. I know that the effect of our present difficulties has been uneven; that they have affected some groups and some localities seriously but that they have been scarcely felt in others. But I conceive the first duty of government is to protect the economic welfare of all the people in all sections and in all groups. I said in my Message opening the last session of the Congress that if private enterprise did not provide jobs this spring, government would take up the slack -- that I would not let the people down. We have all learned the lesson that government cannot afford to wait until it has lost the power to act.

Therefore, my friends, I have sent a Message of far-reaching importance to the Congress. I want to read to you tonight certain passages from that Message, and to talk with you about them.

In that Message I analyzed the causes of the collapse of 1929 in these words: "over-speculation in and over-production of practically every article or instrument used by man .... millions of people, to be sure, had been put to work, but the products of their hands had exceeded the purchasing power of their pocketbooks... Under the inexorable law of supply and demand, supplies so overran demand (which would pay) that production was compelled to stop. Unemployment and closed factories resulted. Hence the tragic years from 1929 to 1933."

Today I pointed out to the Congress that the national income -- not the Government's income but the total of the income of all the individual citizens and families of the United States -- every farmer, every worker, every banker, every professional man and every person who lived on income derived from investments -- that national income had amounted, in the year 1929, to eighty-one billion dollars. By 1932 this had fallen to thirty-eight billion dollars. Gradually, and up to a few months ago, it had risen to a total, an annual total; of sixty-eight billion dollars -- a pretty good come- back from the low point.

I then said this to the Congress: "But the very vigor of the recovery in both durable goods and consumers' goods brought into the picture early in 1937, a year ago, certain highly undesirable practices, which were in large part responsible for the economic decline which began in the later months of that year. Again production had (outran) outrun the ability to buy.

"There were many reasons for this over-production. One of them was fear -- fear of war abroad, fear of inflation, fear of nation-wide strikes. None of these fears have been borne out.

"....... Production in many important lines of goods outran the ability of the public to purchase them, as I have said. For example, through the winter and spring of 1937 cotton factories in hundreds of cases were running on a three-shift basis, piling up cotton goods in the factory, (and) goods in the hands of middle men and retailers. For example, also, automobile manufacturers not only turned out a normal increase of finished cars, but encouraged the normal increase to run into abnormal figures, using every known method to push their sales. This meant, of course, that the steel mills of the Nation ran on a twenty-four hour basis, and the tire companies and cotton factories and glass factories and others speeded up to meet the same type of abnormally stimulated demand. Yes, the buying power of the Nation lagged behind.

"Thus by the autumn of 1937, last autumn, the Nation again had stocks on hand which the consuming public could not buy because the purchasing power of the consuming public had not kept pace with the production.

"During the same period... the prices of many vital products had risen faster than was warranted. (....) For example, copper -- which undoubtedly can be produced at a profit in this country for from ten to twelve cents a pound -- was pushed up and up to seventeen cents a pound. The price of steel products of many kinds was increased far more than was justified by the increased wages of steel workers. In the case of many commodities the price to the consumer was raised well above the inflationary boom prices of 1929. In many lines of goods and materials, prices got so high in the summer of 1937 that buyers and builders ceased to buy or to build.

"... the economic process of getting out the raw materials, putting them through the manufacturing and finishing processes, selling them to the retailers, selling them to the consumer, and finally using them, got completely out of balance.

"... The laying off of workers came upon us last autumn and has been continuing at such a pace ever since that all of us, Government and banking and business and workers, and those faced with destitution, recognize the need for action."

All of this I said to the Congress today and I repeat it to you, the people of the country tonight.

I went on to point out to the Senate and the House of Representatives that all the energies of government and business must be directed to increasing the national income, to putting more people into private jobs, to giving security and a feeling of security to all people in all walks of life.

I am constantly thinking of all our people -- unemployed and employed alike -- of their human problems, their human problems of food and clothing and homes and education and health and old age. You and I agree that security is our greatest need -- the chance to work, the opportunity of making a reasonable profit in our business -- whether it be a very small business or a larger one -- the possibility of selling our farm products for enough money for our families to live on decently. I know these are the things that decide the well-being of all our people.

Therefore, I am determined to do all in my power to help you attain that security and because I know that the people themselves have a deep conviction that secure prosperity of that kind cannot be a lasting one except on a basis of (business) fair business dealing and a basis where all from the top to the bottom share in the prosperity. I repeated to the Congress today that neither it nor the Chief Executive can afford "to weaken or destroy great reforms which, during the past five years, have been effected on behalf of the American people. In our rehabilitation of the banking structure and of agriculture, in our provisions for adequate and cheaper credit for all types of business, in our acceptance of national responsibility for unemployment relief, in our strengthening of the credit of state and local government, in our encouragement of housing, and slum clearance and home ownership, in our supervision of stock exchanges and public utility holding companies and the issuance of new securities, in our provision for social security itself, the electorate of America wants no backward steps taken.

"We have recognized the right of labor to free organization, to collective bargaining; and machinery for the handling of labor relations is now in existence. The principles are established even though we can all admit that, through the evolution of time, administration and practices can be improved. Such improvement can come about most quickly and most peacefully through sincere efforts to understand and assist on the part of labor leaders and employers alike.

"The never-ceasing evolution of human society will doubtless bring forth new problems which will require new adjustments. Our immediate task is to consolidate and maintain the gains we have achieved.

"In this situation there is no reason and no occasion for any American to allow his fears to be aroused or his energy and enterprise to be paralyzed by doubt or uncertainty."

I came to the conclusion that the present-day problem calls for action both by the Government and by the people, that we suffer primarily from a failure of consumer demand because of lack of buying power. Therefore it is up to us to create an economic upturn.

"How and where can and should the Government help to start an (upward spiral) economic upturn?"

I went on in my Message today to propose three groups of measures and I will summarize my recommendations.

First, I asked for certain appropriations which are intended to keep the Government expenditures for work relief and similar purposes during the coming fiscal year that begins on the first of July, keep that going at the same rate of expenditure as at present. That includes additional money for the Works Progress Administration; additional funds for the Farm Security Administration; additional allotments for the National Youth Administration, and more money for the Civilian Conservation Corps, in order that it can maintain the existing number of camps now in operation.

These appropriations, made necessary by increased unemployment, will cost about a billion and a quarter dollars more than the estimates which I sent to the Congress on the third of January last.

Second, I told the Congress that the Administration proposes to make additional bank reserves available for the credit needs of the country. About one billion four hundred million dollars of gold now in the Treasury will be used to pay these additional expenses of the Government, and three-quarters of a billion dollars of additional credit will be made available to the banks by reducing the reserves now required by the Federal Reserve Board.

These two steps taking care of relief needs and adding to bank credits are in our best judgment insufficient by themselves to start the Nation on a sustained upward movement.

Therefore, I came to the third kind of Government action which I consider to be vital. I said to the Congress: "You and I cannot afford to equip ourselves with two rounds of ammunition where three rounds are necessary. If we stop at relief and credit, we may find ourselves without ammunition before the enemy is routed. If we are fully equipped with the third round of ammunition, we stand to win the battle against adversity."

This third proposal is to make definite additions to the purchasing power of the Nation by providing new work over and above the continuing of the old work. First, to enable the United States Housing Authority to undertake the immediate construction of about three hundred million dollars worth of additional slum clearance projects.

Second, to renew a public works program by starting as quickly as possible about one billion dollars worth of needed permanent public improvements in our states, and their counties and cities.

Third, to add one hundred million dollars to the estimate for Federal aid highways in excess of the amount that I recommended in January.

Fourth, to add thirty-seven million dollars over and above the former estimate of sixty-three million for flood control and reclamation.

Fifth, to add twenty-five million dollars additional for Federal buildings in various parts of the country.

In recommending this program I am thinking not only of the immediate economic needs of the people of the Nation, but also of their personal liberties --the most precious possession of all Americans. I am thinking of our democracy. I am thinking of the recent trend in other parts of the world away from the democratic ideal.

Democracy has disappeared in several other great nations -- disappeared not because the people of those nations disliked democracy, but because they had grown tired of unemployment and insecurity, of seeing their children hungry while they sat helpless in the face of government confusion, government weakness, -- weakness through lack of leadership in government. Finally, in desperation, they chose to sacrifice liberty in the hope of getting something to eat. We in America know that our own democratic institutions can be preserved and made to work. But in order to preserve them we need to act together, to meet the problems of the Nation boldly, and to prove that the practical operation of democratic government is equal to the task of protecting the security of the people.

Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our Government to give employment to idle men. The people of America are in agreement in defending their liberties at any cost, and the first line of that defense lies in the protection of economic security. Your Government, seeking to protect democracy, must prove that Government is stronger than the forces of business depression.

History proves that dictatorships do not grow out of strong and successful governments but out of weak and helpless governments. If by democratic methods people get a government strong enough to protect them from fear and starvation, their democracy succeeds, but if they do not, they grow impatient. Therefore, the only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over its government.

We are a rich Nation; we can afford to pay for security and prosperity without having to sacrifice our liberties into the bargain.

In the first century of our republic we were short of capital, short of workers and short of industrial production, but we were rich, very rich in free land, and free timber and free mineral wealth. The Federal Government of those days rightly assumed the duty of promoting business and relieving depression by giving subsidies of land and other resources.

Thus, from our earliest days we have had a tradition of substantial government help to our system of private enterprise. But today the Government no longer has vast tracts of rich land to give away and we have discovered, too, that we must spend large sums of money to conserve our land from further erosion and our forests from further depletion. The situation is also very different from the old days, because now we have plenty of capital, banks and insurance companies loaded with idle money; plenty of industrial productive capacity and many millions of workers looking for jobs. It is following tradition as well as necessity, if Government strives to put idle money and idle men to work, to increase our public wealth and to build up the health and strength of the people --to help our system of private enterprise to function again.

It is going to cost something to get out of this recession this way but the profit of getting out of it will pay for the cost several times over. Lost working time is lost money. Every day that a workman is unemployed, or a machine is unused, or a business organization is marking time, it is a loss to the Nation. Because of idle men and idle machines this Nation lost one hundred billion dollars between 1929 and the Spring of 1933, in less than four years. This year you, the people of this country, are making about twelve billion dollars less than you were last year.

If you think back to the experiences of the early years of this Administration you will remember the doubts and fears expressed about the rising expenses of Government. But to the surprise of the doubters, as we proceeded to carry on the program which included Public Works and Work Relief, the country grew richer instead of poorer.

It is worthwhile to remember that the annual national people's income was thirty billion dollars more last year in 1937 than it was in 1932. It is true that the national debt increased sixteen billion dollars, but remember that in that increase must be included several billion dollars worth of assets which eventually will reduce that debt and that many billion dollars of permanent public improvements -- schools, roads, bridges, tunnels, public buildings, parks and a host of other things meet your eye in every one of the thirty-one hundred counties in the United States.

No doubt you will be told that the Government spending program of the past five years did not cause the increase in our national income. They will tell you that business revived because of private spending and investment. That is true in part, for the Government spent only a small part of the total. But that Government spending acted as a trigger, a trigger to set off private activity. That is why the total addition to our national production and national income has been so much greater than the contribution of the Government itself.

In pursuance of that thought I said to the Congress today: "I want to make it clear that we do not believe that we can get an adequate rise in national income merely by investing, and lending or spending public funds. It is essential in our economy that private funds must be put to work and all of us recognize that such funds are entitled to a fair profit."

As national income rises, "let us not forget that Government expenditures will go down and Government tax receipts will go up."

The Government contribution of land that we once made to business was the land of all the people. And the Government contribution of money which we now make to business ultimately comes out of the labor of all the people. It is, therefore, only sound morality, as well as a sound distribution of buying power, that the benefits of the prosperity coming from this use of the money of all the people ought to be distributed among all the people -- the people at the bottom as well as the people at the top. Consequently, I am again expressing my hope that the Congress will enact at this session a wage and hour bill putting a floor under industrial wages and a limit on working hours -- to ensure a better distribution of our prosperity, a better distribution of available work, and a sounder distribution of buying power.

You may get all kinds of impressions in regard to the total cost of this new program, or in regard to the amount that will be added to the net national debt. It is a big program. Last autumn in a sincere effort to bring Government expenditures and Government income into closer balance, the Budget I worked out called for sharp de creases in Government spending during the coming year. But, in the light of present conditions, conditions of today, those estimates turned out to have been far too low. This new program adds two billion and sixty-two million dollars to direct Treasury expenditures and another nine hundred and fifty million dollars to Government loans -- the latter sum, because they are loans, will come back to the Treasury in the future.

The net effect on the debt of the Government is this -- between now and July 1, 1939 -- fifteen months away -- the Treasury will have to raise less than a billion and a half dollars of new money.

Such an addition to the net debt of the United States need not give concern to any citizen, for it will return to the people of the United States many times over in increased buying power and eventually in much greater Government tax receipts because of the increase in the citizen income.

What I said to the Congress today in the close of my message I repeat to you now.

"Let us unanimously recognize the fact that the Federal debt, whether it be twenty-five billions or forty billions, can only be paid if the Nation obtains a vastly increased citizen income. I repeat that if this citizen income can be raised to eighty billion dollars a year the national Government and the overwhelming majority of state and local governments will be definitely 'out of the red.' The higher the national income goes the faster will we be able to reduce the total of Federal and state and local debts. Viewed from every angle, today's purchasing power -the citizens' income of today -- is not at this time sufficient to drive the economic system of America at higher speed. Responsibility of Government requires us at this time to supplement the normal processes and in so supplementing them to make sure that the addition is adequate. We must start again on a long steady upward incline in national income.

"... And in that process, which I believe is ready to start, let us avoid the pitfalls of the past -- the overproduction, the over-speculation, and indeed all the extremes which we did not succeed in avoiding in 1929. In all of this, Government cannot and should not act alone. Business must help. And I am sure business will help.

"We need more than the materials of recovery. We need a united national will.

"We need to recognize nationally that the demands of no group, however just, can be satisfied unless that group is prepared to share in finding a way to produce the income from which they and all other groups can be paid. ...... You, as the Congress, I, as the President, must by virtue of our offices, seek the national good by preserving the balance between all groups and all sections.

"We have at our disposal the national resources, the money, the skill of hand and head to raise our economic level -- our citizens' income. Our capacity is limited only by our ability to work together. What is needed is the will.

"The time has come to bring that will into action with every driving force at our command. And I am determined to do my share. "..... Certain positive requirements seem to me to accompany the will -- if we have that will.

"There is placed on all of us the duty of self-restraint. That is the discipline of a democracy. Every patriotic citizen must say to himself or herself, that immoderate statement, appeals to prejudice, the creation of unkindness, are offenses not against an individual or individuals, but offenses against the whole population of the United States

"..... Use of power by any group, however situated, to force its interest or to use its strategic position in order to receive more from the common fund than its contribution to the common fund justifies, is an attack against and not an aid to our national life.

"Self-restraint implies restraint by articulate public opinion, trained to distinguish fact from falsehood, trained to believe that bitterness is never a useful instrument in public affairs. There can be no dictatorship by an individual or by a group in this Nation, save through division fostered by hate. Such division there must never be."

And finally I should like to say a personal word to you.

I never forget that I live in a house owned by all the American people and that I have been given their trust.

I try always to remember that their deepest problems are human. I constantly talk with those who come to tell me their own points of view -- with those who manage the great industries and financial institutions of the country --with those who represent the farmer and the worker -- and often, very often with average citizens without high position who come to this house. And constantly I seek to look beyond the doors of the White House, beyond the officialdom of the National Capital, into the hopes and fears of men and women in their homes. I have travelled the country over many times. My friends, my enemies, my daily mail bring to me reports of what you are thinking and hoping. I want to be sure that neither battles nor burdens of office shall ever blind me to an intimate knowledge of the way the American people want to live and the simple purposes for which they put me here.

In these great problems of government I try not to forget that what really counts at the bottom of it all is that the men and women willing to work can have a decent job, -- a decent job to take care of themselves and their homes and their children adequately; that the farmer, the factory worker, toe storekeeper, the gas station man, the manufacturer, the merchant -- big and small -- the banker who takes pride in the help that he can give to the building of his community -- that all of these can be sure of a reasonable profit and safety for the earnings that they make -- not for today nor tomorrow alone, but as far ahead as they can see. I can hear your unspoken wonder as to where we are headed in this troubled world. I cannot expect all of the people to understand all of the people's problems; but it is my job to try to understand all of the problems.

I always try to remember that reconciling differences cannot satisfy everyone completely. Because I do not expect too much, I am not disappointed. But I know that I must never give up -- that I must never let the greater interest of all the people down, merely because that might be for the moment the easiest personal way out.

I believe that we have been right in the course we have charted. To abandon our purpose of building a greater, a more stable and a more tolerant America would be to miss the tide and perhaps to miss the port. I propose to sail ahead. I feel sure that your hopes and I feel sure that your help are with me. For to reach a port, we must sail -- sail, not lie at anchor, sail, not drift.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, in full Franklin Delano Roosevelt, byname FDR, (born January 30, 1882, Hyde Park, New York, U.S.—died April 12, 1945, Warm Springs, Georgia), 32nd president of the United States (1933–45). The only president elected to the office four times, Roosevelt led the United States through two of the greatest crises of the 20th century: the Great Depression and World War II. In so doing, he greatly expanded the powers of the federal government through a series of programs and reforms known as the New Deal, and he served as the principal architect of the successful effort to rid the world of German National Socialism and Japanese militarism.

When was Franklin D. Roosevelt born?

Franklin D. Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882.

When did Franklin D. Roosevelt die?

Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945.

What is Franklin D. Roosevelt best known for?

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States (1933–45). He was the only president elected to the office four times.

Where did Franklin D. Roosevelt go to school?

Franklin D. Roosevelt was educated privately at home until age 14, when he entered Groton Preparatory School in Groton, Massachusetts. He entered Harvard University in 1900. He went on to attend Columbia Law School.

When did Franklin D. Roosevelt get married?

Franklin D. Roosevelt married Eleanor Roosevelt on March 17, 1905.

F.D.R. On Economic Conditions/ 12th Fireside Address [Thursday, April 14, 1938] - History

Bernanke, Ben. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach." Federal Reserve

Bank of St. Louis. N.p., Feb. 1995. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/

Quote:“For many years, the principal debate about the causes of the Great Depression in

the United States was over the importance to be ascribed to monetary factors. It was

easily observed that the money supply, output, and prices all fell precipitously in the

contraction and rose rapidly in the recovery the difficulty lay in establishing the

. Calomiris, Charels W. "Financial Factors in the Great Depression." Federal Reserve Bank of St.

Louis. N.p., 1993. Web. <http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/meltzer/calfin93.pdf>.

Quote:“Destabilizing deflation was fueled by persistent withdrawals of deposits and contraction in the money supply, which could have been prevented by an early

Works Relief Program April 14,1938. N.p., 6 June 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Quote: “We have all learned the lesson that the government can not afford to wait until they have lost the power to act”

Summary: This is a recording of one of FDR’s speeches from 1938. The podcast is from the fireside chats. FDR is explaining exactly what caused the downfall of the economy and what was being done to fix the problems. He is heard reassuring the people he is addressing and giving new hope to an economy that is finally turning around. With that he lets the people know what wasn’t being done to prevent the previous depression and states the indicators of the economy during that time. From the tone of his speech listeners can know that this is a positive time during his term and the economy is finally reaching normalcy.

Hurt/Help:The podcast was very useful in my research. It is the direct words from the President my topic is on.

Quote: “ The term "monetary policy" refers to what the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, does to influence the amount of money and credit in the U.S. economy”

Summary: Federalreserveeducation.org is a website dedicated to teaching readers about the Federal Reserve. This page in particular gives an overview on what exactly monetary policy is. Using separate subtitles it clearly describes all that is covered in monetary policy and how it is used. The goals of the policy are also explained and how controlling the money supply and interest rates helps reach these goals. How a policy is established is included on the page as well by listing the members of the board that control the policy (FOMC). The steps they take to determine how to make the policy most beneficial to helping the economy reach macroeconomic goals is described as well.

Help/Hurt: For giving a general overview of monetary policy this website was helpful.

How located: MCCC Library Resources

Quote: “At the pit of the Great Depression, when unemployment in the U.S. reached 25% — we ranked 8 out of those 16 nations. But by 1938, after almost two terms of Roosevelt's destructive programs, unemployment was near 20% and we ranked 13.”

Summary: This article describes how FDR’s policies may have not been very beneficial in correcting the economy. Economic indicators of his presidency are defined and the statistics of them after his “New Deal” plan. The author describes how unemployment fell lower than ever during his term and how the economy only became worse after his policies took place. It is stated that FDR is only viewed as a great president because historians do not understand economics. Economists the author speaks of find FDR’s “New Deal” to have been an awful plan and to cause more harm than good.

Help/Hurt:This article was helpful in explaining indicators during FDR’s presidency but not so much in explaining everything that was done to correct the economy in a clear unbiased way.

Summary: This source covers all current Indicators looked at by economists to assess the health of the U.S. economy. It explains the difference between Coincident indicators and lagging indicators. The article also explains what the Cyclical Indicator Approach is. Multiple tables and graphs are shown displaying statistics and percentage changes between the economic indicators. The Conference board leading economic index, lagging economic index and coincident economic index are explained by showing the percentage increased in statistics from each set of indicators.

Help/Hurt: This source was helpful in explaining what the current day economic indicators are.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in Georgia

Frank Freidel, F.D.R. and the South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965).

Hugh Gregory Gallagher, FDR's Splendid Deception: The Moving Story of Roosevelt's Massive Disability and the Intense Efforts to Conceal It from the Public, 3 ed (Arlington, Va.: Vandamere Press, 1999).

Paul Stephen Hudson, "A Call for 'Bold Persistent Experimentation': FDR's Oglethorpe University Commencement Address, 1932" Georgia Historical Quarterly 78 (summer 1994): 361-75.

Kaye Lanning Minchew, "Shaping a Presidential Image: FDR in Georgia," Georgia Historical Quarterly 83 (winter 1999): 741-57.

Ruth Stevens, Hi-Ya Neighbor (New York: Tupper and Love, 1947).

Rexford G. Tugwell, "Episode below Dowdell's Knob: II," Center Magazine, September 1968, 72-80.

William W. Winn, "The View from Dowdell's Knob," in New Georgia Guide (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996), 359-89.

Kaye Minchew, A President in our Midst (University of Georgia Press, 2016).

F.D.R. On Economic Conditions/ 12th Fireside Address [Thursday, April 14, 1938] - History

Bernanke, Ben. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach." Federal Reserve

Bank of St. Louis. N.p., Feb. 1995. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/

Quote: “For many years, the principal debate about the causes of the Great Depression in

the United States was over the importance to be ascribed to monetary factors. It was

easily observed that the money supply, output, and prices all fell precipitously in the

contraction and rose rapidly in the recovery the difficulty lay in establishing the

causal links among these variables.”

How located: This source was found using the search engine on the St. Louis Federal Reserve website.

Summary:“The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach” is an article written by Ben Bernanke. In this article he addresses how Macroeconomic applied to the Great Depression. Using the macroeconomic goals and excerpts from economists he appropriately explains the ways these brought the nation into a depression and thing that were done to correct it. The article also explains how The Great Depression gave life to the fundamentals of Macroeconomics used by economists today. Primary causes of the depression were discussed and the main factors are determined to be large domestic shocks to the U.S. economy and high deflationary rates through multiple countries.

Hurt/help:This source was helpful to my personal research. It helped me address some Economic indicators during FDR’s presidency.

Breitzer, Susan B. "The Great Depression in the United States." Salem History. Salem History, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. <http://history.salempress.com.ezproxy.mc3.edu:2048/doi/full/10.3331/1930_125840801258?prevSearch=franklin%2Bd%2Broosevelt%2Bbusiness%2Bcycle&searchHistoryKey=&queryHash=a0986a6096d80344504bfa587a7abbc4>.

How Located: Salem Press History

Summary: The article starts out with Roosevelt taking over as president and taking all of the problems that Hoover left for him. This was still during the Great depression, which means that they were still in a big recession. Roosevelt was looked at as a savior and took emergency measures. He authorized the establishment of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which administered 500 million dollars in direct relief. He had success making the American people feel more confident and the worst seemed to be over. There is a lot more information and specifics that can be used to show Roosevelt’s leadership through this slow expansion.

Quote: “Roosevelt set a record for political activity, taking actions that ranged from partially repealing Prohibition to declaring a bank holiday that closed the nation’s banks long enough for the government to determine which ones were worth saving.

Help: This source helps my thesis because it shows how Roosevelt took a country in a deep recession and carried him out by his new, well though out plan. Roosevelt did everything in his power to help his people by speaking to them very often through radio and gaining the confidence of the American people.

Business Cycles Explained: Real Business Cycle Theory." YouTube. YouTube, 26 July 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYXyNNcsniI>.

Summary: This video discusses the real business cycle theory. It states that there needs to be a negative shock in technology to start a business cycle. It talks about how the increase in the price of oil becomes a negative shock. There became a big energy squeeze, which decreased employees and economic stability. Companies started to produce less, which lead to their employees spending less, which lead to less economic activity. Another example that is brought up is a tsunami. Prices, work, and economic decisions are affected, which is a rippling affect and the tsunami tends to affect everything about economy. This becomes a technology shock because of the lack of production and a lack of the economy’s ability to produce goods and services. Business cycle theory applies to 99% of all cycles in human history. An aggregate demand model may work better than the business theory because it is more specific.

Quote: “Business cycles are often caused by negative shocks in technology.”

Hurts/Helps: This source seems to help what I am trying to say because it reinforces what was already said about the business cycle. It focuses on the start of the business cycle, which is a negative shock. He uses good examples that helped me understand the concept better than before. He also focuses on the negative shock due to technology and it made me think differently about what a negative technology shock really is. He calls technology a negative technology shock. This is because it slows down production, which closes the room added technology. It almost stops anything extra because steps were taken backwards. This isn’t a perfect source because it doesn’t talk about every step of the business cycle in its entirety. It focuses on the first one, which is very important but I would have liked to hear a description of the other ones.

Calomiris, Charels W. "Financial Factors in the Great Depression." Federal Reserve Bank of St.

Louis. N.p., 1993. Web. <http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/meltzer/calfin93.pdf>.

Quote: “Destabilizing deflation was fueled by persistent withdrawals of deposits and

contraction in the money supply, which could have been prevented by an early

nationwide suspension of convertibility.”

How located: St. Louis Federal Reserve bank website.

Summary: Calomiris explains the financial factors that lead to the Great Depression. He talks about why shocks were so detrimental to the economy and how policy makers failed to fix the issues leading to the depression. The article also shows how the capital market had direct relations to the financial market failing. Monetary Policy was also shown to be executed poorly by policy makers but arguments were made that inadequate technology could have been a huge factor in the policies lack of success.

Hurt/Help: The source was helpful in a sense that it clearly stated many economic factors that related to the Great Depression and parts of FDR’s term.

Camardella, Humphrey, prod. "FDR Fireside Chats 1933-1944." Episode #22. FDR Fireside Chats 5 on the

Works Relief Program April 14,1938. N.p., 6 June 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Quote: “We have all learned the lesson that the government can not afford to wait until they have lost the power to act”

Summary: This is a recording of one of FDR’s speeches from 1938. The podcast is from the fireside chats. FDR is explaining exactly what caused the downfall of the economy and what was being done to fix the problems. He is heard reassuring the people he is addressing and giving new hope to an economy that is finally turning around. With that he lets the people know what wasn’t being done to prevent the previous depression and states the indicators of the economy during that time. From the tone of his speech listeners can know that this is a positive time during his term and the economy is finally reaching normalcy.

Hurt/Help:The podcast was very useful in my research. It is the direct words from the President my topic is on.

Camardella, Humphrey, prod. "FDR Fireside Chats 1933-1944." Episode #38. FDR Fireside Chats 5 on the

Works Relief Program April 28,1935. N.p., 6 June 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Summary : In this Fireside Chat President FDR talks to the American people about how he plans to reduce unemployment. FDR also speaks about social security and how people of old age should be allowed to have that security. He speaks about the WPA (Works progress administration) and how the government is going to be the employer of last resort. There are 6 parts to this plan to reduce unemployment. This first is that the projects must be useful. The second is that the money must go into pay for the laborers. He also states that all the projects must hire those on the relief list first.

Quote : “This is a great national crusade, a crusade to destroy enforced idleness, which is an enemy of the human spirit generated by this depression.”

Quote : In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt raised the top rate to 79 percent on multimillionaires. Thus, even before the income tax was 22 years old, politicians had steadily jacked up the top rate from 7 to 79 percent.

Franklin D. Roosevelt - American Heritage Center, Inc." Franklin D. Roosevelt - American Heritage Center, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <http://www.fdrheritage.org/new_deal.htm>.

Summary: This website shows me the significance of the new deal. It shows a chart of the initiatives of the deal, the description of the initiative and the outcome that of the several aspects of the new deal. This took place in the beginning of Roosevelt’s presidency. This was his plan to save the country from this terrible recession. Some of these objectives were to set up emergency banking, Indian, and the Industrial Recovery Act, among several others. A lot of these objectives put a lot of confidence in the United States shortly after the Great Depression that ruined several lives. This plan not only established confidence, but it made the country stronger than it ever was. It added regulations that made it so it would be very hard for another depression to happen as bad as it once did.

Quote: “Right after taking office as President, FDR shut down all of the banks in the nation and Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act which gave the government the opportunity to inspect the health of all banks. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was formed by Congress to insure deposits up to $5000.”

Helps: This showed how Roosevelt pulled the country out of a dark period of time. Through a series of acts, the new deal showed the thought process of Roosevelt.

I can use just about all of this information in my wiki project. All of this was the start of Roosevelt’s presidency and it set up what he was focusing on and looking o build for the remainder of his time in office. All of these aspects of the new deal really made the US feel like a powerful country again because of all of the cautious actions.

Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center . N.p., 2007. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Summary : This site shows the “New deal” programs and what they did. It also shows how they worked or did not work. It explains things such as “Emergency banking act” and the FDIC. Those programs shut down and inspected the banks and insured all deposits up to 5000 dollars. The chart also goes into more detail about the public work programs and the money the government put into these programs. Also the chart shows the number of people these acts helped to employ. There were also many acts that affected farmer and farms. Some of which did not work out like AAA.

Quote: “ Right after taking office as President, FDR shut down all of the banks in the nation and Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act which gave the government the opportunity to inspect the health of all banks. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was formed by Congress to insure deposits up to $5000.”

Help/Hurt : This site helps with a better understanding of “The new deal” and the spending that had to happen.

Quote : “ In his Annual Message to Congress on January 3, 1938, President Roosevelt declared his intention to seek funding for massive government spending without tax increases, and he challenged fiscal conservatives who offered no compelling alternatives during that time of national economic crisis ”

Hurts/Helps : This article helps because it shows that FDR’s policies helped reduce the deficit and help get America our of crisis.

"Franklin D. Roosevelt." Proquest Historical Newspapers. New York Times, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.mc3.edu:2048/hnpnewyorktimes/docview/107203309/139FC9B4E8177270BF3/9?accountid=40660>.

How Located: New York Times

Summary: This is a primary source that was written shortly after Roosevelt died in 1945. The US still seems to be at war at this time. He is being honored as a recent war-hero and a great president in general. It says that he is the reason why the US came out of a dark part in American history, which is the Depression. He is being commended for the foreign policy that he developed. It says that the US should not be isolated, “with no friends.” This is something that Roosevelt instilled in the US, which was to become allies with fellow democratic countries. From the article, Roosevelt was very loved by the US by being enthusiastic and caring to his people. It meant a lot to the US that he was in the middle of the war and not just a spectator on the sidelined.

Quote: “It was his had, more than that of any other single man, that built the great coalition of the United Nations.”

Helped: The newspaper article showed love for Roosevelt, a president who recently passed away. The country seemed to be devoted to the leadership given throughout Roosevelt’s presidency.

GateKeeper50hotmail. "Republican Myth about FDR Depression Busted." YouTube. YouTube, 08 Jan. 2009. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL6mMPcjpWY>.

Summary: This video discusses the theory that Republicans think that FDR prolonged the Depression. Fox news said that investors went on strike because of a lack of rules. When Roosevelt came into office, the economy had shrunk for 43 months, and went into the longest expansion, which lasted until 1937. Roosevelt put in regulations and social security, which ended up working for the country in the long run. People have different views because they automatically thought that these regulations would not work and social security would turn into socialism. This editor also did not agree with the theory that spending money while in a recession is not always a bad choice because the government needs to create a demand. Tax cuts help, but it does not solve problems. This also ties the depression to the Obama administration.

Quote: “When FDR came into office, the economy had shrunk for 33 months. Longest recession ever, they called it a depression. It then embarked on the longest expansion to date in American history all the way to 1937.”

Hurt/Help: This source helps my thesis because it shows that Roosevelt lead the US out of the depression and did it the right way. He added different aspects of American life, which wouldn’t be beneficial until the future. He led the US to the biggest expansion to date. This is not hard to believe because of how far the US fell during the depression, but Roosevelt definitely made the US better while he was in office, according to Daniel Gross. Others may not agree with this, which is fair because everybody has an opinion. I like that I got the other side of the story before I got Gross’s opinion. This does not go into too much depth, but the information is very important and useful.

"Kennedy on the Great Depression and the New Deal." EconTalk. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/08/kennedy_on_the.html>.

Summary: This podcast is about an hour long, it talks about the great depression and how Roosevelt did throughout this time period. Around the ten-minute period it talks about Roosevelt appeared to do well in the beginning of his first administration, unemployment started to increase in 1938, which would be called a double-dip in today’s world. It talks about his popularity he had, especially after his death. He actually lost popularity as he announced his plan to augment the membership of the Supreme Court packaging plan. Then comes World War 2, which is another economic shock in 1939-1940. He is known for being a masterful leader during wartime. He is also popular for being a pacifist, stressing the dangers of guns and weapons. It then goes on to say that the war got us out of the Depression and there is no documentation that the new plan was the cause of the end of the great depression.

Quote: “ Roosevelt, although the economy did quite well in his first administration, unemployment spiked again in 1938, what we would today call the double-dip .”

Hurts/Helps: This podcast hurts the theory that I first had, which is that Roosevelt immediately got the US out of the Depression, which is just unrealistic. They actually go on to say that the war in 1939 actually got us out of the Depression. He is very popular because of his wartime experience and his dislike of guns and war. This also helps because it uses terms that I have seen in the chapter I reference in the textbook. I also remember the term, “double-dip.”

Quote : “ Fiscal policy is said to be tight or contractionary when revenue is higher than spending (i.e., the government budget is in surplus) and loose or expansionary when spending is higher than revenue (i.e., the budget is in deficit)”

(Macro) Episode 26: Fiscal Policy . Youtube. N.p., 19 Oct. 2009. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.

McConnell, Campbell R. Nineteenth ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2012. Print.

Summary: This book, chapter nine gives me a good overview of what I need to talk about, which is the business cycle. It talks about the different phases that I can connect to what Roosevelt went through. For example, Roosevelt came into office during a bad recession and had to turn it into expansion, which will eventually turn into a peak. It also talks about the unemployment rate, which is a good measurement to tell how the country is doing. Finally, the chapter talks about inflation, which is also a measurement, I will need to know about my topic while researching Roosevelt. This chapter is prepping me for what I will need to know for my topics. I can mention several little things learned from this chapter. For example, the different types of inflation and unemployment are tools that I would like to use in my topic.

Quote: “Business cycles are alternating rises and declines in the level of economic activity, sometime over several years.”(171)

Help: This is really just a tool for me to learn about my specific topic. This connects to Roosevelt’s presidency because the business cycle is pretty clear in Roosevelt’s administration.

Helps: This source helps because it is a source that is trusted. This is what I already studied from so I am referencing what I already know. This source has several definitions that I can reference. It has all of the key terms that I need for my portion of the wiki. It has several graphs that I can reference and mirror while making my wiki.

McConnell, Cambell, Stanley Brue, and Sean Flynn. Macroeconomics. 19th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2011. Print.

How found: class text book.

Summary: The first chart listed on the inside of McConnell, Brue, and Flynn's 19th edition Macroeconomics book shows all economic indicators dating back from 1929 through 2009. This chart allows the reader to quickly check back and see what state the Economy is in at any given year statistics were recorded. Franklin D. Roosevelt held office in 1933 all the through 1945, this source clearly shows all data from those years including GDP(Gross Domestic Product),Government spending, personal consumption expenditures, investment and incomes. That's only a small portion of the information depicted in these charts. I was able to find nearly every economic indicator clearly listed in a matter in minutes by reading the Charts.

Hurt/Help: The text book gave me great statistics and indicators for the years during FDR’s presidency.

McConnell, Campbell R., Stanley L. Brue, and Sean M. Flynn. "Fiscal Policy, Deficits and Debt."

Macroeconomics. New York: McGraw, 2012. 257-78. Print.

Summary : In chapter 13 of the McConnell textbook fiscal policy is explained. This chapter explains the effects of Fiscal policy in terms of aggregate supply and aggregate demand. The chapter goes into detail about expansionary fiscal policy and contractionary fiscal policy. Contractionary fiscal policy is used to slow down inflation and growth and expansionary fiscal policy is used to speed up the growth of the economy. Both methods of policy use a combination of government spending and tax cuts or raises. The chapter also goes into detail about the effects on the debt and deficit when fiscal policy is used. An increase in government spending and decrease in tax rates usually increases the country’s deficit and in return the debt.

Quote : “The fiscal policy just defined is discretionary (or “active”). It is often initiated on the advice of the resident’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), a group of three economist appointed by the president to provide the expertise and assistance on economic matters.”

Hurt/Help : This chapter in the textbook helps understand and explain fiscal policy and its purpose.

Mjmfoodie. "(Macro) Episode 32: Monetary Policy." YouTube. YouTube, 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 03 Dec. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdZnOQp4SmU>.

Summary: This video discusses the basics about the monetary policy. It tells us the definition and says that the FED controls monetary policy and the money supply. It talks about what happens if a certain amount of money is supplied. It also talks about the three major tools that control the money supply.

Quote: “Monetary policy is changes to the money supply in order to achieve particular macroeconomic goals.”

Helps : This video helps me explain my thesis. It does not talk about my president but it describes the what the monetary policy is.

"Monetary Policy Basics." Federal Reserve Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.

Quote: “The term "monetary policy" refers to what the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, does to influence the amount of money and credit in the U.S. economy”

Summary: Federalreserveeducation.org is a website dedicated to teaching readers about the Federal Reserve. This page in particular gives an overview on what exactly monetary policy is. Using separate subtitles it clearly describes all that is covered in monetary policy and how it is used. The goals of the policy are also explained and how controlling the money supply and interest rates helps reach these goals. How a policy is established is included on the page as well by listing the members of the board that control the policy (FOMC). The steps they take to determine how to make the policy most beneficial to helping the economy reach macroeconomic goals is described as well.

Help/Hurt: For giving a general overview of monetary policy this website was helpful

"Roosevelt Facts and Figures." Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Pare Lorentz Center, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012 <http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/facts.html#depression>.

Quote: “By the time that FDR was inaugurated president on March 4, 1933, the banking system had collapsed, nearly 25% of the labor force was unemployed, and prices and productivity had fallen to 1/3 of their 1929 levels.”

How Found: Found using Google.

Summary: This website archives the entirety of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. The article describes the state of the economy during the great depression under FDR's term. At a glance you can find unemployment rates and incomes while also seeing FDR's plans to repair the damage done during the Great Depression. It also describes the lack of spending and the collapsing of industries and production.

Rev. of NEW Deal or Raw Deal? How F.D.R.'s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America, by Steve Forbes.

EBSCOhost. N.p., 7 Sept. 2009. Web.

How located: MCCC Library Resources

Quote: “At the pit of the Great Depression, when unemployment in the U.S. reached 25% — we ranked 8 out of those 16 nations. But by 1938, after almost two terms of Roosevelt's destructive programs, unemployment was near 20% and we ranked 13.”

Summary: This article describes how FDR’s policies may have not been very beneficial in correcting the economy. Economic indicators of his presidency are defined and the statistics of them after his “New Deal” plan. The author describes how unemployment fell lower than ever during his term and how the economy only became worse after his policies took place. It is stated that FDR is only viewed as a great president because historians do not understand economics. Economists the author speaks of find FDR’s “New Deal” to have been an awful plan and to cause more harm than good.

Help/Hurt: This article was helpful in explaining indicators during FDR’s presidency but not so much in explaining everything that was done to correct the economy in a clear unbiased way.

Thayer, Frederick C. "Clinton, FDR, Reagan, and the deficit." Social Policy 1996: 2+. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. .

How located : Library resources.

Summary : This article goes into detail about how FDR’s second term was not a successful as the first. After being reelected FDR went back into office promising a decrease in deficit. He did accomplish this goal but growth also decreased. The article states that growth fell from 5.2 % to -5.1%. The deficit did increase again at the beginning and throughout WWII. The author believes that the war saved the reputation FDR’s “New Deal” and the economy.

Quote : “ The growth rate followed the deficit downward, falling to 5.2 percent in 1937, then to minus 5.1 percent in 1938, a dizzying plunge of 18.9 percent in only two years.”

Hurt/Help : This article hurts by stating that FDR’s “New Deal” was not a successful as many people believe.

"The Business Cycle Phases." The Business Cycle Phases. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.tradingonlinemarkets.com/Beat_the_Market/The_Business_Cycle_Phases.htm>.

Summary: This website discusses the four phases of the business cycle, similar to the textbook. It generally defines it as the changes in patterns of GDP that follows four basic stages. It says that stock investors use this theory to try to be successful in their field. It starts by discussing the expansionary period. This is when the economy is strong and people are employed and are making money. Next comes the prosperity phase which means as prices increase, people ask for higher wages, which increases higher prices for goods. Next is the contraction phase. This means that when prices get too high, consumers and businesses are turned away and they start to lay off workers because the decrease in goods. The recession phase leads to declining process due to, and a declining GDP. Unemployment rises to create this phase. The cycle repeats itself as the expansion period is expected to come after the Recession period. This is not always the case. Two or more quarters in the recession period is called a recession. This is why the US tries to intervene to try to manage the economy to mirror the phases. Several other unexpected changes in these phases are discussed.

Quote: “As shown above the stock market is a leading indicator of the economic or phases of the business cycle. Since the market leads the economy, investors need to pay particular attention to the early signs of a change in each phase of the business cycle.”

Helps: This enforces what the textbook already explains. This helps because it gives a real-life spin on how the business cycle affects daily lives. For example, it says that the stock market shows the business cycle. The government can look at the stock market and GDP to help mold the economy to follow the business cycle so nothing tragic happens, like a deep recession. The business cycle is explained as a model for expected increases and decreases in GDP. It sounds controlled and almost needed for a strong economy.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the United States." The Conference Board. N.p., 21

Nov. 2012. Web. <http://www.conference-board.org/pdf_free/press/

How located: MCCC library resources.

Quote: “The leading, coincident, and lagging economic indexes are essentially composite averages of several individual leading, coincident, or lagging indicators. (See page 3 for details.) They are constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component—primarily because they smooth out some of the volatility of individual components.”

Summary: This source covers all current Indicators looked at by economists to assess the health of the U.S. economy. It explains the difference between Coincident indicators and lagging indicators. The article also explains what the Cyclical Indicator Approach is. Multiple tables and graphs are shown displaying statistics and percentage changes between the economic indicators. The Conference board leading economic index, lagging economic index and coincident economic index are explained by showing the percentage increased in statistics from each set of indicators.

Help/Hurt: This source was helpful in explaining what the current day economic indicators are.

The New Deal . History. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.history.com/videos/

Summary: this video features David Eisenbach of Columbia University speaking about FDR’s “New Deal.” He talks about the three “R’s” which were “Relief, Recovery and reform.” The first part “Relief” was designed to give money back to Americans for food and other necessities. The “Recovery” part was something designed to get Americans back to work as quickly as possible. A bid part of the “Recovery” was the WPA (Works Progress Association). “Reform” was a series of legislation whose purpose was to keep America’s economy stable. An example of one of these programs is Social Security.

Quote: “FDR came up with “The New Deal,” a series of experimental federal laws and programs that were designed to get people back to work.”

Hurts/Helps: This video helps explain and understand FDR’s “New deal.”

"The Presidential Timeline." Of the Twentieth Century. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <http://www.presidentialtimeline.org/html/timeline.php?581mtJ2HtjJnLeiqkn29pQ3NpRp8MBYUzTfEseljx8c=>.

Summary: This is a good source because is shows an overview of Roosevelt’s presidency and a timeline that shows when he did what throughout his Presidency. It talks about the beginning of his presidency like the other source, but it also talks about how Roosevelt helped the country while he wasn’t trying to build a good name for himself. It talks about foreign affairs and how France was overthrown and how that affected the US. 1941 was a tough time for Roosevelt as Germany and Italy, so it shows how he handled that situation which definitely wasn’t good for the US. The business shows a dip in growth. Like I said, there is a timeline that shows everything that he did in his presidency so I can analyze what happened and how the business cycle connected to what was passed throughout his presidency.

Quote: “Congress enacted a draft for military service and Roosevelt signed a “lend-lease” bill in March 1941, to enable the nation to furnish aid to nations at war with Germany and Italy.

Help: The focus on foreign policy, after making a big difference through the depression helps the thought that Roosevelt did his best to better this country. Roosevelt accomplished a lot of different goals throughout his presidency, which helps my thesis.

I can use the timeline to track what Roosevelt passed and at what time. I can judge this to see if it hurt or helped the economy. I can use the overview of his presidency to connect to the timeline, which will give me much needed information.

The Unemployment Game Show: Are You *Really* Unemployed? Youtube. N.p., 4 Dec. 2009. Web. 28 Nov.

Quote: “No I haven’t yet, but I did look in the classified last week.”

Summary: One of the economic indicators related to my topic is Unemployment rate. This video takes a comical yet informative way of explaining what exactly unemployment is. It takes place on a game show titled “Are You Really Unemployed?” In this game contestants are asked a series of questions related to where they stand in the labor force. Judging by there answers views find out if the contestant is really unemployed. The last contestant explains how she does not have a job but is actively searching for one. That turns out to be the correct answer and she wins.

Help/hurt: I found this video helpful to explain one of the many economic indicators in my research.

Quote : “ Indeed, G. Griffith Johnson’s analysis of the Roosevelt administration’s gold policy suggested that, if anything, the Treasury was trying to counteract the Depression through easy money ”

"U.S. Business Cycles and Political Parties." U.S. Business Cycles and Political Parties. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://arts.bev.net/roperldavid/politics/buscycles.htm>.

Summary: This article/data shows very vital statistics that directly relate to my topic. It calculated all of the past few presidents’ contraction periods and expansion periods. I can look at Roosevelt’s statistics and compare it to other presidents and I can see how much of a difference he made. It compares the two political parties by this data, which is something that I will not need. It is literally filled with tables and statistics that I can use, and. It notes that expansion times are generally longer than the contractions, which backs up my previous sources. This page is unique because it is something that I haven’t seen before. It pretty much counts how many business cycles each president went through. This reflects the country’s stability throughout a presidency. I need to keep in mind natural disasters and other negative shocks, like the Great Depression.

Quote: “ Note the larger expansion times and smaller contraction times for Democratic presidents compared to Republican presidents. Also note that Republican presidents had 14 years out of the 28 years in power since Franklin Roosevelt with contractions, whereas Democratic presidents only had 6 years with contractions out of 28 years in power.”

Hurts/Helps : This source helps me by directly studying the topic that I am researching, which is the business cycle. It shows how many cycles my president went through. This shows his stability throughout its presidency. This source does not have much information that I can use except for this. It focuses on political parties, which is something that I am not researching. It focuses on more recent presidents, which does not directly magnify my president. Overall, this doesn’t hurt me, but it is not the source with the most information.

FDR and WGY: The Origins of the Fireside Chats

On March 12, 1933, eight days after taking the oath of office, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took his place behind national radio network microphones to deliver what is commonly considered the first of his celebrated “fireside chats.” His paternal, colloquial broadcasting style helped soothe a troubled nation’s fears. The people responded by mail in overwhelming numbers and continued to do so with each successive fireside chat. Roosevelt placed great value on such correspondence he used it as a tool for gauging public opinion and for countering political and press opponents who disapproved of his actions.[1]

Roosevelt’s ability to clarify issues and connect with his constituents over the radio was not a sudden, propitious addition to his political war chest on becoming president. Roosevelt had actually spent the previous four years, while serving as governor of New York, refining his broadcasting skills. As a woman in Oneonta, New York, wrote in response to the presidential fireside chat of March 12, 1933: “My husband and I are happy because you have decided to continue the policy you adopted while at Albany of speaking to the people over the air.”[2]

Many historians have established a connection between Roosevelt’s initiatives during the New York years and the New Deal he later offered Americans during his presidency. A similar continuity between the two periods is evident in his use of radio as a means of advancing his ideas and mustering public support for his initiatives. During his two gubernatorial terms, Roosevelt found that the reaction elicited by his radio addresses was useful as leverage to skirt an obstructionist Republican legislature.[3] He also came to see such reaction as a means of weighing popular opinion. Though many scholars have acknowledged Roosevelt’s mastery of the medium and the significance of his judicious use of the airwaves during his presidency, his early employment of radio as a political forum has been largely overlooked.

This paper will examine the relationship between a burgeoning broadcasting industry and New York State politics during the early years of the Great Depression. The focus is on one radio station, General Electric’s WGY in Schenectady. WGY’s technological pioneering and programming innovations placed the station in an influential position, particularly within the context of a developing national network system. Roosevelt chose the high-powered WGY as his primary venue for “taking the issues to the people.”[4]

Roosevelt gave at least 39 gubernatorial radio addresses, and at least 29 of those were given either exclusively over WGY or over a limited network of New York State stations WGY had founded.[5] During this period, Roosevelt began developing the simple, conversational style that characterized his better-known presidential fireside chats and that stimulated such voluminous national public reaction. The New York public, including many Mohawk Valley area residents, responded to Roosevelt’s gubernatorial chats as well. The letters he received from New Yorkers illuminate Depression-era conditions and indicate an early instance of the intimate bond established between Roosevelt and his listeners. The first “fireside chats” were in fact delivered on WGY, thus placing the station and the Mohawk Valley at an important intersection in the history of American political broadcasting.

At the time of Roosevelt’s gubernatorial inauguration in 1929, the radio industry was just beginning to mature, and the medium’s unique unifying strength was becoming apparent. As Americans gathered around their sets, eagerly eavesdropping on distant transmissions, they became conscious of their part in a shared experience, first as citizens, later of a nation. As historians Michelle Hilmes and Jason Loviglio have noted, the strain of the Depression contributed to radio’s emergence as “an ideal symbol for national togetherness” as people sought a return to traditional community values “in the face of daunting social and economic uncertainty.”[6] Radio listening was also a highly personal, immediate experience that reduced the limitations of geographical separation to forge new, wider notions of community. A resident of remote Saranac Lake could now hear Roosevelt’s live voice “up here in my little shack,” as he spoke. “It seemed as if you were sitting here talking to me.” Radio brought the outside world in, so that its listeners were at once individuals as well as part of a larger audience.

In the Mohawk Valley, the ether first miraculously crackled to life at 7:47 p.m. on February 20, 1922. “This is station WGY. W, the first letter in wireless G, the first letter in General Electric and Y, the last letter in Schenectady.” With those words, Program Manager Kolin Hager officially signed WGY on the air and ushered upstate New York into the radio age. WGY’s first broadcasts demonstrated radio’s inherent ability to provoke public reaction. According to Hager, the station received “substantial listener mail within the first few weeks.” Meanwhile, Mohawk Valley residents rushed to buy receivers in unanticipated numbers. Hager recalled: “From then on, staging the unseen became a fascinating seven-days-a-week job, generally from 8 a.m. to late evening.”[7]

In the early 1920s, radio stations did not rely on prerecorded music as they commonly do today. Most broadcasts were performed live. Therefore, radio stations had to have talent. Managers had to create a variety of distinctive programming with mass appeal. WGY was a leader in the development of a program format that would become a hallmark of radio’s golden age—the radio drama.[8] Meanwhile, the difficulty in securing the talent necessary for a diversity of programming led to further innovations.

Listeners soon discovered that better programming could be found on stations in far-off metropolitan markets. Individual stations began to realize that the sharing of resources was a convenient means of filling schedules with quality features. WGY had been experimenting with remote broadcasting from the outset. The station soon had wired connections with outlets in New York City and Washington, D.C., and began exchanging programs with those stations. WGY sent drama to the larger cities, and received musical and variety programs in return. In 1925, Hager initiated the first upstate network, successfully fostering a partnership with WFBL in Syracuse, WHAM in Rochester, and WMAK in Buffalo. This limited network was a precursor of the huge national chains to come, and would frequently be utilized by Franklin D. Roosevelt.[9]

Wired networks built for telephone communications offered the most efficient means of providing national coverage. The telephone giant AT&T had an established infrastructure that it used for its radio transmissions, but charged other large radio interests like General Electric, Westinghouse, and RCA exorbitant rates or denied them access to the technology altogether. For AT&T’s competitors, two other solutions remained: “super-power stations” and shortwave networking.[10] General Electric’s WGY experimented with both possibilities.

In 1925 WGY became the first station to broadcast at 50,000 watts. WGY began broadcasting “simultaneously” with one of General Electric’s two shortwave transmitters at Schenectady. Shortwave transmissions can be picked up with greater clarity over longer distances than typical longwave AM transmissions. The station successfully experimented with global signal relays, and gained an international audience.[11]

WGY’s experiments advanced the technological expertise of the broadcasting industry, but in the end were rendered unnecessary for national networking. Through a 1926 compromise, AT&T withdrew from the radio business and agreed to lease its lines to the newly formed National Broadcasting Company. WGY became one of the first NBC affiliates. By this time, Hager had extended his wired network to Cleveland, with plans to add a station in Chicago and eventually expand to the Pacific coast. When WGY joined NBC, his hopes of being the first to create a coast-to-coast network were dashed. Nonetheless, WGY had established itself as an influential broadcasting innovator. Its reputation, extraordinarily high power, networking, and proximity to Albany likely attracted the attention of Franklin Roosevelt as he assumed the governorship in 1929.[12]

But this was not all the station had to offer a politician like Roosevelt, who saw himself as champion of the well-being of citizens in every locality, large or small, and every walk of life. One early criticism of network broadcasting was that it limited local stations’ ability to provide regionally distinctive content. This was not true for WGY. While WGY did carry many network favorites, the station dedicated a good portion of its day to programming of local interest. Farm Forum of the Air, a program dedicated to agricultural discussion and education, was perhaps the most significant. In 1930 more than 30 percent of the Mohawk Valley’s population lived in rural areas. The plight of the state’s rural residents was one of the first problems Roosevelt confronted as governor, and encouraged his use of radio.[13]

An agricultural depression had hit New York State long before the stock market crash of 1929, and had been going on for years. In 1920, following a period of wartime overproduction, agricultural prices plummeted. Industry experienced a similar destabilization, but unlike the agricultural sector, quickly rebounded. By the end of the decade, farmers—particularly in New York State where the farm product price index was higher than the national average—continued to languish. The governor appointed an Agricultural Advisory Commission to investigate conditions and propose solutions. On March 7, 1929, Roosevelt spoke on the WGY network in his first fireside chat. The talk centered on rural relief.[14]

In his chat, Roosevelt reported on the commission’s findings and recommendations. Using simple, direct language, he sought to orient urban residents to rural problems: “If you stop to think a moment, you will realize that the prosperity of our town dwellers depends a great deal upon the prosperity of our farmers, because most of our town dwellers earn their living directly or indirectly either by making things to sell or by selling things which other people make, and prosperous farmers mean many customers and increased incomes to all.”

Adopting a stance that would characterize many of his gubernatorial chats, he encouraged cooperation and asserted nonpartisan intentions: “I want to correct a misunderstanding which seems to have grown up in some places, that this is a party question.” The Republican press and legislature had fostered the “misunderstanding.” The commission’s plan was well founded. The GOP majority, in fear of giving up the initiative in staunchly Republican upstate districts to a Democratic governor, had offered different proposals.[15]

Roosevelt outlined both plans, and asked for the people’s input: “This makes it very important that all citizens of the State understand clearly just what these proposals are, and that they make it clear to their representatives in the Legislature which way they think is the best to bring about better times for our rural districts.”[16] It is clear that Roosevelt was encouraged by the opportunity radio gave him to present his position directly to the public, free from what he saw as the distortion and criticism of the legislature and the press.

Before the close of the 1929 legislative session, the governor returned to the WGY network three times. On April 3, Roosevelt sat down with the people of the state to report on the progress of the session. Again, he asserted non-partisan intentions, but went on to criticize the Republicans for their failure to adhere to their announced party platform and railed against the obstructionist “despotic rule of the chairmen of important committees” through which “bill after bill has been buried … and the majority of the members of the majority party have been merely rubber stamps to register other august wills.” In his conclusion, Roosevelt challenged the people to make it clear to their representatives “that they are to be more than dummies voting ‘AYE’ or ‘NO’ dutifully when told to do so.”[17]

The public responded, as Roosevelt noted when he returned to the air a week later to resume his discourse on the legislative session: “I am tremendously encouraged by the expressions of interest that have come to me from all over the State as a result of my informal talk last week.” He slyly noted, however, that “a few of my friends in the press” had misunderstood. “They think it inconceivable that a Democratic Governor should not be trying to play politics on behalf of a Democratic Legislature.” Roosevelt reasserted his innocence: “I hope that from now on there will be no further open or veiled suggestions that I am seeking any party advantage in giving these brief talks on definite facts to the people of the State.”[18]

Roosevelt’s first fireside chats set several precedents. He had used radio in an attempt to contest his political opponents. This tactic was also applied to critical newspapers.[19] Further, he had appealed directly to the people and requested their active participation. This had the desired effect, as Roosevelt himself had noted in his chat of April 10. Roosevelt’s personal secretary Grace Tully recalled that he later specifically implemented this plan. She wrote: “Fed up with the pulling and hauling of customary political bargaining, he declared curtly: ‘I’ll take the issue to the people….’ He did, by radio over a New York State chain, and the results were immediate. Mail came flooding into Albany, most of it in support of the Roosevelt position and most of it addressed to the working level of the legislature. It was a convincing demonstration and from that time on F.D.R. made it a more or less regular practice to take his problems ‘to the people’ in this manner.”[20]

Roosevelt’s presentation was perhaps the most significant development of the first fireside chats.[21] He realized that addressing people over the radio—attempting to make a personal connection with them as they listened in their homes—was distinctly different from addressing a large crowd in a public place. Roosevelt adopted an informal, fatherly tone. Speaking in measured phrases, he carefully clarified his points without condescension. He incorporated colloquialisms, thus associating himself the common listener. He injected humor, deploring the “grave-yard” of bills that had been buried in committee, and quipping that “I am almost disposed to recommend in next year’s budget some sort of marble shaft with ‘gone but not forgotten’ or some such motto chiseled upon it to be erected over the lamented remains.” Roosevelt had certainly not perfected his style at this point his pacing was faster and his chats were longer than they would be in the future. But he was aware that if he lost listeners’ attention, they could shut him off with the twist of a knob. Therefore, Roosevelt focused each chat on one central topic. When the issue required particularly lengthy explanation, he divided his address into two separate chats.[22]

He was also conscious of broadcasters’ constraints. Proper timing was essential to radio station scheduling, particularly in network situations where more than one outlet was involved. In addition, last-minute requests for airtime could be troublesome for stations. In separate letters to Hager and General Electric’s Director of Publicity and Radio Martin P. Rice, Roosevelt acknowledged the difficulties associated with such requests and expressed his gratitude for their accommodations. Shortly thereafter, perhaps as a result of thinking about the timing issue, the governor began scheduling his broadcasts more strategically, to coincide with important legislative debates and possibly also to avoid overexposure. For the remainder of his time in Albany, as well as during his presidency, Roosevelt would continue his calculated scheduling of focused chats at opportune moments.[23]

Roosevelt was confident that radio provided an effective means of reaching the people. In his fireside chat of April 10, Roosevelt explicitly stated that he had gone to radio “to help the voters up-State, particularly in those districts where they have no daily newspapers to keep them constantly informed, to understand just what had been done.” Roosevelt intended to politically educate the masses. Historian Betty Houchin Winfield states: “The radio became New York’s classroom.”[24]

At this point, an attempt to determine the number of pupils in Roosevelt’s “classroom” would have yielded a rough approximation at best. Ratings systems had not been developed.[25] By July 1930, Roosevelt had broadcasted on WGY or its network at least twelve times. As the 1930 campaign season got under way, Roosevelt clearly considered radio an important campaigning tool, but he wanted data on station reach and listenership.

On July 8, State Democratic Committee Chairman James Farley sent a questionnaire to the heads of each county Democratic committee polling them on WGY’s coverage and effectiveness. Of the forty chairmen who responded, thirty-six reported that the governor’s WGY speeches were heard “distinctly under normal conditions.” Herkimer County Chairman Alexander Robinton reported: “WGY is the best broadcasting station, from the standpoint of reception, in Central New York. It is clear and distinct, even under the most adverse conditions, on practically any sort of radio a person might have…. From my own experience I am of the belief that the Governor’s talks over the radio are one of the greatest aids in vote getting.”[26] Roosevelt surely shared this opinion, for he returned to WGY in October, at the height of the campaign.

On October 9, he asserted his efficient, “businesslike” approach to administration. In response to insinuations of a wasteful executive budget, he reviewed the progress of the past two years, including highway and public facility improvements, all of which had been accomplished without tax increases. As was his habit, he encouraged the people’s reaction: “Here is an open challenge to any person in this State of New York who thinks the State is spending too much money. Tell me where you think the State should cut down.”[27]

On October 16, Roosevelt responded to the “many letters, telephones and telegrams asking [him] to keep on speaking” by delivering his third WGY fireside chat of that week. The following day, an Albany Times-Union editorial provided an insider’s perspective, illuminating Roosevelt’s personality, style, and purpose:

If television were perfected, thousands who listened in last night … would have seen their Governor seated comfortably behind his big desk in the Executive Mansion, flashing his characteristic smile with each sally, shaking his head for emphasis over a good point…. They would see him settling down into an earnest plea to “lend a hand” and his mouth set with determination…. Taking his radio audience into his confidence the Governor leans forward just a little to make a scathing jibe…. And turning away from the mike, the Governor gives a boyish smile of “that was a good one….” Slyly taking a quote from a Republican campaign speech, he pours a bit of polished satire into the “mike.” Leaning back, straightening his broad shoulders … and with the same grimly amused glint in his eyes and the same “well you understand how ridiculous it is” smile, the Governor pokes fun at his opponents for his unseen audience. Then he anticipates. He keeps the air still for a second. His eyes narrow and he launches an attack…. When the half hour is over and incidentally Governor Roosevelt is pleased as a boy when he hits the broadcast time nail exactly on the head, he settles back to talk in that same smooth musical voice radio listeners and critics have come to admire.[28]

A few weeks later, the voters of the state decisively demonstrated their confidence in Roosevelt. They reelected him in a landslide. The Democratic governor carried his upstate Republican “classroom” by a margin of 165,000 votes. Roosevelt’s magnetic personality and political savvy, masterfully exhibited and amplified by his use of radio, had helped secure victory.[29]

During his second term, the governor maintained his strategy of appealing to the public over WGY. The 1931 resolution of an issue spanning more than twenty years of party wrangling exemplifies Roosevelt’s faith in the value of public opinion. The debate centered on the development of water power plants on the St. Lawrence River. After the assembly finally passed the legislation required to launch the project, the Republicans introduced an amendment stripping the governor of the privilege of appointing State Power Authority trustees. Roosevelt was chagrined and announced that he would make a direct appeal to the people over WGY. The Republicans backed down, and withdrew the contentious amendment.[30]

Despite his victory, Roosevelt delivered his scheduled fireside chat, which had been toned down to what the Albany Times-Union characterized as “a winner’s explanation.” In his conclusion, Roosevelt reiterated: “The influence of a handful of political leaders is strong and so is the influence of private corporations … but stronger than all of these put together is the influence of Mr. And Mrs. Average Voter … public opinion when it understands a policy and supports it is bound to win in the long run.”[31]

In 1931 Roosevelt was already seen as the frontrunner for the following year’s Democratic presidential nomination, but publicly he remained focused on state issues.[32] For the remainder of the year and into 1932, he periodically turned to WGY and its network to discuss such matters. However, on April 7, 1932, with the presidential campaign in sight, Roosevelt returned to WGY for a nationwide broadcast on the NBC Red network in which he addressed issues of national significance. This chat, perhaps the best known from Roosevelt’s time in Albany, has come to be called the “Forgotten Man” speech.

Speaking as a representative of the Democratic National Committee, Roosevelt briefly outlined the necessity of a “national program of restoration.” He concentrated his chat on three “vital factors”: renewal of farmers’ financial solvency, provision of aid to small banks and homeowners, and revision of United States tariff policies. Roosevelt appealed to the sensibilities of the average citizen: “These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power … that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” As he would often do in his future radio addresses, Roosevelt concluded his chat by calling upon the nation’s resolve: “It is high time to admit with courage that we are in the midst of an emergency at least equal to that of war. Let us mobilize to meet it.”[33]

This national broadcast provided a valuable opportunity for Roosevelt to present his ideas and exhibit his personality. He rose to the occasion with a masterful demonstration of the frank, accessible, explanatory approach he had honed through numerous WGY talks. Within a year, Roosevelt would be in the White House, confident in the efficacy of this tactic for winning public support. Further, he came to rely on the people’s responses to his fireside chats as a means of measuring public opinion. He knew Americans would write to him. New Yorkers had been doing so for four years.

From the beginning, radio listeners tended to respond to programming by writing letters. As previously noted, WGY received a large quantity of mail in reaction to its first broadcasts. This may be the result of listeners’ desire to participate in a novel communicative process. Relegated to the unfamiliar role of “eavesdroppers,” the audience’s only means of interaction with the speakers they heard was to write to them. Moreover, in the absence of formal ratings systems, radio stations and networks relied upon and encouraged listener response to estimate audience size, demographics, and taste.[34]

Roosevelt adopted the same technique. In addition, the governor’s radio style likely stimulated correspondence. Historian Robert S. McElvaine states that Roosevelt “gave many people a feeling that he was their personal friend and protector, that they could tell him things in confidence.” Historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner concur: “These people sincerely believed that Roosevelt would listen to their problems… . Listeners felt that he was communicating personally with them. Why, then, should they not write personally to him?”[35]

Roosevelt’s gubernatorial fireside chats had clearly had this effect. On October 25, 1932, a Gloversville man wrote: “I have read and listened to your talks and in all, you seem so plainly understood, by all, that is why I write this letter. I am a poor and almost destitute man. For the passed three years I have been very very unfortunate. I have lost my home, or all the home I had…. We don’t want to become objects of charity. We are desperately in need and must have work if we are to live.”[36]

Concern for family and children was a frequent topic of letters to Roosevelt. On December 19, 1931, a Mohawk man wrote:

I am asking a great favor of you at this time i have a boy 16 years of age … we ar living on bread and coffee and have a few pattoes as this is all we can afford and the only way we have of getting back and forth is a truck and i have no money to get my licens Plates and if i don’t get some will have to keep that boy out of school … i am asking you for 24.00 dollars to by licens … i hope you will kindley thing this over as i would like to give this boy a chance as i never had aney schooling … and i find it a bad handicap at getting aney work at presend so if you will kindley think of me and my boy i will call myself and repay you someday.

Pleas for financial help were common. Mohawk Valley area residents often sacrificed their pride to request loans or ask for direct assistance in finding employment. On June 22, 1932, another Gloversville man wrote: “I am desperately in need of work and I am asking you if there is any possible chance of you helping me out…. My wife & baby are in Johnstown and I am in g-ville and if I can get work, I can get my family and home together again and God knows I want to do that and what is right.” A Bridgewater woman pleaded for a $3,500 loan to settle the outstanding debt on her farm. An October 9, 1932, letter from a Utica woman read: “I am writting you a few lines as I know you are a poor mans friend I am old and not abel to work…. I have a chance to buy 5 acers of land for $500.00 dollars and that will give me a nice range for chickens … so hoping yous will send me this amount.”

It was not in Roosevelt’s power to intervene personally in every citizen’s affairs thus in a sense the intimacy of the fireside chats was illusory. However, most if not all letters appear to have received replies written by members of the governor’s staff. The responses frequently conveyed Roosevelt’s sympathy and explained his inability to offer direct assistance. The practice of replying to listener mail continued through Roosevelt’s presidency, when White House mail reached unprecedented volumes. Farley recalled: “We went on the theory, gained from hard experience in New York State, that people love the personal touch they delight in believing there is a close link between them and the folk who run the show.”[37]

As millions would do in response to Roosevelt’s presidential fireside chats, the public often wrote the governor to compliment him on his radio addresses and express their opinions. The following excerpts of letters from Mohawk Valley area residents demonstrate this:

I listened to your radio address last evening and it was fine…. You have converted one Republican.
Just listened to your wonderful talk to the people of the state over the Radio wish I could find words to express the impression it made on me your plain words and sincere tone sure was wonderful it must be a Rosevelt characteristic to want to understand the people and have the people understand you.
I heard your fine speech over the radio on Tuesday with much pleasure. The able way you answered the insinuations and claims against you … certainly was masterly & manly.
My congratulations for your very fine Radio speech of last evening. The reception was perfect your subject matter of equal value, and a delivery that carried a conviction to the heart. Indications point towards one of the biggest Democratic victories of all times.

It is difficult to determine whether the governor engaged in formal analysis of his mail to estimate public opinion. However, his own comments indicate that he did get some impression of prevailing sentiment from the contents of his mail. Further, Roosevelt acknowledged the importance of public opinion in affecting the outcome of political contests even beyond the ballot box. During his presidency, a system was developed to catalogue and categorize public reaction according to issue and opinion. Roosevelt read randomly selected letters and called occasional mail briefs so he could be apprised of what the people were thinking.[38]

Having learned the value of public opinion while in Albany, Roosevelt continued to schedule his fireside chats to correspond with important legislative debates. As he told an advisor, “All we have to do is to let the flood of mail settle on Congress … and the opposition will be beating a path to the White House door.” Roosevelt adhered to his strategy of educating his constituents through the radio moreover, the conversational technique he had developed helped inspire confidence during the later trials of the Depression and the Second World War.[39]

As Roosevelt kept the people informed and buoyed their spirits, in addition to letters, they responded at the polls. Just as radio provided Roosevelt with a means of converting Upstate Republicans in his landslide 1930 gubernatorial victory, so too would the medium continue to affect election results during the decade to follow. Farley believed that “the influence of the radio in determining the outcome of the 1936 election can hardly be overestimated.” Radio has also been credited with increased overall voter turnout. Between 1920 and 1940, as radio ownership increased, the number of ballots cast in national elections nearly doubled.[40]

Radio revolutionized the political process. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s role in this transformation began in earnest with his gubernatorial fireside chats over WGY. The station provided Roosevelt with a respected venue as well as the means for statewide delivery of his broadcasts. The parallel between Roosevelt and WGY is striking. Both had the prescience to recognize the potential of a new, largely untested form of mass communication. Both innovated out of necessity. If Roosevelt considered the homes of New York State radio listeners his classroom, WGY was his blackboard. And he too was a student. Radio was his classroom his listeners were his instructors.

Roosevelt consistently relied on WGY and the network it had created to aid him in advancing his political agenda. In the process, he adopted the broadcasting style that forged an unusually deep emotional bond with his constituents. He depended on this—and on them—throughout his presidency. Thus emerged the Roosevelt mystique that helped strengthen the determination of millions of Americans during two of the direst emergencies the nation has experienced. That mystique lingers to this day. Roosevelt’s early use of radio had a profound impact on the way the electronic media shape our perception of ourselves and the world in which we live, as well as on how we make our individual political decisions.

How Did Roosevelt Help With the Great Depression?

Franklin Roosevelt made a number of suggestions to spur the economy and help end the Great Depression, including introducing basic banking and welfare reforms. While many of his programs did not take effect until much later, his ideas and programs have lasted throughout the years.

Because FDR refused to run up the federal deficits that ending the depression would require, many programs were voted down in both chambers of congress. Some of these reforms included a federal program for health care, a full-employment act, an increase in the minimum wage and an increase in Social Security benefits. FDR's New Deal did help restore the Gross National Product (GNP) to its 1929 level, but it was not the main factor in ending the Great Depression.

The main events that helped to create an end to the Great Depression occurred when the federal government imposed rationing on items such as milk, gas, fabric and other food items recruited six million defense workers, including women and African Americans who were not allowed to work in these type jobs prior to this time drafted six million soldiers and ran massive deficits to end World War II. FDR was still elected to an unprecedented four terms due to public approval.

Foreign Policy

To the conduct of American foreign policy Franklin Roosevelt brought credentials that were rare in the history of the presidency. His cosmopolitan upbringing as a late-nineteenth-century American aristocrat, including his intellectual formation on two continents, gave him a sophisticated appreciation of the world that was approximated among modern presidents only by his cousin Theodore. Yet the precise imprint of that international background on his policies was sometimes difficult to define. He had served in the government of the archinternationalist Woodrow Wilson and, as his party's vice presidential candidate in 1920, had faithfully echoed Wilson's call for American membership in the League of Nations. Yet during his own presidential campaign in 1932 he repudiated the idea of American entry into the League.

Roosevelt sounded an especially isolationist note in his first inaugural address when he declared that "our international trade relations, though vastly important, are, in point of time and necessity, secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy." He acted consistently with these sentiments when he helped to scuttle the London Economic Conference in June 1933 and embarked thereafter on a highly nationalist monetary policy of drastically devaluing the dollar.

Yet Roosevelt also displayed distinctly internationalist colors in the early years of the New Deal. He chose Senator Cordell Hull of Tennessee, an indefatigable paladin of liberalized international trade, as his secretary of state. He restrained AAA administrator George Peek from dictating narrowly nationalist agricultural policies. He blessed Hull's campaign to secure passage of the Trade Agreements Act of 1934, as well as the secretary's subsequent efforts to negotiate reciprocity treaties incorporating the unconditional most-favored-nation principle. Defying the fierce invective of some conservatives — and the scolding of his own mother — he extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union on 16 November 1933. He made partial amends for his destructive role at the 1933 London Economic Conference when he concluded an exchange stabilization agreement with Britain and France in 1936.

Roosevelt also sought to implement the "Good Neighbor policy" with Latin America. He allowed Secretary Hull to vote in favor of a resolution at the Pan-American Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1933, proclaiming that "no state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another." That statement effectively repudiated the belligerent "corollary" Theodore Roosevelt had attached in 1904 to the Monroe Doctrine, asserting the claim of the United States to exercise international police power in the western hemisphere. Hull prevailed upon his chief to follow up on that dramatic announcement by renouncing the Platt Amendment (1901), whereby the United States had asserted its right to intervene in Cuban affairs, and by ending in 1934 the twenty-year-old American military occupation of Haiti. Mexico put Roosevelt's good-neighborliness to a demanding test in 1938 when it nationalized its oil industry, expropriating the interests of many American firms. Roosevelt resisted pressure to intervene, and successfully negotiated adequate compensation for the confiscated American properties.

Roosevelt's Latin American policies suggested that he had at most a limited internationalist agenda in the early years of his presidency, confined to making the United States an influential regional power, but no more. That impression was strengthened in March 1934, when Congress mandated the granting of independence to the Philippines within ten years — an apparent signal that the United States intended to diminish its role in Asia.

Roosevelt's halting steps toward a more active international role for the United States took place against a backdrop of gathering isolationist feeling in the country and in Congress. Isolationism had roots sunk deeply into the soil of American history and culture. "Rejection of Europe," the novelist John Dos Passos once wrote, "is what America is all about." The earliest Pilgrims had sought separation from the corruptions of the Old World. George Washington in his farewell address had formulated those sentiments into high political doctrine. "Why . . . entangle our peace and prosperity," he had asked, "in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?"

Americans of Roosevelt's generation had temporarily forsaken that ancient wisdom when they entered the European war in 1917. A decade and a half later, many of them deeply regretted that lapse. Fifty thousand of their countrymen had died, Woodrow Wilson had failed miserably to shape a liberal peace, and Europe, so far from being redeemed by the American intervention, had apparently lost its soul in the postwar era to Communism, Fascism, and Nazism. Regret was powerfully reinforced in 1934 when Senator Gerald P. Nye's Munitions Investigating Committee began to publicize sensational accusations that the United States had been cynically maneuvered into the war in 1917 by American bankers and arms manufacturers.

The full force of this isolationist tide was revealed in January 1935, when Roosevelt proposed that the United States join the World Court. Inspired by a savage anti-court radio sermon from Father Coughlin, opponents of the president's plan poured a Niagara of telegrams onto the Senate, drowning the court agreement. Ever sensitive to the public temper, a chastened Roosevelt quickly grasped the implications of this episode for foreign policy: "We shall go through a period of non-co-operation in everything . . . for the next year or two."

For the next year or two and longer, Roosevelt witnessed the simultaneous deepening of the isolationist mood in America and the sorry deterioration of the fragile structure of international peace. Adolf Hitler announced in March 1935 his intention to train a half-million-man army, and a long-simmering dispute between Italy and Ethiopia exploded into a shooting war in October of that year. Alarmed at these events, Congress, in August 1935, passed the Neutrality Act, which imposed a mandatory embargo on arms shipments to all belligerents. Roosevelt disliked the limits on his discretionary power dictated by the act's mandatory features but, giving top priority to his domestic reform package in that remarkable summer, he did little to shape the neutrality law. The act was strengthened in February 1936 to include a ban on loans or credits to any nation at war. In early 1937, Congress tightened the law still further by confining the sale even of nonmilitary goods to belligerents who could pay cash and carry their cargoes away from American ports in their own ships.

Brazenly flouting the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler marched troops into the Rhineland in March 1936. Four months later, civil war erupted in Spain, which quickly became a proving ground for the newly developed military machines of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. "The whole European panorama is fundamentally blacker than at any time in your life . . . or mine," Roosevelt wrote in early 1936 to his ambassador in Paris these, he said, "may be the last days of . . . peace before a long chaos." Hitler rolled on, virtually unchecked. He marched into Austria in March 1938. At the infamous Munich conference in September 1938, he secured the acquiescence of Britain and France to his annexation of the Sudetenland. Unappeased, he swallowed up the rest of Czechoslovakia six months later. After signing a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union in August 1939, Hitler invaded Poland on 1 September. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later.

Fireside chats

The fireside chats were a series of evening radio addresses given by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, between 1933 and 1944. Roosevelt spoke with familiarity to millions of Americans about recovery from the Great Depression, the promulgation of the Emergency Banking Act in response to the banking crisis, the 1936 recession, New Deal initiatives, and the course of World War II. On radio, he was able to quell rumors, counter conservative-dominated newspapers and explain his policies directly to the American people. His tone and demeanor communicated self-assurance during times of despair and uncertainty. Roosevelt was regarded as an effective communicator on radio, and the fireside chats kept him in high public regard throughout his presidency. Their introduction was later described as a "revolutionary experiment with a nascent media platform." [1]

The series of chats was among the first 50 recordings made part of the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, which noted it as "an influential series of radio broadcasts in which Roosevelt utilized the media to present his programs and ideas directly to the public and thereby redefined the relationship between President Roosevelt and the American people in 1933."

FDR's First Inaugural Address Declaring 'War' on the Great Depression

By late winter 1933, the nation had already endured more than three years of economic depression. Statistics revealing the depth of the Great Depression were staggering. More than 11,000 of 24,000 banks had failed, destroying the savings of depositors. Millions of people were out of work and seeking jobs additional millions were working at jobs that barely provided subsistence. Currency values dropped as the deflationary spiral continued to tighten and farm markets continued to erode.

During the previous summer the Democratic Party had unveiled a generalized plan for economic recovery in its platform. They called their platform a "contract" and set forth in it a series of provisions to remedy the economic disaster. Although frequently lacking specifics, the platform addressed a wide range of issues: among them were agricultural relief, Prohibition, unemployment, and old age insurance. While not followed very closely by Franklin Roosevelt's administration, the platform did indicate that election of the Democratic candidate would result in unprecedented governmental growth to deal with the problems pressing on the nation. Roosevelt set about to prepare the nation to accept expansion of federal power. Roosevelt recognized that the programs he was about to introduce for congressional legislative action to relieve the dire effects of the Great Depression were unprecedented in peacetime.

In his 1933 inaugural address Roosevelt stated: "Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations." Yet, at the same time, he was prepared to recommend measures that he knew could succeed only with strong public pressure in support of extraordinary federal powers to deal with "extraordinary needs."

The first document featured with this article is the speech given on Inauguration Day in March 1933. It is particularly memorable for its attack on the psychology of the Great Depression. Less memorable but more enduring is the justification that Roosevelt planned to use to expand the power of the federal government to achieve his legislative objectives and thereby ease the effects of the Great Depression. Woven throughout his inaugural address was his plan. He aimed to declare war on the Great Depression and needed all the executive latitude possible in order to wage that war. For in addition to his famous statement "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," he also said "I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis -- broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe."


Graham, Otis L., Jr. An Encore for Reform: The Old Progressives and the New Deal. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Leuchtenburg, William. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940. New York: Harper and Row, 1963.

The Documents

First Inaugural Address

Click to Enlarge

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
First Carbon Files
1933 - 1945
National Archives Identifier: 197333

Sgt. Burke of the US Army Briefs New Replacements on CCC Camp Rules

Click to Enlarge

National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Tennessee Valley Authority
Record Group 142
National Archives Identifier: 532776

"CCC Boys at Work"
Prince George County, Virginia

Click to Enlarge

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Public Domain Photographs
National Archives Identifier: 195829

WPA Sewing Shop, New York City

Click to Enlarge

National Archives and Records Administration
Works Progress Administration
Record Group 69
National Archives Identifier: 518269

"Reunion Day First Campers Join Second Campers"
FERA Camps for Unemployed
Women in Arcola, Pennsylvania

Click to Enlarge

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Public Domain Photographs
National Archives Identifier: 196581

Unemployed Men Eating in Volunteers of America Soup Kitchen, Washington, D.C.

Click to Enlarge

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Public Domain Photographs
National Archives Identifier: 195824

"Stringing rural TVA transmission line."
Rural Electrification Administration (REA) - Tennessee Valley Administration (TVA)

Click to Enlarge

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Public Domain Photographs
National Archives Identifier: 195878

Figures Silhouetted Against a Backdrop of the Constitution,
WPA: Federal Theater Project

Click to Enlarge

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Public Domain Photographs
National Archives Identifier: 197267

Watch the video: Roosevelts Fireside Talk On Religion 1934 (December 2021).