If I were an unemployed laborer in 1932, hearing Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address, I would feel very uplifted by what he had to say.
Roosevelt starts out by stating that the crisis is only concerning material things, and these things can be replaced. He does relent, however, saying “only a foolish optimist can deny the dark reality of the movement.” (Roosevelt, 1932)
He places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the banking interests, stating that “faced by the failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money.” (Roosevelt, 1932) Since profits are nonexistent, they now “[plead tearfully for restored confidence.” (Roosevelt, 1932) This all rings well in the ears of the average laborer, who has suffered mightily at the hands of the rich. Roosevelt also alludes to the rich being out for their own interests and out of touch with the mainstream of American life, and “[having] no vision, and where there is no vision the people perish.” (Roosevelt, 1932)
As an average worker, I would have seen the injustices of society and would have agreed with Roosevelt said, “the measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.” (Roosevelt, 1932) In other words, Roosevelt advocates that we need to look beyond ourselves and our own wallets to the larger picture of American Life. We need to stop being a narcissistic people and start looking at social issues and social justice for the answers to our problems, rather than trying to see how much money we can grab. Roosevelt also believed that happiness “lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” (Roosevelt, 1932) H thought that the work ethic had been lost in the eternal chase for profits.
Roosevelt then moves to his plan to get the country moving again. He proposes incentives for people to leave the cities for farms, stating that land should be redistributed “to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.” (Roosevelt 1932) He also proposes protections for farmers and homeowners at risk for losing their farms and homes. Next, he proposes nationalizing transportation, communication and other utilities. Finally, his biggest proposal is fir the banking industry. He proposes “strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments.” (Roosevelt, 1932) Additionally, “there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.” (Roosevelt, 1932)
Roosevelt’s focus on national issues would put me at ease. He reassures me that although he wants to “restore world trade by international economic readjustment,” (Roosevelt 1932) the crisis at home must take first place. He also wants to protect the pioneer spirit of America. This would encourage me to go out and get a job regardless of what it was. Finally, his tough language is enough to motivate anyone to get to work. It is clear that the status quo will not be maintained, and that under him, there are new programs coming. I know that the old order was out and my day would soon be at hand.
I would feel encouraged and uplifted by his speech. As a worker with no hope, Roosevelt offers a little hope for me to better my life. I think that he, while not 100 percent concrete in his plans knew enough to guide the country through this difficult time. With the government controlling things like utilities and transportation, I know that I will no longer be taken advantage of. I know that with the government involved, the big money interests would no longer take advantage of me. I would also be encouraged to put my money back into the bank, instead of in my mattress. His Inaugural Speech shows how dedicated he is to fixing the problems of the country and the lengths he will go to soothe the people that are frightened and jittery.
Roosevelt, Franklin (1932). Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (1932).
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