In 1928, FDR followed
Al Smith as governor of New York.
As such, on September 23, 1932, Roosevelt
was invited to give a speech at the
Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California, addressing
"Present Public Problems."
At the time, FDR was in the middle of
his presidential campaign and addressing more than 1,700 people of
influence sounded like a good idea. FDR delivered his
Commonwealth Club Address,
in which he gave his view of democracy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt promised during
his campaign to get the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Defeating current President
Herbert Hoover with a massive
win, FDR was elected President in November 1932.
By spring of 1933, when FDR took the
oath of office, unemployment had risen from 8 to 15 million
(roughly 1/3 of the non-farmer workforce) and the gross national
product had decreased from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion.
Forty percent of the farms in
Mississippi were on the auction block on FDR's inauguration day.
Although the depression was world
wide, no other country except Germany reached so high a
percentage of unemployed.
The poor were hit the hardest. By
1932, Harlem had an unemployment rate of 50 percent and property
owned or managed by blacks fell from 30 percent to 5 percent in
Farmers in the Midwest were doubly
hit by economic downturns and the Dust Bowl. Schools, with
budgets shrinking, shortened both the school day and the school
The breadth and depth of the crisis made it the Great
February 15, 1933, Miami, Florida - The following is an excerpt from
the excellent book Just 2 Seconds (Gavin de Becker et al.)
Giuseppe Zangara read in the
newspaper that President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt would visit
Bayfront Park. He was waiting among a crowd of 10,000 people in
the bleachers when Roosevelt's motorcade pulled up and stopped.
Roosevelt made a short speech from
his open car, and then Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak came
down from the stage to visit with Roosevelt.
Zangara fired five shots from a .32
revolver at a distance of 25 feet. Five people were hit: Three
bystanders collapsed with head wounds, a woman was struck in the
stomach, and Cermak was hit in the right side, striking his
Though Roosevelt was not injured,
Cermak died from his wounds three weeks after the attack.
The Fireside Chats were FDR's radio broadcasts to the American
Nation, which he delivered in order to calm fears, rally support for reforms, and to
These radio messages became known as
Fireside Chats, after a journalist reported on Roosevelt's radio
speech from May 7, 1933, pointing out that this was the President's
unofficial, relaxed, and personal communication with the citizens.
Because the expression Fireside Chats
is not an official one, it can be argued which ones of FDR's
speeches qualify to be named as such.
Here is an unofficial list of all
Fireside Chats, published by the
Library and Museum, 31 messages are listed.
On January 20, 1937, Roosevelt delivered his
Second Inaugural Address. He was the first president
inaugurated on January 20, according to the 20th Amendment to the
Constitution, which was passed by Congress March 2, 1932, and
ratified January 23, 1933.
And it reads:
The terms of the President and
the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January,
and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d
day of January, of the years in which such terms would have
ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of
their successors shall then begin.
In 1940, Roosevelt was nominated for a third term of presidency, for
which he and his Democrats got a lot of heat. Why the fuss? Because
George Washington it had been the tradition for a president to
take his hat and leave after two terms at the very latest.
On September 23, 1944, Roosevelt gave
his Address at a Union Dinner, the Dinner of the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of
America, to be exact. Let's call it his
American Labor speech.
Roosevelt's Fourth Term
Going for the record, FDR was given yet another term. On January 20,
1945, he delivered his
Fourth Inaugural Address on the South Portico of the White
House in Washington D.C.
This time, the inauguration ceremony was
kept simple and without any frills. FDR's vice president was
Harry S. Truman.