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Fdr's First Fireside Chat

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On May the Twelfth 1933 president Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the first of what would come to be known as fireside chats. During this chat he spoke to the American people about the recent banking holiday and what actions where to be taken to prevent the banking crisis from worsening. This speech shows Roosevelt's skills as a communicator and his ability to talk to the people in a straightforward manner.

Roosevelt is saying many things in this speech, first and foremost he is re-enforcing the message that there is nothing to fear but fear itself as is shown when he says "It is possible that when the banks resume a very few people who have not recovered from their fear may again begin withdrawals... It needs no prophet to tell you that when the people find that they can get their money -- that they can get it when they want it for all legitimate purposes -- the phantom of fear will soon be laid," this was a very powerful message of Roosevelt's as he seemed to believe that the fear of people, once the initial market crash had taken place, had only compounded the problem. Another thing he is saying, and this is the overall point of the message, is that peoples confidence is essential to the recovery of the banking system, shown when he says "After all, there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people themselves. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan."

Roosevelt is very good at delivering his message to the people in a way that would inspire their trust in him. The way he does this is very simple; he talks to them on a very friendly and neighbourly level, using simple terms to describe what he is doing, shown when he says things like "Essentially we have..." He is a very good communicator as he seems to be picking up on the feeling of the people he is talking to and he uses that to the best of his ability, as is shown when he says "Another question you will ask is this: Why are all the banks not to be reopened at the same time? The answer is simple and I know you will understand it: Your Government does not intend that the history of the past few years shall be repeated. We do not want and will not have another epidemic of bank failures."

Different people would have interpreted this fireside chat differently. Some people would have seen it as a president trying to include the people in what he is doing and trying to make it easier for the process to work: "I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, and why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be... I owe this, in particular, because of the fortitude and the good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. And I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about, I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and your help during the past week." However his opponents, Businessmen, republicans and the rich, would have seen it differently, they would have seen it as an effort to a) give the government more control "broadening my powers", and b) an attempt to gain more votes "I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and your help during the past week."

Roosevelt did many things during the banking holiday in order to restore the banks to order. "By the afternoon of March third, a week ago last Friday, scarcely a bank in the country was open to do business can best describe this. Proclamations closing them, in whole or in part, had been issued by the Governors in almost all the states. It was then that I issued the proclamation providing for the national bank holiday, and this was the first step in the Government's reconstruction of our financial and economic fabric. The second step, last Thursday, was the legislation promptly and patriotically passed by the Congress confirming my proclamation and broadening my powers so that it became possible in view of the requirement of time to extend the holiday and lift the ban of that holiday gradually in the days to come. This law also gave authority to develop a program of rehabilitation of our banking facilities. And I want to tell our citizens in every part of the Nation that the national Congress -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- showed by this action a devotion to public welfare and a realization of the emergency and the necessity for speed that it is difficult to match in all our history. The third stage has been the series of regulations



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