Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (1933)
Speaking ofAmerica: Volume II Since 1865 by Laura A. Belmonte
The Depression was the central issue in the 1912 presidential election. Despite Herbert Hoover’s efforts to improve the national economy, many voters found him cold and insensitive. Accordingly, they gravitated to the optimism of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and elected him in a landslide. Born into a privileged New York family, Roosevelt was educated at Groton, Harvard, and Columbia Law School. After a brief stint in the New York senate, he served as assistant secretary of the Navy during World War I. His nomination as the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1920 only confirmed his political promise. But a year later, polio dramatically changed FDR’s life. Although he never recovered the use of his legs, his determination and personality enabled him to continue his political career. In 1928, he won the governorship of New York and earned praise for his efforts on behalf of farmers, the unemployed, the elderly, and consumers. His successes helped him win the 1932 Democratic presidential nomination.
When Roosevelt took the presidential oath in March 1933, the nation was on the verge of economic disaster. The majority of banks had closed, industrial production was only half of its 1929 level, and over 13 million people were unemployed. FDR used the occasion to calm and inspire his anxious countrymen.
Document with Reading Question: Roosevelt First Inaugural Address with Reading Questions