DoSelected documentcument of the Month: July

FDR's Pledges a "New Deal for the American People"

In July 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party for the Presidency of the United States. His acceptance speech is best remembered for a phrase buried 19 pages into his 20 page address.  Roosevelt told the crowd, “I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people.”  The “New Deal” quickly became a label for the broad set of legislative initiatives and programs he would employ to bring about relief, recovery and reform to the Depression-mired American economy.

The programs set forth as the New Deal would fundamentally change the way Americans viewed the role of government in their everyday lives. Some programs were more successful than others; some were short-lived, some survive to this day.  Below is an excerpt of then Governor Roosevelt’s acceptance speech in which he pledges himself and the nation to a new deal for the American public.

1932 address accepting presidential nomination

Here are some questions to consider and discuss after reviewing FDR’s speech:

  1. FDR pledges "a new deal for the American people." What specifically does he suggest was wrong with the old deal?
  2. Which of FDR’s New Deal programs are still with us today?
  3. Why was FDR able to gain the confidence of the people while Hoover was not?
  4. Identify the tone FDR uses in this speech. Was he justified in using this tone or was he exaggerating the severity of the problems facing the nation for political advantage?
  5. If the New Deal is seen as having made such a difference during the Great Depression, why don’t we simply bring back the programs and techniques that FDR employed to get ourselves out of the current Great Recession?

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