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Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address
Terms in this set (18)
Reread the first two sentences of Roosevelt's speech. What does Roosevelt say the present situation requires him to do when speaking to the American people?
* Roosevelt believes that the American people expect him to speak honestly about the current situation of the nation.
* This is supported by use of the word candor, which means honesty and sincerity.
Roosevelt says this inaugural address is "preeminently the time" to speak the truth to the American people. Why would this instance be different than any other time?
* Preeminently means first or foremost.
* The inaugural address is the first time that Roosevelt addressed the American people as their president and this speech sets the tone for his presidency.
*He is saying to the people that given the crisis situation, it is time that the leaders are honest with the citizens of the country.
In his first paragraph, Roosevelt uses both the pronouns "them" and "we" in reference to his audience. When does he use these pronouns and what is the desired effect of using different pronouns at different places in the paragraph?
Roosevelt uses "them" in the first sentence in reference to his audience of the American people. The use of this word separates Roosevelt from his audience and demonstrates that he knows his audience has expectations of him as their leader.
Roosevelt uses "we" and "our" through the rest of the first paragraph. His use of these pronouns suggests that he is a part of the American people and demonstrates his belief that the nation's citizens should face the challenges ahead of them together.
What does Roosevelt state that Americans should fear? Why would he choose to begin his speech by addressing the citizens' fears?
Roosevelt says that, "...the only thing we [Americans] have to fear is fear itself..."
He is acting like a parent, attempting to calm the fears of the public about the state of the country, as a parent would calm the fears of a child.
By using "we" he avoids a patronizing tone that might be inferred otherwise.
This statement means that the American people should only be afraid of allowing their fear to impede their efforts to fix the economic problems facing the country.
They must overcome this psychological roadblock before they can begin to take physical action.
Members of the audience should feel reassured when the president says that the challenges ahead are not so difficult that they will not be able to overcome them. In addition, they may feel that they have to overcome their fear of what will happen next and focus on supporting others and the country's leadership.
In his opening paragraph, Roosevelt says the American people need "to convert retreat to an advance." What is the denotation and connotation of the word "retreat" in this sentence? A denotation is a word's literal or defined meaning. A connotation is an understood meaning for the word that is different from its definition. What does Roosevelt mean by this statement?
The definition of the word "retreat" is to move away or move backward, while to "advance" is to go forward. (denotation)
In the military sense, to retreat means to back away or move away from an enemy or conflict. To advance is to move forward, acquire territory, or engage the enemy.
The connotation of "retreat" is defeat; the connotation of "advance" is victory or success.
Roosevelt suggests that the American people need to change their belief from a sense of defeat or failure into a movement in a more positive direction.
Roosevelt plans to "wage a war" on the economic crisis impacting the United States.
This use of a military phrase at the beginning of the speech is introduces Roosevelt's use of the war metaphor throughout the rest of the speech.
In the second paragraph, Roosevelt identifies some of the nation's "common difficulties." He states that "They concern, thank God, only material things." What does he mean by this statement?
He is reassuring the people that the problems the country is facing, though serious, are within their power to fix. The American people have the ability to get the country moving again.
Roosevelt's use of "common" suggests that he and many others are facing the concerns of rising taxes, declining wages, and national output of industrial and agricultural goods.
He is using the rhetorical appeal of ethos because he lists events that many, if not all, Americans have dealt with before his election.
Through this list, he demonstrates that he knows specific issues that Americans are facing and he understands their concerns. This persuades the American people to trust him as his knowledge of their problems adds to his credibility as a leader.
When Roosevelt states, "We are stricken by no plague of locusts," what message is he trying to instill in the
minds of his audience?
This statement is an allusion to biblical stories in which devastating plagues were unleashed on specific groups of people or countries who displeased God.
In the story, swarms of locusts eat everything in sight, leaving the impacted country destroyed and without resources.
Roosevelt is assuring citizens they are not experiencing God's wrath and are not destined for collective punishment.
Although the country's resources have been mismanaged and times are difficult, America still has a multitude of resources and gifts. Their ability to recover does not depend on an act of God but on their own determination and resourcefulness.
Who or what caused the current economic situation, according to Roosevelt?
Roosevelt places blame for the country's economic distress on the "unscrupulous practices of the money changers."
Unscrupulous means without morals or dishonest.
The term "money changer" is another biblical allusion; it refers to people who loaned money for interest (early bankers). In the New Testament, Jesus goes into the temple and physically throws out the money changers and admonishes them for conducting business in God's house.
He is implying that the status of the country is the result of certain poor decisions and dishonest actions of a few, not a statement about the inadequacies of the American people.
He is blaming the bankers and their policies for the nation's economic problems.
Roosevelt goes on to say that the money changers will be held accountable for their actions by "the court of public opinion." They will not go unpunished for the problems they caused.
He wants to distance the common people from those who caused the problems—to establish an "us vs. them" relationship. (Ethos)
Ethos: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution;
Pathos: an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion
In this section of the speech, Roosevelt begins to outline his plans to get the country out of its economic distress. He says, "This Nation calls for action, and action now." Why is the word "Nation" capitalized in the written version of the text? Why is it significant? From whom does the "Nation" demand action?
Capitalizing the word "Nation" treats it as a person or unified entity. In addition, the capitalization of the work signifies that "Nation" is a proper noun and refers solely to the American Nation.
This is personification: giving the Nation (a thing) the ability to call for action using one voice.
The Nation (American people) demands action from its leaders and/or its government. The business community has already failed the country, according to Roosevelt, who demands "an end to a conduct in banking and business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing."
The demands of the people to fix the problems must be met immediately.
When identifying actions that he proposes to address the country's economic problems, Roosevelt repeats the phrase "it can be helped by" six times in the same paragraph. He finishes the paragraph by stating, "but it can never be helped by merely talking about it." What idea or belief is Roosevelt attempting to instill in the audience?
Roosevelt wanted to instill confidence in his ability to actively address the problems.
In addition, he wanted to instill in them a belief that the country's economic problems can be solved.
He also wanted to emphasize the need to act, addressing the previously stated demands of the nation.
He indicates that he has listened to the nation's demands and plans to act.
In his plans for the country, Roosevelt advocates for "national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications," and "strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments." What does Roosevelt mean by "national planning?" Who will be supervising? Does this idea align with his other plans advocated by Roosevelt in this speech?
Roosevelt suggests government control of utilities having a "public character" and government regulation of banking and investment.
He proposes removing control of private businesses over companies that provide a public service, such as railroads and telegraph lines.
Roosevelt's proposals advocate for stricter government regulation over businesses and greater government control over the public utilities in the economy.
In relation to "international trade relations," Roosevelt claims that by taking his recommended actions, "we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order." What does he mean by this phrase? What policy is Roosevelt advocating in relation to other countries?
This is an idiomatic expression. Literally, to "put a house in order" means to clean and organize a house.
The phrase means to get organized and to act decisively to clean up past messes or mistakes.
In this case, he figuratively means that the nation must come together to solve its current financial problems (the mess) and find a way to create a system to address this problem (the cleaning or organization).
Roosevelt says that the people of the United States must first work on resolving their own problems before moving on to the rest of the world, which was also suffering a financial crisis.
In the sentence beginning with the phrase, "In the field of foreign policy," Roosevelt uses the word "neighbor" four times, and the word "respect" four times. Why did he repeat these words? How does Roosevelt employ the word "neighbor" in this sentence? In his overall plan for U.S. foreign policy?
Repeating a word multiple times is a rhetorical strategy that is used to emphasize an important point.
Roosevelt is appealing to their sense of community (pathos). He extends this concept of community to emphasize that America is part of a global community.
The word neighbor denotes someone who lives next to you. It also can mean a fellow human being, or even a friend.
Roosevelt is saying that he wants to maintain a respectful relationship with the countries next to the United States as well as around the world.
Roosevelt calls the U.S. Constitution "the most superbly enduring political mechanism in the world." How does Roosevelt support this assertion? How does his praise of the Constitution support his proposed plan for leading the country?
Roosevelt describes the Constitution as "simple" and "practical."
In addition, he states that it has "always" met the challenges presented to it since the beginning of its formation.
He specifically references "expansion of territory, ...foreign wars, bitter internal strife, and ...world relations" as challenges the system has overcome.
This is an appeal to ethos; he establishes the credibility of the current constitutional system to persuade his audience to believe that the Constitution will be able to handle the challenges that will face it in the future, and protect Americans as it has done before.
He also appeals to people's pride in their Constitution.
Throughout the speech, Roosevelt uses the word "common" multiple times. Identify places in the text where this term is used and its meaning in that specific context.
In paragraph 2, he speaks of "common difficulties": This phrase shows that all Americans had similar problems during this time period. In this context, its effect is to emphasize to the individuals in the audience that they are not the only ones facing challenges.
In paragraph 17, he speaks of "common discipline": This phrase illustrates that all Americans must share the same principles when facing the current challenges together. Without demonstrating this discipline, the individuals will fail each other and leadership will not be effective.
In paragraph 18, he speaks of "common problems": This phrase emphasizes how together, the nation will address problems that may not just affect them, but their fellow citizens and the health of the country as a whole.
Roosevelt weaves multiple war-related terms and metaphors throughout this speech. What connection is Roosevelt trying to make for his audience by employing these military terms and metaphors?
Example metaphors include: "the emergence of a war," "lines of attack," "armed strife," "great army of our people," "disciplined attack," "wage a war," and "invaded by a foreign foe."
The current economic crisis is the "foe" and they must come together to defeat the problem.
They need to join forces to attack the problems in the same way an army comes together to defeat an enemy.
These metaphors compare the challenges facing the American people to a "war." Roosevelt reminds his audience that they must have a "common discipline" in order to actively and effectively address the problems that face them. This may allude to sacrifices individuals must make for the good of the whole nation.
How does Roosevelt's use of these war metaphors provide support for his plans for the country?
Roosevelt states that he "shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe."
By weaving the military metaphors through the speech, he cements in the audience's mind that the United States is in a war-like situation.
According to the Constitution, the President gains additional powers during times of war.
By comparing the current economic crisis to a war-like situation, Roosevelt is justifying his plans to increase government power over the economy.
Roosevelt concludes his speech with "In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift, I take it." According to Roosevelt, the people have "registered a mandate." What does this imply to Roosevelt? How does he play with the word "present" in this last sentence?
A mandate is a command or authority that a person or group gives to another person or group.
Roosevelt says that by electing him president, the people have given him the authority "to take direct, vigorous action."
The American people have given him power to make decisions on their behalf.
He plays with the words "present" and "gift" in multiple ways. He uses "present" as "current," as "gift," and as "given." The people have freely (through the election) given him the gift of authority and he is going to accept this power.
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