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What were the main points of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats"?

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kelliwoodward | Student, College Freshman | Honors

Posted June 16, 2012 at 6:22 PM via web

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What were the main points of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats"?

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 16, 2012 at 9:25 PM (Answer #1)

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President Franklin Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats" (term was coined by a CBS reporter) were not an isolated event.  He gave a radio address every single week, back in a time when radio was still the main way people heard information.  In his inaugural speech, FDR had famously said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", and the fireside chats were one way he chose to address those fears.

In them, he would mostly talk about economic issues, sometimes about foreign policy and national security, about New Deal programs and what they were doing to help, and about what Americans must do if we were to get out of the Depression.  He was just folksy enough to be enjoyable, and just informational enough to be reassuring to everyday people suffering through challenging times.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 16, 2012 at 11:12 PM (Answer #2)

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Roosevelt's fireside chats were intended to restore the confidence of average Americans. Roosevelt portrayed himself as having a pleasant conversation with them, not lecturing them (the mistake which Jimmy Carter made in his one and only fireside chat.) His first fireside chat was the day before the banks reopened following the Bank Holiday:

My friends, I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking--to talk with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking, but more particularly to the overwhelming majority of you who use banks for the making of deposits and the drawing of checks.

His main point in this address was the soundness of the banking system. In later fireside chats, he discussed his various plans to get the economy healthy again. His friendly calming tone worked wonders to calm the nerves of many.

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