What were the main points in Roosevelt's Fireside Chat on May 7, 1933?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Roosevelt begins his fireside chat of May 7 by reviewing the events of the banking crisis that was raging when he took office. This was also the subject of his first fireside chat. He explains that he felt drastic action was necessary to deal with the crisis, which otherwise would have been even more catastrophic:

It was clear that mere appeals from Washington for confidence and the mere lending of more money to shaky institutions could not stop this downward course. A prompt program applied as quickly as possible seemed to me not only justified but imperative to our national security. 

Roosevelt then moves to a description of the policies of the Hundred Days, also known as the First New Deal. He is careful to claim that these programs, which he describes as "well-considered and conservative," have largely been approved and funded by Congress, and that he is not arrogating any powers to the executive in the process. The programs he describes range from the Agricultural Adjustment Act to mortgage relief legislation to the legalization of beer sales in some states, and all are framed as part of a necessary effort to bring about relief and recovery. 

Roosevelt proceeds into a rationale for government intervention and regulation, citing an example:

It is probably true that ninety per cent of the cotton manufacturers would agree to eliminate starvation wages, would agree to stop long hours of employment, would agree to stop child labor, would agree to prevent an overproduction that would result in unsalable surpluses. But, what good is such an agreement if the other ten per cent of cotton manufacturers pay starvation wages, require long hours, employ children in their mills and turn out burdensome surpluses?...Here is where government comes in. Government ought to have the right...to enforce this agreement by the authority of government. 

Using this fairly simple example, Roosevelt defended himself against criticism that he was already facing that the New Deal represented an unwarranted and anti-American intervention in business. He concludes with the other two major points of the address, a defense of his measures to stop the outflow of American gold to foreign markets, and an explanation of foreign policy initiatives. The crux of the speech, however, is a recap and a defense of the New Deal programs initiated to combat the effects of the Great Depression.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On May 7, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his fireside chat: a follow up to the one he gave eight weeks earlier, in which he had outlined the banking crisis facing the United States. On May 7, 1933, President Roosevelt wanted to inform the American people what had been accomplished since that fireside chat eight weeks earlier.

In the address, President Roosevelt told the American people that progress had been made. When President Roosevelt took office, the United States economy was in a downward spiral. Foreclosures were increasing and credit wasn’t being extended. Businesses were failing, and the American people were suffering. Eight weeks later, with the help of Congress, many programs were established or were about to be established to reverse this downward slide. Young men were being given the opportunity to work in forestry and flood prevention programs. A plan was being developed to improve conditions in the Tennessee Valley. Plans were in the works to help farmers and homeowners with their mortgages. Money was being provided to state and local governments to help those who were in need. Prohibition ended, creating more jobs. The government was about to launch programs dealing with public works projects. These were some of the main points of this fireside chat.

This speech was designed to show the American people that conditions were already improving and would continue to do so. It showed that the federal government was trying to deal with the devastating effects caused by the Great Depression and was making progress in doing so.