Study Guide

FDR's First Inaugural Address Compare and Contrast

By Raymond Moley/Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s Summary of FDR

    "A second-class intellect. But a first-class temperament." (Source)

    This quote by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. summarizes precisely why President Roosevelt was the best hope America had to survive the trials facing the country in 1932.

    Holmes was a judicial legend who spent 30 years on the Supreme Court, so it's safe to say he had a pearl or two of wisdom to dispense. And like any other 92-year-old, by the time he met with Roosevelt, he didn't feel like beating around the bush.

    Being an intelligent man with the best education money could buy certainly helped FDR throughout his presidency. But a president isn't elected because he's the smartest man in the country; many other factors come into play. Roosevelt's first-class temperament was essential especially in the dramatic first 100 days of his first term in office.

    What America needed most was someone to lead. And as would be demonstrated time and time again, his decisive action was just the ticket to lead America out from its long national nightmare.

  • Raymond Moley's Shift

    Once the head of Roosevelt's nerdy analyst team known as the Brain Trust, Moley grew increasingly opposed to the progressive politics the new president enacted. Although he continued to write speeches for FDR until 1936, Moley shifted right until he became a prominent conservative Republican.

    He was a correspondent for Newsweek until 1968 and one of the most outspoken critics of the New Deal.

    So outspoken was he that in 1939, he published his first major work, a book that took apart the New Deal's policies piece by piece. It was titled After Seven Years, with the title immediately asking the reader what had changed since FDR's policies were initiated.

    For Moley's part, he supported Roosevelt's early policies, including the banking holiday, saying that the country was "saved in eight days." But as the policies became more radically progressive, Moley began to cut ties with the Democrats altogether.

    What a flip for the guy credited with coining the term "New Deal."

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Fireside Chats

    Who better to compare to FDR than FDR himself? Any president will give hundreds of speeches during his time in office, but Roosevelt's most memorable ones were delivered directly to the American people via his fireside chats.

    The first of his 30 chats was delivered March 12, 1933, less than two weeks after his inauguration. FDR insisted on keeping in contact with the public to let them know just how his bold plans were unfolding. It was the first time in history that so many people could directly hear their leader speak to them.

    Not only was speaking to the people important, but the specific words he used were crucial as well. Since his goal was to convey information to as many citizens as possible, he spoke in a simple manner to get his complex ideas across. Like his inaugural address, the chats also sought to bolster the public's confidence in the nation so discussions of fears and perseverance were commonplace. And while none of the individual chats was as powerful as FDR's inaugural address, taken together they offer insight into appealing directly to the American people.

    Maybe it's time to bring back the radio addresses…