Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his first presidential term riding a tidal wave of public support. In the 1932 election, he crushed dour incumbent Herbert Hoover and carried the Democrats to a solid majority in Congress. Following his inauguration, legislators gave Roosevelt unprecedented authority to remake the American presidency.
The simultaneous rise in popularity of radio and FDR’s political fortune is an interesting historical twist of fate. Radio brought news alive, but left people free to create images in their imaginations. FDR’s distinctive voice and jollity flowed into people’s homes. His disability was invisible. Radio helped make this possible. Through this means of mass communication, FDR could convey his ideas effectively, sitting in his estate in Hyde Park, New York or in the White House. Because FDR was such a masterful communicator, he was able to use his speeches, press conferences, and radio broadcasts, to shape American history. Evidence of FDR’s successful use of the spoken word is widespread. The power of his "Day of Infamy" speech led the nation to unite behind the President’s call to war, and his fireside chats gained him support from the people for innovative and controversial social programs. The other was his relationship with the public. As with any successful politician, FDR’s power came from the people. Radio provided him with a direct link to his voting public and the next generation of voters. His use of radio helped him win people’s hearts. Historians still debate FDR’s true significance in history--saint or manipulator, or somewhere in between.
However, Franklin Roosevelt was the Great Communicator, and his impact on America resonates even today.
Complete Collection: 48 reels in 3 parts