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Fireside chats

Fireside chats

Overview

The fireside chats were a series of thirty evening radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 addresses given by United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 between 1933 and 1944.

According to Roosevelt’s principal speechwriter Judge Clinton Sorrel, he first used "fireside chats" in 1929 during his first term as Governor of New York
Governor of New York
The Governor of the State of New York is the chief executive of the State of New York. The governor is the head of the executive branch of New York's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military and naval forces. The officeholder is afforded the courtesy title of His/Her...

. Roosevelt faced a conservative Republican legislature so during each legislative session he would occasionally address the citizens of New York directly.
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Encyclopedia

The fireside chats were a series of thirty evening radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 addresses given by United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 between 1933 and 1944.

Origin of radio address


According to Roosevelt’s principal speechwriter Judge Clinton Sorrel, he first used "fireside chats" in 1929 during his first term as Governor of New York
Governor of New York
The Governor of the State of New York is the chief executive of the State of New York. The governor is the head of the executive branch of New York's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military and naval forces. The officeholder is afforded the courtesy title of His/Her...

. Roosevelt faced a conservative Republican legislature so during each legislative session he would occasionally address the citizens of New York directly. He appealed to them for help getting his agenda passed. Letters would pour in following each of these "chats," which helped pressure legislators to pass measures Roosevelt had proposed. He began making the informal addresses as President on March 12, 1933, during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

.
However, according to Russell D. Buhite and David W. Levy, in their introduction to FDR's Fireside Chats, "The term 'Fireside Chat' was not coined by Roosevelt, but by Harry Butcher of CBS, who used the two words in a network press release before the speech of May 7, 1933. The term was quickly adopted by press and public, and the president himself later used it."

Chronological list of Presidential fireside chats



  1. On the Bank Crisis - Sunday, March 12, 1933
  2. Outlining the New Deal
    New Deal
    The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

     Program
    - Sunday, May 7, 1933
  3. On the Purposes and Foundations of the Recovery Program - Monday, July 24, 1933
  4. On the Currency Situation - Sunday, October 22, 1933
  5. Review of the Achievements of the Seventy-third Congress - Thursday, June 28, 1934
  6. On Moving Forward to Greater Freedom and Greater Security - Sunday, September 30, 1934
  7. On the Works Relief Program - Sunday, April 28, 1935
  8. On Drought Conditions - Sunday, September 6, 1936
  9. On the Reorganization of the Judiciary
    Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937
    The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, frequently called the court-packing plan, was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt's purpose was to obtain favorable rulings regarding New Deal legislation that...

    - Tuesday, March 9, 1937
  10. On Legislation to be Recommended to the Extraordinary Session of the Congress - Tuesday, October 12, 1937
  11. On the Unemployment Census - Sunday, November 14, 1937
  12. On Economic Conditions - Thursday, April 14, 1938
  13. On Party - Friday, June 24, 1938
  14. On the European War - Sunday, September 3, 1939
  15. On National Defense - Sunday, May 26, 1940
  16. On National Security
    Arsenal of Democracy
    "The Arsenal of Democracy" was a propaganda slogan coined by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a radio broadcast delivered on December 29, 1940. Roosevelt promised to help the United Kingdom fight Nazi Germany by giving them military supplies while the United States stayed out of the actual...

    - Sunday, December 29, 1940
  17. Announcing Unlimited National Emergency - Tuesday, May 27, 1941 (the longest fireside chat)
  18. On Maintaining Freedom of the Seas - Thursday, September 11, 1941
  19. On the Declaration of War with Japan - Tuesday, December 9, 1941
  20. On Progress of the War - Monday, February 23, 1942
  21. On Our National Economic Policy - Tuesday, April 28, 1942
  22. On Inflation and Progress of the War - Monday, September 7, 1942
  23. Report on the Home Front - Monday, October 12, 1942
  24. On the Coal Crisis - Sunday, May 2, 1943
  25. On Progress of War and Plans for Peace - Wednesday, July 28, 1943
  26. Opening Third War Loan Drive - Wednesday, September 8, 1943
  27. On Tehran
    Tehran Conference
    The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

     and Cairo
    Cairo Conference
    The Cairo Conference of November 22–26, 1943, held in Cairo, Egypt, addressed the Allied position against Japan during World War II and made decisions about postwar Asia...

     Conferences
    - Friday, December 24, 1943
  28. State of the Union Message to Congress - Tuesday, January 11, 1944
  29. On the Fall of Rome - Monday, June 5, 1944
  30. Opening Fifth War Loan Drive - Monday, June 12, 1944

Rhetorical Manner


Sometimes beginning his talks with "Good evening, friends", Roosevelt urged listeners to have faith in the banks
Bank run
A bank run occurs when a large number of bank customers withdraw their deposits because they believe the bank is, or might become, insolvent...

 and to support his New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 measures. The "fireside chats" were considered enormously successful and attracted more listeners than the most popular radio shows during the "Golden Age of Radio
Old-time radio
Old-Time Radio and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the primary home entertainment medium in the 1950s...

." Roosevelt continued his broadcasts into the 1940s, as Americans turned their attention to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.
Roosevelt's first fireside chat was March 12, 1933, which marked the beginning of a series of 30 radio broadcasts to the American people reassuring them the nation was going to recover and shared his hopes and plans for the country. The chats ranged from fifteen to forty-five minutes and eighty percent of the words used were in the one thousand most commonly used words in the English dictionary.

Weekly address


Every US President since Roosevelt has delivered a regular address
United States presidential address
The Weekly Address of the President of the United States is the weekly discussion of current events in the United States by the President. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to deliver such radio addresses...

. Presidents Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 through George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 delivered weekly Saturday radio broadcasts, while President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 introduced providing his address in both audio and video forms, both of which are available online via whitehouse.gov
Whitehouse.gov
Whitehouse.gov is the official website of the White House and is owned by the United States government. Launched in October 1994, it contains general American history information, as well as current news pertaining to the President, press briefings, proclamations, executive orders, and any speeches...

 and YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

. It has long become customary for the President's Weekly Radio Address to be followed an hour later (on the radio) by a 'response' (not always a topical response) by a member of the opposing political party. The respondent from the opposing party changes weekly, while the President is the same for the entirety of their term. Occasionally the Vice President may deliver the address in the absence of the President.

External links


  • Entry on the Fireside Chats from the Museum of Broadcast Communications
    Museum of Broadcast Communications
    The Museum of Broadcast Communications is an American museum that currently exists exclusively on the Internet and not in any physical capacity. Its stated mission is "to collect, preserve, and present historic and contemporary radio and television content as well as educate, inform and entertain...

  • The New Deal Network from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
    Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
    The Roosevelt Institute is a progressive non-profit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by developing progressive ideas and bold leadership in the service of restoring America's health and security...

  • Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia
    University of Virginia
    The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

    , with transcripts and MP3 recordings of most of the Fireside Chats
  • The Real Deal: Media and the Battle to Define FDR's Social Programs at the University of Virginia
    University of Virginia
    The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

    : audio with editorial and cartoon reactions.
  • Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University
    Michigan State University
    Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

    , with many Roosevelt speeches in mp3 format