Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Versus Herbert Hoover’s 1932 Speech Essay Samples
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The first thing to be remembered when reading and trying to analyze the two given speeches delivered by the two titans of American politics must be the circumstances in which these speeches were delivered and the conditions of the given historical period.
The 1932 presidential election campaign took place in the United Stated of America amidst, probably, the worst economic crisis ever known in the modern history of the world. Economic turbulences which began in 1929 and led America (and then – the whole world) into a protracted economic recession that took about a decade fully to recover from new challenges posed for the government of the United States and, therefore, for the presidents-to-be. And though these problems were not peculiar by their nature they were peculiar by their gravity, which means that solving them was not an easy task even for such a powerful state as the United States already were at the expiry of the third decade of the 20th century.
Both candidates – Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover – responded to these new problems during their presidential election campaign of 1932 by proposing a program consisting of an array of measures of the economic, political and social nature each. Each of the two understood that given the gravity of the crisis he, who would propose a better, a clearer, but at the same time – a bolder plan, will succeed in the election.
The approaches towards the challenges the United States faced in the year of election differentiated quite a lot one from another, yet each of the programs being logical and consistent with the principles of the respective party. So let us have a look into these programs.
I will start with Herbert Hoover as he did not only present his ideas for his potential second presidential term, but also because he had already been president for a four-year term prior to 1932, which means that much of the responsibility about what was going on in the country was lying on him.
Both the title, the essence and the text of Hoover’s speech seem to cry about incompetence, recklessness and ineffectiveness of the platform proposed by the Democrats. Hoover goes as far as literally accusing the Democrats of almost cheating on the constituents, trying to popularize a reckless anti-crisis plan taking advantage of the fears of these constituents: “This question is the basis upon which our opponents are appealing to the people in their fear and distress. They are proposing changes and so-called new deals which would destroy the very foundation of our American system” (Hoover). Hoover even claims that the Democrats appeal to human emotions in the time of crisis and calls the American people to “go deeper than platitudes and emotional appeals”.
Hoover substantiates his words with a very powerful argument – he illustrates his speech and his appeals with constant retrospectives and constant references to the Declaration of Independence. In doing so he blames the Democrats for trying to change what has for a century and a half been a system that “differs essentially from all others in the world” and whose differences proved that it is better. In fact, Hoover constantly pleads the declaration, claiming that the Republican Party during the period of its office defends the principles embodied in the document, whereas the Democrats are so frivolous that they seek to usher the basis of this system and to build a new, very hazy and brand new one.
At the same time Hoover seeks to claim his own success at the post of the President, saying that the Republican Party faces great challenges and slowly but very steadily copes with the problem for the better life in America. Obviously, these actions by the Hoover administration were not so effective, not even to mention that in this speech he does not dwell on any new approaches to the challenges.
Therefore, Hoover’s speech comes down to objecting to the Democrats’ platform, praising his own party’s achievements and claiming again and again how conservative – and because of that right – he is.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech differs significantly from that of Hoover. Roosevelt does not use many pathetic words and rather dwells on other problems, of a more immediate and practical nature. Roosevelt does not cite the Declaration of Independence but it seems to me that he tries to apply its principles more that Hoover by proposing innovative and bold measures to cope the problems of the American society of the early 30s.
Roosevelt speaks much of the responsibility of state on all levels – from the federal level down to the local. “I am certain that the obligation extends beyond the states and to the federal government itself” (Roosevelt). Roosevelt claims the necessity of the government’s participation in the housing programs for the poor, in the unemployment insurance and organizing public works programs, at the same time cutting state expenditures. Roosevelt tried to find an alternative way to organize relations between the government and the private sector that the one proposed by Hoover – the one, that had proved to be ineffective.
I think that this is namely the Roosevelt’s program that fits the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. The core principles set forth in the latter come down to the point of view that a brand new state strives to create a brand new, independent, self-sufficient, but also responsible, just and protective system that would defend the rights so frequently violated by the British and to form a society on more democratic principles - on equality, rights and freedoms - than the British imperial society. Now, Hoover has much pleaded the declaration, but it seems that the only reason for this was his attempt to preserve the conservative system without looking into whether it was yet efficient or not, At the same time, Roosevelt, without direct reference to the Declaration proposes views that truly serve building the democratic society, struggling for the rights and the welfare of each and every American citizen.
“Declaration of Independence.” (N.d.). The Charters of Freedom. Retrieved from: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html
Hoover, H. (N.d.). “Against the Proposed New Deal.” Columbia University. Retrieved from: http://www.columbia.edu/~gjw10/hoover.newdeal.html
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. (N.d.) “Call for Federal Responsibility.” Columbia University. Retrieved from: http://www.columbia.edu/~gjw10/fdr.newdeal.html
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