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Listening to Roosevelt’s fireside chats

2021-05-27 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文


51Due教员组今天给各位留学生带来一篇纯原创代写英语范文,讲的是一位领导人的非凡故事和美国历史上令人难忘的混乱岁月,那就是罗斯福新政。希望这篇可以帮助到各位留学生,同时需要代写也可以直接联系我们51Due客服vx(vx:Jenny_dynh)进行咨询。


To show a sharp contrast with the towering Washington Monument is a statue of Roosevelt Memorial Park: a civilian with simple and unadorned clothing, sitting in the corner of the room, seems totally absorbed in listening to something. Needless to say, an idea comes to mind immediately: He is listening to Roosevelt’s fireside chats. This statue reminds the public vividly of an extraordinary story of a leader and unforgettable years of chaos in American history, that is, Roosevelt’s New Deal.

1.The background of the New Deal

Before the Great Depression, the United States has experienced an unprecedented period of prosperity, known as “the Roaring 20s.” The famous novel The Great Gatsby (1991) written by F. Scott Fitzgerald manifests the prosperous era vividly and faithfully describes the mentality of the people in the 1920s.

During the decade, the level of national production in the United States has risen sharply, that is, the labor productivity of factories has increased by 53% from 1919 to 1927; agricultural productivity has increased by 20% from 1920 to 1930. Technological advances have brought new products such as cars, refrigerators and other household appliances which have entered the houses of ordinary people. With the great improvement of living conditions, mass consumption culture has cropped up, and optimism has flooded the society.

However, there exists a serious problem behind seeming prosperity. Compared with the highly developed national economy, the people’s purchasing power is inadequate gravely. At the same time, the contradiction between production and consumption becomes more and more acute. In contrast to the general slowdown of people’s income growth, the profits of enterprises have a substantial increase. Due to money worship and blind optimism, not only some business tycoons but also many middle-class businessmen and even numerous working-class people have purchased stocks so that huge amounts of money has flowed into the stock market. On October 24, 1929, the U.S. stock market has collapsed known as “Black Thursday” which has caused a chain reaction: a sharp decline in the prices of various commodities, people’s confidence suffering a serious setback and the coming of the Great Depression( Garraty, 1986).

The Great Depression of the United States undoubtedly has the most profound impact on economy. As Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., an American historian, has written in his book “The economic catastrophe that U.S. economy and people suffer from is unprecedented. Throughout the history of the United States, panic, recession and inflation have occurred, but the impact of Great Depression on the lives of people and the nature of the American system is unparalleled” ( Its My Vital Center, 2017).

In the case of the people’s livelihood, the Great Depression leads to the reduction of personal income, the decline of living conditions and unemployment. As the New York Times puts it “The beggars door-to-door knocking at night may have issued your loan a few months ago or written an editorial in the newspaper you read” (Duhigg, 2008). Many cultural celebrities do not escape the bad luck, either. For example, John Steinbeck, the author of The Grapes of Wrath (1940), washes clothes with lard and salt as soap, even has no money to see a dentist.

The most frightening thing is unemployment. From 1929 to 1933, about 100,000 people have lost their jobs per week so that they have to wander aimlessly around the country. According to the speculation of historians, the number has amounted to more than 1.5 million.(Garraty,1986) There are all kinds of people including tenant peasants, farmers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, infants and pregnant women. Wanderers have no definite destination who have to live in the shacks made of packing boxes in the suburbs known as “Hoover Village”(Garraty, 1986); or sleep overnight on the park bench wrapped in old newspapers known as “Hoover blanket” (Garraty, 1986).

Under these circumstances, on March 4, 1933, Roosevelt took his oath of office as president which has opened the New Deal curtain.

2.The specific content of the New Deal

Roosevelt’s New Deal is often divided into two stages by historians, entitled “first” and “second” respectively.

2.1 First New Deal

The First New Deal has lasted for ninety-nine days between March 9 and June 16, 1933 referred to as the “100-day New Deal.”(Schlesinger, 1959 ) At this stage it has focused on how to curb the economic recession, save the collapsed financial system and the collapsing agricultural system, rejuvenate industry and eliminate unemployment and starvation. In order to achieve all these goals, the government has completed a series of legislation including the Emergency Banking Law (Schlesinger, 1959), the Securities Law (ibid.), the Social Security and Exchange Law (ibid.) about how to resolve banking crises and financial problems, the Agricultural Adjustment Law (ibid.) about how to restore the balance of industry and agriculture, the National Industrial Recovery Act (ibid.), the Federal Emergency Relief Law (ibid.) and the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act (ibid.).

2.2 Second New Deal

The Second New Deal taking place in 1935-1939 has focused on legislation that has a long-term impact. For example, the Banking Act (Schlesinger, 1959) of 1935 has changed the power structure of the Federal Reserve System, thus establishing a modern banking system compatible with economic modernization; the Social Security Law (ibid.) provides the mandatory charge of federal unemployment insurance tax , thus establishing a more complete welfare system.

Since speaking of Roosevelt’s New Deal, it seems to introduce Roosevelt inevitably. As a leader, he is frank, modest, broad-minded and has a close affinity with ordinary people especially those “forgotten people at the bottom of the economic pyramid”(Leshy, 2009). Roosevelt wins unprecedented popularity with the American people. One of the biographers has ever written this sentence that “A welder in Chicago, a housewife in Atlanta, and a gas station owner in a small town will write passionately to the President to pour out their hopes, worries and difficulties”(Leshy, 2009). It is an irrefutable fact that Roosevelt’s New Deal brings many far-reaching influences on American history, mainly in terms of economy, politics and the mentality of the people.

3. Influences of the New Deal

3.1 In terms of economy

By 1929, sixty percent of the nation’s wealth has been concentrated in the minority of the financial magnates of the United States. The concentration of capital leads to free market economy which is the essence of monopoly capitalism. Roosevelt has advocated enhancing social purchasing power by giving workers more stable wages. The most important point is the government has transformed from monopoly capitalism to state monopoly capitalism by intervening in economic life and having a few internal adjustments. Moreover, “The Congress also passed legislation authorizing the sale of beer in such states as desired. This has already resulted in considerable reemployment and, incidentally, has provided much needed tax revenue”( Outlining the New Deal Program, 2015).

Roosevelt has taken effective measures about social security, social management and social control to prevent the country from being persecuted by the economic crisis lasting for half a century. The government has the economic responsibility to enable everyone to live an entire life through their own labor. Everyone has the right to maximize the security of his income. But at other stages of life, such as childhood, sickness, old age, people are incapable of working, at these moments, they can benefit from social security to ensure basic livelihood. In the meanwhile, a series of financial policies make national economy recover little by little. Therefore, in 1936, American national income has risen by fifty percent.

It is needless to say that the New Deal not only brings the United States out of the Great Depression but also makes the United States start the process of modernization. It can be said that from this moment on a modern United States has emerged.

3.2 In terms of politics

The impact of the Great depression points to the political foundation of the American system directly. Some of the most radical intellectuals believe that the economic crisis is the result of the capitalism.They advocate practicing social revolution like the Soviet Union and implementing communism. However, the mainstream viewpoint is to make changes in the framework of capitalism, that is, to take a middle way that is neither laissez-faire nor communism. In the end, some intellectuals, politicians, a considerable proportion of ordinary people and even entrepreneurs have reached a consensus, that is, abandoning laissez-faire economic policies under the premise of capitalist democracy and implementing a certain degree of state intervention in the social and economic life. Roosevelt’s greatest politic achievement is that he has saved capitalism from the hands of capitalists. The American bourgeois democracy has been defended and revived with Roosevelt’s painstaking effort.

3.3 In terms of the mentality of the people

The worst impact of the Great Depression is the collapse of the American people’s beliefs and confidence. The public suffer great spiritual wound. At that time, this is the most crucial as well as the weakest link in the sophisticated surroundings. In order to inspire people with enthusiasm and gain as much public understanding and support as possible, Roosevelt has adopted many kinds of communication tools, such as: holding numerous press conferences and using a series of fireside chats. Obviously, Roosevelt is good at accumulating broad alliances and supporters. Furthermore, fireside chats become the very event often cited with great gusto by many people.

In a certain sense, fireside chats can be said to be a timely move. The most two impressive fireside chats are the fist named On the Bank Crisis (Sunday, March 12, 1933) and the second named Outlining the New Deal Program (Sunday, May 7, 1933). Fireside chats are easy to understand because the listeners are a large number of ordinary people rather than professionals. The themes include situations both at home and abroad as well as the country’s major policies. Therefore, some of these issues are quite professional. It is a big challenge for President Roosevelt to make it clear to the general public without professional backgrounds. But Roosevelt is obviously adept at doing this job. For example, in his first fireside chat, Roosevelt uses less than 200 words to explain clearly the operating mechanism of the banking sector. This is a quote from the first fireside chat “First of all let me state the simple fact that when you deposit money in a bank the bank does not put the money into a safe deposit vault....... In other words the total amount of all the currency in the country is only a small fraction of the total deposits in all of the banks” ( On the Bank Crisis, 2015).

Roosevelt uses a candid way of saying to approach people in order to share his policies and ideas and intentions with the public as if treating his own family or best friends. He has never concealed his point of view, nor does he pretend to be modest.

Before Roosevelt has become the President, the Great Depression had lasted for quite a long time and since 1933, the bank crisis has become fiercer. Therefore, Roosevelt starts handling the banking crisis as soon as possible. On the eve of the bank’s resumption of business, Roosevelt has made a radio address which is the first famous fireside chat explaining to his citizens the operation of the bank and the relationship between the public, business and the bank, in order to persuade everyone into depositing money in the bank and guarantee that it is more safer than putting the money under the mattress. There are sixty million people in the United States listening to this speech, thus freeing the public from pent-up doubts and dissatisfaction. The next day, some banks have resumed operation and many people lining up in front of the banks deposit their money or gold into banks. In a few days, the banks have accumulated three hundred million US dollars of gold. A week later, seventy-five percent of the banks have been back to normal( Schlesinger, 1959).

Roosevelt has given new ideas, new courage and new confidence to the United States and restored the ability of grasping American own destiny, just like the words in the first fireside chat “You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear” (On the Bank Crisis, 2015).

It has taken a long time for the country to get on its feet again after the Great Depression. Through the New Deal, Roosevelt has helped America regain the confidence.

Just like the famous saying goes “Honesty is better than all intelligence, and it is a basic condition for resourcefulness” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 2015). Roosevelt, the American President entrusted with a mission at a critical moment, treats his citizens with honesty and modesty and optimism to save the country afflicted with all kinds of social ills from the verge of collapse.

4. Reflection

Roosevelt is one of the most influential Presidents in the history of the United States. The New Deal which he has implemented since taking office in 1933, helps America overcome the serious economic crisis and mitigate all kinds of social contradictions. Quick ability to act, good foresight and planning capabilities are strong points of Roosevelt. To be true, Roosevelt is an outstanding figure endowed with many virtues such as affinity, honesty, modesty, capability, optimism and confidence. If he lacks of these merits, the New Deal may have little effects. His personality charm shines more brilliantly in the New Deal’s company. He will lose a bit of his glamour if the fireside chats are only empty preaching. Fortunately, these policy-oriented fireside chats has drawn psychological distances closer between the President and the public. It cannot help supposing that if Roosevelt has been in power four years earlier, the Great Depression in the United States may recover as soon as possible. Unfortunately, although it is evident that history is a mirror, the government seldom uses it for reference to make a deep reflection. Therefore, almost seventy years after the Great Depression, history has repeated itself. It is regrettable that the same mistake is made again and again.


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