January 30: Happy Birthday, Franklin D. Roosevelt
My fireside chats usually center why these new-fangled lighters are so hard to use, but our 32nd president had something else in mind with his.
Since today commemorates the birth of FDR, let's take a look at his famous fireside chats. There were thirty-one in all, from 1933 to 1944. These fireside chats were radio addresses to a nation first in the grips of the Great Depression and then embroiled in World War II. The name was meant to suggest informality, casualness, all of us as equals with the president.
The first was on March 12, 1933, and it dealt with the banking crisis and the country's economic travails. The second one outlined the New Deal Program, and others dealt with a 1936 drought, "the European War" (Sept. 3, 1939), the declaration of war with Japan (Dec. 9, 1941), the progress of the war (Feb. 23, 1942) and other topics, usually controversial, important, and timely.
Not a lot of historians and analysts over the years have argued that a policy of ignoring the American people and keeping them in the dark is really the way to go. No, the chats have been universally popular, and are considered influential in laying out a paradigm for the communication duties of elected officials.
FDR is generally considered an outstanding speaker. One man was quoted of saying that as a result of the chats, his "mother looks upon the President as someone so immediately concerned with her problems and difficulties that she would not be greatly surprised were he to come to her house some evening and stay to dinner."