FDR and fear itself: the first inaugural address

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Texas A&M University Press, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 166 pages
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"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." These are some of the most famous, most quoted, and best remembered words in American political history. They seem to be a natural idiomatic expression of American democratic will, yet these words from Franklin Roosevelt's first inaugural address had an actual author who struggled with how best to express that thought -- and it was not the new president. In this innovative book on the crafting of FDR's crucial speech, Davis W. Houck leads the reader from its negative, mechanical, and Hooverian first draft through its final revision, its delivery, and the responses of those who were inspired by it during those troubled times.Houck's analysis, dramatic and at points riveting, focuses on three themes: how the speech came to be written, an explication of the text itself, and its reception. Drawing on the writings and memories of several people who were present in the crowd at the inauguration, Houck shows how powerfully the new president's speech affected those who were there or who heard it on the radio. Some were so moved by Roosevelt's delivery that they would have been willing to make him a dictator, and many believed such inspired words could have come only from a divine source.Houck then flashes back to the final year of the 1932 presidential campaign to show how Raymond Moley, the principal architect of the address, came to be trusted by Roosevelt to craft this important speech. Houck traces the relationships of Moley with Roosevelt and Roosevelt's influential confidante, Louis Howe, who was responsible for important changes in the speech's later drafts, including the famous aphorism.Although the book focuses primarily on thespeech and its drafting, Houck also offers telling glimpses of Roosevelt's complex relationship with his wife, who dreaded her new duties as First Lady, and his deep, personal dislike of Herbert Hoover, all the while conveyi

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FDR and Fear Itself: The First Inaugural Address (The Library of Presidential Rhetoric)

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With his first inaugural address, which was fewer than 2000 words, Franklin Roosevelt won the confidence of the American public something his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, failed to do in four years ... Read full review


two September 221932
four November 221932
five February 12131933

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About the author (2002)

Davis W. Houck is associate professor of communication at Florida State University. He is the author, with Matthew A. Grindy, of "Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press" (University Press of Mississippi), among other books.

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