Franklin D. Roosevelt entered the White House in 1933 confronted
by the nation's worst ever economic depression. About one-quarter
of the work force was unemployed, industrial production was down
by a third, and the bank system was collapsing. Overseas, the economic
situation contributed to the rise of fascist governments.
The pragmatic Roosevelt boldly experimented with the power of the
federal government to address these urgent problems. His greatest
accomplishment was his ability to lead, inspire, and assure Americans
through many dark years as he projected a gallant, even joyous,
"I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United
States about banking." So began, on March 12, 1933, the first
of about thirty informal "fireside chats" that Roosevelt
delivered over the radio. His ability to communicate directly and
personally through this new medium, addressing each listener as
a respected friend, gave Franklin D. Roosevelt a powerful tool to
shape public opinion.