Franklin D. Roosevelt

Columbia Broadcasting System microphone used for fireside chat radio broadcasts
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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, spirit.

"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.

Political cartoons
Although stricken with polio and not able to walk unaided, Roosevelt's condition usually was either disguised or ignored. These drawings from 1933 and 1941 are original cartoons by Clifford Berryman for the Washington Evening Star.