Franklin D. Roosevelt's Rhetorical Presidency

By Halford R. Ryan | Go to book overview

2
Roosevelt's Persuasive
Delivery

To forget that words on a printed page were once spoken by FDR to his fellow Americans is to miss the point of why he delivered addresses and Fireside Chats. He communicated the subtle range of his feelings in a manner that imparted directness and sincerity to his listeners. FDR talked to, not at, the American people. Yet, except for Earnest Brandenburg and Waldo Braden's essay on Roosevelt's voice and pronunciation, little has been written about FDR's platform presence, voice management, gestures, use of speech manuscripts, eye contact, or the effect of his physical handicap. Indeed, Gail Compton noted the need to investigate FDR's delivery: "Studies of Roosevelt's speaking during his twelve years as President tend to center more on issues and less on the other rhetorical elements of speech preparation, style, persuasive techniques and delivery. These elements, particularly delivery, impelled FDR's rhetorical presidency. 1

The materials for a study of FDR's delivery are the audio-visual archives in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. Surprisingly, there are only enough film materials to criticize sixteen speeches, and these films are really excerpts of varying lengths from motion-picture newsreels. The audio recordings for Roosevelt's voice are more numerous. These sources are the foundation for an analysis and criticism of President Roosevelt's delivery. 2


ON THE PLATFORM

The primary point to remember about Roosevelt's standing to deliver a speech is that he was in discomfort due to his handicap of paralyzed legs from an attack of poliomyelitis in 1921. Donald Richberg, a collaborator with Roosevelt's

-13-

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Franklin D. Roosevelt's Rhetorical Presidency
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 - Franklin D. Roosevelt as a Rhetorical President 1
  • 2 - Roosevelt's Persuasive Delivery 13
  • 3 - FDR and the Media: Radio, Newsreels, and Press 25
  • 4 - Four Campaigns to the People 39
  • 5 - Inaugurating the Presidency 75
  • 6 - Roosevelt Vs. the Supreme Court 109
  • 7 - A War of Words and Words of War: the Purge and the Isolationists 131
  • 8 - Writing the Rhetoric 161
  • Appendix - Chronology of Fireside Chats 169
  • Notes 171
  • Bibliography 187
  • Speech Index 199
  • Subject Index 203
  • About the Author 207
  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Political Science 208
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