Friday, March 4, 2016

OTD in 1933: FDR's First Inaugural

You're probably studying FDR with your students right about now, so today is a timely anniversary.  Today is the anniversary of FDR's first inaugural.
There are a wealth of terrific resources to mark that occasion, and more importantly, to put FDR's inauguration and that speech into historical context.

CSPAN has this 20 minute video of newsreel footage and the address itself.
Other great resources on the address (including audio and video clips, pictures, artifacts, and teaching lessons) were produced by the National Archives, FDR Library, and Library of Congress.

Of course we want to put FDR's presidency into context, and material from Miller Center at the University of Virginia is a good place to start.  This essay gives a round-up of the issues facing the nation in 1933, and then includes excerpts from the address showing FDR's plan for addressing them.

You probably want to discuss how FDR made it to the White House in the first place.  This link to the 1932 general election results is useful because it shows FDR's popular (+7-million) and electoral (472-59) dominance over President Herbert Hoover.  It would also be useful to get students to see the strength of the Socialist and Communist party candidates that year: combined they got almost 1-million votes.  Ask student to speculate the likely cause: guide them to the conclusion that those voters were likely frustrated with capitalism because of the Great Depression.  Don't forget to show them this map; it's striking!
Other points you will want to discuss with your students:
  • FDR was the last president to be inaugurated in March.  The date was changed to 20 January by the 20th Amendment.
  • This is the speech where FDR said, "All we have to fear is fear itself."  (This 0:29 clip cuts right to this line.)
  • FDR was the only president elected and inaugurated four times.
  • Hitler came to power just months earlier in January 1933.  Gilder-Lehrman compares the two here.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I noticed you posted a few videos that you would incorporate into your lesson plan, one of which was 20 minutes. I was wondering if you ever have issues with keeping your students engaged with the videos, or do you have worksheets or some other form of incentive to keep the students engaged?