On influential speeches of his time. What
On June 10th, 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave, what might not have been one of his most memorable speeches, nevertheless, it would be one of the most historically influential speeches of his time. What came to be known as the “Stab in the Back” speech was delivered as a commencement address for the 115th graduating class at the University of Virginia; where one of his sons was graduating. In front of hundreds, FDR would deliver a speech that was reflective of the president’s examination of the most recent political activities; earlier that day a declaration of war by Mussolini’s Italy against France and the UK was set in motion.This speech would eventually prove successful at pushing the United States further into a second world war and lengthening a presidential term beyond limits ever seen.
Franklin Roosevelt speaks frankly, not only to the graduating class that is in is presence, but to a world of graduation classes; graduated from education or of experiences. FDR speaks to the nation as a whole; requesting that Americans ask what they can do and what work is to be had, not of an individualistic manner, rather, what one can do for the nation as a whole. This is where he starts the relationship with his audience, letting them know that “we” are in it together.
In the midst of an ever increasing conflict (war) in Europe the president, FDR, used this platform to call the very shattered American people to prepare for courage, devotion and sacrifice in the name of democratic freedom; insinuating that the American involvement in the next world war was inevitable. Since 1937, FDR had hinted that the US would be involved in war; from words in the “Quarantine Speech”, to his fire side chats, there was constant words of potential war; He continues the same rhetoric in this speech; the need to always be prepared to defend democracy and to be equipped for the imminent threat of war: Perception of danger to our institutions may come slowly or it may come with a rush and a shock as it has to the people of the United States in the past few months,” “This perception of danger has come to us clearly and overwhelmingly; and we perceive the peril in a world-wide arena; an arena that may become so narrowed that only the Americas will retain the ancient faiths that is, democracy”. FDR was notorious for stating, on the campaign trail, that he would do everything in his power to keep the United States from war; this might be why he stresses the importance to be prepared to defend rather than prepare to aggress.The president was also in the middle of a historical campaign for his unprecedented 3rd presidential term; he clearly wanted his supporters free from thoughts of hesitation or questions of his motives and He directed the speech with this in mind. By and large, Roosevelt used the speech to argue against isolationism on the part of “the American people”; the country, as a whole, was not able or particularly willing to be a part of another devastating war while still attempting to recover from the most recent disasters; WW1 and the Great depression.
In an attempt to convince and persuade those still weary of war, FDR asserts: Some indeed still hold to the now somewhat obvious delusion that we of the United States can safely permit the United States to become a lone island, a lone island in a world dominated by the philosophy of force. ” “Such an island may be the dream of those who still talk and vote as isolationists. Such an island represents to me and to the overwhelming majority of Americans today a helpless nightmare of a people without freedom; the nightmare of a people lodged in prison, handcuffed, hungry, and fed through the bars from day to day by the contemptuous, unpitying masters of other continents. “Franklin Delano Roosevelt demonstrates, in this particular speech, that he had mastered the art of American political rhetoric. FDR used extremely persuasive measures to “call out” Americans; to make them feel a sense of obligation and responsibility without question.
With a third of the country still unemployed, FDR knew he had to come out strong; his sturdy confidence had to direct the speech. He takes a demanding stance, in particular at the end of the address; continually asserting that “We will”. Also emphasizing that there is no time for questions on this topic, just one will suffice (eluding to the question; are you in or out? . Using this sort of narrative told the American people what to do and what needed to happen; he did not, at any time, ask for permission and there was no alternative answer to his proposition. FDR demanded results; he had showed through his work with “New Deal” that he was working for “the American People” not against them.
This proved helpful as the majority tended to trust that FDR would continue to do what was best for the greater good of the people and their country. This is in all probability why he could take such a harsh stance and maintain such great support; he had already established himself with “the American people”.The established FDR was known to be a confident man, a man who brought a new “presence” to the white house; a modern champion to the common worker.
In his presidency he enacted policies that created the foundations of our modern public welfare system. Known for his optimism and drive, it is no surprise, that Roosevelt would lead the nation through two of the greatest crises in its history, dramatically expand the power of the presidency, construct the first peace time draft, and create new agencies that fundamentally transformed the federal government.His supporters and even some of his strongest competitors (Wendell Lewis Willkie) stood with him rather than against him on many issues of this time. Former president Bill Clinton has even referred to FDR as “Captain Courageous”. Republican Calvin Coolidge once said; “Under Roosevelt, the federal government for the first time viewed, as its primary responsibility, the social welfare of its citizens”. FDR was trusted; He brought self-assurance and hope to a fearful and wounded nation, and that confidence made its self further branded in his speech; “Stab in the Back”.
FDR paid close attention to his audience, spoke slowly and strongly; giving way to pauses for the audience to have a chance to comprehend what he was saying and react accordingly. He was calmly contained yet powerfully passionate; FDR delivered not only a speech, but a prideful message to Americans. These actions and rhetoric allowed FDR to sway a nation, who wanted anything but to be involved in a war, to celebrate their chief’s aspirations and requests of preparedness and readiness with applause and support.FDR entered the speech with intention and succeeded in gaining what he considered necessary; the hearts and minds of Americans, on standby; willing and ready for whatever it was FDR would have planned for their futures. Works cited Harold J.
Laski, The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, The University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Apr. , 1942), pp.
379-392 , Published by: The University of Chicago Law Review, Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/1597399 Herbert S. Parmet; Marie B. Hecht, Never Again: A President Runs for a Third Term, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol.
84, (Jul. , 1969), pp. 151-152,Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science , URL: http://www. jstor. org Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “stab in the back” 1940 J. Garry Clifford and Samuel R.
Spencer, Jr. , the First Peacetime Draft, xvi, 320 pages, Modern War Studies Leland M. Goodrich; S. Shephard Jones; Denys P. Myers, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941,Documents on American Foreign Relations by, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review Vol. 30, No.
2 (Sep. , 1943), pp. 58-259 , Published by: Organization of American Historians , Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/1892979 MARVIN R.
ZAHNISER, Rethinking the Significance of Disaster: The United States and the Fall of France in 1940, The International History Review, Vol. 14, No. 2 (May 1992), pp. 252-276 ,Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
, Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/40792747 http://www.
thoughtequity. com/video/clip/49307011_050. do http://en. wikipedia.
org/wiki/Stab-in-the-back_legend Link for Speech “Stab in the Back” http://millercenter. org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3317