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Analysis Of The Rhetoric Of President Franklin Roosevelt

1048 words - 4 pages

In his inaugural speech of 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke one of the most famous pieces of rhetoric to date, saying that we have “nothing to fear, but fear itself.” In reality, everyone had very much to fear. For one thing, their trusted leader lied straight to their faces every time he made a public appearance. The possibility of war and loss, in terms of love, life, and money, were constantly on the mind of Americans during Roosevelt’s presidency – all four terms. President Roosevelt utilized the tactics of deception and rhetoric to gain the trust of Americans, and was betrayed by the country of Japan. While he was deceptive, Roosevelt’s decisions did, in fact, “justify the means.”
Franklin Roosevelt is actually considered one of the greatest men to lead the United States. Though this common belief stands, this multi-term president was very deceiving to the citizens of his country. One of Roosevelt’s greatest deceptions was the façade of his physical ability to walk. The president had gotten polio in the summer of 1921, which should have restricted him to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. He did not want to be known to the American people as weak, so Mr. President and his close friends worked on different leg braces, covers, and methods of making it seem like he could walk like any other strong, healthy man. This may seem miniscule in scale to the facts that can be hidden by a political leader, but it created a preface to the way he would go on to lead the country.
The different components of rhetoric were used by Franklin Roosevelt in order to further his endeavors as president. He used ethos to gain the trust of Americans, pathos to appeal to their emotions, and logos to attract the logical side of citizens. Mary Chuff, a Penn State University student studying the rhetoric within political leaders made the following statement about the opening of FDR’s speeches:
By acknowledging the people’s desire for truth and promising to uphold that truth, Roosevelt is establishing his ethos. He immediately has credibility with the audience. The audience trusts him to speak his true thoughts, not useless political jargon. (Chuff, sites.psu.edu)
Roosevelt began his speeches by gaining the trust of citizens. This is a slight deception. He progresses in his speeches by appealing to the emotional side of Americans. For example, Roosevelt tries to invoke pride when, in his infamy speech, he says, “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.” (Roosevelt, “Day of Infamy” speech) FDR also uses the third part of rhetoric, logos, when he projects his solutions to different problems in a logical manner. He appeals to the citizens’ logical side by making sense of different actions.
Franklin Roosevelt can be compared to the character of Brutus from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. This is because they both were respected and honorable...

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