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Smith !1Gavin Smith Mr. Kubiak AP English Language and Composition 17 August 2018 The Inaugural Speeches of Kennedy and Roosevelt Some view John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as two of the most influential presidents the United States has ever had. Roosevelt delivered a forward-looking and powerful speech to America citizens while they were struggling to get through the Great Depression. Kennedy gave a moving inaugural address stating that the American people would not back down from the communists and other enemies and would do everything to protect their liberty and freedom. Both speeches differed in time and situation, with Kennedy giving his speech during the surge of communism around the globe and possible nuclear war, and Roosevelt giving his speech during the devastating Great Depression. Despite the differences, both struck hope in the hearts and minds of unconfident Americans and boosted America’s morale. The most effective speech belonged to Roosevelt, however, because he delivered his speech during one of the most devastating times in America and was able to convince Americans that they would persevere, and they did. John F. Kennedy gave his inaugural speech in 1961, a time of uncertainty as the Cold War progressed throughout the world, creating tension between many powerful countries. At this time, the citizens of America feared an all-out war was brewing between the United States and the USSR. In his speech, Kennedy proclaimed to the world that America’s liberty and freedom would never be given up under any circumstances: “Let every nation know…that we will pay any !1

Smith !2price…to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” His promise to protect these values reassured many doubtful listeners. Kennedy called for the “two sides” to come together to foster peace and make the world a safer place: “So let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.” At this point in history, Kennedy made it known that the United States would stand strong but also encouraged the powers of the world to put their arms down and face the world’s problems together. Roosevelt took office during the Great Depression, a time when banks were closing, and working-class citizens found themselves unemployed and broke. Confidence had run short, and many Americans felt that they were stuck; unable to pull themselves out of this crisis. In his 1933 inaugural address, Roosevelt spoke out against the rich who failed in banking, losing the money of their clients: “the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed…They have no vision.” He also pointed out that many families are faced were life or death situations because of the present economic situation: “A host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence.” Roosevelt took office during a grim time but promised to lead America through it, hopefully coming out stronger and better than ever. When Kennedy took office, Americans were unconvinced that the United States was handling foreign affairs safely, and the majority feared that the United States was on the verge of a nuclear war with the USSR. Kennedy addressed the whole world by firmly asserting that America would not lose its values to communism or other enemies. He believed we should be fighting against the enemies of man instead of each other: “A struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” With the world as his audience, Kennedy reassured the world that America would prosper. The people wanted a resolution, not a !2

Smith !3war: “We offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace.” The world knew that if they were to go against the United States, they would face America’s fire and fury. Roosevelt’s audience was begging for a new life. Tired, weak, needy, and dying, the citizens of America needed Roosevelt to guide them out of the depression and into prosperity. Roosevelt related to America, explaining that they shared common difficulties: “We face our common difficulties.” By doing this, Roosevelt gained the people’s trust and presented himself as one of them. He also reassured the American citizens, explaining that these hard times would be worth it in the end: “These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves, to our fellow men.” Roosevelt’s ability to set confidence in the doubtful, poor Americans made this one of the most effective speeches given. Kennedy and Roosevelt both gave their speeches to inspire the American people. Kennedy proved his strength to his listeners by standing up to the threats around the world, promising to do all it takes to protect the great United States of America and its values. His primary tasks were to avoid a nuclear war with the USSR, improve relations with Latin American countries, and gain the trust and respect of his own country. Another goal was to announce a new beginning of peace with the rest of the world and give nations the chance to search for their peace: “let both sides join in creating a new endeavor…a new world of law — where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.” In his speech, he knows he will not be able to complete his goals in a short time, but says we should start now. He also said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” !3

Smith !4explaining how the United States needed to unite and fight for the betterment of the country. He took the initiative and set goals for the world to become a more peaceful place, and many trusted him because of this, making his speech one of the most effective speeches given. Roosevelt’s goal was precisely to get America back on its feet by creating jobs, working and making money, and jumpstarting the failing economy at the same time. The United States knew what needed to happen to pull itself out of the Great Depression. He stressed the need for the country to work together and depend on each other: “Our interdependence on each other; that…we must give…that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline.” He urged the people of the United States not to give up because the future holds so much joy if the country makes it. He said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” advising the country to not cower from the challenge. Instead, face the challenge head-on. Roosevelt rose up and led the country out of suffering and into prosperity, using his powerful words and detailed plans. Roosevelt’s leadership and effect on the country made his speech the most effective of the two speeches. Both men were inspiring leaders, and their speeches inspired the United States not to give up or submit to challenges. America needed to take the motivation and inspiration provided by these two presidents and make something great from it. Each speech differed in situation, time, and audience, but both successfully motivated unconfident citizens of America to push through the tough situations and periods of time, leading to a more hopeful time in the future. These addresses turned uncertainty into American resolve and failure into success. Furthermore, the comparison between Kennedy’s and Roosevelt’s speeches include significant differences and similarities but one common goal: hope. !4

Smith !5Works Cited Eidenmuller, Michael E. “American Rhetoric: Franklin Delano Roosevelt – First Inaugural Address.” American Rhetoric: Eleanor Roosevelt — “The Struggle for Human Rights”, www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrfirstinaugural.html. Eidenmuller, Michael E. “John F. Kennedy — Inaugural Address.” American Rhetoric: Eleanor Roosevelt — “The Struggle for Human Rights”, www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkinaugural.htm. Manchester, William. “John F. Kennedy.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/John-F-Kennedy. Freidel, Frank. “Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 8 Aug. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Franklin-D-Roosevelt. !5

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