Rhetorical Analysis First Inaugural Speech


Roosevelt’s inaugural speech addressed the audience when the country was in crisis. The aspects of fear reflected in the speech portray the concern he had and how the challenges have affected the entire population when he comment that there is nothing to fear but fear itself Therefore, the president had a mandate to ensure the country advance in all aspects to allow easy handling of dynamics that affect the citizens since he understands better the challenges affecting the nation.

The difficulties that have slow down the development of the nation are; unemployment, poor trading activities, poor education, environmental problems, political crisis, and socio-economic aspect. The president assures the government to fix the problems since God did not impose the country into punishment and thus he will use powers in the constitution to reduce or eradicate. Economic distress arises due to immoral or dishonest use of public resources, and thus firm strategies have to be laid out to ensure proper utilization of the available resources.

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The president assures the country of good governance, communication, improve international trade relation, and stick to the constitution since it’s superbly. The use of ethos, pathos, and logos were widely used to enhance the speech or make the speech powerful.


Background information

Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered a speech at a crucial end of America history in 1933. He was born in 1882; his political ambition made him clinch to power as the 32nd president of America in 1933 after defeating Herbert Hoover. The nation was in a crisis of inflation in economic prosperity due to difficulties that the citizens were undergoing. The president fears nothing since he understood better the challenges affecting the nation (Morris, 2014).

The crash of financial markets in the country affected the earlier progression of economic diversity, and thus the president was trustworthy in improving the exchange goods among the other overseas countries. The issue of unemployment reduces the confidence in the business community as well as the individual levels in the country. As a human being, one of the basic needs is to communicate in all aspects, and that’s why most people effectively use rhetorical techniques to disseminate and communicate ideas that will allow decision making.

The people had lost faith in the previous leadership, but Roosevelt provided hope by appealing on actions rather than only speech. The audience received the information with a great belief that their state will be controlled by the sovereign powers of the incoming president.

The key points the president addressed were; the shrinking value of goods, the rising of taxes, unemployment rate, reduction of cartels in the government, the frozen issue of foreign exchange and international trading activities, the poor markets for agricultural products, and following the savings that families had acquired that was meant for their future after retirements. Roosevelt speech marks a historical at the time of crisis, and it was full of emotions (pathos), it had a sense of logic (logos) since it was incorporating the problems the citizens are undergoing and the series of challenges affecting the leaders in implementing the solutions.

The credibility (ethos) was a problem that the president intended to have to ensure the specialization among the workers and their leaders are addressed to allow those authorized to perform a certain activity concur with his or her specialization. The evidence attributed to the combination of ethos, logos and pathos influences the nature of speech presented by an individual to the extent that can create understanding among the audience. Therefore, Roosevelt effectively incorporated such evidence to increase the intensity of understanding and trustworthiness to the people.

Evidence of ethos in first inaugural speech

In all aspects of speech, the audience should be involved and draw their attention to increase the effectiveness and articulate ideas and problems that are facing the population. The opening speech evidenced in the first paragraph presented by Roosevelt portrays a great expectation from the people concerning the depressions they are experiencing thus the president establish his ethos to gain the trust from the people. For example, he addressed the audience with a condor and provided the condition of the present situation which has stressed the living standard of the normal citizen in the country “will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impels.”

In this case, God is the provider and initiator of everything in his leadership as per as the needs of an individual is a concern (Prasch, 2014).The acknowledgment of people’s truth and strategies of upholding such truth portray a sense of ethos since the expectation of the audience should be compiled to increase the trust of the current leaders and those to come. Therefore, the audience gains much trust that actions will be taken to ensure their difficulties and crisis that had engulfed the nation are reduced and if possible being eradicated.

Evidence of pathos in first inaugural speech

The issue of pathos in all aspects of speech portrays the kind of emotions a speaker and the audience recommends. In this case, the articulation of words should be clear and able to draw the attention of the listener to ensure capturing of information promptly. Roosevelt used the issue of pathos after imparting the truth in the audience “this great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.” The president assured the audience that the dark times would soon pass and his strategies will ensure the equal distribution of resources reduces the rate of unemployment and ensures farmers enjoy the toils of their labor.

The international trade relation will be provided to increase the trading activities which will, in turn, improve the economy of the country. The president assures the audience that the nation will endure, will revive and prosper under his leadership. It utilizes the use of pathos to increase the emotions of the listeners due to the depressions they were undergoing caused by the previous leadership.

Evidence of logos in first inaugural speech

Roosevelt uses logos to convey the logic behind the conditions advancing in the United States of America. The difficulties that the citizens are facing; he acknowledged the rise of value, the rise of taxes, the issue of unemployment, the market problems undergoing by the farmers, and poor trading activities that have reduced the foreign exchange and has let to poor developments in the nation.

Roosevelt confidently acknowledges the issues of the sort that affect the entire population currently and assure the public to deal with such in his leadership. The evidence of logic will make the audience understood and developed a lot a trust in transparency provided by the incoming leadership.

The combination of ethos, pathos, and logos makes the speech powerful. Roosevelt articulations of words resonate with the audience because of the atmosphere of trust created. Therefore, people receive the information positively despite the depression that dominates the entire population due to mistrust that was created by the previous leadership. He immediately establishes ethos and credibility and expounds throughout the entire speech; pathos and logos was also a reliable rhetorical aspect that improved the effectiveness of Roosevelt speech. As witnessed in his speech, each rhetorical devices employed by the president is powerful but more powerful when combined together since it creates understanding at a go.


The Roosevelt first inaugural speech that was presented when the country was in crisis provide hope and trust to the citizens after a long-suffering contributed by the previous leadership. The audience receives the information with great belief and expectation from the president-elect. The difficulty the country was undergoing was acknowledged by Roosevelt during his speech, appealing to the nation of the firm strategies and policies that will steer the nation into the right direction.

The president insists on ethical issues that his government will implement to ensure good and integral behavioral aspects is attained and practiced by the entire population. Change is inevitable especially in a transitional form of government, but the transformation should always suit the needs and expectations of the entire population despite his/her race, economic status, and religion. Roosevelt shows an exemplary and the right kind of leadership in his speech that all leaders in the world are required to emulate to meet the goals and the needs of the citizens. Actions should prevail in all aspects to allow good progressions in the country and the world at large.


Morris, H. (2014). A Rhetorical Examination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address. Scholarly Horizons: University of Minnesota, Morris Undergraduate Journal, 1(1), 4.

Prasch, A. M. (2014). The Good Neighbor: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Rhetoric of American Power by Mary E. Stuckey. Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 17(3), 553-558.

Link to speech: http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3280.