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The political campaigns of franklin d roosevelt

This front page of the March 4, 1933 shows the newspaper's faith in the new President on the eve of his inauguration. The country was in turmoil and desperate for a way out of economic and social trouble. By the time Americans went to the polls in their thirty-seventh presidential election, industrial production was at a low ebb, unemployment was widespread, and the farmers of the country were facing ruin. By 1932, millions of people across the country were condemning Hoover and the Republican Party.

This trend of disapproval, which led to a landslide win for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was evident in Seattle. Looking into the views of such widely circulated public propaganda shows how desperate the nation was for a change of leadership. Before delving into the election and the Seattle newspapers, it is crucial to first understand the climate of the country before the election, which was the driving force in the overwhelming Democratic Party victory.

Not only did the people of the country feel the strain of the Depression in almost all areas of life but they also felt a strain from the inadequacy of government efforts to save the country. Despite his seemingly disastrous first term, Hoover felt obligated to run again to vindicate himself and his policies. Republicans also felt his nomination was necessary, not because of their belief in his policies or the President in general, but because denying his re-nomination would be admitting failure.

Therefore, by the time the convention had concluded on June 16, Hoover and his Vice-President Charles Curtis had been re-nominated.

The Democrats, on the other hand, were in an excellent position to take the presidency. Roosevelt was the frontrunner and finally, after much deliberation, was nominated to run for the next president of the United States alongside running mate John Garner.

In his address to the people after his nomination, the Governor from New York roused the audience to cheers with his promise: He campaign hard despite media expectations that the battle was, for the most part, already won. The violent expulsion of the Bonus Marchers, peaceful veterans who had served their country, gave the public one more reason to prefer the charismatic Roosevelt.

United States presidential election of 1932

The landslide victory in November of 1932 for the Democratic Party,--which won Roosevelt 42 states and 57 percent of the popular vote-- was mirrored in the state of Washington, where votes for the Democratic candidates tallied well over 57 percent.

The use of headlines, rhetoric and diction in the articles was a powerful tool of support for Roosevelt and opens a window into the mind of Seattleites during the election.

  • The UW Daily conveys the impression that students favored Hoover overwhelmingly;
  • He was immediately notified by telephone and then, with his family, flew to Chicago, a first, and then another milestone;
  • Because the Daily was not published during the summer months when school was not in session, it is difficult to gain their views of the National Convention nominations.

FDR in Seattle, 1932. Click image to enlarge.

Roosevelt Campaign

Courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry The Seattle Daily Times had long been Seattle's most conservative newspaper, but in 1932 it joined the other dailies in supporting the Democrat candidate. While the paper was indeed reporting the news from the Republican convention, it showed its lack of excitement in its word choice, leaving the news lame and uninteresting.

Good Times Are Here Again! Roosevelt accepting the Democratic nomination for the Presidency rings out over the country with the full clear tone of an unmistakable sincerity and a lofty purpose. It is a speech from the heart of a sound American, coined into convincing words and phrases in the mind of one whose capacity for public service has been amply demonstrated… It is in all respects a great speech.

It was obvious that the editors of The Times were ready for change, even without a firm understanding of what that would bring. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had traditionally been a more moderate newspaper.

1932: FDR’s First Presidential Campaign

Owned by the Hearst newspaper chain, it usually endorsed Democratic Party presidential candidates, following the political convictions of owner, William Randolph Hearst. In comparing the attitudes of the Times and the PI, two papers that usually differed when it came to partisan politics, we can see an overwhelming consensus of support for Roosevelt in the Seattle.

Evidently, college students, both in Seattle and nationally, did not share in this consensus. The UW Daily conveys the impression that students favored Hoover overwhelmingly.

The campaign

Because the Daily was not published during the summer months when school was not in session, it is difficult to gain their views of the National Convention nominations. However, in the days before the November1932 election, a straw poll was taken on campuses across the country to determine how college students felt about the election. On November 8, 1932, The Daily came out with findings that paralleled the national poll, reporting that Herbert Hoover had won the majority of votes in the straw poll.

Sixty percent of those participating in the unscientific poll at UW said they supported Hoover. But the results are still important, demonstrating that despite the huge victory for the Democrats, there was still a decent amount of support in the city. The Times continued its support for Roosevelt on the eve of the election, though at this point the newspaper restrained its previous exuberance for the Democratic Party.

  1. Arthur Vincent Mallon, Scrapbook, 1932-1941, and Portrait photo, 1942. It was obvious that the editors of The Times were ready for change, even without a firm understanding of what that would bring.
  2. In his address to the people after his nomination, the Governor from New York roused the audience to cheers with his promise.
  3. The Democrats also won a majority in the House and the Senate.
  4. By inauguration day—March 4, 1933—most banks had shut down, industrial production had fallen to just 56 percent of its 1929 level, at least 13 million wage earners were unemployed, and farmers were in desperate straits.
  5. Mallon joined the Army in 1942, was trained as a medic, and eventually assigned to England where he cared for troops injured in Europe. In a repudiation not just of Hoover but also of the Republican Party, Americans also elected substantial Democratic majorities to both houses of Congress.

The Seattle Times had crossed party lines in 1932. The PI also highlighted a comment made by Hoover that underscored his violent actions against the protesting war veterans in Washington: However, it is in the widely circulated major newspapers that we find a better representation of the majority opinion, and the true atmosphere of Seattle.

Though they often were opposed in issues of partisan politics, the consensus of support for Roosevelt among the PI and the Seattle Times shows how desperately the Seattle public and the nation were looking for a change in leadership during the Depression. Scott, Foresman and Company: Facts on File, Inc.: New York, 2005 pp.