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World War II

Fireside Chats

What were the Fireside Chats?

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president he wanted a way to communicate his ideas directly to the American people. He did this through a number of radio speeches called fireside chats. He would address issues and explain what was going on in the country. He used these speeches to encourage the American people during times of trouble.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Fireside Chat
by Unknown
Where did the name come from?

From the name of these speeches you might at first think that President Roosevelt was sitting by a cozy fire telling stories, but he actually sat at his desk talking into a microphone. The name "fireside chats" came from a reporter named Harry Butcher. He first called the speeches fireside chats because 1) many Americans listened to the speeches in their living room near their fireplaces and 2) President Roosevelt talked in an informal manner as if he were chatting with a friend rather than giving a speech.

What were the chats about?

The chats were about the current issues of the day. When President Roosevelt first entered office the country was in an economic crisis called the Great Depression. He discussed issues such as his New Deal Program, drought conditions, and unemployment. Later, during World War II, he talked about the war and what the people of America could do to help.

Were the chats popular?

Yes, the fireside chats were very popular. The radio was one of the main sources of news and information of the day. The family would often gather around the radio and listen to different radio shows. The fireside chats were one of the most listened to radio events of the time.

The First Fireside Chat

The first fireside chat was held on March 12, 1933. This was just a few days after President Roosevelt started his first term in office. He talked about a banking crisis that was going on at the time. He explained how banks work and what was going wrong. He also explained what the government was doing to fix the problem. He then asked the American people not to panic.

The Great Depression

Many of the early fireside chats had to do with the economy and the Great Depression. The president talked about unemployment, the New Deal, the drought in the Midwest, the U.S. currency, and more. He tried to explain it to people so they would understand what was going on throughout the country and what the government was doing to try and make things better.

World War II

When World War II began, the fireside chats turned to the subject of war. On December 9, 1941, the president told the American people that the country was joining the Allies and going to war against Germany and Japan. Later, he would outline the progress of the war. He asked families to listen to the chats with a world map in the room so they could locate where American troops were fighting. He asked the American people to work hard to build planes, weapons, tanks, and ships to help win the war.

Interesting Facts about the Fireside Chats
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  • Learn More about World War II:

    Overview:
    World War II Timeline
    Allied Powers and Leaders
    Axis Powers and Leaders
    Causes of WW2
    War in Europe
    War in the Pacific
    After the War

    Battles:
    Battle of Britain
    Battle of the Atlantic
    Pearl Harbor
    Battle of Stalingrad
    D-Day (Invasion of Normandy)
    Battle of the Bulge
    Battle of Berlin
    Battle of Midway
    Battle of Guadalcanal
    Battle of Iwo Jima

    Events:
    The Holocaust
    Japanese Internment Camps
    Bataan Death March
    Fireside Chats
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Atomic Bomb)
    War Crimes Trials
    Recovery and the Marshall Plan
    Leaders:
    Winston Churchill
    Charles de Gaulle
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Harry S. Truman
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Douglas MacArthur
    George Patton
    Adolf Hitler
    Joseph Stalin
    Benito Mussolini
    Hirohito
    Anne Frank
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    Other:
    The US Home Front
    Women of World War II
    African Americans in WW2
    Spies and Secret Agents
    Aircraft
    Aircraft Carriers
    Technology
    World War II Glossary and Terms

    Works Cited

    History >> World War 2 for Kids





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