At the '32 DNC, FDR and a 'New Deal'
In 1932 the Great Depression was in its third year. Banks were closing and unemployment stood at about 25 percent. Many Americans felt hopeless.
This was an election year. With no improvement in sight, President Herbert Hoover and the Republicans were on the way out. The next president would probably be a Democrat.
The Democratic Convention met at the new Chicago Stadium that June. On the third ballot, the delegates nominated Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York as their presidential candidate. They then appointed a committee to go to New York, and notify Roosevelt at a later date.
And to get there in a hurry, he would travel by airplane!
That’s wasn’t easy to do. Since Roosevelt couldn’t walk, he had to be transported everywhere in a wheelchair. The flight itself took several hours, battling storm and heavy headwinds.
But on the evening of June 2, the candidate was at the Chicago Stadium. He didn’t look like someone who was in constant pain from his disability. He didn’t look like someone who had just endured a bumpy, marathon flight in a 1932-model plane. He was smiling.
Roosevelt radiated confidence. Speaking to the Convention and to the unseen radio audience, he said that the times called for bold action. That’s why he had abandoned the ridiculous idea that he should wait around, pretending to be ignorant, until he was formally notified. Of course he knew that the delegates had chosen him.
Roosevelt had captured the mood of a nation ready to break with failed policies. That fall he beat Hoover in a landslide. The new president’s program came to be known by the phrase he used in his acceptance speech – the New Deal.
Today scholars debate whether Roosevelt’s policies helped the country recover from the Depression. But he sure restored America’s belief in itself.