Discussion Questions Week 1

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Discussion Questions Week 1
For your first discussion section on Friday you should complete the following 2 readings:
1. "How to read a primary source"- available at

2. Richard Polenberg's _The Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt_, pages 1-44. We particularly want you to read Franklin Roosevelt's first inaugural address

(pages 39-44). If you don't have the book yet, you can find it on reserve for the class at Odegaard undergraduate library. Alternatively, you can read the text of the speech (and listen to an audio file of it) at

As you read the speech you should consider the questions below, which will form the basis for discussion on Friday. Be prepared to point to specific evidence from the speech in response to the questions in discussion section (you do NOT have to prepare formal written answers to these questions although you may want to make notes for yourself on how you might respond to them, underline key parts of the text, etc.):
- According to Roosevelt, what problems faced the nation in early 1933?

- Who does he blame for these problems?

- What was Roosevelt's goal in making the speech?

- What proposals did Roosevelt make to deal with the problems facing the nation?

- What different groups in American society did he propose to help?

- How might these proposals have marked a new departure in American society, politics and the economy?

- What strikes you about the rhetoric of the speech, ie. the language and images he used?

- How do you think Americans listening to the speech would have reacted to it?

- Who might have opposed what he proposed and who might have supported it?

- Consider Roosevelt's speech in terms of the guidelines in the "How to read a primary source" document listed above. How reliable is it as a source of evidence about American society in the early 1930s?
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