Conquering Constraints and Expanding Ethos: FDR’s 1932 Commonwealth Club Address

Tammy R. Vigil


FDR’s Commonwealth Club Address is a well-regarded speech that suffers from a lack of critical attention by rhetorical scholars. This essay compliments previous contextual and ideological critiques of the speech by examining the rhetorical strategies Roosevelt used to enhance his ethos and overcome key constraints encountered in the summer of 1932. Hampered by the rules of the Commonwealth Club (rules requiring non-partisan speeches), the complexity of the audience and the details of his own life, Roosevelt conquered these constraints by adroitly employing strategies of ingratiation building and personae adoption. Additionally, FDR built and maintained a rhetorically consistent oeuvre that enhanced his credibility by demonstrating his reliability, stability and trustworthiness.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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