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New Deal

In 1932, with the nation in the throes of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt flew in a flimsy trimotor airplane from Albany, New York, to Chicago to accept the Democratic Presidential nomination (rather than follow tradition and acknowledge the honor several weeks later). During his acceptance speech, FDR told the cheering convention: "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people."

Columnists and cartoonists quickly adopted the phrase ("New Deal") as a rallying cry. The next day there appeared a cartoon by Rollin Kirby showing a 'man with a hoe' (the title of Edwin Markham's famous poem of protest against exploitation of labor) gazing up with hope at an airplane labeled "New Deal." Indeed, so effective was Roosevelt's classic campaign slogan that politicians and their campaign managers have since tried to create a signature catch phrase in every election. So what did Roosevelt think of the slogan? Not much. Ironically, its success was entirely serendipitous; Roosevelt and his speechwriters had intended nothing by it, had not recognized its rhetorical value, and hardly expected it to catch the imagination of the nation.

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