Friday, June 3, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt twelve)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

Since my return to the States something quite wonderful was happening. The economic reverses, although drastic, brought out the greatness of the American people. Conditions had gone from bad to worse. Some states went so far as to print a fiduciary currency on wood in order to distribute unsold goods. Meanwhile the lugubrious Hoover sat and sulked, because his disastrous economic sophistry of allocating money at the top in the belief that it would percolate down to the common people had failed. And amidst all this tragedy he ranted in the election campaign that if Franklin Roosevelt got into office the very foundations of the American system – not an infallible system at that moment – would be imperilled.

However, Franklin D. Roosevelt did get into office, and the country was not imperilled. His ‘Forgotten Man’ speech lifted American politics out of its cynical drowse and established the most inspiring era in American history. I heard the speech over the radio at Sam Goldwyn’s beach-house. Several of us sat around, including Bill Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Joe Schenck, Fred Astaire, his wife and other guests. ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ came over the air like a ray of sunlight. But I was sceptical, as were most of us. ‘Too good to be true,’ I said.

No sooner had Roosevelt taken office than he began to fit actions to his words, ordering a ten-day bank holiday to stop the banks from collapsing. That was a moment when America was at its best. Shops and stores of all kinds continued to do business on credit, even the cinemas sold tickets on credit, and for ten days, while Roosevelt and his so-called brains trust formulated the New Deal, the people acted magnificently.

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