Opening scene shows the White House in Washington, DC. Scene shifts to President Roosevelt seated, ready to address the Nation by radio. View of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. FDR with his entire family posing, in front of the family home "Springwood" at Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt, when Governor of New York, seen in a sail boat, in 1929. FDR in his car at his Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, Georgia. He is speaking with a man associated with the Institute, who then greets several polio victims in wheel chairs there. Crowds celebrating Roosevelt's election, in Times Square, Manhattan, New York City, in 1932. Roosevelt, at the Democratic Headquarters at the Biltmore Hotel on November 8, 1932. He is standing, supported by his son James, as he remarks: "It looks my friends like a real landslide this time." Aerial view of the U.S. Capitol. FDR taking the oath of office on March 4, 1933. A man looking at stock market ticker tape. A group of people raising a National Recovery Administration member flag. Glimpse of "Springwood" and then view of President Roosevelt sitting next to his mother, Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt. Next, as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt sit in the garden, their grandchildren, Anna Eleanor Dall ("Sistie") and Curtis Roosevelt Dall ("Buzzie") come past riding horses, with granddaughter Sara, behind them on a pony. FDR pets the pony and talks with Sara. FDR being nominated for a second term as President, in the 1936 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. President Roosevelt, riding in an inaugural motorcade as he begins an unprecedented 4th term as President in 1941. Glimpse of President and Mrs. Roosevelt in an open car. West point cadets marching in the inaugural parade. Military trucks towing artillery pieces in the parade. President Roosevelt speaking at the dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association at the Willard hotel in Washington, DC, March 15, 1941. He extols the virtues of Winston Churchill and the British people. And he promises that America will supply them with the war materiel they need (This is known as the Lend Lease Speech.)
"City Pastorale" shows citizens of New York hurrying about their business during workday on a street in New York City. Vehicular traffic and pedestrians. People riding on the subway. Views of workaday foot traffic along New York sidewalk. Macy's department store. Racks of clothes being wheeled along the streets and sidewalks. Scenes of New Yorkers in hectic activity. In contrast, are shown peaceful scenic views of New York City. Penthouse gardens. Clothes drying on a rooftop line. People entering a number of different churches in Manhattan, New York. A woman in a garden. A man and a boy sit and read newspapers in the garden. The young boy looks at the "funny papers" (comic strips). A man walks with a child on a sidewalk. Cars parked. People chatting on the sidewalk of a New York city street. The Chrysler Building and nearby skyscrapers. People taking pictures with handheld cameras at a playground. Families with babies. Children playing in a park. Quiet streets. Car drives beneath an elevated train. Men walk on a ramp. People relax on beaches. Older women gathered together on the beach talking, while boys play in the sand at the edge of the surf. A huge crowd seated in a baseball stadium and watching a game between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, including a shot of Giants pitcher, #36 ( Mickey McGowan ?), throwing from the mound and, in another scene, Giants #23 (Clint Hartung ?) batting and striking out. Views of the fans watching the baseball game, including some men in suits and boys sitting together in the bleachers watching the game and eating ice cream on a stick. Visitors stroll through the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Depiction of the New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929 in New York City. American traders at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York. People trading at the exchange market. A man talks on a telephone. Many people gathered on the floor of NYSE. People discuss, crowd, and shout out orders. People sell their shares. Frenzied selling of shares. Ticker tape machines spitting out sell orders. Traders yelling orders to other traders. Telephone switchboard operators frantically taking orders. A note reads 'Sell 3000 M' , 'Sell 800 GE' , 'Sell 1000 RCA', 'Sell 1000 M' , 'Sell 1000 A', 'Sell 500 EBS' and 'Sell 2000 CN'. The stock market crashes. Stock ticker tape and papers scattered all over the floor of the exchange on Wall Street.
Scenes of fire fighters battling fire at the Lee Brothers warehouse at 2296 Eighth Avenue at 123rd Street in New York City. The warehouse blazes. Firemen spray water from hoses at the blaze. Two men talk to each other at the site. View of damaged fire fighting equipment, cars, and debris. (FDNY Firemen Elbert Hardman and Nelson Tuite, both of Engine 36 were operating the deckpipe on the 1929 Seagrave hose wagon of Engine 36, when an explosion blew out the top corner of the building front wall. Both fire fighters were killed and the hose wagon was destroyed.) The firemen evacuate casualties and transfer them into ambulance. Thick ice covers the building from freezing temperatures, after the blaze was extinguished.
'Retrospect' about the events that led to the present pattern of life in the United States. Host Douglas Edwards, an American television anchor speaks about the past events in America. Crowd of unemployed men gathering in bread lines after the 1929 crash and subsequent Great Depression. A man near a box of apples. The U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addresses a gathering. The kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., the son of the aviator Charles Lindbergh in 1932. Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German carpenter who abducted the child during the trial. The congressmen at the formation of the Lindbergh Law. Newspapers describe the apprehension or death of notorious gangster criminals, such as Dutch Schultz and Baby Face Nelson. Huey Pierce Long, Jr. a American politician addresses people. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia appeals to the League of Nations, after his country is attacked by Italy under Mussolini. Adolf Hitler stands. Troops of the German army parade. Scenes from the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1937 as Spanish national forces battle against fascist rebel forces. Spanish Troops fire 75mm field artillery pieces. Bombs being dropped on the buildings. Spanish soldiers marching during the civil war. The Hindenburg disaster takes place on May 6th 1937: The German airship LZ 129 Hindenburg catches fire over the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester, New Jersey. Amelia Earhart the first woman aviator to fly solo holds flowers and is surrounded by people. She went missing in 1937. Cowboy philosopher Will Rogers, alone and with U.S. Vice President John Nance Garner and with aviator Wiley Post (who had patch over one eye). King Edward VIII of Great Britain, abdicating the throne for "the woman I love." People at the German-American Bund Nazi sympathizing gathering including the subduing of objectors on stage, in Madison Square Garden, New York. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, returning from meeting with Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938. View of Adolf Hitler. German tanks on parade in World War II. an array of artillery guns on display. Railway guns being fired in WW2.
Seventeen year old aviatrix Elinor Smith sets a new flight endurance record for women. Bellanca monoplane lands at Roosevelt Field, New York. Elinor Smith in cockpit of the plane. Crowd rushes to greet her. A woman stands near her.