Who Was the First US President to Appear on Television?

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington DC, USA.  Editorial credit: Kamira / Shutterstock.com
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington DC, USA. Editorial credit: Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Who Was the First Us President to Appear on Television?

The first United States President to appear on television was none other than the 32nd president of the US, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (commonly known as FDR.) FDR first appeared on black and white TV on April 30, 1939 during the opening ceremony for the World’s Fair.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the president of the US from 1933 until his death in 1945. Further, he was a democrat who made history by winning a record four elections on the presidential level. In this, he is the only US president to serve for more than two terms in the office of the president (the 22nd Amendment to limit the presidential terms to two was passed in 1947). He was a key figure in world events that took place in the 20th century. Key among his history making events include leading the American people during most of the economic great depression and during the World War II. In addition, he was a dominant leader of the democrats who formed the New Deal Coalition. which readjusted American politics into the Fifth Party System. Furthermore, he is remembered as the man who defined American liberalism in the 20th century, which in turn gives him a high rating among scholars. Alongside the great George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, FDR is regarded as one of the three greatest and most successful president in the history of the United States.

President Harry Truman

As much as FDR made history with the TV, it would be remiss not to mention his successor, President Harry Truman, who lived from 1884 to 1972. Harry Truman must be mentioned since he also made history by being the first US president to ever make a televised presidential address from The White House on October 1947. Subsequently, after his first presidential address, all of Truman’s speeches were televised on national TV. Even his inauguration ceremony in the year 1949 was televised. As if that was not enough TV history for one man, he is remembered as the president who pioneered the White House Telecast as well as make a paid advertisement on TV.

Just like his predecessor, FDR, President Truman also has several achievements to his name. Truman took over a nation during a time when Europe was still smarting from the effects of World War II. At that time, he was concerned with alleviating the food shortage that had hit Europe. Through an action plan drawn by his government, Truman was able to help Europe surmount the hunger.

Presidential TV Viewership

FDR's remarks at the opening ceremony of the World Fair were only seen on receivers at the fairgrounds and in midtown Manhattan at the Radio City Music Hall. The following day, TVs went on sale to the public. During Truman’s presidency, TV viewership was still limited, with TV still in its infancy stages. Only 44,000 TV sets existed in comparison to 40 million radios. However, TV viewership during Truman's presidency had greatly surpassed that of his predecessor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


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