Franklin D. Roosevelt
The only President to be elected four times, Roosevelt pioneered the New Deal, which helped the United States overcome the Great Depression. He also directed the nation's efforts to win World War II. Elected 1932 1936 1940 1944
The Early Years
Franklin Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York. Both he and his mother nearly died during his birth. Roosevelt grew up within the protective atmosphere of Hyde Park. He traveled extensively with his family in the United States and in Europe. He attended Groton Preparatory for high school. From 1900-1904, he was at Harvard University, where he was an average student. He was editor-in-chief of the school paper, The Harvard Crimson. He attended Columbia Law School but dropped out in 1907 after he took and passed the bar exam.
After being admitted to the bar, Roosevelt joined a prestigious New York law firm. From 1911 to 1913, he was New York State Senator. From 1913 to 1920 Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was an early supporter of US entry into World War I. In 1920, Roosevelt was the Vice Presidential candidate on James Cox's unsuccessful ticket.
In 1921, Roosevelt was struck with the polio that paralyzed him for the rest of his life. After he spent three years in recovery, Roosevelt began his political comeback by giving the nominating speech for Alfred E. Smith at the Democratic Convention of 1924.
In 1928 Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York. He was a progressive Governor, easing credit to hard-pressed farmers and developing programs to help the unemployed.
Accomplishments in Office
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only President to break the two term tradition for the Presidency. He was elected for four consecutive terms. The tone of Roosevelt's Presidency was set at his inaugural address when he said, "This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper... the only thing that we have to fear is fear itself."
Following the inauguration began what became known as The Hundred Days, during which time Roosevelt called the Congress into a special session. During this special session, legislation was enacted to help overcome the Depression. The legislation included emergency banking laws, new regulations for the securities and insurance industries, establishment of a civilian conservation corps to put a quarter of a million young unemployed workers to work on public projects, and the Agriculture Adjustment Act that gave the federal government extraordinary powers to assist farmers. Unemployment insurance was enacted for the first time as well.
Roosevelt had Congress create a number of new agencies. One of them was the National Recovery Administration, whose job it was to enforce codes of conduct within industry while relaxing Antitrust laws in order to promote business growth. The Tennessee Valley Authority, the first publicly-held utility corporation, was created with a mandate to develop power resources in the Tennessee Valley. The Federal Relief Administration designed poverty programs. The Public Works Administration created funding for infrastructure such as dams, with an eye to stirring the economy and creating jobs. The National Housing Act provided insurance for mortgages. There were many who felt that Roosevelt was extending the power of government too far with what became known as New Deal Court ultimately found a number the acts to be unconstitutional, including the NRA. Despite criticism, Roosevelt was reelected by the largest popular and electoral vote in U.S. history.
Roosevelt felt that his policies of recovery were being undermined by the Supreme Court, and he thus attempted to pack the Supreme Court with supporters of his policies. These attempts met with violent opposition, even among his supporters, and he was forced to relinquish his plan.
The Depression did not end until the onset of World War II which began with the invasion of Poland by Germany. The world had been heading toward the precipice of war from the time of Hitler's rise to power and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Roosevelt was a strong critic of the policies of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and expansionist Japan. However, he pledged to maintain American neutrality. Public opinion, and a series of Congressional neutrality acts supported American neutrality. With the fall of France, Roosevelt moved the United States into a closer alliance with Great Britain. In September of 1940, Roosevelt announced a plan to provide Great Britain with 50 destroyers in return for the privilege of leasing British bases in the Western Hemisphere. By March of 1941, Congress had passed a bill allowing the Allies the privilege of borrowing military products in the form of a Lend Lease. Under this provision, the United States had provided the British and the Soviets with over $50 billion in military equipment by the end of the war. In August of 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill met secretly on a warship off the coast of Canada and signed the Atlantic Charter, calling for the destruction of Nazi Germany. America's slow march toward involvement in the war came to a climax when bombs began to fall on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Roosevelt was a strong war leader. He personally became involved with most of the important war decisions, such as the decision to give priority to defeating Germany before Japan. At a meeting in Casablanca in January of 1943, Churchill and Roosevelt decided to accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers.
During the war, Roosevelt took part in two three-way meetings with Churchill and Stalin, one at Teheran and one at Yalta. Roosevelt was very concerned about the post-war order, and worked to establish the United Nations in order to ensure cooperation and world peace.
The First Family
Father: James Roosevelt
Mother: Sara Delano
Wife: Eleanor Roosevelt
Daughter: Anna Eleanor
Sons: James, Elliot, Franklin Jr., John Aspinwall
Secretaries of State: Cordell Hull
Secretaries of Treasury: William Woodin, Henry Morgenthau
Secretaries of War: George Dern, Harry Woodring, Henry Stimson
Attorney Generals: Homer Cummings, Frank Murphy, Robert Jackson, Francis Biddle
Secretaries of Navy: Claude Swanson, Charles Edison, Frank Knox
Postmaster Generals: James Farley, Frank Walker
Secretary of Interior: Harold Ickes
Secretaries of Agriculture: Henry Wallace, Claude Wickard
Secretaries of Commerce: Daniel Roper, Harry Hopkins, Henry Wallace
Secretary of Labor: Francis Perkins
World War II
Did You Know?
Only President elected for a third and fourth term.
First defeated vice president to be elected President.
First President to appear on TV.
First President to recieve the King and Queen of England.
First President to leave the US during a time of war.
1st Inaugural Address
3rd naugural Address
4th Inaugural Address