Franklin Delano Roosevelt
32nd President of the United States of America
Considered by many to be one of the quintessential American leaders of the 20th century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who quickly became known as FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States of America. His leadership, guidance, and solutions to national issues made him a central figure in world politics for some of the most defining moments, both nationally and internationally, in recent memory. As the only president to be elected to more than two consecutive terms, Franklin Roosevelt was in office from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, when a cerebral hemorrhage removed him from office and claimed his life. Even after death, his impact on the world would be felt resonating for years to come, leaving behind a dramatic legacy of international political organization and national economic rejuvenation.
The Life of Franklin Roosevelt
Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York, on January 30, 1882, to James and Sara Roosevelt. The two both had a lineage reaching to wealthy New York families, providing Franklin with a live of privilege. Even politics seemed to be in his blood, with future president Teddy Roosevelt being his fifth cousin and his grandmother, Mary Rebbecca Aspinwall, being the first cousin of former first lady Elizabeth Monroe, the wife of James Monroe, fifth president of the United States. His relative upper class upbringing would afford him and his family the luxury of travel throughout the world, with their most popular destination being Europe. During his early childhood, Franklin became conversational in both French and German. He would begin his education early, later attending the Groton School, a Massachusetts based boarding school following the Episcopal faith, later attending Harvard. During his stay at Harvard, he was part of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and the The Harvard Crimson, the collegiate newspaper of the institution, of which he would later become president. During this period of time, his lineage would develop even further with Teddy Roosevelt becoming President in 1901.
Franklin Roosevelt would be married to Eleanor Roosevelt on March 17, 1905. Eleanor was introduced to Franklin at a White House dinner for her uncle Teddy Roosevelt, making her and Franklin fifth cousins, once removed. Following their vows, they moved into Springwood, the family estate. In total, they would have six children, with one passing away at a young age. Their first child was born in 1906, and their last in 1916. There children were;
- Anna Eleanor (b. 1906)
- James Roosevelt (b. 1907)
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. (b. 3-18-1909, d. 11-7-1909)
- Elliot Roosevelt (b. 1910)
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. (b. 1914, after the passing of the first Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.)
- John Aspinwall Roosevelt (b. 1916)
In the years following his marriage, Franklin would finally enter into the political arena, becoming the State Senator for the Dutchess County area of New York. The area had not elected a democrat in 25 years, and with Franklin running under the Roosevelt name, he won in a landslide victory. Following a second election win, he would resign from the state senate in 1913, accepting a position as the Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and appointment he received from then president Woodrow Wilson. During his time at the Naval post, he would see defeat in a run for the national senate and would work towards the creation of the Naval Reserves. During his time in the role, he would help send troops to Central and Southern America to help resolve conflicts, later claiming he wrote the Haitian Constitution of 1915. He vacated the position to pursue a vice presidential position under James M. Cox, then governor of Ohio. Seeing defeat sent him back to practice law in New York.
One of Roosevelt's distinguishing marks was his paralysis, which developed from a case of either Polio or Guillain-Barre syndrome in 1921. The illness would leave him paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. He would constantly try to fight this fact, attempting many new and, at the time, revolutionary therapies to attempt restoring his ability to walk.
His political career slowly started to ramp up in the 1920s, with his election to Governor of New York happening in 1928, taking office in 1929. He would win once again in the next election, after instating new social reform policies and working to reform many of the state's policies.
Presidential Years and the New Deal
Considering his popularity in one of the most populous states in the nation, he quickly became a contender in the national political arena, getting the democratic nomination for the 1932 Presidential Election. He would win this election with 57 percent of the vote, winning all but 6 states during the election that many political analysts say started the transition of the national political arena to a democratic minded system. His first task, the Great Depression.
Considered the worst economic crisis in U.S. history, Franklin Roosevelt would take on the issue with the New Deal, an act that focused on relieving those who were out of work by creating new jobs. These new jobs would help to bolster the economy to a state where is could be reformed, helping to prevent the crisis from happening again. During this period, he would work to cut government spending, allowing for more funds to help the economy recover, and he would also repeal prohibition, the ban on the sale of alcohol, in 1933. His later work are turning the economy back around came after the Congressional Election of 1934, when democrats would gain a large majority in both Houses of Congress. Included in this new legislation was the Social Security Act and the Works Progress Administration.
His second term was won by a landslide, and while the economy would continue to improve, he would spend more of his time working on keeping his legislation in place. Many of his previous policies would come under fire from the supreme court. During this period of time, he would also declare an act of neutrality, unaligning the country with any foreign powers engaged in war, thanks primarily to the rise of one Adolf Hitler. This would also lead to a rearmament of the United States in 1938, fueled by tensions in Europe.
His isolationism would come to an end following his election to a third term as president. Many would criticize him for running a third time, but since there was no constitutional amendment for this just yet, it was still considered to be legal. Franklin Roosevelt would then align the country with the Allied Forces, offering anything short of engaging in actual warfare. The neutrality of a nation would be shattered by the events of December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 U.S. military personnel. Declaring war, in alignment with Great Britain and Russia, the country would then take on Germany and the Third Reich, followed by Japan and the use of the first atomic weapon in combat. Both countries would be defeated at the hands of the allied forces.
A fourth term victory for President of the United States was guaranteed, with Roosevelt winning 53 percent of the vote in 1944, even though he was in failing health. He would die only a few months into his term of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945, a prediction his doctor had made during his campaign.
Many would consider Franklin Roosevelt one of the most prolific figures in American and International politics of the 20th century. The changes he would make to this country would be felt for years to come.