Franklin Delano
Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Early Life

On January 30, 1882, the wealthy family of James Roosevelt and Sara Ann Delano, of English descent, welcomed their first and only child Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Little did the couple know the influence their child would have, as he would later go down in history. 

Young Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose mother’s ancestry came from the Mayflower, enjoyed a wealthy upbringing in Hyde Park, New York. Up until the age of 14, Franklin D. Roosevelt was home-schooled. Later, he went on to attend Groton Preparatory School in Massachusetts. While attending school in Groton, Massachusetts, young FD Roosevelt learned Christian values and showed them through his civic engagement. He was led to be a gentleman, taking up the cause of the underprivileged. 

DID YOU KNOW

Anna Eleanor, the niece and goddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt, was the fifth cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Personal Life

Franklin D. Roosevelt was officially acquainted with his future spouse, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1902 during a train journey to Tivoli, New York. Over time, they developed a strong rapport and understanding, culminating in their marriage in 1905. The couple was blessed with six children: Anna Eleanor; James; Franklin Delano, Jr.; Elliott; Franklin Delano, Jr.; and John Aspinwall.

However, their marital union evolved into more of a political partnership than an intimate relationship, with both Franklin and Eleanor navigating the complexities of their personal and public lives.

DID YOU KNOW

In 1921, Franklin contracted polio, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Eleanor played a crucial role in supporting her husband's political career.

Interesting Facts

Discovering the remarkable life of Franklin D. Roosevelt unveils a series of captivating facts that define his unique legacy. From his intricate family connections, including distant relations to his wife and 11 other U.S. presidents, to his privileged upbringing rooted in the Mayflower’s history, Roosevelt’s familial ties set the stage for an extraordinary journey. Despite a less-than-stellar academic record, his educational path led him from Groton, an elite Massachusetts boarding school, to Harvard College, where he courted his fifth cousin once removed Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. Post-Harvard, his pursuit of legal studies at Columbia Law School faced challenges, yet he passed the bar exam in 1907, marking the beginning of an unconventional career that transitioned from a prestigious Wall Street firm to the world of politics.

Roosevelt’s political prowess reached its zenith with unprecedented success in presidential elections. His victories in 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944 formed the “New Deal coalition,” uniting diverse groups and showcasing overwhelming electoral and popular vote tallies. Breaking with tradition, FDR’s four-term presidency, spanning over 12 years, left an indelible mark on U.S. history and prompted the eventual ratification of the 22nd Amendment.

DID YOU KNOW

Roosevelt's political prowess reached its zenith with unprecedented success in presidential elections with victories in 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944.

Influence in History

In the 1912 presidential elections, Franklin D. Roosevelt lent his support to Woodrow Wilson’s candidacy. Wilson’s subsequent presidency opened new avenues for Roosevelt, leading to his transition from the New York State Senate to the role of Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Navy in 1913.

During his seven-year tenure at the Navy, Roosevelt immersed himself passionately in the intricacies of the position. He wholeheartedly supported Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy, in the endeavor to build a formidable and efficient naval force. Roosevelt played a pivotal role in expanding the Navy, securing budgetary approvals and ensuring its seamless functioning.

In a subsequent bid for the U.S. Senate seat of New York, Roosevelt faced challenges due to a lack of White House support, resulting in an unfavorable electoral outcome. This experience, however, served as a realization for Roosevelt about the formidable influence of White House backing.

During the early 1920s, Roosevelt actively worked on repairing his relationships within the Democratic Party. He threw his support behind Alfred E. Smith’s candidacy for the governor of New York in both 1922 and 1924.

In 1928, Roosevelt stepped into the position himself, succeeding Smith as the governor of New York in a narrow victory. His tenure as governor was marked by progressive reforms and the implementation of various social programs aimed at the betterment of society at large. Roosevelt’s success led to his re-election for a second term in 1930, solidifying his impact on the state’s governance.

Presidencies

DID YOU KNOW

True to his campaign promises, Roosevelt embarked on a multifaceted approach aimed at providing relief, recovery and reform to a nation in distress. Relief efforts focused on reinvigorating the vast unemployed workforce, while recovery initiatives sought to restore the economy to a state of normalcy

Second Term, 1937

In stark contrast to the transformative reforms of his first term, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second term experienced a notable decrease in the passage of major legislative initiatives. Notable among these were the Housing Act of 1937, a second Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, marking incremental steps amid a shifting political landscape.

Facing resistance, Roosevelt encountered a formidable challenge from the Supreme Court, which overturned several of his proposed reforms. Expressing frustration, he responded with a controversial proposal that would grant him the authority to appoint judges. However, this initiative faced widespread opposition, including dissent from Democrats, as it was perceived as granting the president excessive control over the judiciary.

The latter part of Roosevelt’s second term saw a decline in his legislative influence due to negative publicity, a persistently sluggish economy and setbacks in midterm elections favoring Republicans. The disintegration of support from labor unions, once steadfast allies, further weakened the Democratic Party in elections from 1938 to 1946.

DID YOU KNOW

Roosevelt encountered a formidable challenge from the Supreme Court, which overturned several of his proposed reforms. Expressing frustration, he responded with a controversial proposal that would grant him the authority to appoint judges.

Third Term, 1941

During much of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term as president, the global stage was dominated by the tumultuous events of the Second World War. Focused on supporting Allies like Britain, France and Russia, the United States, under Roosevelt’s leadership, transformed into the heralded “arsenal of democracy.”

Despite initial isolationist sentiments, Roosevelt faced some resistance from Senators William Borah and Robert Taft. Capitalizing on the evolving geopolitical landscape, he bolstered support for the Allies against Germany, Japan and Italy by significantly increasing the provision of essential supplies.

In collaboration with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941, Roosevelt devised a comprehensive program detailing the manpower, mobilization, industry, and logistics required to effectively counter the perceived threats to the United States.

World War II

The turning point for the United States' active involvement in World War II occurred on December 7, 1941, with the unforeseen Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

As the Allies gained momentum against Nazi Germany by 1943, Roosevelt took visionary steps. He convened a crucial meeting with Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek to discuss the postwar future of Europe. It was during this historic gathering that Roosevelt laid the foundation for the establishment of the United Nations, showcasing his commitment to a collaborative international order in the aftermath of a world-altering conflict.

Fourth Term and Final Years

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s historical significance in U.S. history is unparalleled, as he remains the only president to be elected to office four times, a record unbroken to this day. His fourth-term victory in the 1944 elections was strategically secured by choosing Harry S. Truman as his running mate for the vice presidential position. This pairing resulted in an impressive 53% of the popular vote and carried 36 states, solidifying Roosevelt’s unprecedented tenure in office.

In the closing days of his presidency, Roosevelt embarked on a crucial diplomatic journey to Egypt to participate in the Yalta Conference. During this historic event, he engaged in significant meetings with notable figures such as Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, and King Abdulaziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia. Following the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt diligently briefed Congress on the proceedings, marking a notable chapter in his foreign policy legacy.

Tragically, Roosevelt’s last international engagement marked the culmination of his storied political career. Shortly after returning from the Yalta Conference, his declining health became evident. Despite being elected for an unprecedented fourth term, Roosevelt’s illness, characterized by multiple health issues including high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease leading to angina pectoris, and congestive heart failure, ultimately claimed his life on April 12, 1945. The toll of these health challenges marked the end of an era, leaving behind a legacy of both political accomplishments and personal struggles.

FAQs

Why is Franklin D. Roosevelt famous?

Franklin D. Roosevelt is renowned for his leadership during two critical periods in U.S. history. First, as the 32nd president from 1933 to 1945, he implemented the New Deal to address the Great Depression, introducing programs including Social Security and the Works Progress Administration. Second, FDR served as a pivotal leader during World War II, guiding the nation through the conflict. His legacy includes being the only president elected to four terms and playing a key role in establishing the United Nations.

How long did Franklin Roosevelt serve as president?

Franklin D. Roosevelt served as president for four terms, from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945.

What did President Franklin D. Roosevelt do in his first term as president?

In his first term as president (1933-1937), FDR focused on addressing the immediate economic challenges of the Great Depression. He implemented the New Deal, a series of programs and reforms designed to provide relief, stimulate economic recovery, and reform the financial system. Key initiatives included the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration, and the Social Security Act.

Who is the longest-serving U.S. president?

Franklin D. Roosevelt holds the record for being the longest-serving president of the United States. He served four terms from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945. However, the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1951, limits presidents to two terms, so no president can serve more than eight years in office today.

Who was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president during his fourth term?

Harry S. Truman was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president during his fourth term. Truman later became the 33rd president of the United States after Roosevelt’s death.

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