Franklin D. Roosevelt
32nd President of the United States
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war. The only American president elected to more than two terms, he facilitated a durable coalition that realigned American politics for decades.
Biography
Franklin D. Roosevelt's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Franklin D. Roosevelt from around the web
Muncie needs its own Mount Rushmore - Muncie Star Press
Google News - over 5 years
Franklin Roosevelt? Ronald Reagan? Bill Clinton? John Boehner? Sarah Palin? Willie Nelson? We should have a national referendum to decide whose bust to add. Franklin Roosevelt should be sculpted in a wheel chair. John Boehner's statue should have a
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Further cuts in spending a bad idea - Las Vegas Sun
Google News - over 5 years
President Franklin Roosevelt ameliorated the Depression with optimism and a lot of government spending, becoming one of the most beloved American presidents. I would have thought that this experience would have taught us a lesson
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Commentary: 'Jersey Shore,' Super committees and othe conundrums - Kansas City Star
Google News - over 5 years
If Franklin Roosevelt were still alive and still president, would he have to change his famous Depression-era rallying cry to “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself … and Standard & Poor's … and European banks … and that tsunami … oh,
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Washington, Lincoln and FDR Were Great Presidents - and Great Radicals - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Franklin Roosevelt led the United States through two terrible crises, each of which placed the very survival of the nation in jeopardy. In the 1930s, the Great Depression threatened to destroy the country economically and socially and, quite possibly,
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Americans want security for 2012 - CNN
Google News - over 5 years
Nobody understood this more than President Franklin Roosevelt, who in the 1930s and 1940s made security the defining message of his presidency. The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy showed how Roosevelt's rhetoric and policies revolved
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ECONOMIC VIEW; The Hope That Flows From History
NYTimes - over 5 years
AFTER the grim economic developments of the last few weeks, it's easy to lose hope. Could the Great Recession of 2008 drag on for years, just as the Great Depression did in the 1930s? Adding to the despair is the oft-repeated notion that it took World War II to end the economic nightmare of the '30s: If a global war was needed to return the economy
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Recession has hints from the 1930s depression - abc7news.com
Google News - over 5 years
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the stock market crashed, unemployment hit 25 percent and Franklin Roosevelt ordered the US Government to start spending. Roosevelt's "New Deal" put people back to work and got the flattened economy going again
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A Retreat For Roosevelt In Georgia Burns Down
NYTimes - over 5 years
WARM SPRINGS, Ga. -- It was the home where Franklin D. Roosevelt, ravaged by polio, learned to walk with a cane and leg braces. It was where he was persuaded by Democratic leaders to run for president in 1932. And it is where, whenever his health deteriorated, the future president would wade into the calm streams nearby or read books on the front
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The Absent Commander-in-Chief: Who's in Charge Here? - Huffington Post
Google News - over 5 years
During World War II, when Franklin Roosevelt was commander-in-chief, I observed the president quite closely. I once joined him and Admiral William Leahy (first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) for lunch at his desk in the Oval Office
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Franklin D. Roosevelt cottage destroyed by fire - Daily Mail
Google News - over 5 years
The ET Curtis Cottage was built in 1928 Labour Commissioner Mark Butler said: 'As the first home President Franklin Roosevelt built in Warm Springs, the nation has experienced a great loss with the burning of the McCarthy Cottage. ... -
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The Tea Party and a Struggling Economy - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
Its members don't believe economists, who are virtually unanimous in teaching that government stimulus is needed now and that failure to provide it returns us to the mistake of 1937, when, as Mr. Nocera wrote, “Franklin Roosevelt, believing the
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OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; Maybe Washington Needs More Craziness
NYTimes - over 5 years
Boston IF President Obama stumbled in his handling of the debt crisis, in my view, it was because he is too normal: too rational, willing to compromise, a rule-follower, conventionally wise. In contrast, Franklin D. Roosevelt , who succeeded with a worse debt crisis, had a mentally abnormal personality, characterized by mild manic symptoms. The
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Nassir Ghaemi Uncovers A First-Rate Madness - New York Observer
Google News - over 5 years
“Like his hero Winston Churchill and his predecessor Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy never gave up.” That last sentence is only one never away from hagiography. All the rah-rah quickly gets ho-hum. But Mr. Ghaemi is smarter than this,
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President's bully pulpit is not what it used to be - CNN International
Google News - over 5 years
During the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt used the radio to powerful effect, tackling the Great Depression through communication. Roosevelt went on the air when he wanted to sell a certain policy or calm Americans about a particular challenge
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A woman of power: Mary McLeod Bethune - Daily Kos
Google News - over 5 years
"Ms. Bethune was a Republican who changed her party allegiance because of Franklin Roosevelt.". Ms. Bethune was very closely tied to the community and believed she knew what the African Americans really wanted. She was looked upon very highly by other
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Franklin D. Roosevelt
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1945
    Age 63
    When Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, Allied forces were closing in on Berlin.
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    On March 29, 1945, Roosevelt went to the Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia, to rest before his anticipated appearance at the founding conference of the United Nations.
    More Details Hide Details On the afternoon of April 12, Roosevelt said, "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head." He then slumped forward in his chair, unconscious, and was carried into his bedroom. The president's attending cardiologist, Dr. Howard Bruenn, diagnosed a massive cerebral hemorrhage (stroke). At 3:35 p.m. that day, Roosevelt died. As Allen Drury later said, "so ended an era, and so began another." After Roosevelt's death, an editorial by The New York Times declared, "Men will thank God on their knees a hundred years from now that Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House". At the time he collapsed, Roosevelt had been sitting for a portrait painting by the artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff, known as the famous Unfinished Portrait of FDR. In his later years at the White House, when Roosevelt was increasingly overworked, his daughter Anna Roosevelt Boettiger had moved in to provide her father companionship and support. Anna had also arranged for her father to meet with his former mistress, the now widowed Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd. Shoumatoff, who maintained close friendships with both Roosevelt and Mercer, rushed Mercer away to avoid negative publicity and implications of infidelity.
    During March 1945, he sent strongly worded messages to Stalin accusing him of breaking his Yalta commitments over Poland, Germany, prisoners of war and other issues.
    More Details Hide Details When Stalin accused the western Allies of plotting a separate peace with Hitler behind his back, Roosevelt replied: "I cannot avoid a feeling of bitter resentment towards your informers, whoever they are, for such vile misrepresentations of my actions or those of my trusted subordinates."
  • 1944
    Age 62
    Roosevelt and Truman won the 1944 election by a comfortable margin, defeating Dewey and his running mate John W. Bricker with 53.4% of the popular vote and 432 out of the 531 electoral votes. The President campaigned in favor of a strong United Nations, so his victory symbolized support for the nation's future participation in the international community. Due to the President's declining health, the small-scale fourth inauguration on January 20, 1945, was held on the White House lawn. The President left the Yalta Conference on February 12, 1945, flew to Egypt and boarded the USS Quincy operating on the Great Bitter Lake near the Suez Canal.
    More Details Hide Details Aboard Quincy, the next day he met with Farouk I, king of Egypt, and Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia. On February 14, he held a historic meeting with King Abdulaziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia, a meeting some historians believe holds profound significance in U.S.–Saudi relations even today. After a final meeting between Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Quincy steamed for Algiers, arriving February 18, at which time Roosevelt conferred with American ambassadors to Britain, France and Italy. At Yalta, Lord Moran, Winston Churchill's physician, commenting on Roosevelt's ill health, said that he was a dying man. When Roosevelt returned to the United States, he addressed Congress on March 1 about the Yalta Conference, and many were shocked to see how old, thin and frail he looked. He spoke while seated in the well of the House, an unprecedented concession to his physical incapacity. Roosevelt opened his speech by saying, "I hope that you will pardon me for this unusual posture of sitting down during the presentation of what I want to say, but... it makes it a lot easier for me not to have to carry about ten pounds of steel around on the bottom of my legs." Still in full command mentally, he firmly stated "The Crimean Conference ought to spell the end of a system of unilateral action, the exclusive alliances, the spheres of influence, the balances of power, and all the other expedients that have been tried for centuries– and have always failed.
    During the 1944 election campaign, McIntire denied several times that Roosevelt's health was poor; on October 12, for example, he announced that "The President's health is perfectly OK.
    More Details Hide Details There are absolutely no organic difficulties at all." Prior to the election, Roosevelt may have used his authority over the Office of Censorship to quash press reports of his declining physical health. Roosevelt, aware that most publishers were opposed to him, issued a decree in 1943 that blocked all publishers and media executives from visits to combat areas; he put General Marshall in charge of enforcement. The main target was Henry Luce, the powerful publisher of Time and Life magazines. Historian Alan Brinkley argues the move was "badly mistaken", for had Luce been allowed to travel, he would have been an enthusiastic cheerleader for American forces around the globe. But stranded in New York City, Luce's frustration and anger expressed itself in hard-edged partisanship. Party leaders insisted that Roosevelt drop Henry A. Wallace, who had been erratic as Vice President. James F. Byrnes of South Carolina, a top FDR aide, was considered ineligible because he had left the Catholic Church and many Catholic voters would not vote for him. Roosevelt replaced Wallace with Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman, best known for his battle against corruption and inefficiency in wartime spending. The Republicans nominated Thomas E. Dewey, the liberal governor of New York. The opposition lambasted FDR and his administration for domestic corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, tolerance of Communism, and military blunders. Labor unions, which had grown rapidly in the war, threw their all-out support behind Roosevelt.
    In March 1944, shortly after his 62nd birthday, he underwent testing at Bethesda Hospital and was found to have high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease causing angina pectoris, and congestive heart failure.
    More Details Hide Details Hospital physicians and two outside specialists ordered Roosevelt to rest. His personal physician, Admiral Ross McIntire, created a daily schedule that banned business guests for lunch and incorporated two hours of rest each day.
    In 1944, the President requested that Congress enact legislation which would tax all unreasonable profits, both corporate and individual, and thereby support his declared need for over $10 billion in revenue for the war and other government measures.
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  • 1943
    Age 61
    Roosevelt met with Churchill and the Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek at the Cairo Conference in November 1943, and then went to the Tehran Conference to confer with Churchill and Stalin.
    More Details Hide Details While Churchill warned of potential domination by a Stalin dictatorship over eastern Europe, Roosevelt responded with a statement summarizing his rationale for relations with Stalin: "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace." At the Tehran Conference, Roosevelt and Churchill discussed plans for a postwar international organization. For his part, Stalin insisted on redrawing the frontiers of Poland. Stalin supported Roosevelt's plan for the United Nations and promised to enter the war against Japan 90 days after Germany was defeated. By the beginning of 1945, however, with the Allied armies advancing into Germany and the Soviets in control of Poland, the postwar issues came into the open. In February, Roosevelt met with Churchill at Malta and traveled to Yalta, in Crimea, to meet again with Stalin and Churchill. While Roosevelt maintained his confidence that Stalin would keep his Yalta promises regarding free elections in eastern Europe, one month after Yalta ended, Roosevelt's Ambassador to the USSR Averell Harriman cabled Roosevelt that "we must come clearly to realize that the Soviet program is the establishment of totalitarianism, ending personal liberty and democracy as we know it." Two days later, Roosevelt began to admit that his view of Stalin had been excessively optimistic and that "Averell is right."
  • FIFTIES
  • 1942
    Age 60
    In October 1942, the President was advised that military resources were desperately needed at Guadalcanal to prevent overrunning by the Japanese.
    More Details Hide Details FDR heeded the advice, redirected armaments and the Japanese Pacific offensive was stalled. The Allies undertook the invasions of French Morocco and Algeria (Operation Torch) in November 1942. FDR very much desired the assault be initiated before election day, but did not order it. FDR and Churchill had another war conference in Casablanca in January 1943; Stalin declined an invitation. The Allies agreed strategically that the Mediterranean focus be continued, with the cross-channel invasion coming later, followed by concentration of efforts in the Pacific. Roosevelt also championed General Henri Giraud as leader of Free France against General Charles de Gaulle. Hitler reinforced his military in North Africa, with the result that the Allied efforts there suffered a temporary setback; Allied attempts to counterbalance this were successful, but resulted in war supplies to the USSR being delayed, as well as the second war front. Later, their assault pursued into Sicily (Operation Husky) followed in July 1943, and of Italy (Operation Avalanche) in September 1943. In 1943, it was apparent to FDR that Stalin, while bearing the brunt of Germany's offensive, had not had sufficient opportunity to participate in war conferences. The President made a concerted effort to arrange a one-on-one meeting with Stalin, in Fairbanks. However, when Stalin learned that Roosevelt and Churchill had postponed the cross-channel invasion a second time, he cancelled. The strategic bombing campaign was escalated in 1944, pulverizing all major German cities and cutting off oil supplies.
    On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which relocated hundreds of thousands of the "Issei" (first generation of Japanese immigrants who did not have U.S. citizenship) and their children, "Nisei" (who had dual citizenship).
    More Details Hide Details They were forced to give up their properties and businesses, and transported to hastily built camps in interior, harsh locations. After both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States in December 1941, many German and Italian citizens who had not taken out American citizenship were arrested or interned. The "Big Three" (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Joseph Stalin), together with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, cooperated informally on a plan in which American and British troops concentrated in the West; Soviet troops fought on the Eastern front; and Chinese, British and American troops fought in Asia and the Pacific. The Allies formulated strategy in a series of high-profile conferences as well as contact through diplomatic and military channels. Roosevelt guaranteed that the U.S. would be the "Arsenal of Democracy" by shipping $50 billion of Lend Lease supplies, primarily to Britain and to the USSR, China and other Allies. Roosevelt coined the term "Four Policemen" to refer this "Big Four" Allied powers of World War II, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and China.
    In 1942 Roosevelt set up a new military command structure with Admiral Ernest J. King as Chief of Naval Operations in complete control of the Navy and Marines; General George C. Marshall in charge of the Army and in nominal control of the Air Force, which in practice was commanded by General Hap Arnold.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt formed a new body, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which made the final decisions on American military strategy. The Joint Chiefs was a White House agency and was chaired by Admiral William D. Leahy. When dealing with Europe, the Joint Chiefs met with their British counterparts and formed the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Unlike the political leaders of the other major powers, Roosevelt rarely overrode his military advisors. His civilian appointees handled the draft and procurement of men and equipment, but no civilians – not even the secretaries of War or Navy, had a voice in strategy. Roosevelt avoided the State Department and conducted high level diplomacy through his aides, especially Harry Hopkins. Since Hopkins also controlled $50 billion in Lend Lease funds given to the Allies, they paid attention to him. After Pearl Harbor, antiwar sentiment in the United States evaporated overnight. On December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, which responded in kind. Roosevelt and his military advisers implemented a war strategy with the objectives of halting the German advances in the Soviet Union and in North Africa; launching an invasion of western Europe with the aim of crushing Nazi Germany between two fronts; and saving China and defeating Japan. Public opinion, however, gave priority to the destruction of Japan, so American forces were sent chiefly to the Pacific in 1942.
    The emotional break in their marriage was so severe that when Roosevelt asked Eleanor in 1942—in light of his failing health—to come back home and live with him again, she refused.
    More Details Hide Details He was not always aware of when she visited the White House, and for some time she could not easily reach him on the telephone without his secretary's help; he, in turn, did not visit her New York City apartment until late 1944. When Roosevelt was President, his dog, Fala, also became well known as his companion during his time in the White House. Fala was called the "most photographed dog in the world."
  • 1941
    Age 59
    Roosevelt called for war in his famous "Infamy Speech" to Congress, in which he said: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
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    On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese struck the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor with a surprise attack, knocking out the main American battleship fleet and killing 2,403 American servicemen and civilians.
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    Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which he called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt sought and obtained the quick approval, on December 8, of the United States Congress to declare war on Japan and, a few days later, on Germany. (Hitler had already declared war on the US in support of Japan).
    More Details Hide Details Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins, and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek in leading the Allies against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan in World War II.
    Congress was debating a modification of the Neutrality Act in October 1941, when the USS Kearny, along with other ships, engaged a number of U-boats south of Iceland; the Kearny took fire and lost eleven crewmen. As a result, the amendment of the Neutrality Act to permit the arming of the merchant marine passed both houses, though by a slim margin. In 1942, with the United States now in the conflict, war production increased dramatically, but fell short of the goals established by the President, due in part to manpower shortages.
    More Details Hide Details The effort was also hindered by numerous strikes by union workers, especially in the coal mining and railroad industries, which lasted well into 1944. The White House became the ultimate site for labor mediation, conciliation or arbitration. One particular battle royal occurred, between Vice-President Wallace, who headed the Board of Economic Warfare, and Jesse Jones, in charge of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation; both agencies assumed responsibility for acquisition of rubber supplies and came to loggerheads over funding. FDR resolved the dispute by dissolving both agencies.
    In July 1941, Roosevelt had ordered Secretary of War Henry Stimson, to begin planning for total American military involvement.
    More Details Hide Details The resulting "Victory Program" provided the Army's estimates necessary for the total mobilization of manpower, industry, and logistics to defeat Germany and Japan. The program also planned to dramatically increase aid to the Allied nations and to have ten million men in arms, half of whom would be ready for deployment abroad in 1943. Roosevelt was firmly committed to the Allied cause, and these plans were formulated before Japan's Attack on Pearl Harbor.
    Roosevelt and Churchill conducted a highly secret bilateral meeting in Argentia, Newfoundland, and on August 14, 1941, drafted the Atlantic Charter, conceptually outlining global wartime and postwar goals.
    More Details Hide Details All the Allies endorsed it. This was the first of several wartime conferences; Churchill and Roosevelt would meet ten more times in person.
    In July 1941, after Japan occupied the remainder of Indo-China, he cut off the sale of oil to Japan, which thus lost more than 95 percent of its oil supply.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt continued negotiations with the Japanese government, primarily through Secretary Hull. Japan Premier Fumimaro Konoye desired a summit conference with FDR which the US rejected. Konoye was replaced with Minister of War Hideki Tojo. Meanwhile, Roosevelt started sending long-range B-17 bombers to the Philippines. FDR felt that an attack by the Japanese was probable – most likely in the Dutch East Indies or Thailand. On December 4, 1941, The Chicago Tribune published the complete text of "Rainbow Five", a top-secret war plan drawn up by the War Department. It dealt chiefly with mobilization issues, calling for a 10-million-man army. The great majority of scholars have rejected the conspiracy thesis that Roosevelt, or any other high government officials, knew in advance about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese had kept their secrets closely guarded. Senior American officials were aware that war was imminent, but they did not expect an attack on Pearl Harbor.
    When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Roosevelt agreed to extend Lend-Lease to the Soviets.
    More Details Hide Details Thus, Roosevelt had committed the U.S. to the Allied side with a policy of "all aid short of war." Execution of the aid fell victim to foot dragging in the administration so FDR appointed a special assistant, Wayne Coy, to expedite matters. Later that year, a German submarine fired on the U.S. destroyer Greer, and Roosevelt declared that the U.S. Navy would assume an escort role for Allied convoys in the Atlantic as far east as Great Britain and would fire upon German ships or submarines (U-boats) of the Kriegsmarine if they entered the U.S. Navy zone. This "shoot on sight" policy effectively declared naval war on Germany and was favored by Americans by a margin of 2-to-1.
  • 1940
    Age 58
    On December 29, 1940, he delivered his Arsenal of Democracy fireside chat, in which he made the case for involvement in the war directly to the American people.
    More Details Hide Details A week later he delivered his famous Four Freedoms speech laying out the case for an American defense of basic rights throughout the world. The homefront was subject to dynamic social changes throughout the war, though domestic issues were no longer Roosevelt's most urgent policy concern. The military buildup spurred economic growth. Unemployment fell in half from 7.7 million in spring 1940 (when the first accurate statistics were compiled) to 3.4 million in fall 1941 and fell in half again to 1.5 million in fall 1942, out of a labor force of 54 million. There was a growing labor shortage, accelerating the second wave of the Great Migration of African Americans, farmers and rural populations to manufacturing centers. African Americans from the South went to California and other West Coast states for new jobs in the defense industry. To pay for increased government spending, in 1941 FDR proposed that Congress enact an income tax rate of 99.5% on all income over $100,000; when the proposal failed, he issued an executive order imposing an income tax of 100% on income over $25,000, which Congress rescinded.
    Wilson waited for the declaration to begin a draft; Roosevelt started one in 1940.
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    He won the 1940 election with 55% of the popular vote and 38 of the 48 states, and thus winning almost 85% of the electoral vote (449 to 82). A shift to the left within the Administration was shown by the naming of Henry A. Wallace as Vice President in place of the conservative Texan John Nance Garner, who had become a bitter enemy of Roosevelt after 1937.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt tried to avoid repeating what he saw as Woodrow Wilson's mistakes in World War I. He often made exactly the opposite decision. Wilson called for neutrality in thought and deed, while Roosevelt made it clear his administration strongly favored Britain and China. Unlike the loans in World War I, the United States made large-scale grants of military and economic aid to the Allies through Lend-Lease, with little expectation of repayment. Wilson did not greatly expand war production before the declaration of war; Roosevelt did.
    Roosevelt used his personal charisma to build support for intervention. America should be the "Arsenal of Democracy", he told his fireside audience. On September 2, 1940, Roosevelt openly defied the Neutrality Acts by passing the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, which, in exchange for military base rights in the British Caribbean Islands, gave 50 WWI American destroyers to Britain.
    More Details Hide Details The U.S. also received free base rights in Bermuda and Newfoundland, allowing British forces to be moved to the sharper end of the war; the idea of an exchange of warships for bases such as these originated in the cabinet. Hitler and Mussolini responded to the deal by joining with Japan in the Tripartite Pact.
    Roosevelt forged a close personal relationship with Churchill, who became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in May 1940.
    More Details Hide Details His relations with Charles de Gaulle, leader of Free France, were more strained, for a long time he refused to recognize de Gaulle as the representative of France, preferring to deal with representatives of the Vichy government. Roosevelt did not recognize de Gaulle's provisional government until late 1944. In April 1940, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway, followed by invasions of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France in May. The German victories left Britain isolated in western Europe. Roosevelt, who was determined that Britain not be defeated, took advantage of the rapid shifts of public opinion. The fall of Paris shocked American opinion, and isolationist sentiment declined. A consensus was clear that military spending had to be dramatically expanded. There was no consensus on how much the US should risk war in helping Britain. In July 1940, FDR appointed two interventionist Republican leaders, Henry L. Stimson and Frank Knox, as Secretaries of War and the Navy, respectively. Both parties gave support to his plans for a rapid build-up the American military, but the isolationists warned that Roosevelt would get the nation into an unnecessary war with Germany. Congress authorized the nation's first peacetime draft.
  • 1939
    Age 57
    He began a regular secret correspondence with the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill in September 1939 — the first of 1,700 letters and telegrams between them — discussing ways of supporting Britain.
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    When World War II began in September 1939 with Germany's invasion of Poland, Roosevelt rejected the Wilsonian neutrality stance and sought ways to assist Britain and France militarily.
    More Details Hide Details At first he gave only covert support to repeal of the arms embargo provisions of the Neutrality Act.
    In the spring of 1939, Roosevelt allowed the French to place huge orders with the American aircraft industry on a cash-and-carry basis, as allowed by law.
    More Details Hide Details Most of the aircraft ordered had not arrived in France by the time of its collapse in May 1940, so Roosevelt arranged in June 1940 for French orders to be sold to the British.
    Roosevelt said in 1939 that France and Britain were America's "first line of defense" and needed American aid, but because of widespread isolationist sentiment, he reiterated the US itself would not go to war.
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  • 1938
    Age 56
    At the time of the Munich Agreement in 1938 — with the U.S. not represented — Roosevelt said the country would not join a "stop-Hitler bloc" under any circumstances.
    More Details Hide Details He made it quite clear that, in the event of German aggression against Czechoslovakia, the U.S. would remain neutral.
    Following the autumn Congressional elections in 1938, Congress was now dominated by conservatives, many of whom feared that Roosevelt was "aiming at a dictatorship," according to the historian Hugh Brogan.
    More Details Hide Details In addition, as noted by another historian, after the 1938 election increased the strength of Republicans, Roosevelt had always belonged to the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He sought a realignment that would solidify liberal dominance by means of landslides in 1932, 1934 and 1936. During the 1932 campaign he predicted privately, "I'll be in the White House for eight years. When those years are over, there'll be a Progressive party. It may not be Democratic, but it will be Progressive." When the third consecutive landslide in 1936 failed to produce major legislation in 1937, his recourse was to purge his conservative opponents in 1938. The aggressive foreign policy of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in Germany after 1933 aroused fears of a new world war. Americans wanted to keep out of it and in 1937 Congress passed an even more stringent Neutrality Act. But when Japan invaded China in 1937, public opinion strongly favored China, and Roosevelt found various ways to assist that nation.
    Determined to overcome the opposition of conservative Democrats in Congress (mostly from the South), Roosevelt became involved in the 1938 Democratic primaries, actively campaigning for challengers who were more supportive of New Deal reform.
    More Details Hide Details His targets denounced Roosevelt for trying to take over the Democratic party and to win reelection, using the argument that they were independent. Roosevelt failed badly, managing to defeat only one target, a conservative Democrat from New York City. In the November 1938 election, Democrats lost six Senate seats and 71 House seats. Losses were concentrated among pro-New Deal Democrats. When Congress reconvened in 1939, Republicans under Senator Robert Taft formed a Conservative coalition with Southern Democrats, virtually ending Roosevelt's ability to get his domestic proposals enacted into law. The minimum wage law of 1938 was the last substantial New Deal reform act passed by Congress.
    Roosevelt at first had massive support from the rapidly growing labor unions, but they split into bitterly feuding AFL and CIO factions, the latter led by John L. Lewis. Roosevelt pronounced a "plague on both your houses," but labor's disunity weakened the party in the elections from 1938 through 1946.
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  • 1937
    Age 55
    Roosevelt stunned Congress in early 1937 by proposing a law to allow him to appoint up to six new justices, what he referred to as a "persistent infusion of new blood."
    More Details Hide Details This "court packing" plan ran into intense political opposition from his own party, led by Vice President Garner, since it upset the separation of powers and gave the President control over the Court. Roosevelt's proposal to expand the court failed; but by 1941, Roosevelt had appointed seven of the nine justices of the court, a change in membership which resulted in a court that began to ratify his policies.
    When the economy began to deteriorate again in late 1937, Roosevelt asked Congress for $5 billion in WPA relief and public works funding.
    More Details Hide Details This managed to eventually create as many as 3.3 million WPA jobs by 1938. Projects accomplished under the WPA ranged from new federal courthouses and post offices, to facilities and infrastructure for national parks, bridges and other infrastructure across the country, and architectural surveys and archeological excavations — investments to construct facilities and preserve important resources. Beyond this, however, Roosevelt recommended to a special congressional session only a permanent national farm act, administrative reorganization and regional planning measures, which were leftovers from a regular session. According to Burns, this attempt illustrated Roosevelt's inability to decide on a basic economic program.
    Unemployment fell dramatically in Roosevelt's first term, from 25% when he took office to 14.3% in 1937.
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  • 1936
    Age 54
    In the 1936 presidential election, Roosevelt campaigned on his New Deal programs against Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who accepted much of the New Deal but objected that it was hostile to business and involved too much waste.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt and Garner won 60.8% of the vote and carried every state except Maine and Vermont. The New Deal Democrats won even larger majorities in Congress. Roosevelt was backed by a coalition of voters which included traditional Democrats across the country, small farmers, the "Solid South" (mostly white Democrats), Catholics, big city political machines, labor unions, northern African Americans (southern ones were still disfranchised), Jews, intellectuals and political liberals. This coalition, frequently referred to as the New Deal coalition, remained largely intact for the Democratic Party until the 1960s. Roosevelt's popularity generated massive volumes of correspondence that had to be responded to. He once told his son James, "Two short sentences will generally answer any known letter." In contrast to his first term, little major legislation was passed during Roosevelt's second term. There was the Housing Act of 1937, a second Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which created the minimum wage.
    Roosevelt's proposal for new taxes on corporate savings were highly controversial in 1936–37, and were rejected by Congress.
    More Details Hide Details During the war he pushed for even higher income tax rates for individuals (reaching a marginal tax rate of 91%) and corporations and a cap on high salaries for executives. To fund the war, Congress not only broadened the base so that almost every employee paid federal income taxes, but also introduced withholding taxes in 1943. Roosevelt had a lifelong interest in the environment and conservation starting with his youthful interest in forestry on his family estate. As governor and president, he launched numerous projects for conservation, in the name of protecting the environment, and providing beauty and jobs for the people. He was strengthened in his resolve by the model of his cousin Theodore Roosevelt. Although FDR was never an outdoorsman or sportsman on TR's scale, his growth of the national systems were comparable. FDR created 140 national wildlife refuges (especially for birds) and established 29 national forests and 29 national parks and monuments. He thereby achieved the vision he had set out in 1931:
    By contrast, the labor unions, energized by the Wagner Act, signed up millions of new members and became a major backer of Roosevelt's reelections in 1936, 1940 and 1944.
    More Details Hide Details Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen disagree with the prevailing belief that there were two New Deals in the Roosevelt administration. They argue that there is no evidence of any such blueprint for Roosevelt's programs, and that abundant evidence shows FDR's policies were formulated and executed haphazardly, fluctuating in the hands of a revolving cast of presidential advisors. Biographer James M. Burns suggests that Roosevelt's policy decisions were guided more by pragmatism than ideology, and that he "was like the general of a guerrilla army whose columns, fighting blindly in the mountains through dense ravines and thickets, suddenly converge, half by plan and half by coincidence, and debouch into the plain below." Roosevelt argued that such apparently haphazard methodology was necessary. "The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation," he wrote. "It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."
    But Smith overplayed his hand, and his boisterous rhetoric let Roosevelt isolate his opponents and identify them with the wealthy vested interests that opposed the New Deal, strengthening Roosevelt for the 1936 landslide.
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  • 1935
    Age 53
    The Supreme Court became Roosevelt's primary focus during his second term, after the court overturned many of his programs. In particular in 1935, the Court unanimously ruled that the National Recovery Act (NRA) was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the president.
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  • 1934
    Age 52
    After the 1934 Congressional elections, which gave Roosevelt large majorities in both houses, his administration drafted a fresh surge of New Deal legislation.
    More Details Hide Details These measures included the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which set up a national relief agency that employed two million family heads. At the height of WPA employment in 1938, unemployment was down from 20.6% in 1933 to only 12.5%, according to figures from Michael Darby. The Social Security Act established Social Security and promised economic security for the elderly, the poor and the sick. Senator Robert Wagner wrote the Wagner Act, which officially became the National Labor Relations Act. The act established the federal rights of workers to organize unions, to engage in collective bargaining, and to take part in strikes. While the First New Deal of 1933 had broad support from most sectors, the Second New Deal challenged the business community. Conservative Democrats, led by Al Smith, fought back with the American Liberty League, savagely attacking Roosevelt and equating him with Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
    In 1934, FDR paid a visit to retired Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who mused about the President: "A second class intellect.
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  • 1933
    Age 51
    In December 1933, Roosevelt signed the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, renouncing the right to intervene unilaterally in the affairs of Latin American countries.
    More Details Hide Details The isolationist movement was bolstered in the early to mid-1930s by U.S. Senator Gerald Nye and others who succeeded in their effort to stop the "merchants of death" in the U.S. from selling arms abroad. This effort took the form of the Neutrality Acts; the president asked for, but was refused, a provision to give him the discretion to allow the sale of arms to victims of aggression. In the interim, Italy under Benito Mussolini proceeded to overcome Ethiopia, and the Italians joined Nazi Germany in supporting the General Franco and the Nationalist cause in the Spanish Civil War. In 1936 Germany and Japan signed a Anti-Comintern Pact, but they never coordinated their strategies. Congress passed, and the president signed, a mandatory arms embargo at a time when dictators in Europe and Asia were girding for world war.
    Roosevelt also kept his promise to push for repeal of Prohibition. On March 23, 1933, he signed the Cullen–Harrison Act redefining 3.2% alcohol as the maximum allowed.
    More Details Hide Details That act was preceded by Congressional action in the drafting and passage of the 21st Amendment, which was ratified later that year.
    In June 1933, Roosevelt restored $50 million in pension payments, and Congress added another $46 million more.
    More Details Hide Details Veterans groups such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars won their campaign to transform their benefits from payments due in 1945 to immediate cash when Congress overrode the President's veto and passed the Bonus Act in January 1936. It pumped sums equal to 2% of the GDP into the consumer economy and had a major stimulus effect.
    Roosevelt's inauguration on March 4, 1933, occurred in the middle of a bank panic, hence the backdrop for his famous words: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
    More Details Hide Details The very next day he declared a "bank holiday" and called for a special session of Congress to start March 9, at which Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act. This was his first proposed step to recovery. To give Americans confidence in the banks, Roosevelt signed the Glass–Steagall Act that created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to underwrite savings deposits. Relief measures included the continuation of Hoover's major relief program for the unemployed under its new name: Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The most popular of all New Deal agencies – and Roosevelt's favorite – was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which hired 250,000 unemployed young men to work on rural local projects. Congress also gave the Federal Trade Commission broad new regulatory powers and provided mortgage relief to millions of farmers and homeowners. Roosevelt expanded a Hoover agency, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, making it a major source of financing for railroads and industry. Roosevelt made agricultural relief a high priority and set up the first Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). The AAA tried to force higher prices for commodities by paying farmers to take land out of crops and to cut herds.
    From March 9 to June 16, 1933, he sent Congress a record number of bills, all of which passed easily.
    More Details Hide Details To propose programs, Roosevelt relied on leading Senators such as George Norris, Robert F. Wagner, and Hugo Black, as well as his Brain Trust of academic advisers. Like Hoover, he saw the Depression caused in part by people no longer spending or investing because they were afraid.
    When Roosevelt was inaugurated March 4, 1933, the U.S. was at the nadir of the worst depression in its history.
    More Details Hide Details A quarter of the workforce was unemployed. Farmers were in deep trouble as prices fell by 60%. Industrial production had fallen by more than half since 1929. Two million people were homeless. By the evening of March 4, 32 of the 48 states – as well as the District of Columbia – had closed their banks. The New York Federal Reserve Bank was unable to open on the 5th, as huge sums had been withdrawn by panicky customers in previous days. Beginning with his inauguration address, Roosevelt began blaming the economic crisis on bankers and financiers, the quest for profit, and the self-interest basis of capitalism: Historians categorized Roosevelt's program as "relief, recovery and reform." Relief was urgently needed by tens of millions of unemployed. Recovery meant boosting the economy back to normal. Reform meant long-term fixes of what was wrong, especially with the financial and banking systems. Through Roosevelt's series of radio talks, known as fireside chats, he presented his proposals directly to the American public.
    In his first hundred days in office, which began March 4, 1933, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented major legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief (government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (economic growth), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation).
    More Details Hide Details He created numerous programs to support the unemployed and farmers, and to encourage labor union growth while more closely regulating business and high finance. The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 added to his popularity, helping him win re-election by a landslide in 1936. The economy improved rapidly from 1933 to 1937, but then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937–38. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented his packing the Supreme Court, and blocked almost all proposals for major liberal legislation (except the minimum wage, which did pass). When the war began and unemployment ended, conservatives in Congress repealed the two major relief programs, the WPA and CCC. However, they kept most of the regulations on business. Along with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wagner Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Social Security.
    In February 1933, Roosevelt escaped an assassination attempt.
    More Details Hide Details Giuseppe Zangara, who expressed a "hate for all rulers," attempted to shoot Roosevelt. He shot and killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak who was sitting alongside Roosevelt, but his attempt to murder Roosevelt failed when an alert spectator, Lillian Cross, hit his arm with her purse and deflected the bullet. Roosevelt leaned heavily on his "Brain Trust" of academic advisers, especially Raymond Moley, when designing his policies; he offered cabinet positions to numerous candidates, but some declined. The cabinet member with the strongest independent base was Cordell Hull at State. William Hartman Woodin – at Treasury – was soon replaced by the much more powerful Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Roosevelt appointed powerful men to top positions but made certain he made all the major decisions, regardless of delays, inefficiency or resentment. Analyzing the president's administrative style, historian James MacGregor Burns concludes:
  • FORTIES
  • 1932
    Age 50
    Roosevelt systematically undercut prominent Democrats who were angling for the nomination, including Vice President John Nance Garner and two cabinet members, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and James Farley, Roosevelt's campaign manager in 1932 and 1936, the Postmaster General and the Democratic Party chairman.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt moved the convention to Chicago where he had strong support from the city machine (which controlled the auditorium sound system). At the convention the opposition was poorly organized, but Farley had packed the galleries. Roosevelt sent a message saying that he would not run unless he was drafted, and that the delegates were free to vote for anyone. The delegates were stunned; then the loudspeaker screamed "We want Roosevelt... The world wants Roosevelt!" The delegates went wild and he was nominated by 946 to 147 on the first ballot. The tactic employed by Roosevelt was not entirely successful, as his goal had been to be drafted by acclamation. The new vice-presidential nominee was Henry Agard Wallace, a liberal intellectual who was Secretary of Agriculture. In his campaign against Republican Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt stressed both his proven leadership experience and his intention to do everything possible to keep the United States out of war. In one of his speeches he declared to potential recruits that "you boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war."
    In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt successfully defeated incumbent Republican president Herbert Hoover to win the presidency of the United States.
    More Details Hide Details Having been energized by his personal victory over his polio, FDR relied on his persistent optimism and activism to renew the national spirit.
    A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and dominated his party after 1932 as a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic depression and total war.
    More Details Hide Details His program for relief, recovery and reform, known as the New Deal, involved a great expansion of the role of the federal government in the economy. As a dominant leader of the Democratic Party, he built the New Deal Coalition that brought together and united labor unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans, and rural white Southerners in support of the party. The Coalition significantly realigned American politics after 1932, creating the Fifth Party System and defining American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century.
  • 1930
    Age 48
    In May 1930, as he began his run for a second term, Roosevelt reiterated his doctrine from the campaign two years before: "that progressive government by its very terms, must be a living and growing thing, that the battle for it is never ending and that if we let up for one single moment or one single year, not merely do we stand still but we fall back in the march of civilization."
    More Details Hide Details In this campaign for re-election, Roosevelt needed the good will of the Tammany Hall machine in New York City to succeed; but, his Republican opponent, Charles H. Tuttle, used Roosevelt's connection with Tammany Hall's corruption as an election issue. As the election approached, Roosevelt began preemptive efforts by initiating investigations of the sale of judicial offices. He was directly involved, as he had made a routine short-term court appointment of a Tammany Hall man who was alleged to have paid Tammany $30,000 for the position. His Republican opponent could not overcome the public's criticism of the Republican Party for current economic distress in the Great Depression, and Roosevelt was elected to a second term by a margin of fourteen percent. Roosevelt's strong base in the most populous state made him an obvious candidate for the Democratic nomination, which was hotly contested in light of incumbent Herbert Hoover's vulnerability. Al Smith was supported by some city bosses, but had lost control of the New York Democratic party to Roosevelt. Roosevelt built his own national coalition with personal allies such as newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Irish leader Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and California leader William Gibbs McAdoo. When Texas leader John Nance Garner announced his support of FDR, he was given the vice-presidential nomination.
  • 1929
    Age 47
    In April 1929, a bomb was found addressed to him at the Albany, New York post office.
    More Details Hide Details A porter kicked the package, causing the fuse to sputter. The device was dropped in a pail of water where it failed to go off.
    In office from 1929 to 1933, he served as a reform governor promoting the enactment of programs to combat the Great Depression besetting the United States at the time.
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  • 1928
    Age 46
    As the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1928 election, Smith in turn asked Roosevelt to run for governor in the state election.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt was nominated by the Democrats by acclamation. While Smith lost the Presidency in a landslide, and was defeated in his home state, Roosevelt was narrowly elected governor, by a one-percent margin. As a reform governor, he established a number of new social programs, and was advised by Frances Perkins and Harry Hopkins.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1922
    Age 40
    He helped Alfred E. Smith win the election for governor of New York in 1922, and in 1924 was a strong supporter of Smith against his cousin, Republican Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Roosevelt gave nominating speeches for Smith at the 1924 and 1928 Democratic conventions; the speech at the 1924 election marked a return to public life following his illness and convalescence.
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  • 1921
    Age 39
    In August 1921, while the Roosevelts were vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, Roosevelt fell ill and was diagnosed with polio.
    More Details Hide Details It left him with permanent paralysis from the waist down. Following the illness, Roosevelt remained out of the public eye for several years, turning his attention away from politics and toward his legal practice. For the rest of his life, Roosevelt refused to accept that he was permanently paralyzed. He tried a wide range of therapies, including hydrotherapy. In 1926, he purchased a resort at Warm Springs, Georgia, where he founded a hydrotherapy center for the treatment of polio patients; it still operates as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. In 1938, FDR founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, now known as the March of Dimes. At the time, Roosevelt convinced many people that he was improving, which he believed to be essential prior to running for public office again. He laboriously taught himself to walk short distances while wearing iron braces on his hips and legs by swiveling his torso, supporting himself with a cane. He was careful never to be seen using his wheelchair in public, and great care was taken to prevent any portrayal in the press that would highlight his disability. Few photographs of FDR in his wheelchair are known; they include two taken by his cousin and confidante Margaret Suckley, another taken by a sailor aboard the USS Indianapolis in 1933, and another published in a 1937 issue of Life magazine. Film clips of the "walk" he achieved after his illness are equally rare.
  • 1920
    Age 38
    The 1920 Democratic National Convention chose Roosevelt by acclamation as the vice-presidential candidate with its presidential candidate, Governor James M. Cox of Ohio.
    More Details Hide Details Although his nomination surprised most people, Roosevelt was considered as bringing balance to the ticket as a moderate, a Wilsonian, and a prohibitionist with a famous name. Roosevelt had just turned 38, four years younger than Theodore had been when he received the same nomination from his party. The Cox-Roosevelt ticket was defeated by Republicans Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge in the presidential election by a wide margin. Roosevelt returned to New York to practice law and joined the newly organized New York Civitan Club.
    In 1920, Roosevelt ran for vice president with presidential candidate James M. Cox, but the Cox/Roosevelt ticket lost to the Republican ticket of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt was stricken with debilitating polio in 1921, which cost him the use of his legs and put his future political career in jeopardy, but he attempted to recover from the illness, and founded the treatment center for people with polio in Warm Springs, Georgia. After returning to political life by placing Alfred E. Smith's name into nomination at the 1924 Democratic National Convention, Roosevelt, at Smith's behest, successfully ran for Governor of New York in 1928.
  • 1919
    Age 37
    In 1919, newspapers in Newport, Rhode Island criticized Roosevelt over his handling of what came to be known as the Newport sex scandal.
    More Details Hide Details Much more threatening was the fact that Roosevelt and his wife, then living in Washington, D.C. across the street from Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer, narrowly missed becoming casualties of an anarchist's bomb that exploded at Palmer's house, which they had walked past just minutes before. Their own residence was close enough that one of the bomber's body parts landed on their doorstep.
  • 1918
    Age 36
    In 1918, Roosevelt was sickened during the 1918 flu pandemic, and survived.
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    With the end of World War I in November 1918, Roosevelt was in charge of demobilization, although he opposed plans to completely dismantle the Navy.
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    During these war years, Roosevelt worked to make peace with the Tammany Hall forces, and in 1918 the group supported others in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade him to run for governor of New York.
    More Details Hide Details He very much wanted to get into a military uniform, but the armistice took shape before this could materialize; Wilson reportedly ordered Roosevelt to not resign.
    In 1918, he visited Scotland, England, Wales, and France to inspect American naval facilities.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt wanted to provide arms to the merchant marine; knowing that a sale of arms was prohibited, he asked Wilson for approval to lease the arms to the mariners. Wilson ultimately approved this by executive order, and a precedent was set for Roosevelt to take similar action in 1940.
    In September 1918, Eleanor found letters revealing the affair in Roosevelt's luggage, when he returned from World War I.
    More Details Hide Details Franklin had contemplated divorcing Eleanor, but Lucy would not agree to marry a divorced man with five children. Franklin and Eleanor remained married, and FDR promised never to see Lucy again. Eleanor never truly forgave him, and their marriage from that point on was more of a political partnership. His mother Sara told Franklin that if he divorced his wife, it would bring scandal upon the family, and she "would not give him another dollar." Franklin broke his promise to Eleanor. He and Lucy maintained a formal correspondence, and began seeing each other again in 1941, perhaps earlier. The Secret Service gave Lucy the code name "Mrs. Johnson".
  • 1917
    Age 35
    In 1917, United States declared war on Germany; in 1941, Roosevelt waited until the enemy attacked at Pearl Harbor.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson refused to collaborate with the Republicans; Roosevelt named leading Republicans to head the War Department and the Navy Department. Wilson let General George Pershing make the major military decisions; Roosevelt made the major decisions in his war including the "Europe first" strategy. He rejected the idea of an armistice and demanded unconditional surrender. Roosevelt often mentioned his role in the Wilson administration, but added that he had profited more from Wilson's errors than from his successes. Roosevelt's third term was dominated by World War II. Roosevelt slowly began re-armament in 1938, although he was facing strong isolationist sentiment from leaders like Senators William Borah and Robert A. Taft. By 1940, re-armament was in high gear, with bipartisan support, partly to expand and re-equip the Army and Navy and partly to become the "Arsenal of Democracy" supporting Britain, France, China and (after June 1941), the Soviet Union. As Roosevelt took a firmer stance against the Axis Powers, American isolationists (including Charles Lindbergh and America First) vehemently attacked the President as an irresponsible warmonger. Roosevelt initiated FBI and Internal Revenue Service investigations of his loudest critics, though no legal actions resulted. Unfazed by these criticisms and confident in the wisdom of his foreign policy initiatives, FDR continued his twin policies of preparedness and aid to the Allied coalition.
    In March 1917, after Germany initiated its submarine warfare campaign, Roosevelt asked Wilson for permission, which was denied, to fit the naval fleet out for war.
    More Details Hide Details He became an enthusiastic advocate of the submarine and of means to combat the German submarine menace to Allied shipping: he proposed building a mine barrier across the North Sea from Norway to Scotland.
  • 1914
    Age 32
    In 1914, Roosevelt made an ill-conceived decision to run for the U.S. Senate seat for New York.
    More Details Hide Details The decision was doomed for lack of Wilson administration backing. He was determined to take on Tammany again at a time when Wilson needed them to help marshal his legislation and secure his future re-election. He was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary election for the United States Senate by Tammany Hall-backed James W. Gerard, by a margin of 3-to-1. Roosevelt learned a valuable lesson, that federal patronage alone, without White House support, could not defeat a strong local organization.
    Roosevelt had extra-marital affairs, including one with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer, which began soon after she was hired in early 1914.
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  • 1913
    Age 31
    Roosevelt's support of Wilson led to his appointment in 1913 as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt had a lifelong affection for the Navy—he had already collected almost 10,000 naval books and claimed to have read all but one—and was more ardent than his boss Daniels in supporting a large and efficient naval force. As assistant secretary, Roosevelt worked to expand the Navy and founded the United States Navy Reserve. Against reactionary older officers such as Admiral William Benson - who claimed he could not "conceive of any use the fleet will ever have for aviation" - Roosevelt personally ordered the preservation of the navy's Aviation Division after the war, despite publicly opining that Billy Mitchell's warnings of bombs capable of sinking battleships were "pernicious". Roosevelt negotiated with Congressional leaders and other government departments to get budgets approved. He opposed the Taylor "stop-watch" system, which was hailed by shipbuilding managers but opposed by the unions. Not a single union strike occurred during his seven-plus years in the office, during which Roosevelt gained experience in labor issues, government management during wartime, naval issues, and logistics, all valuable areas for future office.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1912
    Age 30
    Roosevelt, again in opposition to Tammany Hall, supported southerner Woodrow Wilson's successful bid in the 1912 presidential election, and thereby earned an informal designation as an original Wilson man.
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    Despite a bout of typhoid fever, and thanks to the help of Louis McHenry Howe who ran his campaign, Roosevelt was re-elected for a second term in the state election of 1912, and served as chairman of the Agriculture Committee.
    More Details Hide Details His success with farm and labor bills was a precursor to his New Deal policies twenty years later. By this time he had become more consistently progressive, in support of labor and social welfare programs for women and children; cousin Theodore was of some influence on these issues.
  • 1911
    Age 29
    Taking his seat on January 1, 1911, Roosevelt immediately became the leader of a group of "Insurgents" who opposed the bossism of the Tammany machine dominating the state Democratic Party.
    More Details Hide Details The U.S. Senate election, which began with the Democratic caucus on January 16, 1911, was deadlocked by the struggle of the two factions for 74 days, as the new legislator endured what a biographer later described as "the full might of Tammany" behind its choice, William F. Sheehan. (Popular election of US Senators did not occur until after a constitutional amendment.) On March 31 compromise candidate James A. O'Gorman was elected, giving Roosevelt national exposure and some experience in political tactics and intrigue; one Tammany leader warned that Roosevelt should be eliminated immediately, before he disrupted Democrats as much as his cousin disrupted the Republicans. Roosevelt soon became a popular figure among New York Democrats, though he had not as yet become an eloquent speaker. News articles and cartoons began depicting "the second coming of a Roosevelt" that sent "cold shivers down the spine of Tammany".
  • 1910
    Age 28
    In the state election of 1910, Roosevelt ran for the New York State Senate from the district around Hyde Park in Dutchess County, which was strongly Republican, having elected one Democrat since 1856.
    More Details Hide Details The local party chose him as a paper candidate because his Republican cousin Theodore was still one of the country's most prominent politicians, and a Democratic Roosevelt was good publicity; the candidate could also pay for his own campaign. Surprising almost everyone, due to his aggressive and effective campaign, the Roosevelt name's influence in the Hudson Valley, and the Democratic landslide that year, Roosevelt won the election.
    He entered politics in 1910, serving in the New York State Senate, and then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson.
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  • 1909
    Age 27
    Roosevelt liked fatherhood, and the parents suffered greatly when their third child, named for Franklin, died of heart disease in infancy in 1909.
    More Details Hide Details Eleanor soon was pregnant again and gave birth to another son, Elliott, less than a year later. The fifth child and fourth son, born in 1914, was also named for Franklin. Their sixth child, John, was their fifth son.
  • 1907
    Age 25
    Roosevelt was still relatively obscure, but his friends were already speaking of him as a future president; he reportedly began talking about being elected to the presidency as early as 1907.
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  • 1905
    Age 23
    On March 17, 1905, Roosevelt married Eleanor in New York City, despite the fierce resistance of his mother; he was 23 and she was 21.
    More Details Hide Details While she did not dislike Eleanor, Sara Roosevelt was very possessive of her son; believing he was too young, she several times attempted to break the engagement. Eleanor's uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, stood in at the wedding for Eleanor's deceased father Elliott, as Eleanor was his favorite niece. (Eleanor had lost both parents by age ten.) The young couple moved into Springwood, his family's estate at Hyde Park, where Roosevelt's mother became a frequent house guest, much to Eleanor's chagrin. The home was owned by Roosevelt's mother until her death in 1941 and was very much her home as well. In addition, Franklin Roosevelt and his mother Sara did the planning and furnishing of a town house she had built for the young couple in New York City; she had a twin house built alongside, with connections on every floor. Eleanor never felt it was her house.
    At age 23 in 1905, he married Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom he had six children.
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  • 1904
    Age 22
    Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in 1904, dropping out in 1907 after passing the New York State Bar exam.
    More Details Hide Details He later received a posthumous J.D. from Columbia Law School. In 1908, he took a job with the prestigious Wall Street firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn, dealing mainly with corporate law. He was first initiated in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was initiated into Freemasonry on October 11, 1911, at Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City.
  • 1903
    Age 21
    Roosevelt graduated from Harvard in 1903 with an A.B. in history.
    More Details Hide Details He later received an honorary LL.D. from Harvard in 1929.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1902
    Age 20
    In mid-1902, Franklin was formally introduced to his future wife Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), Theodore's niece, on a train to Tivoli, New York, although they had met briefly as children.
    More Details Hide Details Eleanor and Franklin were fifth cousins, once removed. She was the daughter of Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt (1860–94) and Anna Rebecca Hall (1863–92) of the Livingston family. At the time of their engagement, Roosevelt was twenty-two and Eleanor nineteen.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1882
    Age 0
    Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in the Hudson Valley town of Hyde Park, New York to businessman James Roosevelt I (1828–1900) and Sara Ann Delano (1854–1941).
    More Details Hide Details His parents were sixth cousins and both were from wealthy old New York families. They were of mostly English descent; Roosevelt's patrilineal great-grandfather, Jacobus Roosevelt III, was of Dutch ancestry, and his mother's maiden name, Delano, could be traced to a French Huguenot immigrant ancestor of the 17th century. Their only child was to have been named Warren, but Sara's infant nephew of that name had recently died. Their son was named for Sara's uncle Franklin Hughes Delano. Roosevelt grew up in an atmosphere of privilege. (Reportedly, when James Roosevelt took his five-year-old son to visit President Grover Cleveland in the White House, the busy president told Franklin, "I have one wish for you, little man, that you will never be President of the United States.") Sara was a possessive mother; James, 54 when Franklin was born, was considered by some as a remote father, though biographer James MacGregor Burns indicates James interacted with his son more than was typical at the time. Sara was the dominant influence in Franklin's early years; she once declared, "My son Franklin is a Delano, not a Roosevelt at all." Frequent trips to Europe—he made his first at the age of two, and went with his parents every year from the ages of seven to 15—helped Roosevelt become conversant in German and French; being arrested with his tutor by police four times in one day in the Black Forest for minor offenses may have affected the future president's view of German character.
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