|Assuming the Presidency at the
depth of the Great Depression,
Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the
American people regain faith in
themselves. He brought hope as he
promised prompt, vigorous action,
and asserted in his Inaugural
Address, "the only thing we have to
fear is fear itself."
Born in 1882 at Hyde Park, New
York--now a national historic site--he
attended Harvard University and
Columbia Law School. On St.
Patrick's Day, 1905, he married
Following the example of his fifth
cousin, President Theodore
Roosevelt, whom he greatly admired,
|Marriage Certificate of
Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt
|Telegram from Winston Churchill
to Franklin Roosevelt
|Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Fireside Chat 1936
|British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, United States
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Soviet Union
leader Joseph Stalin meet at the Yalta summit in
|Captain Joseph J. Foss, U. S. Marine receives the
Congressional Medal of Honor from President Roosevelt for
his outstanding heroism as a flyer in the Pacific area where
he knocked 27 Japanese planes out of the sky.
|Letter to Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw M. Landis
January 15, 1942
|Franklin D. Roosevelt entered public service through politics, but as a Democrat. He
won election to the New York Senate in 1910. President Wilson appointed him
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and he was the Democratic nominee for Vice
President in 1920.
In the summer of 1921, when he was 39, disaster hit-he was stricken with
poliomyelitis. Demonstrating indomitable courage, he fought to regain the use of his
legs, particularly through swimming. At the 1924 Democratic Convention he
dramatically appeared on crutches to nominate Alfred E. Smith as "the Happy
Warrior." In 1928 Roosevelt became Governor of New York.
He was elected President in November 1932, to the first of four terms. By March
there were 13,000,000 unemployed, and almost every bank was closed. In his first
"hundred days," he proposed, and Congress enacted, a sweeping program to bring
recovery to business and agriculture, relief to the unemployed and to those in
danger of losing farms and homes, and reform, especially through the establishment
of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
By 1935 the Nation had achieved some measure of recovery, but businessmen and
bankers were turning more and more against Roosevelt's New Deal program. They
feared his experiments, were appalled because he had taken the Nation off the gold
standard and allowed deficits in the budget, and disliked the concessions to labor.
Roosevelt responded with a new program of reform: Social Security, heavier taxes
on the wealthy, new controls over banks and public utilities, and an enormous work
relief program for the unemployed.
In 1936 he was re-elected by a top-heavy margin. Feeling he was armed with a
popular mandate, he sought legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court, which had
been invalidating key New Deal measures. Roosevelt lost the Supreme Court battle,
but a revolution in constitutional law took place. Thereafter the Government could
legally regulate the economy.
Roosevelt had pledged the United States to the "good neighbor" policy, transforming
the Monroe Doctrine from a unilateral American manifesto into arrangements for
mutual action against aggressors. He also sought through neutrality legislation to
keep the United States out of the war in Europe, yet at the same time to strengthen
nations threatened or attacked. When France fell and England came under siege in
1940, he began to send Great Britain all possible aid short of actual military
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt
directed organization of the Nation's manpower and resources for global war.
Feeling that the future peace of the world would depend upon relations between the
United States and Russia, he devoted much thought to the planning of a United
Nations, in which, he hoped, international difficulties could be settled.
As the war drew to a close, Roosevelt's health deteriorated, and on April 12, 1945,
while at Warm Springs, Georgia, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.