Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the most remembered U.S. Presidents. Serving as President for more than twelve years, he was the only President to be elected four times. Roosevelt led the United States through its worst depression and its worst war. He tried his best to stay optimistic with our country and the decisions he made.
In Roosevelt’s first inaugural address, he asked for faith in America’s future. He told the country, The only thing we have to fear is fear itself (Burns 1970, p. 238). That is the lesson that he taught our country to live by. Franklin was born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York. He was the only child of James and Sara Roosevelt.
Born into a very wealthy family, he grew up on his father’s estate called Springwood. Being an only child, his parents adored him, but brought him up with a loving firmness. His father taught him that being wealthy also brought with it the responsibility of helping people who were not so lucky (Johnson 1967, p. 38). Franklin D. Roosevelt was always a very smart and educated young man.
Growing up, Franklin’s parents took him on many trips to Europe, where he studied and learned how to speak many different languages. He graduated from Harvard University in 1903 and then went on to get a degree from Columbia University Law School. But he never seemed to show an interest with doing legal work. In 1905, he married his distant cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt, whom he had been courting for some years before that. Franklin and Eleanor had six children together. Franklin took much pride and companionship in them.
It wasn’t until this time that Franklin decided to get involved with politics. In 1910, Roosevelt accepted an invitation from state Democratic leaders to run for the New York Senate. This was going to be a difficult task for Franklin because Republicans had controlled his district for over fifty years. But he was determined to do it. Roosevelt wanted a clean government and strongly opposed big city officials. With those requests, that was all he needed to win the election.
Franklin became a state senator at the age of 29, and from then on, he was known as a very bold and skillful political fighter (Abbott 1990, p. 103). In 1913, President Wilson appointed him as assistant secretary of the Navy. This was the perfect job for FDR, as he said, I now find my vocation combined with my avocation in a delightful way. Politics being my ‘vocation’ and ships and naval history being my hobby or avocation’ (Abbott 1990, p.
104). This job taught him, not only a lot about national politics, but especially about ways to get along with Congress. In 1914, Roosevelt ran for the Democratic nomination as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, but lost by a large margin. He wanted to enter the military service in 1917, when the U.S. was involved in World War I, but was convinced instead to visit the battlefields and meet with military leaders overseas. This is how he became a national figure to the world.
In the 192, Roosevelt was nominated for Vice-President under James M. Cox, who together, called for a campaign concerning U.S. membership in the League of Nations. They ended up getting defeated by Coolidge, though. This defeat did not really harm Roosevelt.
By that time, he was already a well-established leader among the Democrats. Life seemed to be going all too well for FDR and his family until tragedy struck. In August 1921, Roosevelt fell into the water while sailing, which left him, not only partially paralyzed, but also with a severe case of polio. Many people thought that his career in politics had ended. But he continued his political activity out of his home, eventually gaining back the use of his hands, arms, and developed strong shoulders.
He was determined to fight this disease with his best effort and he surely did. While doing this, he helped others do so, as well. In 1924, he established the Warm Springs Foundation, where people could go to get proper treatment for polio, even if they couldn’t afford it. When he returned to politics later that year, he had mastered his walking with the help of braces. His first major public appearance since the polio attack was his nominating speech for Governor Smith of New York. He received major applause from the crowd at the National Convention.
Even though Smith didn’t win, Franklin had regained significance as a Democratic leader and a man who had overcome personal tragedy. But, Smith did get the presidential nomination in 1928 and encouraged Roosevelt to run for Governor of New York, which he did do and won. This was a big and exciting step for Roosevelt. During his time as governor, he proved to become very popular with the voters by obtaining relief systems for both farmers and the unemployed, gaining control of public utilities and services, strengthening the prisons, getting better pensions for elders, and taking better care of the environment. He said to the nation at this time, 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 (Abbott 1990, p.
200). This gained much respect and admiration for Roosevelt from the public. Roosevelt was now ready to take on a more challenging job, and it just so happened that he was nominated for President in 1932. John Garner was chosen for Vice-President. Roosevelt was ready and willing to take on this campaign. He was the first man to ever make an acceptance speech at the national convention, during which he promised the United States a new deal to get the nation out of the Depression and prevent future ones. During the campaign, he traveled to 38 states, showing the world that he was physically able to take on this job.
At this time, he also told the world that the fate of America cannot be depended on any one man. The greatness of America is grounded in principles and not on any single personality (Johnson 1967, p. 173). And he was very convincing, receiving 472 electoral votes and winning the Presidency in a landslide. Franklin Delano Roosevelt entered off ice on March 4, 1933. He was the last President to be inaugurated in March.
Going into this job, Roosevelt knew that there were many immediate problems that had to be handled, like the banking crisis. On March 6th, just two days after becoming President, Roosevelt declared a bank holiday, which meant that all banks would shut down until the Department of Treasury could look over every bank’s books and make sure they were all on a stable basis. By doing this, Roosevelt ended the bank crisis and restored confidence in many Americans. Moving right on to the next problem, on March 9th, Roosevelt, with congressional approval, began to pass recovery and reform laws. Congress approved almost all the important bills with large majority rules.
The session of Congress passing laws in known as the Hundred Days. On March 12th, Roosevelt began to give his famous fireside chats over the radio, explaining the new laws that are being passed and how they will benefit the nation in the future. Walking into a Presidency while the nation is in the midst of a depression is an extremely difficult job. But Roosevelt was prepared to make immediate changes and succeeded in handling the nation’s problems, while also gaining respect from the people. Roosevelt described his reform program, the New Deal, as a use of authority of government as an organized form of self-help for all classes and groups and sections of our country (Sullivan 1970, p.
87). There were many different parts to the program, all of them working towards relief for the cities and states. The Civil Works Administration was started in 1933, which supplied funds that went towards public projects such as building roads, repairing old schools, cleaning public parks, and other things like that. Also in 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps was established to, not only give work to many young Americans, but also helped with programs for flood control, forestry, and soil conservation (Sullivan 1970, p. 93). Roosevelt also passed laws to protect investors of stock, help oil and railroad industries, and strengthen small businesses. In 1935, the Social Security Act was passed, giving relief to the unemployed and pensions to the elderly.
Later that year, the National Labor Relations Act also strengthened the rights of labor workers. The only downside to the New Deal was the fact that it cost a great amount of money, causing the national debt to rise higher than ever. Roosevelt did an outstanding job of strengthening relations with and promoting good will among other nations (Burns 1970, p. 334). He described his foreign policy as one of a Good Neighbor.
His first move was to repeal the Platt Amendment of 1901, which said the U.S. could interfere with Cuban affairs. This repeal was approved in 1934. Then, in 1935, the U.S. signed Reciprocal Trade Agreements with six other Latin-American countries, promising nonaggression and conciliation with all of them (Burns 1970, p.336).
Roosevelt also used personal diplomacy by visiting countries to make peace with them. He was actually the first U.S. President to visit South America and attend the Inter-American Conference. Roosevelt also succeeded in resuming trade between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Because all ties were broken after the Russian Revolution in 1917, the United States had no relations with the Soviet Union.
But in 1933, with Roosevelt’s help, the two nations exchanged diplomatic representatives for the first time in sixteen years. Roosevelt told the world that Nationwide thinking, nationwide planning, and nationwide action are the three great essentials to prevent nationwide crises for future generations to struggle through (Burns 1970, p. 340). Before long, it was time for another election. Both Roosevelt and …