Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (/ˈrzəvəlt/,[1] /-vɛlt/[2] ROH-zə-velt; January 30, 1882  April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the Democratic Party, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which defined modern liberalism in the United States throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II, which ended shortly after he died in office.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Photograph by Leon Perskie, 1944
32nd President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1933  April 12, 1945
Vice President
Preceded byHerbert Hoover
Succeeded byHarry S. Truman
44th Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1929  December 31, 1932
LieutenantHerbert H. Lehman
Preceded byAl Smith
Succeeded byHerbert H. Lehman
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 17, 1913  August 26, 1920
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Preceded byBeekman Winthrop
Succeeded byGordon Woodbury
Member of the New York State Senate
from the 26th district
In office
January 1, 1911  March 17, 1913
Preceded byJohn F. Schlosser
Succeeded byJames E. Towner
Personal details
Born
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

(1882-01-30)January 30, 1882
Hyde Park, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 12, 1945(1945-04-12) (aged 63)
Warm Springs, Georgia, U.S.
Cause of deathCerebral hemorrhage
Resting placeSpringwood Estate
Hyde Park, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
(m. 1905)
Children6, including Franklin Jr., Anna, Elliott, James, and John
Parents
Relatives
Education
Occupation
  • Politician
  • lawyer
Signature

Roosevelt, a member of the Roosevelt family, was born and raised in Hyde Park, New York. He graduated from the Groton School then Harvard College, and attended Columbia Law School but left after passing the bar exam to practice law in New York City. In 1905, he married his fifth cousin once removed Eleanor Roosevelt. They had six children, of whom five survived into adulthood. He won election to the New York State Senate in 1910, and then served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Roosevelt was James M. Cox's running mate on the Democratic Party's 1920 national ticket, but Cox was defeated by Republican Warren G. Harding. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted a paralytic illness, believed at the time to be polio, and his legs became permanently paralyzed. While attempting to recover from his condition, Roosevelt founded a polio rehabilitation center in Warm Springs, Georgia. In spite of being unable to walk unaided, Roosevelt returned to public office by winning election as Governor of New York in 1928. He served as governor from 1929 to 1933, promoting programs to combat the economic crisis besetting the United States.

In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover in a landslide. He took office in the midst of the Great Depression and during the first 100 days of the 73rd United States Congress, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief, recovery, and reform. He created numerous programs to provide relief to the unemployed and farmers while seeking economic recovery with the National Recovery Administration and other programs. He also instituted major regulatory reforms related to finance, communications, and labor, and presided over the end of Prohibition. He used radio to speak directly to the American people, giving 30 "fireside chat" radio addresses during his presidency and became the first American president to be televised. With the economy having improved rapidly from 1933 to 1936, Roosevelt won a landslide reelection in 1936. After the election, he sought passage of the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (or "court packing plan"), which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court of the United States. The bill was blocked by the newly-formed bipartisan Conservative Coalition. The economy then relapsed into the recession of 1937–1938. Other 1930s legislation and agencies implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

He was reelected in 1940 for his third term, making him the only U.S. president to serve for more than two terms. With World War II looming after 1938, the U.S. remained officially neutral, but Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China, the United Kingdom, and eventually the Soviet Union. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event he called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a congressional declaration of war on Japan. When Germany and Italy declared war on the US in response, the US formally entered the European theater of the war. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allied Powers against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort and implemented a Europe first strategy, initiating the Lend-Lease program and making the defeat of Germany first a priority over that of Japan. His administration oversaw the construction of The Pentagon, initiated the development of the world's first atomic bomb, and worked with other Allied leaders to lay the groundwork for the United Nations and other post-war institutions. It was under his wartime leadership that the United States would become a superpower on the world stage.

Roosevelt easily won reelection in 1944 on his post-war recovery platform. His physical health began declining during the later war years. Less than three months into his fourth term, President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. Vice president Harry Truman assumed the office of the presidency and oversaw the acceptance of surrender by the Axis powers. Some of Roosevelt's actions have faced substantial criticism, such as his ordering of the relocation and internment of Japanese Americans, as well as his decision to break tradition by running for a third term. Nevertheless, he is consistently ranked by scholars, political scientists, and historians among the nation's top three greatest presidents.