Presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as President longer than any other president. He was also a distant cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York to James and Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt I. He was their only child.

He was raised in a family of privilege and prestige. From a young age, he began touring Eurpoe each summer.

At the age of five, he reportedly accompanied his father 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.”

His mother is described as having been very possessive of her son.

“He learned to ride, shoot, row, and play polo and lawn tennis. He took up golf in his teen years, becoming a skilled long hitter. He learned to sail and when he was 16, his father gave him a sailboat that he named “New Moon””

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Upon graduation from boarding school he attended Harvard College. He became editor-in-chief of The Harvard Crimson daily newspaper. His fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, became president during this time and Franklin looked up to him as a role model.

His father, James, died on December 8, 1900 and Franklin distanced himself from his controlling mother.

In mid-1902, he was formally introduced to President Theodore Roosevelt’s niece and his fifth cousin, once removed, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1903 he graduated from Harvard. The school would bestow an honorary doctorate to him in 1929.

In 1904, he entered Columbia Law School and passed the New York State bar exam in 1907. He then began to work in corporate law for a prestigious Wall Street firm.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

On March 17, 1905, he married Eleanor Roosevelt in New York City. He and Eleanor married despite his mother’s fierce rejections. President Theodore Roosevelt gave his niece away, as his brother and the bride’s father, were deceased.

Franklin’s mother became a frequent house guest to their Hyde Park estate and often made things difficult for Eleanor. Eleanor never felt as if the home was her own.

“Biographer James MacGregor Burns said that young Roosevelt was self-assured and at ease in the upper class. In contrast, Eleanor at the time was shy and disliked social life, and at first stayed at home to raise their several children.”

Eleanor and Franklin had four children, Anna born in 1906, James II born in 1907, Franklin born in 1909 who died at seven months old, Elliot born in 1910, Franklin Jr born in 1914 and John born in 1916.

The loss of their third son, Franklin, from heart disease was very hard on both Franklin and Eleanor.

By as early as 1907, it is said Franklin began talking about becoming president.

Franklin Roosevelt had a long time affair with Eleanor’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer. When Eleanor found letters in his luggage in September 1918, the thought of divorce came up. Lucy refused to marry him as a “divorced man with five children”, his mother threatened to cut him off if he divorced and he and Eleanor remained married. He promised never to see Lucy again. However, Eleanor never truly forgave him. Their

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

marriage turned more into a political partnership. However, he and Lucy maintained a formal correspondence.

Eleanor soon established a separate house in Hyde Park known as Val-Kill and began to devote herself to social and political issues.

In 1910, Franklin ran for the New York State Senate and took office on January 1, 1911.

In 1913, he was appointed as President Woodrow Wilson‘s Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He served in this important position during the critical Great War {now known as World War I}.

In 1918, he was stricken by the flue pandemic.

In 1920, the Democratic National Convention chose him as the vice-presidential candidate. They were defeated by the Republican ticket of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

In 1921, while vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada he became ill and was diagnosed with polio. He was left with permanent paralysis from the waist down, however hid it from the public for the rest of his life. “Roosevelt refused to accept the fact that he was permanently paralyzed.” Roosevelt sought out a variety of treatments. With the assistance of his sons, he appeared to be standing upright and had a “car with specially designed hand controls that provided him with further mobility.”

In 1924, he campaigned against his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who was a Republican. This caused a rift with Edith Carrow Roosevelt.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In 1929, he was elected Governor of New York.

“Franklin was not always aware of when Eleanor 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.”

By 1932, the Great Depression was well under way and people sought relief. Roosevelt became the Democratic nominee and won the election.

He was inaugurated to his first term on March 4, 1933. “Roosevelt’s inauguration on March 4, 1933 occurred in the middle of a bank panic and led to the backdrop for his famous words: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”” He created the New Deal as a strategy for immediate relief. and passed the Emergency Banking Act.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

He also pushed for a federal minimum wage which resulted in the Fair Labor Standards Act and Social Security Act. In 1935, he passed the Second New Deal. Unemployment fell dramatically during his first term and payroll taxes were introduced.

In 1936, he won re-election for a second term by a land act. During this term the Housing Act of 1937 was passed. His second inauguration, was the first time the oath of office was given on January 20th. Prior to this all presidential inaugurations were held on March 4, which was the day the federal government began operations under the U.S. Constitution in 1789. The date was changed in 1937 to January 20th with the ratification of the 20th Amendment and has been held on this date ever since.

In Germany, an aggressive dictator known as Adolf Hitler began to rise and arouse fears of a new world power.

In 1940, he ran for an unprecedented third term. He’d vowed not to run unless drafted and at the Democratic convention delegates brought out chanting “We want Roosevelt”.

After George Washington refused a third term, it became an unwritten law to only serve two terms. By this point tensions were high with Germany and war had broken out in Europe. However, the United States remained neutral but it was well known where Roosevelt’s alliances were.

Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented third term. Understanding the mistakes President Woodrow Wilson made during World War I, Roosevelt tried to not make the same mistake and at times made the exact opposite.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

His third term was dominated by the increasing tensions and involvement during World War II. Social changes began to occur on the home front. On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked. The next day, Roosevelt made his Infamy Speech, 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.”

Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Joseph Stalin, of the Soviet Union. The three fourmed the “Big Three”. They later met with China and “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.”

Roosevelt had been a chain smoker all of his life and by 1940 his health began to deteriorate. By 1944, he became more noticeably fatigued and was found to have a variety of health issues.

“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”.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

By 1941, if not earlier, Franklin began to see Lucy Mercer again. She was with him when he died.

On September 7, 1941, his mother, Sara, died. Her son was beside her side when she died.

In 1942, as his health began to fail, Franklin asked Eleanor to live with him again, but she refused.

In 1945, Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented fourth term with a new running mate, Harry S. Truman. Roosevelt was inaugurated for the fourth time on January 20th, 1945.

At a meeting in February 1945, Winston Churchill’s physician commented that Roosevelt was a “dying man”. However, that month he met with world leaders, flying to Egypt. He also had his final meeting with Churchill during this time.

On March 1st, he addressed congress 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.”

He was noted as still being in full command mentally.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

According to Wikipedia, “In his later years at the White House, Roosevelt was increasingly overworked and his daughter Anna 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. When he died Shoumatoff {the portrait artists painting his picture}, who maintained close friendships with both Roosevelt and Mercer, rushed Mercer away to avoid negative publicity and implications of infidelity.”

On March 29, 1945, Roosevelt went to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia.

On April 12,he stated , “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.” During this time he was sitting for a portrait to be painted of him. Lucy Mercer Rutherford was also present at the time. He then slumped forward in his chair, unconscious, and was carried into his bedroom.”

He died that afternoon from a massive cerebral hemorrhage. 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.”

Roosevelt’s declining physical health had been kept secret from the general public. His death was met with shock and grief across the U.S.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

and around the world.

“On the morning of April 13, Roosevelt’s body was placed in a flag-draped coffin and loaded onto the presidential train for the trip back to Washington. Along the route, thousands flocked to the tracks to pay their respects. After a White House funeral on April 14, Roosevelt was transported by train from Washington, D.C. to his place of birth at Hyde Park. As was his wish, Roosevelt was buried on April 15 in the Rose Garden of the Springwood estate, the Roosevelt family home in Hyde Park.”

The war in Europe ended less than a month after his death. The new President Harry S. Truman said, “his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day.”

President Roosevelt firmly established the United States as a leader on the world stage.

After Roosevelt’s death, the 22nd Amendment was passed in 1947 limiting the presidency to only two terms.

The Roosevelt Memorial was erected in 1955.

Franklin D. Roosevelt consistently ranks among the three greatest presidents alongside George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.


32nd President of the United States
(March 4, 1933 to April 12, 1945)

Nickname: “FDR”

Born: January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York
Died: April 12, 1945, in Warm Springs, Georgia

Father: James Roosevelt
Mother: Sara Delano Roosevelt
Married: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), on March 17, 1905
Children: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1906-75); James Roosevelt (1907-91); Elliott Roosevelt (1910-90); Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. (1914-88); John Aspinwall Roosevelt (1916-81)

Religion: Episcopalian
Education: Graduated from Harvard College (1903); Attended Columbia Law School
Occupation: Public official, lawyer
Political Party: Democrat

  • Member of New York State Legislature, 1911-13
  • Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913-20
  • Governor of New York, 1929-33

Presidential Salary: $75,000/year


1933 His inauguration as 32nd President of the United States
1933 The 20th Amendment was ratified changed the days for meetings of Congress and for the start of the President’s term of office.
1933 The 21st Amendment was ratified, the Repeal of Prohibition. The Era of Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 during which time the sale, production, importation, and transportation of all alcoholic beverages had bee banned in the US.
1933 During his first 100 days of his presidency he started his plans for a New Deal to help with a national recovery following the Great Depression. The New Deal measures included the creation of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), NRA (National Recovery Administration), and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority)
1935 The Social Security Act, an important element of the New Deal, established a system of old-age benefits for workers, benefits for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment compensation laws.
1936 November 3, 1936: Franklin Roosevelt defeats Alfred Landon, winning re-election to a second term.
1937 The Court Packing Plan (The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937) was a controversial plan to expand the Supreme Court to 15 judges to make it more efficient.
1939 WW2 (1939-1945): Due to the Polices of Adolf Hitler WW2 started September 1, 1939 and would finally end on September 2, 1945
1940 Lend-Lease Act: On March 11, 1940: Congress passes the Lend-Lease Act, enabling the US to aid the Allied Powers without entering into the war.
1941 Pearl Harbor: In 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and the US enters the war
1942 The Battle of Midway: US victory in the Battle of Midway when American planes defeat a Japanese fleet on its way to invade the Midway Islands
1942 The President signs Executive Order 9066, imprisoning many Japanese-Americans living on American soil
1944 D Day: June 6, 1944, known as D Day, marked the date when nearly 3 million Allied soldiers invaded France. Paris is then liberated
1944 The Western Front: US and British forces launching Operation Market-Garden and the Battle of the Bulge
1945 The Death of Hitler and Germany surrenders: Adolf Hitler commits suicide on 30 April 1945 and Germany surrenders on May 7
1945 The Yalta Conference: February 11, 1945 President Roosevelt meets with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin in Yalta to negotiate the post-war future of Europe.
1945 The Death of the President: Franklin Roosevelt dies of a cerebral haemorrhage on Apr 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.
1945 His presidency and term in office ends with his untimely death.

1882 Franklin D. Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York

1904 Panama Canal Zone acquired

1905 Franklin Roosevelt was married to Anna Eleanor Roosevelton March 17, 1905 They had 6 children

1908 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) established

1911-13 Franklin D. Roosevelt became Member of New York State Legislature, 1911-13

1913-20 Franklin D. Roosevelt became Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913-20

1917 US enters World War I

1919 Treaty of Versailles

1924 Indian Reorganization Act

1927 Charles Lindbergh makes first trans-Atlantic flight
The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson is the first “talkie” to be released

1929 Great Depression begins

1929-33 Franklin D. Roosevelt became Governor of New York, 1929-33

1932 Amelia Earhart flies across Atlantic Ocean

1933 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt became the President of the United States of America

1933 Twenty-First Amendment – Repeal of Prohibition (1933)
New Deal policies including the creation of the CCC, NRA, and TVA brought about the beginnings of a national recovery (1933-1935)

1934 Dust Bowl begins

1935 Social Security Act (1935)

1937 Court Packing Plan (1937)

1939 World War II (1939-1945)

1941 Pearl Harbor attacked; US enters World War II (1941)

1945 Yalta Conference (1945)

1945 President Roosevelt died of cerebral haemorrhage on April 12, 1945 at the Little White House in his cottage at Warm Springs, Georgia. He was buried in the Rose Garden at his estate in Hyde Park.


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