“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd U.S. President, served from 1933 to 1945 – four terms. Roosevelt was beloved by many Americans. He took office during the Great Depression and quickly asked Congress to make laws that would help banks, businesses, and individuals recover. He started Social Security, a program that gave money to senior citizens. He created programs to insure banks’ stability.
Roosevelt promised Americans that he would keep the country out of World War II unless the United States was attached. On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked U.S. naval bases at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, killing more than 2,500 people and wounding 1,000. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war. Roosevelt was an active player in the war. He met frequently with Winston Churchhill from Great Britain, and Joseph Stalin, from the Soviet Union to discuss strategies. Roosevelt authorized development of the atomic bomb and introduced the idea for the United Nations.
Roosevelt had served for more than twelve years during one of the most difficult periods in U.S. history. The strain of the Great Depression and World War II was taking a toll. Roosevelt, who had always had tremendous energy, was tired. Roosevelt was visiting his retreat in Georgia in the spring of 1945. There, he suffered a stroke and died a few hours later. The American people were devastated.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882 at his parents’ estate in Hyde Park, New York. He was the only child in a wealthy, prominent family.
- Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt were fifth cousins. Franklin admired Teddy tremendously.
- Franklin Roosevelt was schooled at home. He traveled to Europe with his parents and had private tutors.
- Roosevelt graduated from Harvard University and attended Columbia Law School.
- He married Eleanor Roosevelt a distant cousin. President Teddy Roosevelt gave Eleanor away at the wedding. They had six children.
- Roosevelt became ill with polio in 1921. Eleanor urged him to work to regain his strength. He never walked again without crutches and knee braces, but he swam every day.
- Roosevelt, a Democrat, won his first Presidential election easily. He promised Americans a “New Deal,” meaning new programs to make their lives better.
- Eleanor Roosevelt was beloved by the people too. She traveled frequently, talking with Americans and learning about their lives. She wanted to help the poor, the elderly, women, and blacks. She worked as hard as her husband.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Was Roosevelt universally liked?
Answer: Most Americans loved him, but some people worried that he increased the powers of the Federal government too much. Previously, the Federal government let states decide how to manage their jurisdictions. His programs cost a lot of money and created an unbalanced national budget—a serious problem. Roosevelt started a lot of programs that continue today. Many of these programs helped the country during the Great Depression but have become expensive or inefficient over time.
Visit the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.