Party affiliation: Democratic Party
Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in the Hudson Valley town of Hyde Park, New York to businessman James Roosevelt I and Sara Ann Delano. He belonged to one of the oldest families in New York State. His parents were sixth cousins and both were from wealthy old New York families. They were of mostly English descent; Roosevelt's patrilineal great-grandfather, Jacobus Roosevelt III, was of Dutch ancestry, and his mother's maiden name, Delano, could be traced to a French Huguenot immigrant ancestor of the 17th century. Their only child was to have been named Warren, but Sara's infant nephew of that name had recently died. Their son was named for Sara's uncle Franklin Hughes Delano.
Roosevelt grew up in an atmosphere of privilege (reportedly, when James Roosevelt took his young son 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.") Sara was a possessive mother; James, 54 when Franklin was born, was considered by some as a remote father. Sara was the dominant influence in Franklin's early yearsl. Frequent trips to Europe - he made his first at the age of two, and went with his parents every year from the ages of seven to 15 - helped Roosevelt become conversant in German and French. He learned to ride, shoot, row, and play polo and lawn tennis. Roosevelt also took up golf in his teen years, becoming a skilled long hitter. He learned to sail, and his father gave him a sailboat at the age of 16 which he named "New Moon".
Roosvelt was heavily influenced by its headmaster, Endicott Peabody, who preached the duty of Christians to help the less fortunate and urged his students to enter public service. Forty years later Roosevelt said of Peabody, "It was a blessing in my life to have the privilege of [his] guiding hand." Roosevelt was a "B" student.
Roosevelt went to Harvard College. Again an average student academically, Roosevelt later declared, "I took economics courses in college for four years, and everything I was taught was wrong."
Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in 1904, dropping out in 1907 after passing the New York State Bar exam. He later received a posthumous J.D. from Columbia Law School.
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 involvement.
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.
FDR's persistent optimism and activism contributed to a renewal of the national spirit, reflecting his victory over paralytic illness to become the longest serving president in U.S. history.
1899 - 1903
1904 - 1907
1910 - 1913
1913 - 1920
1929 - 1933
March 4, 1933 - January 20, 1937
January 20, 1937 - January 20, 1941
January 20, 1941 - January 20, 1945
January 20, 1945 - April 12, 1945
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- of U.S.
- d with Carter
- Attempted to revive nat. economy by series of “pump priming” measures including NRA, A.A.A., Pub. Works Adminstrn. (NRA, A.A.A. later declared unconstl. by U. S. Supereme Ct.)
- Mem. Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commn., 1909, Plattsburgh Centennial, 1913; member National Commission Panama P.I. Expedition, 1915, overseer Harvard U., 1918-24. Pres. American National Red Cross, Georgia Warm Spring Foundation.
- Other interests
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