Franklin D. Roosevelt was the thirty-second president of the United States. He was first elected in 1932. At this time, the American people were suffering the negative effects of the Great Depression. This was the period from 1929 to about 1939 when economies around the world shrank and people became poor. Roosevelt led the United States through the Depression with his New Deal programs. These laws helped strengthen the US economy during the 1930s.
Roosevelt then guided the United States through World War II in the early to mid-1940s. This was a global war in which the United Kingdom, United States, and their allies fought Germany, Japan, and Italy. The United States and its partners eventually won the war. Roosevelt was a popular president throughout his time in office. He is the only US president to have been elected four times. He died in 1945.
Early Life and Education
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York. His parents were James and Sara Roosevelt. James was a wealthy businessman. He later ensured his only child became well educated.
Roosevelt enrolled at Groton School in Massachusetts when he was fourteen. He later attended Harvard College. He started to become politically aware while in college. Roosevelt was inspired by his fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, who became the US president in 1901. Roosevelt devoted himself to the Democratic Party while at Harvard.
He married Eleanor Roosevelt in March 1905. She was Theodore Roosevelt’s niece. Roosevelt started studying law at Columbia University in New York City around this time. He eventually grew bored with law school and got a job on New York’s Wall Street.
Early Political Career
Roosevelt was elected to the New York Senate in 1910 and reelected in 1912. In 1913, he became assistant secretary of the US Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. Democratic leaders saw Roosevelt as a major rising personality in the party. Democrats named him the party’s vice-presidential candidate alongside James M. Cox in the 1920 presidential election. However, the Democrats lost the election.
Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921. This is a disease that can cause paralysis. The disease made Roosevelt unable to move his legs. Over the next few years, he strengthened his legs through swimming and other forms of exercise. He was eventually able to stand and move about, but with some difficulty.
Roosevelt returned to politics in the late 1920s. He was elected governor of New York in 1928. Beginning in 1929, Roosevelt dedicated much of his time as governor to the New York economy. The US stock market crashed in 1929. The crash meant that millions of Americans who had given their money to companies now lost it all. As a result, Americans across the country suddenly became poor. This was the start of the Great Depression. Roosevelt quickly passed laws to help the people of New York. These included setting aside money for the elderly and unemployed. Roosevelt was reelected as governor in 1930.
President of the United States
Roosevelt ran as the Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 1932. He eventually defeated Republican president Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt took office in March 1933. He then started working to help Americans most affected by the Depression.
Roosevelt’s Depression laws were known as the New Deal. The laws provided money directly to the poor. They helped farmers who otherwise would have had to give up their farms. Roosevelt also assisted the more than thirteen million Americans who were unemployed. He did this through organizations such as the Public Works Administration. This agency hired unemployed Americans to work on public building projects.
Roosevelt was easily reelected president in 1936. The US economy had started to recover by later in the decade. By this time, war was beginning in Europe. Adolf Hitler was preparing Germany to take over the continent. Germany’s allies of Japan and Italy were becoming stronger, too. World War II officially began in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland.
Roosevelt was elected to a third term as president in 1940. This ended the tradition of presidents seeking only two terms in office. He wanted to keep the United States out of the war. However, Japan bombed the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941. The United States then declared war on Japan, Germany, and their allies.
Roosevelt worked closely with leaders of the United Kingdom and Soviet Union in planning to defeat Germany and Japan. Into the mid-1940s, American, British, and Soviet efforts helped turn the war against these two powers. During the war, Roosevelt also tried to prepare for the post-war world. His ideas contributed to the eventual creation of the United Nations. This is an alliance of countries that works to promote world peace.
Roosevelt’s health worsened as the war was ending. Despite this, Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term as president in 1944. He did not live to see the end of World War II. Roosevelt died of brain bleeding in Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1945. The war ended that September. Many historians consider Roosevelt one of the greatest US presidents. This is because of his leadership during the Great Depression and World War II.