Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR 1944 Color Portrait.tif
Photograph by Leon Perskie, 1944
32nd President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
Vice PresidentJohn N. Garner (1933–1941)
Henry A. Wallace (1941–1945)
Harry S. Truman (1945)
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
for the 26th district
In office
January 1, 1911 – March 17, 1913
Preceded byJohn F. Schlosser
Succeeded byJames E. Towner
Personal details
BornFranklin 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 place Springwood Estate
Hyde Park, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Eleanor Roosevelt (m. 1905)
Children
Parents
Relatives
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Columbia University
SignatureCursive signature in ink

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Sr. (t/,[1] t/[2]; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the mid-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 realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II. He is often rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. Presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York, to a Dutch American family made well known by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. FDR attended Groton School, Harvard College, and Columbia Law School, and went on to practice law in New York City. In 1905, he married his fifth cousin once removed, Eleanor Roosevelt. They had six children. 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 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 the treatment center in Warm Springs, Georgia, for people with poliomyelitis. In spite of being unable to walk unaided, Roosevelt returned to public office by winning election as Governor of New York in 1928. He was in office from 1929 to 1933 and served as a reform Governor, promoting programs to combat the economic crisis besetting the United States at the time.

In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Republican President Herbert Hoover in a landslide. Roosevelt took office while the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in the country's history. 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. The economy having improved rapidly from 1933 to 1936, Roosevelt won a landslide reelection in 1936. Even so, the economy then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937 and 1938. After the 1936 election, Roosevelt galvanized opposition by seeking passage of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937 (the "court packing plan"), which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court of the United States. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented passage of the bill and blocked the implementation of further New Deal programs and reforms. Major surviving programs and legislation implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Social Security.

Roosevelt ran successfully for reelection in 1940. His victory made him the only U.S. President to serve for more than two terms. With World War II looming after 1938, Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China as well as the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union while the U.S. remained officially neutral. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event he famously called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a declaration of war on Japan the next day, and a few days later, on Germany and Italy. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allies against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort and implemented a Europe first strategy, making the defeat of Germany a priority over that of Japan. He also initiated the development of the world's first atomic bomb and worked with the other Allied leaders to lay the groundwork for the United Nations and other post-war institutions. Roosevelt won reelection in 1944 but with his physical health seriously and steadily declining during the war years, he died in April 1945, just 11 weeks into his fourth term. The Axis Powers surrendered to the Allies in the months following Roosevelt's death, during the presidency of Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman.

Early life and marriage

Childhood and education

Springwood, the birthplace and lifelong home of Franklin Roosevelt, located in Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in the Hudson Valley town of Hyde Park, New York, to businessman James Roosevelt I and his second wife, Sara Ann Delano. Roosevelt's parents, who were sixth cousins,[3] both came from wealthy old New York families, the Roosvelts and the Delanos, respectively. Roosevelt's patrilineal ancestor migrated to New Amsterdam in the 17th century, and the Roosevelts flourished as merchants and landowners.[4] The Delano family progenitor traveled to the New World on the Mayflower, and the Delanos prospered as merchants and shipbuilders in Massachusetts.[5] Franklin had a half-brother, James "Rosy" Roosevelt, from his father's previous marriage.[6]

A young, unbreeched Roosevelt in 1884, 2 years old[a]
Roosevelt in 1893, at the age of 11
Roosevelt in 1900, at the age of 18

Roosevelt grew up in a wealthy family. His father, James Roosevelt I, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1851, but chose not to practice law after receiving an inheritance from his grandfather, James Roosevelt.[6] Roosevelt's father was a prominent Bourbon Democrat who once took Franklin to meet President Grover Cleveland in the White House.[8] Sara was the dominant influence in Franklin's early years.[9] She once declared, "My son Franklin is a Delano, not a Roosevelt at all."[3] James, who was 54 when Franklin was born, was considered by some as a remote father, though biographer James MacGregor Burns indicates James interacted with his son more than was typical at the time.[10] Frequent trips to Europe—he made his first excursion at the age of two and went with his parents every year from the ages of seven to fifteen—helped Roosevelt become conversant in German and French. At age nine he attended public school in Germany.[11][12] 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.[13] He learned to sail and when he was 16, his father gave him a sailboat.[14]

Roosevelt attended Groton School, an Episcopal boarding school in Groton, Massachusetts. Its headmaster, Endicott Peabody, preached the duty of Christians to help the less fortunate and urged his students to enter public service. Peabody remained a strong influence throughout Roosevelt's life, officiating at his wedding and visiting him as president.[15][16]

Like most of his Groton classmates, Roosevelt went to Harvard College in nearby Cambridge, Massachusetts.[17] Roosevelt was an average student academically,[18] and he later declared, "I took economics courses in college for four years, and everything I was taught was wrong."[19] He was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity[20] and the Fly Club.[21] Roosevelt was undistinguished as a student or athlete, but he became editor-in-chief of The Harvard Crimson daily newspaper, a position that required great ambition, energy, and the ability to manage others.[22]

Roosevelt's father died in 1900, causing great distress for him.[23] The following year, Roosevelt's fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States. Theodore's vigorous leadership style and reforming zeal made him Franklin's role model and hero.[24] Roosevelt graduated from Harvard in 1903 with an A.B. in history. Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in 1904, but dropped out in 1907 after passing the New York bar exam.[25][b] In 1908, he took a job with the prestigious Wall Street firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn, working in the firm's admiralty law division.[27]

Marriage, family, and affairs

Roosevelt with Miss Mosenthal and Theodore Douglas Robinson during the travel around Norway in 1901 (Stalheim at Voss)
Eleanor and Franklin with their first two children, 1908

In mid-1902, Franklin began courting his future wife Eleanor Roosevelt, whom he had been acquainted with as a child.[28] Eleanor and Franklin were fifth cousins, once removed, and Eleanor was a niece of Theodore Roosevelt.[29] They began corresponding with each other in 1902, and in October 1904, Franklin proposed marriage to Eleanor.[30]

On March 17, 1905, Roosevelt married Eleanor in New York City, despite the fierce resistance of his mother.[31] While she did not dislike Eleanor, Sara Roosevelt was very possessive of her son, believing he was too young for marriage. She attempted to break the engagement several times.[32] Eleanor's uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, stood in at the wedding for Eleanor's deceased father, Elliott.[33] The young couple moved into Springwood, his family's estate at Hyde Park. The home was owned by Sara Roosevelt until her death in 1941 and was very much her home as well.[34] In addition, Franklin and Sara Roosevelt did the planning and furnishing of a town house Sara had built for the young couple in New York City; Sara had a twin house built alongside for herself. Eleanor never felt at home in the houses at Hyde Park or New York, but she loved the family's vacation home on Campobello Island, which Sara gave to the couple.[35]

Biographer James MacGregor Burns said that young Roosevelt was self-assured and at ease in the upper class.[36] In contrast, Eleanor at the time was shy and disliked social life, and at first stayed at home to raise their several children. Like his father had, Franklin left the raising of the children to his wife, while Eleanor in turn largely relied on hired caregivers to raise the children. Referring to her early experience as a mother, she later stated that she knew "absolutely nothing about handling or feeding a baby."[37] Although Eleanor had an aversion to sexual intercourse and considered it "an ordeal to be endured",[38] she and Franklin had six children. Anna, James, and Elliott were born in 1906, 1907, and 1910, respectively. The couple's second son, Franklin, died in infancy in 1909. Another son, also named Franklin, was born in 1914, and the youngest child, John, was born in 1916.[39]

Roosevelt had various extra-marital affairs, including one with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer, which began soon after she was hired in early 1914.[40] In September 1918, Eleanor found letters revealing the affair in Roosevelt's luggage. Franklin contemplated divorcing Eleanor, but Sara objected strongly and Lucy would not agree to marry a divorced man with five children.[41] Franklin and Eleanor remained married, and Roosevelt promised never to see Lucy again. Eleanor never truly forgave him, and their marriage from that point on was more of a political partnership.[42] Eleanor soon thereafter established a separate home in Hyde Park at Val-Kill, and increasingly devoted herself to various social and political causes independently of her husband. The emotional break in their marriage was so severe that when Roosevelt asked Eleanor in 1942—in light of his failing health—to come back home and live with him again, she refused.[43] He was not always aware of when she visited the White House and for some time she could not easily reach him on the telephone without his secretary's help; Roosevelt, in turn, did not visit Eleanor's New York City apartment until late 1944.[44]

Franklin broke his promise to Eleanor to refrain from having affairs. He and Lucy maintained a formal correspondence, and began seeing each other again in 1941, or perhaps earlier.[45][46] Lucy was with Roosevelt on the day he died in 1945. Despite this, Roosevelt's affair was not widely known until the 1960s.[43] Roosevelt's son Elliott claimed that his father had a 20-year affair with his private secretary, Marguerite "Missy" LeHand.[47] Another son, James, stated that "there is a real possibility that a romantic relationship existed" between his father and Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, who resided in the White House during part of World War II. Aides began to refer to her at the time as "the president's girlfriend",[48] and gossip linking the two romantically appeared in the newspapers.[49]

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: Franklin D. Roosevelt
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Франклін Дэлана Рузвэлт
Bikol Central: Franklin D. Roosevelt
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Bahasa Indonesia: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Lëtzebuergesch: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Dorerin Naoero: Franklin D. Roosevelt
norsk nynorsk: Franklin D. Roosevelt
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Franklin Roosevelt
русиньскый: Франклін Рузвелт
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
татарча/tatarça: Franklin Delano Ruzvelt
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: فرانكلىن روزۋېلت
Tiếng Việt: Franklin D. Roosevelt
žemaitėška: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Lingua Franca Nova: Franklin Delano Roosevelt