“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
“The truth is found when men are free to pursue it.”
“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth”
“Today is a day that will live in infamy.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on this day in Hyde Park, New York, USA in 1882. It is the 131st anniversary of his birth.
FDR was born into wealth and luxury. The only child of James Roosevelt and Sara Anne Delano Roosevelt, Franklin was fifth cousins with Teddy Roosevelt.
An athletic child, Franklin enjoyed horseback riding, shooting, rowing, tennis, polo, golf and sailing. He went to an Episcopal boarding school, the Groton School for boys with other privileged, connected students. At Groton, under the influence of headmaster Endicott Peabody, he learned the values of serving his fellow-man, of public service and helping the less fortunate. From Groton he went on to Harvard College where he served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Crimson.
He also began to date his fifth cousin Eleanor Roosevelt while he was at Harvard. They married “On St. Patrick’s Day, 1905” [whitehouse.gov] The couple had six children together, Anna Eleanore, James, Franklin Delano, Jr., (who died before he was a year old) Elliot, a second Franklin Delano, Jr. and John Aspinwall.
He attended Columbia Law School but dropped out when he passed the bar. He worked for the law firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn focusing in Corporate Law. In 1910 he ran for New York State Senate and won by a landslide. In 1913 he was appointed Assistant US Secretary of the Navy. And by 1920 had risen in the ranks of the Democratic party to such a degree that he was their nominee for Vice President.
Roosevelt was struck by Polio in the summer of 1921.
At first, he refused to accept that he was permanently paralyzed. He tried numerous therapies and even bought the Warm Springs resort in Georgia seeking a cure. Despite his efforts, he never regained the use of his legs. He later established a foundation at Warm Springs to help others, and instituted the March of Dimes program that eventually funded an effective polio vaccine. [Biography]
It took almost a decade but determination and Eleanor’s support he managed to take the stage at the 1924 Democratic National Convention “on crutches to nominate Alfred E. Smith” [whitehouse.gov] Smith in turn convinced Roosevelt to run for NY Governor in 1928.
In 1932, as the country struggled in the throes of the Great Depression, Roosevelt was elected to the first of his four terms as President of the United States.
In his first 100 days, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed sweeping economic reform, calling it the “New Deal.” He ordered the temporary closure on all banks to halt the run on deposits. He formed a “Brain Trust” of economic advisors who designed the alphabet agencies such as the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) to support farm prices, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to employ young men, and the NRA (National Recovery Administration), which regulated wages and prices. Other agencies insured bank deposits, regulated the stock market, subsidized mortgages, and provided relief to the unemployed. [Biography]
By mid-decade the country was turning the corner on the depression, Roosevelt’s bold policies had worked. But some wondered if he had gone too far, especially his decision to take the nation off the gold standard.
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. [whitehouse.gov]
As the winds of war blew through Europe and the Pacific he pledged a “good neighbor” policy of 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.” [Ibid] After the German’s invaded France and the threat to England became omnipresent Roosevelt “send Great Britain all possible aid short of actual military involvement.” [Ibid]
But after December 7, 1941 there was no hedging America’s involvement in the War.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt directed organization of the Nation’s manpower and resources for global war. [Ibid]
By 1944 as World War II was beginning wind down, Roosevelt’s health was starting to deteriorate. “hospital tests indicated he had atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.” [Biography] Regardless of the test results Roosevelt ran for a fourth term. this time he choose Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman as his running mate.
He attended the Yalta Conference to discuss post-war Europe with Churchill and Joseph Stalin.
He then returned to the United States and the sanctuary of Warm Springs, Georgia. On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, Roosevelt suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died. [Ibid]