Monday, April 7, 2014

F is Franklin Delano Roosevelt

This post is from a new student at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School. He is a U.S. history teacher's dream in the fact that he shares my passion for history.  As a result, this is one of our longer posts. I didn't want to edit it in the desire to have all of this student's work to shine through. Enjoy!

F is for Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was the 32nd president of the United States, and a great leader of his time. Roosevelt, a distant cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, was raised in a wealthy home, becoming a Harvard Lawyer, and a New York Governor. He married Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of Teddy Roosevelt, and together they raised five children. Franklin, who lived from 1882 to 1945, took office in 1933. He entered office under the Democratic Party, and he remained in presidency up to 1945 when he died of a stroke in a Georgia vacation home. This marked the longest presidency ever held (twelve years, three months), exceeding the usual maximum by 4 years. Franklin Roosevelt was also a polio victim, although he never let his crutch stop him from leading.

The 32nd President
In 1932, FDR ran for office with Vice President John Nance Garner (later VP’s would include Henry Wallace, and future president Harry Truman). Under President Hoover, the country was facing an unprecedented recession: The Great Depression. In his campaign, Roosevelt promised new strategies and leadership to get the country back on its feet. His history as an effective NY governor showed an ability to provide unemployment benefits, as well as initiative to support failing industries. His track record, combined with the people’s wish to be rid of Hoover, won FDR a decisive victory in Congress.

Depression Relief Efforts
FDR during the time of the Depression
Roosevelt’s first step in office was introducing new strategies to help the country’s depression. His vigilance in the coming months of his presidency included a series of bills that would become known as the New Deal. The New Deal developed over a process referred to as the Hundred Days, where fifteen new bills passed to improve the economy. One problem pressing the nation was social security, and the people’s trust of the banks. Roosevelt introduced an Emergency Banking Act (EBRA) to simultaneously close and then open the banks, and to encourage American to make deposits as soon as this occurred. In another attempt to provide security, Roosevelt presented the Social Security Act (SSA), which provided support for those who could not work, like the elderly or disabled. FDR also sought to improve the economy concerning unemployment and mortgage troubles. He developed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which put young males aging eighteen to twenty-five to work planting trees around an area known as the Shelter Belt. This had multiple benefits. It gave young men opportunities to learn to read and write, sent money to their families back home, and created a line of defense against the devastating dust bowl. Another act, the Public Worker Act (PWA), gave construction workers employment opportunities that benefited both themselves and the community. Roosevelt also paid for mortgages of troubled Americans, offering low interest rates on loans for homeowners and farmers.

Leadership in War

FDR attending the Yalta Conference
Source: A poster on Kimberly's wall
Roosevelt gained trust in the nation through his diligence in solving the depression, by raising federal power, promoting Social Security, and giving hope to the country through his trademark “fireside chats”. These chats were radio-transmitted speeches that could address the whole nation, a precedent that made FDR a man of the people. By trust and familiarity, Roosevelt was elected to a third term in the face of a world war. When Japan appeared to be causing trouble in Asia and gearing up for war, FDR withheld strategic materials to hinder their aggression. Instead, this move brought Americans into the war as a direct result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor (a day Roosevelt claimed would “live in infamy”). Early war involvement from Roosevelt also included a series of laws that helped America stay neutral, but also have the ability to give aid to Churchill and Great Britain. This included war funding, weapon manufacturing and sales, as well as the provisions of destroyers to the British Navy. FDR’s other contribution to the war was the approval of the Manhattan Project: a research team devoted to the creation of an atomic bomb. Later in the war, Roosevelt took part in the Yalta Conference, a council that included Churchill, Stalin, and himself. Here, he made an agreement with the soviets to divide Germany and avoid Poland. These were two decisions that would lead to tensions in the Cold War. Roosevelt was also responsible for the creation of the UN in 1944. Roosevelt believed in internationalism: a non-isolationist, trade dependent association of countries that interacted positively with other nations to prevent war and promote economic and social prosperity. His wife, Eleanor, would also be elected to the chair of the Commission of Human Rights. Through his leadership, America came through the war. FDR, despite his efforts, died only months before V-E day, therefore missing the allied victory in WWII.

Appleby, Joyce, et al. The American Vision. New York: Glencoe, 2008
Boyer, Paul, et al. American Nation. Austin: Holt, 2003
Newan, Simon P. and Sir Denis Brogan, The President’s of the United States. Kettering: Book Studio, 2006


  1. This is very well written. FDR is one of my most favourite presidents. One point I would like to add that, the whole two-term limit came into formal existence through the 22nd amendment in 1951, mainly because of FDR. Even Thomas E. Dewey, FDR's Republican opponent in 1944, and the governor of New York, said "Four terms, or sixteen years, is the most dangerous threat to our freedom ever proposed."