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Franklin D Roosevelt The Man Who Changed America

Updated on July 4, 2014

Throughout American history there have been many men and women who have graced our shores; some good, some criminal, but very few that could be considered great. In this article I am going to reveal the top three actions Franklin D. Roosevelt did, that transcended him to one of the most important men of the 20th century. Deciding to close all the banks to relieve the burden of the Great Depression, creating the New Deal that lead to personal and financial security Americans hadn't seen since before the Depression, and leading our country through the Second World War, starting with the attack at Pearl Harbor, these three events changed President Roosevelt and America forever.


With the collapse of the Stock Market on October 29, 1929, the effects were felt nationwide at first, and then became a global crisis. Within the first three years, “more than ten thousand banks had folded, with thousands of businesses, unable to secure loans and credit, closing their doors in their wake. Twelve million people, a quarter of the workforce, were unemployed according to government statistics, though the actual number could have been twice that high.” (Updergrove, 2009, p. 132). By the time of the 1932 elections, Americans were looking for someone to lead them out of this “Depression” that they were in. That man, who would be the leader of the free world for the next 12 years, took office March 4th 1933.

President Franklin Roosevelt 1933 Inauguration

Almost immediately upon taking office, President Roosevelt put his plans into action. “On March 6th, two days after taking office, he issued a proclamation closing all American banks for four days until Congress could meet in special session to consider banking reform legislation.” (Brinkley, 2008, p. 680) With the failure of so many banks in such short years, this “Bank Holiday,” was a huge relief for the American public. For the first time since the crash, the American people had a general sense of relief and hope.


With the passage of the Emergency Banking Act--a standard bill designed to protect the larger banks from the smaller nonproductive ones--almost immediately through Congress, Roosevelt was able to have the Treasury Department “inspect each bank before they would be allowed to reopen, for federal assistance to some troubled institutions, and for a thorough reorganization of those banks in the greatest difficulty.” (Brinkley, 2008, p. 680) By taking the time to see what the problem was, they were able to find the issues that needed to be fixed, and the banks that also needed to stay closed. With the creation of the Emergency Banking Act and shortly thereafter the Economy Act, Americans were finally able to catch their breath. Even though the Depression wasn’t over quite yet, Americans knew that they were headed in the right direction, and were beginning to trust in the government.


“After getting the banks back on track, the administration addressed other crisis. The remaining first hundred days saw a virtual alphabet soup of remedies cooked up by FDR and his Brain Trust of advisers, almost all which sailed through an obliging Congress with rapidity of machine gun fire.” (Updergrove, 2009, p. 136) These remedies would later be called the New Deal. There were two different versions of this plan; first one created in 1933 and the second in 1935. Each of these “New Deals” was designed to help a part of the economy that the administration felt that needed to be addressed. The “First New Deal” dealt with groups; from banking and railroads to industry and farming, all of which demanded help from economic recovery. The “Second New Deal” included the Wagner Act to promote labor unions, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) relief program, the Social Security Act, along with new programs to aid tenant farmers and migrant workers. The Supreme Court ruled several programs unconstitutional; however, most were soon replaced, with the exception of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). Even with the replacement of many of President Roosevelt’s programs throughout the years, during the 1930's they were able to lay the blueprint on where our government needed to be guided, to keep us from returning to that state of Depression.

By the end of the 1930's the country was showing the signs of recovery, but they were not out of the woods just yet. The growing contention that was building in Germany with Hitler would help us escape out of this Great Depression. With most of the nation still recovering from economic and financial peril, the last thing the citizens of America wanted was to worry about other countries problems. When there is war there is a need for industrial production, materials and supplies for our service people. A war was what the country needed to get the economy started up again. But Roosevelt wouldn’t just take the offense and go to war in Germany. It took Japan's attack at Pearl Harbor and Roosevelt’s famous “infamy” speech, to get the nation behind him to bring this nation to prominence and the powerhouse that it is today.

Pearl Harbor Address

Even though he wouldn't live to see the end of this Great War, dying in office just a short while before the last of the enemy forces surrendered, Roosevelt had secured his place in history as one of the most pivotal men of the 20th century, and one of the more popular presidents ever to grace the Oval Office. During his 12 years in office Roosevelt helped stop the bank collapse that was caused due to the Crash of 1929, reform the way that our government takes care of its citizens, and eventually guide us out of the biggest hole it has seen it three hundred years. Every red blooded American today owes Franklin Delano Roosevelt a debt of gratitude; he is the reason why our country is great. Because of men like him who were willing to stand in places that most wouldn't dare to stand, we succeeded in becoming the greatest nation in the world.
Thank You FDR. You earned that third term. The work you did in 12 years, our country hasn't duplicated in the past 80 years. You truly are a great man.


Pearl Harbor


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