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President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Updated on January 6, 2017

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was the 32nd president of the United States (1933-45).

Born in Hyde Park, New York in March 4, 1933. He graduated from Harvard University (1904), attended the Columbia University Law School, and was admitted to the New York bar. In 1905 he married a distant cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt; they had six children.

A distant relative of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt became a Democrat early in life. He gained notice as an insurgent member of the New York legislature and was chosen by Woodrow Wilson as assistant secretary of the navy. In 1920 he was the unsuccessful Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

In August 1921, Roosevelt was stricken with poliomyelitis, which left him unable to walk. With his wife's encouragement, however, he soon resumed an active political life and was elected (1928) governor of New York. In 1932 he was the Democratic candidate for president and won by a wide margin.

Roosevelt took office at the depths of the Great Depression. He immediately instituted a program, known as the New Deal, that included a wide variety of measures aimed at bringing about an economic recovery.

Collectively, the New Deal programs had the effect of revolutionizing US economic, political, and social life. Vigorously denounced by Republicans and conservatives in general, Roosevelt nevertheless was reelected by a landslide in 1936. Roosevelt's second term saw some lessening of public support. His attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court by adding new members was defeated. Although the Republicans had shown some resurgence of strength, Roosevelt decided to run for an unprecedented third term in 1940. He was easily reelected.

Roosevelt's remaining years in office were almost totally concerned with US involvement in World War II.

Even before the United States entered the war, Roosevelt had forged strong alliances with the Allies, particularly through the lend-lease program. Once the United States was at war, Roosevelt commanded the most massive war effort in history. He attended a number of conferences where the strategy of the war was determined and where the postwar world was planned. In 1944, Roosevelt ran for a fourth term although clearly in poor health. He won the election but died shortly after inauguration. He was succeeded by Harry S. Truman.


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