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Franklin D. Roosevelt, commonly known by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States. He was a Democrat and was elected four times and served from March 1933 to his death in April 1945. He was a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic depression and total war in World War II. See the fact file below for more information on Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
See the fact file below for more information on Franklin D. Roosevelt or alternatively, you can download our 30-page Franklin D. Roosevelt worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
- On January 30, 1882, Franklin D. Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York. He was the only child of a wealthy and politically dominant family, with his father, James Roosevelt, and his mother, Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt.
- Because he was an only child, his childhood was full of privilege and luxury. His mother had a profound influence on him throughout his life.
- He had always shown admiration for his distant cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt, throughout his childhood.
- Roosevelt’s education was entirely provided by his governesses and tutors until he was fourteen when he began attending Groton School for Boys. He struggled at the school because they focussed on athletics, an area he lacked in.
- After graduating, he decided to attend Harvard University to continue to impress his parents.
- He met Eleanor Roosevelt, a distant relative, and Theodore Roosevelt’s niece. In his final year, they got engaged and later married.
- He spent three years at Harvard University getting his BA in history. Following Harvard, he attended Columbia University (Law School) in New York.
- In 1909, he passed the bar exam despite not having a degree.
- Roosevelt then worked as a clerk at a Wall Street law firm, which led him to believe that law was dull and uninteresting.
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER
- In 1910, Roosevelt began his political career. He was elected to the New York State Senate as a Democrat from his traditionally Republican home district when he was 28 years old.
- In his early years, he encountered widespread criticism from other politicians until he met Louis Howe, who would have a significant impact on his life in future.
- Roosevelt campaigned alongside Woodrow Wilson for president in 1912, against his admired cousin, Theodore Roosevelt. Following his election victory, Wilson appointed Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
- In 1912, Roosevelt was re-elected to the State Senate. He supported Woodrow Wilson’s candidacy at the Democratic National Convention, and as a result, Wilson appointed him as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913, a position he held until 1920.
- He was a dynamic and effective administrator who specialized in naval administration.
- Roosevelt’s widespread popularity and success in naval affairs led to his nomination for vice president by the Democratic Party in 1920, on a ticket led by James M. Cox of Ohio.
- However, while on vacation on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, in the summer of 1921, Roosevelt contracted poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis).
- Despite valiant attempts to overcome his crippling illness, he was never able to regain the use of his legs. He eventually created a foundation in Warm Springs, Georgia, to assist other polio victims, and he inspired and directed the March of Dimes program, which eventually funded an effective vaccine.
- With the encouragement and assistance of his wife, Eleanor, and political confidant, Louis Howe, Roosevelt resumed his political career.
- At the Democratic National Convention in 1924, he nominated New York Governor Alfred E. Smith for president, but Smith was defeated by John W. Davis.
- Smith became the Democratic presidential candidate in 1928 and arranged for Roosevelt’s candidacy to succeed him as governor of New York. Smith was defeated by Herbert Hoover in the election, but Roosevelt was elected governor.
- In 1930, Roosevelt ran for president and began his presidential campaign.
- While the Great Depression harmed Hoover and the Republicans, Roosevelt’s valiant efforts to combat it in New York enhanced his image.
- Roosevelt was elected as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in Chicago in 1932, and flew straight there to accept the job in person.
- He then aggressively advocated for government intervention in the economy to provide relief, recovery, and reform.
- On March 4, 1933, the Great Depression grew worse in the months leading up to Roosevelt’s inauguration. Factory closures, farm foreclosures, and bank failures rose, as did unemployment.
- Roosevelt was confronted with the most serious crisis in American history since the Civil War. He took immediate action to launch his New Deal programs. He temporarily closed the banks to prevent depositor panic.
- Then, during the first “100 days”, he worked with a special session of Congress to pass recovery legislation that established alphabet agencies such as the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration), which aimed to promote or support farm prices, and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), to employ young men.
- In addition to the programs he implemented and established, Roosevelt instituted a slew of financial system reforms, including the formation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
- It was created to protect depositors’ account information and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to constrain the stock market and prevent abuses like the one that caused the 1929 crash.
FDR IN WORLD WAR II
- When war broke out in 1939, Roosevelt’s focus shifted to foreign affairs. The New Deal’s reform legislation was weakened, and the Depression’s ills were not fully alleviated until the country mobilized for war.
- When Hitler infiltrated Poland in September 1939, Roosevelt declared that, while America was neutral at the time, he did not expect it to stay that way in the face of Nazi aggression.
- As a result, he attempted to make American aid available to the United Kingdom, France, and China, as well as to obtain an amendment to the Neutrality Acts that made such assistance difficult. In response to isolationist opposition, he strengthened the military.
- Roosevelt assigned General George Marshall, Chief of Staff, the task of planning a Pacific holding operation and organizing an expeditionary force for an invasion of Europe.
- The United States and its allies invaded North Africa in November 1942, followed by Sicily and Italy in 1943.
- The D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches in France on June 6, 1944, were followed by the Allied invasion of Germany six months later. By April 1945, victory in Europe was all but certain.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt was America’s longest-serving president, serving from March 1933 to April 1945.
- During those twelve years, he may have done more to change American society and politics than any previous president; some of this was due to incidents beyond FDR’s control, such as the Great Depression and the rise of Germany and Japan. However, his responses to the challenges he faced established his place in American history.
- Despite having an illness that rendered him unable to walk again, he managed to carry out his responsibilities as a politician.
- As Roosevelt drove around the state in an automobile, he demonstrated that his illness had not destroyed his youthful resilience and vitality.
- He also demonstrated that he had matured into a more serious individual, one who now had a keen appreciation of life’s difficulties.
- His signature political and decision-making style involved “Selective Candor” or “Creative Use of Indirection”, and he became a favorite of blue-collar workers, labor unions, and ethnic minorities in the United States.
Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.-FDR
- The rapid expansion of government programs during Roosevelt’s presidency redefined the role of government in the United States, and Roosevelt’s support for government social programs was influential in trying to redefine liberalism for future generations.
- Roosevelt was worn out due to the never-ending war and stress which caused his health to deteriorate.
- In early 1944, a full medical examination was performed, which reported that he had serious heart and circulatory problems.
- Despite his doctors putting him on a restricted diet and medication regimen, the conflicts of war and internal politics weighed heavily on him.
- At the age of 63, Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 while on vacation in Warm Springs, Georgia.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower took over the presidency and saw the end of the Second World War in 1945.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Franklin D. Roosevelt across 30 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about Franklin D. Roosevelt who was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Facts
- Career Man
- Leading Acrostic
- FDR and the Great Depression
- FDR and World War II
- World War II Leader
- FDR and Polio
- Think Like a Leader
- Words From a Leader
- Best Buddies
- Remembering FDR
Frequently Asked Questions
How did FDR have four terms of presidency?
Franklin D. Roosevelt was first elected President of the United States in 1933, during the Great Depression. His second inauguration was in 1937 when he took a sweeping victory against Governor Alf Landon. In 1941 FDR was elected President for a third time against businessman Wendell Willkie. This is the first and only time a US President had been inaugurated three times. His fourth inauguration was in 1945, again being the only President who had a fourth term. Harry S. Truman was his Vice President then and took over the presidency when FDR died on April 12, 1945, just 82 days into his term.
What is Franklin D. Roosevelt famous for?
His presidency started at the height of the Great Depression which devastated the US economy, the most serious crisis in American history since the Civil War. During his first 100 days, he took immediate action and worked with a special session of Congress to pass legislation aimed to support local farmers, and provide employment. To prevent another Great Depression, he secured financial system reforms like forming the FDIC to protect depositors and the SEC to constrain the stock market and prevent another crash like the one that happened in 1929.
What is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s most popular quote?
In his first inauguration in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a 20-minute, 1883-word speech and is best known for his paraphrasing Thoreau with a pointed reference to “fear itself”:
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
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