Franklin Delano Roosevelt; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945, also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945) and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis.
He spelled out Anglo-American war goals in concert with Winston Churchill (August 1941) in the Atlantic Charter. The charter rejected territorial aspirations, promoted autonomous government and progressive international trade agreements. It also vowed permanent security against aggression and freedom from privation.
The nation enjoyed measurable progress by 1935, but businessmen and bankers increasingly opposed the New Deal. The president's experiments alarmed them. They were dismayed by his toleration of budget deficits and his removal of the nation from the gold standard, and were disgusted by legislation favorable to labor.
On March 12, 1933, Roosevelt broadcast the first of 30 "fireside chats" over the radio to the American people. The opening topic was the Bank Crisis. Primarily, he spoke on a variety of topics to inform Americans and exhort them to support his domestic agenda, and later, the war effort.
He devoted a considerable part of his fortune in the 1920s to renovate a spa in Warm Springs, Georgia, said to have curative waters that he had sought to aid in his recovery. He founded the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, which continues to accommodate people with physical disabilities. In later years, a cottage he had built there would be called “the Little White House.”
The unending stress and strain of the war literally wore Roosevelt out. By early 1944 a full medical examination disclosed serious heart and circulatory problems; and although his physicians placed him on a strict regime of diet and medication, the pressures of war and domestic politics weighed heavily on him. During a vacation at Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1945, he suffered a massive stroke and died two and one-half hours later without regaining consciousness. He was 63 years old.
In 1905 Franklin married his cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt. Her father, Elliott Roosevelt, was the brother of Theodore Roosevelt, president of the United States (1901-1909). Like her husband, Eleanor was a Democrat and took a strong interest in politics.
As the war drew to a close, Roosevelt's health deteriorated, and on April 12, 1945, while at Warm Springs, Georgia, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt directed organization of the Nation's manpower and resources for global war. Feeling that the future peace of the world would depend upon relations between the United States and Russia, he devoted much thought to the planning of a United Nations, in which, he hoped, international difficulties could be settled.
because he had taken the Nation off the gold standard and allowed deficits in the budget, and disliked the concessions to labor. 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.
He was elected President in November 1932, to the first of four terms. By March there were 13,000,000 unemployed, and almost every bank was closed. In his first "hundred days," he proposed, and Congress enacted, a sweeping program to bring recovery to business and agriculture, relief to the unemployed and to those in danger of losing farms and homes, and reform, especially through the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
In the summer of 1921, when he was 39, disaster hit-he was stricken with poliomyelitis. Demonstrating indomitable courage, he fought to regain the use of his legs, particularly through swimming. At the 1924 Democratic Convention he dramatically appeared on crutches to nominate Alfred E. Smith as "the Happy Warrior."
Following the example of his fifth cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt, whom he greatly admired, Franklin D. Roosevelt entered public service through politics, but as a Democrat. He won election to the New York Senate in 1910. President Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and he was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 1920.
Assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the American people regain faith in themselves. He brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."