Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1882-1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1882-1945


Who Was Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR, was the very decision oriented 32nd president of the United States.

Image Above

Detail from the photograph of President Franklin D. Roosevelt shaking hands with Wiley Post; circa 1932-1934.


FDR was the only president in the history of the United States who served a third and even a fourth term.

Roosevelt, a Democrat, was in office from 1933 to 1945.

FDR's hobbies were fishing, swimming, ship models, and his stamp collection. He was a good communicator. Everyone, no matter how highly educated, understood what he meant.

FDR mistakenly believed  Stalin's promises in spite of the warnings from his intelligence office. However, he managed to lead the nation through the  Great Depression and  World War II.

Even though he got very sick with poliomyelitis he still stayed active in the duties of his office.


FDR's Family

FDR's parents were James and Sara Delano Roosevelt.

President  Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was FDR's fifth cousin.

Teddy's niece was  Eleanor Roosevelt, whom FDR married.

And here is the Roosevelt family tree.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1882-1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt


FDR — Early Years

In 1928, FDR followed Al Smith as governor of New York.

As such, on September 23, 1932, Roosevelt was invited to give a speech at the  Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California, addressing "Present Public Problems."

At the time, FDR was in the middle of his presidential campaign and addressing more than 1,700 people of influence sounded like a good idea. FDR delivered his  Commonwealth Club Address, in which he gave his view of democracy.

Franklin D. Roosevelt promised during his campaign to get the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Defeating current President  Herbert Hoover with a massive win, FDR was elected President in November 1932.

And here are the election results:

United States - Presidential Elections and Political Parties 1796 - 1968
1796 - 1968 USA - Elections



From the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers we learn:

By spring of 1933, when FDR took the oath of office, unemployment had risen from 8 to 15 million (roughly 1/3 of the non-farmer workforce) and the gross national product had decreased from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion.

Forty percent of the farms in Mississippi were on the auction block on FDR's inauguration day.

Although the depression was world wide, no other country except Germany reached so high a percentage of unemployed.

The poor were hit the hardest. By 1932, Harlem had an unemployment rate of 50 percent and property owned or managed by blacks fell from 30 percent to 5 percent in 1935.

Farmers in the Midwest were doubly hit by economic downturns and the Dust Bowl. Schools, with budgets shrinking, shortened both the school day and the school year.

The breadth and depth of the crisis made it the Great Depression.

Go here for more on the
 Great Depression.


Assassination Attempts on Franklin D. Roosevelt

February 15, 1933, Miami, Florida - The following is an excerpt from the excellent book Just 2 Seconds (Gavin de Becker et al.)

Giuseppe Zangara read in the newspaper that President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt would visit Bayfront Park. He was waiting among a crowd of 10,000 people in the bleachers when Roosevelt's motorcade pulled up and stopped.

Roosevelt made a short speech from his open car, and then Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak came down from the stage to visit with Roosevelt.

Zangara fired five shots from a .32 revolver at a distance of 25 feet. Five people were hit: Three bystanders collapsed with head wounds, a woman was struck in the stomach, and Cermak was hit in the right side, striking his lung.

Though Roosevelt was not injured, Cermak died from his wounds three weeks after the attack.

Here is the video clip:


See also
 Assassinations in History.


Franklin D. Roosevelt's First Term

On March 4, 1933, FDR gave his First Inaugural Address, also called his  The only thing we have to fear is fear itself Speech.

Roosevelt's vice president was John Nance Garner (1933-1941).

 Harold L. Ickes was his Secretary of the Interior.



The New Deal were Roosevelt's policies, programs, and reforms to get America out of the mess of the
 Great Depression.

The term New Deal stems from FDR's speech, delivered on July 2, 1932, in which he accepted the Democratic nomination for presidency.



The first three months of FDR's presidency in 1933 were also called the Hundred Days.

Another Hundred Days in history refer to March 20 to July 8, 1815, marking  Napoleon's last struggles.



The Fireside Chats were FDR's radio broadcasts to the American Nation, which he delivered in order to calm fears, rally support for reforms, and to restore confidence.

These radio messages became known as Fireside Chats, after a journalist reported on Roosevelt's radio speech from May 7, 1933, pointing out that this was the President's unofficial, relaxed, and personal communication with the citizens.

Because the expression Fireside Chats is not an official one, it can be argued which ones of FDR's speeches qualify to be named as such.

Here is an unofficial list of all Fireside Chats, published by the  FDR Library and Museum, 31 messages are listed.

 On the Bank Crisis (March 12, 1933) White House

2. Outlining the New Deal Program (May 7, 1933) White House

3. First Hundred Days: The Purposes and Foundations of the Recovery Program (July 24, 1933) White House

4. The Currency Situation (October 22, 1933) White House

5. Review of the Achievements of the Seventy-third Congress (June 28, 1934) White House

6. Moving Forward to Greater Freedom and Security (September 30, 1934) White House

7. Works Progress Administration and Social Security (April 28, 1935) White House

8. Drought Conditions and the Plight of Farmers (September 6, 1936) White House

9. Reorganization of the Judiciary (March 9, 1937) White House

10. New Proposals to Special Session of Congress and on the Storm Clouds Abroad (October 12, 1937) White House

11. The Unemployment Census (November 14, 1937) White House

12. Economic Conditions (April 14, 1938) White House

13. The Democratic Party Primaries (June 24, 1938) White House

14. The War in Europe (September 3, 1939) White House

15. National Defense and Military Readiness (May 26, 1940) White House

 Arsenal of Democracy: The Lend-Lease Program (December 29, 1940) White House

17. Proclaiming a National Emergency (May 27, 1941) White House

18. Freedom of the Seas (September 11, 1941) White House

19. War with Japan (December 9, 1941) White House

20. Progress of the War (February 23, 1942) White House

21. National Economic Policy During War: The Call for Sacrifice (April 28, 1942) White House

22. Food Price Stabilization and the Progress of the War (September 7, 1942) Hyde Park

23. Report on the Home Front (October 12, 1942) White House

24. The Coal Strike Crisis (May 2, 1943) White House

25. The Fall of Mussolini and Plans for Peace (July 28, 1943) White House

26. Italian Armistice and Launching the Third War Loan Drive (September 8, 1943) White House

27. Report on the Teheran and Cairo Conferences (December 24, 1943) Hyde Park

28. State of the Union: National Service and Economic Bill of Rights (January 11, 1944) White House

29. The Capture of Rome (June 5, 1944) White House

30. Launching the Fifth War Loan Drive (June 12, 1944) White House

31. Fireside Chat (Abridged) Version of Message to Congress on Return from Yalta Conference: Work-or-Fight and Vision for the United Nations (January 6, 1945) White House


Franklin D. Roosevelt's Domestic Policy

On January 17, 1935, Roosevelt addressed Congress with his  Social Security speech.

His efforts resulted in the Social Security Act of August 14, 1935.


Franklin D. Roosevelt's Foreign Policy

On August 14, 1936, FDR delivered his  Good Neighbor Policy speech, in which he outlined the current U.S. foreign policy.


Franklin D. Roosevelt's Second Term

On January 20, 1937, Roosevelt delivered his  Second Inaugural Address. He was the first president inaugurated on January 20, according to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which was passed by Congress March 2, 1932, and ratified January 23, 1933.

And it reads:

The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

On October 5, 1937, FDR delivered his
 Quarantine the Aggressor speech, in which he suggested just that. This speech stirred up a lot of sentiment.


FDR and Lend-Lease

In order to assist Britain and her allies in World War II, FDR came up with the Lend-Lease concept, which he introduced in a White House news conference on December 17, 1940.

Go here for the  Lend-Lease Press Conference.


Franklin D. Roosevelt's Third Term

In 1940, Roosevelt was nominated for a third term of presidency, for which he and his Democrats got a lot of heat. Why the fuss? Because since  George Washington it had been the tradition for a president to take his hat and leave after two terms at the very latest.

Nevertheless, on January 20, 1941, FDR gave his  Third Inaugural Address.

Roosevelt outlined the national policy of his third term in his State of the Union address before Congress on January 6, 1941, in his  The Four Freedoms speech.


Attack on Pearl Harbor

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Here are some  photos of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

On December 8, 1941, Roosevelt addressed Congress with his  Day of Infamy speech and asked for a declaration of war against Japan.


President Roosevelt signs the declaration of war against the Japanese Empire
President Roosevelt signs the declaration of war
against the Japanese Empire


On June 6, 1944, Roosevelt supported the anti-Nazi struggle with his  D-Day Prayer.

And here is  more about D-Day.


On September 23, 1944, Roosevelt gave his Address at a Union Dinner, the Dinner of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, to be exact. Let's call it his  American Labor speech.


Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fourth Term

Going for the record, FDR was given yet another term. On January 20, 1945, he delivered his  Fourth Inaugural Address on the South Portico of the White House in Washington D.C.

This time, the inauguration ceremony was kept simple and without any frills. FDR's vice president was  Harry S. Truman.


FDR in History

Check the  US Election Map 1796 - 1968.

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