President of the United States
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."
Born in 1882 at Hyde Park, New
York--now a national historic site--he attended Harvard University and
Columbia Law School. On St. Patrick's Day, 1905, he married Eleanor Roosevelt.
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.
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." In 1928 Roosevelt became Governor of New York.
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.
By 1935 the Nation had achieved
some measure of recovery, but businessmen and bankers were turning more and
more against Roosevelt's New Deal program. They feared his experiments, were
appalled 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.
In 1936 he was re-elected by a
top-heavy margin. Feeling he was armed with a popular mandate, he sought
legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court, which had been invalidating key New
Deal measures. Roosevelt lost the Supreme Court battle, but a revolution in
constitutional law took place. Thereafter the Government could legally
regulate the economy.
Roosevelt had pledged the United
States to the "good neighbor" policy, transforming the Monroe
Doctrine from a unilateral American manifesto into arrangements for mutual
action against aggressors. He also sought through neutrality legislation to
keep the United States out of the war in Europe, yet at the same time to
strengthen nations threatened or attacked. When France fell and England came
under siege in 1940, he began to send Great Britain all possible aid short of
actual military involvement.
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.
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.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt!
Initiated October 11, 1911 at Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City. Brother
Roosevelt participated in the Raising of his son Elliott (1910-1990) on
February 17, 1933, in Architect's Lodge No. 519, also in New York City. He was
present, but did not participate in the Degrees when two other sons, James
(1907-1991) and Franklin D., Jr. (1914-1988) became Members of their brother
Elliott's Lodge, on November 7, 1935.