Biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt, (1882-1945), 32nd of the United States. Roosevelt became president in March 1933 at the depth of the Great Depression, was reelected for an unprecedented three more terms, and died in office in April 1945, less than a month before the surrender of Germany in World War II. Despite an attack of poliomyelitis, which paralyzed his legs in 1921, he was a charismatic optimist whose confidence helped sustain the American people during the strains of economic crisis and world war. He was one of America's most controversial leaders. Conservatives claimed that he undermined states' rights and individual liberty. Though Roosevelt labored hard to end the Depression, he had limited success. It was not until 1939 and 1940, with the onset of heavy defense spending before World War II, that prosperity returned. Roosevelt also displayed limitations in his handling of foreign policy. In the 1930's he was slow to warn against the menace of fascism, and during the war he relied too heavily on his charm and personality in the conduct of diplomacy. Still, Roosevelt's historical reputation is deservedly high. In attacking the Great Depression he did much to develop a partial welfare state in the United States and to make the federal government an agent of social and economic reform. His administration indirectly encouraged the rise of organized labor and greatly invigorated the . His foreign policies, while occasionally devious, were shrewd enough to sustain domestic unity and the allied coalition in World War II. Roosevelt was a president of stature. The future president was born on Jan. 30, 1882, at the family estate in Hyde Park, N.Y. His father, James (1828-1900), was descended from Nicholas Roosevelt, whose father had emigrated from Holland to New Amsterdam in the 1640's. One of Nicholas' two sons, Johannes, fathered the line that ultimately produced President Theodore Roosevelt. The other son, Jacobus, was James' great-great-grandfather. James graduated from Union College (1847) and Harvard Law School, married, had a son, and took over his family's extensive holdings in coal and transportation. Despite substantial losses in speculative ventures, he remained wealthy enough to journey by private railroad car, to live graciously on his Hudson River estate at Hyde Park, and to travel extensively. Four yea... ... middle of paper ... ...nd front greatly intensified Soviet suspicions of the West. But it is easy to second-guess and to exaggerate Roosevelt's failings as a military leader. The president neither invited nor welcomed the Pearl Harbor attack, which was a brilliantly planned maneuver by Japan. He worked with Darlan in the hope of preventing unnecessary loss of Allied lives. Unconditional surrender, given American anger at the enemy, was a politically logical policy. It also proved reassuring to the Soviet Union, which had feared a separate German-American peace. Establishing the second front required control of the air and large supplies of landing craft, and these were not assured until 1944. In many of these decisions Roosevelt acted in characteristically pragmatic fashion--to win the war as effectively as possible and to keep the wartime alliance together. In these aims he was successful. By 1945, Roosevelt was 63 years old. The events early in that year added to the strains on his heart, and on April 12, 1945, he died suddenly at Warm Springs, Ga. Three days later he was buried at Hyde Park. Despite his limitations, he had been a strong, decent, and highly popular president for more than 12 years.
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