Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. President served four
terms in office and till date is the only President to be elected in office for
over two terms. His tenure as President was associated with world wide economic
depression and World War II.
Born in January 30, 1882 in the Hudson Valley of Hyde Park he
belonged to a renowned and wealthy family of New York. He was the only child
with an illustrious lineage. His formative years were spent in the lap of luxury
under the direct tutelage of his parents, mainly his mother Sara. He grew up to
be well conversant in German and French languages and was an active sportsman
taking part in Polo, Golf, Lawn Tennis, Horseback riding and Swimming.
He completed his schooling from Groton School and
undergraduate studies at Harvard University. During his student days, his cousin
Theodore Roosevelt was elected U.S. President who became Franklin’s role
model. In 1907, he passed the New York State Bar examination and in 1908 was
engaged by a prestigious Wall Street firm specializing in Corporate Law.
Franklin married Eleanor on March 17, 1905 and had six children.
Roosevelt was deeply involved with the U.S. Navy and displayed great
administrative talent and negotiation skills with the Congressional and other
government leaders. In 1910, he won the New York Senate election and was the
Democrat nominee for Vice President in 1920. In 1918 he visited France and
England for inspecting U.S. Naval facilities and met Winston Churchill which
later blossomed into personal friendship.
In 1921, Roosevelt contacted the dreaded Poliomyelitis and
was practically paralyzed from waist down. But through sheer indomitable
courage, hydro therapy and proper medication, he regained use of his legs
by using crutches at times. He never allowed the public to view him on a
wheel chair as he always stood upright, through support, in public appearances.
He founded an institution for the treatment of Polio patients.
In 1928 he was became the Governor of New York and in 1932 he was
elected the U.S. President. This was the phase of Great Depression of America
and Roosevelt helped the Americans regain faith in themselves by bringing relief
and employment opportunities. This was the period when millions were unemployed,
banks closed and business houses lay ruined as aftermath of the War. He proposed
sweeping programs where relief and recovery were assured to business houses,
agricultural sector and to the employees.
One such program was the Tennessee Valley Authority. Through
these programs, the government achieved some measure of economic stability.
Among his other initiatives was the Social Security System. This new set of
reforms was propounded because some bankers and business men were turning
against his New Deal Program.
In 1936, Roosevelt was re-elected with a huge popular mandate and
revolutionized the Constitutional Law. The government could legally regulate the
economy. He transformed the “Monroe Doctrine” into mutual action
against aggressors. He followed this aggressive policy when France and Great
Britain were seized in 1940 by active involvement through sending aids of all
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 1941, he prepared the nation
for global war by organizing the American manpower and industrial
infrastructure. During the War, Roosevelt and his aides provided decisive
leadership against the Axis powers and made U.S. the principal supplier of Arms
and an active participant. Realizing the importance of Soviet Union for
maintaining world peace, he devised ways to set-up a United Nation where
international issues would be diplomatically sorted out. America led by
Roosevelt became the “Arsenal of Democracy” through active
revitalization of its manpower, military strength and industrial prowess.
He and his wife, Eleanor, were icons of modern American
In the domestic front, industrial development and expansion took
place, prosperity through employment was restored and new opportunities opened
for African-American women. Introduction of new taxes, price controls and
rationing shaped the post-war world. His administration reconstructed American
liberalism and redefined the Democrat Party.
As the war drew to a close, his health deteriorated and on April
12, 1945 at Warm Spring, Georgia, he died of cerebral attack. He was the longest
serving U.S. President in history and left behind stunning legacies of a war
time chief executive, post-war reconstruction and revival of the powerful