Born: January 30, 1882
Birthplace: Hyde Park, New York
Years as President: 1933-1945
Died: April 12, 1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the thirty-second United States president, and is generally viewed by historians as one of the nation's greatest presidents. Nicknamed "FDR," he faced in his administration two of the most difficult times in American history: the debilitating Great Depression and World War II. Elected to the presidency four consecutive times, his confidence, optimism, and political savvy in his twelve years in office helped bring about the beginnings of a national recovery with experimental economic and social programs of the "New Deal" which would define life in the United States for most of the twentieth century. He is the only president to have served more than two consecutive terms.
Born to wealthy parents, FDR graduated from Harvard College in 1903 and went on to Columbia Law School. In 1905 he married Eleanor Roosevelt, and they had six children, with one dying in infancy. In 1921 he contracted polio, an incurable disease that left his legs paralyzed. He was able to regain some use of his legs only through a courageous and arduous rehabilitation process.
When FDR became president, 13 million Americans were unemployed because of the Great Depression of the 1930s. He gave them hope in his first inaugural address by saying, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," and with his radio "fireside chats." His legislative acts that fought the depression included:
* Wagner Act--allowed labor unions to organize and collectively bargain,
* Civilian Conservation Corps--hired over three million men to work a variety of projects,
* National Industrial Recovery Act--provided construction aid to cities; helped businesses,
* Tennessee Valley Authority--provided jobs and gave electricity to depressed areas,
* Works Progress Administration--hired people to work on projects, including the arts,
* Securities and Exchange Commission--corrected abuses in the stock market, and
* Social Security Act--provided for the needs of the aged, the poor, and the unemployed.
His New Deal programs helped, but did not end the Great Depression. Only when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the U.S. entered World War II, did the economy drastically improve. FDR was a talented wartime leader and worked with the allied countries to the brink of victory. Just weeks before Germany surrendered, FDR died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945, in Warm Springs, Georgia.