|Franklin D. Roosevelt|
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945; ; also known by his initials, FDR) was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war. The only American president elected to more than two terms, he forged a durable coalition that realigned American politics for decades. FDR defeated incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover in November 1932, at the depths of the Great Depression. FDR's combination of optimism and activism contributed to reviving the national spirit. Working closely with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in leading the Allies against Germany and Japan in World War II, he died just as victory was in sight.
Starting in his "First Hundred Days" in office, which began March 4, 1933, Roosevelt launched major legislation and a profusion of executive orders that gave form to the New Deal—a complex, interlocking set of programs designed to produce relief (especially government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (of the economy), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation). The economy improved rapidly from 1933 to 1937, but then went into a deep recession. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented his packing the Supreme Court or passing much new legislation; it abolished many of the relief programs when unemployment practically ended during World War II. Most of the regulations on business were ended about 1975–85, except for the regulation of Wall Street by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which still exists. Along with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which was created in 1933, and Social Security, which Congress passed in 1935.
As World War II loomed after 1938, with the Japanese invasion of China and the aggressions of Nazi Germany, FDR gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China and Britain, while remaining officially neutral. His goal was to make America the "Arsenal of Democracy" which would supply munitions to the Allies. In March 1941, Roosevelt, with Congressional approval, provided Lend-Lease aid to the countries fighting against Nazi Germany with Great Britain. He secured a near-unanimous declaration of war against Japan after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, calling it a "date which will live in infamy". He supervised the mobilization of the US economy to support the Allied war effort. Unemployment dropped to 2%, relief programs largely ended, and the industrial economy grew rapidly to new heights as millions of people moved to new jobs in war centers, and 16 million men (and 300,000 women) were drafted or volunteered for military service.
Roosevelt dominated the American political scene, not only during the twelve years of his presidency, but for decades afterward. He orchestrated the realignment of voters that created the Fifth Party System. FDR's New Deal Coalition united labor unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans and rural white Southerners. Roosevelt's diplomatic impact also resonated on the world stage long after his death, with the United Nations and Bretton Woods as examples of his administration's wide-ranging impact. Roosevelt is consistently rated by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.
Roosevelt is an Anglicized form of the Dutch surname 'Van Rosevelt,' or 'Van Rosenvelt', meaning 'from field of roses.' Although some use an Anglicized spelling pronunciation of English pronunciation: /ˈruːzəvɛlt/, that is, with the vowel of ruse, FDR himself used [ˈroʊzəvəlt], with the vowel of rose. (The last syllable was pronounced by him with a schwa, or nondescript vowel, almost as vult.)
One of the oldest families in New York State, the Roosevelts distinguished themselves in areas other than politics. His mother named him after her favorite uncle Franklin Delano. The progenitor of the Delano family in the Americas of 1621 was Philippe de la Noye, the first Huguenot to land in the New World, whose family name was Anglicized to Delano.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in the Hudson Valley town of Hyde Park, New York. His father, James Roosevelt, and his mother, Sara Ann Delano, were each from wealthy old New York families, of Dutch and French ancestry respectively. Franklin was their only child. One ancestor, Isaac Roosevelt, had served with the New York militia during the American Revolution. His paternal grandmother, Mary Rebecca Aspinwall, was a first cousin of Elizabeth Monroe, wife of the fifth U.S. President, James Monroe. His maternal grandfather Warren Delano II – a descendant of Mayflower passengers Richard Warren, Isaac Allerton, Degory Priest, and Francis Cooke – during a period of twelve years in China made more than a million dollars in the tea trade in Macau, Canton, and Hong Kong; but upon returning to the United States, he lost it all in the Panic of 1857. In 1860, he returned to China and made a fortune in the notorious but highly profitable opium trade supplying opium-based medication to the U. S. War Department during the American Civil War, although not exclusively.
Roosevelt grew up in an atmosphere of privilege. Sara was a possessive mother, while James was an elderly and remote father (he was 54 when Franklin was born). Sara was the dominant influence in Franklin's early years. Frequent trips to Europe made Roosevelt conversant in German and French. He learned to ride, shoot, row, and play polo and lawn tennis. Roosevelt also took up golf in his teen years, eventually becoming a long hitter who was highly skilled. But he had to give up golf when he became paralyzed. Roosevelt later became the only U.S. president to design a golf course when he built nine holes on the complex he bought in Warm Springs, Georgia. The course featured many paths and roads to allow disabled people easy access.
Roosevelt went to Groton School, an Episcopal boarding school in Massachusetts. He was heavily influenced by its headmaster, Endicott Peabody, who preached the duty of Christians to help the less fortunate and urged his students to enter public service.
Roosevelt went to Harvard College – from which he graduated in 1904 – and where he lived in the "Gold Coast" area where wealthy and privileged students lived in luxurious quarters and was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. He was also president of The Harvard Crimson daily newspaper. While he was at Harvard, his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt became President, and Theodore's vigorous leadership style and reforming zeal made him Franklin's role model and hero. In 1902, he met his future wife Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore's niece, at a White House reception (they had previously met as children, but this was their first serious encounter). Eleanor and Franklin were fifth cousins, once removed. They were both descended from Claes Martensz van Rosenvelt (Roosevelt), who arrived in New Amsterdam (Manhattan) from the Netherlands in the 1640s. Rosenvelt's (Roosevelt) two grandsons, Johannes and Jacobus, began the Long Island and Hudson River branches of the Roosevelt family, respectively. Eleanor and Theodore Roosevelt were descended from the Johannes branch, while FDR came from the Jacobus branch.
Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in 1904, but dropped out in 1907 because he had passed the New York State Bar exam. In 1908, he took a job with the prestigious Wall Street firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn, dealing mainly with corporate law. He was first initiated in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was initiated into Freemasonry on October 11, 1911, at Holland Lodge No. 8 in New York City.
On March 17, 1905, Roosevelt married Eleanor despite the fierce resistance of his mother. Eleanor's uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, stood in at the wedding for Eleanor's deceased father Elliott. The young couple moved into Springwood, his family's estate, where FDR's mother became a frequent house guest, much to Eleanor's chagrin. The home was owned by Roosevelt's mother until her death in 1941 and was very much her home as well. As for their personal lives, Franklin was a charismatic, handsome, and socially active man. In contrast, Eleanor was shy and disliked social life, and at first stayed at home to raise their children. Although Eleanor disliked sex, and considered it "an ordeal to be endured," they had six children, the first four in rapid succession:
Roosevelt had affairs outside his marriage, including one with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer which began soon after she was hired in early 1914. In September 1918, Eleanor found letters revealing the affair in Roosevelt's luggage, when he returned from World War I. According to the Roosevelt family, Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce so that he could be with the woman he loved, but Lucy, being Catholic, could not bring herself to marry a divorced man with five children. According to FDR's biographer Jean Edward Smith it is generally accepted that Eleanor indeed offered "to give Franklin his freedom." However, they reconciled after a fashion with the informal mediation of Roosevelt's adviser Louis McHenry Howe, and FDR promised never to see Lucy again. His mother Sara also intervened, and told Franklin that if he divorced his wife, he would bring scandal upon the family, and she "would not give him another dollar." However, Franklin broke his promise. He and Lucy maintained a formal correspondence, and began seeing each other again in 1941—and perhaps earlier. Lucy was even given the code name "Mrs. Johnson" by the Secret Service. Indeed, Lucy was with FDR on the day he died. Despite this, FDR's affair was not widely known until the 1960s.
The effect of this affair upon Eleanor Roosevelt is difficult to estimate. "I have the memory of an elephant. I can forgive, but I cannot forget," she wrote to a close friend. Though Eleanor did not enjoy the sexual act, after the affair, any remaining intimacy left their relationship. Eleanor soon thereafter established a separate house in Hyde Park at Valkill, and increasingly devoted herself to various social and political causes. For the rest of their lives, the Roosevelts' marriage was more of a political partnership than an intimate relationship. The emotional break in their marriage was so severe that when FDR asked Eleanor in 1942—in light of his failing health—to come back home and live with him again, she refused.
The five surviving Roosevelt children led tumultuous lives overshadowed by their famous parents. They had a total of nineteen marriages, fifteen divorces, and twenty-nine children. All four sons were officers in World War II and were decorated for bravery. Two of them were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives—FDR, Jr. served three terms representing the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and James served six terms representing the 26th district in California—but none was elected to higher office despite several attempts.