Born in 1882 at Hyde Park, New York, he attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School. 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. Roosevelt 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 three years, of his first term, the Nation had achieved some measure of recovery, but businessmen and bankers were turning more and more against Roosevelt’s New Deal program. 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.
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.
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts about reality.”
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
“The only thing to fear is fear itself.”
“It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead — and find no one there.”
“It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach.”
“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”
“The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth.”
“We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way. The third is freedom from want. The fourth is freedom from fear.”
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”