When New York’s Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President in 1932, America was hurting. The country hurt from the 1929 stock market crash, the failure of over 1,300 banks, and between 25 to 40 percent unemployment. This is the challenge that faced President Roosevelt, and as shown by history, he met it as America’s 32nd President.
Roosevelt came from a wealthy family, which included his uncle Theodore, the 26th president, and he was extremely charming and popular. He married a distant cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a powerful and charismatic First Lady. Crippled from boyhood polio, President Roosevelt ruled America from a wheelchair. Perhaps the courage he had to muster to fight this disease came to his side when fighting America’s ills. Key to this fight was the line from his inaugural address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That line was probably taken from the writings of Henry Thoreau.
his unprecedented, and never repeated, four-term administration with a series of radio broadcasts called “fireside chats.” In these, the President told listeners about the economy and soothed their fears, restoring some confidence to America.
Next, he implemented the “New Deal” he promised in his campaign, establishing many new federal agencies that put people to work rebuilding America. The Works Project Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were two such agencies. His intervention into private business by government was not loved by everyone. Conservative Republicans hated him because of the business rules and regulations he promoted.
As if leading America out of the Great Depression was not enough, Roosevelt went on to lead America during World War II. Roosevelt presided over America’s war effort almost to victory in 1945, when he died of a cerebral hemorrhage (April 12). The world mourned and even the Japanese, whom America was fighting, issued a message of sympathy for its enemy’s leader.