Franklin Delano Roosevelt, (1882-1945), 32nd President of the United States of the United States. Roosevelt became president in March 1933 at the depth of the Great Depression, was reelected for an unprecedented three more terms, and died in office in April 1945, less than a month before the surrender of Germany in World War II. Despite an attack of poliomyelitis, which paralyzed his legs in 1921, he was a charismatic optimist whose confidence helped sustain the American people during the strains of economic crisis and world war.He was one of America’s most controversial leaders.
Conservatives claimed that he undermined states’ rights and individual liberty. Leftists found him timid and conventional in attacking the Depression. Others thought him devious and inconsistent and uninformed about economics. Some of these claims were well founded. Though Roosevelt labored hard to end the Depression, he had limited success.
It was not until 1939 and 1940, with the onset of heavy defense spending before World War II, that prosperity returned. Roosevelt also displayed limitations in his handling of foreign policy. In the 1930’s he was slow to warn against the menace of fascism, and during the war he relied too heavily on his charm and personality in the conduct of diplomacy.Still, Roosevelt’s historical reputation is deservedly high. In attacking the Great Depression he did much to develop a partial welfare state in the United States and to make the federal government an agent of social and economic reform.
His administration indirectly encouraged the rise of organized labor and greatly invigorated the Democratic Party. His foreign policies, while occasionally devious, were shrewd enough to sustain domestic unity and the allied coalition in World War II. Roosevelt was a president of stature.Bibliography: