Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected by a huge majority in 1932, winning all but six states. The wealthy Democratic governor from New York was a charismatic speaker, able to rally the public to his cause. His political abilities allowed him to be elected for four terms, an unprecedented event. Although he had been struck by polio as an adult, Roosevelt refused to give up his political career. The press corps worked with him to present the image of a president sound in both mind and body, minimizing his paralysis, to the extent that most of the public was not aware of it at the time.
From the nationwide broadcast of his inaugural address — the first time a president did not just address the dignitaries present — Roosevelt made it clear that he was a president for the people. He began, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. . . . “
Roosevelt converted retreat into advance through his New Deal programs, addressing poverty, unemployment, and the floundering economy. Through his reforms, Roosevelt created a new kind of presidency, more powerful and more intimate than that of his predecessors. Congress allowed him free reign, giving him executive power to put through his reforms without a quibble during the first 100 days of his presidency. Yet a man at the time observes, “My mother looks upon the president as someone so immediately concerned with her problems and difficulties that she would not be greatly surprised were he to come to her house some evening and stay for dinner.”
With the passage of programs like the Social Security Act, Roosevelt made sure that the federal government would be connected to the people for a long time to come. With his death in 1945, Americans mourned the passing of a President and a friend.
President Theodore Roosevelt was caught in the middle of the first major battle for wilderness preservation in Yosemite National Park.
The contradictory history of a dam that became a statement of American power and prestige.
When an earthen dam broke without warning, a small city in Pennsylvania was swept away in a wall of water over 30 feet high.
Her 1963 warnings about the effects of pesticides and herbicides sparked a revolution in environmental policy.
A daunting story of shipwreck, starvation, mutiny and cannibalism amongst a group left abandoned in the high Arctic.
The epic battle waged over dinosaur fossils by rival paleontologists in the American West.
The life of the legendary photographer, known best for his black and white images of the wilderness of the American West.
The 300-year saga of the American whaling industry.