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32nd President

Terms: 1933-1945
Political Party: Democrat
First Lady: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Vice President: John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Harry S. Truman

Overview

Born: January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York... Franklin Delano Roosevelt was found to have been related, by blood or through marriage, to eleven former presidents. The policies and persona of Franklin Roosevelt set the cast of the "modern" presidency. He was unquestionably the most vital figure in the nation, and perhaps the world, during his 13 years in the White House. Engendering both admiration and scorn, FDR exerted unflinching leadership during the most tumultuous period in the nation's history since the Civil War...Died April 12, 1945.

Did you know? -- Read some fun facts about Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Era

  • Frances Perkins becomes the first woman cabinet member (1933)
  • Mao Tse-Tung leads Communists on a "Long March" across China (1934)
  • Joseph Stalin launches a Great Purge in the Soviet Union (1934)
  • The Boulder (Hoover) Dam is completed (1935)
  • Spanish Civil War begins (1936)
  • Joe Louis becomes the world boxing champion (1937)
  • Orson Welles broadcasts The War of the Worlds (1938)
  • Steinbeck writes The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
  • Japanese Americans are sent to internment camps (1942)
  • World War II rages (1939-1945)

World Timeline -- See a timeline of world events during Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.

Domestic Politics

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his first inaugural address on March 4, 1933, he knew that the millions of Americans listening needed an infusion of hope. The Great Depression had battered the nation for more than three long and painful years, and the economic situation was desperate. With a voice as sound as bedrock itself, Roosevelt announced an end to the bureaucratic stagnation that had plagued the administration of his predecessor, Herbert Hoover. "The Nation asks for action, and action now," Roosevelt said. The New Deal -- and the incredibly productive period of legislative and administrative action that became known as the Hundred Days -- had begun.

Read the page on FDR's Domestic Politics to learn more about his New Deal policies. 

Foreign Affairs

The United States officially entered World War II in December 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In reality, however, the United States had been fighting a war against the Axis powers for years. It was a war of words and a war of action, a war of secret meetings and public duplicity. And the prosecutor of this war was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States.

Visit the page on FDR's Foreign Affairs to learn more about the U.S. involvement in World War II.

Presidential Politics

Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his first presidential term riding a tidal wave of public support. In the 1932 election, he crushed dour incumbent Herbert Hoover and carried the Democrats to a solid majority in Congress. Following his inauguration, legislators gave Roosevelt unprecedented authority to remake the American economy. In the first hundred days of his presidency, Roosevelt signed 15 major pieces of legislation designed to relieve the suffering of millions and extricate America from the Great Depression. The New Deal era had begun. But by 1936, the New Deal had begun to falter. Conservative businessmen, who found themselves heavily taxed and regulated by the new legislation, pushed a string of challenges to Roosevelt's programs through the courts. On January 6, the Supreme Court made a ruling that struck at the very heart of Roosevelt's reforms. FDR's response to the ruling would irreparably damage the New Deal.

Read the page on FDR's Presidential Politics 

Extended Biography
Access in-depth biographical materials for Franklin D. Roosevelt

Additional Resources
Explore bonus materials for Franklin D. Roosevelt, including primary sources, audio interviews, television program transcripts, and in-depth teacher's guides

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH