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Wikipedia Summary for Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ROH-zə-velt; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the Democratic Party, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which defined modern liberalism in the United States throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II, which ended shortly after he died in office.

Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York, to the Roosevelt family made well known by the reputation of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, as well as by the reputation of prominent businessman William Henry Aspinwall. He graduated from the Groton School and Harvard College, and attended Columbia Law School but left after passing the bar exam to practice law in New York City. In 1905, he married his fifth cousin once removed Eleanor Roosevelt. They had six children, of whom five survived into adulthood. He won election to the New York State Senate in 1910, and then served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Roosevelt was James M. Cox's running mate on the Democratic Party's 1920 national ticket, but Cox was defeated by Republican Warren G. Harding. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted a paralytic illness, believed at the time to be polio, and his legs became permanently paralyzed. While attempting to recover from his condition, Roosevelt founded a polio rehabilitation center in Warm Springs, Georgia. In spite of being unable to walk unaided, Roosevelt returned to public office by winning election as Governor of New York in 1928. He served as governor from 1929 to 1933, promoting programs to combat the economic crisis besetting the United States.

In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover in a landslide. Roosevelt took office in the midst of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. During the first 100 days of the 73rd United States Congress, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal — a variety of programs designed to produce relief, recovery, and reform. He created numerous programs to provide relief to the unemployed and farmers while seeking economic recovery with the National Recovery Administration and other programs. He also instituted major regulatory reforms related to finance, communications, and labor, and presided over the end of Prohibition. He used radio to speak directly to the American people, giving 30 "fireside chat" radio addresses during his presidency and became the first American president to be televised. With the economy having improved rapidly from 1933 to 1936, Roosevelt won a landslide reelection in 1936. After the 1936 election, Roosevelt sought passage of the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (the "court packing plan"), which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court of the United States. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented passage of the bill and blocked the implementation of further New Deal programs and reforms. The economy then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937 and 1938. Major surviving programs and legislation implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

The United States reelected FDR in 1940 for his third term, making him the only U.S. president to serve for more than two terms. With World War II looming after 1938, the U.S. remained officially neutral, but Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China, the United Kingdom, and eventually the Soviet Union. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event he called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a congressional declaration of war on Japan, and, a few days later, on Germany and Italy. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allied Powers against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort, and implemented a Europe first strategy, making the defeat of Germany a priority over that of Japan. He also initiated the development of the world's first atomic bomb and worked with other Allied leaders to lay the groundwork for the United Nations and other post-war institutions. Roosevelt won reelection in 1944, but with his physical health declining during the war years, he died in April 1945, less than three months into his fourth term. The Axis Powers surrendered to the Allies in the months following Roosevelt's death, during the presidency of his successor, Harry S. Truman. Roosevelt is usually rated by scholars among the nation's greatest presidents, with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but has also been subject to substantial criticism.

Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we forget in time that men have died to win them.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

And with that inner strength that comes to a free people conscious of their duty, conscious of the righteousness of what they do, they will--with divine help and guidance-- stand their ground against this latest assault upon their democracy, their sovereignty and their freedom.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you treat people right they will treat you right -- ninety percent of the time.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

In a democratic nation, power must be linked with responsibility, and obliged to defend and justify itself within the framework of the general good.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Confidence thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Americans today are just as rugged and just as tough as any of the heroes we celebrate on the Fourth of July.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The overwhelming majority of americans are possessed of two great qualities a sense of humor and a sense of proportion.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Happiness if not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Liberty requires opportunity to make a living -- a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

If we attack our problems with determination we shall succeed.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The barrier to success is not something which exists in the real world; it is composed purely and simply of doubts about ability.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

I do not believe in communism any more than you do but there is nothing wrong with the Communists in this country. Several of the best friends I have got are Communists.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

When a country is at war we want Congressmen, regardless of party, to back up the government of the United States.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

A Liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest-at the command-of his head.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Freedom of speech...Freedom of worship...Freedom from want...Freedom from fear.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

No democracy can long survive which does not accept as fundamental to its very existence the recognition of the rights of minorities.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tell that to the Marines!

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is highly unlikely that an airplane, or fleet of them, could ever sink a fleet of Navy vessels under battle conditions.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

A nation, like a person, has a mind -- a mind that must be kept informed and alert, that must know itself, that understands the hopes and needs of its neighbors -- all the other nations that live within the narrowing circle of the world.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The whole world is one neighborhood.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Industrial combination is not wrong in itself. The danger lies in taking government into partnership.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Longer Version:

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. 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 millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.


There should be no bitterness or hate where the sole thought is the welfare of the United States of America. No man can occupy the office of President without realizing that he is President of all the people.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

There is no group in America that can withstand the force of an aroused public opinion.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

A government can be no better than the public opinion which sustains it.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The true conservative is the man who has a real concern for injustices and takes thought against the day of reckoning.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Our government is based on the belief that a people can be both strong and free, that civilized men need no restraint but that imposed by themselves against abuse of freedom.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

In the final analysis, the progress of our civilization will be retarded if any large body of citizens falls behind. Without the help of thousands of others, any one of us would die, naked and starved.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

To bring about government by oligarchy, masquerading as democracy, it is fundamentally essential that practically all authority and control be centralized in our Federal government... The individual sovereignty of our states must first be destroyed.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Taxation according to income is the most effective instrument yet devised to obtain just contribution from those best able to bear it and to avoid placing onerous burdens upon the mass of our people.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The ultimate victory of tomorrow is democracy, and through democracy with education, for no people in all the world can be kept eternally ignorant or eternally enslaved.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

We have the men -- the skill -- the wealth -- and above all, the will.... We must be the great arsenal of democracy.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself ... But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wise and prudent men and intelligent conservatives have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

In time of this grave national danger, when all excess income should go to win the war, no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000 a year.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Self-help and self-control are the essence of the American tradition.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

They realize that in thirty-four months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a peoples Government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

I've fired my last shot. I think I should have another round in my belt.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

I hope that you have re-read the Constitution of the United States in these past few weeks. Like the Bible, it ought to be read again and again.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

War is a contagion.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The people of America are in agreement in defending their liberties at any cost, and the first line of that defense lies in the protection of economic security.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Continued dependence on relief inducers a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Goods produced under conditions which do not meet a rudimentary standard to decency should be regarded as contraband and not allowed to pollute the channels of international commerce.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Inequality may linger in the world of material things, but great music, great literature, great art and the wonders of science are, and should be, open to all.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

People die, but books never die.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Longer Version:

People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory.


We want a Supreme Court which will do justice under the Constitution -- not over it. In our courts we want a government of laws and not of men.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

There can be little doubt that in many ways the story of bridge building is the story of civilisation. By it we can readily measure an important part of a people's progress.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is time to extend planning to a wider field, in this instance comprehending in one great project many states directly concerned with the basin of one of our greatest rivers.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace -- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Longer Version:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred.


We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

It concentration of wealth and power has been a menace to ... American democracy.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Appeasement is the policy of feeding your friends to a crocodile, one at a time, in hopes that the crocodile will eat you last.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sometimes the best way to keep peace in the family is to keep the members of the family apart for awhile.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions-bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Democracy, the practice of self-government, is a covenant among free men to respect the rights and liberties of their fellows.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of a democracy; but there is a difference between freedom and license. Editorialists who tell downright lies in order to advance their own agendas do more to discredit the press than all the censors in the world.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hitler built a fortress around Europe, but he forgot to put a roof on it.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

You are, I am sure, aware that genuine popular support in the United States is required to carry out any Government policy, foreign or domestic. The American people make up their own minds and no governmental action can change it.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

I consider it a public duty to answer falsifications with facts. I will not pretend that I find this an unpleasant duty. I am an old campaigner, and I love a good fight.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Our handicaps exist only in our minds.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The gains in education are never really lost. Books may be burned and cities sacked, but truth, like the yearning for freedom, lives in the hearts of humble men.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The presidency is not merely an administrative office...It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

'Peace on earth, good will toward men' -- democracy must cling to that message. For it is my deep conviction that democracy cannot live without that true religion which gives a nation a sense of justice and moral purpose.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The most difficult place in the world to get a clear and open perspective of the country as a whole is Washington.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Chamberlain's visit to Hitler today may bring things to a head or may result in a temporary postponement of what looks to me likean inevitable conflict within the next five years.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let us move forward with strong and active faith.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

A good leader can't get too far ahead of his followers.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

I see an America whose rivers and valleys and lakes hills and streams and plains the mountains over our land and nature's wealth deep under the earth are protected as the rightful heritage of all the people.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said that the only way to have a friend is to be one. We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion or mistrust or with fear.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

The public schools shall be free from sectarian influences and, above all, free from any attitude of hostility to the adherents of any particular creed.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

A serf-supporting and self-respecting democracy can plead no justification for the existence of child labor, no economic reason for chiseling workers' wages or stretching workers' hours.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

I propose to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work...More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

To return to higher standards of living we must abandon the false prophets and seek new leaders of our own choosing.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Those (who) seek to establish systems of Government based on the regimentation of all Human Beings by a handful of individual rulers...call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Do not confuse objectives with methods. When the nation becomes substantially united in favor of planning the broad objectives of civilization, then true leadership must unite thought behind definite methods.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

True wealth is not a static thing. It is a living thing made out of the disposition of men to create and distribute the good things of life with rising standards of living.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Many causes produce war. There are ancient hatreds, turbulent frontiers, the legacy of old forgotten, far-off things, and battles long ago. There are new-born fanaticisms. Convictions on the part of certain peoples that they have become the unique depositories of ultimate truth and right.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

We think of our land and water and human resources not as static and sterile possessions but as life giving assets to be directed by wise provisions for future days.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labor unions.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt

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