Served: March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
Born: January 30, 1882
Birthplace: Hyde Park, New York
Died: April 12, 1945
Occupation: Corporate lawyer
Political Party: Democratic
Spouse: Eleanor Roosevelt
FDR: Leading Democratic President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the 32nd president during an economic depression so great it was felt worldwide. Many of the programs he set in place during this time have come to define American liberalism and the Democratic Party as a whole.
Franklin, who was often known by his initials FDR, is also known for his New Deal coalition and for partnering with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and leading the allies during World War II.
Marriage Through Sickness and in Health
Roosevelt married Eleanor Roosevelt, whom he met while attending Harvard College in 1905. Together they had six children.
However, it is widely reported that Roosevelt had numerous affairs. Some were later reported to be quite high-profile affairs, including an alleged affair with Princess Martha of Sweden and a lifelong affair with Lucy Mercer, Eleanor’s social secretary.
In 1921, Roosevelt contracted polio and became paralyzed from the waist down. He tried various therapies, including hydrotherapy, to no avail. He refused to accept his paralysis and was equally as careful about being seen in public in a wheelchair. He was able to teach himself to “walk” short distances using iron braces on his hips and legs.
- Major, German shepherd
- Meggie, Scottish terrier
- Winks, Llewellyn setter
- Tiny, Old English sheepdog
- President, Great Dane
- Fala, famed Scottish terrier
- Blaze, Elliott Roosevelt’s English bullmastiff
MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets
Ending an Economic Depression
Roosevelt had a long and distinguished political history. He began his career in the New York State Senate, was appointed as assistant secretary of the Navy, and served as governor of New York. In 1932, Roosevelt won the presidential election against President Herbert Hoover.
Roosevelt began pushing various legislative measures upon his arrival at the White House, and a great accomplishment that came from this was his New Deal programs, which provided the American people with economic relief. Some of these programs included bank and finance regulations and government jobs for the unemployed.
The economy seemed to improve but soon relapsed into a recession. Many of his relief programs ended when a bipartisan conservative coalition formed. But other programs, including social security, still exist today.
During World War II, Roosevelt was forced to declare war on Japan after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. In 1942, Roosevelt ordered internment of Japanese-American civilians. Additionally, the first atom bomb was developed as part of Roosevelt’s war strategy. Even with all of these terrible developments, the economy began to prosper as new jobs were created because of the war.
Did You Know…?
- Roosevelt is the only president ever to be elected more than two terms. George Washington himself had set the precedent followed by all other U.S. presidents to serve no more than two four-year terms.
- During his presidential campaign, the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” became Roosevelt’s personal and political theme song.
- Eleanor offered Roosevelt a divorce after finding out about his affair with Lucy; however, they reconciled after some time, and Roosevelt initially promised never to see Lucy again. This turned out to have been a lie—Lucy was with him the day he died.