Reflection on Reading autobiography of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (/ˈroʊzəvɛlt/ ROH-zə-velt or /ˈroʊzəvəlt/ROH-zə-vəlt; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), also
known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945) and a central figure in world events during
the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic depression and total war. A dominant leader
of theDemocratic Party and the only American president elected to more than two terms, he built a New Deal Coalition that
realigned American politics after 1932, as his domestic policies definedAmerican liberalism for the middle third of the 20th
With the bouncy popular song "Happy Days Are Here Again" as his campaign theme, FDR defeated incumbent
Republican Herbert Hoover inNovember 1932, at the depth of the Great Depression. Energized by his personal victory over polio,
FDR's unfailing optimism and activism contributed to a renewal of the national spirit.Assisted by key aide Harry Hopkins, he
worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalinin leading the Allies against Nazi
Germany and Japan in World War II. The war ended the depression and restored prosperity.
In his first hundred days in office, which began March 4, 1933, Roosevelt spearheaded major legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief (government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (economic growth), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation). The economy improved rapidly from 1933 to 1937, but then relapsed into a deep recession. The bipartisan Conservative
Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented hispacking the Supreme Court or passing any considerable legislation; it abolished many
of the relief programs when unemployment diminished during World War II. Most of the regulations on business were ended about 1975–85, except for the regulation of Wall Street by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which still exists. Along
with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include theFederal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which was created
in 1933, and Social Security, which Congress passed in 1935.
As World War II loomed after 1938, with the Japanese invasion of China and the aggression of Nazi Germany, FDR gave strong
diplomatic and financial support to China and Great Britain, while remaining officially neutral. His goal was to make America the
"Arsenal of Democracy" which would supply munitions to the Allies. In March 1941, Roosevelt, with Congressional approval,
provided Lend-Leaseaid to the countries fighting against Nazi Germany with Britain. With very strong national support, he made war on Japan and Germany after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, calling it a "date which will live in
infamy". He supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the Allied war effort. As an active military leader, Roosevelt implemented an overall war strategy on two fronts that ended in the defeat of the Axis Powersand the development of
the world's first atom bomb. In 1942 Roosevelt ordered the internment of 100,000 Japanese Americancivilians. Unemployment
dropped to 2%, relief programs largely ended, and the industrial economy grew rapidly to new heights as millions of people moved to new jobs in war centers, and 16 million men and 300,000 women were drafted or volunteered for military service. Roosevelt dominated the American political scene not only during the twelve years of his presidency, but also for decades afterward. He orchestrated the realignment of voters that created the Fifth Party System. FDR's New Deal Coalition united labor
unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans and rural white Southerners. He also influenced the later creation of
the United Nations and Bretton Woods. Roosevelt is consistently rated by scholars as one of the top three U.S. Presidents, along
with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
A liberal Democrat, Roosevelt defined his ideological position as "a little left of center."
; 1 Personal life
o 1.1 Early life and education
o 1.2 Marriage and affairs
; 2 Early political career
o 2.1 State senator and Tammany antagonist
o 2.2 Assistant Secretary of the Navy
o 2.3 Campaign for Vice President ; 3 Polio
; 4 Governor of New York, 1929–1932
; 5 1932 presidential election
; 6 Presidency, 1933–1945
o 6.1 First term, 1933–1937
; 6.1.1 First New Deal, 1933–1934
; 6.1.2 Second New Deal, 1935–1936
; 6.1.3 Economic environment
; 6.1.4 Foreign policy, 1933–37
o 6.2 Landslide re-election, 1936
o 6.3 Second term, 1937–1941
; 6.3.1 Foreign policy, 1937–1941
o 6.4 Election of 1940
o 6.5 Third term, 1941–1945
; 6.5.1 Policies
; 6.5.2 Pearl Harbor and declarations of war
o 6.6 War plans
; 6.6.1 Internment of Germans, Japanese and Italians
; 6.6.2 War strategy
; 6.6.3 Post-war planning
o 6.7 Declining health
o 6.8 Election of 1944
o 6.9 Fourth term and death, 1945
; 6.9.1 Last days, death and memorial
o 6.10 Supreme Court appointments 1933–1945 ; 7 Civil rights
; 8 Legacy
; 9 Appendix
o 9.1 Cabinet
o 9.2 Media
; 10 See also
; 11 References and bibliography
o 11.1 Explanations
o 11.2 Notes
o 11.3 Biographical
o 11.4 Scholarly secondary sources
o 11.5 Foreign policy and World War II
o 11.6 Criticism
o 11.7 FDR's rhetoric
o 11.8 Primary sources
; 12 External links
o 12.1 Speeches and quotations: audio and transcripts
o 12.2 Other
See also: Roosevelt family and Delano family
Early life and education
FDR at age 11
[n 1]One of the oldest families in New York State, the Roosevelts distinguished themselves in areas other than politics. One
ancestor, Isaac Roosevelt, had served with the New York militia during the American Revolution. Roosevelt attended events of the New York society Sons of the American Revolution, and joined the organization while he was president. While his paternal family had become prosperous early on in New York real estate and trade, much of his immediate family's wealth had been built
by FDR's maternal grandfather, Warren Delano, in the China trade, including opium and tea. His mother named him after her favorite uncle Franklin Delano.
The birthplace of FDR at Springwood
Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in theHudson Valley town of Hyde Park, New York. His father, James Roosevelt, and
his mother, Sara Ann Delano, were sixth cousins and both were from wealthy old New York families. They were of mostly English descent; Roosevelt's great-grandfather,James Roosevelt, was of Dutch ancestry, and his mother's maiden name, Delano,
originated with a French Huguenot immigrant of the 17th century.Franklin was their only child.
Roosevelt grew up in an atmosphere of privilege. Sara was a possessive mother; James, 54 when Franklin was born, was
considered by some as a remote father, though biographer Burns indicates James interacted with his son more than was typical
at the time. Sara was the dominant influence in Franklin's early years; she once declared "My son Franklin is a Delano, not a
Roosevelt at all." Frequent trips to Europe made Roosevelt conversant in German and French. He learned to ride, shoot, row,
and play polo and lawn tennis. Roosevelt also took up golf in his teen years, becoming a skilled long hitter. He learned to sail,
and his father gave him a sailboat at the age of sixteen which he named "New Moon"
Roosevelt attended Groton School, an Episcopal boarding school in Massachusetts; ninety percent of the students were from families on the social register. He was heavily influenced by its headmaster, Endicott Peabody, who preached the duty of
Christians to help the less fortunate and urged his students to enter public service. Forty years later Roosevelt said of Peabody,
"It was a blessing in my life to have the privilege of [his] guiding hand." Peabody recalled Roosevelt as "a quiet, satisfactory
boy of more than ordinary intelligence, taking a good position in his form but not brilliant".
Roosevelt went to Harvard College and lived in a suite which is now part of Adams House, in the "Gold Coast" area populated by
wealthy students. An average student academically, he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and also
editor-in-chief of The Harvard Crimson daily newspaper. Roosevelt later declared, "I took economics courses in college for four
years, and everything I was taught was wrong." While he was at Harvard, his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt became
President, and the president's vigorous leadership style and reforming zeal made him Franklin's role model and hero. In
mid-1902, he was formally introduced to his future wife Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore's niece, on a train toTivoli, New York,
although they had met briefly as children. Eleanor and Franklin were fifth cousins, once removed. At the time of their
engagement, Roosevelt was twenty-two and Eleanor nineteen.Roosevelt graduated from Harvard in 1903 with an A.B. in
history. He later received an honorary LL.D from Harvard in 1929.
Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in 1904, but dropped out in 1907 after he passed the New York State Bar exam. He
however later received a posthumous J.D. from Columbia Law School. In 1908, he took a job with the prestigious Wall Street
firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn, dealing mainly with corporate law. He was first initiated in the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows and was initiated into Freemasonry on October 11, 1911, at Holland Lodge No. 8 in New York City.
Marriage and affairs
On March 17, 1905, Roosevelt married Eleanor despite the fierce resistance of his mother. Eleanor's uncle, Theodore
Roosevelt, stood in at the wedding for Eleanor's deceased father Elliott. (Eleanor had lost both parents by age ten.) The
young couple moved into Springwood, his family's estate, where FDR's mother became a frequent house guest, much to Eleanor's chagrin. The home was owned by Roosevelt's mother until her death in 1941 and was very much her home as well. As
for their personal lives, Franklin was a charismatic, handsome and socially active man. In contrast, Eleanor was shy and
disliked social life, and at first stayed at home to raise their children. Although Eleanor had an aversion to sexual intercourse, and
considered it "an ordeal to be endured", they had six children, the first four in rapid succession: ; Anna Eleanor (1906–1975; age 69)
; James (1907–1991; age 83)
; Franklin Delano, Jr. (March 18, 1909 – November 7, 1909)
; Elliott (1910–1990; age 80)
; a second Franklin Delano, Jr. (1914–1988; age 74)
; John Aspinwall (1916–1981; age 65).
Roosevelt's dog, Fala, also became well known as Roosevelt's companion during his time in the White House, and was called
the "most photographed dog in the world."
Franklin and Eleanor atCampobello Island, Canada, in 1904
Roosevelt reportedly had affairs outside his marriage, including one with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer which began
soon after she was hired in early 1914. In September 1918, Eleanor found letters revealing the affair in Roosevelt's luggage, when he returned from World War I. According to the Roosevelt family, Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce so that he could be with the woman he loved, but Lucy, being Catholic, could not bring herself to marry a divorced man with five children. According
to FDR biographer Jean Edward Smith, it is generally accepted that Eleanor indeed offered "to give Franklin his
freedom."However, they reconciled after a fashion with the informal mediation of Roosevelt's adviser Louis McHenry Howe,
and FDR promised never to see Lucy again. His mother Sara also intervened, and told Franklin that if he divorced his wife, he
would bring scandal upon the family, and she "would not give him another dollar." However, Franklin broke his promise. He
and Lucy maintained a formal correspondence, and began seeing each other again in 1941—and perhaps earlier. Lucy was
even given the code name "Mrs. Johnson" by the Secret Service.Indeed, Lucy was with FDR on the day he died. Despite this,
FDR's affair was not widely known until the 1960s. Roosevelt's son Elliott stated that Franklin also had a 20-year affair with his
private secretaryMarguerite "Missy" LeHand. Another son, James, stated that "there is a real possibility that a romantic relationship existed" between his father and Princess Märtha of Sweden, who resided in the White House during part of World
War II; aides began to refer to her as "the president's girlfriend", and gossip linking the two romantically appeared in the
The effect of these flirtations or affairs upon Eleanor Roosevelt is difficult to estimate. "I have the memory of an elephant. I can
forgive, but I cannot forget," she wrote to a close friend. After the Lucy Mercer affair, any remaining intimacy left their relationship. Eleanor soon thereafter established a separate house in Hyde Park at Valkill, and increasingly devoted herself to
various social and political causes. For the rest of their lives, the Roosevelts' marriage was more of a political partnership than an
intimate relationship. The emotional break in their marriage was so severe that when FDR asked Eleanor in 1942—in light of
his failing health—to come back home and live with him again, she refused.
Early political career
State senator and Tammany antagonist
In the state election of 1910, Roosevelt ran for the New York State Senate from the district around Hyde Park in Dutchess
County, which had not elected a Democrat since 1878. The Roosevelt name, with its associated wealth, prestige, and
influence in the Hudson Valley, and the Democratic landslide that year, carried him to the state capital in Albany. Taking his
seat on January 1, 1911, he became the leader of a group of "Insurgents" who opposed the bossism of
the Tammany machine dominating the state Democratic Party. The U.S. Senate election which began with the Democratic
caucus on January 16, 1911, was deadlocked by the struggle of the two factions for 74 days. On March 31, James A.
O'Gorman was elected, and Roosevelt had achieved his goal: to upset the Tammany machine by blocking their choice, William F.
Sheehan. This brought Roosevelt national exposure and some experience in political tactics and intrigue. Roosevelt soon
became a popular figure among New York Democrats, though he had not as yet become an eloquent speaker. Despite a bout
of typhoid, and thanks to the help of Louis McHenry Howe who ran his campaign, he was re-elected for a second term in the state election of 1912, and served as chairman of the Agriculture Committee. His success with farm and labor bills was a bit
of a precursor to his New Deal policies twenty years later. By this time he had become more consistently progressive, in support of labor and social welfare programs for women and children; cousin Teddy was of some influence on these
issues. Roosevelt, again in opposition to Tammany Hall, supported Woodrow Wilson's successful bid in the 1912 presidential
election, and thereby earned an informal designation as an original Wilson man. This opened the door for opportunities in the Wilson administration. Roosevelt resigned from the New York State Senate on March 17, 1913, to accept his appointment as
Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Navy.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and served under Secretary of
the Navy Josephus Daniels. Roosevelt developed a lifelong affection for the Navy, and was more ardent than his boss Daniels in
supporting a large and efficient naval force. As assistant secretary, Roosevelt worked to expand the Navy and founded the United States Navy Reserve. Roosevelt negotiated with Congressional leaders and other government departments to get budgets approved. He opposed the Taylor "stop-watch" system which was hailed by shipbuilding managers but opposed by the
unions. Not a single union strike occurred during his seven-plus years in the Navy department.
In 1914, Roosevelt made an ill-conceived decision to run for the U.S. Senate seat for New York. The decision was doomed for lack of Wilson administration backing. He was determined to take on Tammany again at a time when Wilson needed them to help
marshal his legislation and secure his future re-election. He was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary election for the
United States Senate by Tammany Hall-backed James W. Gerard by a margin of 3-to-1. Roosevelt learned a valuable lesson
– that federal patronage alone, without White House support, could not defeat a strong local organization.
In March 1917, after Germany initiated its submarine warfare campaign, Roosevelt asked Wilson for permission, which was
denied, to fit the naval fleet out for war. He became an enthusiastic advocate of the submarine and of means to combat the
German submarine menace to Allied shipping: he proposed building amine barrier across the North Sea from Norway to
Scotland. In 1918, he visited Britain and France to inspect American naval facilities. Roosevelt wanted to provide arms to
the merchant marine; knowing that a sale of arms was prohibited, he asked Wilson for approval to lease the arms to the mariners.
Wilson ultimately approved this by executive order, and a precedent was set for this action in 1940. During these war years, Roosevelt acted to make peace with the Tammany Hall forces, and in 1918 the group actually supported others in an unsuccessful attempt to convince him to run for governor of New York. He very much wished to get into a military
uniform, but the armistice took shape before this could materialize. With the end of World War I in November 1918, Roosevelt
was in charge of demobilization, although he opposed plans to completely dismantle the Navy.
Also in 1918, Roosevelt was sickened during the 1918 flu pandemic, and survived.
In 1919, Roosevelt came under fire from newspapers in Newport, Rhode Island, over his handling of what came to be known as
the Newport sex scandal. Much more threatening was the fact that FDR and Eleanor, then living in Washington, D.C. across
the street from Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer, narrowly missed becoming casualties of an anarchist's bomb that
exploded at Palmer's house, which they had walked past just minutes before. Their own residence was close enough that one of
the bomber's body parts landed on their doorstep.
Campaign for Vice President
Cox and Roosevelt in Ohio, 1920
In July 1920, overshadowed by the Newport sex scandal and its coverage in the Providence Journal and New York Times,
Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to run for Vice President. In a series of speeches in his campaign for Vice
President, Roosevelt claimed (tongue-in-cheek) that as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he wrote the constitution which the U.S.
imposed on Haiti in 1915. The 1920 Democratic National Convention chose Roosevelt by acclamation as the candidate
for Vice President of the United States. The ticket was headed by Governor James M. Cox of Ohio, and Roosevelt was
considered as bringing balance to the ticket as a moderate, a Wilsonian and a prohibitionist. The Cox-Roosevelt ticket was
defeated by RepublicanWarren G. Harding in the presidential election by a wide margin. This nomination as Vice-President was
somewhat meteoric in nature, as Roosevelt had just turned thirty-eight, four years younger than his cousin Teddy had been when
he first got the same nomination from his party. Roosevelt then returned to New York to practice law and joined the newly
organized New York Civitan Club.
Main article: Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralytic illness
Wheelchair photo, 1941
In August 1921, while the Roosevelts were vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, Roosevelt
contracted polio, which resulted in permanent paralysis from the waist down. For the rest of his life, Roosevelt refused to accept
that he was permanently paralyzed. He tried a wide range of therapies, including hydrotherapy, and, in 1926, he purchased a
resort at Warm Springs, Georgia, where he founded a hydrotherapy center for the treatment of polio patients, one which still
operates as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. After he became President, he helped to found the
National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now known as the March of Dimes).
At the time, Roosevelt was able to convince many people that he was getting better, which he believed was essential if he
wanted to run for public office again. Fitting his hips and legs with iron braces, he laboriously taught himself to walk a short
distance by swiveling his torso while supporting himself with a cane. In private, he used a wheelchair, but he was careful never
to be seen in it in public. Great care was also taken to prevent his being portrayed by the press in a way which would highlight his
disability. Only two photographs are known to exist of FDR which were taken while he was in his wheelchair; only four seconds of
film exist of the "walk" he achieved after his illness. He usually appeared in public standing upright, supported on one side by
an aide or one of his sons. FDR used a car with specially designed hand controls, providing him further mobility.
Governor of New York, 1929–1932
Main article: Franklin D. Roosevelt's terms as Governor of New York
Gubernatorial portrait of Franklin Roosevelt.
FDR with Al Smith in 1930
Roosevelt maintained contacts and mended fences with the Democratic Party during the 1920s, especially in New York. Although he initially had made his name as an opponent of New York City's Tammany Hall machine, Roosevelt moderated his
stance against that group as well. He helped Alfred E. Smith win the election for governor of New York in 1922, and in 1924
was even a strong supporter of Smith against his cousin, Republican Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Roosevelt gave nominating
speeches for Smith at the 1924 and 1928 Democratic conventions.
As the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the1928 election, Smith in turn asked Roosevelt to run for governor in the state
election. Roosevelt was nominated by the Democrats by acclamation. While Smith lost the Presidency in a landslide, and was
even defeated in his home state, Roosevelt was narrowly elected governor, by a one-percent margin. As a reform governor, he
established a number of new social programs, and was advised by Frances Perkins and Harry Hopkins.
In May 1930, as he began his run for a second term, Roosevelt reiterated his doctrine from the campaign two years before: "that
progressive government by its very terms, must be a living and growing thing, that the battle for it is never ending and that if we
let up for one single moment or one single year, not merely do we stand still but we fall back in the march of civilization." In
this campaign for re-election, Roosevelt needed the good will of the Tammany Hall machine in New York City to succeed; however, his Republican opponent, Charles H. Tuttle, used Roosevelt's connection with Tammany Hall's corruption as an
election issue. As the election approached, Roosevelt began preemptive efforts by initiating investigations of the sale of judicial
offices. He was directly involved, as he had made a routine short-term court appointment of a Tammany Hall man who was
alleged to have paid Tammany $30,000 for the position. His Republican opponent, however, could not overcome the public's
criticism of his party for current economic distress, and Roosevelt was elected to a second term by a margin of fourteen
1932 presidential election
Main article: United States presidential election, 1932
Roosevelt's strong base in the most populous state made him an obvious candidate for the Democratic nomination, which was hotly contested in light of incumbent Herbert Hoover's vulnerability. Al Smith was supported by some city bosses, but had lost control of the New York Democratic party to Roosevelt. Roosevelt built his own national coalition with personal allies such as
newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Irish leader Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and California leader William Gibbs McAdoo.
When Texas leaderJohn Nance Garner announced his support of FDR, he was given the vice-presidential nomination.
In his acceptance speech, Roosevelt declared, "I pledge you, I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people... This is
more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms." The election campaign was conducted under the shadow of the Great
Depression in the United States, and the new alliances which it created. Roosevelt and the Democratic Party mobilized the expanded ranks of the poor as well as organized labor, ethnic minorities, urbanites, and Southern whites, crafting the New Deal
Color photo of Roosevelt as the Man of the Year ofTIME Magazine, January 1933
Economist Marriner Eccles observed that "given later developments, the campaign speeches often read like a giant misprint, in
which Roosevelt and Hoover speak each other's lines." Roosevelt denounced Hoover's failures to restore prosperity or even halt the downward slide, and he ridiculed Hoover's huge deficits. Roosevelt campaigned on the Democratic platform advocating "immediate and drastic reductions of all public expenditures," "abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagances" and for a "sound currency to be maintained at all hazards." On September 23, Roosevelt made the gloomy evaluation that, "Our industrial plant is built; the problem just now is whether under
existing conditions it is not overbuilt. Our last frontier has long since been reached." Hoover damned that pessimism as a
denial of "the promise of American life ... the counsel of despair." The prohibition issue solidified the wet vote for Roosevelt,
who noted that repeal would bring in new tax revenues.
Roosevelt won 57% of the vote and carried all but six states. Historians and political scientists consider the 1932-36 elections
a realigning election that created a new majority coalition for the Democrats, made up of organized labor, blacks, and ethnic Americans such as Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans and Jews. This transformed American politics and starting what is called
the "New Deal Party System" or (by political scientists) the Fifth Party System.
After the election, Roosevelt refused Hoover's requests for a meeting to develop a joint program to stop the downward spiral and
calm investors, claiming publicly it would tie his hands, and that Hoover had all the power to act if necessary. Unofficially, he told
reporters that "it is not my baby". The economy spiraled downward until the banking system began a complete nationwide
shutdown as Hoover's term ended.In February 1933, Roosevelt escaped an assassination attempt by Giuseppe
[n 2]Zangara (whose shots killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak sitting alongside). Roosevelt leaned heavily on his "Brain Trust"
of academic advisers, especially Raymond Moley, when designing his policies; he offered cabinet positions to numerous candidates, but some declined. The cabinet member with the strongest independent base was Cordell Hull at State. William
Hartman Woodin – at Treasury – was soon replaced by the much more powerful Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
First term, 1933–1937
See also: New Deal
Roosevelt and Hoover on Inauguration Day, 1933.
When Roosevelt was inaugurated March 4, 1933 (32 days after Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany), the U.S. was at the nadir of the worst depression in its history. A quarter of the workforce was unemployed. Farmers were in deep trouble as prices fell by 60%. Industrial production had fallen by more than half since 1929. Two million were homeless. By the evening of
March 4, 32 of the 48 states – as well as the District of Columbia – had closed their banks. The New York Federal Reserve
Bank was unable to open on the 5th, as huge sums had been withdrawn by panicky customers in previous days.Beginning with
his inauguration address, Roosevelt began blaming the economic crisis on bankers and financiers, the quest for profit, and the self-interest basis of capitalism:
Primarily this is because rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the
pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure
of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for
restored confidence....The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore
that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble
than mere monetary profit.
Historians categorized Roosevelt's program as "relief, recovery and reform." Relief was urgently needed by tens of millions of unemployed. Recovery meant boosting the economy back to normal. Reform meant long-term fixes of what was wrong, especially with the financial and banking systems. Roosevelt's series of radio talks, known as fireside chats, presented his
proposals directly to the American public. In 1934 FDR paid a visit to retired Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who mused about
the President: "A second class intellect. But a first class temperament."
First New Deal, 1933–1934
Roosevelt's "First 100 Days" concentrated on the first part of his strategy: immediate relief. From March 9 to June 16, 1933, he sent Congress a record number of bills, all of which passed easily. To propose programs, Roosevelt relied on leading Senators such as George Norris, Robert F. Wagner and Hugo Black, as well as his Brain Trust of academic advisers. Like Hoover, he saw
the Depression caused in part by people no longer spending or investing because they were afraid.
His inauguration on March 4, 1933, occurred in the middle of a bank panic, hence the backdrop for his famous words: "The only
thing we have to fear is fear itself." The very next day he declared a "bank holiday" and called for a special session of
Congress to start March 9, at which Congress passed theEmergency Banking Act. This was his first proposed step to recovery.
To give Americans confidence in the banks, Roosevelt signed the Glass–Steagall Act that created the Federal Deposit Insurance
Presidential Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Relief measures included the continuation of Hoover's major relief program for the unemployed under its new name:Federal
Emergency Relief Administration. The most popular of all New Deal agencies – and Roosevelt's favorite – was the Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC), which hired 250,000 unemployed young men to work on rural local projects.
Congress also gave the Federal Trade Commission broad new regulatory powers and provided mortgage relief to millions of
farmers and homeowners. Roosevelt expanded a Hoover agency, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, making it a major
source of financing for railroads and industry. Roosevelt made agricultural relief a high priority and set up the first Agricultural
Adjustment Administration (AAA). The AAA tried to force higher prices for commodities by paying farmers to take land out of
crops and to cut herds.
Reform of the economy was the goal of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933. It tried to end cutthroat competition
by forcing industries to come up with codes that established the rules of operation for all firms within specific industries, such as
minimum prices, agreements not to compete, and production restrictions. Industry leaders negotiated the codes which were then approved by NIRA officials. Industry needed to raise wages as a condition for approval. Provisions encouraged unions and suspended anti-trustlaws. The NIRA was found to be unconstitutional by unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on May
27, 1935. Roosevelt opposed the decision, saying "The fundamental purposes and principles of the NIRA are sound. To abandon
them is unthinkable. It would spell the return to industrial and labor chaos." In 1933, major new banking regulations were
passed. In 1934, the Securities and Exchange Commission was created to regulate Wall Street, with 1932 campaign
fundraiser Joseph P. Kennedy in charge.
Recovery was pursued through "pump-priming" (that is, federal spending). The NIRA included $3.3 billion of spending through
the Public Works Administration to stimulate the economy, which was to be handled byInterior Secretary Harold Ickes. Roosevelt
worked with Republican Senator George Norris to create the largest government-owned industrial enterprise in American history – the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) – which built dams and power stations, controlled floods, and modernized agriculture and home conditions in the poverty-stricken Tennessee Valley. The repeal of prohibition also brought in new tax revenues and
helped Roosevelt keep a major campaign promise.
Executive Order 6102 declared that all privately held gold of American citizens was to be sold to the U.S. Treasury and the price
raised from $20 to $35 per ounce. Exceptions were made for jewelers, coin collectors and a few others. The goal was to
counter the deflation which was paralyzing the economy.
Roosevelt tried to keep his campaign promise by cutting the federal budget – including a reduction in military spending from
$752 million in 1932 to $531 million in 1934 and a 40% cut in spending on veterans' benefits – by removing 500,000 veterans and
widows from the pension rolls and reducing benefits for the remainder, as well as cutting the salaries of federal employees and
reducing spending on research and education. However, this was soon seen to be a mistake and most benefits were restored
or increased by 1934. The benefit cuts also did not last. In June 1933 Roosevelt restored $50 million in pension payments,
and Congress added another $46 million more. Veterans groups like the American Legion and theVeterans of Foreign
Wars won their campaign to transform their benefits from payments due in 1945 to immediate cash when Congress overrode the
President's veto and passed the Bonus Act in January 1936.
Roosevelt also kept his promise to push for repeal of Prohibition. On March 23, 1933, he signed theCullen–Harrison
Act redefining 3.2% alcohol as the maximum allowed. That act was preceded by Congressional action in the drafting and
passage of the 21st Amendment, which was ratified later that year.
Second New Deal, 1935–1936
Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, August 14, 1935
After the 1934 Congressional elections, which gave Roosevelt large majorities in both houses, there was a fresh surge of New Deal legislation. These measures included the Works Progress Administration(WPA) which set up a national relief agency that
employed two million family heads. At the height of WPA employment in 1938, unemployment was down from 20.6% in 1933 to
only 12.5% according to figures from Michael Darby. The Social Security Act established Social Security and promised
economic security for the elderly, the poor and the sick. Senator Robert Wagner wrote the Wagner Act, which officially became
theNational Labor Relations Act. The act established the federal rights of workers to organize unions, to engage in collective
bargaining, and to take part in strikes.
While the First New Deal of 1933 had broad support from most sectors, the Second New Deal challenged the business community. Conservative Democrats, led by Al Smith, fought back with the American Liberty League, savagely attacking
Roosevelt and equating him with Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. But Smith overplayed his hand, and his boisterous rhetoric let
Roosevelt isolate his opponents and identify them with the wealthy vested interests that opposed the New Deal, setting
Roosevelt up for the 1936 landslide. By contrast, the labor unions, energized by the Wagner Act, signed up millions of new
members and became a major backer of Roosevelt's reelections in 1936, 1940 and 1944.
Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen disagree with the prevailing belief that there were two New Deals in the Roosevelt
administration. They argue that there is no evidence of any such blueprint for Roosevelt's programs, and that abundant evidence shows FDR's policies were formulated and executed haphazardly, fluctuating in the hands of a revolving cast of
presidential advisors. Biographer James M. Burns suggests that Roosevelt's policy decisions were guided more by pragmatism than ideology, and that he "was like the general of a guerrilla army whose columns, fighting blindly in the mountains
through dense ravines and thickets, suddenly converge, half by plan and half by coincidence, and debouch into the plain
below." Roosevelt himself argued that such apparently haphazard methodology was necessary. "The country needs and,