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Did Roosevelt's upbringing, background and character make it easy for him to understand the concerns and fears of ordinary Americans?

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Introduction

Did Roosevelt's upbringing, background and character make it easy for him to understand the concerns and fears of ordinary Americans? Franklin.D.Roosevelt was born to wealthy parents of a political family, and his cousin - Teddy Roosevelt - was a former United States President. Roosevelt was an only child who had a fine education at a leading private school and completed his education at Harvard University. As a child he was taught the importance of helping others due to his families Christian beliefs, but never had the chance to practice this as he never met anybody in need of helping. He was brought up surrounded only by people of his own state and wealth and as a child, never had the option to go out and play with his school friends, therefore, isolating him from the real world and the lives of 'ordinary' people. ...read more.

Middle

After a period of no purpose in his life and feeling sorry for himself, he visited a warm spring in South Georgia, thought to have healing powers. He left there without a healed body, but with a new purpose and direction in life. In 1926 he spent 2/3rds of his fortune ( - $195 000) buying a run-down hotel and doing it up to become a rehabilitation centre, mainly for young victims of polio, calling it 'Warm Springs'. This is the first unselfish, charitable deed he had ever done and it opened his eyes to the fact that so many people were worse off than him. The polio brought him an understanding of pain and suffering that he had never been able to relate to before, as well as maturing him as a person. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 1928 he became Governor of New York and sets up a programme of aid for farmers, due to knowledge he gained in Georgia of their hardships. When the Wall Street Crash came in October 1929, he provided unemployment benefit and opened soup kitchens for the hungry along with handing out free coffee and sandwiches to anyone who knocked on his door. The factors around his charitable work and his understanding of what ordinary Americans needed had nothing to do with his background and the way he had been brought up. Until he personally experienced suffering due to the polio, he had been ignorant of the reality of hardship, and had never realised that he enjoyed meeting, talking and caring for others in need. Through his polio and times in Georgia at Warm Springs, he learnt the most valuable lessons he would ever learn - the hopes and fears of the average civilian. ...read more.

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