FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, NY. The only child of James and Sara Delano Roosevelt and was privileged to have been born into a wealthy family. His father instilled many values on him and taught him that being wealthy also brought with it the responsibility of helping those who were not as fortunate.
FDR was a very smart and educated young man. His parents took him on many trips abroad where he learned to speak a variety of different languages. He graduated in 1903 from Harvard and later received his degree from Columbia University Law School, even though he showed no interest in legal work. He married his distant cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt on St. Patrick’s Day in 1905 and together they had six children. FDR took much pride in his family and it was at this time he decided to get involved in politics.
Roosevelt entered the political arena supporting the Democrats in 1910 at the age of 28. He won the election into the New York State Senate despite the fact that Republicans had controlled the district for over fifty years. President Woodrow Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913 and he remained in this position throughout World War I (WWI). This assignment taught him about national politics, but more importantly, it also taught him how to get along with the members of Congress.
In August 1921 tragedy struck. While sailing, FDR fell into the water. This left him paralyzed. To compound matters even more, he also had been stricken with a severe case of polio. Many thought his career in politics would come to an end but he continued working out of his home, eventually getting back the use of his hands and arms while developing strong shoulders. He was determined to fight his illness as hard as he could and in the process he helped others. In 1924 he established the Warm Springs Foundation, a treatment center for polio victims. Treatment was provided regardless if a patient could afford it or not.
By the time he returned to politics later that year, he had mastered his walking with the help of braces. FDR’s first major public appearance since the polio attack, was to give his nominating speech at the National Convention for Governor Smith of New York. He had regained significance as a Democratic leader and a man who had overcome personal tragedy. Smith did not win this election but did get the presidential nomination in 1928 and encouraged FDR to run for Governor of New York; he ran and won the election. During his time as Governor he proved to become very popular with the voters by obtaining relief systems for both farmers and the unemployed, gaining control of public utilities and services, strengthening prisons, getting better pensions for seniors, and taking better care of the environment. FDR stated to the nation: “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.” This gained Roosevelt much admiration from the public. He was now in a position to take on a more challenging position and was nominated for President in 1932. FDR was the first ever to make an acceptance speech at the National Convention, during which he promised the people of the United States a “new deal” to get the nation out of the Depression and prevent it from happening again.