Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), Man of Destiny,” By Franklin and Betty J. Parker, from best available sources, Book Review Dialogue, Uplands Retirement Village, Pleasant Hill, TN, Monday, September 20, 2010. bfparker@frontiernet
We chose Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) because we lived through his presidency and the two worst 20th century crises he faced, the 1930s Depression and WW II. We wondered what made FDR tick? his motives? hopes? faults? who helped him? why?
FDR came to political power after the Roaring 1920s, good times for most but not for low-income workers and farmers. Wall Street stocks and bonds, unregulated, were then wildly bought and sold on margin: 10% down, the 90% owed soon covered by dividends. Wall Street money making seemed easy, ongoing.
Wall Street crashed, October 1929. Stocks plummeted; the economy collapsed. Dust storms worsened the Great Depression, 1929-41. Many “Okies” and other farmers forced off their land, became migrant fruit pickers, exploited in California and elsewhere, described in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.
Fifteen million of the then 125 million Americans were jobless, many forced into breadlines, soup kitchens, some living in Hooverville shacks. Some neighbors forcibly tried to prevent the sale of foreclosed farms and homes. Farmers spilt milk rather than sell at a loss. Fear, chaos, riots occurred. Dictatorship or worse threatened.
Republican President Herbert Hoover was basically a good man, but his do-nothing reaction was that boom and bust business cycles were normal; recovery was just around the corner; private charity for the jobless, yes; but no government interference.
FDR’s do-something action as New York State Governor, 1929-33, four years, made him the national leader in job creation. His “try something, anything, to restore jobs” led to his big presidential win over Hoover, November 2, 1932.
FDR’s first inaugural address, “All we have to fear is fear itself,” gave hope. His 15 New
Deal legislative acts passed in his first 100 days created millions of jobs in vast public infrastructure building, plus creative work for jobless writers, photographers, artists, actors, musicians.
The Civilian Conservation Corps took three million jobless 18 to 25-year-olds off streets, roads, railroad box cars to plant trees and reclaim the environment. Of their $30 a month pay, $25 went home.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act paid farmers not to overproduce, thus raised prices, increased farm income. FDR’s “try something, anything” federal acts replaced fear and hunger with jobs, income, food, hope.
To traditional federal concerns of national defense, foreign affairs, Post Office, tax collection, FDR’s New Deal added something new: government must help people who cannot help themselves.
This shift, welcomed by the low income majority, was hated by the rich minority opposed to big government, higher taxes, rising federal debt.
FDR’s social security safety net for forgotten Americans forged a national vote-winning Democratic coalition, which, together with WW II’s massive demands, won for FDR an unprecedented four presidential elections: 1932, ’36, ’40, ’44; 12 years, 3 months.
Admirers say FDR remade America. Critics say he threatened free enterprise. Some say he saved the world by winning WW II. Critics say he created big government, big debt, the military-industrial complex, and the US-USSR Cold War.
New Deal money, billions, came from mounting federal taxes, mainly from the corporate rich who called FDR “traitor to his class,” criticized him, fought him, called him socialist, communist.
FDR said that as a constitution-bound Democrat he favored free enterprise, profit for investors, fair pay and benefits for workers and farmers. But faced with a third of the nation ill-housed, ill-clothed, ill-fed he tried, constitutionally, to save free-wheeling capitalism from its own worst excesses.
With the Depression eased but not ended, FDR faced aggressive, well armed Axis land grabs in Asia, Europe, Africa, which threatened totalitarian world control.
Americans disillusioned after WW I rejected President Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, disliked foreign entanglements, were isolationist. FDR had to overcome opposition, change opinions to help arm allies, to transform an unprepared U.S.A. into the Arsenal of Democracy.
His GI Bill lifted millions of veterans and their families into the middle class. Victory near, he helped found the United Nations. Historians rank FDR the best 20th century U.S. president; third best of all presidents after George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
What motivated FDR? He was a somewhat spoiled upper class only child, an average student at exclusive Groton Prep School (1896-1900) and Harvard College (1900-04). He married a timid distant cousin (1905), left Columbia Law School (1904-06) without a law degree after passing the New York State bar exam (1907), was an average apprentice law clerk, and an often bored Wall Street law partner.
Yet he early yearned to emulate Republican Theodore Roosevelt, his hero, fifth cousin, 23 years older and uncle of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962).
FDR entered politics in 1910, at age 28. His native Dutchess County, New York, needed a Democratic candidate for the State Senate. He was asked to run because of his famous name; because he could pay campaign costs. He was not expected to win; Republicans had held that seat for decades.
But win he did by his vigorous campaign, charm, boldness, magical Roosevelt name, by speaking caringly to local farmers about their needs. A born showman, he toured in and spoke from a bright new 1910 red Maxwell convertible, which drew curious horse and buggy crowds.
Newly elected, he again broke precedent by leading insurgent senators against politically powerful Tammany Hall’s candidate for the U.S. Senate. State senates then elected their U.S. senators, later popularly elected.
FDR, as a State Senator, two terms, gained political experience, made helpful contacts, especially newsman Louis (Louie) McHenry Howe (1871-1936), a politically clever writer for top New York City newspapers. Louie Howe was for 23 years FDR’s aide and political mentor.
Louie Howe saw in FDR a personable, forceful, astute, up-and-coming politician with high aspirations, a famous name; someone who, if elected New York Governor, could go on to the White House.
Physically so different, handsome FDR at 6’ 1” towered over Howe, who was small, ugly, sickly, tart, rudely blunt, but politically clever. Doggedly they schemed ways to advance FDR politically.
FDR vigorously supported Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s winning 1912 presidential bid. FDR’s reward, just what he wanted, was appointment as Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary, seven years, 1913-20.
Two crushing blows then changed, matured, and some say ennobled FDR. In 1918 Eleanor discovered FDR’s serious extra-marital love affair. She proposed divorce unless he gave up Lucy Mercer (1891-1948).
Polio, his second catastrophe, August 1921, age 39, left him crippled, both legs withered, wheel chair bound. Aided by Eleanor, Louie Howe, others, he exercised his limp legs for seven painful years, 1921-28, kept up political contacts, waited for chance to favor his prepared mind.
What motivated FDR to endure polio, doggedly strive to be president, tackle the Great Depression, prepare unprepared Americans for WW II, lead in winning history’s biggest war? Did lost love or crippling polio strengthen his resolve? Did tragedy compel his drive for achievement?
Outwardly cheerful, self confident, buoyant, likeable, charismatic, gregarious, he loved campaigning; loved being at the center of things; loved challenges. He attracted and chose remarkable aides, men and women, using their talents to help make him the best politician of his time.
Inwardly FDR was complex, ambitious, practical, devious, a juggler balancing conflicting political pressures. He separated his public and private lives. He secretly saw Lucy Mercer who in 1920 married older wealthy widower with five children, Winthrop C. Rutherfurd (1862-1944).
FDR’s forebears, Delanos and Roosevelts, were old line Americans for eight generations. From his mother’s Delano side, originally De le Noye, French Huguenot, came China trade wealth, upper class social prestige, a loving, domineering mother.
From his father’s Roosevelt side, originally Rosenfeld, “Field of Roses,” from Holland, came lesser wealth, social esteem, and the Hyde Park, New York, Hudson River, estate.
FDR had a difficult birth, January 30, 1882. The attending physician had to breathe life into the 10-pound baby boy. His mother was advised not to chance another pregnancy.
FDR was taught to read and write by his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt (1854-1941), age 28 at FDR’s birth. He was tutored at home to age 14.
His father, James Roosevelt (1828-1900), age 54 at FDR’s birth, twice Sara’s age, was a widower. James’s first wife died (1876), leaving him a son, FDR’s 28 years older half brother. 1
Widower James then fell in love and married (Oct. 7, 1880) Sara Delano–a good marriage despite the age difference. James taught FDR to hunt, fish, swim, ride his own pony, sail his own sailboat on the Hudson River and on the Atlantic’s icy cold turbulent Bay of Fundy surrounding their rustic summer Canadian Campobello Island home, off Eastport, ME.
James taught FDR to love, care for, and conserve the trees and wild life on their considerable estate, origin of FDR’s later land conservation and reforestation programs.
FDR’s avid stamp collecting came from his mother’s collection which she started as a child in China, where her father earned a fortune. She was the dominant, wealthier, stronger willed, smothering parent. To survive her attention, young FDR learned to be deviously obedient.
Why did handsome, active, flirtatious FDR marry cousin Eleanor Roosevelt, so unlike himself? She was quiet, timid, solemn, less sophisticated. They knew each other from childhood. He chose Eleanor because she cared about people, had inner beauty. Her instincts were right, she was of his class, was a social asset, and as Uncle Teddy Roosevelt’s niece brought FDR closer to the presidential greatness he yearned for.
Eleanor came from a troubled home. Eleanor adored her father2, Teddy Roosevelt’s younger brother Elliott, a hopeless alcoholic. Her mother, Anna Rebecca Hall Roosevelt (1863-92), a reigning beauty, disappointed in little Eleanor’s plain looks and buck teeth, publicly called her “Granny” and told her: You’ll have to be clever to make up for shortcomings in your looks.
Orphaned at age 10, cared for by her New York City grandmother, the timid, self-conscious Eleanor was sent to finishing school abroad, three years, ages 15-18, at Wimbledon, near London, England, under French-born headmistress Mlle. Marie Souvestre, who befriended and encouraged her.
Eleanor returned to New York City with more confidence, had her coming out party, volunteered to teach immigrant children at the East Side Rivington Street settlement house, met FDR again. Once when FDR met Eleanor at the settlement house they both had to take a sick young girl to her family’s slum apartment. Neither forgot the squalor of poverty.
Eleanor was surprised and pleased that FDR courted her. He proposed, she accepted, both waited before telling MaMa, fearing her objection. Sara Roosevelt said they were too young: Eleanor, 19; FDR, 21, still at Columbia Law School. Sara asked them to wait, sent FDR on a trip abroad to forget, tried unsuccessfully to get him a foreign diplomatic post.
The young couple stood firm; were married March 17, 1905, New York City. Teddy Roosevelt, then President, gave the bride away. Mother Sara bought them a New York City home, furnished, servant-staffed, with an adjacent connected home for herself. Eleanor tearfully told FDR that nothing was really hers.
Eleanor happily ran her own households during FDR’s time as State Senator in Albany and his seven years as Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary in Washington.
Eleanor, busy in Washington, DC, with five children, also had heavy social obligations as the wife of the Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary. She needed a social secretary. Hearing that Lucy Mercer, a rare likeable beauty, daughter of a once prosperous family, needed work, in 1913 Eleanor hired Lucy.
When Eleanor noticed FDR flirting with Lucy, jealousy and prudence led her to thank Lucy for her help and say she was no longer needed. Lucy left. But FDR secretly saw Lucy until 1918.
In 1918 FDR returned sick from a naval inspection trip to France, was carried from the ship to his New York City home and bed. Unpacking his trunks, Eleanor found Lucy Mercer’s love letters to FDR. Deeply hurt, Eleanor offered divorce unless he stopped seeing Lucy.
FDR’s horrified mother Sara said she would disown him if he divorced Eleanor. Louie Howe said divorce would end FDR’s political career. FDR, knowing that Lucy, a Catholic, would not marry a divorced man, agreed not to see Lucy again. Few outside the family knew of the Lucy Mercer affair or that Eleanor and FDR had separate quarters in their various homes, including the White House.
The 1920 Democratic Convention nominated Ohio Governor James M. Cox (1870-1967) for U.S. president. Cox, needing New York’s many votes, chose FDR as his vice presidential running mate. But in 1920, a Republican year, Warren G. Harding (1865-1923) and Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) defeated Democrats Cox and FDR.
Unharmed by the defeat, FDR gained campaign experience, became nationally known. He brought onto his staff a 1920 campaign Boston working class assistant, Marguerite Alice “Missy” LeHand (1898-1944). Missy became FDR’s secretary, confidante, all-around companion for over 20 years.
Eleanor, on FDR’s 1920 cross-country campaign train, disliked the drinking-smoking-joking politicians and newsmen. Louie Howe sat with her, discussed FDR’s speeches, asked her opinion, shared insights. She learned to appreciate his judgment and selfless intent to steer FDR into the White House.
When polio struck and FDR needed help most, Eleanor stood by him, became his eyes, ears, legs, his indispensable aide when he was New York State Governor and U.S. President. Theirs was a strong, successful political partnership.
FDR’s tiring activities preceding polio included participation in a large Boy Scout Jamboree, spotting and putting out a brush fire, then swimming to cool off in the frigid Bay of Fundy.
Back at Campobello, still in his wet bathing suit, reading his mail, FDR felt headachy, stiff, numb, and stumbled into bed. In pain, sleeping fitfully, his numbness persisted. Unable to stand upright, he had a 102 temperature, could not move his legs, was delirious.
Eleanor called Louie Howe, their guest, who called local Dr. Eben Bennet3, who misdiagnosed FDR’s ailment as a bad cold.
FDR’s pain and numbness worsened. Louie Howe by phone located Philadelphia surgeon Dr. William W. Keen vacationing nearby, whose misdiagnosis was paralysis caused by a blood clot on the spinal cord.
With FDR seriously ill, Louie Howe had FDR’s symptoms phoned to medical experts.4 Boston polio specialist Dr. Robert W. Lovett surmised and later confirmed polio, a virus paralyzing the nervous system.
Dr. Lovett taught Eleanor and Louie Howe to give enemas and use a catheter. Their nursing care reduced the paralysis of FDR’s hands, neck, back. But he remained immobile from hips to toes.
Wanting to minimize press coverage, Louie Howe organized secret moves (painful for FDR) from Campobello to his New York City home, to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, and to Hyde Park.
Determined to move his paralyzed legs, FDR crawled, used hands, elbows, his powerful upper torso to pull his inert legs after him from room to room, up and down stairs, indoors, outdoors. He used parallel bars, overhead ropes; took warm baths; used crutches, canes, steel braces locked in place from shoes to hips. He tried every possible therapy, always laughing and joking with those watching.
FDR’s mother insisted that FDR must retire to Hyde Park. She lost out to Eleanor, Louie Howe, and FDR’s own determination to exercise, recover, and remain active in politics.
In 1924 two advisors of New York State Governor Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944) asked FDR to chair the 1924 Al Smith Presidential Nomination Committee. FDR said he was busy with therapy. The advisors said they wanted his endorsement, not his time. FDR consented, happy to be back in the public eye.
Asked to nominate Al Smith for the Democratic ticket, FDR agreed, wanting to prove that with braces, holding onto a lectern, he could address the Democratic Convention.
June 14, 1924, Democratic National Convention, New York City’s Madison Square Garden, over 1,000 Democratic delegates, plus thousands packing the visitors’ gallery, proceedings broadcast coast to coast.
Few saw FDR enter at a side door in a wheel chair. Son James Roosevelt locked FDR’s steel braces, put a crutch under FDR’s left arm. FDR struggled to rise, gripped tightly James’s upper arm.
Musical fanfare, spotlights on FDR and James, 10 paces from the lectern earlier checked to hold FDR’s leaning weight. James removed the crutch, stepped back; FDR with cane, stood alone.
The Madison Square Garden crowd, absolutely still, watched FDR, unaided, move a shoulder forward, drag a limp foot; move the other shoulder forward, drag the other limp foot, cover the 10 paces, grip the lectern tightly, throw back his head and smile.
His speech, punctuated by cheers and yells, ended with a ringing: I give you the next President of the United States, that Happy Warrior—Alfred E. Smith. Thunderous applause, pandemonium; whistle calls; bands playing Al Smith’s theme song, “Sidewalks of New York.” Delegates holding Al Smith placards marched around the stadium almost an hour. Louie Howe in the balcony murmured: that damn gritty Dutchman!
A New York Herald Tribune writer called FDR the foremost figure at the 1924 Democratic Convention. Missouri’s political boss Tom Pendergast (1873-1945) said: if FDR had been physically able to campaign, that convention would have nominated him by acclimation.
When friends arrived at FDR’s town house for an after-convention party, FDR greeted them, threw back his head, laughed, spread his hands wide, embracing the world, shouting, We did it! We did it! The Democrats did not nominate Al Smith. But FDR’s 1924 Happy Warrior speech resurrected FDR politically.
FDR, still trying to move his legs, visited (Oct. 1924) and liked Warm Spring, GA’s natural springs swimming pool. He could float, swim, splash about in its constant 88 degrees, mineral rich buoyant water.5
Eleanor disliked rural Georgia’s poverty and race prejudice. She left FDR in the efficient care of Missy LeHand. FDR-Missy intimacy sometimes raised eyebrows. But having Missy in charge freed Eleanor to pursue her own interests while aiding FDR when needed.
FDR made Warm Springs his winter home, sank a fortune in refurbishing its old hotel and surrounding land, made it a polio rehabilitation center. He created the Warm Springs Foundation which, through the March of Dimes campaign, financed Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine which has all but vanquished polio.
FDR had a local Warm Springs auto mechanic connect clutch, brake, gas pedals to his car’s steering wheel, permitting FDR to drive, mingle with ordinary farmers, tradesmen. He needed southern support.
In 1928 Al Smith finally became the Democratic Party presidential nominee. Mindful of his handicaps as a Catholic, he wanted FDR, a well-known Protestant, to be on the New York State Democratic ticket to replace him as governor. FDR would thus help Smith win New York and elsewhere. Smith pressed FDR to run for governor.
FDR hesitated. Louie Howe warned FDR that 1928 was a Republican year, that Al Smith would lose to Herbert Hoover and drag Democrats down with him.
Al Smith persisted. He called FDR: Frank, I need you. If you don’t run for governor, the Party may not help you in future campaigns. If you are nominated, will you accept? FDR remained silent. Al Smith knew he had FDR over a barrel. Al said: Thanks, Frank, and hung up.
Louie Howe told FDR: you’re a darn fool but let’s use every campaign trick to get you elected governor of New York State. Al Smith lost his own New York State and the presidential election to Herbert Hoover. FDR, who won by a slim margin, set out to make New York the best governed state in the nation, a stepping stone to the presidency.
FDR as New York governor worked to raise farm income to industrial income averages, make rural life as attractive as urban life, develop state owned hydroelectric dams for universal low cost electricity. He urged an 8 hour day, 48 hour week labor law and old age security coverage. 6
FDR became a master of radio persuasion. When Wall Street crashed, October 1929, and New York joblessness rose, he got increased funding for job recovery programs, models for his later Depression-era New Deal programs.
In New York he first showed that government could do for poor people what they could not do for themselves. In Albany he assembled “Brain Trust” advisors, planned with them how to fight joblessness, later took them as aides to Washington, DC, to prepare the 15 New Deal programs passed in his first hundred days.
We mention two advisers: first, Frances Perkins (1880-1965), who worked on New York unemployment insurance and on social security retirement programs. In Washington, DC, she was Labor Secretary throughout FDR’s presidency, the first ever woman cabinet member, the creator of the 1935 Social Security Act.
Second: social worker Harry L. Hopkins (1890-1946) headed FDR’s New York State Emergency Relief Administration. In Washington, DC, convinced that useful work was better than handouts, Hopkins headed the Works Progress Administration, spent over $8.5 billion federal money building public roads, hospitals, city halls, schools, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Triborough Bridge. The WPA’s artistic branch employed thousands of writers, artists, photographers, musicians.
Hopkins, FDR’s best New Deal administrator, lived in the White House,7 and despite illness, became FDR’s indispensible link with Churchill and Stalin before and after Pearl Harbor.8
In 1932 the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, chose FDR as presidential nominee on the fourth ballot, with Texan John N. Garner (1868-1967) as the vice presidential candidate. FDR, busy in Albany, broke precedent, flew to Chicago, gave a rousing acceptance speech to show that he was physically active. He won big over Hoover in November.
FDR’s barrage of New Deal bills in his first term was hectic. In 1934 the Supreme Court found two key New Deal acts unconstitutional. FDR had these acts rewritten but chafed at the Court’s opposition. His second term landslide win over Alfred Landon (1887-1987) emboldened him to submit a bill to enlarge the Supreme Court by six members.
His court packing bill, heavily criticized, was defeated. By 1939 four justices had retired and the more liberal Supreme Court prompted FDR to say that he lost the battle but won the war.
On June 12, 1942, FDR elevated Republican Justice Harlan Fiske Stone (1872-1946) to Chief Justice Stone, uncle of our own Win Stone, administered the oath of office to FDR for his fourth term (Jan. 20, 1944) and to Harry S Truman (April 18, 1945).
FDR, preoccupied with New Deal programs, watched with concern Japan’s invasion of China, Italy’s invasion of Eritrea and Ethiopia; Germany’s invasions of Austria (1938); the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia (1939). The Sept. 1, 1939 invasion of Poland sparked WW II.
FDR, at a May 11, 1940. cabinet meeting, hearing that Winston Churchill (1874-1965) had replaced Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) as Britain’s Prime Minister, said, I guess he’s the best they could come up with, adding mischievously: even though he’s drunk half the time. In fact, FDR earlier had phoned Churchill asking him to share common concerns.
In January 1941, 11 months before Pearl Harbor, FDR first sent advisor Harry Hopkins to London to assure Churchill of U.S. aid and arms.
FDR and Churchill held 12 WW II strategic planning conferences. Stalin became an ally in 1940 but attended only the last two conferences. FDR and Churchill in August 1941 gave as their goals the four freedoms: that all people everywhere should enjoy freedom of speech and religion; freedom from want and aggression.
A few weeks after Pearl Harbor FDR and Churchill decided the Allied forces should be under the single command of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and that European victory should have priority over the Pacific war.
Churchill decided to fight German forces in North Africa, then fight up the Italian boot from Sicily and delay a cross-channel invasion of France. FDR also called for “unconditional surrender,” which many thought stiffened German resolve and led to more deaths.
At Tehran, Iran (late 1943), with Stalin present, the three Allied leaders planned strategies for defeating the Axis. D-Day date was set for May/June 1944.
At Yalta, in Russia, the last meeting with Stalin, (Feb. 4-11, 1945), plans were made to divide Germany and for postwar Europe. A meeting date was set to found the United Nations. Military experts told FDR that invading Japan would cost a million lives. FDR’s priorities at Yalta (knowing the atom bomb was not ready) were to get Stalin to help defeat Japan, which he agreed to do, and to make the United Nations a success.
Critics said a sick FDR at Yalta gave Poland and Eastern Europe to Stalin. But Stalin’s troops and puppet Soviet governments were already there, in control. It would have taken WW III to remove them. Stalin promised to hold free elections there, but reneged on that promise.
FDR, gravely ill, gave a rambling report to Congress on Yalta, went in early April 1945 to Warm Springs to rest. Present with him were the now widow Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, her artist friend Elisabeth Shoumatoff (1888-1980) to paint FDR’s portrait, FDR’s two favorite women cousins, and others.
April 12, portrait sitting over, just before lunch, FDR, working on his stamp collection, suddenly put his hand to his head and said: “I have a terrific headache.” He slumped into unconsciousness, was carried to a bedroom. When his heart specialist Dr. Howard G. Bruenn (1905-95) arrived, he pronounced FDR dead from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Eleanor, when called, knew the worst right away, went immediately to Warm Springs.
She accompanied the body by train to Washington, DC, and on to Hyde Park for the burial. The nation mourned.
Eleanor learned Lucy had been with him at the end. The Roosevelts’ marriage was a historic political partnership. She had helped him; he had helped her. Having found a satisfying life as First Lady, she now thought her life was over. But later presidents had her serve at the United Nations and elsewhere. She helped write the Declaration of Human Rights; was proclaimed universally the First Lady of the World.
We conclude with this question: During the Great Depression, how did advanced countries deal with their jobless majority who were bewildered, angry, ready to revolt?
The Axis countries took the totalitarian military way, land grabbing, blood-letting, aiming at world conquest. Americans rejected communism, fascism, Huey P. Long’s (1893-1935) dictatorial “soak the rich and spread it thin;” Dr. Francis E. Townsend’s (1867-1960) everyone over age 60 gets $200 a month to spend immediately to jumpstart the economy.
Americans followed FDR’s constitutional way, via Congress, using tax money (yes, mostly from the rich) for government-paid jobs doing needed public works that relieved poverty, helped the economy, peacefully, constructively.
FDR’s mistakes: He should not have detained Japanese Americans, should have integrated the armed forces, should have done more to save European Jews, should have prepared Harry S Truman to succeed him. Yet, could he have moved that far ahead of the prejudices of the voters?
FDR’s successes: He eased the Great Depression, made government’s role in helping the helpless acceptable, led in winning WW II, created the G.I. Bill, founded the United Nations.
Unable to walk unaided he put our country back on its feet. He led the world toward peace. Thank you for being here. Please share your thoughts. END.
Footnotes: 1James “Rosy” Roosevelt (1854-1927). 2Elliott B. Roosevelt (1860-94), 3“Eben” H. Bennet, 1848-1944. 4By prominent uncle Frederic Adrian Delano (1863-1953). 5from rains falling on nearby mountains, filtering deep into the earth, gushing forth in springs. 6Brands, pp. 222-223. 7Louie Howe, died 1936, lived in the White House , as did Missy LeHand. 8Source: http://www.answers.com/topic/harry-hopkins? 9SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_conferences
Some Best FDR Books:
Black, Conrad. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champion of Freedom. 2003. Canadian author describes how FDR convinced Americans to struggle to win WW II in order to preserve liberty and democracy. Depicts FDR as a man of strength and vision.
Brands, H.W. Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 2008. University of Texas historian traces FDR’s New Deal legislation intended to save the American political economy; describes his forceful, cagey WWII leadership; and depicts his role in creating the postwar international order.
Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox 1882-1940, 1956. Williams College political scientist, first of two respected FDR books, depicts FDR as Machiavellian; both a wily fox and a tenacious lion. Using original sources, personal recollections of those who knew and worked with FDR, as he did himself, author describes FDR’s weaknesses and deficiencies, but concludes that FDR had: “…courage, joyousness, responsiveness, vitality, faith, and above all, concern for his fellow man.”
Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom 1940-1945. 1970. Sequel to the above, covers FDR as World War II president.
Fenster, Julie M. FDR’s Shadow: Louis Howe, The Force That Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. 2009. Intimate account of how newspaperman and political guru Howe early guided FDR into the White House and groomed Eleanor Roosevelt to be his indispensible helper.
Freidel, Frank Burt. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. Excellent account of FDR’s early years and struggle with polio.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The Home Front in World War II. Goodwin shows how FDR led the U.S to victory and how Eleanor championed social justice for African Americans and became a role model in the changing role of women. Asserts that FDR made the fewest mistakes of any World War II leader.
Larrabee, Eric. Commander in Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants, and Their War. Profiles all major WWII commanders, tells of FDR’s skill in choosing them (sometimes from obscurity), and explains many of FDR remarkably skilled strategic decisions.
Leuchtenburg, William Edward. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940. The New Deal created the Securities and Exchange Commission for safer financial markets, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to end bank panics, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Federal Reserve Board, rural electricity, Federal Home Agency (created modern mortgages), Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, Wagner Act, farm supports, and GI Bill.
Rauchway, Eric. The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction. A highly regarded history of the Great Depression and the New Deal.
Smith, Jean Edward. FDR. 2007. Meticulous re-interpretation of FDR’s life and accomplishments. Much on Roosevelt’s personal life. Smith admires FDR, criticizes his failings, conveys the great significance of Roosevelt’s career.
Ward, Geoffrey C. A First-Class Temperament: The Emergency of Franklin Roosevelt. 1989. Oliver Wendell Holmes said that FDR had a second class intellect but a first-class temperament. Sequel to author’s Young Franklin Roosevelt 1882-1905. Covers FDR’s rapid rise, 1905-1928, New York State Senator, Navy Secretary, Lucy Mercer love affair, 1920 vice presidential candidate on the losing Democratic ticket, crippling polio, New York State Governor.
For Amazon.com annotated list of 40 books about FDR, access: http://www.amazon.com/President-Franklin-Roosevelt-FDR-Books/lm/R2YX6BUR6EVBG7
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