Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal

By: Vishal Veeravelli

Early life of Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, into a wealthy family. The Roosevelts had been prominent for several generations, having made their fortune in real estate and trade. Franklin was the only child of James Roosevelt and Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt. The family lived at Springwood, their estate in the Hudson River Valley in New York State. He was educated by tutors until he was 14.In 1896, Franklin Roosevelt attended Groton School for boys. After graduating from Groton in 1900, Franklin Roosevelt entered Harvard University. Though only a C student, he was a editor of the Harvard Crimson newspaper and received his degree in only three years. During his last year at Harvard, he became engaged to Eleanor Roosevelt, his fifth cousin. She was the niece of Franklin's idol, Theodore Roosevelt. They married on March 17, 1905.

How he ended up as President

New York governor Al Smith urged Franklin Roosevelt to run for governor of New York, in 1928. Roosevelt was narrowly elected, and the victory gave him confidence that his political star was rising. As governor, he believed in progressive government and instituted a number of new social programs. By 1930, Republicans were being blamed for the Great Depression and Franklin Roosevelt sensed opportunity. He decided to run for president.His upbeat, positive approach and personal charm helped him defeat Republican Herbert Hoover by a landslide. By the time Roosevelt took office in March of 1933, there were 13 million unemployed Americans, and hundreds of banks were closed. Roosevelt faced the greatest crisis in American history since the Civil War.

How the Great Depression started

The Great Depression in the United States began on October 29, 1929, a day known forever after as "Black Tuesday," when the American stock market–which had been roaring steadily upward for almost a decade–crashed, plunging the country into its most severe economic downturn yet. Banks failed; the nation’s money supply diminished; and companies went bankrupt and began to fire their workers in huge numbers. Meanwhile, President Herbert Hoover urged patience and self-reliance: He thought the crisis was just "a passing incident in our national lives" that it wasn't the federal government's job to try and resolve. By 1932, one of the bleakest years of the Great Depression, at least one-quarter of the American workforce was unemployed.

The New Deal

In the summer of 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Governor of New York, was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. In his acceptance speech, Roosevelt addressed the problems of the depression by telling the American people that, "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people." He really took that into account. In his first 100 days, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed sweeping economic reform, calling it the "New Deal." He ordered the temporary closure on all banks to halt the run on deposits. He formed a "Brain Trust" of economic advisers who designed the alphabet agencies such as the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) to support farm prices, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to employ young men, and the NRA (National Recovery Administration), which regulated wages and prices. Other agencies insured bank deposits, regulated the stock market, subsidized mortgages, and provided relief to the unemployed.By 1936, the economy showed signs of improvement. Gross national product was up 34 percent, and unemployment had dropped from 25 percent to 14 percent.

FDR's reaction to World War II

During 1941, Franklin Roosevelt pushed to have the United States be part of the for the Allies—France, Britain, and Russia. As Americans learned more about the war, many wanted to stay neutral. But Roosevelt knew that they have to come at war eventually like at World War I. Roosevelt stood firm against the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Support in Congress expanded the Army and Navy and increased the flow of supplies to the Allies. Hopes of keeping the United States out of war ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

During World War II, Franklin Roosevelt was a commander in chief who worked with and sometimes around his military advisors. He helped develop a strategy for defeating Germany in Europe through a series of invasions, first in North Africa in November 1942, then Sicily and Italy in 1943, followed by the D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944. At the same time, Allied forces rolled back Japan in Asia and the eastern Pacific. During this time, Roosevelt also promoted the formation of the United Nations.

Final Days

In February 1945, Franklin Roosevelt attended the Yalta Conference with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin to discuss post-war reorganization. He then returned to the United States and the sanctuary of Warm Springs, Georgia. On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, Roosevelt suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died.

Questions and Answers

1.What was Roosevelt's first move in The New Deal?

A: He ordered the temporary closure on all banks to halt the run on deposits.


2. Did Roosevelt die before or after the Yalta conference?

A: After. He attended the conference and died 2 months later.