Franklin Delano Roosevelt, widely known by his initials, FDR, was the thirty-second (32nd) President of the United States. He is the only American leader, so far, elected four (4) times into office, thus becoming the longest-serving President in US history to date. FDR was a central figure in American history, leading 20th century America during a turbulent economic crisis and world war. This paper aims to discuss and evaluate FDR’s performance, contributions and accomplishments as President of the United States, justifying why he is considered as one of the best presidents who served the country and its people.
FDR created and established the New Deal, lead the people during World War II, and made a great impact on American foreign relations. In 1933 when FDR was first elected into the presidential office, the United States was in the worst economic crisis in its history.
The Great Depression took a toll on the US economy. It was prominent in the number of the workforce unemployed; prices fell by 60% in agriculture, productions in the industrial sector have fallen more than half since 1929, about two (2) million of the population were homeless, and thirty-two (32) of the forty-eight states (48) have closed their banks (Alter 190). Roosevelt addressed these problems with the creation and establishment of the New Deal.
It was a series of economic programs focused on the 3Rs: relief, recovery, reform. For his relief campaign, Roosevelt targeted the problems of unemployment and the growing population of the poor while. For the recovery campaign, he sought out strategies to bring back the normal level of the economy. Lastly, with his reform program, he organized policies and systems of finance and banking to prevent the crash of stock markets, which may result in another outbreak of the financial crisis. In the late 1970s, although the New Deal regulation of transportation, banking, and communications was ended, several New Deal programs still remained active to date, namely the Social Security System and the Securities and Exchange Commission (Boyer et al. 890).
In his third term serving as President of the United States, Roosevelt’s policies were geared more towards the growing tensions of war. He slowly began to re-armament as early as 1938 despite the criticisms of his leaders. Roosevelt was an avid supporter of the Allied powers. He assisted the British and French military when war broke out in 1939, thus rejecting the Wilsonian Neutrality Stance (Black 503 – 506). Initially, FDR only gave secret aid to the cancelation of arms embargo provisions of the Neutrality Act (Burns 396), but when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt declared war against the Empire of Japan. The attack destroyed sixteen (16) warships and killed almost three thousand (3,000) Americans. During the war, though FDR’s primary concern was no longer focused on domestic issues, unemployment dropped by 2%, and in 1941 it had fallen under one (1) million.
The industrial economy swiftly grew with military built up, prompting economic growth. The New Deal relief programs came to an end during the war when millions of people relocated to war centers and rendered military services (Schweikart and Allen 602). FDR had forged great relationships with powerful figures such as Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, and other important leaders of the Allied party. After the war, the United State’s foreign relations flourished because of Roosevelt’s close affiliations with powerful Allied leaders who have the same goal as he did in promoting and establishing world peace and democracy. He was one of the founding members of the United Nations. He spearheaded the implementation and cooperation of states in the international realm to promote peace and harmony.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s legacy is evident in the rapid expansion of government programs during his time in office. This redefined the role of the US government to date. He salvaged the US economy with his New Deal programs making the country one of the richest nations of his time. Roosevelt established the United States’ role in the world as a super power and great leader when he financed members of the Allied group during World War II. Lastly, FDR forged close relations with other leaders, which boosted US foreign relations throughout the world. If there is one great lesson we could learn from this President, it would be his persistent optimism and activism, which according to scholars, contributed to the rejuvenation of national spirit among the American people (Siracusa and Coleman 22).
Comparing the present situation of the US economy today and that of President Roosevelt’s when he first came to office is very similar. It is essential that the current President Obama seek inspiration in drafting out his strategies and base his policies on eradicating unemployment, poverty, and the overall financial crisis to that of FDR’s during the Great Depression. What FDR showed and taught the world was that anything is possible even in the worst given situation.
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Black, Conrad. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom. United States: Public Affairs, 2003. Print.
Boiler, Paul, et al. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. Vol. 2. New Orleans: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.
Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Lion and The Fox. Vol. 1. New York: Eason Press, 1956. Print.
Schweikart, Lart, and Allen, Micheal. A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’ Great Discovery to the War on Terror. United States: Sentinel HC, 2004. Print.
Siracusa, Joseph, and Coleman, David. Depression to Cold War: A History of America from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan. United States: Greenwood Publishing, 2002. Print.