National Geographic : 1966 Jan
THIRTY-SECOND PRESIDENT 1933-1945 THIRTY-SECOND PRESIDENT 1933-1945 FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT sought a more abundant way of life for the Amer ican people, and for all humanity. He demonstrated his warm concern for mankind with a flair for brilliant improvisations; like a 19th-century Yankee inventor, he sought his great ends through trial-and-error experimen tation. His love of innovation, his wit and jaunty optimism made him an exciting leader. He became President at a time of national despair, at the depth of the Great Depression. First he helped the American people regain faith in themselves; then he led in the enact ment of the most sweeping program of social legislation in the Nation's history. In World War II, he assumed leadership for the United States in the struggle against totalitarianism and helped plan the United Nations to maintain the peace. He died in of fice shortly before final victory in 1945, hav ing served longer than any other President. Roosevelt, like his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt, came from a patrician New York family. He was born in 1882 on a pleasant estate overlooking the Hudson River at Hyde Park, New York (page 76). Both his parents Crisis President: The Na tion's gravest depression and greatest war burdened Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his 12 years and 40 days in office-the longest span served by any Ameri can Chief Executive. Roose velt fought for social justice -a "new deal for the Amer ican people"-and for a last ing peace based on interna tional cooperation. "I have seen war.... I hate war." Roosevelt performed brilliantly as Assistant Sec- I retary of the Navy during World War I, but he itched to get close to the fighting. Several times his inspections of U. S. bases took him with in range of German artillery. P Here he disembarks from a Navy seaplane at Pauillac, France, on August 14, 1918. Painting by Frank 0. Salisbury, White House Collection and his headmaster, Endicott Peabody of Groton School, impressed on the young Roose velt his responsibilities toward those less for tunate. Throughout his career this attitude shaped his thought and action. At Harvard he became editor-in-chief of the Crimson, the student newspaper, then at tended Columbia University Law School. On St. Patrick's Day, 1905, he wed his distant cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, a willowy, shy young woman, who was given in mar riage by her uncle, the President. Franklin Idolized Cousin Theodore Following the example of the first President Roosevelt, whom he enormously admired, Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to enter public service through politics. He had joined the Harvard Republican Club and in 1900 marched in a torchlight procession hailing the ticket of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. But in 1910, in line with the tradi tion of his own branch of the Roosevelt family, he chose the Democratic Party. Campaigning flamboyantly in a red Maxwell automobile, he won election to the New York Senate.