Roosevelt, Franklin D.

[ (roh-zuh-vuhlt, roh-zuh-velt) ]

A political leader of the twentieth century. Roosevelt was president from 1933 to 1945, longer than anyone else in American history; he was elected four times. Roosevelt, a Democrat who had been governor of New York, defeated President Herbert Hoover in the election of 1932. He took office at one of the worst points in the Great Depression but told the American public, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The early part of his presidency is remembered for the New Deal, a group of government programs designed to reverse the devastating effects of the Depression. He used fireside chats over the radio to build public support for his policies. In the later years of his presidency, he attempted to support the Allies in World War II without bringing the United States into the war. At this time, he made his speech announcing the Four Freedoms. After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States entered the war. Roosevelt began the Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bomb (see also atomic bomb), a weapon that after his death brought a quick but highly controversial end to the war. Near the war's end, Roosevelt negotiated the Yalta agreement with Britain and the Soviet Union. He died a few weeks before Germany surrendered and before the end of the war with Japan.

Notes for Roosevelt, Franklin D.

Roosevelt's appearance seemed designed to produce confidence in a nation discouraged by economic trials. He was frequently portrayed as sticking out his chin, grinning, and smoking a cigarette in a holder. He had suffered an attack of poliomyelitis when he was in his thirties, and for the rest of his life he could not walk unassisted. Photographers were therefore careful not to show him below the waist.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.