Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, his own pronunciation, or ; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and emerged as a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century. He directed the United States government during most of the Great Depression and World War II. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, realigning American politics into the Fifth Party System and defining American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. He is often rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. Presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt was born in 1882 to an old, prominent Dutch-American family from Dutchess County, New York and attended Groton School. He went on to graduate from Harvard College in 1903 and attended Columbia Law School. At age 23 in 1905, he married Eleanor Roosevelt, and the couple went on to have six children. He entered politics in 1910, serving in the New York State Senate, and then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. In 1920, presidential candidate James M. Cox selected Roosevelt as his running mate, but the Cox/Roosevelt ticket lost to the Republican ticket of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted a paralytic illness, which left his legs permanently paralyzed. Due to his disability, Roosevelt believed that his political career was over. His wife Eleanor and his political advisor Louis Howe convinced him otherwise. He attempted to recover from the illness and founded the treatment center in Warm Springs, Georgia for people with poliomyelitis. Roosevelt returned to political life when he nominated Alfred E. Smith at the 1924 Democratic National Convention. At Smith's behest, Roosevelt successfully ran for Governor of New York in 1928. He was in office from 1929 to 1933 and served as a reform governor, promoting the enactment of programs to combat the depression besetting the United States at the time.
In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated incumbent Republican president Herbert Hoover in a landslide to win the nation's highest political office. Roosevelt took office while the United States was in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history. Energized by his personal victory over his paralytic illness, Roosevelt relied on his persistent optimism and activism to renew the national spirit. During his first 100 days in office, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief (government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (economic growth), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation). He created numerous programs to support the unemployed and farmers, and to encourage labor union growth while more closely regulating business and high finance. His support for the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 added to his popularity, helping him win re-election by a landslide in 1936. The economy improved rapidly from 1933–37, but then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937–38. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented his packing the Supreme Court, and blocked almost all proposals for major liberal legislation (except the minimum wage, which did pass). When the war began and unemployment ended, conservatives in Congress repealed the two major relief programs, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). However, they kept most of the regulations on business. Along with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wagner Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Social Security.
With World War II looming after 1938 with the Japanese invasion of China and the aggression of Nazi Germany, Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China and the United Kingdom, while remaining officially neutral. His goal was to make America the "Arsenal of Democracy", which would supply munitions to the Allies. In March 1941, Roosevelt, with Congressional approval, provided Lend-Lease aid to Britain and China. Following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which he famously called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt sought and obtained the quick approval on the following day for Congress to declare war on Japan and, a few days later, on Germany. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins, and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allies against Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy in World War II. He supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort, and also ordered the internment of 100,000 Japanese American civilians. As an active military leader, Roosevelt implemented a war strategy on two fronts that ended in the defeat of the Axis Powers, and he initiated the development of the world's first atomic bomb. His work also influenced the later creation of the United Nations and Bretton Woods. Roosevelt's physical health seriously declined during the war years, and he died 11 weeks into his fourth term. He was then succeeded by his vice president Harry S. Truman, and a few months after Truman was sworn in, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leading to Japan's unconditional surrender to end World War II....LESS