Is FDR the Greatest President in American History?
Most Americans, and even people from other countries who don’t put too much thought into US history, regard presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington as the greatest this country has ever had. While the two certainly helped shape the country’s sovereignty and the formation of the US as we know it today, there is a big argument to be made for another great leader, arguably the best the US has had in the last 150 years. Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought a ton of ideas that turned around the country during the Great Depression and served for almost the entirety of WWII. Is this enough to crown him the greatest president in US history?
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FDR’s Personal Life and Character
Born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only child of a prominent and wealthy Roosevelt family. From his early years, FDR only attended prestigious schools, including Harvard University, where he received his degree in only three years. FDR’s life was marked by three women that had a very strong influence on him. Franklin’s mother, Sara, was very protective towards him, and he spent the better part of his childhood by his mother’s side. In 1905, FDR married his fifth cousin once removed, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom he had five children. In 1920, FDR hired Marguerite “Missy” LeHand as his secretary. Over the years, they developed a close relationship with many of FDR’s family members and friends suspecting the two had an ongoing affair while she worked for him.
In his private life, FDR had a couple of hobbies he was very passionate about. He loved fishing and was an outdoor person, just like his distant relative, Theodore Roosevelt. Also, while not many people know, FDR loved playing long poker sessions with his cabinet staff members and close friends. Although he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to profess this passion in public, since gambling was illegal at the time, casino and poker players don’t have to worry about this nowadays. With gaming benefits such as those what a PayPal casino can offer you, you can play any game, be that poker, blackjack, baccarat or any other game. Many behaviourists contribute to the choice of game and play style to the player’s character and personality in real life. For example, Roosevelt’s contemporaries all noted that FDR preferred to command the game and liked to bluff often when playing poker.
FDR’s Impact on the Country
Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as the president of the US from 1933 until his death on April 12th, 1945. He is the longest-serving president in the history of the United States and is the only president to have been elected four consecutive times. Most political analysts and historians consider FDR to be the greatest president the US ever had, apart from Abraham Lincoln. During his twelve-year tenure as the chief commander of the country, Roosevelt managed to leave a strong legacy and impact American politics and society in a major way.
US at the Start of Roosevelt’s Term
FDR took over the country in a very difficult period. When he took office in January of 1933, the Great Depression of 1929 had already taken its toll, and many citizens lost faith that things could turn around in the near future. Unemployment was around 25 percent, and the US Treasury was haemorrhaging money and didn’t even have enough finances to pay government workers.
The political situation in the country and on a global scale was also far from ideal. In the US, people were protesting every so often, nobody was investing anything, and the banks were going out of business left and right. Outside of the country, the war was already on the horizon with the rise of nationalism in Germany and Italy and the escalated tensions in the Pacific.
The New Deal
The New Deal is the name given to a series of policies Roosevelt enacted immediately after taking office in 1933. In the first four years after it was passed, The New Deal significantly reduced unemployment numbers, with millions of people finding work by 1937. The minimum wage laws and the Alphabet Agencies instituted at the same time helped the lowest earners and served to reduce poverty on a national level.
Nowadays, there is much debate about whether the New Deal was a success or not. While it certainly helped to propel the US economy and kick start the country’s industry, many people argue that the country’s economic recovery would have taken a lot longer if it weren’t for World War II. Although the policies instituted by the New Deal were met with both praise and criticism, they certainly helped to significantly bolster the US economy at a time it needed it the most.
FDR’s Isolation Policy and WWII
Until the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Roosevelt maintained a policy of isolation, while still aiding Great Britain in its efforts to prepare for the expected German assault on London. Focusing primarily on rejuvenating the US economy, Roosevelt publicly stated that he doesn’t want the US to participate in the war. The December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor struck a devastating blow to the US, but at the same time, united the country under FDR once again, just like at the start of his first presidential mandate.
During the war, unemployment was reduced even further, heavy industry was at an all-time high and Roosevelt won the elections by a landslide. He served as the head of the country for all but four months of World War II, initiating the development of the world’s first atomic bomb and helping other Allied leaders set the groundwork for various post-war organizations, such as the United Nations.
FDR is undoubtedly one of the most influential political figures in the history of the US. From his charismatic “fireside chats” that helped him build a strong bond with the public, to his many policies that pushed the US through some of the most difficult times in its history, FDR made a lasting legacy that puts him in the conversation as the greatest president the country has ever had.