So Mr. President, What Did You Do During Your Term In Office? 1933

Introduction: The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Administration 1933-1945

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Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the first President to serve more than two terms and the first to be inaugurated January 20. The only son of a railroad executive Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882. Most of his early education was from governesses and tutors and every year he went to Europe with his parents. The similarity between Mr. Roosevelt and his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt was that they both were of considerable wealth, both went to Harvard , both began their political careers in New York and most of all both became president. As reformers and leaders of social and economic revolutions (T.R.'s "Square Deal" and F.D.R.'s "New Deal") they were both detested and adored.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during the greatest depression and the greatest war in the history of the world, and he defeated them both. Just before paralysis struck him in August, 1921, the thirty-nine-year-old Roosevelt stood six feet, two inches, weighed about 175 pounds and was in vibrant health. After a day of vigorous exertion, followed by a swim in the icy waters of the Bay of Fundy, Roosevelt went to bed with a chill. The next morning he had a high temperature and complained of acute pain in the legs. In a few days they were paralyzed. He never again stood unaided.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was fifty- one when he took the oath of office, a year younger than Lincoln when he was inaugurated. Just like Lincoln he faced a grave national crisis and immediately went into action. "Action and action now" was F.D.R.'s inaugural promise, and action was what the country got. Roosevelt's smile, soothing voice and supreme self-confidence drove some men to fury, while others found it irresistible was able to encourage a fear-ridden nation to overcome the "Great Depression" and assemble the mightiest military the world had ever seen to free the enslaved people of three continents..

He was the first president to leave the country during a war, Roosevelt conferred with Churchill at Casablanca, Morocco, in January, 1943 to plan military strategy following the North African invasion of the previous fall. At Teheran, Iran, F.D.R., Churchill and Stalin met together (for the first time) to discuss the invasion of Western Europe.

During the first 100 days as President, Roosevelt 's first duty was to restore confidence to the stricken nation and get it back on its feet. He stressed throughout his messages the element of "Hope", inflating the deflated spirits of the American people, like a child blowing up a balloon. The American people, clinging to the words of his inaugural address and first fireside chat soon afterwards, felt he was their leader, their friend and that he would pull them through this horrendous crisis and save them from any further catastrophe no matter what. In doing this , a sigh of relief could be heard across the entire nation. It is said that Roosevelt always strove to work with Congress. President Roosevelt did more during his first 100 days to alter the basic structure of the nation's economic life than anybody else had done in 100 years.

"Happy Days Are Here Again," was his favorite campaign song., and through his term in office the people of the United States elected him president four times a greater honor and trust than ever given another man.

As president he believed that the role of any president was "to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation, a people's government for the people's good."

Americans who had counted on the wisdom of its dynamic businessmen were shaken by Senate revelations that too many bankers and industrialists had shown neither wisdom nor integrity in the speculative role they played in the events leading up to the great crash of 1929. The Panic of 1929 and the ensuing depression were the most terrible the nation had ever suffered.

"The stock market crash on October 23, 1929 wiped out an average of more than a billion dollars worth of paper values a day. A staggering total of 15 million were unemployed, and those who continued to work did so under greatly reduced wage scales." The flow of capital into productive enterprise slowed down to a trickle. The country was suffering from under consumption not overproduction. Banks were weighted down with government bonds, real estate mortgages based on greatly appreciated valuations, and highly speculative securities. Our mass unemployment in proportion to population almost doubled that of Britain and even exceeded that of Germany. A general disillusionment across the entire nation was obvious as more and more breadlines, vagrants living in Hoovervilles, and marches of unemployed men with defiant banners contributed to the economic situation. Beginning in the United States, the Great Depression spread to most of the world's industrial countries, bringing foreign-trade to a standstill. There was a rapid decline in production and sales of goods.

The run on banks became acute as nearly $1,000,000,000 were withdrawn during the two weeks preceding March 4, 1933.

Extremely low prices bankrupted hundreds of thousands of farmers and threatened thousands more with the foreclosure of their farms. The small farmer, the tenant, the sharecropper, and the farm hand were caught in the unyielding vise of an increasing technological revolution. Mechanization and scientific agriculture drove many families off the farm. Farm debtors and sharecroppers were evicted by the thousands. Malnutrition is evident in every part of the country and even starvation appears. Thousands of banks were bankrupt and those that were still operating were closed by state governors to head off further failures.

Faced with these conditions of the nation being in the worst desperate economic plight ever before seen, President Roosevelt takes office on March 4, 1933. During his first "100 days" with the cooperation of Congress, Roosevelt puts into effect 15 major pieces of legislation in his determination to remedy the nation's many problems. With his famous fireside chats, he tries and often succeeds in restoring confidence and lifting the nation's morale.


Website: The History
Article Name: So Mr. President, What Did You Do During Your Term In Office? 1932
Researcher/Compiler/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The above information is compiled from my collection of books: The American Presidents by David C. Whitney; Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (1996), The New York Public Library American History Desk Reference; A Stonesong Press Book (1997) The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, Macmillan Company (1952); The Bicentennial Almanac Edited by Calvin D. Linton, Ph.D. Publishers, Thomas Nelson Inc. (1975) The Presidents of the United States Vol 2, A.S. Barnes & Co. (1973) : Roosevelt in Retrospect, A Profile in History by John Gunther; Harper & Brothers, Publishers, (1950): Society and Thought in America: Volume II by Harvey Wish, Publishers: David McKay Company, Inc.1952
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