FDR ~ a Extra-ordinary man and leader
Seventy years today ~ 12 April 1945 ~ in Warm Springs, Georgia Franklin D. Roosevelt died. On this anniversary of his death we take this opportunity to remember the man who was born into wealth, educated in the best schools and rose to the presidency; and, to led the United States through one of worst economic crisis and world war experienced since its independence in 1776.
“Let us be clear at the outset that the liberty of individuals to carry on their business should not be abrogated unless the larger interests of the many are concerned. It is the purpose of government to see that not only the legitimate interests of the few are protected but that the welfare and rights of the many are conserved. These are the principals which must be remembered in any consideration of this question. This, I take it, is sound government- not politics.”
Franklin was born in Hyde Park, New York on January 30, 1882, the son of James and Sara Delano Roosevelt. He attended Groton, a prestigious preparatory school in Massachusetts (1896-1900), and received a BA degree in history from Harvard in only three years (1900-03). He next studied law at New York’s Columbia University and passed the bar examination in 1907. He left school without taking a degree. For the next three years he practiced law with a prominent New York City law firm.
In 1905 he married a distant cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. They had six children, five of whom survived infancy ~ Anna, James, Elliott, Franklin, Jr., and John.
“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.”
Franklin entered politics in 1910 and was elected to the New York Senate from his traditionally Republican home district. He was reelected to the State Senate in 1912, and supported Woodrow Wilson’s candidacy at the Democratic National Convention. As a reward for his support, Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913, a position he held until 1920.
“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace – business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs and we know now that a government by organized money is just as bad as a government by organized mob.”
He was an energetic and efficient administrator, specializing in the business side of naval administration. Roosevelt’s popularity and success in naval affairs resulted in his being nominated for vice-president by the Democratic Party in 1920 on a ticket headed by James M. Cox of Ohio. However, popular sentiment against Wilson’s plan for US participation in the League of Nations propelled Republican Warren Harding into the presidency, and Roosevelt returned to private life.
“We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sougth.”
“As a nation we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.”
“People, like charity, begins at home.”
“Cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”
In 1921 , while vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, he contracted poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis). He strove to over come this illness, he never regained the use of his legs. Later in life he established a foundation at Warm Springs, Georgia to help other polio victims, and inspired, as well as directed, the March of Dimes program that eventually funded an effective vaccine.
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. In this world of ours in other lands, there are some people, who, in times past, have lived and fought for freedom, and seem to have grown too weary to carry on the fight. They have sold their heritage of freedom for the illusion of a living. They have yeileded their democracy. I believe in my heart that only our success can stir their ancient hope. They begin to know that here in America we are waging a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more that that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.”
Encouraged and helped by Eleanor, and political confidant, Louis Howe, Franklin resumed his political career. In 1924 he nominated Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York for president at the Democratic National Convention. Governor Smith lost the nomination to John W. Davis. In 1928 Smith became the Democratic candidate for president and arranged for Roosevelt’s nomination to succeed him as governor of New York. Smith lost the election to Herbert Hoover; but Roosevelt was elected governor.
“We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.”
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
“A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
Franklin was re-elected as New York State’s governor in 1930 and soon began to campaign for the presidency. The growing national economic depression hurt Hoover and the Republican party. Franklin new and bold actions in the state to combat the growing economic crisis enhanced his reputation. In 1932 he won the Democratic Party’s nominated for president. He campaigned energetically calling for government intervention in the economy to provide relief, recovery, and reform. His activist approach and personal charm helped to defeat Hoover in November ’32 by seven million votes.
“….two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people: the first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism – ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such as way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living.” “…This concentration is seriously impairing the economic effectiveness of private enterp