Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945) also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945) and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war. Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/SI Battery
The only American president elected to more than two terms, he facilitated a durable coalition that realigned American politics for decades. FDR defeated incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover in November 1932, at the depths of the Great Depression. FDR's persistent optimism and activism contributed to a renewal of the national spirit.Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/P Battery
In his "first hundred days" in office, which began March 4, 1933, Roosevelt spearheaded major legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New DealSony VAIO VPCY21S1E/L Battery
—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). The economy improved rapidly from 1933 to 1937, but then relapsed into a deep recession.Sony VAIO VPCY218EC/P Battery
The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented his packing the Supreme Court or passing any considerable legislation; it abolished many of the relief programs when unemployment diminished during World War II. Most of the regulations on business were ended about 1975–85,Sony VAIO VPCY218EC/L Battery
except for the regulation of Wall Street by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which still exists. Along with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which was created in 1933, and Social Security, which Congress passed in 1935.Sony VAIO VPCY218EC/G Battery
As World War II loomed after 1938, with the Japanese invasion of China and the aggressions of Nazi Germany, FDR gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China and Britain, while remaining officially neutral. His goal was to make America the "Arsenal of Democracy" which would supply munitions to the Allies. Sony VAIO VPCY218EC/BI Battery
In March 1941, Roosevelt, with Congressional approval, provided Lend-Lease aid to the countries fighting against Nazi Germany with Britain. With very strong national support he made war on Japan and Germany after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, calling it a "date which will live in infamy". Sony VAIO VPCY11V9E/S Battery
He supervised the mobilization of the US economy to support the Allied war effort. Unemployment dropped to 2%, relief programs largely ended, and the industrial economy grew rapidly to new heights as millions of people moved to new jobs in war centers, and 16 million men and 300,000 women were drafted or volunteered for military service.Sony VAIO VPCY11S1E Battery
Roosevelt dominated the American political scene, not only during the twelve years of his presidency, but for decades afterward. He orchestrated therealignment of voters that created the Fifth Party System. FDR's New Deal Coalition united labor unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans and rural white Southerners.Sony VAIO VPCY11M1E/S Battery
Roosevelt's diplomatic impact also resonated on the world stage long after his death, with the United Nations andBretton Woods as examples of his administration's wide-ranging impact. Roosevelt is consistently rated by scholars as one of the top three U.S. Presidents.Sony VAIO VPCY11AVJ Battery
Roosevelt is an Anglicized form of the Dutch surname 'Van Rosevelt,' or 'Van Rosenvelt', meaning 'from field of roses.' Although some use an Anglicized spelling pronunciationof /?ru?z?v?lt/, that is, with the vowel of ruse, FDR himself used [?ro?z?v?lt], with the vowel of rose. Sony VAIO VPCY11AHJ Battery
The family was wealthy, and the family had inherited millions from the opium trade.
One of the oldest families in New York State, the Roosevelts distinguished themselves in areas other than politics. Sony VAIO VPCY11AGJ Battery
One ancestor, Isaac Roosevelt, had served with the New York militia during the American Revolution. Roosevelt attended events of the New York society Sons of the American Revolution, and joined the organization while he was president. His mother named him after her favorite uncle Franklin Delano.Sony VAIO VPCY11AFJ Battery
Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in the Hudson Valley town of Hyde Park, New York. His father, James Roosevelt, and his mother, Sara Ann Delano, were sixth cousins and both were from wealthy old New York families. They were of mostly English descent;Sony VAIO VPCY119FJ/S Battery
Roosevelt grew up in an atmosphere of privilege. Sara was a possessive mother;
James, 54 when Franklin was born, was considered by some as a remote father, though biographer Burns indicates James interacted with his son more than was typical at the time. Sara was the dominant influence in Franklin's early years; she once declared "My son Franklin is a Delano, not a Roosevelt at all."
Frequent trips to Europe made Roosevelt conversant in German and French. He learned to ride, shoot, row, and play polo and lawn tennis. Roosevelt also took up golf in his teen years, becoming a skilled long, hitter. He learned to sail; his father gave him a sailboat which he named "New Moon".
Roosevelt attended Groton School, an Episcopal boarding school in Massachusetts; ninety percent of the students were from families on the social register. He was heavily influenced by its headmaster, Endicott Peabody, who preached the duty of Christians to help the less fortunate and urged his students to enter public service.
Forty years later Roosevelt said of Peabody, "It was a blessing in my life to have the privilege of [his] guiding hand." Roosevelt was a "B" student.
Roosevelt went to Harvard College and lived in the Adams House, part of the "Gold Coast" area, reserved for wealthy students.
Though he was a "C" student, he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, and also editor-in-chief of The Harvard Crimson daily newspaper. Roosevelt later declared, "I took economics courses in college for four years, and everything I was taught was wrong."
While he was at Harvard, his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt became President, and the president's vigorous leadership style and reforming zeal made him Franklin's role model and hero. In 1902, he met his future wifeEleanor Roosevelt, Theodore's niece, at a White House reception (they had previously met as children).
Eleanor and Franklin were fifth cousins, once removed. At the time of their engagement Roosevelt was age twenty-two and Eleanor nineteen. Roosevelt graduated from Harvard with an A.B. in 1903. He later received an honorary LL.D from Harvard in 1929.
Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in 1904, but dropped out in 1907 after he passed the New York State Bar exam. In 1908, he took a job with the prestigious Wall Street firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn, dealing mainly with corporate law. He was first initiated in the Independent Order of Odd Fellowsand was initiated into Freemasonry on October 11, 1911, at Holland Lodge No. 8 in New York City.
Marriage and family life
On March 17, 1905, Roosevelt married Eleanor despite the fierce resistance of his mother. Eleanor's uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, stood in at the wedding for Eleanor's deceased father Elliott. (Eleanor had lost both parents by age ten.
) The young couple moved into Springwood, his family's estate, where FDR's mother became a frequent house guest, much to Eleanor's chagrin. The home was owned by Roosevelt's mother until her death in 1941 and was very much her home as well. As for their personal lives, Franklin was a charismatic, handsome and socially active man.
In contrast, Eleanor was shy and disliked social life, and at first stayed at home to raise their children. Although Eleanor had an aversion to mating, and considered it "an ordeal to be endured"; they had six children, the first four in rapid succession:
- Anna Eleanor (1906–1975; age 69)
- James (1907–1991; age 83)
- Franklin Delano, Jr. (March 18, 1909 – November 7, 1909)
- Elliott (1910–1990; age 80)
- a second Franklin Delano, Jr. (1914–1988; age 74)
- John Aspinwall (1916–1981; age 65).
Roosevelt allegedly had affairs outside his marriage, including one with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer which began soon after she was hired in early 1914. In September 1918, Eleanor found letters revealing the affair in Roosevelt's luggage, when he returned from World War I.
According to the Roosevelt family, Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce so that he could be with the woman he loved, but Lucy, being Catholic, could not bring herself to marry a divorced man with five children. According to FDR's biographer Jean Edward Smith it is generally accepted that Eleanor indeed offered "to give Franklin his freedom."
However, they reconciled after a fashion with the informal mediation of Roosevelt's adviser Louis McHenry Howe, and FDR promised never to see Lucy again. His mother Sara also intervened, and told Franklin that if he divorced his wife, he would bring scandal upon the family, and she "would not give him another dollar."
However, Franklin broke his promise. He and Lucy maintained a formal correspondence, and began seeing each other again in 1941—and perhaps earlier. Lucy was even given the code name "Mrs. Johnson" by the Secret Service. Indeed, Lucy was with FDR on the day he died. Despite this, FDR's affair was not widely known until the 1960s.
Roosevelt's son Elliott claimed that Franklin had a 20-year affair with his private secretaryMarguerite "Missy" LeHand.
The effect of this affair upon Eleanor Roosevelt is difficult to estimate. "I have the memory of an elephant. I can forgive, but I cannot forget," she wrote to a close friend.
After the affair any remaining intimacy left their relationship. Eleanor soon thereafter established a separate house in Hyde Park at Valkill, and increasingly devoted herself to various social and political causes. For the rest of their lives, the Roosevelts' marriage was more of a political partnership than an intimate relationship.
The emotional break in their marriage was so severe that when FDR asked Eleanor in 1942—in light of his failing health—to come back home and live with him again, she refused.
Roosevelt's dog, Fala, also became well-known as Roosevelt's companion during his time in the White House, and was called the "most photographed dog in the world."
State Senator & Tammany antagonist
In the State election of 1910, Roosevelt ran for the New York State Senate from the district around Hyde Park in Dutchess County, which had not elected a Democrat since 1884.
The Roosevelt name, with its associated wealth, prestige, and influence in the Hudson Valley, and the Democratic landslide that year, carried him to the state capital Albany. Taking his seat on January 1, 1911, he became the leader of a group of "Insurgents" who opposed the bossism of the Tammany machine dominating the state Democratic Party.
The U.S. Senate election which began with the Democratic caucus on January 16, 1911, was deadlocked by the struggle of the two factions for 74 days. On March 31, James A. O'Gorman was elected, and Roosevelt had achieved his goal: to upset the Tammany machine by blocking their choice, William F. Sheehan.
This brought Roosevelt national exposure and some experience in political tactics and intrigue. Roosevelt soon became a popular figure among New York Democrats, though he had not as yet become an eloquent speaker. Despite a bout of typhoid, and thanks to the help of Louis McHenry Howe who ran his campaign,
he was re-elected for a second term in the State election of 1912, and served as chairman of the Agriculture Committee. His success with farm and labor bills was a bit of a precursor to his New Deal policies twenty years later.By this time he had become more consistently progressive, in support of labor and social welfare programs for women and children;Sony VAIO VPCS117GGB Battery
cousin Teddy was of some influence on these issues. Roosevelt, again in opposition to Tammany Hall, supported Woodrow Wilson's successful bid in the 1912 presidential election, and thereby earned an informal designation as an original Wilson man. This opened the door for opportunities in the Wilson administration.
Roosevelt resigned from the New York State Senate on March 17, 1913, to accept his appointment as Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Navy.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Franklin D. Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and served under Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.Sony VAIO VPCS115FG Battery
Roosevelt developed a life-long affection for the Navy, and was more ardent than his boss Daniels in supporting a large and efficient naval force.As assistant secretary, Roosevelt worked to expand the Navy and founded the United States Navy Reserve. Roosevelt negotiated with Congressional leaders and other government departments to get budgets approved.
He opposed the Taylor "stop-watch" system which was hailed by shipbuilding managers but opposed by the unions. Not a single union strike occurred during his seven plus years in the Navy department.
In 1914, Roosevelt made an ill-conceived decision to run for the U.S. Senate seat for New York. The decision was doomed for lack of Wilson administration backing.
He was determined to take on Tammany again at a time when Wilson needed them to help marshal his legislation and secure his future re-election. He was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary election for the United States Senate by Tammany Hall-backed James W. Gerard by a margin of 3-to-1.
Roosevelt learned a valuable lesson – that federal patronage alone, without White House support, could not defeat a strong local organization.
In March 1917, after Germany initiated its submarine warfare campaign, Roosevelt asked Wilson for permission, which was denied, to fit the naval fleet out for war.
He became an enthusiastic advocate of the submarine and of means to combat the German submarine menace to Allied shipping: he proposed building a mine barrier across the North Sea from Norway to Scotland. In 1918, he visited Britain and France to inspect American naval facilities; during this visit he met Winston Churchill for the first time.
Roosevelt wanted to provide arms to the merchant marine; knowing that a sale of arms was prohibited, he asked Wilson for approval to lease the arms to the mariners. Wilson ultimately approved this by executive order, and a precedent was set for this action in 1940.
During these war years, Roosevelt acted to make peace with the Tammany Hall forces, and in 1918 the group actually supported others in an unsuccessful attempt to convince him to run for governor of New York. He very much wished to get into a military uniform, but the an armistice took shape before this could materialize.
With the end of World War I in November 1918, Roosevelt was in charge of demobilization, although he opposed plans to completely dismantle the Navy. In July 1920, overshadowed by the Newport sex scandal and its coverage in the Providence Journal and New York Times, Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to run for Vice President.
In a series of speeches in his campaign for Vice President, Roosevelt claimed (tongue-in-cheek) that as Assistant Secretary of the Navy he wrote the constitution which the U.S. imposed on Haiti in 1915.
Campaign for Vice-President
The 1920 Democratic National Convention chose Roosevelt by acclamation as the candidate for Vice President of the United States.[
The ticket was headed by Governor James M. Cox of Ohio, and Roosevelt was considered as bringing balance to the ticket as a moderate, a Wilsonian and a prohibitionist. The Cox-Roosevelt ticket was defeated by Republican Warren G. Harding in thepresidential election by a wide margin.
This nomination as Vice-President was somewhat meteoric in nature, as Roosevelt had just turned thirty-eight, four years younger than his cousin Teddy had been when he first got the same nomination from his party. Roosevelt then returned to New York law practice and joined the newly organized New York Civitan Club, but few doubted that he would soon run for public office again.
In August 1921, while the Roosevelts were vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, Roosevelt contracted an illness diagnosed then as polio which resulted in permanent paralysis from the waist down; this diagnosis was later questioned.
For the rest of his life, Roosevelt refused to accept that he was permanently paralyzed. He tried a wide range of therapies, including hydrotherapy, and, in 1926, he purchased a resort at Warm Springs, Georgia, where he founded a hydrotherapy center for the treatment of polio patients which still operates as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.
After he became President, he helped to found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now known as the March of Dimes).
At the time, Roosevelt was able to convince many people that he was getting better, which he believed was essential if he was to run for public office again.
Fitting his hips and legs with iron braces, he laboriously taught himself to walk a short distance by swiveling his torso while supporting himself with a cane. In private, he used a wheelchair, but he was careful never to be seen in it in public. Great care was also taken to prevent his being portrayed by the press in a way which would highlight his disability.
Only two photographs are known to exist of the FDR which were taken while he was in his wheelchair. He usually appeared in public standing upright, supported on one side by an aide or one of his sons. FDR used a car with specially designed hand controls, which provided him further mobility.
In the public mind, Roosevelt has been by far the most famous polio survivor. However, his age at onset (39 years) and the majority of symptoms of his illness are more consistent with a diagnosis of Guillain–Barré syndrome. Since Roosevelt's cerebrospinal fluid was not examined, the cause may never be known for certain.
Governor of New York, 1929–1932
Roosevelt maintained contacts and mended fences with the Democratic Party during the 1920s, especially in New York. Although he initially had made his name as an opponent of New York City's Tammany Hall machine, Roosevelt moderated his stance against that group as well.Sony VAIO VPCF119FC/BI Battery
He helped Alfred E. Smith win the election for governor of New York in 1922, and was even a strong supporter of Smith against his cousin, Republican Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. in 1924. Roosevelt gave nominating speeches for Smith at the 1924 and 1928 Democratic conventions.
As the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1928 election, Smith in turn asked Roosevelt to run for governor in the state election. Roosevelt was nominated by the Democrats by acclamation. While Smith lost the Presidency in a landslide, and was even defeated in his home state, Roosevelt was narrowly elected governor, by a one percent margin.
As a reform governor, he established a number of new social programs, and he was advised by Frances Perkins and Harry Hopkins.
In May 1930, as he began his run for a second term, Roosevelt reiterated his doctrine from the campaign two years before:
"that progressive government by its very terms, must be a living and growing thing, that the battle for it is never ending and that if we let up for one single moment or one single year, not merely do we stand still but we fall back in the march of civilization."
In this campaign for re-election, Roosevelt needed the good will of the Tammany Hall machine in New York City to succeed; however, his Republican opponent, Charles H. Tuttle, used Roosevelt's connection with Tammany Hall's corruption as an election issue.
As the election approached, Roosevelt began preemptive efforts by initiating investigations of the sale of judicial offices. He was directly involved, as he had made a routine short term court appointment of a Tammany Hall man, who was alleged to have paid Tammany $30,000 for the position.
His Republican opponent, however, could not overcome the public's criticism of his party for current economic distress, and Roosevelt was elected to a second term by a margin of fourteen percent.
1932 presidential election
Roosevelt's strong base in the most populous state made him an obvious candidate for the Democratic nomination, which was hotly contested in light of incumbent Herbert Hoover's vulnerability in the1932 election. Al Smith was supported by some city bosses, but had lost control of the New York Democratic party to Roosevelt.
Roosevelt built his own national coalition with personal allies such as newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Irish leader Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and California leader William Gibbs McAdoo. When Texas leader John Nance Garner switched to FDR, he was given the vice-presidential nomination.
In his acceptance speech, Roosevelt declared:I pledge you, I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people... This is more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms. The election campaign was conducted under the shadow of the Great Depression in the United States, and the new alliances which it created.
Roosevelt and the Democratic Party mobilized the expanded ranks of the poor as well as organized labor, ethnic minorities, urbanites, and Southern whites, crafting the New Deal coalition.
Economist Marriner Eccles observed that "given later developments, the campaign speeches often read like a giant misprint, in which Roosevelt and Hoover speak each other's lines."
Roosevelt denounced Hoover's failures to restore prosperity or even halt the downward slide, and he ridiculed Hoover's huge deficits. Roosevelt campaigned on the Democratic platform advocating "immediate and drastic reductions of all public expenditures,
" "abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagances" and for a "sound currency to be maintained at all hazards." On September 23, Roosevelt made the gloomy evaluation that, "Our industrial plant is built; the problem just now is whether under existing conditions it is not overbuilt.
Our last frontier has long since been reached." Hoover damned that pessimism as a denial of "the promise of American life ... the counsel of despair." The prohibition issue solidified the wet vote for Roosevelt, who noted that repeal would bring in new tax revenues.
Roosevelt won 57% of the vote and carried all but six states. Historians and political scientists consider the 1932-36 elections a realigning election that created a new majority coalition for the Democrats, one made up of organized labor, blacks, and ethnic Americans such as Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans and Jews.
Thus, this transformed American politics and starting what is called the "New Deal Party System" or (by political scientists) the Fifth Party System.
After the election, Roosevelt refused Hoover's requests for a meeting to develop a joint program to stop the downward spiral and calm investors,
claiming publicly it would tie his hands, and that Hoover had all the power to act if necessary. Unofficially, he told reporters that "it is not my baby". The economy spiraled downward until the banking system began a complete nationwide shutdown as Hoover's term ended.
In February 1933, Roosevelt escaped an assassination attempt byGiuseppe Zangara (whose shots killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak sitting alongside). Roosevelt leaned heavily on his "Brain Trust" of academic advisors, especially Raymond Moley when designing his policies;
he offered cabinet positions to numerous candidates, but some declined. The cabinet member with the strongest independent base was Cordell Hull at State. William Hartman Woodin – at Treasury – was soon replaced by the much more powerful Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
When Roosevelt was inaugurated March 4, 1933 (32 days after Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany), the U.S. was at the nadir of the worst depression in its history. A quarter of the workforce was unemployed. Farmers were in deep trouble as prices fell by 60%. Industrial production had fallen by more than half since 1929.
Two million were homeless. By the evening of March 4, 32 of the 48 states, as well as the District of Columbia had closed their banks. The New York Federal Reserve Bank was unable to open on the 5th, as huge sums had been withdrawn by panicky customers in previous days.
Beginning with his inauguration address, Roosevelt began blaming the economic crisis on bankers and financiers, the quest for profit, and the self-interest basis of capitalism:
Primarily this is because rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated.
Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money.
Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence....The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.
The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Historians categorized Roosevelt's program as "relief, recovery and reform." Relief was urgently needed by tens of millions of unemployed. Recovery meant boosting the economy back to normal.
Reform meant long-term fixes of what was wrong, especially with the financial and banking systems. Roosevelt's series of radio talks, known as fireside chats, presented his proposals directly to the American public. In 1934 FDR paid a visit to retired Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who mused about the President: "A second class intellect. But a first class temperament."
First New Deal, 1933–1934
Roosevelt's "First 100 Days" concentrated on the first part of his strategy: immediate relief. From March 9 to June 16, 1933, he sent Congress a record number of bills, all of which passed easily.
To propose programs, Roosevelt relied on leading Senators such as George Norris, Robert F. Wagner and Hugo Black, as well as his Brain Trust of academic advisers. Like Hoover, he saw the Depression caused in part by people no longer spending or investing because they were afraid.
His inauguration on March 4, 1933, occurred in the middle of a bank panic, hence the backdrop for his famous words: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The very next day Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act which declared a "bank holiday" and announced a plan to allow banks to reopen.
This was his first proposed step to recovery. To give Americans confidence in the banks, Roosevelt signed the Glass–Steagall Act that created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
- Relief measures included the continuation of Hoover's major relief program for the unemployed under the new name,
- Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The most popular of all New Deal agencies – and Roosevelt's favorite – was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which hired 250,000 unemployed young men to work on rural local projects.
- Congress also gave the Federal Trade Commission broad new regulatory powers and provided mortgage relief to millions of farmers and homeowners. Roosevelt expanded a Hoover agency, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, making it a major source of financing for railroads and industry.
- Roosevelt made agricultural relief a high priority and set up the first Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). The AAA tried to force higher prices for commodities by paying farmers to take land out of crops and to cut herds.
- Reform of the economy was the goal of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933.
- It tried to end cutthroat competition by forcing industries to come up with codes that established the rules of operation for all firms within specific industries, such as minimum prices, agreements not to compete, and production restrictions. Industry leaders negotiated the codes which were then approved by NIRA officials.
- Industry needed to raise wages as a condition for approval. Provisions encouraged unions and suspended anti-trust laws. The NIRA was found to be unconstitutional by unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on May 27, 1935. Roosevelt opposed the decision, saying "The fundamental purposes and principles of the NIRA are sound.
- To abandon them is unthinkable. It would spell the return to industrial and labor chaos." In 1933, major new banking regulations were passed. In 1934, the Securities and Exchange Commission was created to regulate Wall Street, with 1932 campaign fundraiser Joseph P. Kennedy in charge.
- Recovery was pursued through "pump-priming" (that is, federal spending). The NIRA included $3.3 billion of spending through the Public Works Administration to stimulate the economy, which was to be handled by Interior Secretary Harold Ickes.
- Roosevelt worked with Republican Senator George Norris to create the largest government-owned industrial enterprise in American history, theTennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built dams and power stations, controlled floods, and modernized agriculture and home conditions in the poverty-stricken Tennessee Valley.
- The repeal ofprohibition also brought in new tax revenues and helped Roosevelt keep a major campaign promise.
- Executive Order 6102 made all privately held gold of American citizens property of the US Treasury. The goal was to counter the deflation which was paralyzing the economy.
Roosevelt tried to keep his campaign promise by cutting the federal budget, including a reduction in military spending from $752 million in 1932 to $531 million in 1934 and a 40% cuts in spending on veterans' benefits. He removed 500,000 veterans and widows from the pension rolls and reduced benefits for the remainder.
He cut the salaries of federal employees and reduced spending on research and education. On the other hand, veterans groups like the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars won their campaign to transform their benefits from payments due in 1945 to immediate cash when Congress overrode the President's veto and passed the Bonus Act in January 1936.
Roosevelt also kept his promise to push for repeal of Prohibition. In April 1933, he issued an Executive Order redefining 3.2% alcohol as the maximum allowed. That order was preceded by Congressional action in the drafting and passage of the 21st Amendment, which was ratified later that year.
Second New Deal, 1935–1936
After the 1934 Congressional elections, which gave Roosevelt large majorities in both houses, there was a fresh surge of New Deal legislation. These measures included the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which set up a national relief agency that employed two million family heads.
However, even at the height of WPA employment in 1938, unemployment was still 12.5% according to figures from Michael Darby.The Social Security Act, established Social Security and promised economic security for the elderly, the poor and the sick. Senator Robert Wagner wrote the Wagner Act, which officially became the National Labor Relations Act.
The act established the federal rights of workers to organize unions, to engage in collective bargaining, and to take part in strikes.
While the First New Deal of 1933 had broad support from most sectors, the Second New Deal challenged the business community.
Conservative Democrats, led by Al Smith, fought back with theAmerican Liberty League, savagely attacking Roosevelt and equating him with Marx and Lenin.But Smith overplayed his hand, and his boisterous rhetoric let Roosevelt isolate his opponents and identify them with the wealthy vested interests that opposed the New Deal,
setting Roosevelt up for the 1936 landslide. By contrast, the labor unions, energized by the Wagner Act, signed up millions of new members and became a major backer of Roosevelt's reelections in 1936, 1940 and 1944.
Some historians disagree with the prevailing belief that there were two New Deals in the Roosevelt administration.
They argue that there is no evidence of any such blueprint for Roosevelt's programs; these contrarians assert that abundant evidence shows FDR's policies were formulated and executed haphazardly, and fluctuated in the hands of a revolving cast of presidential advisors.
Biographer James M. Burns as well indicates Roosevelt's policy decisions were replete with sudden reversals, and that FDR was "like the general of a guerilla army, fighting blindly through a jungle." Schweikart and Allen maintain that the two New Deals concept serves well to explain away the ineffectiveness of FDR's programs to improve the nation's economy and contradictory decisions by FDR in his first six years in office.
Government spending increased from 8.0% of gross national product (GNP) under Hoover in 1932 to 10.2% of the GNP in 1936. The national debt as a percentage of the GNP had more that doubled under Hoover from 16% to 40% of the GNP in early 1933. It held steady at close to 40% as late as fall 1941, then grew rapidly during the war, as shown on chart 1.
Deficit spending had been recommended by some economists, most notably by John Maynard Keynes of Britain. The GNP was 34% higher in 1936 than in 1932 and 58% higher in 1940 on the eve of war. That is, the economy grew 58% from 1932 to 1940 in 8 years of peacetime, and then grew 56% from 1940 to 1945 in 5 years of wartime.
However, the economic recovery did not absorb all the unemployment Roosevelt inherited. Unemployment fell dramatically in Roosevelt's first term, from 25% when he took office to 14.3% in 1937. Afterward, however, it increased to 19.0% in 1938 ('a depression within a depression') and 17.2% in 1939,
and stayed high until it almost vanished during World War II when the previously unemployed wereconscripted, taking them out of the potential labor supply number.
During the war, the economy operated under such different conditions that comparison with peacetime is impossible.
However, Roosevelt saw the New Deal policies as central to his legacy, and in his 1944 State of the Union Address, he advocated that Americans should think of basic economic rights as a Second Bill of Rights.
The U.S. economy grew rapidly during Roosevelt's term.
However, coming out of the depression, this growth was accompanied by continuing high levels of unemployment; as the median joblessness rate during the New Deal was 17.2%. Throughout his entire term, including the war years, average unemployment was 13%.
Total employment during Roosevelt's term expanded by 18.31 million jobs, with an average annual increase in jobs during his administration of 5.3%.
Roosevelt did not raise income taxes before World War II began; however payroll taxes were also introduced to fund the newSocial Security program in 1937.
He also got Congress to spend more on many various programs and projects ne
Roosevelt's proposal for new taxes on corporate savings were highly controversial in 1936–37, and were rejected by Congress. During the war he pushed for even higher income tax rates for individuals (reaching a marginal tax rate of 91%) and corporations and a cap on high salaries for executives.
He also issued Executive Order 9250 in October 1942, later to be rescinded by Congress, which raised the marginal tax rate for salaries exceeding $25,000 (after tax) to 100%, thereby limiting salaries to $25,000 (about $337,000 today).
To fund the war, Congress broadened the base so that almost every employee paid federal income taxes, and introduced withholding taxes in 1943.