Franklin D. Roosevelt: American Icon

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One of our nation’s iconic American president helped one of the greatest crises of the 20th century was the Great Depression and World War Ⅱ, and his name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Franklin D. Roosevelt was 39 at the time he was running for vice-president against Democrat James M. Cox in the 1920 presidential election. After several years, Roosevelt returned to politics, first becoming governor of New York in 1928, and in 1932 he became the first and only in history to be disabled to be elected to the presidency. During this time, America was more accepting of a disabled politician than what he had expected, with the citizens being “sympathetic on his condition rather than being embarrassed.” F.D.R. was very determined in making an impact, considered with his disability. During his public appearances, F.D.R. developed methods that people thought he was walking, by holding on to an advisor or his son, carrying a cane in the other hand, and swinging his legs forward. During his presidency, F.D.R. faced a lot of criticism.

Even though president F.D.R. was diabled during his presidency, he is still an American icon. He was extraordinary for his leadership, his success during his presidency, preparing the country for World War Ⅱ, inspiring other future leaders, he was a selfless leader in leading the nation, and the plans he made from the New Deal.

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What made F.D.R. an American icon was his extraordinary leadership. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only president to serve more than two consecutive terms in office, managing to secure a fourth term before he died in 1945. His leadership defines what made him the best president during that time which defines his legacy. F.D.R. was an excellent communicator, and learned much through his conversations and interactions with the outside world. His knowledge and ability to absorb information made F.D.R. a quick learner which helped him later on issues with speed and confidence.

President F.D.R. was known to be extremely confident with his own opinions and making decisions. His characteristics actually led him to ignore his closest advisors on major issues, including the U.S. involvement in World War Ⅱ. F.D.R. was behind with allied forces in support of the British during the war, which swung the balance of power away from the Axis nations.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time during office was one of the most eventful years in American history, in which he had to overcome significant adversity. Before he was president, F.D.R. contracted polio in 1921, about 12 years before he was elected as president. He was left paralysed from the waist down. President F.D.R. refused to be seen in public in a wheelchair, and instead he used a combination of canes and mechanical braces to help him stand upright and even walk.

FDR was not only involved in setting the overall wartime strategy, but also organizing U.S. production efforts, as well as the deployment of millions of Americans across the nation after the postwar. F.D.R. contributions was largely extraordinary to handle any situation including the war to help in any difficult task to bring people together.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the best president because he helped guide the nation in a difficult time, like other past presidents like Washington and Abraham Lincoln. F.D.R. ‘s leadership during conflicts would not have been possible if he didn’t make the right decisions.

F.D.R. success during his presidency was the best out of all other presidents that came before him. Roosevelt promised a “new deal”, and he delivered on his word. F.D.R. implemented a variety of innovatives policies to pull the U.S. from the brink of economic, political, and social disaster. Under his new plan, the federal government assumed new and powerful roles in the nation’s economy. The Fed. guaranteed unions the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that established a mechanism for putting under wages and hours that continues to this day.

The New Deal sought to insure the economic, social, and political benefits to the American people on a much larger scale. The New Deal brought a remarkable degree, But F.D.R. ‘s New Deal actually failed to completely cure the Depression of the American economy. By the time the 1940s came, most Americans were without a job.

Democracy was also suffering from a variety of things. The New Deal did nothing to help those such as guaranteeing the right to vote. FDR understood that Japan and Germany threatened the United States, which in turn endangered the lives of American citizens. FDR’s first efforts to help the country was the war in 1939. FDR helped guide America’s efforts to aid allies without entering into hostilities. Both Japan and Germany were forced to surrender in December of 1941. Roosevelt rallied the country together with support of a massive war effort both at home and abroad.

FDR helped reshape his presidency. From his “fireside chats”(millercenter.org), to an audience via the technology of radio, FDR helped build a bond with himself and the public. FDR’s image during his presidency showed he was a caretaker. His leadership grew to encompass not only those of the chief executives, but implementing draft policies. FDR was devoted full time with domestic and foreign policies. He also enhanced the capacity for his future successors.

F.D.R. strategies in preparing for the war was one of the most diplomatic moves during F.D.R’s time when he was president. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill had personal exchanges on all sorts of matters, both private and military. The prime minister referred to President Roosevelt as “POTUS”, while FDR called Churchill “Former Naval Person.” Secret plans were in making surplus war materials to Great Britain and positioning the U.S. to join Great Britain as a participant in the war against Germany.

FDR’s relationship with Winston Churchill was a mutual trust and admiration, even though it didn’t turn out as well. Both met 21 years ago when F.D.R. travelled to England. Later on when F.D.R. was president, he told one of his ambassadors Joseph P. Kennedy, “I have always disliked Churchill since the time I went to England in 1918. He acted like a stinker at a dinner I attended, lording it all over us.”

Roosevelt was obsessed with domestic subversion and home-grown violence. FDR watched the horror as Adolph Hitler conquered most of Europe. FDR knew something had to be done to ensure England’s survival, and his letters to Churchill showed how much he understood him as a friend. The two revealed how far the U.S. was willing to aid Britain.

Despite this, FDR decided to go with a different course of action. April 20, 1939, FDR told his staff in a meeting, “if we fire and sink an Italian or German, we will say it the way the Japs do, So sorry.” During the discussions, President FDR said that should the war erupt between Germany and England, the U.S. would fully support England militarily.

The deal was a victory for the Roosevelt administration. In return for signing over outdated ships, the British allowed the U.S. to use their bases in the Caribbean for military purposes. Although president F.D.R. policies secret military shipments to England were really positively endorsed, FDR’s ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy did not share their enthusiasm. FDR was fully prepared to lead the U.S. in the war. December 7, 1941 Roosevelt came to a conclusion with Japan and Germany.

F.D.R’s impact and legacy as president led to an inspiration for the country’s future leaders. FDR’s Wagner Act gave unions new standing and power in the workplace, and the Social Security Act inaugurated what became the popular federal program in U.S. history. FDR’s greatest mistake was the “court packing” scheme to add six seats to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even after FDR was re-elected, he feared that his achievements would be undone from the high court’s conservative majority. FDR appointed enough new justices to overwhelm the old guard. FDR’s loyalists failed miserably in a Senate test vote and was never heard from again.

FDR’s downfall was the unemployment and the critics of the New Deal. All of these things were conspiring to the end of FDR’s time during office. FDR was self-reliant and he declared to run for a third term. Nevertheless, he managed to gain all the votes from his rivals and produce a groundswell of popular demand. After winning the nomination, FDR’s struggles didn’t end. FDR would later run again against himself, and Joe Kennedy Jr., a Navy pilot. Apart from making big impacts for the country, FDR was among the popular subjects in history for playing a role in the war and planning the world to follow. FDR was deeply involved in the overall wartime strategy, but actually organizing U.S. efforts.

FDR concentrated his visions on the vigorous League of Nations, to be realized in the creation of the United Nations in 1945. Stalin’s goal was actually to lock up the political mechanisms of Europe through occupation of the Communinst parties.

Even with the many failures of FDR’s personal life, he didn’t overlook those. FDR was capable of transforming making a better future for the country. In his 1936 speech, “that the divine judgement weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales.”

FDR was a selfless leader in leading the country during his presidency. He was one of the few leaders who saw some powerful ideas that saw something left in life in this country. FDR was focused on business, politics, and the press. People were proud of what FDR was doing to the Republic. Those who were against the president were known as “Roosevelt-haters.” FDR witnessed an unprecedented eruption of government activism in Washington, even before he became president. When FDR was a young secretary in the Navy, he had already cherished presidential ideas. His close friends were Hoover and Baruch.

Much like Roosevelt’s New Deal, the National Recovery Administration was copied from what Roosevelt called “the great cooperation of 1917 and 1918.” FDR announced his candidacy for president in January 1932. FDR’s campaign manager Jim Farley, pledged to get the support. FDR faced opposition when he campaigned for president. FDR came under pressure for a distinctive philosophical position from himself. The harsh reaction to his “Forgotten Man” gave Roosevelt second thoughts, that he soon reverted to his vagueness and ambiguity. FDR’s ability was also contradictory at the same time.

FDR won in the early primaries, showing great strength except in the Northeast. John Nance Garner of Texa, who was Speaker of the House of Representatives, won in his own state. William Randolph Hearst was one of the few people who did not trust FDR’s early enthusiasm for the League of Nations. California, Albany supported FDR and were delighted. FDR stressed the symbolism of his appearance before his delegates: “Let it be from now on the task of our Party to break foolish traditions.”

Everyone believed in FDR’s plans to help the federal government. In his inaugural address, he talked about that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.” FDR wanted to preserve America during that time and was to preserve the gold standard.

During his time in office, FDR instituted a series of plans called the New Deal. FDR promised from the inaugural address the “dark realities of the moment” and made plans to stop people from withdrawing their money. FDR’s first “fireside chats” was about urging Americans to put their savings back in the banks by the end of the month, and almost three quarters of it had been reopened.

FDR’s end to the Great Depression was known as “The first 100 days.” His first thing that FDR did was asking Congress to end the prohibition, which was one of the divise issues of the 1920s. In May, FDR signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act into law, creating the TVA which enabled the Federal Government to build dams along the Tennessee River. That same month, the Congress passed a bill that would pay commodity farmers to leave their fields, to allow an end to agricultural surpluses to help boost prices.

In addition to the TVA, and the National Industrial Recovery Act, FDR had won the support of the major 12 other laws which includes Glass-Steagall Act, and the Home Owners Loan Act, during his first 100 days in office. The next year, FDR launched a more aggressive series of federal programs called the Second New Deal.

In April of 1935, FDR created the Works Progress Administration to provide jobs for unemployed people. The WPA focused on building things like post offices, schools, bridges, highways and parks. The WPA also gave work to artists, musicians, theatre directors, and writers. And in July of the same year, FDR also created the National Labor Relations Act, to supervise union elections and prevent business from treating their workers unfairly. FDR also instituted the Social Security Act which guaranteed pensions to millions of Americans, and set up a system of unemployment insurance.

FDR’s New Deal and policies did more than adjust interest rates, but also with farm subsidies and created short-term make-work programs.

When FDR was president, he faced a ton of criticism. FDR had many people supporting him, and also enemies were against him when he was in office. Liberals and Radicals attacked FDR from the left for not providing enough relief and for maintaining the fundamental aspects of capitalism. Roosevelt’s major threat came from Father Charles E. Coughlin, a radio priest from Detroit. He was originally a supporter of the New Deal, but Coughlin turned against FDR when he refused to nationalize the banking system and to provide for the free coinage of silver.

Coughlin was openly anti-Semitic, by blaming the Great Depression on an international conspiracy of the Jewish bankers. Coughlin was the one who formed the National Union for Social Justice that reached a weekly audience of 40 million radio listeners.

Another reformer who was against FDR’s New Deal was Francis Townsend. Townsend proposed the Old Age Revolving Pension. This plan that he proposed called for every single American that was over the age of sixty to retire and open up jobs for the younger unemployed. The retirees would receive a monthly check for $200 considerable during the Great Depression at that time. Recipients had to agree to this which would ignite the economy as well. Another one of FDR’s who he faced criticism against was Huey “the kingfish” Long of Louisiana. Long became a lawyer of Louisiana in 1928. He proposed 100% tax on fortunes exceeding a million dollars. The poorest Americans were promised to receive an estate of no less than $500 with a $2500 yearly minimum.

The Democrats worried that Long bid for the presidency might steal votes from FDR in 1936, but an assination ended Huey Long’s life.

The Conservatives Democrats and Republicans charged FDR for abuse of power, and failed to support those plans. The 1938 Congressional elections saw Roosevelt campaigning against anti-New deal Democrats. Nearly every case, the Conservatives actually won.

FDR left a very lasting legacy to the nation even after his death. The New Deal that he first created in office when he first got elected, was fighting for the laws for America. FDR’s slogan for the New Deal was used in his 1932 campaign. During his first 100 days in office, he instituted a series of emergency laws for banking, and relief for business. FDR focused on helping the banks from closing. His next hundred days were about helping the economy. His ratification by Congress included ending the use of gold as a medium of exchange.

The measures that FDR passed on the bill included veteran’s pensions, farm subsidy law, acts like the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Securities and Exchange Commissions. The Wagner Act that FDR signed, operated the wages together. This bill helped various business regulations to be established.

FDR’s other bills, for example farm loans programs, helped farmers out with prices, crop regulations, and insurance. Farm surpluses were fed back to the poor at very reduced prices through the food stamp.

Businesses benefited from FDR administrations. When taxes went up, especially on high earnings, FDR established antitrust that were aimed at huge business corporations. There were also some businesses that were labour as well. Even though these measures didn’t fully cover all of these businesses, FDR regenerated employment services for those that were separated from jobs, so FDR created unemployment insurance to those old enough to retire, so these people actually receive Old-Age compensation.

FDR’s breakpoint as president which defines his legacy as an American icon was the war emergency which helped him seek a third term in 1940. FDR asked congress to be prepared for any war, and against any isolationists. FDR expanded the Army and Navy. Before Pearl Harbor, FDR extended the Selective Service Act in which he managed to get it passed through the House by only one vote.

In twelve years, that helped FDR legacy as an American icon, FDR was elected four times. When he came into office, he had a vision that would change the country for the better. His work defines what it means to be a great American icon to every single American.  

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