(born January 30, 1882, Hyde Park, New York, U.S.—died April 12, 1945, Warm Springs, Georgia) 32nd president of the United States (1933–45). The only president elected to the office four times, Roosevelt led the United States through two of the greatest crises of the 20th century: the Great Depression and World War II. In so doing, he greatly expanded the powers of the federalgovernment through a series of programs and reforms known as the New Deal, and he served as the principal architect of the successful effort to rid the world of German National Socialism and Japanese militarism. (For a discussion of the history and nature of the presidency, presidency of the United States of America.)
Roosevelt was the only child of James and Sara Delano Roosevelt.The family lived in unostentatious and genteel luxury, dividing its time between the family estate in the Hudson River Valley of New York state and European resorts. Young Roosevelt was educated privately at home until age 14, when he entered Groton Preparatory School in Groton, Massachusetts. At Groton, as at home, he was reared to be a gentleman, assuming responsibility for those less fortunateand exercising Christian stewardship through public service.
In 1900 Roosevelt entered Harvard University, where he spent most of his time on extracurricular activities and a strenuous social life; his academic record was undistinguished. It was during his Harvard years that he fell under the spell of his fifth cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt, the progressive champion who advocated a vastlyincreased role for the government in the nation's economy. It was also during his Harvard years that he fell in love with Theodore Roosevelt's niece, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was then active in charitable work for the poor in New York City. The distant cousins became engaged during Roosevelt's final year at Harvard, and they were married on March 17, 1905. Eleanor Roosevelt would later open herhusband's eyes to the deplorable state of the poor in New York's slums.
Roosevelt attended Columbia University Law School but was not much interested in his studies. After passing the New York bar exam, he went to work as a clerk for the distinguished Wall Street firm of Carter, Ledyard, and Milburn, but he displayed the same attitude of indifference toward the legal profession as he had toward hiseducation.
Early political activities
Motivated by his cousin Theodore, who continued to urge young men of privileged backgrounds to enter public service, Roosevelt looked for an opportunity to launch a career in politics. That opportunity came in 1910, when Democratic leaders of Dutchess county, New York, persuaded him to undertake an apparently futile attempt to win a seat in the state senate.Roosevelt, whose branch of the family had always voted Democratic, hesitated only long enough to make sure his distinguished Republican relative would not speak against him. He campaigned strenuously and won the election. Not quite 29 when he took his seat in Albany, he quickly won statewide and even some national attention by leading a small group of Democratic insurgents who refused to supportBilly Sheehan, the candidate for the United States Senate backed by Tammany Hall, the New York City Democratic organization. For three months Roosevelt helped hold the insurgents firm, and Tammany was forced to switch to another candidate.
In the New York Senate Roosevelt learned much of the give-and-take of politics, and he gradually abandoned his patrician airs and attitude of superiority. In theprocess, he came to champion the full program of progressive reform. By 1911 Roosevelt was supporting progressive New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson for the Democratic presidential nomination of 1912. In that year Roosevelt was reelected to the state senate, despite an attack of typhoid fever that prevented him from making public appearances during the campaign. His success was attributable in...