Lawyer and American politician, Governor of the State of New York (1928-1933) and thirty-second President of the United States of America (1933-1945). He was born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York (New York State), and died on April 12, 1945, in Warm Spring (Georgia State). Dubbed as the Champion of the Democracy ('champion of democracy'), he was the only President of the United States in four consecutive times his presidency (1933, 1936, 1940 and 1944). Its political program, known as the New Deal (new deal), articulated in response to the great depression, by which the federal Government was an active part of the process of economic and social recovery. Heir to the more positions of Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt abandoned the traditional political isolationism as a result of the outbreak of the second world war.
Cousin second President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born in the bosom of a wealthy family New York, of Dutch origin, living in America since the mid-17th century. His father, James Roosevelt, was a landowner and managed various societies, while the family of his mother, Sarah, had mine and a fleet of merchant ships. From a very young received a careful education. At fourteen he entered the Massachusetts Grotow Law School, similar to the exclusive Eton British Elite Center. Four years later, in 1900, he enrolled at Harvard University to study law. Last year finished it at Columbia University. He graduated in 1904. On March 17, 1905, Roosevelt married Eleanor Roosevelt, cousin of his father and niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, leader of the Republican party, with which Roosevelt did not never cope. Eleanor exerted a decisive influence on the future political career of her husband, he convinced to devote their efforts to protect the most disadvantaged classes.
In view of the lack of interest that felt by the Legal Affairs, Roosevelt soon abandoned his work as a lawyer and, in 1901, accepted the proposal of New York Democrats to introduce elections to the Senate of the State of New York. He invested a large sum of money in a frenetic campaign that took him to visit rural farms mounted in its striking red color Ford-T, posing as a progressive candidate, a strategy that no could get better, since he won the elections with more than 1,000 votes over their opponents. Once in the State Senate, Roosevelt won the Presidency of the Committee of forests, hunting and fishing, which carried out a large number of reforms and is meant for the total defence of the interests of impoverished farmers in the State.
During the Democratic National Convention of the party of the year 1912, it supported unreservedly the candidacy of progressive Woodrow Wilson Presidency, since both basically agreed on fundamental aspects such as the rejection of the world of the big banks and the increase in the power of the powerful financial trust. Once Wilson was elected President, this thanked you the services provided during the campaign naming him Secretary adjunct of the Navy, position that he held until the United States entry in the first world war, and in which he became definitely seasoned in the stormy world of politics in Washington, in addition to establishing a close collaboration with its leader, the Senator Josephus Daniels, which carried out a series of reforms within the Department.
When Wilson decided to retire from politics, Roosevelt was once again instigated by his supporters to pose as democratic vice presidential candidate, accompanied by the leader of the Democrats James Cox. On the contrary, the victory ended on the side of the Republican nomination, led by Warren Gamaliel Harding (1921-1923), accompanied the Vice President by Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929). However, Roosevelt was able to take advantage of the defeat: changed from that moment the way to be known.
After the defeat, Roosevelt spent a few years given to the world of the company private and away from active politics; He devoted himself to various businesses of speculative nature that not proved to have the same ability that would characterize him in politics. Shortly before the age of forty, the personal tragedy hit Roosevelt. In August of the year 1921, he suffered a sudden attack of polio that kept him for several weeks on the brink of death. The disease kept him completely paralysed the first two years and left him invalid for the rest of his life.
With a huge dose of will, optimism and desire to overcome, Roosevelt was able to get ahead and rescue a political career that already seemed doomed to failure, thanks to aid and tenacity of his wife Eleanor, who was the person who most supported him and believed in him, apart from take care of keeping alive the contacts between the dome Democrat and her husband while it recoveredmarches forced, in the seaside resort of Warm Spring. Finally, after seven long years of personal struggle against adversity, Roosevelt returned to the political arena at the enthusiasm and the admiration of friends and strangers.
Despite doubts raised by his disability, Roosevelt decided to run as a candidate for the governorship of the State of New York in 1928. It showed in a dramatic election campaign, in which his charm and ability to persuade public opinion shone above all, that it had not lost its former vitality. Although the Democrats returned to leave defeated in presidential elections by Republican candidate Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), Roosevelt was able to prevail in elections at the governorate with a close to the 25,000 margin of votes.
During the four years at the head of the State, cemented its reputation for politically progressive and concerned by the poorer classes thanks to an ambitious programme of social reforms that is soon revealed as the most suitable to deal with the critical years of the great depression. The channel used to carry out his plans was the creation of the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration ('temporary emergency relief agency'). Likewise, to further strengthen the effectiveness of its management, Roosevelt brought to spin to a team of collaborators, the famous Brain Trust ('brains group'), professors and experts from Columbia University group responsible for developing a comprehensive plan of actions and measures of shock against the crisis, whose main characteristic was the direct intervention of the State Government.
His first term in the Administration, with a totally positive balance, made it possible for you to win the re-election of office in the elections of the year 1930, this time with a margin of votes over his opponent close to the 725,000. Roosevelt was limited to continue to apply its measures of salvation on a par that was prepared to go to the next National Convention of the party, which was held in Chicago in the year 1932, which would leave elected democratic candidate for the Presidency by a large majority of the participants, to the detriment of the leader of the party, Smith.
The Roosevelt campaign was exemplary and full of dynamism and imagination when it comes to finding the means to reach the greatest possible number of voters, in contrast to the of the Republican leader, still President Herbert Hoover, terribly worn and hated by the people as a result of the great depression. The elections, held on November 8, 1932, assumed a resounding success for Roosevelt, which got about twenty-three million votes compared to fifteen million achieved by his rival.
When Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933, the social and economic situation of the country could not be worse, since four months have elapsed between the election and the inauguration in the economy returned to plummet, which resulted in an alarming rise in unemployment, on a fully sunk stock, with thousands of banks in a process of irreversible collapse (38 States had proclaimed the indefinite Bank closure) and the prices of agricultural products far below the cost of production.
In the opening of his inauguration speech, Roosevelt said no specific proposals, but yes gave satisfaction to the yearnings of hope and recovery nationals committed stating that "the only that we must fear is fear itself", confirming the capacity of the State to deal with success, enthusiasm and guarantees to the critical period with similar words that which was going through the country. For the first time a US President policy was stained an undeniable social content and emphasis on developing equal opportunities under the direct supervision of the federal State. The political practice consisting of a moderate intervention against wild liberal individualism of the past was devoted to.
During his first 100 days of Presidency (the famous "100 days of Roosevelt"), the President left stunned everyone with its legislative furor, besides by the consequent change of style, of a never seen to date interventionism, permanently assisted by his "brains trust".
The objective was to improve the purchasing power of workers and agricultural classes, while Bankers Trust sought. The Congress was literally riddled by Roosevelt with messages, proposals and bills, measures that were approved in record time and which affected all kinds of issues and the country's endemic problems: unemployment benefits, industry, agriculture, labour, transport, banking and currency.
To remedy the failure of the banking system, Roosevelt took forward the Emergency Relief Administration Act ('emergency Banking Act'), which issued is the reopening of banks, gave the Treasury the Faculty exclusive issue currency and prevent hoarding of gold, the abandonment of the old pattern gold and promoted the necessary return of the dollar.
The next size was the approval of the Civilian Conservation Corps Act ('law of the Corps civilian conservation'), from the end of 1933, which established an organization collecting young unemployed to work on conservation projects. Measure success testifies the fact that, for an end to these campaigns, two and a half million of young people had passed by it and is nearly 8 million hectares had been replanted and had built several dams.
On May 12, was adopted as follows, the Federal Emergency Refief Administration Act ('Federal Administration of urgent aid'), which established a Fund of $ 500 million, which eventually amounted to 5,000, to promote the realization of public works or citizen interest. When the FERA money ran out, was replaced by the Public Works Administration ('public works service'), creating again cuno formed to oversee all these achievements which, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, built schools, courts, hospitals, dams, bridges, roads, public buildings of all kinds, etc.
Innovation more spectacular if it fits was developed by the program Tennessee Valley Authority, also developed in the year 1933, called to become one of the greatest achievements of the New Deal, which was projected on the depressed area of the Tennessee River, the construction of dams and hydroelectric power plants to provide cheap electricity. It also included the control of floods, claims of lands, reforestation, rehousing, which achieved greater diversification in the southern economy.
By the Agricultural Adjustment Act ('agricultural adjustment Act') of 1933, Roosevelt tried to raise farm prices by cutting production. The farmers and ranchers who agreed to reduce the production of their crops and cattle were rewarded with State funds from taxes on producers of specific agricultural products.
On June 16, Roosevelt and his team later pulled the National Industrial Recovery Act ('National Industrial Recovery Act'), in order to prevent ruinous price between traders and industrial competition and exploitation of women and children in small craft workshops. To do this, created the National Recovery Administration ('national reconstruction administration'). The NRA also legitimized the collective bargaining by sector, printing a special impetus to the trade union movement.
In the same line of strengthening banking, passed the Glass-Steagall Act, which extended the Federal Reserve system, enabled banks to participate in investment business and created the Federal Bank Deposit Insurance Corporation ('society Federal insurance on bank deposits'), to guarantee individual deposits of less than $5,000. The strict regulation of the issuance of securities, reinforced by the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission ('securities and Exchange Commission'), from the year 1934, required full disclosure of information about new securities issues, circumstances that provoked the disenchantment of big business and financial agents that began to make a common front against the economic policy too interventionist Roosevelt. Finally, in 1935, Roosevelt took forward the social Security Act ('Social security law'), which established a mandatory national pension system and a federal system state unemployment insurance, both funded by wage deductions and business contributions.
But, despite its undeniable successes, Roosevelt suffered his first loss to confront the judiciary, namely the Supreme Court, dominated by Republicans and power groups, contrary to the economic "eccentricities" of the President. On May 27, 1935, the Supreme Court invalidated the NRA by unconstitutional, since it was at odds with commercial autonomy of the States. On January 6, 1936, the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Act) followed the same path. Even so, Roosevelt continued undisturbed and with the same dynamism its social and economic reforms, which, despite having little support for part of the specialized press and political circles, returned to win the presidential elections in the year 1936 at the Republican nominee Alfred M. Landon, made it returned again in 1940 and 1944 against the candidate Wendell L. Wilkie and Thomas Deweyrespectively. Without a doubt, the imminence of the second world war, followed by the participation of the United States, helped get the attention of all the political forces in the country's internal problems to lend it to foreign policy.
Supporter in the beginning of the interventionist ideas of his political reference, the former President Woodrow Wilson, once he was elected President, Roosevelt leaned for support to the powerful isolationist sector of his party, fearing that an internal conflict could endanger his plan of the New Deal. To reaffirm that triumphant isolationism, Congress passed between the years 1935 to 1937 three laws on neutrality, the Neutrality Act, which was prohibited to the Government of the United States support or censure any country that is located in a belligerent situation, either offender or assaulted, in addition to a series of embargoes. The measure adopted allowed, for example, that Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, without the slightest U.S. protest, or also the non-inclusion of the country into the League of Nations.
Regarding Latin America, Roosevelt adopted a political line based on the "good-neighbourliness", which carried still further the policy of gradual withdrawal undertaken by the Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover: granted full independence to Cuba in 1934, and two years later to Panama; in 1936 he sent to evacuate the island of Haiti all the military occupation troops; and, finally, allowed a series of nationalist seizure of several South American countries on products and U.S. industries installed in their territories. The purpose of Roosevelt was none other than offset a more than possible German and Italian influence in the neighboring republics of the South, so it should endeavour to find ways of cooperation economic and political with these countries, as did participate actively, as a member in the Pan-American conferences of Montevideo, in 1933, of Buenos Aires, in 1936, and, lastly, de Lima, in 1938.
Only when the nazi blow over Europe became apparent, Roosevelt began to take seriously the need to enter the war, a decision that contributed to the dangerous Japanese expansionist movement across the Pacific, which seriously endangered the American interests in the area. Despite the laws of neutrality, Roosevelt was able to convince the Congress to vote a law authorizing the sale of weapons to countries at war that could pay him in cash and carry it. As Adolf Hitler carried out their plans of invasion throughout Europe, the United States was giving progressively stand isolationist practically into the arsenal of European allied forces, mostly from 11 March 1941, date in which approved the Lend-Lease Act (law of loans and lease), to financially help Britain in its resistance against the nazi Germany. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, December 7, 1941, eventually break any repair of the isolationists. The next day, the Congress block, with only one vote against, declared war on Japan. Three days later, as expected, Germany and Italy, jointly declared war on the United States.
From the Declaration of war, Roosevelt redoubled his responsibilities to establish itself in the main coordinator of the war efforts of the allies. Your efforts made their way to establish and strengthen ties between the allies. In August 1941, he met the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, whose conversation came out of the Atlantic Charter, which established the ideological bases that would later inspire the founding Charter of the United Nations. Two years later, in January 1943, both politicians again found in the Casablanca Conference, which adopted the doctrine of unconditional surrender on the totalitarian powers with a view to avoid a future German military resurgence. Subsequently, at the Quebec Conference, August 1943, the allies planned the d-day landing in Normandy, and in Moscow, in October of the same year, the creation of an international organization capable of ensuring world peace once ended the conflict. This last issue would be addressed with much more depth and realism at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, in which Roosevelt and his counterparts, Churchill , and Stalin, put the bases of the future UN as the only guarantee to preserve peace. At Yalta, Roosevelt, decided to avoid any friction with the USSR (which previously had been officially recognised in 1933), allowed a substantial shift of Polish borders westward for the Soviet Union and handed over the Balkans to Soviet influence, along with transmanchurianos railways, the South of the peninsula of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.
Despite its significant participation in International Affairs, unfortunately Roosevelt could not see the end of the war or witnessed the victory in which so much effort had been wasted. Victim of an irreversible physical degradation that forced him to retreat in Warm Spring after the Yalta Conference, on April 12, 1945 died of a cerebral hemorrhage. With him disappeared the President most beloved and at the same time most hated in the history of the United States. His mortal remains were installed in the gardens of his residence homestead in Hyde Park, next to the Hudson River, as it was his last wish.
Probably, Roosevelt has been the President of the United States most important of the century. It changed the very essence of American policy, expanding the role of the federal Government and thus ensuring a stable framework for more balanced economic and social development that would raise the country to the first place in world politics.
COOKE, Donald. E: atlas of the presidents. New Jersey: Hammond Incorporated, 1977.
FERNÁNDEZ Sánchez-Barba, Mario: History of the United States: of the bourgeois Republic on presidential power. Madrid: Marcial Pons, 1997.
FLYN, John. T: the myth of Roosevelt. Barcelona: Mateu, 1962.
JONES, Maldwyn. A: history of the United States (1607-1992). Madrid: Cátedra, 1995.
MORISON, Samuel Eliot: Brief history of the United States. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1993.
PALMOWSKI, Jan: Universal history of the 20th century. Madrid: Editorial Complutense, 1998.
C. Herraiz García.