Essay About Franklin Roosevelt

A Tale of Two Roosevelts: Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt

In this paper we are going to concentrate on two very important figures in the political development of the USA: Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt. We would have to stop at imperialistic development, legacies of both, main historical events that took part after each of them came to power.

Thus a man, born in 1882 in New York, graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School, later came to politics as a Democrat, was the winner of election to the New York Senate in 1910, was a Democratic nominee for Vice President and as a result he was called a person, who help American people to go through Great Depression without loosing faith in themselves.

For his first term as a president Franklin Roosevelt was elected in November 1932. At that moment the situation in the country was far from safe and successful, there were around 13 million people without work, most of the banks were closed, people were afraid of losing not only their job but also their homes and farms. Roosevelt is well known for his first “recovery” program “first 100 days”. The aim of this strategic step was quick relief for the country. His idea about the Depression was that is happened due to lack of investments, which in its turn was the result of lack of people’s confidence, thus in order to make the situation better he offered a number of bills. “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” (Nixon, Edgar B, 156). Roosevelt was cutting the regular federal budget, reduced money for education and scientific researches. When the Second New Deal started the president gave a kind of challenge for business people.

War times were really tough for economical development of the country if to compare it with peacetime, but the president underlined that American people were to consider economic rights as s Second Bill of Rights. This resulted in speedy economical development during this president’s term. It is important to mention changes in tax system of that time, before Roosevelt was elected, the top marginal tax rate was increased from 25 % to 63%. During the 2nd World War it became even higher – 91%.

“The rejection of the League of Nations treaty in 1919 marked the dominance of isolationism from world organizations in American foreign policy. Despite Roosevelt’s Wilsonian background, he and Secretary of State Cordell Hull acted with great care not to provoke isolationist sentiment. Roosevelt’s “bombshell” message to the world monetary conference in 1933 effectively ended any major efforts by the world powers to collaborate on ending the worldwide depression, and allowed Roosevelt a free hand in economic policy” (Ellis Hawley, 15).

During his second term there was not really a lot of legislation passed, for example minimum wage was defined with the help of United States Housing Authority, second Agricultural Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. In order to react to the second decrease of economy level Roosevelt worked out an aggressive program of stimulation, which resulted in creation of 3.3 million jobs by the end of 1938. Labor units got strong support from the president, but the fact that they were split in two influenced negatively the party.

During his third term the president did his best not to involve the USA in the war. At a secret meeting in 1941 he met W. Churchill in Newfoundland in order to discuss the Atlantic Charter. “By 1941, unemployment had fallen to under 1 million. There was a growing labor shortage in all the nation’s major manufacturing centers, accelerating the Great Migration of African-American workers from the Southern states, and of underemployed farmers and workers from all rural areas and small towns” (Nixon, Edgar B, 111). On the 7th December 1941 was an attack from Japan at Pearl Harbor, but for Roosevelt it was still more important to defeat Nazi Germany. Afterwards, another important task was to take the correct political decisions for after – war Europe. Although the meeting of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin in Yalta in 1945 was considered an important historical moment, most of the decisions were taken before already.

Death of president was a kind of shock not only for American people. Having been a president for around 12 years, he managed to lead the country through serious crisis and historical events.

Theodore Roosevelt was well known for his personality, interests and achievements and he became the 26th president of the USA after the assassination of William McKinley. Roosevelt was first of all a strong reformer with progressive views. “His “Square Deal” promised a fair shake for the average citizen, including regulation of railroad rates and pure foods and drugs. As an outdoorsman he promoted the conservation movement, emphasizing efficient use of natural resources” (Brands, H.W, 17).

He managed to win the Nobel Prize for negotiating peace in the war between Russia and Japan, he decided to take part in construction of Panama Canal, as he considered it to be the most important international achievement. “He dominated his era as he dominated conversation…” – that was said by historian Thomas Bailey. When Roosevelt became president he mentioned his intention to continue the policy of the former president and for some time he was in reality doing this. In 1902 during the anthracite coal strike Roosevelt managed to negotiate a compromise thus saving the urban homes from lack of heating supply.

In 1906, Congress had to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.

Roosevelt was one of the first to pay enough attention to conservation of national resources, he had a strong support from the side of hunters and fishermen. He insisted on establishment of The United States Forest Service in 1905, thus talking care of forest land. The words of Roosevelt were: “There is an intimate relation between our streams and the development and conservation of all the other great permanent sources of wealth.” (Blum, John Morton, 118).

Talking about foreign policy it is necessary to mention the concentration on the idea that more developed countries were to help and to support the less developed countries to go forward. Thus people from Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico received medical and other kinds of help for their infrastructure.

The size of the navy was growing till finally there was the Great White Fleet formed. During his presidency there were a lot of other firsts, for example: a Cabinet Secretary was for the first time a Jew, Roosevelt himself was the first president under Secret Service Protection, he was the first to put on a tie for the official portrait, he was the first president who was reelected in his own right.

Roosevelt was known also for his attitude to press, as soon as he realized its power and support he started to invite press people to the White House constantly.

In 1909 Roosevelt went for his famous safari, apart of a lot of animals hunted during that safari, this was not a simple entertainment trip, this was more of social interference with people’s lives there.

In 1908 Roosevelt was pushing Taft to the position of his Secretary of war for the Presidency as his considered him also a genuine progressive. But his progressivism turned out to be different, while he preferred to trust to law people to take basic decisions about fairness, and not to politicians. Thus when Roosevelt started to attack federal courts, Taft was not happy about it. “Not only had Roosevelt alienated big business, he was also attacking both the judiciary and the deep faith Republicans had in their judges (most of whom had been appointed by McKinley, Roosevelt or Taft.) In the 1910 Congressional elections, Democrats swept to power, and Taft’s reelection in 1912 was increasingly in doubt.” (Blum, John Morton, 252).

In the year 1913 the president took up an expedition to Brazilian jungle, which was a really hard ordeal for him and his health.

Thus if to compare these two presidents, it is necessary first of all to underline that both were without any doubts great personalities and they by right occupy their places on the historical pages of the USA development. They both were concerned with interests of people and did their best to help them to go through hard times of economical stagnation and wars. Mostly their ideas and bills were a success, although basically their approaches were different. We are talking about Franklin Roosevelt and his conservative approach – “new Left writers have chided him for offering a “profoundly conservative” response to a situation that had the potential for revolutionary change, while commentators of no particular persuasion have criticized him for failing to bring the country out of the Depression short of war, for maneuvering America into World War II (or for not taking the nation to war soon enough, for refusing to advocate civil rights legislation, for permitting Jews to perish in Hitler’s death camps, and for sanctioning the internment of Japanese-Americans” (Millard, Candice, 89). Whereas Theodore Roosevelt was considered to be progressive reformer, he was trying to offer fair conditions for usual citizens starting from food and drugs and finishing by railroads. He was very much interested in natural resources, was concerned about creating the natural museum and as it was already mentioned he himself made trips for both social and scientific reasons. Franklin Roosevelt in his turn had to cut money for scientific needs, as his goal was to return people’s confidence and to certain recovery of economics.

On the other hand it is not so easy to compare these two presidents and their political steps, as by the time each of them came to power there were different social and economical situation in the countries, the Great Depression itself can be called a unique event in the history, thus the country at those moments probably at any rate needed different approaches and strategies.

Overall, this papers presents a general short analysis of the political reforms and social situations during the time when at power was F. Roosevelt and T. Roosevelt with an attempt to compare and contrast the two presidents.


1. Ellis Hawley, The New Deal and the Problem of Monopoly, 1966 p. 124
2. Cantril, Hadley and Mildred Strunk, eds.; Public Opinion, massive compilation of many public opinion polls from USA, 1951
3. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, 1976
4. Nixon, Edgar B. ed. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Foreign Affairs 3 vol, 1969
5. Beale Howard K. Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power, 1956
6. Blum, John Morton The Republican Roosevelt, 1954.
7. Brands, H.W. Theodore Roosevelt, full biography, 2001
8. Millard, Candice. River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, 2005

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FDR Essay

During the early 1930s and into the 1940s, America was in great turmoil. The country was suffering from the Great Depression, and to add to it, the nation was on the brink of war. The economy had crashed and was completely left in shambles, and the people were living in conditions that the can be considered incomprehensible to the human mind. Poverty had struck the far reaches of American society, but the largest groups affected were the farmers and those that didn’t have their hands in the big business. This desperate time in American history called for a strong leader to guide the country out of its impoverished state, but was unable to produce in Herbert Hoover. It was not until Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to power that the country began to turn itself around. FDR was the strong leader that America needed because he was able to completely change the long held American principles in order to help America come out of its Great Depression. His first 100 days in office consisted of only making changes to the existing American life to change it, and turn things around. He worked with the farmers and the low prices that they were facing when trying to sell their products, and the overwhelming unemployed population.

FDR continued to set up new programs that would open up jobs for those is dire need of them. FDR had become one of the largest American figures for the way that he attempted to make the common man the largest priority of the government. However, despite all of the things that FDR did for the country to pull it out of the Great Depression, he did receive criticism. Because FDR had become such a large icon, many people began to draw political cartoons having to do with FDR and his actions. Many of them depict how FDR was kind hearted and how he tried to save the “American” man and the country as a whole. However, there are some that show him to be a dictator due to all the power he had accumulated while being in office, and there are some that criticize his efforts because he went beyond the realm of the U.S. Constitution do accomplish what he did. The thoughts on FDR and his programs were mixed, and depended on what the issue pertained to, as shown by the cartoons on him.

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The cartoons about the first 100 days that FDR was in office show how affective he was during that time period. They show how they people were sympathetic to the President and his programs concerning economic issues because they depict FDR doing away with all that was a problem in American society. In this particular cartoon, FDR is the lumberjack that has cut down all of the large corporations, and the large bureaus, and the banking crisis trees to ease the economic tensions that the country was facing. The cartoonist is showing how FDR dealt with the immediate economic problems when FDR assumed the office of the President. This cartoon serves the purpose of showing that FDR took immediate action to ease the economic tensions of the people, and how the people sympathize with him for doing so. This cartoon is sympathetic towards FDR and his New Deal because it gives us a perspective of FDR that shows him to be a great leader, and can possibly find a solution to our country’s problmes by eliminating the existing problems of bank failures, large corporations, and merging bureaus, and a man that led our country to the “port of prosperity” . The cartoonist is able to illustrate for the reader that these types of changes and reforms were supported by the people, and thus allowed FDR to continue to further reform America.

Some of the programs that Roosevelt created that were widely supported were those that dealt with the recovery and reinstallation of confidence in the American financial system. Roosevelt’s first task in office was to restore confidence in the people, and fix the financial problems, so he started by declaring a national bank holiday and pushed trough the Emergency Banking Act. In addition to this, he took the nation off of the gold standard that it was on, and passed numerous acts dealing with the Federal Reserve and the stock exchanges to prevent a future crash in the economy . This cartoon portrays how Roosevelt came into office with an agenda, and creates a sense of reliability in the new American President because he has some focus on the issue at hand, and has solutions. As soon as FDR came to office, he jumped on top of the problem immediately, as shown by some of the cartoons. They depict FDR running with bills to reform the banking system, in order to show the urgency that Roosevelt dealt with the problems . These actions were widely supported by the people because of the popular anger at the banking system and the economy as a whole .This explains why the people and congress allowed FDR to make so many drastic changes in such a short amount of time.

One of the most prevailing issues of Roosevelt’s that was supported greatly by the people was the farm relief issue. During the late 1920s and continuing on to the 1930s, the price of agricultural products dropped significantly because farmers were simply not able to sell enough crop. They could barely pay for their own food, which means that they had no way to pay for mortgage and other costs. In addition to this, the U.S. farming region had suffered a major drought and many dust storms that would make growing anything a near impossibility. This ecological disaster left the American farming population severely impoverished. In order to fix this problem FDR began to implement agricultural reforms to provide relief to the farmers. To restore stability to the agricultural sector, FDR developed one major program, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). As shown by this cartoon, the AAA was designed to restore the agricultural sector by having the government by some of the extra grain produced by the farmers since that was a major cause to low crop prices. This would lead to the restoration of parity between farm products and industrial products, allowing the farmers to make some more money off of their crops. In addition to this program, FDR established farm credit unions to ensure that farmers would not be put in severe debt, or would not be severely broke. This would allow them to continue to stay in business and grow more crop and food for the country, and thus establish a sturdy foundation for the agricultural sector for America. FDR got a lot of sympathy for this program because the farmer was constantly overlooked in the past. Finally, a President addressed the farmer’s quarries and problems .

Another aspect that the cartoons of FDR and his programs focus on is the unemployment situation. At this time, America was suffering from the worst unemployment that it had ever experienced. This was a major concern among the people, which made it a great concern for Roosevelt. This caused Roosevelt to implement programs such as the National Recovery Act (NRA) and the Civil Works Administration (CWA) to help the searching workers find jobs. These programs led to many unemployed workers getting new jobs, and receiving some form of income. Roosevelt did not stop with just these programs, as the cartoon shows the reader . He continued to develop new ways to help the unemployed population with new emergency work relief programs. This was another issue that the people and the cartoons appeared to be sympathetic towards the President, his actions, and his programs. The people were in great need for jobs, and FDR made that available to them, and hence he was praised by the people for doing so. His actions towards not only the unemployed, but also the farmers and the American population as a whole caused his relation to the American people to be strong.

FDR was adored by a good majority of the people because of the actions he took to help those very people, and the things he did to help the whole country out of the depression. His relation with the people was shown right when he came to office. He was able to instill this new sense of confidence in the government and in the economy. He was attempting to make people believe in their system, and by doing this he was able to make the people have faith in him and his actions . Roosevelt attempted to make himself closer to the people by doing things like his “fire-side” radio chats. This would allow the people to know exactly what he planned to do to help the nation out, and this allowed the people to trust him. By speaking to the public directly, FDR was able to not only gain their trust, but also gain their permission to continue to reform the government and the economy. In addition to the direct communication with the public, FDR was able to strengthen his link with the average American by pushing for the repealing of the 18th Amendment, which called for prohibition. FDR realized that people had this necessity for alcohol to numb their sorrows away. People wanted to have beer because it helped them escape from the actual reality of the depression. This urge among the people caused FDR to push for a new amendment, which would repeal the 18th Amendment. This caused the people to fortify their support for and relation with FDR because it showed a genuine caring for the American citizen . All of this trust and confidence that FDR instilled in the American people led to people seeing him as a hero in a sense. To the people, FDR had become the man that saved the United States from complete ruin. His actions arguably may have saved America from Communism or Socialism because of the previous failure in capitalism. His policies and programs helped him develop an image of an American hero, while people like Herbert Hoover were forgotten about because of their failure to accomplish anything in a time that required a leader . The fact that FDR was able to give the people what they wanted and needed allowed him to receive the approval of a good majority of people . He had developed a relationship with the American people as the President who really represented the public.

Despite all of the praise and approval that FDR had received, there were many critiques to his actions. Many people argue that the first 100 days of Roosevelt’s office were unconstitutional because he assumed power out of the realm of the United States Constitution . He had the authority to pass anything he wanted in that time period because he asked Congress to give it to him. This allowed him to quickly start all the programs that he felt were necessary for recovery. Granted that these programs did help the recovery of the country, many people argue that it was unconstitutional, and for that reason FDR is criticized. Many critics began to call Roosevelt a dictator because of all the power that he assumed over congress. He no longer needed to go through the time enduring process of getting a bill or act passed by the majority of Congress, but rather just had to tell them that he was doing it, and it would get passed . In that sense, Roosevelt had the power to do anything he wanted because the legislative body was not going to stop him since he had so much success in leading America to recovery. The dictatorial power that Congress, in essence, handed FDR also caused FDR to receive criticism about how the New Deal was extremely radical. People began to question his reforms and the extent to which the reforms changed American society.

In this cartoon, the cartoonist shows the farmer alongside Roosevelt in the train roller to show how FDR greatly supported the farmers and their cause. However, in the cartoonist portrays FDR to be a radical since he is taking the Farm Relief Bill too far. The cartoon describes how the new bill alienates the business man, and completely rids away with the traditional government position of laissez faire. The cartoonist questions Roosevelt’s actions because he is using his “Presidential” power to destroy the old, “traditional American principles.” Prior to this point in American history, the government only served to make and enforce the laws, and to prevent chaos. Additionally, the government always had this principle of “business is business,” as said by President Coolidge. However, with the arrival of FDR into office and his new programs, the government had its hands in almost every sector of the economy, with things like the TVA. The fact that Roosevelt pushed his programs like the TVA and the Farm Relief Bill caused people to criticize him and his New Deal. Roosevelt’s response to all the criticism also caused more critics to rise and speak out. Roosevelt ignored the critics, and kind of brushed them off to the side because he was doing something for the greater good . On top of ignoring the critics, Roosevelt did not consult his cabinet and his administration for some of his programs, as seen in some of the critical cartoons of him. Roosevelt felt that the severity of the Great Depression was large, and that immediate action needed to be taken, thus causing him to ignore a great deal of outside voices.

All of these criticisms from the cartoonists caused FDR and his New Deal to be extremely controversial. People began to question capitalism because of its failure, and the fact that the savior of capitalism in a way was a dictatorship. The controversy over the amount of power FDR was given vs. the amount of power he should have had been given by the Constitution was the major controversial issue. FDR not only had executive power, but also was given legislative power by Congress itself, which stirred up controversy . No time in America’s history had the country seen a period where a President had so much power over the nation. This was something of concern to people which is why the Amendment to limit the number of terms one President can serve was ratified. This caused people to also question the validity of FDR’s actions since some feel that the New Deal was a radical movement in American history, and that it completely changed the American lifestyle.

American life was changed drastically by the New Deal as a whole. The government had its hands in virtually every sector of American industry, agriculture, and the economy. It was given new powers in order to ensure the success of capitalism and that the country never experiences such hardships ever again. It also gave people more faith in their government, in fact, a little too much faith. People began to assume that the national government would take care of everything like it did during the Great Depression, and that they could sit back and relax while the government did so . In a sense, the extended involvement of the government in American life caused apathy and ignorance. People didn’t care what was happening anymore, but rather assumed that the government would take care of it, for example, inflation problems. It seemed as if FDR’s programs did its job too well because of the newfound apathy. In addition to the new sense of security and confidence that people have now, the New Deal has changed American life in that some of the very programs that were intended to only serve during the Great Depression are around to this very day. Things like Social Security and welfare are still around to help those that are in need of it due to unemployment or disability. Whether or not FDR and his New Deal were positive or negative, clearly it has changed American life and society.

The period of the Great Depression is one that will last forever in American history. That time period challenged the very foundation of America and through the actions of one man was America able to get though the troubling period. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal programs may have very well changed the whole American system, and has enjoyed great support for doing so because he can be seen as the savior of capitalism. However, he can also be seen as one of the most radical leaders that this country has ever seen, and maybe even as far as a dictator due to the drastic changes that he made to the country. He will forever be an integral part of American history.


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