FDR A Biography Essay

This essay has a total of 1983 words and 9 pages.


FDR A Biography





Franklin Delano Roosevelt, popularly known as FDR, was born on January 30, 1882 at the
family estate in Hyde Park, New York. His father, James, graduated from Harvard Law
School, married, had a son, and took over his family?s rights in coal and transportation.
Despite the fact that he lost a good deal of money in financial gambles, he remained
wealthy enough to travel by private railroad car, to live comfortably on his Hudson River
estate at Hyde Park, and to travel at length. After his first wife died, James waited four
years to remarry to Sara Delano, a sixth cousin. She was also a member of the Hudson River
aristocracy, and although she was only half of James? 52 years, she settled into their
Hyde Park estate quite comfortably. The marriage worked well until it was broken by James?
death in 1900.

Young Franklin Roosevelt had a secure and pleasant childhood. His half-brother was already
an adult when Franklin was born, and so he had no rival for the attention of his parents.
During the summer months he would travel with his parents to Europe, to the seaside in New
England, or to Campobello Island off the coast of New Brunswick, where he developed a love
for the ocean and sailing. Until the age of 14 FDR received his education from private
tutors.

FDR?s most lasting educational experience was at Groton School in Massachusetts, which he
attended from 1896 to 1900. Groton?s headmaster, Reverend Endicott Peabody, instilled the
virtue of public service in Franklin, and this would be something that he would carry with
him throughout his life. At Groton FDR was not academically outstanding, nor did he gain
vast popularity,? Franklin struggled to fit in?but he was only a spindly five feet three
inches tall, too slight for football, baseball, or crew, the only sports that really
mattered at Groton. Tennis and golf, at which he excelled, were not considered important?
(Miller 27). However he was liked enough for someone home-schooled his whole life, and FDR
displayed his ability to adapt to situations. In addition, one of the most important
virtues that FDR would ever attain came from his years at Groton: his belief that the
children of the upper class had a duty to give back to the lesser fortunate.

FDR then went on to Harvard University, from 1900 to 1904, where he performed only
slightly better than he had at Groton. Thanks to his tremendous preparation at Groton,
however, FDR was able to complete his course study for his B.A. in 1903, only three years.
During his fourth year he was editor of the Crimson, the college newspaper, but he was not
admitted to the most prestigious social club. He did not receive much inspiration in the
classroom, and he displayed no excitement about his studies.

While he was at Harvard FDR fell in love with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, his fifth cousin
once removed. Eleanor came from a troubled past, but grew up in the same aristocracy that
FDR himself had. On March 17, 1905, the two were married. The marriage worked well enough,
with Eleanor giving birth to five children within the first 11 years of their marriage.
Having both been born into wealth, neither Roosevelt had any problem mixing with the
aristocracy of the New York area. Despite often periods of unhappiness, Eleanor stayed
true to Franklin for the 40 years of their marriage, even when she learned of an affair he
was having during World War I. She proved to be one of his main supporters when it came to
his political career.

Franklin attended Columbia Law School until spring of 1907, when he dropped out after
passing the New York State Bar Examination. He then took a job with the Wall Street firm
of Carter, Ledyard, and Milburn. Much of the firm?s practice was that of corporate law.
Sick of his job as a law clerk, Franklin couldn?t wait to jump into politics, which he saw
as having a sense of purpose. In 1910 Democratic part leaders sought him out as candidate
for New York State Senate, as he had many assets, mainly cash. He agreed to run, and
worked to campaign, as he had never done anything before. Acquiring a beat up old car he
canvassed the district looking for votes, ?The car had no top and no windshield, and they
wore raincoats when it rained and dusters on dirt roads. They spoke in milk stations,
grange halls, in village streets, they rang doorbells and shook hands?? (Morgan 115). FDR
quickly made a name for himself when he opposed the corrupt Tammany Hall, the political
machine that ran New York at the time. With his reputation as a charismatic hard worker,
FDR earned key positions in Woodrow Wilson?s administration. Appointed Wilson?s Assistant
Secretary of the Navy by Josephus Daniels, then Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt did an
excellent job of gaining congressional support for the navy in World War I. In 1920 FDR
was nominated as the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, running with
James Cox, but they lost decisively to Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

The next year tragedy struck as Roosevelt contracted poliomyelitis, otherwise known as
polio, which attacked his central nervous system and left him paralyzed in his legs.
Although devastated physically by the disease, FDR became a mentally and emotionally
stronger person because of the disease.

In 1924, FDR helped then governor of New York Alfred Smith gain the Democratic
Presidential nominee. Smith then asked FDR in 1928 to run for his ticket on the governor
ballot in New York, and Roosevelt agreed. FDR won the election for governor in an
otherwise Republican year. At the time of this election, the US economy was largely
unsteady, and Governor Roosevelt felt that a crash would come soon. In 1931, when the
Depression was serious, Roosevelt became the first governor to set up an effective state
relief administration. A very effective leader in New York, Roosevelt played the role of
governor naturally, ?Roosevelt had a talent for governing. Whatever the office, he filled
it with natural ease. By training and instinct, he knew how to handle the controls. He had
the right mix of leadership and responsiveness? (Morgan 314). He also became a very
persuasive speaker on the new instrument of radio, and he was reelected in 1930 by the
largest margin in state history.
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