Franklin Delano Roosevelt

This essay has a total of 2508 words and 10 pages.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt





The Life and Times of
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt
came from the same line that produced Theodore Roosevelt. Franklin’s father James
was a graduate of Harvard, and took over the family’s coal and transportation
holdings. He then moved to Hyde Park, an estate on the Hudson River. When his first
wife died in 1876, he met and married Sara Delano. She attended school abroad, in London,
China, and Paris.

Franklin had a secure childhood. His half -brother was a grown man when Franklin was
born, so he had all the attention from his parents. During summers he traveled to Europe,
New England or Campobello island, where he developed a love for sailing. Franklin’s
academic record was ordinary, and he wasn’t good at sports. He was called the
“feather-duster” by some of his classmates who thought he was shallow.
Roosevelt then attended Harvard. There he didn’t do much better, but his previous
education had prepared him so well that he was able to get his degree in only three years.
However, he showed little excitement about his studies.

While at Harvard, Roosevelt fell in love with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, his fifth cousin
once removed. She was the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt’s brother. By the age of
ten both of Eleanor’s parents had died. She was raised by her grandmother, and
because of her emotionally abusive parents, she grew up feeling rejected, thinking she was
ugly and fat. So, when Franklin, a Harvard man who was two years older than she was, paid
her attention she was flattered. On March 17, 1905, the two Roosevelts were married.
Eleanor’s uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, gave her away.

In the following eleven years Eleanor had five children. Having been born into wealth,
the Roosevelts never lacked money, and moved easily among the upper class. Although,
Eleanor was often unhappy in the relationship. She had to live with Franklin’s
widowed and domineering mother, who made her do things around the house while Franklin was
out with friends, enjoying life. Later, during World War I, Eleanor found out that
Franklin was having an affair with their social secretary, a Virginian named Lucy Mercer.
Through even this, Eleanor stayed married and loyal to Franklin throughout the 40 years of
their marriage. When Franklin contracted polio in 1921, she worked hard to help him in
restoring his emotional health and to help him regain his political aspirations. She
served as his eyes and ears while he was confined to a wheelchair.

In Franklin’s professional life he felt unfulfilled. He went to the Columbia Law
School until 1907. He passed the New York State bar examination, and then quit school,
foregoing the degree. He then took a job with the Wall Street Law Firm. Much of their
practice was in corporate law, and Roosevelt found the work tedious. By 1910 he was 28,
and he was not happy with his profession. He felt politics gave him purpose, so he ran
for the New York State Senate in 1910. Party leaders recognized that he had no political
experience, but he had two important things. He had the wealth to run a political
campaign, and the most well-known political name in the United States. However, it was
the democratic party asking Roosevelt to run. He had voted Republican and Theodore
Roosevelt was Republican, but his father was a Democrat. He knew it would be an exciting,
worthwhile experience, so he decided to do it.

During the campaign, Roosevelt worked as never before. He bought a car and drove all over
the county, acquiring support. He got advice from political veterans, and showed skill
with his willingness to listen and his ability to make himself agreeable to voters. One
thing that he felt like a great asset to him was his growth away from the Republican
party, which was badly split in 1910. With the brilliant use of all these things,
Roosevelt was won impressively. He took direct action, and made an immediate impact in
the legislative session. At that time, United State senators from New York were elected
by legislative officials, not by the majority vote of the people. The Democrats had all
but decided on William F. Sheehan, who was the choice of Tammany Hall, New York’s
powerful political machine. A small minority of Democrats objected to this choice.
Roosevelt became the leader of this minority within the Democratic party. Not only did
Roosevelt dislike the choice of this party, he didn’t like the fact that Tammany
Hall had such an influence on the decisions of the Democrats. Tammany Hall then recanted
their support toward Sheehan and directed it toward Judge James O’Gorman, who was a
former Tammany Grand Sachem. O’Gorman eventually won the seat to the house, but
Roosevelt and allies took some consolation, because they forced a withdrawal of Sheehan
and drew national attention in doing so. Roosevelt evoked mixed reactions from other
United States officials. Progressive reformers liked his devotion, courage and
willingness to work hard. Although, party regulators like Alfred Smith and Robert Wagner
considered Roosevelt a lightweight and a headline-seeker.

In 1912 Roosevelt defied Tammany Hall again. He Supported Gov. Woodrow Wilson for the
Democratic presidential nomination. When Wilson won Roosevelt ran for re-election to the
state senate. During the campaign, Roosevelt contracted Typhoid fever, but he was helped
to victory by Louis Howe, who would become his most loyal aide.

Roosevelt was offered a more attractive job, assistant secretary of the Navy. Theodore
Roosevelt had held this position fifteen years before. Roosevelt accepted the offer and
moved to Washington DC in 1913. During his term as assistant secretary, Roosevelt
reminded many people of Theodore Roosevelt. He advocated a big Navy, preparedness, a
strong presidency, and an active foreign policy. Roosevelt served as assistant secretary
for seven years, and during that stint he gained experience and connections all over
Washington. By the time this term had ended Roosevelt had lost some of his haughtiness.
He now was exuberant, and become charming and projected vitality.

With all these new qualities and experiences under his belt, Roosevelt became a popular
choice for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination. In 1920 he ran with Governor of
Ohio, James M. Cox. They were beaten by Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

With the Republicans having a hold on the political scene, Roosevelt returned to private
life. He started a law firm in New York City and became vice president of Fidelity and
Deposit Company of Maryland, a surety bonding firm. Roosevelt contracted polio in August,
1921, but he fought back with the help of Eleanor and Louis Howe. In 1924 he went to the
medicinal waters of Warm Springs in western Georgia, in the hopes that it would help
relieve his paralysis. He had other business endeavors but his interest remained in
politics. Throughout his “off time” from politics, Roosevelt broadened his
contacts in Washington by stopping by on his way to Warm Springs, or writing letters to
help fuse the chasm that was prevalent in the Democratic party. In 1924 he gave an
eloquent nomination speech for Alfred Smith. Smith was not nominated by the Democratic
party to run for president, but he was reelected as governor of New York in 1926. Again,
in 1928 Alfred Smith ran for president, and this time he was elected as the Democratic
candidate. Then Roosevelt agreed to run for governor of New York, against the advice of
Eleanor and Louis Howe. Roosevelt won by a narrow margin, and Smith lost to Herbert
Hoover.

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