Our Third Great President
Our third Great President was Franklin Roosevelt. He was also a great communicator and used the new radio medium to distinct advantage. His “fireside chats” calmed the frayed nerves of many Americans during the dark days of the Great Depression. President Franklin Roosevelt was first elected during one of the worst crises of our country. He is credited with initiating some of the most sweeping reforms to ever be enacted by Congress. Some of the hallmarks of his administration – the 1934 Securities Act, Social Security, and many of the other New Deal acts – are still with us today.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt followed the same path to the presidency as his older and favorite cousin, Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt started his political career in the in the New York Assembly. From there he became the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Then Theodore became the New York State governor. In the 1900 Presidential election, he was McKinley’s running mate. And after President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Theodore became President. Franklin Roosevelt followed the same path as his idol. He was a New York State Senator. He became Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. He was a Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic ticket in 1920. He also served as governor of New York.
The younger Roosevelt (Franklin) had a love of the sea, and often sailed his father’s 50-foot sloop from New York to Massachusetts. He was also enthralled by stories of heroic sea battles, and devoured Theodore Roosevelt’s classic book, The War of 1812, which dissected the strategy and tactics of the naval battles between the British fleet and U.S. warships. Roosevelt used his knowledge of the sea and Navy history to strengthen U.S. Naval forces during his tenure as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, which occurred just prior to and during World War I. These experiences also prepared him well for the next world war, which happened during his tenure as president.
President Roosevelt guided our country through the most challenging period in world history, the Second World War. Whereas the First World War was mostly a European and Atlantic Ocean conflict, the Second World War engulfed Europe, Asia, and Africa, and threatened Australia and North America. At least 30 countries were involved, making it the most widespread war in human history. Millions of people died, hundreds of millions of lives were affected, and it was the deadliest war in human history.
Franklin Roosevelt is the only president to serve three full terms and the only president to be re-elected three times (his fourth term was cut short by his untimely death in 1945). He broke the unwritten rule about not serving as president longer than George Washington; however, his rationale for breaking that rule was a good one, as the world was already engulfed in the flames of World War II, and it was only a matter of time before the United States would be involved. On that he was quite prescient, and he led the country and the world through the worst crisis it had ever seen. For this and all the other positive and enduring things he did while he was President, he well deserves the title “Greatest President of the 20th Century.”