Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Public life

Occupation 1

American President

Occupation 2

Ass't Sec'y of Navy


New York


NA/Mid-Atlantic region


Maritime Nation To 1950 (1921-1950)








Thirty-second president of the United States�

Early in 1913 Woodrow Wilson, the new Democratic president whom Roosevelt had energetically supported, offered him an appointment as assistant secretary of the navy. Roosevelt eagerly accepted, not least because it was from that same position that Theodore Roosevelt had launched his national political career fifteen years earlier. Franklin enjoyed the new job and the Washington social life that came with it, and he plunged into both with a sometimes reckless enthusiasm. In the Navy Department, he was brashly assertive and often almost openly insubordinate to his remarkably tolerant superior, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels; but with the help of Howe, Roosevelt ran the day-to-day affairs of the fast-growing department with reasonable efficiency�

Roosevelt lobbied strenuously for preparedness during the years preceding World War I and for American entry into the war in 1917. Later he successfully promoted the laying of a large barrage of antisubmarine mines in the North Sea, supervised the production of small vessels to defend the American coasts, and intruded himself into deliberations of naval strategy and tactics that were not normally the province of the assistant secretary�

In August 1921� he developed polio while at Campobello Island, his family's summer home, and within days he had lost the use of both of his legs and was in excruciating pain�

From the moment of his landslide reelection as governor of New York in 1930, Roosevelt was the obvious front-runner for the 1932 Democratic presidential nomination�

When [World War II] broke out in Europe in September 1939, Roosevelt insisted that the conflict would not involve the United States, but� public opinion began to move slowly toward support for a more active American role in the conflict. Roosevelt moved with it and at times somewhat ahead of it� In September 1940 Roosevelt traded fifty American destroyers to the British in exchange for several British bases in the Caribbean� Gradually American assistance to the Allies grew even more overt. As German submarines made shipping material across the Atlantic increasingly difficult, American naval vessels began patrolling the ocean and escorting convoys of merchant ships. In August 1941 Roosevelt and Churchill met aboard an American cruiser off Newfoundland and signed the Atlantic Charter, a statement of war aims that called for an end to fascism and a guarantee of national self-determination throughout the world�

On 7 December 1941, without warning, a wave of Japanese bombers struck the American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing more than 2,000 American servicemen and damaging or destroying dozens of ships and airplanes. The next day Roosevelt traveled to Capitol Hill to ask Congress for a declaration of war, which it passed within hours� Frank Knox, a distinguished Chicago publisher of strong internationalist credentials, was secretary of the navy�

On 6 June 1944 Allied forces landed on the Normandy coast and began a successful invasion of France. By August they had liberated Paris, and by mid-September they had driven the Germans almost entirely out of France� Early in April [1945] Roosevelt left Washington for a vacation at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia� On 12 April� [he] suffered a massive stroke and died.

Related Images

Date: 1933
Date: 1933