Franklin Delano Roosevelt
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Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937. (credit: UPI)
(born Jan. 30, 1882, Hyde Park, N.Y., U.S. ??” died April 12, 1945, Warm Springs, Ga.) 32nd president of the U.S. (1933 ??“ 45). Attracted to politics by the example of his cousin Theodore Roosevelt, he became active in the Democratic Party. In 1905 he married Eleanor Roosevelt, who would become a valued adviser in future years. He served in the New York senate (1910 ??“ 13) and as U.S. assistant secretary of the navy (1913 ??“ 20). In 1920 he was nominated by the Democrats as their vice presidential candidate. The next year he was stricken with polio; though unable to walk, he remained active in politics. As governor of New York (1929 ??“ 33), he set up the first state relief agency in the U.S. In 1932 he won the Democratic presidential nomination with the help of James Farley and easily defeated Pres. Herbert Hoover. In his inaugural address to a nation of more than 13 million unemployed, he pronounced that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Congress passed most of the changes he sought in his New Deal program in the first hundred days of his term. He was overwhelmingly reelected in 1936 over Alf Landon. To solve legal challenges to the New Deal, he proposed enlarging the Supreme Court, but his “court-packing” plan aroused strong opposition and had to be abandoned. By the late 1930s economic recovery had slowed, but Roosevelt was increasingly concerned with the growing threat of war. In 1940 he was reelected to an unprecedented third term, defeating Wendell Willkie. He developed the lend-lease program to aid U.S. allies, especially Britain, in the early years of World War II. In 1941 he met with Winston Churchill to draft the Atlantic Charter. With U.S. entry into war, Roosevelt mobilized industry for military production and formed an alliance with Britain and the Soviet Union; he met with Churchill and Joseph Stalin to form war policy at Tehran (1943) and Yalta (1945). Despite declining health, he won reelection for a fourth term against Thomas Dewey (1944) but served only briefly before his death.