In November 1936, one-third of the nation went to the polls to re-elect a man many called "The Boss", to a second term in office. On January 20th, 1937, when FDR was inaugurated for his second term during one of the worst crises in U.S. history, "The Champ" proclaimed: "Today we reconsecrate our country to long cherished ideals in a suddenly changed civilization. In every land there are always at work forces that drive men apart and forces that draw men together. In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up, or else we all go down, as one people." Neither from the working or lower classes, but from a disciplined and strict upbringing in late-1800's New York, so spoke Franklin DeLeno Roosevelt, who, through his political acumen and his understanding of how to use media to support his causes and policies, became an advocate to what was then known as "the forgotten man".
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT ON MARCH 3, 1933 - INAUGURATION DAY - WEARING FORMAL TOP HAT NOW IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
The Great Depression had devastating effects on the developing United States, on industries, in culture, and within families. Cities all across the country were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Until Roosevelt's first New Deal programs, such as the Public Works Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Act, were enacted, employment was virtually halted in many industries.
A COMMON SIGHT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT SAW DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION - MEN AND WOMEN FACING NO WORK AND HARD TIMES STAND IN LINE FOR COMMODITY SURPLUSES
Farming and rural areas suffered greatly as crop prices fell by 40 to 60 percent. Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as farming, mining and logging suffered the most. Even shortly after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, optimism persisted. It was John D. Rockefeller, who at the time said: “These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again."
FDR IN LIMOUSINE WITH PRESIDENT HERBERT HOOVER ON THE WAY TO CAPITOL FOR 1933 SWEARING IN - FDR HOLDS TOP HAT HE WORE THAT DAY - NOW IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Yet many people during that time, and some historians today, believed that it was President Franklin Roosevelt who brought what is now argued as a situationally necessary expansion of the federal government, as well as a style of leadership, disposition, and temperament which inspired people in such desperate times. While the effects of his policies and the precedent they set for the federal government's role are still today under debate, Roosevelt left a remarkably positive impression on Americans during that time.
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT - FDR'S FAMOUS CIGARETTE HOLDER - NOW IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX AMERICANA COLLECTION
A man of contagious joy, unstoppable enthusiasm, and relentless bipartisanship and coordinative action, he reminded politicians, labor bosses, and everyday Americans of the absolutely necessity of mutual problem-solving and never giving up. Even his 'fireside chats' created an unusually close relationship with the public, speaking directly to the American people as if they were close friends. These chats were crucial to building support for the New Deal and, later, to mobilizing the nation for World War II.
EVERY ABLE-BODIED MAN AGED 18 OR OVER - RECRUITERS FACILITATING THE DRAFT FOR WORLD WAR II - ROOSEVELTS FIRESIDE CHATS HELPED AMERICANS ACCEPT U.S. INVOLVMENT
Many Americans came to feel like they were partners in their government with a man whose warm and understanding voice came right into their living rooms. As one businessman later said, "My mother looks upon the President as someone so immediately concerned with her problems and difficulties that she would not be surprised to see him come over for dinner one evening."
FDR IN PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE - WEARING ONE OF HIS FAMOUS CAPES - THIS CAPE IS NOW IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX AMERICANA COLLECTION
When Roosevelt was just 39 years old, he was stricken with polio, becoming paralyzed for the rest of his life. This tragedy, in the eyes of the American public, came to exemplify a much-needed inspirational reality that physical disabilities are not a barrier to personal achievement. He worked very hard to regain his health and strength, and also demonstrate that to the public through his clever use of the media, often only allowing himself to be seen in public with a cane or walker rather than his wheelchair. In one instance he embarked on a family sailing trip up the eastern coast, with photographers and reporters aboard, to show his capability, strength, and desire to lead and rule. Many believe that his struggle with polio helped give him the empathy and strength needed to help the American people overcome the Great Depression and succeed in World War II.
THE EFFERFESCENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT - WITH SON JIMMY ROOSEVELT - ON THE CAMPAING TRAIL - AN INSPIRATION TO MEGA MILLIONS OF AMERICANS
Like many presidents, he never got the chance to see the peaceful prosperity that he worked to create. The cumulative effects of polio on his body, the stress of political life, and constant cigarette-smoking finally took their toll on April 12th, 1945. One month earlier he traveled to his preferred "resort", in Warm Springs, Georgia, to rest and recuperate; but an unexpected, massive brain hemorrhage took his life at the age of only 63. Serving the longest in office (12 plus years) than any other president, overseeing the worst U.S. financial crises in America's entire history, and cautiously but definitively engaging in a World War that could have become far worse than it did, FDR left us one of the most memorable presidential legacies. He expanded the power of the presidency, created new agencies that transformed the federal government and, in the process, transformed its relationship to American citizens. Many consider him to be one of the Greatest Presidents in history, alongside the likes of Lincoln and Washington.
RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR - THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS