Get to know FDR, 32nd President of the United States and one of the most important political figures of the twentieth century. Elected to an unprecedented four terms, Roosevelt led the United States through two national crises, the Great Depression and World War II, and in the process presided over events that fundamentally altered the course of American history.
A brief biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his personal life and rise to the presidency.
A timeline of FDR's life with key dates and events in history.
The biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, her personal life, activism, and influence as world leader.
A Video Remembrance of FDR
Franklin Delano Roosevelt – 1945
Text: FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT
Narrator: Over the White House at Washington, the flag flies at half-staff as a grief-stricken nation mourns the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the United States. Inside, in the historic Cabinet room, Vice President Harry S. Truman takes the oath of office as 32nd President, administered by Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone. Mrs. Truman is at his side. President Truman asks the full Roosevelt Cabinet to remain in office, expressing his intention to carry on American policies as formulated by the Roosevelt administration. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who became one of the greatest presidents of the United States, a friendly, quick-smiling man who loved his neighbors and his family.
This was a vigorous, dynamic man who lived the strenuous life to the hilt, despite the tragic crippling paralysis which almost ended his career at the age of 39. Much of his time was spent with his family. A nation, and a world, plunged into lasting sorrow by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death offers deepest condolence, first, to the Roosevelt family.
This was Franklin Roosevelt. Born to prosperity and comfort, but who dedicated all of his adult years to the service of his fellow men: as assistant secretary of Navy in the First World War; as candidate for vice president in 1920; and then as governor of the state of New York for two terms. Achieving great national prominence, Franklin Roosevelt was nominated by the Democratic Convention of 1932 as candidate for president, and was elected by a large majority. He came to office in a dark hour. Economic depression had gripped the world, affecting the lives of millions. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," Mr. Roosevelt proclaimed in his famous first inaugural. And through the years that followed, he attacked domestic issues with tremendous vigor to bring about a peaceful revolution in American government and social concepts. Despite storms of controversy, most of his administration’s reforms became a permanent part of American life.
Text: 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936
Narrator: And Roosevelt became a mighty name in a world that went to war. Meeting with Winston Churchill off Newfoundland in August 1941, the president aligned the power and prestige of the United States on the side of the democratic nations fighting a vicious combination of fascist powers. Together, Roosevelt and Churchill issued a statement that came to be known as the Atlantic Charter, proclaiming to the world those guiding principles of freedom on which they were firmly united. As he had approached the American crisis, directly and dramatically, so President Roosevelt attacked the even graver problems of foreign affairs and the war. December 8th, 1941, as the nation rose in fury and shock against the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan; and on December 11th, on her German and Italian allies. Following the North Africa landings, Roosevelt as commander-in-chief journeyed to Casablanca in January ‘43. Here he saw for himself the first veteran units of the American expeditionary force that was to grow into millions before Nazi Germany was torn wide open and virtually defeated in the last week before his tragic death. Here, too, with Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff, he laid early plans for that victory and for Pacific invasions.
Narrator: In Cairo late that same year, the president met with Chiang Kai-shek. The vast problems of the war against Japan were discussed and effective action charted.
Narrator: In Tehran in Iran. President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin, in an atmosphere of frankness and cordiality, outlined the steps to victory over Germany. Roosevelt’s personal prestige, his skilled words of counsel, were invaluable to the success of the historic conference.
In 1944, the American people endorsed his administration’s war and peace policies by electing him for a fourth term. Mr. Roosevelt requested simple ceremonies on the White House porch for his inaugural with Vice President Truman. Earlier he had stated that his almost overpowering desire was to return to his home and family.
Immediately after his inaugural, arriving at a place called Yalta in the Crimea, President Roosevelt met again with Stalin and Churchill. The war was going very well. With the continuing firm support of the American people and their allies, Mr. Roosevelt believed that final victory could bring a realistic and enduring peace. In his last public appearance, reporting on Yalta to Congress and the nation, he expressed that belief simply, and these, perhaps [most] of all, are the words that Franklin Delano Roosevelt might have wanted us to remember.
President Franklin Roosevelt: I am confident that Congress and the American people will accept the results of this conference as the beginnings of a permanent structure of peace upon which we can begin to build, under God, that better world in which our children and grandchildren, yours and mine, the children and grandchildren of the whole world, must live and can live.
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United News feature on the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt, produced on the occasion of his death in 1945 by the Office of War Information.
Last updated: May 19, 2021