Biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR Changed the very idea of what it meant to be president of the United States. FDR used his genius political skills and charisma to direct this nation into his own dreams. His ability to communicate encouragement and confidence to the American people aided his presidency more than his legislations. Winston Churchill likened his first meeting with FDR to “uncorking a bottle of champagne.” All future presidents would be forced to reckon with his legacy.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882. He was so sickly that he almost did not survive, and his worried parents held off naming him for two months. His father was James Roosevelt, a graduate of Union College and Harvard Law School, though not a practicing lawyer. James lived a life similar to an English country gentleman, with a large estate at Hyde Park in New York. Sara Delano, James Roosevelt's second wife, came from a family background equally distinguished as the Roosevelt’s. His age and her difficulty giving birth to Franklin prevented them from having any more children, and Franklin grew up as their beloved only child. His relationship with his parents, especially his mother, was very strong. It was her unshakeable faith in him that many believe gave him the self-confidence that enabled him to succeed later in life.
French and German governesses educated Roosevelt until he was fourteen, and he spent most of his free time riding on the estate and playing alone. He accompanied his parents on their travels to Europe and to all their social engagements. This youth spent in the company of adults helped him develop a charm that would prove indispensable later in life, unable to relate to many children his own age. This proved to be a drawback when his parents sent him away to the Groton School, a recently opened school that had the backing of many of the leading men in America, such as J.P. Morgan. Roosevelt's experience at Groton was a personal disappointment because of his inability to win over his peers as he had won over his parents and their associates. It may have been the bitter memories of his years at Groton that made FDR determined to become a leader at Harvard, which he entered at the turn of the century. Unlike many of his fellow classmates, who were used to living the life of the idle rich, FDR set the pace with his enthusiasm and energy. He studied subjects that would be of great use to him in his political career—history, government, economics, English and public speaking. He lived in one of the three-room apartments on Mt. Auburn St., nicknamed the "Gold Coast" because of the wealth of the residents. He sat at the Groton table at one of the eating houses of Cambridge and joined the Fly Club, one of Harvard's many exclusive organizations, when he was passed over by the more exclusive Porcellian Club. FDR cut quite a figure in Boston society, and was especially popular with the women. He...