“Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Leader of the Free World”
Few presidents live up to the name “Leader of the Free World.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt embodied that title, both in action and in beliefs. Roosevelt’s work to fix the economy, provide employment to young men, and his involvement in World War II has shaped the United States into what it is today.
The 1920s, called the “Roaring Twenties,” was a time of prolonged economic prosperity. That all ended in 1929, with the Stock Market Crash. This crash effectively ended the prosperity we experienced, and began a decade of high unemployment, poverty, deflation, and plunging incomes across the board. These circumstances led the American people to become distrustful and generally disillusioned towards the US Government. These negative feelings became focused on the most visible government official, who at the time was the 31st president, Herbert Hoover. While he had no direct role in the Great Depression, Hoover’s policies of increasing taxes and increasing spending was seen as extravagant at the time, and was widely ridiculed for being reckless. By increasing taxes in a time of economic troubles, Hoover made it near impossible for the poor to climb out of poverty. With Congress passing budgets that sought to increase taxes across the board and deregulate business, economic recovery was slowed to a near standstill. All the while, Hoover tried to enact multiple emergency relief acts, but it was too little too late. President Hoover was viewed as a weak president, and the American people were tired of weak politicians. In the words of his 1932 presidential election opponent, “There is nothing in the man but jelly!”, and, “[He is] a fat, timid capon” (Gibbs 111). This opponent would go on to win the 1932 election, and New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States.
Roosevelt inherited a political and economic mess from his predecessor. With the World’s economy floundering, poverty and unemployment levels rising, and a massive problem of returning veterans, Roosevelt was facing an uphill battle. To fight this, Roosevelt enacted many wide reaching policies and acts that would be known as the New Deal. In his first term, he wasted no time in enacting immediate relief measures. In what would be known as the “first 100 days,” Roosevelt sent a record number of bills through Congress. With Democrats controlling the House of Representatives and Senate, FDR was able to pass most of his acts and proposals through Congress unmolested. With his inauguration marred by a banking crisis, he inspired many people to trust him by uttering one phrase, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It was his assumption that the banking crisis was rooted in the American’s lack of confidence in the market. Calling an emergency session, Roosevelt was able to pass the “Emergency Banking Act” and the “Glass-Steagall” act (which created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). These...