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Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A Great American President

Historians were known to annually evaluate American presidents and decide which among all those who have occupied the White House could truly be considered as great based on their leadership abilities. One of the names included in the list of America’s most impressive leaders was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. What was it about him that made historians consider him as one of the most notable presidents in American history? It was his ability to successfully lead the United States of America through economic difficulty and war which made him a relevant political figure.

The greatness of Franklin Roosevelt’s leadership was based on his achievements during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Roosevelt’s leadership skills were tested early due to the country’s economic state. Even before Roosevelt assumed the presidency, the United States of America was already in a critical economic situation. The country experienced the Great Depression, which immediately succeeded the Wall Street Collapse in 1929 (Rothbard xii). Unemployment grew; it was said during that time, an estimated that 34 million Americans were jobless (Rothbard xv). Due to the absence of income, malnutrition became prevalent.

In addition, schools and other educational institutions were forced to shut down and declare bankruptcy. Indeed, Roosevelt was aware that he had many problems to address if he won the 1932 presidential election. Franklin Roosevelt planned to save Americans from the Great Depression through the New Deal. Prior to his victory in the 1932 presidential race, he already had a program in mind as a solution to the economic slump. When he became the official candidate of the Democratic Party, he claimed that he had a “New Deal” which was the key to ending the Depression (“Domestic”).

At that time, it was unclear what the New Deal was all about. Eventually, the term “New Deal” was known to generally refer to the programs Roosevelt effected during his presidency to resolve the domestic problems of the United States of America. Based on Roosevelt’s policies, historians have categorized the “First New Deal” to have occurred from 1933 to 1935 while the “Second New Deal” happened from 1935 to 1938 (“Domestic”). In the First New Deal, Roosevelt concentrated on reestablishing the banking system, resuscitating the industries and providing employment (“Domestic”).

Roosevelt’s term began with “Hundred Days,” a period wherein he succeeded in passing bills created to address the country’s economic woes. He altered the banking system by allowing the federal government to evaluate which banks should be saved or shut down. In an effort to modify the financial system, he signed the Securities and Exchange Act which paved the way for the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Securities and Exchange Act demanded that investors should be given correct information by stockbrokers at all times.

Roosevelt also signed the National Industrial Recovery Act, which led to the establishment of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) (Polenberg 9). This agency was crucial in maintaining fair competition in the business sector. Meanwhile, Roosevelt addressed the unemployment problem with the creation of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (“Domestic”). The former provided cash payments to jobless Americans while the latter employed young men to participate in tree planting and building construction (“Domestic”).

These are just some of the achievements of Roosevelt as part of the First New Deal. Roosevelt continued to resolve the nation’s problems with the Second New Deal. While he was mostly successful with his efforts in the First New Deal, he also had his share of failures. The failures led to several policy changes in the Second New Deal. The three key initiatives of the program were the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Wagner Act and the Social Security Act (“Domestic”). Roosevelt created the WPA to provide jobs for the unemployed Americans instead of just enlisting them for dole.

Meanwhile, the Wagner Act proved to be advantageous for workers. Roosevelt supported this legislation, which allowed labor unions to assemble and protect them from unjust labor practices. The Wagner Act was instrumental in the increase in union membership. As for the Social Security Act, the legislation allowed deductions from the workers’ salary to fund certain projects. Unfortunately, the Social Security Act did not work as well as the aforementioned pieces of legislation (“Domestic”). It is important to note that the New Deal did not put an end to the Great Depression or the unemployment which came with it (Foner and Garraty 785).

The program also had a significant number of critics, including the United States Supreme Court (“Domestic”). However, it was during the New Deal that Roosevelt succeeded in making relevant changes that would prove to be the most notable in American history. For instance, Roosevelt’s New Deal made the federal government more involved in the lives of Americans (Foner and Garraty 786). Because of Roosevelt, the government became directly concerned with the plight of the unemployed and the workers. The government became active in shaping and developing society through reform in the banking and financial systems.

Hence, the New Deal gave the federal government new responsibilities (Foner and Garraty 786). Also, the Second World War proved the remarkable skills of Roosevelt in foreign relations. The war may have succeeded where Roosevelt failed: it was the Second World War which ended the Great Depression (Foner and Garraty 785). However, the American president also had his own achievements in the course of the war. When Hitler took aggressive action against the Great Britain and France, the Roosevelt administration sided with the threatened parties (“Foreign”).

However, the Neutrality Acts prevented the president from interfering with the conflict at hand. The United States could only provide financial assistance and encouragement. One of Roosevelt’s greatest achievements during this time was his partnership with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Roosevelt and Churchill proved to be a formidable duo when they collaborated on the “Atlantic Charter” (“Foreign”). This document stated the war objectives of both the United States of America and Great Britain. In addition, Roosevelt had a major contribution to the world through the creation of the United Nations.

As the Allied Powers were having victories in Asia, Roosevelt and his advisers were already mapping out the plans for the post-war era: these plans were laid out as early as 1940. Roosevelt was instrumental in the creation of an alliance between 26 countries which agreed to conform to the goals indicated in the Atlantic Charter, and he called this alliance the “United Nations. ” He wanted the alliance as an organization to continue to exist after the war was over. Also, he hoped that the main objective of the coalition would be cooperation among countries and global peace.

In 1943, Roosevelt managed to convince Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to join the United Nations (“Foreign”). Why is Franklin Roosevelt considered as one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America? First, he led the country through the Great Depression in the best way he could. Through his New Deal, he tried to address the economic difficulties that the country was faced with. Though he was not able to end the economic slump through his efforts, he changed the social and political landscape by increasing the role of the federal government in the lives of the American people.

Second, Roosevelt proved himself to be an able leader prior to and during the Second World War. With the help of British leader Winston Churchill, he drafted the document which was crucial to the establishment of the United Nations as an organization. These contributions made Roosevelt a notable leader. Indeed, Franklin Roosevelt was one of the best presidents in American history. Works Cited Fonner, Eric and John Arthur Garraty. “New Deal. ” The Reader’s Companion to American History. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1991. 783-786. Miller Center for Public Affairs. “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Domestic Affairs.

” Miller Center for Public Affairs Web Site. University of Virginia. 13 July 2009 < http://millercenter. org/academic/americanpresident/fdroosevelt/essays/biography/4>. Miller Center for Public Affairs. “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Foreign Affairs. ” Miller Center for Public Affairs Web Site. University of Virginia. 13 July 2009 <http://millercenter. org/academic/americanpresident/fdroosevelt/essays/biography/5>. Polenberg, Richard. The Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1935-1945: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. Rothbard, Murray Newton. America’s Great Depression. Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2000.

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