Franklin Delano Roosevelt, commonly known as FDR, was the 32nd American president, from 1933 until his death in 1945. He served as president for 12 years, and won 4 general elections.
He was a prominent figure in world events throughout the 20th century, leading the USA through significant world events including the Great Depression and the Second World War.
After his first 100 days as president, he proposed what he called a ‘new deal’ for the American people, in order to turn the economical situation around, in which over 13 million people were unemployed, and hundreds of banks were closed down. By 1936, after the new deal had been passed, signs of improvement were finally beginning to take effect.
In 1921, at the age of 39, when Roosevelt was on holiday in Canada, he contracted an illness similar to polio, which resulted in his legs becoming permanently paralysed. He did not believe his diagnosis at first, and tried in vain to get the use of his legs to return.
He spent a lot of time and money trying to improve his medical condition, and even made himself walk very short distances in his leg braces. He was very conscious of his image, and was desperate not to be seen in public in his wheelchair, so that people did not see him as weak and lacking power.
Roosevelt was born to a wealthy family that had, for many generations, been successful in trade and real estate. He was educated at home until the age of 14 by governesses and tutors. The entire household revolved around him, especially his mother.
When he started to attend a prestigious private school, life was not easy for him, as he struggled to fit in with the other pupils, who were more athletically successful than him. But he took his head master seriously, when he urged the pupils to help the less fortunate through public service.
During university in Harvard, Roosevelt was an average ‘C’ student, and was widely considered by peers and professors to be average and underwhelming. He went on to study law, and worked as a corporate solicitor for three years, before deciding to quit, as he found it boring and restrictive, wanting to achieve greater things. He first entered politics at the age of 28, when he was invited to run for state senate…
Though Franklin Roosevelt was ashamed of his ‘weakness’, not wanting to make it visible to the public, he overcame it spectacularly. It is interesting to note that his road to success was rocky, and that he took many years to discover his real passion. Often, we can feel impatient with ourselves, and expect to be at a certain level of success at a certain time in life. But a big part of the journey involves trying and failing at things, and allowing ourselves to change at our own pace…