January 30 – Happy Birthday, FDR!

Posted on January 30, 2017

I could ask a bunch of questions with the same answer:
  • Who is one of the most revered presidents of all time? (Most praised, most important, most influential, most honored...)
  • Who is one of the most hated presidents of all time?
  • Who is one of the richest presidents?
  • Which president was most despised by rich people?
  • Who served as U.S. President longest?
  • Which U.S. President was the weakest, physically speaking?

Come on – there is no way that all of those questions could have the same answer! And of course, the secret is, it depends on who you ask...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was born on this date in 1882, grew up in a prominent (important) and wealthy family in New York. He went into politics but then was stricken with polio. That illness so weakened his legs, he had to rely on wheelchairs and braces and canes in order to get around. However, his personal victory over polio gave Roosevelt a kind of strength and optimism when faced with difficulties.

And when he won the presidency of the United States, in 1932, he had to face a lot of difficulties! The nation and the world were in the middle of the Great Depression. Later on in his presidency, the world plunged into World War II, and the U.S. was attacked by Japan.

FDR was bold with his depression-fighting policies, called the New Deal, and he radiated a kind of calm positivity in the face of being attacked and entering into the WWII. Those traits are a major reason why Roosevelt won a record four elections (although he died during his fourth term). And those traits are a big reason why FDR often ends up among the top five American Presidents. (On this list – which takes into consideration a bunch of other lists – he is ranked #2, higher than George Washington, even!)

But Roosevelt's bold moves to combat the depression also made the United States into more of a “mixed economy” than it had been, with capitalistic and socialistic aspects. In other words, a lot of jobs and monies were involved with privately-owned businesses and companies and corporations, but a lot of other jobs and monies were based on public programs – everything from government programs to build roads and bridges to government-run schools and parks. Some people with power and money hated that – they complained about high taxes, they complained about “redistribution of wealth,” they felt strongly that those that had money deserved money, and those who didn't should earn it with hard work rather than having any sort of safety net provided by society.

(Of course, a lot of people that don't have money CAN'T earn money with hard work. They are babies, or they face severe illness, or they are 80 years old, or or or...Enough said.)

Birthday of Thomas Rolfe, son of Pocahontas

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