Franklin Delano Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt is generally regarded as one of the United States’ most effective Presidents. Whether the accolades are entirely justified or Roosevelt’s effectiveness was simply a product of the time period in which he served as President will always be debated. However, one thing that no one can deny is that Roosevelt took an atypical route on his way to becoming President. Whether he was fighting an illness or coping with the death of a loved one, Roosevelt always managed to keep himself on track and to persist towards his goals and those of the country. People remember FDR for his actions during the Great Depression and World War II, but those actions were preceded by and intertwined with a tough, yet interesting, life that prepared him for his future endeavors.
On January 30, 1882, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York to Sara Delano and James Roosevelt (whitehouse.gov). In 1886, at the age of four, Franklin and his family permanently settled into a house in Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada, which was previously a summer getaway (Conkin 34). Two years later, Roosevelt began his formal education under a governess of Archibald and Edmund Rogers. It was here that Roosevelt learned to speak German and received the opportunity to study abroad the next year. While abroad, however, he contracted a mild case of typhoid fever, the first of a multitude of illnesses that he would battle during his life.
He returned to Hyde Park in 1890, and was tutored by Miss Riensberg. On September 28 of the same year, Roosevelt began studies under a Swiss governess, Jeanne Sardoz, which lasted for two years. Sardoz taught him some of the ins and outs of the British lifestyle in addition to teaching him the French language. (Conkin 35) In 1891, Roosevelt and his family traveled to Bad Nauheim, Germany, where he studied at a German public school for a short time. Eventually, they returned to the United States where Franklin received additional personal tutoring.
For the most part, Arthur Dumper was his main tutor. (Conkin 36) Clearly, Roosevelt’s life did not start out in typical fashion. While most children went to school to receive an education, FDR learned from a wide variety of tutors coming from very diverse nationalities and backgrounds. This diversity may have been part of the reason that Roosevelt was so successful later in life when he became President. Once he completed his years of tutoring, Roosevelt entered Groton school, where he studied under headmaster, Endicott Peabody. While at Groton, he made his first ever political speech on the topic of the Nicaragua Canal Bill.
(Ginna 33) On January 17, 1898, Warren Delano II, Franklin’s grandfather, passed away (Eisenhower 44). True to form, Roosevelt pushed forward only two days later by delivering an address during a debate at Groton. In April, Scarlet fever struck Roosevelt badly, forcing him to leave Groton. Intent on finishing his education at the school, he returned to Groton, as soon as he was physically able, for his final year. Finally, on June 25, 1900, Roosevelt graduated from Groton and was awarded the Latin prize. (Eisenhower 45) In September of 1900, Franklin Roosevelt entered Harvard University and tried out for the football and crew teams.
He did not make either team, but he was elected to be an editor of Harvard’s school newspaper Crimson. (Diggins 69) Unfortunately for FDR, his father passed away on December 8 after battling a long-term illness and a heart condition (Diggins 57). It seemed Roosevelt simply could not escape hardship, and this reality must have prepared him emotionally for anything that could possibly happen. A significant event happened in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States following the assassination of William McKinley. From this point on, Roosevelt attempted to model his career after his role model and fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt. (Diggins 75) Now, FDR had someone to look up to, someone to provide something tangible for him to strive for.
After all, if a family member could become President of the United States, why would FDR himself not be able to? In 1903, Franklin Roosevelt began his senior year at Harvard and was elected president of the Crimson. While attending Harvard, Roosevelt engaged Miss Eleanor Roosevelt, who was Theodore Roosevelt’s niece. Eleanor’s father was actually one of Franklin’s godparents. (Ginna 66) In 1905, Franklin and Eleanor married and took a three month delayed honeymoon for themselves in Europe that June. The next year, in May, the couple gave birth to their first child, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.
(Asbell 99) With such a marriage, one must believe that Roosevelt dealt with a good deal of criticism. However, the couple had a very successful marriage, and they were one of the most well known couples in the world for the next 40 years. In June of 1904, Roosevelt graduated from Harvard and immediately entered the Columbia University School of Law. In 1907, Roosevelt passed the New York Bar Examination and found employment as a junior clerk at a law firm on Wall Street in New York City named Carter, Ledyard, and Milburn. Soon after, his first son, James, was born.
The next year, his second son, Franklin Delano, Jr., was born. However, the boy died the following year marking yet another dramatic setback in Roosevelt’s life. Two years later, they had another son, Elliott, who was born on September 23, 1910, in New York City. On November 8, the Democrats nominated Roosevelt for State Senator for New York’s 26th District. After considerable work campaigning and marketing his name, Roosevelt was elected to the New York State Senate by a wide margin.
(Eisenhower 113) Even during a hectic time in his life when he and Eleanor had three young children to care for, FDR continued to further his career and keep himself in the public’s eye. In June of 1912, FDR played a minor role at the Democratic Convention in Baltimore, supporting Woodrow Wilson’s nomination for the presidency. In July, he organized The Empire State Democracy with seventy other progressives to support Wilson’s campaign and to oppose Tammany’s domination of the state ticket. (Eisenhower 111) On August 24, Roosevelt was re-nominated for the state senate, but he could not campaign because he contracted typhoid fever. Despite his illness and attacks from Tammany, he was re-elected to the state senate on November 5. (Diggins 132) At this point, Roosevelt must have seemed to be impervious to any obstacle. Without campaigning and battling an illness, he still managed to return to the state senate for one more term. On March 17, 1913, Roosevelt’s career took another giant step forward when President Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
He served under Secretary Josephus Daniels. Less than one month later, he made a speech before the Navy League in Washington, D.C. that stressed the need for a larger navy. The next year, Franklin and Eleanor had another son, and named him Franklin Delano, Jr., in memory of the son they lost. Ironically, he was born at Compobello, the same place Roosevelt had frequented as a young boy. Also that year, Roosevelt was defeated in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate by James W. Gerard.
The setback would not discourage Roosevelt from continuing to pursue his ultimate goal of becoming President. In March of 1916, the Roosevelts had their last child, John Aspinwall, who was born in Washington, D.C. (Diggins 135) On February 3, 1917, Roosevelt received word from Secretary Daniels while he was in Santo Domingo on business that he needed to return to Washington. Germany had announced its intention to begin submarine warfare. On April 2, he listened to Wilson’s war message and learned that war against Germany was imminent. (Eisenhower 117) In November, Roosevelt’s had his plan for a North Sea mine barrage approved after a long dispute amongst Navy officials.
Franklin Roosevelt left Brooklyn, New York, on a destroyer for an inspection trip in Europe in July of 1918. He inspected installations in England, France, and Italy until September. When he returned to New York, he once again became seriously ill with influenza. Three months later, after overcoming the illness, Roosevelt sailed on the George Washington with his wife. The boat was headed for Europe on a mission to dismantle American Navy installations. On the way to Europe, they stopped in Boston and had a luncheon meeting with Wilson.
Wilson convinced Roosevelt that the United States had to join the League of Nations. (Eisenhower 118) The influence of FDR is evident in the fact that the President of the United States felt the need to acquire Roosevelt’s approval before making a decision of such magnitude. A couple months later, The Republican senators made an attempt to involve FDR in a Navy scandal at Newport, charging that he had authorized highly objectionable metho …