[00:06.13]VOA Learning English presents America’s Presidents.
[00:11.19]Today we are talking about Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
[00:15.59]He was related to an earlier president with same last name, Theodore Roosevelt.
[00:22.58]Many Americans call Franklin Roosevelt by the first letter of each word in his full name: FDR.
[00:32.54]When FDR took office, the United States was in a severe economic depression.
[00:39.39]The previous president, Herbert Hoover, had tried to improve the economy, but his efforts had failed.
[00:47.10]FDR defeated Hoover in the election of 1932.
[00:51.91]He won, in part, by promising what he called a “new deal” for Americans.
[00:59.95]Voters did not know what FDR’s “new deal” meant exactly, but many liked his message of hope.
[01:08.34]Voters also did not know how much FDR would change the country.
[01:14.43]He remained in office for 12 years – the longest of any U.S. president – and led the country through the Great Depression and most of World War II.
[01:26.61]Along the way, he changed the way government affected Americans’ lives, and the job of the U.S. president.
[01:46.71]Franklin Roosevelt was born on a large estate in New York, about 140 kilometers outside New York City.
[01:56.94]He was the only child of wealthy parents.
[02:00.74]His mother and father made sure he had an excellent education.
[02:06.13]As a young man he attended a private high school, and then Harvard College in Massachusetts.
[02:13.15]He also studied law at Columbia University in New York.
[02:18.21]Young FDR was not an excellent student, however.
[02:22.41]He was interested in many things outside the classroom, including politics and girls.
[02:29.97]Two of FDR’s interests came together in a young woman named Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who went by the name Eleanor.
[02:38.50]She was the niece of a politician FDR greatly respected: President Theodore Roosevelt.
[02:45.88]On the day when Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were married, Theodore Roosevelt attended the ceremony.
[02:53.35]In fact, he walked with his niece in front of the guests to her future husband.
[02:58.94]Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt went on to have six children, although one died as a baby.
[03:06.14]While Eleanor Roosevelt raised the children, Franklin Roosevelt directed his attention to politics.
[03:13.63]He left a job in a law office to serve in the New York state senate.
[03:19.41]In time, he was offered a job in the federal government as an assistant secretary of the Navy.
[03:27.24]FDR enjoyed the job, but he continued seeking other political positions.
[03:33.75]He tried unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. Senate,
[03:37.77]but did get nominated by the Democratic Party to be its vice presidential candidate in 1920.
[03:46.27]Although he and his partner lost the race, FDR seemed like he was in a good position for major political success.
[03:56.07]But then something unexpected happened.
[04:12.95]When he was 39 years old, FDR suffered major health problems.
[04:19.41]One day he started to feel a pain in his back.
[04:23.70]The following day his legs grew tired.
[04:27.10]Then his skin became sensitive.
[04:29.65]By the end of the week, both his legs were paralyzed.
[04:34.35]He could not move from the waist down.
[04:37.36]He remained paralyzed for the rest of his life.
[04:41.19]The next years were difficult for the Roosevelts.
[04:45.97]Eleanor and the children helped care for FDR.
[04:50.08]And he worked hard to recover some of his strength and physical abilities, especially by exercising.
[04:57.89]While he remained hopeful about his condition, FDR worried about his political career.
[05:04.75]He did not think the public would accept a leader who could not even walk by himself. So he took several measures.
[05:14.55]He created a small wheelchair that would not get too much attention.
[05:19.89]It was made from a dining room chair, with wheels instead of legs.
[05:25.67]He refused to let photographers take pictures of him being carried or struggling to move, and he found a way to appear as if he were walking.
[05:37.70]He used a cane or the arm of a partner to balance, and then he swung his hips to make his legs move forward.
[05:46.50]Using this method, FDR “walked” to the stage at the 1924 Democratic National Convention.
[05:55.80]He used the event to nominate the governor of New York for president.
[06:01.62]That man’s bid did not succeed.
[06:04.35]But FDR showed himself to still be an able politician.
[06:09.71]Four years later, FDR himself was elected governor of New York.
[06:15.51]He held the position in the early years of the country’s economic crisis.
[06:21.46]In 1932, FDR was a candidate for president.
[06:25.76]He took the unusual step of appearing in person at the Democratic convention to accept his party’s nomination.
[06:34.06]His campaign was such a success that the Democrats took not only the White House,
[06:40.28]but majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
[06:45.78]The strength of the Democratic Party in Congress would help FDR become one of the most powerful presidents the country had ever seen.
[07:02.40]Next week we will continue our story of FDR and his presidency.
[07:10.22]I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.