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Franklin D. Roosevelt: Powerful

2017-10-02

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