Roosevelt's background is an important part of why he became the President he was, having always being rich he still had compassion for others and understood that people in America were suffering and in need of help. Looking at Roosevelt's past, from privilege to pain to Presidency it makes a lot more sense for someone if they know it all when coming to understand the movements he passed for America. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30th, 1882, at Hyde Park, in the Hudson River valley in the upstate of New York. He was born into an incredibly wealthy family, his father; James Roosevelt was a rich landowner and vice-president of the Delaware and Hudson railway. Roosevelt was an only child, pampered and spoilt by his mother; he was also educated at home by a private tutor until he was fourteen. Roosevelt had lived a life of luxuries, he had everything he wanted, never having to do anything for himself, let alone worry about money or where his next meal came from.
At the age of fourteen Roosevelt went to a famous public school named Groton, it was an elite Episcopal boarding school that was extremely Catholic, near Boston. Roosevelt went on to graduate from Groton in 1900, he then progressed to Harvard.
He was greatly inspired and influenced by the headmaster of Groton, Endicott Peabody, who preached it was the duty of Christians to help the less fortunate; Peabody urged his students to enter public service. Roosevelt later recalled "as long as I live, the influence of Dr. and Mrs. Peabody means and will mean more to me than that of any other people next to my father and mother." It was from this man that Roosevelt learnt how important it was to help the people who had no means to help themselves, and were suffering in silence. Many historians link the New Deal, in which the Government involved itself greatly in helping the millions of unemployed people, who were starving and homeless; to these preachings by Peabody, it is evident he kept them in mind during his political work.
Roosevelt had been going from strength to strength; he did a lot of important political work, such as being the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to being chosen by the Democratic National Convention to be their candidate for vice-president of the United States in 1920. However in august 1921 Roosevelt was stricken with poliomyelitis, at the time there was no cure and the disease almost killed him; after regaining consciousness Roosevelt was paralysed from the waist down this was devastating news. However his wife Eleanor was devoted to him, and helped him through the illness greatly. Roosevelt's political career appeared to be over but due to Eleanor's support and his determination he worked his way back into politics. But only after five strenuous years of fighting his paralysis, Roosevelt later wrote "I spent two years in bed trying to move my big toe"; gradually he learnt to sit up in bed. After recovering from the illness Roosevelt was forced to wear heavy steel braces on his legs, he used a wheelchair and had a car fitted with special controls adapted to his disability. After years of hard work and much help from Eleanor and many other friends and relatives, Roosevelt was able to rejoin politics; he was resolute not to become an invalid saying "I'll beat this thing". His struggle with Polio can be related to the New Deal, after surviving the disease Roosevelt now knew what it felt like to be vulnerable and to suffer; a plight millions of people endured due to the depression causing them to be unemployed, homeless and staving. But Roosevelt got through it to better times, due to much help from others. He could then understand the people on a much more personal level especially, during the depression and the chaos it caused the people, Roosevelt knew it was his duty to be the person to help them, to better times.
In 1928 Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York State; he believed that his main task was to make life better for ordinary people. He did things such as working to provide old age pensions, help for farmers and some unemployment relief. During the Great Depression there was a huge increase in the number of unemployment, shooting to 10 million people out if work, from this Roosevelt was gaining plenty of soon to be needed experience in dealing with unemployment. Also due to the Great Depression President Hoover was becoming evermore unpopular and people were starting to look to other political parties, due to this Roosevelt was also starting to experience bitter opposition. Evidently, Roosevelt was invoking his beliefs learnt from earlier on in his life, to help those in need, he put this into action as Governor by deciding to start increasing state government spending on public works, and increase the unemployment benefit known as the 'dole'. These modifications Roosevelt made were clearly making him popular with the public, as he was then elected to a second term of Governor of New York, by a margin of more than seven hundred thousand votes. The measures Roosevelt had taken significantly helped to combat the depression in New York. He was then the first Governor in any state to ever spend tax money helping the unemployed, spending twenty million dollars on projects getting people back into work and creating new jobs. It was reforms like these that were later introduced on a much vaster scale in the New Deal. In 1932 Roosevelt summed up his ideals when he said in a radio broadcast "These unhappy times call for the building of plansÃ¢ÂÂ¦ that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid." By 'forgotten' people Roosevelt meant the unemployed, homeless and hungry, unsurprisingly it was theses people who voted Roosevelt into office in the election of 1932. It was these huge successes in combating the unemployment in New York whilst Governor that gave Roosevelt the assurance when making the New deal, that the Government getting largely involved in the lives of the public and government spending would be a positive and vital step towards ending the depression. Roosevelt's time as Governor of the State of New York also started to show his previous idea, that it was his and the governments duty to help the people of America, to be true; later influencing him in the writings of the New Deal when he became President.
During the election of 1932 Roosevelt's opponent was the current President, Herbert Hoover. Republican Hoover had virtually the opposite beliefs to Roosevelt, such as 'rugged individualism', during his Presidency Hoover didn't agree with a hands on government, including throughout the depression. As it happens this was much to Roosevelt's advantage, as Hoover's popularity was consequently dropping considerably due to his attitude; an attitude that oddly enough didn't give help to the poor when Hoover, had been a poor man himself.
Herbert Hoover was born in 1874 into a Quaker family, unfortunately his father Jesse Hoover died in 1880 and his mother Hulda Minthorn also died in 1884. In 1885 an eleven years old Hoover went to Newburg, Oregon, to become the ward of his Uncle John Minthorn, who was a doctor and real estate developer. Due to Hoover's already prominent ambitious and self-reliant nature John Minthorn hired him as an office boy in his business Oregon land Company where Hoover mastered bookkeeping and typing, whilst also attending business school in the evening. In the autumn of 1891 Hoover was a member of the first entering class of students at the new Leland Stanford Junior University in Palo Alto, California. Hoover majored in geology, he was taught by successful geologist John Casper Branner, and graduated in 1895. After graduating, Hoover worked as a gold miner earning two dollars a day for a ten hour night shift, seven days a week. Slowly he managed to save his money, then he was promoted to assistant mining engineer. With the money he slaved for and saved Hoover aged twenty-five travelled to Australia, where he worked as a mining engineer in Coolgardie and Kalgoolie's gold mines. In the next fifteen years of his life Hoover travelled the world working as a mine engineer, one of the countries he visited was China, where he developed coal mines. By the age of forty Hoover had worked his way from a penniless orphan to a multi-millionaire and he was then able to retire from engineering to take up politics. His past greatly influenced his political beliefs, through his own hard work Hoover had achieved wealth and prosperity, it was due to this that he believed that the government should interfere in the lives the public as little as possible, as it were they who were responsible for their own fortune. Hoover said that America had become rich because the people had worked hard and made money through their own individual efforts. He called this 'the American system of rugged individualism'. Therefore Hoover felt it wrong to have substantial unemployment benefits, as he thought it would encourage idleness, and if one was poor or unemployed it was due to their own lack of effort and laziness. On the contrary Roosevelt saw that men, no matter how skilled or hard working they were, were being fired purely because the company didn't have the money to pay them. There was no money for wages, meaning no jobs were available for men to work hard in, men were powerless in unemployment. The people evidently did not share Hoover's views, and having the blame put on them, when they were completely helpless purely turned the people against wealthy, 'do nothing' Hoover. The common man wanted a President and Government who listened to them and helped them; which Roosevelt saw was what they needed.
This laid back attitude worked well in the greater part of the twenties, during the economic boom; however when the depression hit this simple was very ineffective, if not made the disastrous situation worse. In October 1929 the Wall Street crash occurred causing the Great Depression, Hoover presumed it would only last a few months before life returned to easy living. "Prosperity is just around the corner" he said to a group of businessmen, consequently he did little to act against the ever worsening depression. One of the things Hoover did do was to announce that while he would keep the Federal budget balanced, he would cut taxes and expand public works spending. Hoover thought in reducing taxes it would then give the population more purchasing power, this was effective in the early 1920's when people had just started buying customer goods and had the money to buy them; but during the depression many people were unemployed and had no income to pay a lower tax and then buy products. Tariffs were also effective in the early 1920's due to this encouraging people to buy American produce keeping American businesses afloat. But when mass production was used everywhere people produced more than they could afford to make or sell to fellow Americans, they could no longer sell to other countries as the prices of American produce was higher abroad and no-one wanted to pay the extra money. So the depression was just becoming worse and worse, the people were suffering and could do nothing to save themselves; Roosevelt saw this and felt it his duty to save them himself.
Although Hoover was not could not be the sole blame for the poor state of the USA during the late 1920's, people purely blamed him because they wanted someone to be angry at, they needed real thing to hold accountable for their suffering, and as Hoover was the President he was the obvious choice. Evidence that people pointed the finger at Hoover was terms such as 'Hoovervilles'. This was a term describing a village that was created haphazardly due to the Great Depression; they lasted roughly from 1929 through to the late thirties. These villages were usually made in desolate areas or unpleasant neighbourhoods and consisted of few or many, shacks and tents as temporary homes for those that had been left unemployed and homeless by the Depression. More often then not, the government did not officially recognize these Hoovervilles, as clearly there were very few other options for these people and the villages were often a necessity; though occasionally the authorities did remove the owners for having technically trespassed on private lands. During the economic crisis people were very upfront about how they felt and who they held responsible, "Naw, son what you're looking for is Hooverville, with a v, like President Herbert Hoover. . . They're all over the country; this here is the Flint version . . . Mr. Hoover worked so hard at making sure every city has got one that it seems like it would be criminal to call them anything else." Other examples that people blamed the Depression on Hoover were terms such as 'Hoover stew', which was a thin soup that was served at emergency kitchens, emergency kitchens were very commonly used throughout America as people had lost their jobs and had no money to buy food, in calling the soup 'Hoover stew' it was clear that the people blamed their hunger on Hoover. Another term was 'Hoover blankets', these were old newspapers the homeless used in an attempt to keep warm, the people thought it was Hoovers fault they were cold and penniless. Because Hoover was initially in power, but he didn't use his power to counteract unemployment, people resented him and looked for someone who wanted to help them and use the government to do it.
Hoover and Roosevelt had very different approaches as to how the country should be run; these differences became incredibly apparent in the election of 1932. During his time as Governor of New York Roosevelt had raised twenty million dollars in taxes to provide food, clothing and shelter for the unemployed in New York alone. After being elected by his party in June 1932 Roosevelt said one of his most famous quotes "I pledge you, I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people. Give me your help, not to win votes along, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people." It was promises such as this, along with many other campaign techniques that won Roosevelt the election in November 1932. Roosevelt was a man of the people; he went on numerous 'whistle stop' tours during the election. These consisted of touring the country by train and stopping in many places in which to give speeches to large crowds who had gathered to see him. These 'whistle stop' tours were very important for Roosevelt, as he used them as a way to end the rift between the people of his own party, as well as proving to the people that despite his polio attack he was strong enough to fulfil the job of President. The tours made him incredibly popular among the people, as he reached out to them personally, it showed he wanted to see them and how they live, to understand their problems and make sure they were aware of any changes made in the way the country would be run. Roosevelt had been described as having the 'common touch', he appealed to the 'forgotten man' at the bottom of the economic pyramid, he gave them hope and a feel of importance once again as he too wanted the Government to do something more positive against the depression.
Roosevelt did more than want the Government to take action; he promised the people he would take direct government action, he attacked the 'laissez faire' approach of the republicans, likening the depression to his bout of Polio. Roosevelt in fact said "We have got beyond the point of merely trying to fight a disease by taking care of the victims after they are stricken. We do that but we do more, we seek to prevent it." Another promise Roosevelt made was to end prohibition, which was extremely unpopular and had even led to gangsters, violence and illegally produced alcohol. Prohibition caused an increase in crime rates, wasted police time when they could be solving more important cases, also in such hard times people were desperate to forget their worry and become merry. So in pledging to end prohibition Roosevelt became a great deal more popular; besides the fundamental ending of prohibition this also proved the people wanted action to be taken, Roosevelt introduced the New Deal as a way of action, of making things happen.
On the contrary to this Hoover and the Republicans believed it was not the Governments role to play a part in the ways businesses operated, or in people's lives. During the depression Hoover did very little certain that "My sober and considered judgement is that at this stage Federal aid would be a disservice to the unemployed." He infact said this in 1932, pre election. The few things Hoover did against the depression were seen as mere fiddling, for example Hoover set up tariffs in an attempt to protect American industries, but this only had the opposite effect and strangled international trade making the depression worse. Even after three years of the country suffering Hoover was very reluctant to change his policies, Government help was not need and that businesses were just experiencing a natural dip, and would regain prosperity by themselves. Backing this up, and making him even more unpopular Hoover blocked the Garner-Wagner Relief Bill that would have allowed congress to provide $2.1 million to create jobs. Instead of helping the millions of people suffering due to the depression Hoover encouraged private charities and local states to deal in local help for those who were in need. Little, community aid would not be enough, Roosevelt saw this and then knew that any changes would have to be initiated by the government and carried out nationally, as all the function of the New Deal would soon be.
In June 1932 an event occurred that can be viewed as the straw that broke the camels back for Hoover. Thousands of servicemen having fought in world war one marched on Washington wanting their war bonuses to be paid early. It was a peaceful protest, with the men camping outside the White house and singing patriotic songs; despite this Hoover completely refused to meet with them; he simply appointed a man called MacArthur to deal with them. With no conviction MacArthur decided the servicemen were communist agitators, ignoring Hoovers order to treat them with respect MacArthur sent troops and police to burn the marcher's camps, forcing them to leave with full use of aggression. Despite this blatant act of injustice Hoover wouldn't admit to having had lost control to MacArthur, he therefore publicly thanked God that USA still knew how to deal with a mob. This shocked the people; they didn't want or need a President who acted against them. Roosevelt's idea of the New Deal involved listening and understanding of people's problems, as he did. Through this, together, the people and government would and could work to combat the depression.
After being elected as president of the United States by forty two out of forty eight states Roosevelt went on to create the New Deal. This existed of the creation of many agencies, the passing of various acts to defeat the depression and restore America to its former self. Although Roosevelt was the main component for creating the New Deal he received assistance from a group of men he hired as the 'brain trust'. They offered him much useful information and thoughts; these men refined the initial ideas and committed to helping reform America.
From an early age Roosevelt felt it was his duty to help those in need, he was greatly influenced by the Catholic headmaster of his school, Endicott Peabody, and experienced a magnificent recovery from the terrible disease of polio Roosevelt's beliefs had been shaped. He believed that the government should involve itself in the lives of ordinary people and to help them, "Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men." Roosevelt. The depression had caused Stock prices to decline, by late 1932 they were only about 20 percent of what they had been before the crash. With little consumer demand for products, hundreds of factories and mills closed, and the output of American manufacturing plants was cut almost in half from 1929 to 1932. Also unemployment in those three years has soared from 3.2 percent to 24.9 percent, leaving more than 15 million Americans out of work. Hoover's beliefs limited what the government did to fight the depression, therefore without a change it would have gone on for years causing the suffering of the people to worsen. Roosevelt had experimented with a sort of mini New Deal in New York when he was governor, due to him spending tax money to create jobs New York, this improved the situation in New York but Roosevelt's longed for this sort of idea to be used nationally. So when the people voted in millions for Roosevelt to become president it was clear they too believed that the government should help them, that he should help them.
Bibliographywww.nps.govwww.economicexpert.comp.66; Bud Not Buddy; Yearling editionwww.wikipedia.orgwww.brainyquote.comGCSE Modern World History; Ben Walshwww.encarta.msn.comClass handouts"The New Deal" by Josh BroomanVideo - 'Boom and Bust'Video - American Voices - 'The Depression'Video - American Voices - 'The New Deal'Video - 'Roosevelt and the New Deal'www.newdeal.feri.orgwww.answers.com