Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Born in New York State (2)

Theodore Roosevelt 1858-1919 President 1901-1909

Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest man to become president, the wealthiest, the most popular since Andrew Jackson, and by far the most athletic, dynamic, colorful and adventurous. A true extrovert, yet of great intellectual power, he wrote some 150,000 letters while he was in the White House and over thirty books during his lifetime. No other president ever led such a strenuous or diversified life. He was a New York police commissioner, colonel in the Spanish-American War, governor of New York, and president. Although of the old Knickerbocker stock, his manner and carriage is awkward, and not at all impressive." A few months after his graduation from Harvard in 1880, Roosevelt married Alice Lee. When the war with Spain came, Roosevelt quit his job as assistant secretary of the Navy and helped organize the Rough Riders, a picturesque cavalry regiment composed of cowboys, Indians and eastern college football players. The colorful Rough Riders captured the imagination of the country, and when Roosevelt returned from Cuba he found himself a popular hero. Roosevelt's many-sidedness appealed to all manner of men. He was of gentle birth and breeding, yet a man of the people...with the training of a scholar and the breezy accessibility of a ranchman; a man of the library and a man of the world; an athlete and a thinker; a soldier and a statesman.. with the sensibility of a poet and the steel nerve of a rough rider." The mass of Americans agreed.

In 1906, Congress passed the Hepburn Act, regarded at the time as the greatest achievement of the Roosevelt Administration because it gave renewed vigor to the Interstate Commerce Commission. It gave that body the power to compel uniform bookkeeping practices by all railroads, and the power to establish maximum rates after complaints and investigations had been made; but it was not a general grant of rate-making authority.

Businessmen always insisted that Roosevelt lacked an understanding of economic processes and problems. Conservative statesmen said he lacked respect for the authority of the legislative and judicial branches of the government in our system of checks and balances. Actually, the industrial revolution was remaking society. Liberals were seeking controls for a gigantic industrial and financial system in which free enterprise had run riot. Roosevelt was a liberal; and liberals, because they believe in progress, in experimentation, in slow but continuous reform, are anathema to conservatives and radicals alike. He became steadily more liberal throughout his entire public career..

Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1882-1945 President 1933-1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first President to serve more than two terms and the first to be inaugurated January 20, had much in common with his fifth cousin, Theodore. Both were born to considerable wealth, both went to Harvard, both began their political careers in the New York legislature, both served as assistant secretaries of the Navy, as governors of New York, and both were nominated vice-president. Both became president. Roosevelt was president during the greatest depression and the greatest war in the history of the world.

Just before paralysis struck him in August, 1921, the thirty-nine year old Roosevelt stood six feet, two inches, weighed about 175 pounds and was in vibrant health. One evening at Campobello after a day of vigorous exertion, followed by a swim in the icy waters of the Bay of Fundy, Roosevelt went to bed with a chill. The next morning he had a high temperature and complained of acute pain in the legs. In a few days they were paralyzed. He never again stood unaided.

The inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 4, 1933, initiated the most sweeping social and economic revolution in the history of the United States. Broad powers were delegated to the President by Congress, and by him to administrative officers. The federal government assumed the burden of relief. It embarked upon a program of social planning. It dealt vigorously with long standing problems like child labor, collective bargaining, and labor standards. It established a comprehensive social security program. It drastically altered the banking, currency, and credit systems. It modernized the tariff system. The country got action, and was bewildered by its suddenness, but within three months the morale of the people was restored and recovery began. The most difficult problem with which the Roosevelt Administration had to deal was that of unemployment relief. The purpose of the Administration was to relieve distress among the unemployables until the financially embarrassed local governments could resume the burden, and to avoid the dole by giving men work wherever possible on socially useful projects with sufficient pay to provide the necessities of life and to restore purchasing power until the increased demand for consumers' goods reabsorbed them into private industry. To accomplish these two things Congress created (1) the Civilian Conservation Corps on March 31, 1933; (2) the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, provided by act of May 12, 1933.

Source of Information: From My Collection of Books: The New International Encyclopedia; Dodd, Mead and Company-New York Total of 21 Volumes 1902-1905; Pictorial History of American Presidents by John and Alice Durant; A.S. Barnes & Co.-New York 1955;America In Our Time 1896-1946, Author: Dwight Lowell Dumond; Publisher: Henry Holt and Company 1937

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