Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States and the only president ever to serve four consecutive terms. He was born into a prominent family on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. At age 23, he married Eleanor, the daughter of his cousin Theodore Roosevelt, then the American president. In 1907, Roosevelt became a lawyer and got interested in politics. He was elected as a Democratic Party senator from New York and later worked in the administration of President Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt, also known as FDR, contracted polio in 1921, paralyzing him from the waist down. In 1928,he was elected governor of New York and served two terms. The United States was going through the Great Depression. During this economic crisis, businesses and banks went bankrupt and unemployment skyrocketed. Roosevelt remained undaunted. He ran for president, won and took office on March 4, 1933.

FDR introduced key reforms to a crippled nation. He reorganized banking and the stock market, increased government regulation. His social policies also proved effective and enduring. He increased federal government spending to guarantee pensions and unemployment benefits. Unaccustomed to government involvement, markets had to change course. This ushered in the New Deal, inspired by theories of British economist John Maynard Keynes. With the worst of the crisis over, Roosevelt was re-elected in 1936. Three years later, World War Two erupted. Britain, France and later the Soviet Union fought against Germany, Italy and Japan. The United States stayed out of the war but agreed to provide arms to Great Britain. An increasingly tense global situation pushed the Democrats to submit Roosevelt’s name for a third term in 1940. It was the first time in American history that a president ran for a third term. Roosevelt won again. On August 14, 1941 he signed the Atlantic Charter with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The two nations agreed to oppose Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Four months later, Japanese planes attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The United States entered World War Two. American involvement changed the course of the conflict. Germany and its allies suffered a series of decisive defeats.
In February 1945, in the first days of an unprecedented fourth term, Roosevelt attended the Yalta Conference. Certain of an Allied victory, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin decided the course of the postwar world. Roosevelt, already in failing health, didn’t live to see the end of the war. FDR died on April 12, 1945 of a brain hemorrhage. He was 63.
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