Franklin D. Roosevelt

The First Hundred Days

Roosevelt quickly established a unique presence in the White House, unlike any other President who had come before him. His unique managerial style in office ensured that he would remain largely a one-man show. Although FDR had felt a need to be liked from his youth in Hyde Park, he also prided himself in his inscrutability. To assure he would know all sides of an argument or issue, he often had two or three advisors investigating the same issues without their mutual knowledge. He would often respond to arguments with a noncommittal nod, leaving family members, legislators, and aides alike frustrated with their efforts. It was this same non-committal nod that buoyed up the other nations of the London Economic Conference of 1933, thinking incorrectly that they had the President's backing. FDR's administration was impeded by the fact that he despised open confrontation and could never bring himself to fire anyone. His Cabinet became cumbersome and inefficient as a result. The White House during the first term was constantly abuzz with activity. The President, Eleanor, the children, grandchildren, Missy LeHand (FDR's faithful secretary from his time in New York), Louis Howe, and a rotating set of advisors and visitors all had their lodgings in the White House. The President was very informal and addressed all the White House staff by their first names. Movies were shown every evening, and cocktail hour–a tradition that Roosevelt would continue to his death–was a daily time of relaxation and camaraderie.

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