- A wealthy American who lived his life approximating
that of an English country gentleman, James Roosevelt went out
of his way to ensure that he had nothing to do with politics. He
met Sara Delano, who was many years his junior, and married her immediately.
FDR was their only son.
Known for her beauty and wealth, Sara Delano came from a family
that rivaled the Roosevelt name for prestige. She married very
young and her near-death during Franklin's birth prevented her
from having any more children. She doted on FDR, especially after
the death of her husband, and often tried to keep him under her
control by controlling his purse strings.
- Theodore Roosevelt was
the 26th President of the United States. He is famous for his enormous personality,
a trait that outranks his acts as President in the memory of most
Americans. He was a firm believer in the extension of America's
sphere of influence, adding the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine,
which allowed him to intervene in the private affairs of Latin
American and Caribbean countries. Although Roosevelt handpicked
his successor, Taft, he grew angry with his policies and ran against
him and Woodrow Wilson in the next election. By splitting the Republican
vote, he gave Wilson the win.
- After a difficult childhood, Eleanor married FDR
when they were both very young. Initially constrained by the duties
of being a wife and a mother, Eleanor's discovery that her husband
was having an affair freed her to come into her own politically.
Her liberal thinking and progressive ideals pushed FDR to further
extremes in his policies. She often embraced causes and figures
that he had overlooked and used her position to get them national
attention. She was the first socially conscious and active First
Lady, and set a fine example for all presidential spouses after
her to follow.
Wilson was the 28th President of the United States. He began his
career in academia, becoming president of Princeton University,
and his academic air was obvious his speeches and his ideals. He
was one of the most morally upright presidents in American history.
He passed laws by directly addressing Congress, the first President
to do so since Jefferson's time, and speaking directly to the public
to gain their support. His achievements include leading the country
through WWI, fighting trusts and monopolies at home, and implementing
reforms such as child labor laws and solutions for the problems
of urbanization. His biggest disappointment, which he carried with
him to the grave, was his inability to convince an isolationist
America and Congress to enter the League of Nations after the war.
met Howe when Howe interviewed him about his involvement in the
insurgency against Tammany Hall. Howe presented the case in Roosevelt's
favor in the papers, but both saw more potential in each other, as
friends and as political allies. Howe's first success as FDR's
campaign manager was running his campaign for the Senate without
a candidate (Roosevelt was sick with typhoid). The partnership
and friendship eventually led to the White House, where Roosevelt
considered Howe his most trusted and objective advisor. The partnership
did not end until Howe finally succumbed to a lifetime of gnawing
illness, and Roosevelt never found an advisor who he trusted as much,
a great drawback to him especially in the court-packing case.
- Daniels had been appointed by Wilson to be Secretary
of the Navy, and asked Roosevelt on the morning of the inauguration
whether he wanted to be his assistant. Daniels was the opposite
of everything that Roosevelt was. He was a Southern, while FDR was
a blueblood Yankee. He had no knowledge of ships, whereas FDR was
an avid sailor. He also staunchly opposed Roosevelt's policies
during WWI. Unlike FDR, who believed that military preparedness was
essential, Daniels, like most Americans who watched the war across
the Atlantic with detachment, did not believe in preparing for
a war that the country was not planning to enter.
- Lucy Mercer came from a distinguished family whose fortune
had dwindled and was forced to work for society women in order
to make her means. She became Eleanor Roosevelt's social secretary
while she was in Washington for the first time during her husband's tenure
as Assistant Secretary of War. During this time, Lucy began a love
affair with FDR, which was abruptly ended when Eleanor discovered
their letters upon FDR's return from Europe. Lucy eventually married
Lord Rutherford, a widower many years her senior. Near the end
of his life, FDR rekindled his acquaintance with her, this time
probably as a strong friendship. Regardless of the nature of their relationship,
what is sure is that Lucy provided companionship to FDR during
his loneliest years in the White House, a service that his daughter
Anna Roosevelt, and other members of his family, greatly appreciated.
- Perkins was Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor from 1933
to 1945. She had built up her career in New York as a reformist,
becoming the authority on factory hygiene and safety, and lobbying
for shorter hours and safer workplaces for New York's workers.
Governor Al Smith initially appointed her to his administration, but
it was FDR who appointed her to significant positions of power
among his cabinet. Her appointment as Secretary of Labor marked
the first female in the presidential Cabinet in the United States, and
was roundly criticized by conservative leaders throughout the nation.
Her most important achievement in office was the Social Security
John Nance Garner
- Garner was a Senator from Texas who served as Roosevelt's
vice president for his first two terms. Garner was also a candidate
for the presidency in the 1932 election, and the Democratic Party
convention was bitterly divided on which candidate to choose. Rather
than see his party fall victim to division, Garner gave his 100
votes to Roosevelt, giving him the nomination. Although he had no
interest in the Vice-presidency, thinking it rightly a powerless
job, Roosevelt offered him the post in return and he accepted for
- Churchill first made a
name for himself as a journalist covering the Boer War. He was
first elected to Parliament in 1900 as a Conservative. His party
affiliation soon changed to Liberal, and he reached the position
of chancellor of the exchequer while a Constitutionalist. He was
chosen Prime Minister in 1940. Neither a financial innovator–his
conservatism was known to rankle John Maynard Keynes–nor a supporter
of labor nor colonial self- determination, his popularity as a British
statesman came from his masterful handling of the Second World
War. His refusal to back down from Hitler inspired his countrymen,
and his excellent relationship with Roosevelt, in which he gracefully
acknowledged his position of the leader of the less powerful nation,
was the keystone of the Great Alliance. He also attended a great
number of international conferences and negotiated a place of importance
for Great Britain in the twentieth century and beyond.
- Hitler began his career as a high school dropout
and art school reject. He was always violently anti-Semitic and
blamed the loss of WWI, in which he fought for the Bavarian army,
on the Jews and Marxists. He became chairman of a political group
of nationalist veterans called the National Socialists, or the Nazis.
In 1923, he was arrested after leading the "beer hall Putsch,"
an attempted coup in Munich. In prison, he wrote his famous treatise Mein
) which was full of
lust for power and anti-Semitic sentiments. Upon his release from
prison, he began in speeches to provide Germans suffering from
rabid inflation and war debt, scapegoats and dreams of world domination.
By 1933 he had been appointed chancellor of a coalition cabinet,
which he changed into a dictatorship by killing off his opposition. Frenzied
German supporters addressed him as the Fuhrer, and with the death
of his President, all leadership of the country was embodied in
Hitler's diminutive person. Hitler was now poised to pursue his
plans for world domination. He became first Mussolini's ally and
turned Italy effectively into a German satellite. He signed a non-aggression
pact with Stalin to invade Poland, but violated it in 1941 by invading
Russia. By this time, Hitler had taken complete control of military
strategy to disastrous consequences. By July of 1944, the German
army was wasted and his former colleagues attempted to assassinate
him. Finally on April 30, 1945, Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun,
committed suicide in the basement of a bunker rather than face
the complete defeat of Germany.
- Although Mussolini was originally a member of the
Socialist party, he abruptly turned nationalist during WWI, and
rose to the rank of corporal in the Italian army. In the postwar
period he and his followers practiced aggressive nationalism and practiced
terrorism during times of unrest in Italy. He finally was asked
by King Emmanuel III to form a cabinet. He quickly turned his role
as premier into a fascist dictatorship, and organized the country
along those lines. Mussolini's followers addressed him as "il Duce,"
or "leader." His ambition to restore Italy to its former glory
was expressed in his instatement of monuments and support to extreme
nationalist groups. His attack on Ethiopia led to Italy's isolation
from the rest of Europe and drove Mussolini to join ranks with Hitler
in his plans to annex Austria. His implementation of Hitler's anti-Semitic
and other policies in Italy were not greeted with support and he
was eventually denounced by the Fascist council and arrested, and
- Stalin rose to power in the administration under Lenin.
The relationship between Stalin and Lenin is not well understood,
and although Lenin regarded Stalin as a good administrator, he
was not considered a great theoretician or leader. After Lenin's
death, Stalin outmaneuvered Trotsky and a number of other contenders
for the leadership of the Communist party and rose to power. Under
Stalin's rule, the totalitarian state was glorified rather than
the state disappearing as Marx envisioned. He maintained his power
by destroying all opposition brutally in the famous political purges
of the 1930s. Stalin signed the non-aggression treaty with Hitler
because he desperately desired to stay out of WWII. The attack from
Germany in 1941 took him entirely by surprise. Stalin proved to be
an able military leader and diplomat in WWII, fighting the only
front in Europe for most of the war, and negotiating in the conferences
at Tehran and Yalta for the creation of satellite states to protect
Russian borders in the future.
Hopkins was an eager social worker in New York. While Roosevelt
was governor of New York, he put Hopkins in charge of the Temporary
Emergency Relief Administration. Hopkins willingness to spend federal
money freely for welfare during hard times endeared him to Roosevelt.
Hopkins soon became one of Roosevelt's most trusted advisors, running
the successful Civil Works Administration which helped Americans
survive the harsh winter from 1933–1934 and the Works Progress
Administration, which put millions to work, including writers and
artists such as Steinbeck and de Kooning on projects for public display.
Hopkins lived in the White House until Roosevelt's last term when
he married and left, and remained to his death, one of FDR's closest
- By trade a businessman in
the mining industry, Hoover first made a political name for himself
chairing the Commission for Relief in Belgium during the First World
War. He later became Secretary of Commerce for Harding and Coolidge.
He became the 31st President of the United States in 1928, and
it was not long before the country fell into the depths of the
Great Depression. Hoover, a staunch conservative who firmly believed
in the basic soundness of the economy, was reluctant to increase
federal involvement. He did approve the Reconstruction Finance
Corporation, which gave out loans not available elsewhere. However,
most Americans saw him as impotent against the economic crisis.
He was roundly defeated in the election of 1932 by an optimistic
and, most importantly, vigorous Roosevelt.