Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Depression-Era President

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Franklin Roosevelt was born in privilege and wealth on a family estate at Hyde Park, New York. His comfortable upbringing meant that he did not relate directly to the struggles of the underclasses. His father oversaw mining and transportation interests. Roosevelt entered politics early, taking on the Tammany Democrats in New York and ultimately putting a dent in this powerful political machine.

Not always successful in politics, Roosevelt partnered with Louis Howe to save his career. A New York journalist, Howe would play an important role in rebuilding Roosevelt's political career that would ultimately send him to the oval office. Roosevelt's ability to campaign was limited by an early bout with polio that would dog his health throughout his life. So, Howe and Roosevelt focused on getting the word out through print to his mostly rural constituency. Newspaper advertisements highlighted "FDR's support of better prices for farm products, a rollback in license fees for fishermen, and the standardization of apple barrel sizes, which would prevent apple growers from being cheated by buyers."

Howe also helped Roosevelt's brilliant but introverted wife, Eleanor, morph into an effective politician in her own right. Her  "transformation [would later keep] her husband's career alive while FDR struggled with polio."

"FDR: The Early Years," American Experience. Public Broadcasting System.