1. Did Roosevelt’s upbringing, background, and character make it easy for him to understand the concern’s and fears of ordinary Americans? Explain your answer.Franklin Delano Roosevelt, born in 1882, is famed to be one of the most distinguished presidents in American history. Born in an exceptionally wealthy family and also bearing the name Roosevelt; he was naturally recognized to be of noble descent which both inspired a promising career and prevented him from being properly exposed to the suffering and hardship faced by many of the common people in that moment in time.
His strong determination, enthusiasm and charisma, he would soon realize, not only helped him to overcome his shock case of Polio but also helped him to understand the obstacles faced by ordinary citizens which in turn brought him to be the most popular president among Americans as we know it.Nephew of the great Theodore himself, Roosevelt was taught at a young age that it was his duty to help those underprivileged. However, Roosevelt continued to indulge in his private lifestyle, where he enjoyed interests ranging from sailing to polo. Growing up on an 188-acre Roosevelt estate with his own governess also meant that he had the chance to enjoy many luxuries many others did not receive. He then moved on to studying law at Harvard in 1910 and had his first proper encounter with Politics.
With little desire to succeed academically, he performed badly at school as he had always the reassurance of his great wealth that awaited him back home. Nevertheless his affluent background guaranteed him a good job such as working for a big New York law firm, but once again lack of incentive overpowered him and made it difficult for him to understand what it was like for the millions of Americans each day who worked miserably in order to provide for their families.Roosevelt pursued Politics and managed to grab hold of a secretarial position in the navy in 1913. He was more enthusiastic in this and naturally, he did a successful job showing early signs of dynamism what would soon blossom later on in his life. On other hand, he was reviewed by his colleagues as being arrogant and had the ‘unfortunate habit of throwing his head up which gave him the appearance of looking down at most people’.His perspective was then forced to change when he was diagnosed by Polio and was left paralyzed from the waist down. Through relentless perseverance and strength of character, he struggled against the crippling disease fighting ever so fiercefully to regain movement in his legs. Although he still remained different economically to ordinary citizens, he was able to understand them both emotionally and mentally.
Roosevelt showed willpower and tremendous courage in his recovery which were seen as important qualities that the American public looked for in a strong leader. His eyes had been, so to speak, amazingly opened to the sufferings of the less fortunate and this gave him better insight on the dilemmas they faced whether it be disease, poverty, or unemployment. This genuine empathy soon made Roosevelt governor of New York in 1928.Through his role of the Governor, he was able to see firsthand the problems generated by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. He urged the government to setup relief schemes such as the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration whereby 20 million dollars were raised from taxpayers, particularly from the rich (this made him enemies), which were to be spent on helping the unemployed. Realizing how important it was to gain the trust of the American people, he gave radio broadcasts , known as ‘fireside chats’, where he would explain his actions in a simple and direct way- he was simply asking Americans to work with him.
These broadcasts were astoundingly successful and gave much needed self-esteem and self-confidence to the people.He finally ran for President in 1932, and both greeted and welcomed the nation in high spirits as they mounted along his crusade to ‘restore America to its former glory’ by the means of his ‘New Deal’. He travelled across the country bewildered by the conditions of the people ‘labeled indecent half a century ago’. He shook hands with the locals and was able to know more of their concerns; he made around 20 speeches a day and captivated the people as he connected with the ‘forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid’. Roosevelt made America, and his injudicious competitor Herbert Hoover, realize his understanding of the common people’s feelings and the spirit and compassion he possessed in order to act upon them. His landslide victory in running for elections confirmed the citizen’s faith and through his inaugural speech (‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself’), he gave hope to a country that had been in need of it for the longest time.
Roosevelt was able to make a name for himself through his courage and compassion to act boldly in order to combat the people’s problems as he had grew to understand, throughout his own struggle of disease, the poor life that the common American lived. Despite his autocratic upbringing which might have prolonged this revelation of his, Roosevelt was increasingly determined to make this respected nation the very best country he had known it to be.