By: Nathan Asher Katzin
CHAPTER 1 – EARLY YEARS
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President of the United States longer than any
other President. He led the country through some of its most difficult times. Yet
Roosevelt was such a hard-working, active President that many people did not know
that he could not walk after age 39.
How did Roosevelt achieve so much? The answer is in the story of his life.
From an early age, Roosevelt believed that the most important work he could do was
public service, or working for the good of others.
Franklin was born in Hyde Park, New York, in 1882. His family was very wealthy. Franklin was
an only child.
Franklin grew up in a big house with lots of land. He had dogs and ponies as pets. When he and
his family traveled they rode in a special train car that belonged to their family. During the summer, the
Roosevelts went to their summer home on Campobello Island in Canada.
Franklin’s childhood home in Hyde Park, NY
The Roosevelts on Campobello Island
Roosevelt summer home
For more info, visit:
Franklin went to boarding school
when he was fourteen. Boarding school
students live at the school where they study.
Franklin’s school had programs that
sent students to help people in the
community. For the first time, Franklin met
people who had trouble making enough
money to live. He began to understand that
not everybody had a comfortable life like his.
The idea that it was his duty to help others
began to grow in him.
During his last year in boarding
school, in 1900, Franklin ran his school’s
summer camp for boys whose parents did
not have money to pay for camp or vacation.
During the school year, he also visited an
elderly woman who lived alone. He and
another classmate made sure she had the
coal, water, and food that she needed.
Franklin’s older cousin, Theodore
Roosevelt, was one of his heroes. He had
been governor of New York and Vice
President of the United States. He was a
leader who had a lot of energy and
enthusiasm. In 1901, while Franklin was in
college, Theodore became President of the
United States. Franklin wanted to follow in
After college, Franklin went to law
school. While still in law school, Franklin
married Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore’s niece.
Like Franklin, Eleanor believed it was her
duty to help others. Eleanor’s serious ways
and the work she had already done to help
people impressed Franklin. From then on,
Franklin and Eleanor worked together.
CHAPTER 2 – PERSONAL CHALLENGES
In 1910, Roosevelt ran for the New York
State Senate. Cars were a new invention then,
and they were almost always black. Roosevelt
drove a bright red car on his campaign. He
drove at high speed – 22 miles per hour –
sometimes scaring the horses that shared the
road. Roosevelt stopped and talked with people
along the way. He sometimes made ten
speeches a day. No one had ever seen such a
People felt Roosevelt would work hard
in the Senate, too. They voted for him and he
won the election.
In 1921, Roosevelt got a serious
disease that affected his ability to walk.
Doctors thought he had polio. At that
time, there was no cure for polio. Many
people died of it, and others were
disabled. Roosevelt was unable to walk.
He needed help doing many everyday
Roosevelt wondered if he would
be able to continue his career in politics.
Eleanor told him to keep doing the work
Roosevelt exercised diligently,
hoping he would be able to walk again.
While he worked to get better, Eleanor
went to meetings and made speeches so
people wouldn’t forget about Franklin.
In 1924, Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia, for the first time. The warm water there
was thought to help people with polio. Roosevelt exercised in the water every day. His legs got
stronger. He met others with polio there. Roosevelt told them to believe they could get better, and
to keep doing the things they loved.
Roosevelt returned to Warm Springs many times. He liked it so much he built a house
After a lot of hard work, Roosevelt could walk a few steps with crutches or by leaning on
other people. He never walked on his own again. He used a wheelchair to get around.
In 1928, Roosevelt ran for governor of
New York. Some voters wondered if someone
who could not walk could be the leader of a
state. One of Roosevelt’s friends said, “A
governor doesn’t need to do back-flips. He just
needs a good brain.” Roosevelt won the
The next year, 1929, was the start of a
long period of hard times called the Depression.
Businesses closed. Millions of people lost their
jobs and homes.
Roosevelt believed the government
could help. As governor, Roosevelt started
programs to get people back to work. He gave
people in New York state jobs building parks
and roads. He started programs to give food,
clothing, and housing to people in need.
CHAPTER 3 – THE NEW DEAL
In 1932, Roosevelt ran for
President of the United States. He
promised to help the millions of people
hurt by hard times. He said, “I pledge
myself to a new deal for the American
Roosevelt rode across the country
on a campaign train called “The Roosevelt
Special”. People knew he had created
jobs when he was governor of New York.
Times were tough, but Roosevelt wore a
big smile. He looked confident and
hopeful, while his opponent looked tired.
Roosevelt won the election by many votes.
Roosevelt became President
in 1933. From the start, he tried to
give people courage. He said
something many Americans never
forgot. He told people not to be
afraid to try things that could help
solve their problems. He said, “The
only thing we have to fear is fear
In radio speeches called
“fireside chats”, Roosevelt
explained how the government
planned to help people get through
the Depression. Roosevelt’s hopeful
way of talking kept the people of
the United States going.
Roosevelt kept his “New Deal” promise to get
Americans back to work. The government started
programs that gave people jobs and hope. One
program, the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, put
people to work in national parks, forests, beaches, and
campgrounds. The CCC gave its workers a sense of
pride. They had jobs and were helping their country.
The Works Progress Administration, or WPA,
was another New Deal program. Some WPA workers
built buildings, roads, parks and airports. Others
sewed clothes or looked after children.
Artists got jobs, too. Some made paintings for
public buildings such as libraries and post offices.
Writers were paid to write books about the history of
their states. Musicians were paid to write and play
music. The WPA let people use their skills to earn a
Their feeling that they had a duty to help
others had brought Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
together when they were younger. Now they
cooperated to help the country.
Eleanor traveled around the
United States. She talked to people
about the problems that faced the
United States. She thought about
ways to help. Eleanor told Franklin
what she had seen and heard, so
people called her the President’s
“eyes and ears”.
Many Americans loved
Roosevelt for the help the New Deal
gave them. In 1936, Roosevelt ran
for President again and was
He had helped people face
hard times and keep hope alive.
Few people knew that even harder
times lay ahead.
CHAPTER 4 – WORLD WAR II
Dictators had come to power in
Germany and Italy. In 1939, Great
Britain and France went to war against
these dictatorships. Soon other nations
joined the fighting. Many Americans did
not want the United States to get
involved. They felt that the war was not
Roosevelt was elected President
for a third time in 1940. He became the
first President to be elected three times.
Roosevelt told voters that he did
not want to enter the war, but he thought
the United States should help Great
Britain and France fight for democracy in
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Japan was
on the side of Germany and Italy. The United States could no longer stay out of the war. It entered on
the side of Great Britain and France. By the time the war known as World War II ended in 1945, nations
from every part of the world were involved.
Roosevelt told Americans that they had to work together. He asked everyone to cooperate. Men
and women joined the armed forces. Women took over many factory jobs that had been done by men.
The war changed the way people lived. Meat, sugar, gasoline, and even shoes were hard to buy,
because supplies were short. People grew their own food, so that food grown on farms could be sent to
soldiers. Children collected scrap metal that could be turned into equipment for fighting the war.
Roosevelt used his radio speeches to explain how the United States could win the war. He
reminded people they were fighting for democracy and liberty. He said hard work and cooperation would
In 1944, Roosevelt won a fourth term as President. He was very tired, but he did not want to
quit until the war was over. Early in 1945, it finally seemed the war would end soon. Roosevelt met with
other world leaders to plan ways to prevent future wars. These leaders formed the United Nations, or
Just before the war ended in Europe, Roosevelt died. Vice President Harry Truman became
President. In August 1945, Japan surrendered. The United States and its allies won the long war.
CHAPTER 5 – ROOSEVELT’S LEGACY
Many people think that
Franklin Roosevelt was one of our
nation’s greatest Presidents. Programs
he started still help people today. The
Tennessee Valley Authority, for example,
brought electricity to farms and homes
in the South. TVA dams prevent floods,
and trees planted by the TVA keep soil
from washing away.
Roosevelt is a hero for another
reason, too. From age 39, he was unable
to walk and used a wheelchair to get
around. Roosevelt did not let his
disability prevent him from achieving
The Roosevelt Memorial in
Washington, D.C., is the first
Presidential memorial with no steps, so
people who use wheelchairs can visit it
Franklin Roosevelt never gave up. He had the courage and confidence to lead
the country. No matter what the challenge, he made people believe things would get
As President during World War II, Roosevelt led the fight for freedom and
liberty around the world. He cooperated with other world leaders and brought out the
best in people. He taught people to work together when the going was tough.
Nov. 24, 2021
Mar. 20, 2021
Feb. 25, 2016
FDR biography slideshow for Ms. Allen's online homework assignment