Assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the American people regain faith in themselves. He brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
When the nation was at it’s worst, Roosevelt was at his best. In his first 100 days in office, Roosevelt pushed through many new programs in order to help fix the problems of the depression. One of these programs being the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), which was established to create dams on the Tennessee River providing desperately needed jobs and hydroelectric power to the surrounding area.
Roosevelt established many more programs with many different intentions. Some of these programs like the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Act), which was created to raise farm produce prices. This particular program paid farmers to leave land unseeded and to slaughter livestock, which in turn raised the prices by decreasing the supply and increasing the demand.
There were more of these programs like the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), which helped establish work. This particular program employed many young Americans by providing jobs such as planting trees, creating parks, and making roads. These programs were often considered as “make work programs” by the public. The public often did not think that jobs such as the planting of trees were significantly important. Roosevelt on the other hand knew that by planting trees he’d help bring the dust bowl to an end and ensure that it would never happen again.
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Roosevelt also helped reinstate the nation’s faith in our banking system as well. He created a banking holiday to shut down all of the banks and only re-open those that were stable enough to conduct business. He also created the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), to insure bank accounts up to $5,000 and to ensure that a great depression would never again be a concern for Americans.
After Hitler took power in Germany. Roosevelt asked to increase the amount of money spent on national defense. This created the only peacetime draft that was known to this point. Many Americans went to train with the U.S. army. The United States under Roosevelt was quickly preparing for a new war, which seemed close at hand.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, Roosevelt asked congress for a declaration of war. He also addressed the nation with one of his most famous and influential speeches. “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” This speech along with the actual attack prompted Americans to enlist into the U.S. military and forever changed the outcome of World War II with the defeat of both Nazi Germany and Japan.
No other candidate for “Man of the Year” has quite the credentials that FDR has. He led a nation out of the grasps of depression, into a world war, and made it an economic super power. There is no doubt in my mind as to whether or not Franklin Delano Roosevelt is worthy of such a title.