Essential Facts About F.D.R.

By | March 11, 2022

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Portrait of American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945) as he sits behind the wheel of his car outside of his home in Hyde Park, New York, mid 1930s. (FPG/Getty Images)

He Was The Longest Serving President

It seems impossible today, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to serve four terms as U.S. president, although he died 11 weeks into his final term, bringing his total time as president to 13 years. While he was a popular wartime president, it was tradition to step down after eight years, as George Washington had done, and Roosevelt's long tenure was viewed by his opponents as "the most dangerous threat to our freedom ever posed." Two years after Roosevelt's death, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment, which formalized the two-term limit.

One Of The Greats

Despite his controversial extended stay in the White House, F.D.R. is consistently ranked by historians and the public alike as one of the greatest U.S. presidents in history, often falling just behind Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. His respect was hard won, as he led America through some of the greatest struggles of the 21st century, from the Great Depression to World War II. One of his most impactful accomplishments was enacting the New Deal, an unprecedented federal effort that created vast public works projects, regulations, and Wall Street reforms and paved the way for an era of progressivism that brought about safety nets like Social Security.

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Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law, August 14, 1935. (Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

He Was Kind Of Related To Another Great

It's no coincidence that F.D.R. shared a surname with another revered U.S. president. Teddy Roosevelt—the 26th president, known for his own progressive movement, the Square Deal—was his fifth cousin, but they were arguably more closely related by marriage. Franklin's wife, Eleanor, was actually a Roosevelt by birth and Teddy's niece. F.D.R. was also distantly related to 10 other presidents: both John and John Quincy Adams, James Madison, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and William Howard Taft.