Summary: For more than a generation, Americans have been told that government is the problem, not the solution. A look back at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency shows how differently Americans once viewed government’s role, how much more optimistic they were, and how much more they trusted the president. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, one-third of the nation was unemployed, agriculture lay destitute, factories were idle, businesses were closing their doors, and the banking system teetered on the brink of collapse. FDR seized the opportunity, rescued the nation from economic collapse, and then led it to victory in the greatest war of all time. Roosevelt changed our view of the modern presidency, the nature of government, and America’s role in the world. Elected an unprecedented four times, “he lifted himself from his wheelchair, to lift this nation from its knees.”
Jean Edward Smith is the John Marshall Professor of Political Science at Marshall University. He is the author of twelve books, including biographies of General Lucius D. Clay, Chief Justice John Marshall, Ulysses S. Grant (2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist), and in 1999, Professor Smith taught for thirty-five years at the University of Toronto. He is a 1954 graduate of Princeton University, received his Ph.D. from Columbia, and served six years in the United States Army during and after the Korean Conflict.