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Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Franklin D. RooseveltFew Presidents in American history have intuitively sensed what the American people wanted and then had the opportunity, the drive, and the paternalistic wish to fulfill those desires as did Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  He was a man uniquely timed in history, opportunistic to the hilt, and imbued with a wide-ranging uninhibited curiosity that permitted flexibility in solving fiercely challenging problems.  Interestingly enough, his curiosity lent a dilettante air to his character, so that his programs seemed to lack focus, a long-range plan, or a theoretical or even goal-oriented content.  Roosevelt was a man infused with charisma, indomitable self-confidence, unflinching optimism, and an encompassing understanding of America's history.   He was a man of action, and his temperament and character were particularly well-suited for the times.  The catastrophic Depression and the world war were a stage set for the drama which Franklin Roosevelt would play upon for twelve years as President of the United States, dominating his era as no one else would do in the twentieth century, and few had done in the nation's history.

Roosevelt was not a deep thinker, but his spirited curiosity led him to an unusual breadth of awareness in a wide range of subjects.  He saw patterns and relationships in events with great perception, which to some is a measure of intelligence.  He absorbed facts and feelings and their relevance.  Unafraid of change, he loved novel ideas and, on impulse, frequently ordered them to be implemented.   He was not a master planner in the days of the New Deal, but it is doubtful that anyone could have devised a disciplined plan to resolve so complex a crisis as the Depression with its twenty-five percent unemployment.  Roosevelt was a man who kept his fingers on the strings of all phases of government.  He was a frequently charming, and outwardly a warm-hearted man; but he had a will of steel and used it in controlling his administration, his party, and the electorate as a benevolent master and with two exceptions was devoted to democracy and to the fulfillment of the Constitution.  While he came to be rejected out of hand by his own class, his greatest accomplishment during his first two terms of office may have been in restoring the confidence of the vast majority of the populace in the American political and economic systems.