Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt "Liberty is the air that we Americans breathe. Our government is based on the belief that a people can be both strong and free, that civilized men need no restraint but that imposed by themselves against the abuse of freedom."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945) 
U.S. President
Law 1905–07

The thirty-second president of the United States, Roosevelt led the country through the Great Depression and most of World War II. He was born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York. An aristocrat descended from one of America's oldest families, FDR championed the cause of ordinary people who had been economically devastated by the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929. As a wartime leader, he infused the nation with hope and determination, regularly communicating with the public through radio addresses that were also known as fireside chats. Stricken with polio in 1921, he prevailed over his infirmity and his mother's wishes to remain a presence in New York politics. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945.

Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in 1905 but left in 1907, after passing the bar exam, to practice law. Three years later, the Democratic Party of Hyde Park selected him to run for the New York State Senate. In 1928, as governor of New York State, he tapped Columbia professors Rexford Tugwell, Raymond Moley, and Adolf Berle Jr. as his "brain trust," to devise policies that would alleviate the woes brought on by the Great Depression. During his four-term presidency, Roosevelt never lost touch with his valuable Columbia connections. He appointed former law professor William O. Douglas to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1937, and selected former Columbia Law School Dean Harlan Fiske Stone as chief justice of the United States in 1941. In 1942, he sent prominent Columbia historian Carlton J. H. Hayes to Spain as U.S. ambassador, just as that country was considering joining forces with Axis powers. FDR's dealings with Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler were less cordial, not least because Butler never failed to remind Roosevelt that he had yet to complete the requirements for his Columbia law degree.

Read more about Roosevelt in the Columbia Encyclopedia.

Columbia University provost Alan Brinkley discusses the legacy of the New Deal and Franklin D. Roosevelt's impact on America.

View a picture of "The Big Three" (Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin) at Yalta, where they planned the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.

A picture of 'The Big Three' (Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin) at Yalta, where they planned the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.
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View a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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