Today on April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt died while serving his fourth term as President of the United States.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, commonly referred to as FDR, held the presidency from 1933 until he died in 1945. Born to a wealthy family in High-Park, New York, he was a distant cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt. After a remarkable 4,422 days in office, he became the longest-serving president in U.S. history. FDR led his country through some of its most challenging times, including the Great Depression and World War II.
In 1921, at the age of 39, Roosevelt suddenly fell ill while vacationing with his family in New Brunswick, Canada. He was subsequently diagnosed with the potentially fatal poliovirus. The virus spread and infected his spinal cord, leaving Roosevelt with permanent paralysis from the waist down. From that moment on, he was careful never to be seen using a wheelchair in the public eye. For many years, his disability was deliberately hidden from the press to portray strength as commander-in-chief.
“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
In 1933, Roosevelt was elected to the Oval Office and inherited a nation under great distress. Plagued by a massive economic depression, the country had entered into unchartered territory. During his first 'Hundred Days,' the president spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued countless executive orders. Roosevelts' sanctions were all aimed at implementing the "New Deal" — a variety of programs aimed at relieving widespread unemployed. His administration introduced stricter regulations on Wall Street and helped to kickstart economic growth.
As most countries plunged into the Second World War, Roosevelt maintained the long-standing American policy of neutrality. While publicly he was focused on diplomatic solutions, under the table, he was secretly sending aid to allies like Britain and China. Following Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor — "a date which will live in infamy" — Roosevelt quickly obtained Congressional approval to declare war on Japan and Germany. The FDR administration played a pivotal role in kickstarting the American war machine. The U.S. army would achieve extraordinary military success across the European and Pacific theaters.
In February 1945, only seven weeks before his death, President Roosevelt traveled to the USSR for the Yalta Conference. Alongside Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, he negotiated the terms for a post-WWII Europe. He returned to the United States and took sanctuary in Warm Springs, Georgia. On the afternoon of April 12, Roosevelt suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) and died. Health records later showed that the president had been diagnosed with critical heart problems in 1944. Within hours, Vice President Harry Truman was sworn in at the White. House. Franklin D. Roosevelt sadly didn't live long enough to see the formal end of the war.