Another Roosevelt takes center stage

Posted by John Kanelis on

Theodore Roosevelt died at a relatively young age. The year was 1919. He'd served two terms as president, tried for a third term but failed. Went off to Africa to hunt big game.

Then he was gone.

Up stepped his fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The acclaimed PBS documentary series produced by historican Ken Burns, tells the story of FDR's rise in its Wednesday night installment of "The Roosevelts." It's titled "The Storm (1920-1933)." It airs at 7 p.m. on Panhandle PBS.

Franklin had married another cousin, Eleanor. He then set about making a name for himself on the national scene.

His first foray into national politics was unsuccessful. He ran on the Democratic ticket as vice president with presidential nominee James Cox. The Republican ticket led by Warren G. Harding defeated them. That didn's stop FDR, He would be elected as governor of New York in 1928, even though he had to overcome being crippled by polio.

What's fascinating about Franklin Roosevelt's entry into politics is that he became a dedicated Democrat over the protests of his famous and overbearing cousin, Teddy -- himself a dedicated Republican.

The Great Depression hammered the nation in October 1929. America plunged into despair. The president on whose watch this occurred, Herbert Hoover, was seen as hapless and feckless in the face of the economic disaster that enveloped the nation.

Franklin Roosevelt emerged in 1932 as someone with a grand plan to pull the nation out of its doldrums. He ran in 1932 and won by promising to end the Depression and to repeal Prohibition.

Ken Burns's documentary provides a clearer understanding of how Franklin Roosevelt was able to craft the New Deal and tell a worried nation at his first inaugural that, "We have nothing to fear but ... fear itself."

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