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Franklin Delano Roosevelt is generally regarded as one of the United Statesí most effective Presidents. Whether the accolades are entirely justified or Rooseveltís effectiveness was simply a product of period in which he served as President will always be debated. One thing that no one can deny is that Roosevelt took an atypical route on his way to becoming President. Whether he was fighting an illness or coping with the death of a loved one, Roosevelt always managed to keep himself on track and to persist towards his goals and those of the country.
Many people of his period remember FDR for his actions during the Great Depression and World War II, but those actions were preceded by and intertwined with a tough, yet interesting, life that prepared him for his future endeavors. On January 30, 1882, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York to Sara Delano and James Roosevelt (whitehouse.gov). In 1886, at the age of four, Franklin and his family permanently settled into a house in Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada, which was previously a summer escape.
Two years later, Roosevelt started his formal education under a governess of Archibald and Edmund Rogers. It was here that Roosevelt learned to speak German and received the opportunity to study abroad the next year. While abroad, however, he contracted a mild case of typhoid fever, the first of a multitude of illnesses that he would battle during his life. He returned to Hyde Park in 1890, and was tutored by Miss Riensberg. On September 28 of the same year, Roosevelt began studies under a Swiss governess, Jeanne Sardoz, which lasted for two years. Sardoz taught him some of the ins and outs of the British lifestyle in addition to teaching him the French language.
In 1891, Roosevelt and his family traveled to Bad Nauheim, Germany, where he studied at a German public school for a short time. Eventually, they returned to the United States where Franklin received additional personal tutoring. For the most part, Arthur Dumper was his main teacher.
Clearly, Rooseveltís life did not start out in typical fashion. While most children went to school to receive an education, FDR learned from a wide variety of tutors coming from very diverse nationalities and backgrounds. This diversity may have been part of the reason that Roosevelt was so successful later in life when he became President. Once he completed his years of tutoring, Roosevelt entered Groton school, where he studied under headmaster, Endicott Peabody. While at Groton, he made his first ever political speech on the topic of the Nicaragua Canal Bill.
On January 17, 1898, Warren Delano II, Franklinís grandfather, passed away. True to form, Roosevelt pushed forward only two days later by delivering an address during a debate at Groton. In April, Scarlet fever struck Roosevelt badly, forcing him to leave Groton. Intent on finishing his education at the school, he returned to Groton, as soon as he was physically able, for his final year. Finally, on June 25, 1900, Roosevelt graduated from Groton and was awarded the Latin prize. In September of 1900, Franklin Roosevelt entered Harvard University and tried out for the football and crew teams. He did not make either team, but he was elected to be an editor of Harvardís school newspaper Crimson. Unfortunately for FDR, his father passed away on December 8 after battling a long-term illness and a heart condition.
It seemed Roosevelt simply could not escape the struggle, probably this reality must have prepared him emotionally for anything that could possibly happen. A significant event happened in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States following the assassination of William McKinley. From this point on, Roosevelt attempted to model his career after his role model and fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1903, Franklin Roosevelt began his senior year at Harvard and was elected president of the Crimson. While attending Harvard, Roosevelt engaged Miss Eleanor Roosevelt, who was Theodore Rooseveltís niece. Eleanorís father was actually one of Franklinís godparents. In 1905, Franklin and Eleanor married and took a three month delayed honeymoon for themselves in Europe that June. The next year, in May, the couple gave birth to their first child, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. With such a marriage, one must believe that Roosevelt dealt with a good deal of criticism. However, the couple had a very successful marriage, and they were one of the most well known couples in the world for the next 40 years.
Later, Roosevelt graduated from Harvard and immediately entered the Columbia University School of Law. In 1907, Roosevelt passed the New York Bar Examination and found employment as a junior clerk at a law firm on Wall Street in New York City. Soon after, his first son, James, was born. The next year, his second son, Franklin Delano, Jr., was born. However, the boy died the following year marking yet another dramatic setback in Rooseveltís life. Two years later, they had another son, Elliott, who was born on September 23, 1910, in New York City.
In November 8, the Democrats nominated Roosevelt for State Senator for New Yorkís 26th District. After considerable work campaigning and marketing his name, Roosevelt was elected to the New York State Senate by a wide margin. Even during a hectic time in his life when he and Eleanor had three young children to care for, FDR continued to further his career and keep himself in the publicís eye. In June of 1912, FDR played a minor role at the Democratic Convention in Baltimore, supporting Woodrow Wilsonís nomination for the presidency. In July, he organized The Empire State Democracy with seventy other progressives to support Wilsonís campaign and to oppose Tammanyís domination of the state ticket.
On August 24, Roosevelt was re-nominated for the state senate, but he could not campaign because he contracted typhoid fever. Despite his illness and attacks from Tammany, he was re-elected to the state senate on November 5. Without campaigning and battling an illness, he still managed to return to the state senate for one more term. On March 17, 1913, Rooseveltís career took another giant step forward when President Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He served under Secretary Josephus Daniels. Less than one month later, he made a speech before the Navy League in Washington, D.C. that stressed the need for a larger navy.