Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a central figure of the 20th century during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war, and a community organizer whose neighborhood encompassed the entire nation, was born on this day in 1882.
This day may be marked with less enthusiasm by some ... especially here, in the Tall City. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, established the foundation for modern American liberalism ... a legacy that is being recalled once again as a new administration takes charge in America, and tackles a new generation of problems ... with some observers even offering the phrase 'a new New Deal.'
Roosevelt was not entirely successful in every measure he proposed. Yet for all that, there are few who left such an indelible imprint upon us, our nation and its place in the world. His Wikipedia write-up notes that Roosevelt "has been consistently ranked as one of the greatest U.S. presidents in historical rankings, alongside Abraham Lincoln and George Washington ... a 1999 survey by C-SPAN found that by a wide margin academic historians consider Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Roosevelt the three greatest presidents, consistent with other surveys ... anf Roosevelt is the sixth most admired person from the 20th century by US citizens, according to Gallup."
Did Roosevelt elevate himself as high as history has? Maybe ... and maybe not. He was the first to establish a library (The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum), setting in motion what has become the dominant form of presidential memorials outside of Washington, D.C. As for a more traditional memorial, Roosevelt reportedly told Felix Frankfurter that he wanted nothing more than a plain block of stone the size of his desk erected in front of the National Archives. Such a memorial was built during the 1960s ... but would be dramatically eclipsed decades later ... you can still see that block of stone, by the way, at the new FDR Memorial in Washington, DC .
There is no lack of online resources about FDR, his life and his world. Some good ones include the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Resource Guide from the Library of Congress, the New Deal Network (a collection of photos and primary sources), the FDR Cartoon Archive, FDR's episode in the "American Experience: The Presidents" series, Photographs of Franklin D. Roosevelt from the National Archives and the Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center Museum.