Miller Center

Presidential Key Events

Franklin Roosevelt


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Franklin D. Roosevelt - 08/25/1944: Allied forces liberate Paris, …
Allied forces liberate Paris, France. August 25, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 09/08/1944: The first of the German V-2 rockets land in Englan…
The first of the German V-2 rockets land in England; they are much faster and more powerful than the V-1 rockets, and will take a toll on the British people in the waning months on the war. September 08, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 09/11/1944: At the Octagon Conference in Quebec, FDR and Churc…
At the Octagon Conference in Quebec, FDR and Churchill discuss strategies for pursuing the Germans and Japanese and their treatment following the war. September 11, 1944 - September 16, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 09/12/1944: American forces engage German troops on German soi…
American forces engage German troops on German soil for the first time in the war. September 12, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 10/20/1944: U.S. forces invade Leyte Island in the Philippines…
U.S. forces invade Leyte Island in the Philippines. They are led by General MacArthur, who broadcasts to the Philippine people that he has fulfilled his promise of returning to the country. Three days later, the Japanese send a major naval force to disrupt the invasion. These forces meet in the Battle of the Leyte Gulf where the Japanese suffer a major defeat, losing twenty-four large ships; it is the largest naval engagement of the war and hereafter, the Japanese Navy is limited largely to suicide engagements in the form of Kamikaze fighter pilots. October 20, 1944 - October 26, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 11/07/1944: FDR wins an unprecedented fourth term as President…
FDR wins an unprecedented fourth term as President over the Republican challenger Dewey; while the electoral vote is a landslide--432 to 99--the popular vote is much closer, 25.6 million to 22 million. November 07, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 12/16/1944: Germany launches its final offensive of the war, c…
Germany launches its final offensive of the war, counterattacking Allied defenses in the Ardennes Forest in an engagement known as the Battle of the Bulge. It will take two weeks for the Allies to regroup from the surprise attack and launch their own counterattack. December 16, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 12/31/1944: Despite efforts by the federal government to contr…
Despite efforts by the federal government to control wages and prices, the cost of living registers a 30-percent increase since the United States formally entered the war. December 31, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 01/20/1945: FDR is inaugurated for his fourth term as Presiden…
FDR is inaugurated for his fourth term as President. January 20, 1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 02/04/1945: At the Yalta Conference in the Crimea, FDR, Church…
At the Yalta Conference in the Crimea, FDR, Churchill, and Stalin meet to discuss the final assault on Germany and the treatment of that country following the war. They sign a “Declaration on Liberated Europe,” discuss the providing for democratic governance of European nations, and agree to meet in San Francisco that April to establish an international peace organization. February 04, 1945 - February 11, 1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 02/04/1945: U.S. troops complete the capture of Manila, the ca…
U.S. troops complete the capture of Manila, the capital of the Philippine islands. February 04, 1945 - February 24, 1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 02/19/1945: In one of the hardest-fought battles of the war, U…
In one of the hardest-fought battles of the war, U.S. Marines capture the island of Iwo Jima. The engagement leaves 4,000 Americans and 20,000 Japanese dead. February 19, 1945 - March 16, 1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 04/01/1945: Nearing the mainland islands of Japan, the U.S. Ar…
Nearing the mainland islands of Japan, the U.S. Army wins a fierce battle to capture the island of Okinawa; in the process the United States will lose 80,000 in casualties and Japan 120,000. April 01, 1945 - June 21, 1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 04/09/1945: In a national poll, 81 percent of Americans say th…
In a national poll, 81 percent of Americans say that they favor the creation of an international peace organization, a sharp contrast to the 26 percent who supported a similar body in 1937. April 09, 1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 04/12/1945: While vacationing in Warm Springs, Georgia, Presid…
While vacationing in Warm Springs, Georgia, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies following a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Vice President Harry S. Truman is immediately sworn in, becoming the thirty-fourth President of the United States. April 12, 1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt - Roosevelt Signs Social Security Act

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which established a Social Security Board to coordinate the payment of old-age benefits to Americans over the age of 65.

After the crash of the stock market in 1929, the United States sunk into the Great Depression. With high rates of poverty among the elderly, many people felt the government needed to do something to protect its citizens. In June 1934, President Roosevelt had created the Commission on Economic Security, which studied economic security, social insurance, and long-term relief programs. It then proposed a social security program that could help people who were retired, disabled, widowed, or unemployed. Its recommendations were to serve as the basis for legislation to be considered by Congress. The Commission formally presented its recommendations to the President in January 1935.

The act that Roosevelt signed included programs such as Old Age Assistance (Title I), Old Age Insurance (Title II), Unemployment Insurance (Title III), Aid to Dependent Children (Title IV), Grants for Maternal and Child Welfare (Title V) and Aid to the Blind (Title X). Taken together, these programs represented a significant commitment to developing a welfare state in the United States. Subsequent amendments to the original act added many benefits, including survivor benefits if a covered worker died prematurely, disability coverage and medical benefits.

The Social Security Act financed its programs through deductions from workers' paychecks, which actually stunted economic growth by muting consumer purchasing power. Moreover, the programs and benefits of the Social Security Act were not distributed evenly among all Americans. Agricultural workers (who were likely to be African Americans or Mexican Americans of both sexes) and domestic servants (often African American women) were not eligible for old-age insurance. Likewise, farm laborers were ineligible for unemployment insurance. And since state governments administered many of the Social Security programs, the size of benefits varied widely, especially between the North and the South. Still the act that Roosevelt signed in 1935 created a basis of social insurance that still exists to this day.

August 14, 1935

Franklin D. Roosevelt - Roosevelt Attends the Tehran Conference

On November 28, President Franklin Roosevelt attended the first day of a conference in Tehran, Iran, with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It was the first meeting of the three leaders together.

At the Tehran Conference, the three leaders discussed World War II and post-war plans. They decided on the Allied invasion into Europe to open a second European front, and Stalin agreed to launch a major offensive on Eastern front at the same time. They also discussed the Pacific Theater of the war, and Stalin pledged that Russia would join the fight against Japan once the war against Germany was completed. The leaders also touched on the status of Poland and the Baltic nations.

The conference ran until December 1, 1943. At the end of the meetings, the “Big Three,” as they became known, issued a joint declaration. In it, they pledged their support to one another and noted that they had reached an agreement for the military operations against Germany. They concluded the declaration by stating: “We came here with hope and determination. We leave here, friends in fact, in spirit, and in purpose.”

To read the Tehran Declaration, issued on December 1, 1943, click here.

November 28, 1943

Franklin D. Roosevelt - Pearl Harbor Attacked

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the United States at the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the United States quickly entered World War II, declaring war against Japan the next day.

After Japan attacked China in 1937, the United States worked with other Western nations to try to contain and isolate Japan economically and politically although it had not yet entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt thought this strategy would let him deal with what he saw as the more pressing German problem. He also knew that it would be difficult for the United States to prepare for and fight wars simultaneously in Asia and Europe.

The strategy, however, turned out to have significant drawbacks. By isolating Japan, the United States and its allies exacerbated Japan's fears of being denied access to the resources it needed to prosecute its war in China. By the summer of 1941, Japan's leaders felt increasingly hemmed in by a coalition of America, Britain, China, and the Dutch (the ABCD powers) and adopted overtly aggressive foreign and military policies. The Japanese planned the Pearl Harbor attack in the hopes of destroying the U.S. Naval Fleet in the Pacific to prevent it from hindering Japanese advances in Asia.

The attack on Pearl Harbor began shortly before 8 o'clock in the morning on December 7 when Japanese planes and submarines began bombing the naval base. The attack lasted little more than two hours, and the Japanese sunk or badly damaged eight battleships, thirteen other naval vessels, and more than 150 planes. The attack killed 2,400 soldiers, sailors, and civilians, and wounded nearly 1,200 others.

The next day, President Roosevelt appeared before a special joint session of Congress. He called December 7 “a date which will live in infamy,” and asked for a declaration of war against Japan, which Congress supported. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The United States had finally entered World War II as a participant, following several years as an interested and active bystander. The country would never be the same.

To read President Roosevelt's Address to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War on December 8, 1941, click here.

December 07, 1941

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