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080 Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?

80. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
(Franklin) Roosevelt

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president of the United States, he said, “the only thing we have to fear (or be afraid of) is fear itself." This phrase became very well known and gave inspiration (or hope) to millions of Americans who were living in very difficult times. Roosevelt became president in 1933 during the Great Depression, which was a period of time when the U.S. economy was doing very poorly.

President Roosevelt did many things to help Americans during the Great Depression. He had a plan called the New Deal that helped the unemployed (or
people who couldn’t find jobs), made the banking system better, and helped to strengthen the economy.

Then, just when the Great Depression was ending and the U.S. economy was getting better, World War II began and President Roosevelt had many new
challenges (or things that are difficult to do). He started rationing, letting people have only small amounts of things that were also needed by the army. He also worked to expand (or make bigger) the manufacturing industry (or the part of the economy that makes things) in the United States. He approved the law that created a minimum wage, which is the smallest amount of money that a person can be paid for each hour of work.

President Roosevelt served (or worked as president) for 12 years, from 1933 to 1945. He was the only U.S. President who has served more than two terms (or two four-year periods). After his presidency, the 22nd Amendment (or change to the law) to the U.S. Constitution was made, so that no president could serve more than two terms.

He was a very strong president, yet his body was weak (or not strong). President Roosevelt was almost paralyzed (or unable to move) in the lower part of his body. He used a wheelchair, which is a special chair on wheels, but he almost never let people see him using it.


inspiration – something that one wants to do, or an exciting reason for wanting to do something good; having your mind feel excited to do something, especially something creative
* He says that his wife is his inspiration for painting.

Great Depression – a period of time in the 1930s when the U.S. economy was doing very poorly
* During the Great Depression, many American families were worried that they didn't have enough money to buy food.

unemployed – people who cannot get a job
* The U.S. government gives the unemployed some money to help them while they are looking for a job.

challenge – something that is difficult to do, but also may be exciting
* Climbing Mount McKinley in Alaska, one of the tallest mountains on Earth, is a great physical challenge.

to ration – to allow people to have or to buy only a small amount of something because there is not enough of it for everyone
* When was the last time that gasoline was rationed in the United States?

to expand – to make something bigger or to make it cover a larger area
* The university wants to expand its foreign language courses to include Japanese, Arabic, and Swahili.

manufacturing industry – the part of the economy that makes things for people to buy
* Car companies are part of the manufacturing industry.

minimum wage – the smallest amount of money that a person can be paid legally for one hour of work
* Many of the people who work at fast-food restaurants earn minimum wage.

weak – not strong; not having much power
* She's too weak to lift a twenty-pound bag of flour!

paralyzed – unable to move one's body
* After the car accident, Logan was paralyzed from his neck down.