Franklin D. Roosevelt led the United States through the Great Depression and World War II, the worst crises any contemporary voter remembers. During his 12 years in office, moreover, Democrats and Republicans sorted themselves into the ideological pattern that still survives today. Before the 1930s, it was hard to tell conservatives from self-proclaimed progressives; thereafter,
though cultural differences sometimes shattered economic alliances and electoral appeals still tended to obfuscate, a coherent spectrum could be
discerned: liberals have wanted to expand the welfare state begun during the Depression, while conservatives have tried to dismantle it or limit its growth. Given these legacies, it is hardly surprising that historians, pundits, and politicians have used Roosevelt as a standard to measure presidential achievement.
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $29.95 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.