The sole U.S. president to be elected to three - much less four terms, Franklin Roosevelt was an only child. He had a Hyde Park upbringing, striking good looks and schooling at Groton, Harvard and Columbia Law. He married his sixth cousin Eleanor, a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt.
After practicing briefly in a corporate law firm, FDR was elected to the U.S. Senate and was appointed secretary of the navy by President Woodrow Wilson. He performed so well that he was chosen in 1920 to share the Democrat ticket with James M. Cox. The two lost, and FDR returned to his law practice.
The next year, he was stricken with poliomyelitis (polio), the paralysis of his lower body immediate and complete. But he was elected governor of New York in 1928 and 1930 and took Hoover's job in 1933. He immediately galvanized the nation with his assertion that "the only thing to fear is fear itself."
His voice became famous through his fireside chats, as did his programs such as the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the rest of the New Deal.
He asked Congress for a declaration of war after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. As the war was ending, FDR died on April 12, 1945.