Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 12, 1945: The End of an Era

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at Groton School MA, 1900
(aged 18)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born into a prominent old Dutch family on January 30, 1882. One of his ancestors, Isaac Roosevelt, served in the New York militia during the American revolution. The Roosevelt family was prominent in real estate and trade. His maternal grandfather, Warren Delano, Jr., made a fortune trading opium and tea in China.

Claes Martenszen
van Rosenvelt
FDR married Eleanor Roosevelt (a fifth cousin once removed) in 1905. They were both descendants of Claes Martenszen van Rosenvelt who arrived in New Amsterdam (Manhattan) from Holland in the 1640s. The couple had six children born between 1906 and 1916. 

Entering politics in 1910, FDR served in the New York State Senate, and then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. In 1920, he ran for vice president on the James M. Cox ticket, losing to Warren Harding/Calvin Coolidge. [Harding died in San Francisco, of heart failure and pneumonia, on August 2, 1923]

In 1921 Roosevelt was stricken with debilitating polio, which cost him the use of his legs. 

This year it looks like the Republicans are heading for a contested convention in Cleveland.  Well, the mother of all contested conventions was the 1924 Democratic National Convention, held in New York City, which went through 103 ballots to nominate John Davies and Charles Bryan. The Klu Klux Klan played a role. The Democrats got trounced by Calvin Coolidge in the general election that year. 

At the 1924 Convention Roosevelt nominated Al Smith (governor of New York) for one of the ballots. At Smith's behest, Roosevelt then ran successfully for Governor of New York in 1928. 

In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt successfully defeated incumbent Republican president Herbert Hoover to become President. In his first hundred days in office Congress passed landmark New Deal legislation: 
  • The Emergency Banking Act (which lead to federal deposit insurance), 
  • The Civilian Conservation Crops (which put an army of unemployed to work on environmental projects), 
  • The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (which regulated farm prices and provided mortgage assistance to some farmers), 
  • The National Industry Recovery Act (established the Public Works Administration that undertook infrastructure projects, improved working conditions, and outlawed child labor),  
  • Established the Tennessee Valley Authority (built dams, provide navigation, flood control, and fertilizer manufacturing to encourage farming, provide electricity and economic development to the Tennessee Valley). 
  • Glass-Steagall Act (limiting the securities activities of commercial banks) 
Roosevelt encouraged labor union growth and moved to more closely regulate business and high finance. The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 added to his popularity. 

In 1934 the Securities and Exchange Commission was formed to regulate Wall Street. 

In 1935 he enacted the Social Security Act. 

In 1938 Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which among other things established a federal minimum wage. "No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country," he said.

April 12, 1945 was a Thursday.  John Q. Barrett at The Jackson List takes it from here: 
Charles Fahy, the Solicitor General of the United States, and Philip C. Jessup, a Columbia University law school professor ... traveled to the home of Charles Evans Hughes, the eighty-three year old retired Chief Justice of the U.S.... [T]he International Committee of Jurists... was drafting proposed revisions to the statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, known informally as the World Court. ...  Fahy and Jessup were serving as ... advisers....
While the meeting was ... in progress, Hughes’s butler came to the study door. He reported that Thomas E. Waggaman, the Supreme Court’s Marshal, had telephoned. Waggaman’s message for Hughes was that President Franklin D. Roosevelt—four times elected; three times sworn in by Chief Justice Hughes (his fellow former governor of New York State); twelve years in office; president throughout World War II, which soon would be won; less than three months into his fourth term in office; age sixty-three—had died.
If you are interested in the history of our law in the era of Justice Robert H. Jackson, sign up the Jackson list at Barrett's blog. 

FDR/Wiki commons

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