Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt

As well as posting articles from the news, I thought it would also be helpful if I posted articles about American historical figures.  So here's an interesting article about one of America's best presidents:  Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 (A photo of FDR with his dog and a little girl - possibly his daughter. He had polio and had to use a wheelchair. His dog was named Fela.)

The article:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a legacy - this is what is left to people who come afterwards.  A president's legacy is, basically, the effect that he had in the world and what people will remember him for.

impact - this basically means influence, but it's a stronger word than influence - it means the real change that this person made in the world

tenure - in this case tenure means amount of time; Roosevelt served as president longer than anyone else has or ever will.  The law was changed after he died to make sure that a president can only serve two four-year terms.  Most people feel that Roosevelt did a great job, but this is America - we don't want 'kings' so it was felt that we needed to limit the amount of time a president could serve.

predecessors - people who came before him

save Abraham Lincoln - 'save' in this case means 'except'

a defining figure - someone who changed things significantly, who changed the definition of what America is

to combat the Depression - to fight against the Depression, when the stock market crashed and people lost lots of money and many people became unemployed (it started in 1929)

an opponent - someone you are competing against

to implement - to create and establish

innovative - new, creative

the brink - the edge

prosperity - financial success, the gathering of wealth

the federal government - America has lots of governments.  New York City has New York City government, New York state government and then the federal government in Washington D.C. The federal government is the strongest government and it covers and serves all 50 states.

unions - collections of workers 

bargain collectively - this means that if I belong to a union, I might be one member out of thousands of union members.  So we can elect a representative to negotiate with the company that we work for.  We are acting collectively and our representative is bargaining for us.

a floor under wages and a ceiling on hours - a floor under wages meant that employers had to pay a certain amount to their workers - a minimum wage - a ceiling on hours meant that employers could not make their workers work too many hours. You walk on a floor and look up at a ceiling.

infirm - ill

rural and agricultural  - the countryside

price supports - the amount that food costs often depends on how much food there is.  If too much corn is grown, corn prices will be low and consumers will benefit but farmers will suffer.  So under Roosevelt the government controlled the amount of food that was being sold.  If too much was grown, to protect the farmers, the government would buy the extra food and send it to poor countries for free.  This would keep the price of food reasonable so that buyers and sellers both benefitted as well as poor people in other parts of the world.  This was a brillian idea.

sectors - parts of the economy

embracing - adopting, accepting

an activist fiscal policy - the government became active in issues concerning the value of money

writ large - looking at the bigger picture (writ large is short for written large)

Depression-induced ills - problems caused by the Depression

double digits - the number 4 is a single digit number; 23 is a double digit number

to jump start the economy - if people could purchase more things, more money would go to companies and the companies could produce more and make more money and pay their workers more and the workers could continue buying more things...this would create a cycle of success.  This would jump start the economy.  This means the extra money would get the economy working again.  But people did not have the money to jump start the economy. 

torpor - not being active; so many historians believe that it was World War II that ended the Great depression because many unemployed men could join the army and many companies were hired by the government to make weapons and ships etc.  World War II jump started the economy.

capitalism - the American economic system in which people own property and money is made by private individuals. The opposite of capitalism is socialism - according to this system the government owns everything and it creates jobs and wealth and then spreads the wealth around to everyone.

maladies - problems

accrued - gained

treacherous - dangerous

threatened - were a danger to

cherished - loved, beloved

the onset - the beginning

ably - competently, skillfully

allies - friends

without formally entering - even though the USA was not really fighting in the war, it was helping its friends to fight

forced his hand - forced him to do what he did

rallied - brought Americans together and encouraged them

massive - huge

post-war - after the war

proponent - someone who supports something

successors - those who followe dhim

a thorny problem - a difficult and painful problem; thorns are found on roses and can prick your finger

adversary - enemy, opponent

a sea change - a huge change, as if the sea has started flowing in the opposite direction

fireside chats - he would sit by the fireplace in the White House and speak to the American people about the problems the country faced.  People would sit near their fireplaces and listen.

a bond - a connection

encompass - include

an implementer - a starter or originator, a creator

a chief legislator - in the past presidents did not try to create laws - that was Congress' job. But Roosevelt began creating laws and sending them to Congress so that Congress could create good laws for the people.

a drafter - a creator

domestic - at home

enhanced - made it larger

capacity - ability

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