On January 20, 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only president to be elected to three terms in office, is inaugurated to his fourth term.
At the height of the Great Depression, Roosevelt, then governor of New York, was elected the 32nd president of the United States. In his inaugural address in 1933, President Roosevelt promised Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and outlined his “New Deal”–an expansion of the federal government as an instrument of employment opportunity and welfare. Although criticized by the business community, Roosevelt’s progressive legislation improved America’s economic climate, and in 1936 he swept to reelection.
During his second term, he became increasingly concerned with German and Japanese aggression and began a long campaign to awaken America from its isolationist slumber. In 1940, with World War II raging in Europe and the Pacific, Roosevelt agreed to run for an unprecedented third term. Reelected by Americans who valued his strong leadership, he proved a highly effective commander in chief during World War II. Under his guidance, America became, in his own words, the “great arsenal of democracy” and succeeded in shifting the balance of power in World War II firmly in the Allies’ favor. In 1944, with the war not yet won, Roosevelt was reelected to a fourth term. Three months after his inauguration, he died. Roosevelt’s unparalleled 13 years as president led to the 1947 passing of the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, limiting future presidents to a maximum of two elected terms in office, or one elected term if the president already served more than two years of another president’s elected term.