April 12

This Day in History

General Interest

Apr 12, 1945:

President Roosevelt dies

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the longest serving president in American history, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage three months into his fourth term.

In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Governor Roosevelt of New York was elected the 32nd president of the United States. In his inaugural address in March 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 re-election.

During his second term, he became increasingly concerned with German and Japanese aggression and so 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. Re-elected by Americans who valued his strong leadership, he proved a highly effective commander in chief during World War II. Under Roosevelt's 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, he was re-elected to a fourth term.

Three months after his inauguration, while resting at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia, Roosevelt died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 63. Following a solemn parade of his coffin through the streets of the nation's capital, his body was buried in a family plot in Hyde Park, New York. Millions of Americans mourned the death of the man who led the United States through two of the greatest crises of the 20th century: the Great Depression and World War II. Roosevelt's unparalleled 13 years as president led to the passing of the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which limited future presidents to a maximum of two consecutive elected terms in office.

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