April 12

This Day in History

World War II

Apr 12, 1945:

Roosevelt dies

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in his home at Warm Springs, Georgia, on this day in 1945. The only man to be elected to four terms as president of the United States, Roosevelt is remembered--by friends and enemies alike--for his New Deal social policies and his leadership during wartime.

Roosevelt was elected to a third term in 1940 with the promise of maintaining American neutrality as far as foreign wars were concerned: "Let no man or woman thoughtlessly or falsely talk of American people sending its armies to European fields." But as Hitler's war spread, and the desperation of Britain grew, the president fought for passage in Congress of the Lend-Lease Act, in March 1941,which committed financial aid to Great Britain and other allies. In August, Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to proclaim the Atlantic Charter, which would become the basis of the United Nations; they also drafted a statement to the effect that the United States "would be compelled to take countermeasures" should Japan further encroach in the southwest Pacific.

Despite ongoing negotiations with Japan, that "further encroachment" took the form of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, "--a day that would live in infamy." The next day Roosevelt requested, and received, a declaration of war against Japan. On December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Certain wartime decisions by Roosevelt proved controversial, such as the demand of unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, which some claim prolonged the war. Another was the acquiescence to Joseph Stalin of certain territories in the Far East in exchange for his support in the war against Japan. Roosevelt is often accused of being too naïve where Stalin was concerned, especially in regards to "Uncle Joe's" own imperial desires.

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