With great power comes great responsibility. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the thirty second president of America. He was one of the greatest American presidents because he helped the nation go through the great depression and also guided the country during the World War II. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only president to have been elected for four terms in the office (Schuman 108). He made sincere efforts to bring prosperity back to the United State, restored confidence and measures protecting popular savings in the bank. Also among his achievements included passing of laws favorable to the common people and came up with a legislation establishing unemployment insurance and old age pension. This president was among the greatest president in America and thus this article will explain his term in the office, the Pearl Harbor, World War II and Manhattan project which happened during his reign.
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt office term
The tradition in United State allowed Presidents to serve for a maximum period of only two years. Franklin Delano Roosevelt served for four terms and thus became the only president to break this precedent. He ran for and was elected to a third term in 1940 and was then elected to a fourth term in 1944. The rationale for President Roosevelt running for these additional terms in the office was the perilous times in the early 1940s, as American faced the possibility of war in 1940 and was in the midst of war in 1944 (Schuman, p. 108).
When President Franklin Roosevelt broke the custom of two terms, a campaign began to enact a constitutional amendment to limit presidential terms. This amendment limited presidents to two terms in the office. If someone succeeded the president in the office and served more than two years of the original term, he would then be elected to one full term.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States with surprise at Pearl Harbor. It was a deliberate attack by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan. This shocked all the Americans as Japanese even made a second run at the United States the following morning. In its efforts to move to the modern age, Japan realized it had little or no oil, gas and other raw materials. Japanese military decided to expand to the countries that had these raw materials. Japanese increasing hostility created concern to the United States and Europe. Since some Japanese feared war with United States, a peaceful deal was to be strike to settle the differences of the two nations (Hill, p. 221).
In spring 1940, the United States pacific fleet moved to Pearl Harbor. The Japanese believed that the United States could use the island as a base to strike them. They saw the move to Pearl Harbor as a threat to Japanese security. Relations between the two countries worsened and President Franklin Roosevelt signed a secrete order that allowed former members of the United States military to fight against the Japanese in China. He also banned the export of scrap metal, steel and aviation fuel to Japan (Hill, p. 221). The Japanese were left with three choices of either giving in to American demands and leave China, wait for their fuel to run out or attack and seize resource rich areas. Admiral Yamamoto thought that the best option was to strike and since he knew that Japan could not defeat America in a long war, he decided on a quick, surprise attack to crush the United State navy.
In early 1941, Yamamoto began planning for the conquest of those areas of Asia that Japan desired and part of that plan was to attack and cripple the United State navy at Pearl Harbor. On November 26, a fleet of Japanese warship set sail towards Pearl Harbor. It included six air craft carriers carrying 441 air crafts. They were escorted by two battle ships, two heavy cruisers, six destroyers and several submarines. Five midget submarines were also due to launch from large subs (Hill, p. 221). These were to enter the harbor and torpedo American ships. On December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese planes took off from aircraft carriers to attack the United State military base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The attack came in to waves in which American naval base and airfields were bombed and torpedoed. The following day, Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war on Japan, officially beginning America’s involvement in World War II.
World War II
When Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt addressed a Congress and declared a state of war between the United States and the Japanese Empire. Congress agreed and declared war on Japan, as did Great Britain. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on United States in Support of Japan. The presidents believed that Germany participated in the Pearl Harbor attack. Roosevelt whipped up the United State machines (Heinrichs, p. 204). In 1942, he called for the production of 60,000 planes, 25,000 tanks, 20,000 anti-aircrafts guns and merchant vessels to replace those sunk by Germany submarines. The president signed an executive order that sent 110,000 Japanese-American to detention camps because hatred for people with Japanese background had hit United States. He believed that these people acted as spies or were disloyal to United States and thus were imprisoned in remote desert areas where they remained till the end of the war.
Another tragedy continued in Europe where Hilton was killing millions of Jews in concentration camps. None of the Allies, including the United State, made an effort to end this suffering until near the wars end. Allied leaders said the Jews would be better helped in the long run by the defeat of Germany. Defeating Germany remained Roosevelt’s first priority, even though the Japanese had brought the United States in to the war. The President believed that war would continue till the Germans surrender. Great Britain continued to fight Germans from the west after defeating the Axis powers in North Africa and Italy (Heinrichs, p. 204).
The nuclear age traces its origin in 1938 when American scientists feared that Nazi German where fission was discovered would develop a fission bomb. Albert Einstein, a known scientist wrote a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt warning him of this possibility (Cohen, p. 96). Einstein also told the president that the fission could also lead to construction of a very powerful bomb. The president was convinced and decided that the United States must beat Germany in construction of a bomb. In 1939, even before the United States entered World War II or realized the full implications of Einstein warning, Roosevelt established the first federal uranium research program. He put forth the resources to begin the building of a bomb.
Fission research resulted to further advances including the 1940 discovery of the element plutonium by physicist in the University of California. When the United States entered the war against Japan, Germany and Italy in December, the race to beat Germany in developing an atomic bomb accelerated under a secret army Corps of engineer program known as “Manhattan project”. By September 1944, after less than two years of work, Manhattan Project researchers had begun producing plutonium for weapons. In July 16, 1945, they detonated an experimental atomic bomb known as “the gadget” from a tower in Mexico desert. Less than three weeks later, United State airmen dropped an atom bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on Hiroshima followed by the detonation of “fat man” over Nagasaki in 9th August. This became the largest scientific endeavors of its time. It involved thousands of physicist, chemists, engineers and technicians working feverishly over a period of five years. The Japanese finally surrendered and this marked the end of Word War II (Cohen, p. 96).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt remains a great President in the history of United States. He was the first one to go for more than two terms in the office against the tradition in the United State. He also led the country through the Second World War after the Japanese attack at the Pearl Harbor and also it is during his reign that the first atomic bomb was constructed. This article has given the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s history on his term in the office as a president. It has also explained the attack of the Pearl Harbor which made the president declare the World War II. Finally, the article has explained the president’s achievement in the Manhattan project.
- Cohen, Daniel. The Manhattan Project. Chicago: Twenty-First Century Books, 1999.
- Heinrichs, Waldo. Threshold of war: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American entry into World War II. Chicago: Oxford University Press, 1990.
- Hill, Richard. Hitler attacks Pearl Harbor: why the United States declared war on Germany. New York: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003.
- Schuman, Michael. Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Four-Term President. New York: Enslow Publishers, 1996.