Franklin Roosevelt was president during the Great Depression and for much of WWII. He created a system of public works projects, managed agricultural production, and created worker protections such as a minimum wage and social security. He was able to get most of his domestic agenda through Congress because of...
Franklin Roosevelt was president during the Great Depression and for much of WWII. He created a system of public works projects, managed agricultural production, and created worker protections such as a minimum wage and social security. He was able to get most of his domestic agenda through Congress because of the desperation of the Great Depression and his immense popularity. It was only when the Supreme Court went against some of his programs did the Roosevelt domestic agenda lose steam.
In foreign policy, Roosevelt negotiated lend-lease with Britain in the early days of WWII. He also sent naval escorts to ensure that war materiel would reach Britain, thus creating a state of undeclared war with German submarines. Roosevelt enacted the first peacetime draft in American history. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Roosevelt administration encouraged industry to create enough munitions for the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union. Roosevelt also authorized the integration of all factories receiving a government war contract—in an America where segregation was the law in many areas, this was groundbreaking. He authorized the Manhattan Project, which was the program to build the first atomic bomb. He negotiated with Churchill and Stalin in plan the course of the war and the postwar world. Roosevelt's relationship with Stalin was especially interesting in that he had to promise Stalin his own sphere of influence in Eastern Europe in return for help fighting the Japanese in 1945. Roosevelt planned to renegotiate this part of the Yalta conference, but he never got an opportunity, dying just before the war ended in Europe in April 1945.
Truman's contribution to the end of WWII was that he authorized the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. This act created a rift between the US and the Soviet Union because Stalin knew that there was a super weapon thanks to his espionage effort, but his American allies were not telling him openly about it. Truman also blocked the Soviet Union from rebuilding Japan. By making this effort entirely American, Stalin felt like he could do whatever he wanted in Eastern Europe. Soon after the end of WWII, Truman integrated the US armed forces. Much of Truman's domestic policies took place after WWII, but many parts of his Fair Deal fell apart in Congress because they were viewed as unnecessary or too leftist. Truman wanted to increase the minimum wage and provide national health insurance.