What was Franklin Roosevelt's greatest contribution to America?What was Franklin Roosevelt's greatest contribution to America?
Franklin Roosevelt contributed positively to America in two major ways.
First, he helped get America through the Great Depression. Many say that his New Deal ended the Depression, but this is not true. The Depression did not end until WWII caused the US economy to boom. However, FDR's energy and the way he communicated with the public helped Americans feel better about the state of the economy and gave them hope again. This was helpful even if it did not solve all the problems of the Depression.
Second, he led the US through WWII. His firm leadership was helpful in bringing the US through this terrible war.
Roosevelt's greatest contribution was restoring hope to the American people during the Great Depression. His campaign theme song was "Happy Days are Here Again;" and in his inaugural address, he told the American people, "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." His New Deal Program of Relief, Recovery and Reform led to such lasting improvements in American society as Social Security and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Other programs put people to work, and restored their self confidence. Roosevelt was an incurable optimist, and his optimism restored hope and confidence for the American people.
The Social Security program has, over the last 75 years, provided reliable retirement income to hundreds of millions of Americans. A recently widowed friend of mine, along with her two kids, could not survive economically without it.
But I'd have to say his impact on the national landscape in terms of dams, bridges, roads, schools and national parks is staggering even today, and remains his single greatest legacy.
Along with the newly restored hope and the lasting legacy of his New Deal and Social Security let's not forget another contribution of FDRs. He brought with him to the White House a first lady who was intelligent thoughtful, and not afraid to show. This was unusual in an age when women were considered adornments and not significant contributors to the world of politics. They had a thoughtful and inspiring partnership.
I would have to agree with brettd in saying that the infrastructure that he was able to add through his work programs is a lasting legacy on the landscape of the United States. I have to wonder if he had any idea of the lasting impact his program would have.