President Franklin Delano Roosevelt drinking wine and smoking a cigarette during the Jackson Day Dinner.
There are the obvious reasons why contemporary historians would argue FDR as the greatest president in the history of the United States: he put the kibosh on the Great Depression with his New Deal program. His “arsenal of democracy” prevailed over Nazi Germany. He restructured the federal government to where it protected the little guy instead of Big Business.
On his historic speech outlining the New Deal on May 7, 1933 he said:
“There were just two alternatives: The first was to allow the foreclosures to continue, credit to be withheld and money to go into hiding, and thus forcing liquidation and bankruptcy of banks, railroads and insurance companies and a recapitalizing of all business and all property on a lower level. This alternative meant a continuation of what is loosely called “deflation”, the net result of which would have been extraordinary hardship on all property owners and, incidentally, extraordinary hardships on all persons working for wages through an increase in unemployment and a further reduction of the wage scale.
It is easy to see that the result of this course would have not only economic effects of a very serious nature but social results that might bring incalculable harm. Even before I was inaugurated I came to the conclusion that such a policy was too much to ask the American people to bear. It involved not only a further loss of homes, farms, savings and wages but also a loss of spiritual values — the loss of that sense of security for the present and the future so necessary to the peace and contentment of the individual and of his family. When you destroy these things you will find it difficult to establish confidence of any sort in the future.”
Yet Roosevelt had accomplished an even greater feat. He made the most sensible, heroic, and utterly compassionate executive decision ever by anyone who resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
He repealed Prohibition. 🙂
You can read the whole article here: http://drunkard.com/issues/06_06/06_06_fdr_portrait.html