Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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For the United States no individual more aptly personified the era of the Great Depression than did Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was beloved by clear majorities which without precedent elected him president four times in a row. Meanwhile his opponents often hated him and characterized him as a demagogue and a traitor to his own class. Roosevelt pragmatically sought means by which to relieve the suffering the failed economy had caused. As many of his programs were found unworkable or unconstitutional he turned to alternative ones. All the while he worked to preserve the American capitalistic system rather than replace it.

A large part of Roosevelt's popularity grew out of the personal connections he was able to make with the American people. His often plain but eloquent addresses to immediate crowds and to radio audiences endeared him to millions. A large number of citizens believed that they knew their president personally and that he genuinely was concerned with their own individual problems.

Points to Consider

Who was Franklin D. Roosevelt?

On which coin does Franklin Roosevelt's profile appear?

In which years was Franklin Roosevelt elected president?

Why had he sent his photograph "to the pupils and teachers of the United States"?

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