Study Guide

Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 18th and 21st Amendments

By United States Congress

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

FDR was a political juggernaut. The first president elected four times (and because of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, the only one), FDR led the country during the toughest time in its existence. He started in the Great Depression and finished up with World War II, which like most sequels, was so much worse.

By 1932, it was clear that Prohibition hadn't stopped the use of alcohol and had caused a massive increase in organized crime and spending on law enforcement and jails. Bootlegging had become the national pastime. Plus, the government was losing a fortune in taxes. In the middle of the Great Depression, it was clear that legalizing liquor would be a major boost to the economy in creating jobs and raising revenue.

One of Roosevelt's campaign promises was a repeal of Prohibition, which sent him to the White House over his opponent, incumbent prez Herbert Hoover, who'd once called Prohibition "the great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far reaching in purpose" (source).

Roosevelt's election was the death knell of Prohibition. Less than three weeks after his inauguration, the new president signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, legalizing the sale of 3.2 beer. By the end of 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed its older sibling. It was reported that Roosevelt celebrated the repeal with a martini.

That wasn't all FDR accomplished in his first 100 days in office. How about his "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech? And fifteen major bills including farm relief, bank re-openings, creation of the FDIC to protect people's bank accounts, and the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps that put 250,000 Americans to work in conservation projects.

For more information about FDR, check out Shmoop's in-depth guide on the man. Seriously, he did a lot. But some people claim that the real reason for his popularity wasn't the New Deal or his shepherding the country through WWII; it was the repeal of Prohibition (source).

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