Political Leaders: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt
Over the course of American History, there have been politicians that have strengthened America. The three most influential politicians in American history were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. These politicians changed American history forever, leaving long-lasting, beneficial effects that are still in place today. George Washington was the 1st president, introducing America’s democracy; Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president, ending slavery; and Franklin Roosevelt was the 32nd president, getting America through The Great Depression. These politicians greatly influenced American history and how America is today.
A politician is a person experienced in the art or science of government while conducting the business of a government, or a person engaged in party politics as a profession. The United States of America has had some amazing, influential leaders-to be exact, politicians. From the first president in 1789 all the way to the 45th president in 2018, there have been 3 influential politicians that have changed America forever. The three most influential politicians in American history were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- 1 George Washington
- 2 Abraham Lincoln
- 3 Franklin Roosevelt
George Washington didn’t really have an exciting childhood. He was born on February 22, 1732 on his family’s plantation to Augustine and Mary Washington. His family’s plantation was in the British Colony of Virginia. He was the oldest of 6 siblings and he spent most of his childhood at Ferry Farm- a plantation near Fredericksburg, Virginia. His father Augustine Washington died when George was only eleven. George Washington didn’t have it easy as a child, especially after his father died. His mom had to take care of six children by herself and I can’t even imagine how hard that would be.
At the age of fifteen, Washington finished formal schooling. As a teenager Washington had shown aptitude for mathematics and he became a successful surveyor. His surveying interest gave him enough money to have land. In 1751, Washington made his only trip outside of the United States with his older half brother, who had tuberculosis. They traveled to the outside of Barbados, hoping the warmer climate would help Lawrence. Sadly, Lawrence died and Washington came back to the United States where he inherited his brother’s estate at Mount Vernon on the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia. He got a small desire for politics and in 1752, Washington was made a commander of the Virginia militia. While in the Virginia militia, he saw action in the French and Indian War and was made leader over all of Virginia’s militia forces. His desire for politics continued to grow while he was in the Virginia militia forces. In 1759, Washington went back to Mount Vernon where he was eventually elected into the House of Burgesses and served for fourteen years. In 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Curtis and he became a stepfather since they never had kids of their own. While living with his new family, Washington expanded Mount Vernon. Washington was better at being a general than being a military strategist. His strength lay not in his genius on the battlefield but in his ability to keep the struggling colonial army together. His interest in politics lead him to where he was eventually involved with them. In 1781, the continental forces were able to capture British troops in Yorktown, Virginia under Charles Cornwallis with the help of Washington. Because of this, Washington was declared a national hero.
As Washington got older he became more and more involved with politics. In 1783. Washington signed the Peace Treaty between America and Great Britain. In 1787, Washington attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was head of the committee to draft the new constitution. His leadership at the Constitutional Convention convinced the delegates that he was the most qualified to become the nation’s first president. He wanted to leave the public and return to his private life, but the public opinion was so strong. On January 7, 1789 American history changed forever, because the very first presidential election got held on that day. Washington got the most votes and John Adams got the second most votes. George Washington became president and John Adams became vice president. On April 17, 1789, Washington was inaugurated in New York City. When Washington became president, America consisted of only eleven states and four million people. The way he supported issues were unique. In foreign matters he supported cordial relations but favored a position of neutrality in conflicts. Domestically, he appointed Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his presidential cabinet. Hamilton and Jefferson had very different political views, but Washington believed that the divergent views were greatly needed for the nations’ government. After serving two terms, Washington retired and declined to serve a third term. In his Farewell Address, he urged the nation to stay involved with foreign powers. Each February, his Farewell Address is read to commemorate his birthday. On December 14, 1799, Washington got a severe cold that turned into a throat infection and died at the age of 67. He was entombed at Mount Vernon and in 1960, it was marked as a national historic landmark.
George Washington was one of the most influential politicians in American History. Washington left the most enduring legacies of any American in history. Known as the ‘Father of the Constitution’, his face appears on the U.S. dollar bill and quarter, hundreds of U.S. schools and towns, as well as the nation’s capital city. He set the very first standards in American history. It is because of George Washington that the government is the way it is today.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky. His family moved to southern Indiana in 1816. He didn’t have much schooling because he worked to constantly provide for his family, since they didn’t have much money. In 1830, his family moved again to Macon County in Southern Illinois. While living there he got a job working on a river flat boat shipping freight down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.
Abraham Lincoln finally settled in New Salem, Illinois where he became a local supporter of politics and a supporter of the Whig Party. While involved in the Whig Party, he won the election to the Illinois State Legislature in 1834. He opposed slavery during a time when everyone was for it. He wanted to expand the United States on commerce and cities rather than agriculture. The war years were difficult for Abraham Lincoln and his family. His son died of typhoid cancer. Even with everything going on, he taught himself law and passed the bar examination exam. Lincoln worked as a lawyer before winning the election into the house of representatives in 1846. While in congress, Lincoln was unpopular because many people in Illinois disagreed with the U.S. was with Mexico. On October 16, 1854, Lincoln debated the Kansas-Nebraska Act with Douglas, denouncing slavery and calling the institution a violation of the most basic tenants of the Declaration of independence.
In 1855, Lincoln delivered his famous ‘house divided’ speech, which he quoted from the gospels to illustrate his belief that this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.After giving his House Divided Speech, the republicans chose Lincoln as their candidate for president. In the general election, Lincoln once again faced Douglas, who represented the democrats. Lincoln won most of the electoral college votes and won the White House. After becoming the 16th president in 1861, seven southern states seceded from the union and formed the ‘Confederate States of America’. After Lincoln ordered the fleet on Fort Sumter, The Civil War began. During the Civil War, Lincoln issued the Emancipation of Proclamation, which took effect on January 1,1863. The Emancipation of Proclamation freed all slaves in the rebellious states and left the slaves in the border states in bondage. He kept arguing and fighting to end slavery. In November 1863, Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address- expressing the war purpose, harking back the founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the pursuit of human equality. On March 4, 1865, Lincoln gave his seconds inaugural speech-addressing the need to reconstruct the south and rebuild the union with malice towards none; with charity for all. That next month Lincoln gave a speech on the White House lawn about the reconstruction and what all would happen.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth slipped into the presidents booth at Fords Theater and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. Sadly, Lincoln died that next morning on April 15, 1865. The things Lincoln accomplished while he was alive made him one of the greatest politicians ever. He might not have gotten the chance to finish his presidency, but his legacy is still present in the United States today. Tragically, Lincoln did not live to see the 13th Amendment get passed and he didn’t live to see his vision of reconstruction get carried out. Because of Lincoln and his two hundred seventy-two word Gettysburg Address, he changed the way America functioned forever.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. Franklin Roosevelt was an only child to James and Sara Roosevelt. His family was pretty wealthy, so he didn’t struggle financially growing up. He was educated by private tutors and elite schools. Early on, he began to admire and emulate his 5th cousin. Theodore Roosevelt- who was elected in 1900. While in college, Franklin fell in love with Theodore’s niece, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and they married in 1905 Together Anna and Franklin had one daughter- Anna and five sons, but one died when he was an infant.
Franklin attended law school at Columbia University. He worked at Wall Street as a lawyer for several years. In 1910, he entered politics-winning state senate seat as a democrat in the heavily republican Dutchess County. While in senate, he anointed more women to federal posts and even included black Americans in federal job programs . In 1913, he was named secretary of the U.S. Navy. While secretary of the navy, he traveled to Europe in 1918, right after the entrance into WWII. He got ill through all of this, but still made a triumphant public appearance at the Democratic National Convention to nominate Alfred E. Smith for President, even though Alfred lost nomination. As the nation sank deeper into the economic depression after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Roosevelt grew more liberal. He set up the TERA- The temporary Emergency Relief Administration. By 1932, he was helping one out of ten families in New York. Re Elected as governor in 1930-he emerged as a front runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination just 2 years later.
On March 4, 1933, he got inaugurated into the White House as the 32nd president. When inaugurated, the great depression had reached desperate levels, leaving thirteen million people unemployed. During his first one hundred days as president, he closed all banks for several days until congress could pass reform legislation. He came up with the New Deal (AAA) , the Agricultural Administration, the Public Works Administration(PWA), the Civilian Conservation Corps(CCC) and the Tennessee Valley Authority(TVA). After the Emergency Banking Relief Act, three out of four banks were open within a week. He created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDFC), to protect depositors accounts. He made the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go along with the FDFC to prevent America from going into another stock market crash. In 1935, Roosevelt got congress to pass a ‘2nd New Deal’, because the economy started showing signs of recovery. The 2nd New Deal included the social security act-which gave people financial support when they were unemployed, when they were disabled, or if they were old. He won re election in 1936 and in 1937 FDR tried to warn the United States about Germany, Italy, and Japan. After WWII broke out, FDR allowed Britain and France to purchase U.S. ‘cash and carry’ items, building alliances with them. On December 8, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, so Roosevelt declared war on Japan. In 1944, the tide of war turned toward the allies. An exhausted Roosevelt managed to win election for the fourth time. At the Yalta Convention, he got Stalin’s commitment to enter the war against Japan. Stalin kept his promise, but failed to honor his pledge. After Roosevelt returned from the Yalta Convention, he was so weak that he was forced to sit down while addressing congress. In 1945, FDR left Washington D.C. to go back to his place in Warm Springs, Georgia. At his place in Georgia, he had established a nonprofit organization to aid polio patients long before he resided there.
Sadly, on April 12, 1945, he suffered from a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died later that day. Harry S. Truman succeeded in office and took the role of the president. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of the most influential politicians in American history, if not the most influential one. He got America through The Stock Market Crash and The Great Depression, and not just any president could have done what he did. He was so sick, but kept running our country. He ended a huge crisis that was literally making the country the weakest that it ever was. We need more presidents like FDR, because he turned America into the strongest it ever was when it was at its weakest. He brought prosperity back into America and it’s because of him that the country is as strong as it is today.
When we look back at American history, we see just how important our politicians were. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt were the three most influential politicians in American history. Because of everything they did, America is still a high class, functioning country. America wouldn’t be as great as it is today if it was not for these three awesome politicians that influenced American history forever.
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