First elected in 1933 during the Great Depression, the Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted successful “New Deal” programs designed to stabilize the economy and provide jobs and relief for the unemployed (e.g., the Agricultural Adjustment Act, National Industrial Recovery Act, Public Works Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority). With the U.S. economy substantially improved, he was re-elected for a second term in 1936.

During his second term, with increasing Japanese and German aggression across the world, FDR attempted to deftly maneuver the country from a position of relative isolationism (exemplified by the America First Committee championed by Charles Lindbergh) into support for the Allied powers battling the Axis.

In 1940, with Nazi Germany over-running much of Europe and Imperial Japan sweeping across the Western Pacific, FDR  ran for an unprecedented third term. With his subsequent wartime leadership proving highly effective, he defeated his Republican challenger Thomas Dewey and was reelected to a fourth term in 1944.