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When George Washington decided in 1796 that eight years in office was enough, he established an unwritten rule that would stand for nearly a century and a half.A few presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, tried to buck this precedent. Roosevelt was distantly related to both his wife and 11 other presidents.An only child with maternal roots dating back to the Mayflower, Franklin D.“He didn’t appear to have any aptitude for law, and made no effort to overcome that handicap by hard work.” In fact, Roosevelt didn’t even stick around to get his degree, leaving Columbia in 1907 upon passing the bar exam.Family connections landed him a job at Carter Ledyard and Milburn, a prestigious New York City firm.

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In what came to be called the “New Deal coalition,” disparate groups such as Southern whites, Catholics, Jews, African-Americans, labor union members and small farmers united to comfortably elect Roosevelt to four terms in the White House.At Roosevelt’s request, most images from the time show him seated in an open car or standing at a podium. In his 1932 speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president, Roosevelt famously promised to tackle the Great Depression with “a new deal for the American people.” Wasting no time, he initiated a flurry of legislation during his first 100 days in office, much of which remains in effect to this day.When the occasional photographer did try to catch him in his wheelchair, Secret Service agents reportedly tore the film out of their cameras. To shore up the faltering financial sector, FDR closed insolvent banks and reorganized others, federally insured bank deposits, established stock market regulations and abandoned the gold standard.He also took steps to end Prohibition, to increase employment through large-scale public works projects, to institute agricultural subsidies and to bring electricity to rural areas.Related measures continued to pass throughout the rest of 19, after which Roosevelt took the New Deal in a more liberal direction, generally referred to as the “Second New Deal.” This time around, Congress raised taxes on the wealthy, guaranteed labor unions the right to collectively bargain and approved unemployment and disability benefits, as well as Social Security for retirees. Supreme Court for striking down several New Deal laws, Roosevelt in early 1937 proposed expanding it from nine to as many as 15 justices.But none succeeded until FDR, who ran for a third term in 1940 largely over concerns about the growing threat from Nazi Germany.In the end, he served in the White House for more than 12 years, a feat his political opponents disparaged as bad for democracy.Roosevelt spent a privileged childhood in Hyde Park, New York, prior to attending an elite Massachusetts boarding school.He then enrolled in Harvard College, where he began courting another Roosevelt, Anna Eleanor, his fifth cousin once removed as well as the niece (and goddaughter) of his fifth cousin, then-President Theodore Roosevelt, whom FDR greatly admired.Try as he might, though, Roosevelt could not fully pull the country out of the Depression until it began mobilizing for World War II. Roosevelt tried to increase the size of the Supreme Court. Under this so-called “court-packing” plan, which critics derided as a separation of powers violation, a new justice would be added for each sitting justice above the age of 70 who refused to retire.But although FDR’s fellow Democrats held large majorities in both houses of Congress, they for once balked at supporting his agenda.