FDR and the Modern Presidency: Leadership and Legacy

By Mark J. Rozell; William D. Pederson | Go to book overview

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FDR's Leadership and Legacy

Mark J. Rozell and William D. Pederson

Franklin D. Roosevelt's unparalleled impact on the modern presidency is the theme of this volume. Of all the modern presidents, FDR looms largest. Indeed, scholarly accounts date the origins of the modern presidency to FDR and many find that no one since has achieved his level of greatness in office. Candidates for public office, Democrat and Republican alike, invoke his name and accomplishments in campaign appeals, as Ronald Reagan frequently did in his successful run for the presidency in 1980.

Although FDR himself requested that no major monument be erected to commemorate him, on May 2, 1997 President Bill Clinton dedicated the elaborate Roosevelt memorial near the Tidal Basin of the Potomac in Washington, D.C. Impassioned debates continue over how the memorial should have portrayed FDR--for example, whether he should have been seated in a wheelchair, or shown holding a cigarette. At the dedication ceremony activists for the disabled community protested to show their displeasure that the memorial did not portray FDR--who had been stricken with polio--in a wheelchair. Those honoring Roosevelt wanted to be sure that the memorial achieved just the right measure of dignity and respect and some pointed out that FDR himself went to great lengths to hide his disability from the public. There was no controversy over whether this man deserved to be honored--just how he should be remembered.

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