Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Event Timeline

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32) Event Timeline

03/04/1933 – 04/12/1945


Election Day.  Roosevelt defeats incumbent Herbert Hoover with 57.4% of the popular vote; 89% of the electoral vote.




Electors cast their ballots.


The 20th Amendment is ratified. Inauguration Day is changed to January 20th from March 4th.


President Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany.


Electoral votes tabulated in Congress.


During a speech in Miami, Florida, Giuseppe Zangara fires his gun and tries to assassinate President-Elect Roosevelt.


Inaugural Address.Calls for strict supervision over banks and investing institutions. He also reveals that if Congress fails to pass necessary legislation, he will use “broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency.”

03/06/1933 - 03/09/1933

Announces Proclamation 2039, calling for a national “bank holiday" and urges the US to close all banks. Three days later, the Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act (48 Stat 1)in response to President Roosevelt’s Proclamation.


Delivers his first presidential Fireside Chat on national radio. Roosevelt justifies his decision to temporarily close all banks. He argues that he prevented withdrawals by panicked investors. Lastly, reveals that banks would reopen the next day.


Message to Congress urging “immediate modification” of the Volstead Act.


Signs the Economy Act which reduced the salaries of various federal workers and limited payments made to veterans. This bill cut federal spending by 243 million dollars.


Signs the Cullen-Harrison Act, (48 Stat 16) amending the Volstead Act, to permit sale of low-alcohol beer and wine.


Signs Unemployment Relief Act (48 stat 22) providing for performing of “useful public works” including the Civilian Conservation Corps (a public work relief program). “. . .no discrimination shall be made on account of race, color, or creed. . . “


Signs Executive Order 6101, creating the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work program focused on improving public lands.


Signs Executive Order 6102, removing gold from circulation (prohibits “hoarding” of gold; effectively nationalizing gold).


Signs the Agricultural Adjustment Act which increased agricultural prices by reducing any surpluses. As a result, the US government paid for livestock and paid farmers not to plant on large parts of their land.


Signs Federal Emergency Relief Act, (48 Stat 31) which created a federal relief program that created new jobs for unemployed workers. This program also distributed grants to local and state governments that facilitated these programs.


Signs the Tennessee Valley Authority Act (48 Stat 58) providing electricity, economic development, and other resources to the Tennessee Valley region which was specifically affected by the Great Depression. Roosevelt also issues a signing statement.


Signs the Federal Securities Act (48 Stat 74) which regulated the sale of securities.


Signs a Joint Resolution “to assure uniform value to the coins and currencies of the United States,” suspending obligations to pay in gold; US officially leaves the Gold Standard.


Signs Executive Order 6102 “prohibit[ing] the hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates.”


By Executive Order 6166, in a sweeping order reorganizing the executive branch, among other things consolidates administration of national monuments, reservations, national cemeteries sites to the National Parks Service. [This order was modified by numerous subsequent orders and was immediately accompanied by an explanatory document and a statement to Congress.]

06/12/1933 - 07/27/1933

The London Economic Conference meets to discuss the economic depression. Roosevelt criticizes the Conference for its “artificial and temporary experiment affecting the monetary exchange of a few Nations only.”


Signs Home Owners’ Loan Act of 1933, creating the Home Owners Loan Corporation to support mortgage finance and issues a Signing Statement urging mortgage lenders to refrain from foreclosures.


Signs several important acts on final day of “Hundred Days:” The National Industrial Recovery Act, (48 Stat 195) the Banking Act of 1933 (48 Stat 162) the Farm Credit Act (48 Stat 257) and The Emergency Railroad Transportation Act (48 Stat 211). Issues executive orders on the NRA and Public Works Administration.


Establishes the National Labor Board granting organized labor the right to bargain collectively.


By Executive Order 6420B, establishes the Federal Civil Works Administration to administer a program of Public Works funded from the National Industrial Recover Act appropriations.


Exhibition of Work by Negro Artists at the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, sponsored by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The exhibit was notable in part for the positive reviews it received in the Washington Post.


Signs Executive Order 6420B which establishes the Civil Works Administration. This administration would create construction jobs that focused on improving buildings and bridges.


Announces the US will “establish normal diplomatic relations with the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to exchange ambassadors.”


The 21st Amendment is ratified and repeals the 18th amendment of the constitution. Prohibition ends in the United States.


In an Address before the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, underscores Wilson’s commitment to peaceful international cooperation and hails the successes in the Montevideo conference.




First State of the Union Address. Roosevelt celebrates the success of his New Deal legislation. He also expresses gratitude for the “strong and permanent tie between the legislative and executive branches.”


In a message to Congress Roosevelt claims that authority “vests in the Government of a Nation the title to [collect] possession of all monetary gold within its boundaries.” He also urged that the Secretary of Treasury be solely responsible for dealing with foreign exchanges.


Signs Gold Reserve Act, implementing government ownership of monetary gold; assigns the Treasury Secretary responsibility for trading in gold; creates a foreign exchange stabilization fund.


Issues Proclamation 2072 fixing the weight of a gold dollar at 15 5/21 grains nine-tenths fine, a reduction from the previous 25.8 grains of gold nine-tenths fine.


Signs Executive Order 6581, establishing the Import/Export Bank. Roosevelt’s intention was “to aid in financing and to facilitate exports and imports… between the United States and other Nations.”


Delivers a message to Congress recommending the creation of the Securities Exchange Commission. Roosevelt suggests that it should be “national policy to restrict, as far as possible, the use of these exchanges for purely speculative operations.”


White House Statement on Relief for the Unemployed.  “Direct relief. . . is not an adequate way of meeting the needs of able-bodied workers.”


By Executive Order, pursuant to authority granted in the National Recovery Act, creates the Office of Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Trade.


Signs the Tydings-McDuffie Act. This guaranteed that the Philippines, then an American Colony, would be able to become an independent country after ten years.


Signs the Home Owners’ Loan Act of 1933 Amendments (48 Stat 643), guaranteeing bonds of the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation.


The New York Times reports “thick clouds of smoky dust born on winds of gale force” swept the upper mid-west as far as Central Ohio.


The White House issues a statement on drought relief. President Roosevelt indicates that Congress does not need to grant him new powers to enable him or his federal agencies to cope with ongoing droughts.


Signs Confederate Veterans’ encampment equipment Act, (48 Stat 803) authorizing the Secretary of War to provide equipment for the June 1934 encampment of Confederate Veterans at Chattanooga, TN.


United States and Cuba sign “Treaty of Relations” and Roosevelt requests Congressional ratification. This releases Cuba from the Platt Amendment dating from 1903—US unilateral right to armed intervention in Cuban affairs.


Signs the Securities Exchange Act.  (48 Stat 881) This created the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for regulation, registration, and monitorization of different brokerage firms and transfer agencies.  The commission had been recommended in a Message on 02/09/1934.


Signs the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, (48 Stat 943) allowing the President to negotiate with other nations to secure mutually beneficial trade agreements.


Signs the Wheeler-Howard Act (aka Indian Reorganization Act) (48 stat 984) promoting tribal autonomy and economic development and reversing the emphasis on assimilation.  Presidential statement endorsing the Wheeler-Howard Bill had been released on 04/28/1934.


Signs The Communications Act of 1933 (48 Stat 1064) establishing the Federal Communications Commission and signs "An Act to establish a National Archives (48 Stat 1122) of the United States Government.”


Signs Federal Credit Union System Act (48 Stat 1216) creating credit unions among “groups having a common bond of occupation, or association” or “within a well-defined neighborhood.”


Statement on Presidential Practice of Explaining Vetoes of Bills. States he will provide a statement for failing to sign bills when they are “pocket-vetoed.”


Signs National Housing Act, (48 Stat 1246) establishing Federal Housing Administration.


Announces Proclamation 2089 advocating for the ban of exportation of arms and munitions to Cuba.


White House Statement on the Establishment of the National Resources Board.

07/05/1934 - 07/12/1934

Informal visits to Haiti, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands Colombia, Panama.

08/03/1934 - 08/10/1934

Travel in the Western US to Bonneville Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, Glacier National Park, Havre (MT), Fort Peck Dam, Devils Lake (ND), Rochester (MN) and Green Bay (WI).


The US Senate Munitions Committee begins what came to be known as the Nye Hearings investigating whether munitions manufacturers (“merchants of death”)had unduly influenced US policy concerning entering World War I. 


Signs Executive Order 6859 creating the National Industrial Recovery Board.


Midterm Elections:  Democrats gain 9 seats in both the House and Senate.


Japan formally “denounced” the Washington Naval Treaty of 02/06/1922, objecting to the fact that the treaty limited Japan’s navy relative to that of the U.S. and Britain.




Second State of the Union Address. President Roosevelt announces that he will submit a program to Congress that targets a “better use of the national resources…security against major hazards…[and] the security of decent homes.”


The Senate seeks to avoid international entanglements and rejects participation in the World Court in a 52-36 vote.


Adolf Hitler orders the enlistment of all able-bodied men aged 19 years and older. This directly violated the Versailles Treaty which ordered Germany to have less than 100,000 military soldiers.


Signs the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act authorizing $5 billion toward FDR’s New Deal programs. The Works Progress Administration is a notable federal agency created by this Act.


Congress passes Public Law 74-46 directing the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Soil Conservation Service to deter another “Black Sunday” Dust Storm-- the worst of the dust bowl era that occurred April 4, 1935.


Signs Executive Order 7034 which established the Works Progress Administration. This program sought to employ millions of Americans and would hire them to carry out public works projects.


Signs Executive Order 7037 which established the Rural Electrification Administration. This program would provide federal loans to people in isolated rural areas to install electrical distribution systems.


Addresses a Joint Session of Congress to state his reasons for vetoing a bill calling for immediate payment of adjusted service certificates. The veto was overridden in the house (05/22/1935) but sustained in the Senate (05/23/1935).


The Supreme Court rules the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 is unconstitutional by a 9-0 vote in Schechter Poultry Co. vs United States.


Signs the National Labor Relations Act (also known as the Wagner Act). This guarantees the right of employees to participate in unions, participate in collective bargaining, and organize strikes.


Signs the Social Security Act, creating a financial safety net for elderly and unemployed Americans. Financial benefits were connected to lifetime payroll tax contributions by each person.


Signs the Public Utility Holding Company Act, allowing the SEC to regulate and break up electric utility companies.


Signs the Revenue Act of 1935, introducing a “wealth tax” which taxed up to 75% of incomes over 1 million dollars.


Statement on signing Neutrality Act, forbidding the shipment of arms and ammunition to belligerents during a state of war.


Senator Huey P. Long is assassinated in Louisiana. His death prevents a possible presidential campaign against Roosevelt in 1936. Roosevelt denounces the murder of Senator Long and describes “the spirit of violence [as] un-American. 


Germany establishes Nuremberg Laws, which were antisemitic and racist laws that discriminated against Jewish people.


With the intention of expanding its territory, Italy invades Ethiopia.




Annual State of the Union Message In his speech, Roosevelt acknowledges the increase in global violence—specifically in Europe and Asia. He admits that peace may be “threatened by those who seek selfish power.” But also warns the American people to continue persevering “through a well-ordered neutrality.”


The Supreme Court rules that the Agricultural Adjustment Act is unconstitutional by a 7-2 vote in US v Butler. The court holds that this area of regulation is reserved to the states by 10th Amendment.


Vetoes the Adjustment Compensation Act, “An act to provide for the immediate payment of World War adjusted service certificates. . .” The House overrode this veto on 01/24/1936 and the Senate on 01/27/1936, denoting the first veto override of FDR’s time in office.


The Supreme Court rules that the Tennessee Valley Authority is Constitutional and did not violate the rights of shareholders in private Tennessee power companies by an 8-1 vote in in Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority.


Adolf Hitler orders his troops to relocate into the demilitarized Rhineland. By doing so, Hitler violates the Treaty of Versailles.


Italian troops secure dominance in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, and Emperor Haile Selassie flees. The expectation is that Italy will annex Ethiopia.


Kansas Governor Alfred M. Landon accepts the nomination for the presidency by the Republican Party convention meeting in Cleveland, OH.


Signs Robinson-Patman law—an amendment to the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act. This new amendment was intended to prevent price discrimination and made it illegal for distributors to change their prices to different retailers.


Revokes previous proclamations that recommended sanctions against actors involved in the war between Italy and Ethiopia.


Accepts re-nomination for President by the Democratic Party meeting in Philadelphia.


Military insurrection in Spain instigates the Spanish Civil War which continues until mid-1939.

08/1/1936 - 08/16/1936

The Summer Olympics are held in Berlin, Germany.  African American sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals—more than any American athlete up to that time.

10/25/1936 - 10/26/1936

Hitler and Mussolini sign a series of protocols that result in the formation of a coalition called the Rome-Berlin Axis.


Delivers the Final Radio Speech of his 1936 Campaign claiming that whoever is elected “will become the President of all the people.”


Election Day. Roosevelt defeats Alfred Landon with 60.8% of the popular vote and 98.5% of the electoral vote.


Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact signifying an agreement between the two powers to keep each other informed on communist activities.


A Rockville, MD teacher, William B. Gibbs, represented by the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall, files suit (Gibbs v. Broome) against Montgomery County representing black teachers who were paid far less than equally qualified white teachers. The County settled the case in 1937, but it was widely viewed as a model of using litigation for racial equality.




Annual State of the Union Message.  Earlier on this same day, in a Joint Session, Electoral Votes had been counted. For the first time in history there were two Joint Sessions on one day.


Second Inaugural Address. In his address, Roosevelt acknowledges that “one-third of the nation [was] ill-housed, ill-clad, [and] ill-nourished” He then promises to pass legislation that would financially help impoverished Americans.


Announces Proclamation 2222 in which the Red Cross administers aid for disastrous floods in Mississippi and Ohio.


In a message to Congress, Roosevelt recommends a “comprehensive program to reorganize the administrative machinery” of the Supreme Court. Most notably, Roosevelt recommends adding six new justices to the Supreme Court. This becomes known as a proposal for “Court Packing.”


During one of his Fireside Chats Roosevelt responds to criticism about his Supreme Court restructuring plan. He cites conservative judges who have blocked important New Deal programs as one of his reasons for his plan.


Appoints William H. Hastie to the District Court of the Virgin Islands making him the first African American federal judge.


The Supreme Court rules that the establishment of minimum wage laws for women is constitutional by a 5-4 vote in West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish.


Calls for the Civilian Conservation Corps to be made into a permanent agency.


The Supreme Court rules that companies cannot discriminate against unionized employees by a 5-4 vote in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. Additionally, the Supreme Court argued that the Commerce Clause allowed Congress to use the National Labor Relations Act to protect unionized laborers.


Announces Proclamation 2236 in which he announces the signing of “Cash and carry law,” an extension of the Neutrality Act. Sale of munitions to belligerents is banned, specifically Spain, and belligerents must pay for non-military goods in cash, as well as being able to carry them with their own ships.


Vetoes bill to retain subsidized interest rates on Federal land-bank loans. The veto is overridden by the House 07/13/1937 and by the Senate 07/22/1937.


Speaks to Congress about the importance of low-interest loans for farmers who are struggling. The Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenancy Act is passed July 22.


The Senate votes down President Roosevelt’s Judicial Procedures Reform Bill.


Signs National Housing Act which provides financial assistance to state and local governments to create public housing.


Recommends legislation that will drive down the cost of private housing and make owning or renting a house more feasible for the average citizen.


Italy joins Germany and Japan in signing the Anti-Comintern Pact.


Issues a Memorandum on the bombing of the S.S. Panay. Japanese forces attack US naval craft Panay on China’s Yangtze River, despite America’s pledge of neutrality in the war between China and Japan.




State of the Union Address. FDR urges that the nation be prepared for self-defense.


Signs second Agricultural Adjustment Act establishing the Federal Crop Insurance Agency to stabilize farmer’s incomes and the agricultural market.


Germany annexes Austria—the Anschluss.


Letter on the Tax Bill. To the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee arguing for progressive taxation of capital gains and a tax on undistributed profits.  Both issues were central to the Revenue Act of 1938.


The Supreme Court rules 7-2 in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins that in cases with diversity jurisdiction, courts need to apply substantive state law and federal law unless these two laws contradict each other.


The conference report on the Revenue Act of 1938 was passed in the House 242-89 (greater than 2/3).  Two days earlier it had passed the Senate by voice vote.


The House of Representatives creates the House Un-American Activities Committee to investigate alleged citizen disloyalty.


Address at Arthurdale, West Virginia. Addressing the Revenue Act that had been presented for his approval, Roosevelt said he would neither approve nor veto the bill. Parts he approved of, parts he disliked: “. . .this new tax bill automatically will become law; but it will become law without my signature or my approval.”


Revenue Act of 1938, (52 Stat 447) became law without the President’s approval or veto (very unusual; see 52 Stat 584); eliminating a controversial provision for taxes on undistributed corporate profits.


Signs Bankruptcy Act of 1938 (The Chandler Act;  52 Stat 840) substantially revising the Bankruptcy Act of 1898, making voluntary access more attractive to debtors and strengthening creditors’ rights in corporate reorganizations.


Signs Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 (52 Stat 973) creating a Civil Aeronautics Authority to promote air transport and an Air Safety Board—perhaps the most important element of the act. Mentioned in a Fireside Chat.


In Fireside Chat, discusses his court reform proposals of 1937 which he says “have been substantially attained.” Notes that “The attitude of the supreme Court toward constitutional questions is entirely changed.”


Signs the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 (52 Stat 1040) promoted food standards to guide consumer choice.


Signs the Fair Labor Standards Act (“Wages and Hours Bill”) which banned child labor, raised the minimum hourly wage, and set the maximum workweek hours. Mentioned in a Fireside Chat.


The Evian Conference on Jewish Refugees is held in France. No European country accepts Jew refugees who fled persecution. The United States will take only 27,370.


Germany forces all Jews over 15-years old to wear identity cards.


Mussolini announces that Italy would support Germany in its conflict with Czechoslovakia.


Roosevelt writes directly to Chancellor Hitler to urge peace between Germany and Czechoslovakia.


Munich Agreement: German, Italian, British and French leaders allow Germany to annex Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. Subsequently this is condemned as “appeasement” and is an enduring foreign policy metaphor.


Winston Churchill denounces the Munich Agreement as a failure. He also calls out to the United States and the rest of Western Europe to prepare for war against Hitler.


Physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch announce the discovery of nuclear fission. This discovery was a critical steps toward the creation of the atomic bomb.


Signs Executive Order 8029, requiring all immigrants who entered the US to possess a diplomatic visa, a passport visa, or other legal documents.




Annual State of the Union Message. In his speech, Roosevelt reflects on the importance of democracy and acknowledges the dark global affairs that threaten it.


Annual budget message issued including a request of $1.3 billion for defense.


California holds the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco, which highlights many aspects of California, including the recently completed Golden Gate Bridge.


The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organization begin negotiations to solve labor disputes. (For additional background see this US Department of Labor source.)


The Supreme Court rules that employers did not have to rehire employees who participated in a sit-down strike by a 7-2 vote in NLRB v. Fansteel Metallurgical Corp.


Germany invades and defeats Czechoslovakia.


America condemns Germany’s takeover of Czechoslovakia and reiterates the agreement of nations to non-intervention in the affairs of other sovereign nations.


US government recognizes new government in Spain under General Francisco Franco.


Writes to Hitler and Mussolini calling for peace although neither acknowledge the letter.


The New York World Fair opens, with visitors from around the world.


The government begins to study why money is idle, in other words why it is in the hands of Americans but not being invested back into the economy.


Germany and Italy sign the Pact of Steel, perceived internationally as an alliance committed to controlling neighboring states.


Roosevelt opposes a child refugee bill which would allow for the placement of child refugees from Germany.


Message to Congress on Neutrality Laws. Forwards and endorses a detailed statement from the Secretary of State emphasizing that neutrality does not mean impartiality which will not serve the US interests in peace.


Signs the Hatch Act. This act applied to employees under the executive branch to maintain a work environment free from partisan coercion or partisan influence.


Einstein writes a letter to Roosevelt warning of the possibility of a uranium-powered bomb.


Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact. This pact also includes provisions that describe how Poland would be divided in the event of its invasion and defeat.


Roosevelt asks Hitler to come to a peaceful resolution with Poland.


Germany invades Poland, officially starting World War II. In a press conference, Roosevelt assures reporters that America will be able to maintain neutrality.


In response to Germany’s invasion of Poland, Britain and France declare War on Germany.


Following France and Britain’s declaration of war against Germany, President Roosevelt once again maintains the US’ position of neutrality.


Signs Executive Order 8248 defining the divisions of the Executive Office of the President.


Soviet Union invades Poland without a formal declaration of war.


After 19 days of armed resistance, Warsaw surrenders to Germany. Germany segregates Polish Jews into ghettos, where they were kept under strict regulations.


Announces Proclamation 2371 in which America closes all ports to belligerent nations.


Announces Proclamation 2374 in which he signs an amendment for the Neutrality Act. It allows for the sale of arms to Britain and France.


Issues a statement regarding a Russian invasion of Finland and the bombing of Helsinki.




State of the Union. Roosevelt speaks on dictatorships, the state of democracy, and global affairs. He then exclaims he lives in a time where “democracy justified its existence as the best instrument of government yet devised by mankind.”


Issues a Letter on Appropriations. Congress gives an extra $15 million in appropriations for war materials.


Issues a Statement of Respect and Regard for Finland. Finland signs a peace agreement with Russia, surrendering some of its territory in the process.


Issues a statement on the German invasion of Norway and Denmark—soon after Denmark surrenders. America stays neutral.


Announces Proclamation 2394, forbidding American vessels or citizens from entering combat areas when they are defined.


The Supreme Court rules that an anti-picketing law in Alabama violated the First Amendment by an 8-1 vote in Thornhill v. Alabama.


The Summer Olympics in Helsinki are cancelled because of World War II.


Winston Churchill becomes Britain’s new Prime Minister.


Germany invades Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium. America stays neutral.


Germany invades France using a coordinated military attack called Blitzkrieg. German troops traveled southward from Belgium and Eastward from Germany to trap France’s troops.


Office for Emergency Management established by administrative order in accordance with EO 8248 (09/08/1939, above) to help prepare for, mitigate, and respond to threat or emergencies.


Over 300,000 allied troops escape France during the “Miracle of Dunkirk.”


At an address at the University of Virginia, US “neutrality” status is changed to one of non-belligerency. The United States will help the Allies short of going to war against the Axis Powers. Many understand that official war is soon to follow.


After witnessing Germany’s invasion of France, Italy declares war on the weakened Allies.


Surprises observers by nominating two Republicans to leading positions in the cabinet, Henry Stimson as Secretary of War and Frank Knox as Secretary of the Navy. Isolationists criticize the move as foretelling more US involvement in aid to the allies.


After weeks of German warfare on French soil, France surrenders to Germany.


Signs Alien Registration Act which requires all foreign residents to be fingerprinted and documented.


Nominated by the Democratic Party for an unprecedented third term.


Roosevelt requests a defense budget of $4.8 billion. The Battle of Britain begins on this day.

08/23/1940 - 08/22/1940

Germany begins a night bombing campaign in London. Two days after, Britain responds by bombing Berlin.


The United States trades 50 old destroyers to Britain in exchange for the ability to construct naval bases on their holdings in the Western Hemisphere.


Authorizes the first peace-time military draft by signing the Selective Training and Service Act.


Germany, Japan, and Italy sign a formal alliance called the Axis.


Election Day. Roosevelt defeats Wendell L. Willkie with 54.7% of the popular vote and 84.6% of the electoral vote. Roosevelt wins re-election, embarking on an unprecedented third term.


Announces in press conference his plan to further establish and define the Office for Emergency Management.


Fireside Chat. The President warns forcefully of the threats facing the United States and the impossibility of compromising or appeasing the Axis powers. “We must be the great arsenal of democracy.  For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. . . . [we must] increase our production of all the implements of defense, to meet the threat to our democratic faith.”




State of the Union. Roosevelt describes a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. These freedoms are freedom of speech and expression, freedom of every person to worship God in their own way, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.


Signs Executive Order 8629, to further define the functions and duties of the Office for Emergency Management with the goal of increasing production for national defense.


Third Inaugural Address.


Signs the Lend-Lease Act which allows the president to lend arms to allies.


Signs Executive Order 8734 in which the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply is created, made to stabilize and exert control over prices.


Issues a statement in which the United States condemns the Vichy government’s cooperation with the German occupation.


An American civilian ship is sunk by a German U-boat near the coast of Brazil.


By Proclamation 2487, declares an unlimited national emergency. This follows the German defeat of Greece and Yugoslavia. Calls for “readiness to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression directed toward any part of the western Hemisphere.”


Signs Executive Order 8785, which allowed The United States to freeze the assets of Germans and Italians.


Orders the closure of United States’ German consulates and alike American offices in Germany.


Germany begins Operation Barbarossa and invades Soviet Union. In the process Germany violates its non-aggression pact with Russia.


Signs Executive Order 8802 establishing the Fair Employment Practices Committee and ending discrimination in the defense industry.


Signs Executive Order 8832 freezing Japanese and Chinese assets in the United States pursuant to his declaration of 05/27/1941 of an unlimited national emergency. This was in reaction to Japanese military movements into southern Indochina.


Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8807 establishing the Office of Scientific Research and Development, which develops military technology.


Message to Congress on Landing Troops in Iceland, Trinidad, and British Guiana. US forces will replace British troops outside the war zone so that they can be relocated to active conflict. Calls the moves defensive on the part of the US.


Places the Armed Forces of the Philippines under United States Command. Acts pursuant to the Philippine Independence Act of 03/24/1934. The Secretary of War named General Douglas MacArthur to command these forces.


After meetings with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Britain and America announce the Atlantic Charter, which states eight goals for the world and serves as the blueprint for the United Nations.


By Executive Order, elaborates on the responsibilities of the Office for Emergency Management and re-names the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply as simply the Office of Price Administration.


Describes the German attack on the postal ship, U.S.S. Greer and other vessels in a Fireside Chat. Says that “the incident is not isolated, but part of a general plan.”


Signs the Revenue Act of 1941 (55 Stat 687) which was estimated to increase annual tax revenues by more than $3 billion. The top marginal tax on corporate income was 37% and on individuals (including a surtax) was 81%.


Announces that the US will deliver “munitions, including tanks, airplanes, and trucks” to Russia.


Addresses recent attacks on U.S. Navy. “The shooting has started. . . . America has been attacked. . . . “ Stated that he had a secret map showing Hitler’s plans for redrawing boundary lines in South America.  “We stand ready in the defense of our Nation and in the faith of our fathers to do what God has given us the power to see as our full duty.”


By Executive Order, creates the Office of Lend Lease Administration in the Executive office of the President.


Japanese special envoy Saburo Kurusu and the Japanese Ambassador, Kichisaburo Nomura meet Roosevelt at the White House, accompanied by Secretary of State Cordell Hull with whom they had met earlier..


Further meetings and discussions between Kurusu, Nomura and Hull and a telephone call with Roosevelt.  Hull rejects the Japanese proposal.


In a News Conference, declines to comment on the status of negotiations with the Japanese.


The Soviet Army repulses the German attack on Moscow. This is the first major defeat for the German Army in World War II.  The Soviet counteroffensive began the next day.


Roosevelt publicly appeals to Japan to avoid war in the Pacific.


Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and the United States declares war on Japan the next day.


Roosevelt declares December 7th as a “date which will live in infamy” and urges Congress to declare war on Japan. Later that same day, Congress passed a joint resolution which the President then signed (55 Stat 795) declaring that a State of War exists with Japan.


Japan’s Naval Fleet attacks the Philippines.


Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.


In a Message to Congress, Roosevelt responds to Japan’s aggression against the Philippines. He exclaims that “Japan made it necessary. . . to keep in the Pacific in self-defense large armed forces and a vast amount of material which might otherwise have been used against Hitler.”


Issues Executive Order 8985 establishing the emergency wartime agency, the Office of Censorship.

12/22/1941 – 01/14/1942

The First Washington Conference (aka Arcadia Conference). Wide-ranging war-planning including a determination to initially emphasize defeating Germany. Extensive State Department Papers concerning this meeting are online.


After engaging in combat for three days, the US military declares Manila an open city. Manila abandoned its defensive efforts to peacefully allow Japan to occupy it.

12/26/1941- 12/28/1941

Despite Manila being declared an open city, Japan continues to execute bombing raids. In response, Roosevelt said he counted “on every Philippine man, woman, and child to do his duty.’




The United States and 25 other nations sign a Declaration of United Nations, announcing their resolve against the Axis powers. Domestically, the sale of new cars is banned in the US to preserve steel.


Japan captures Manila and two military bases in the Philippines.


Statement Against Discharging Loyal Aliens from Jobs. Calls the practice by employers “as stupid as it is unjust.”


Tire rationing goes into effect.  By March 1943 rationing will extend to cars, bicycles, gasoline, fuel oil, solid fuels, stoves, rubber footwear, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, meats, canned fish, cheese, typewriters.


State of the Union Address. Roosevelt speaks on the acts of global violence by Germany, Italy, and Japan. He announces that the United States cannot “compromise between good and evil.”


Signs Executive Order 9017 creating The War Labor Board which will help to resolve labor disputes to keep war production running.


Announces Proclamation 2537, forcing aliens from Italy, Germany, and Japan to register with US Department of Justice. This proclamation helped facilitate the later internment of Japanese Americans.


Signs the Emergency Price Control Act which places a ceiling on prices in the nation, save for agricultural products.


Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066.>This executive order created internment camps where over 100,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during the war.


Roosevelt orders General MacArthur to leave the Philippines and relocate to Australia.


Japan attacks United States mainland and shells an oil refinery in Santa Barbara, California.


MacArthur departed for Australia to assume position as Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific.


Statement on General MacArthur’s Departure from the Philippines.


Germany begins to deport Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau.


Surprise bombing attack led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle carries out a successful surprise bombing raid of Tokyo and other Japanese cities and targets. The raid caused the Japanese to fear and plan for further attacks. In comments in a News Conference of April 28, and a Fireside Chat on April 28, The President declined to acknowledge the raids.


Fort Corregidor is surrendered to the Japanese and American forces in the Philippines are forced to surrender.


The Battle of Coral Sea is the first major naval victory for the U.S. Navy in the Pacific since the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Signs legislation authorizing the creation of The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (56 Stat 278). By Executive Order on 5/15/1942 creates the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps.

06/04/1942 – 06/07/1942

Battle of Midway. The United States has its first significant victory against the Japanese at the Battle of Midway, shifting the tide of momentum in the war.


Radio Address on the Scrap Rubber Campaign. National drive to collect rubber for the war effort.


By Executive Order, the Office of War Information is created to assure “an accurate and consistent flow of war information to the public and the world at large.”


By Executive Order establishes the Office of Strategic Services, an intelligence service that later becomes the Central Intelligence Agency.


Roosevelt and Churchill meet in DC to discuss the invasion of North Africa. This is “The Second Washington Conference” extensively documented by the U.S. State Department.


The New York Times reports that at least 1,000,000 Polish Jews have been murdered by Nazis.


U.S. troops begin a major assault on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands Chain. The goal was to gain control of a strategically located airfield.  Fierce fighting continued until February 1943 when the Japanese forces withdrew.


The Army Corps of Engineers sets up the Manhattan Engineering District (located initially in Manhattan) to develop an atomic bomb. The main weapons research laboratory was later located in Los Alamos, NM.


Message to Congress on Stabilizing the Economy. Urges purchasing War Bonds, discourages buying on credit, rationing all essential commodities.


Transfers a newly built US naval vessel (“escort ship”) to the Norwegian Navy.


Physicist, Robert Oppenheimer, becomes Project Manhattan’s scientific director.


Signs “An Act to Amend the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, to Aid in Preventing Inflation, and for Other Purposes” (56 Stat 765).


By Executive Order, invokes authority in Price Control Act of 10/02/1942 to creates the Office of Economic Stabilization in the Executive office of the President.


Announces the US intent to assure that war criminals are required to answer for their crimes before a court of law.


The Revenue Act of 1942 is passed, increasing taxes and instituting a 5% Victory Tax.


Radio Address to the French People on the North African Invasion.


Statement on Signing the Bill Reducing the Draft Age.  The draft age is reduced from 21 to 19.


First sustained nuclear fission chain reaction engineered by scientists at the University of Chicago beginning the Atomic Age.




Earl Warren becomes the 29th Governor of California.


The Allies meet at the Casablanca Conference and agree upon demanding unconditional surrender and the invasion path of Europe, as well as committing to increasing aid for Russia.


Bombers from the U.S. Eight Air Force launch the first American bombing raid in Germany hitting Wilhelmshaven naval yard.


German troops surrender in Stalingrad after being overwhelmed by Russian forces and the arduous Russian winter.


Roosevelt congratulates Stalin on a Russian victory at Stalingrad, forcing the Germans to retreat.


Adds Saudi Arabia to the list of beneficiaries of the 1941 Lend-Lease program, claiming that it is vital to the defense of the United States to defend Saudi Arabia. 


Signs Executive Order 9328 freezing prices and salaries to stop inflation.


Allied Forces force Axis powers out of North Africa

05/12/1943 - 05/25/1934

Trident Conference held in Washington D.C. to facilitate strategic planning among the U.S. and U.K. heads of government. Important focus on invasion of Europe.


Churchill Addresses a Joint Session of Congress.


Signs Executive Order 9347 which establishes The Office of War Mobilization to coordinate the national war effort.


Signs Current Tax Payment Act requiring the withholding of federal income tax from worker’s paychecks by employers.


The Supreme Court rules that the First Amendment protects the religious right of school children not to salute the flag by a 6-3 vote in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, reversing the 8-1 decision in 1940 in Minersville School District v. Gobitis, that the pledge could be made mandatory in the interest of national unity.


Race riot occurs in Detroit, Michigan in which black and white people engage in fighting, resulting in the death of 34 people.


By Proclamation, directs Detroit Race Rioters to Disperse. Acknowledges request from Governor of Michigan for federal military intervention.


Announces, at a State Dinner, imminent invasion of Sicily, “the soft underbelly of Europe.”


In a News Conference, discusses the Allies’ bombing of Rome, despite previous cultural reservations, on 07/19/1943. States that Rome was being used as an important military center.


Benito Mussolini is dismissed as Prime Minister by Italian King Victor Emmanuel and announces his resignation. Subsequently arrested and detained, Mussolini was freed by the Germans around 09/18/1943.


Calls for the Italian people to surrender in a joint message with Prime Minister Churchill.


At the Quebec Conference, the Allies agree on a plan to invade France.


Italy signs an armistice and surrenders to the Allies.


Joint Message with Churchill to Marshal Badoglio on the Armistice with Italy.


Message to Congress on the Progress of the War. Long document recounting actions taken and goals reached.  Calls for postwar planning to begin now. “We seek a national cooperation with other Nations toward the end that world aggression be ended. . .”


Message to Congress on Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Laws. This repeal will “correct a historic mistake and silence the distorted Japanese propaganda.”

10/18/1943 - 11/1/1943

Moscow Conference. A conference of foreign ministers of the U.S., U.K. and U.S.S.R. convenes to discuss wartime and post-war cooperation.


Message to Congress on the Education of War Veterans. “Lack of money should not prevent any veteran of this war from equipping himself for the most useful employment for which his aptitudes and willingness qualify him.”


Joint Statement with Churchill and Stalin on Atrocities. Germans who commit war crimes “will be brought back to the scene of their crimes and judged on the spot by the peoples whom they have outraged.”


Statement on the Seizure of the Coal Mines. “The grievances of the miners have been heard. They have been fairly dealt with. The Government offers the miners a fair contract. They have no right in wartime to refuse to work under it.”


Address on the Signing of the Agreement Establishing the U.N.R.R.A.  Forty-four nations sign an agreement creating the United Nations relief and Rehabilitation Administration.


Message to Congress on Appropriations for the U.N.R.R.A. Asks for a bill authorizing funds for the UNRRA, but not at that time recommending a specific sum.

11/22/1943 - 11/26/1943

Cairo Conferences. President Roosevelt meets with President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, and Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, to establish an Allied position against Japan.

11/28/1943- 12/01/1943

Tehran Conference. President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet in Tehran to discuss war and strategy. Together, these men devise a plan for the Battle of Normandy. The seeds of the Cold War are sown at this conference.


The United States, Britain, and The Soviet Union release the Tehran Declaration


Statement on Signing the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Acts, (57 Stat 600) which had intended to restrict or prohibit Chinese immigration to the United States. (See also message of 10/11/1943)


Christmas Eve Fireside Chat. Describes his understandings with Churchill, Stalin, and Chiang Kai-shek for a post-war world. Announces that General Dwight Eisenhower will command the allied attack on Germany. States that he “got along fine” with Stalin. Warns that the fight ahead will not be easy “and the end is not yet in sight.”


Executive Order 9412—Seizure and Operation of the Railroads. A threatened strike would disrupt transportation services necessary for the war effort. 




State of the Union Message. In addition to this written message, the President made a spoken Address by radio, explaining that because he had had the flu, he was not leaving the White House.


Message to Congress on Voting by Members of the Armed Services. Unless Congress acts, most members of the armed services will not be eligible to vote in the Fall because absentee voting is not permitted, or registration must be done in person, or regulations are so complex someone overseas cannot comply.


The United States starts the invasion of Marshall Islands in the Pacific.


Statement on Opening Frontiers to War Victims and Justice for War Crimes. “In one of the blackest crimes in all history. . . the wholesale systematic murder of the Jews of Europe goes on unabated every hour.”


Signs a Joint Resolution enabling the United States to Participate in the United National Relief and Rehabilitation Organization (58 Stat122) and authorizing appropriations for the purpose.


The Supreme Court rules 8-1 that the Texas Democratic Party’s all-white primary is unconstitutional in Smith v. Allwright.


In a Press Conference, discusses his concept for a “unity of the United Nations toward the prevention, if we can humanly help it, of another World War.”


In a Fireside Chat, informs the nation that Rome fell yesterday, and warns that respect to Germany, “the victory still lies some distance ahead.”


Roosevelt leads the nation in prayer before the D-Day invasion of Normandy.


Roosevelt arranges for 6,000 more refugees to be brought from Italy to the United States to escape persecution from the Nazis.


Releases a statement approving Joint Resolution on the Pearl Harbor Trial and Investigation.

06/19/1944 - 06/20/1944

In the Battle of the Philippine Sea, U.S. naval forces claim complete victory and significantly weaken the Japanese Navy. This is an important battle in WWII as it opened opportunities for further invasion by Allied Forces.


Signs the GI Bill which ensures education, housing, and other needs for veterans following the war.


The Bretton Woods Conference establishes the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


Roosevelt agrees to serve a fourth term if he is nominated.


Accepts nomination for President of the Democratic Party for an unprecedented fourth term.


A group of German military and civilian leaders carried out a bomb attack on Hitler that failed in harming him. They had planned to negotiate an armistice to end the war.


Operation Cobra initiated by U.S. armed forces, cutting off German forces and creating an opening for Allied forces to breakout of Normandy.


Thomas Dewey, former Governor of New York, accepts the nomination for President of the Republican Convention


U.S. retakes Guam at the end of the Battle of Guam.


In a Press Conference, says that he has not seen Harry Truman, Vice-Presidential nominee or discussed plans for his role in the campaign.

08/21/1944 – 10/07/1944

The Dumbarton Oaks Conference is held in Washington and is attended by the United States, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. The conference lays the groundwork for the creation of the United Nations.


After a series of military battles, Paris is liberated and reclaimed from the Germans.


Issues a statement on the liberation of Luxembourg.

09/12/1944 - 09/16/1944

Octagon Conference held in Quebec where Roosevelt and Churchill discuss the invasion of France and how to proceed in the Pacific Theater (Japan) and Germany.


Statement on the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations. Expresses “extreme satisfaction” that so much was accomplished so quickly.


General MacArthur returns to the Philippines in the invasion of Leyte, and the Philippines Campaign begins again.


Election day. During the chaos of World War II, the American people reelect Roosevelt. He becomes the first president to receive a fourth term.  He receives 53% of the popular vote and 81% of the electoral vote.


As the war appears to reach a close, Roosevelt warns any government officials from speaking about the end of the war.


The Germans launch a counteroffensive—their last—in what comes to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. The fighting lasted until January 16, 1945.




Submits a written State of the Union Message to Congress and also broadcasts an Address to the Nation “ repeating some parts of that message.” Expresses hope that 1945 will see the end of the Nazi-Fascist reign of terror and calls for active post-war planning.


Fourth Inaugural Address.


The capital of the Philippines, Manilla, is liberated.

02/04/1945 - 02/11/1945

Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at the Yalta (on the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea) Conference and discuss the end of the war and the treatment of Germany. The result is a plan to divide Germany into four post-war occupation zones.


Message to Congress on the Bretton Woods Agreements, in which it was decided, among other things, that the central banks of participating countries would maintain fixed exchange rates between the dollar and their currency.


Meets with King Abdul Aziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia, the first time a U.S. President had ever met with a Saudi Arabian king, establishing a foundation of U.S.-Saudi relations that ensured access to Saudi oil.

02/19/1945 - 03/26/1945

Battle of Iwo Jima. On February 19th, U.S. Marines invade Iwo Jima, finally securing the island. This was an exceedingly difficult and important battle, granting the U.S. a strategic location for U.S. planes and bombers to land on and leave from when attacking Japan.


Roosevelt invites a United States delegation to the United Nations Conference on April 25, 1945.


Message to Congress on the Trade Agreements Act. The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (passed in July 1945) revolutionized the global economic order.


US troops invade Okinawa marking a turning point in the war in the Pacific Theater.


Roosevelt dies following a massive cerebral hemorrhage.


Franklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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