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5. Roosevelt and the Modern Presidency
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about how the job description of the Presidency was transformed under Roosevelt, focusing in particular on: (i) the way the Presidency had been transformed since the beginning of the twentieth century, particularly by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson; (ii) Roosevelt’s unprecedented command of the legislative agenda, especially in his first hundred days as President; (iii) Roosevelt’s intervention in the economy, including his decision to take the US off the gold standard; (iv) his unprecedented intervention in the judiciary, including his (failed) ‘court-packing plan’ and his selection of no less than nine Supreme Court justices; (v) his role as ‘communicator-in-chief’ via press conferences and radio broadcasts (including his famous ‘fireside chats’) and his constant travel round the country; (vi) his expansion of the presidential bureaucracy, including the Executive Office of the Presidency (EOP); (vii) his creation of the (so-called) imperial presidency, with its tendency to push at (and sometimes overstep) the constitutional limits of this office; and (viii) the extent to which Roosevelt’s changes represented a permanent change in the nature of the Presidency.
In this course, Professor Iwan Morgan (University College, London) explores the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45), widely-regarded as one of the greatest presidents in US history. In the first module, we think about Roosevelt’s road to the presidency and the unprecedented level of legislative activity that marked his first hundred days in power. In the second module, we think about the reasons for Roosevelt's shift to the left in his second legislative burst in 1935-36, before turning in the third module to his battle with the Supreme Court. In the fourth module, we explore the transformation of the Democratic Party under Roosevelt and the emerging tension between the party’s traditional base in the South and the new (liberal, urban, minority) constituencies that entered the party in the 1930s. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about Roosevelt’s transformation of the presidency itself, including his unprecedented role in legislation, the economy, the judiciary, and foreign affairs.
Iwan Morgan is Professor of US Studies at the Institute of the Americas, University College London, and also holds an honorary position as Commonwealth Fund Chair of American History in the UCL Department of History.
Professor Morgan is a distinguished fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford. He was awarded the British Association of American Studies Honorary Fellowship in 2014 in recognition of his contributions to the discipline over the course of his career; his work The Age of Deficits (Kansas University Press, 2009), won the American Politics Group's 2010 Richard Neustadt Book Prize.
Professor Morgan has published widely in various fields of modern US political history and in political economy. Much of his work has a presidential focus. He is director of the United States Presidency Centre. He was also chair of the executive committee of the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States from 2007 to 2013. He was a member of the executive committee of the British Association of American Studies in 2009-2012.
Cite this Lecture
Morgan, I. (2020, May 05). The Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-45 - Roosevelt and the Modern Presidency [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-franklin-d-roosevelt-1933-45/roosevelt-and-the-modern-presidency
Morgan, Iwan. "The Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-45 – Roosevelt and the Modern Presidency." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 May 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-franklin-d-roosevelt-1933-45/roosevelt-and-the-modern-presidency