Teaching Franklin Roosevelt Through Films and Television

For the next entry in our Presidents’ Day, we’ll look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt (known as FDR for short) was the longest-serving president in US History, serving 4 terms from 1933-1945. He is notable for leading the country through two of its greatest crises, the Great Depression and World War II. Because of these achievements, he has been shown in multiple films and television shows. Here is a list of our favorites:

Biography: President Franklin Roosevelt

When deciding between the dozens of options of clips you can show your classroom, a good place to start may be this short bio on his life from Biography.com. You’ll get a background on his life before the presidency, how he became president, and some of his major achievements.

Crash Course: US History: The New Deal

For a basic summary of the crowning achievement of his first two terms, watch this Crash Course: US History clip. In the clip, John Green teaches you about the New Deal, which was president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan to pull the United States out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The program included massive government relief programs to help Americans financially and get them back to work.

Hyde Park on Hudson: FDR & King George IV

In this clip from Hyde Park on Hudson, FDR talks to the King of the United Kingdom, George IV. The film is based on a real meeting between the two world leaders. In the clip, Roosevelt relates to the King by comparing his sickness that causes him unable to walk with the King’s stuttering.

Darkest Hour: Churchill’s Plea for Aid

In another clip dealing with US-ANGLO relations, UK prime minister Winston Churchill asks FDR for his assistance with the war effort. Roosevelt cannot help him directly and describes a roundabout way to help. This clip is great for teaching how the US helped the UK before entering the war and how Roosevelt would use creative problem solving to fix an issue.

Pearl Harbor: We Are at War

The 2001 film Pearl Harbor had a lot of great scenes involving FDR. In this scene, he discusses a retaliation plan for the Pearl Harbor attack. He urges his military advisors to strike the heart of Japan and not to give up or give in.

Pearl Harbor: Infamy Speech

In another clip from Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt’s famous “Day in Infamy” speech is recreated, in which he announced war with Japan, which would start the US involvement in World War II.

All in the Family: I Wanna Sit In My Chair

As an added bonus, show this clip from the classic sitcom in All in the Family, in which characters discuss FDR’s achievements.

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