On this day in 1945 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died whilst in office; Vice-president Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President.
Roosevelt dominated the American political scene during the twelve years of his presidency, and his policies and ideas continued to have significant impacts for decades afterward. He orchestrated the realignment of voters that created the Fifth Party System. FDR’s New Deal Coalition united labour unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans, and rural white Southerners. His work also influenced the later creation of the United Nations and Bretton Woods. Roosevelt is consistently rated by scholars as one of the top three U.S. Presidents, along with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
Roosevelt’s death was met with shock and grief across the U.S. and around the world. His declining health had not been known to the general public. Roosevelt had been president for more than 12 years, longer than any other person, and had led the country through some of its greatest crises to the impending defeat of Nazi Germany and within sight of the defeat of Japan as well.
Less than a month after his death, on May 8, the war in Europe ended. President Harry S. Truman, , dedicated Victory in Europe Day and its celebrations to Roosevelt’s memory, and kept the flags across the U.S. at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period, saying that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day.”