He never did regain the use of his legs, but as it turned out, Roosevelt gained something else from his terrible illness. It taught him patience, and made him more determined. It made him know frustration, and sorrow, and anguish . And hethe boy who had everythingcame to better understand those who had troubles of their own. Seven years after polio crippled him, he reentered presidential politics and won the Democratic nomination in 1932 . In a campaign address he said these words: "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people." To a nation that had suffered three years of terrible poverty and unemployment, the words "new deal" sounded very good. The election of 1932 was a landslide .
But by March 1933, when Roosevelt took office, the economy seemed close to collapse. When FDR was inaugurated in Washington, D.C., that city was described as like "a beleaguered capital in wartime." And then, in his inaugural address, Roosevelt spoke these words: "Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.... I shall ask the Congress for ... broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were ... invaded by a foreign foe.... This nation asks for action, and action now.... We must act and act quickly ."
And that is exactly what Roosevelt did: act quickly. The first hundred days of his presidency are famous for all the things he got done. His ideas really were a "new deal ." He did away with most child labor, regulated the stock market, made bank deposits safe, helped make employers pay fair wages, encouraged workers' unions, limited hours of work, helped farmers, brought electricity to rural areas, and gave Americans an old-age pension system, called Social Security. Roosevelt did something else, too. He shared power with those who had never held it before, by including in positions of government many of those who had been long excluded: women, eastern Europeans, Catholics, and Jews. He rejected the idea of an aristocracy of birth, and replaced it with Jefferson's goal of an aristocracy of talent.