Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt are three of the most inspiring and dynamic political leaders in 20th century US history. Theodore and Franklin both redefined the presidency and political leadership, each in their unique way. Eleanor, the first First Lady, as a widow became a prominent media personality and advocate of political causes such as human rights and the anti-nuclear movement. Each of the three Roosevelts had a specific impact, influence, and legacy, shaping the foreign and domestic policy of the United States, and the relations between the US and the world, through the twentieth century.
The Rooseveltian Century is a new concept for contemporary history. The nearest equivalent is the idea of the Wilsonian Century, based on the worldview of President Woodrow Wilson and how he conceived US power being used to shape world politics after WW I (‘making the world safe for democracy’). In contrast, the Rooseveltian Century examines the Roosevelts as a unique family who collectively, through both domestic and foreign policies, changed our understanding of the responsibilities of government and the global role of the United States.
The Rooseveltian Century is the concept around which the new Roosevelt Institute for American Studies is based. What has the Rooseveltian Century given us for inspiration and guidance in the 21st century? How can we make use of the motives and missions of these three path-finding leaders?
The Roosevelt family stem originally from the province of Zeeland, specifically the island of Tholen. The family emigrated to the New World around 1647. The pilgrims left Leiden for the New World in 1620. Both the RIAS and Leiden University are therefore closely connected with the Rooseveltian heritage and the deeper, ongoing social and political history of transatlantic ties.