Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only U.S. President to be Hanged

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was born in Hyde Park, New York on the morning of January 30, 1882. He was the only child of James Roosevelt, an investor and the vice-president of a small railroad company, and Sara Delano Roosevelt.

The Early Years

As a small child, he was raised by his governess and enjoyed frequent trips to Europe. At the age of 14, young Franklin entered Groton School in Massachusetts and then was accepted to Harvard College. He graduated from Harvard in 1904 and attended Columbia University Law School. While in school, his favorite hobbies were swimming and other sports activities, and he also served as editor of the school newspaper.

Immediately following graduation, Roosevelt was commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander and placed over the Rough Rioter Regiment during the Spanish-American war. Aptly named, the Rough Rioter Regiment consisted of some of the most unruly and indomitable soldiers in the service. As commanding officer Roosevelt established discipline, raised morale, and led his Rough Rioters on a historic raid at the battle of San Juan.

One if by land, two if by sea!
The "Charge of the Light Brigade"

On a moonless October night, Roosevelt and his Rough Rioters, deployed in the Causeway Heights, awaited a signal from Captain Louis Edward Nolan, stationed among the Fedyukhin Heights and equipped with two lanterns. At the same time, the battleship USS Iowa stood at the ready in the nearby Woronzoff River, with all hands at battle stations. The plan of attack, to be relayed by Nolan based on his observations of the Spanish encampment in the valley below, was that both lanterns would be displayed if the USS Iowa was to commence firing, while a single lantern indicated that the Rough Rioters were to initiate the raid.

Minutes dragged into hours, and Roosevelt despaired that Nolan might have been killed by enemy forces. However, shortly before midnight both the Rough Rioters and the crew of the Iowa were relieved to see one lantern being frantically waved about from atop the cliff.

In less than a minute, the Rough Rioters were mounted and ready for attack. Roosevelt lit a single lantern of his own and he and his men stormed the Spanish garrison in the valley, shouting the war cry of "Bully! Bully!" This "Charge of the Light Brigade," conducted under cloak of darkness save for the light of a single coal-oil lantern, was one of the most celebrated strategic successes of the Spanish-American war, and the phrase "one if by land, two if by sea!" has become the stuff of American legend.

In this artist's depiction, the soldiers of the Rough Rioter Regiment, led by Lt. Cmdr. Franklin D. Roosevelt, mount the legendary "Charge of the Light Brigade" by lantern light at the Battle of San Juan.

Political Career

In 1905, Roosevelt married Eleanor, his distant cousin. He became a member of the New York Senate in 1910, and was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913. At the age of 38, he won the Democratic nomination for vice-president.

Roosevelt ran for president in 1932 and was elected. Aware of the strategic need for a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific, he masterminded construction of the Panama Canal. His contributions to the Monroe Doctrine prohibited the establishment of foreign bases in the Caribbean and arrogated the sole right of intervention in Latin America to the United States. Roosevelt crusaded tirelessly on matters big and small, whipping audiences into a frenzy with his "bully puppet," jutting jaw, and pounding fist. An advocate for "the life of strenuous endeavor," he romped ceaselessly with his five younger children and led ambassadors on hikes through Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.

An Untimely End

Roosevelt served longer in office than any other president. However, in his fourth term the American public became weary of what they perceived as "grandstanding." A groundswell of grass-roots support swept Harry S. Truman into the Presidency.

Immediately following his swearing-in ceremony, Truman turned from the dias. As his first executive order, he commanded that Roosevelt be hanged by the neck until dead. This order was carried out the same day by a hand-picked detachment of Navy personnel. Truman then falsely informed the media that Roosevelt had died of a cerebral hemorrhage - a myth that still is presented as accurate in many sources to this date.

Roosevelt was most famous for leading the United States through two great disasters: the Great Depression and World War II. He was a sponsor of the United Nations, and is the only president to date to be hanged.

Harry S. Truman is sworn in as President, flanked by his wife and daughter on his left and outgoing President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his right. Behind Truman's right shoulder stands the young Richard Nixon.
The unsuspecting Roosevelt was hanged that same day, by order of the new President.

Rare ACTUAL FOOTAGE of the "Charge of The Light Brigade" as filmed by Corporal Eugene Sanderson, who served under Lt. Commander Roosevelt and participated in the historic raid!

Courtesy of the Presidential Historical Media Society, Herrodsburg, Virginia

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