There were a number of enormously significant historical events in the 20th century. It was the period where the U.S. became one of (if not the) most powerful nations in the world, and new technologies changed the way people around the world lived, traveled, and communicated. Near the beginning of the century, however, much of the world (including the United States) was stuck in the Great Depression, which was the most significant economic downturn in recent history. The U.S. President during much of this time was Franklin Roosevelt, the only president to be elected to four terms. Many of Roosevelt’s domestic and foreign policy decisions would have long-term consequences that still shape life in America and around the world today.
In response to the Great Depression, FDR pushed for a number of different government programs that were collectively known as the New Deal. The Social Security program was developed as part of the New Deal, and is still a major federal program today. FDR also took the nation into World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor; by the end of the war, the U.S. would emerge as one of the world’s two “superpowers” along with the Soviet Union. The build-up of manufacturing related to the war left the U.S. in a strong position after the war, and it became the world’s leader in manufacturing, fueling a post-war economic boom in the U.S. and setting the stage for the current era commonly referred to as “globalization.” It is difficult to imagine what might have happened if different choices had been made during the Great Depression; it seems entirely possible that the U.S. could have completely collapsed economically and politically. Instead, it came out the other side of the Great Depression stronger and more economically powerful than ever before, and remains one of the most powerful nations in the world to this day.