Franklin Roosevelt was born into wealth and his famous surname certainly leveraged his political influence. His name and the fact he was a Democratic Roosevelt in a country adoring the Republican Teddy Roosevelt propelled him into the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy. This position put him in substantial control of approximately 20% of the Federal budget at a young age preceding the build-up to World War I.
President Wilson, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, and Roosevelt’s boss, Josephus Daniels (the Secretary of the Navy) were avowed pacifists and isolationists as the world descended into war. They feared the provocative message the U.S. might send by increasing spending on our decrepit navy. Furthermore, Daniels was largely incompetent on naval matters as he was from rural North Carolina and aspired to be Postmaster General.
Roosevelt influenced U.S. naval and war policy and preparations despite facing the resistance from his superiors. He managed to effectively lead the U.S. to military preparedness. The way he accomplished this molded his character to eventually become one of the nation’s most influential Presidents.