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The Rising Road (1933-1939) 

FDR's pre-WWII presidency. The New Deal renews America. FDR's unprecedented popularity, the conservative opposition and Huey Long's populism. FDR warns isolationists of Hitler. Eleanor's platonic friendship with Lorena Hickok.


Ken Burns




Episode credited cast:
Peter Coyote ... Narrator (voice)
Meryl Streep ... Eleanor Roosevelt (voice)
Patricia Clarkson ... Daisy Suckley (voice)
Edward Herrmann ... Franklin Roosevelt (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jonathan Alter ... Himself - Writer
Mary McLeod Bethune Mary McLeod Bethune ... Herself (archive footage)
H.W. Brands ... Himself - Biographer
Kevin Conway ... (voice)
Blanche Wiesen Cook Blanche Wiesen Cook ... Herself - Biographer
Marion Dunn Marion Dunn ... Himself - Warm Springs
Paul Giamatti ... Theodore Roosevelt
Doris Kearns Goodwin ... Herself - Historian
Dorothy Height Dorothy Height ... Herself - Civil Rights Activist (archive footage)
Lorena Hickock Lorena Hickock ... Herself (archive footage)
Adolf Hitler ... Himself (archive footage)


By the time Franklin was inaugurated in March 1933, 5000 banks had failed and 9 million bank accounts were wiped out. He declared a 3 day bank holiday and went on the radio urging people to show faith in the system by depositing funds when they re-opened. It worked. His cabinet included the first woman, Frances Perkins as Secretary of Labor. The first 100 days saw 15 major bills passed including deposit insurance, home ownership loans and major public works projects. The National Recovery Administration was his most ambitious program, setting prices and wages in 541 industries. Eleanor was an active first Lady - holding her own weekly press conferences, writing a syndicated newspaper column and also had her own weekly radio show. Eleanor's close friend, Lorena Hickok went to work for Harry Hopkins, head of Federal Emergency Relief Administration, as his chief investigator. Eleanor's was active at this time, particularly with the Arthurdale project, an ideal community that included a ... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

18 September 2014 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films See more »
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Did You Know?


References King Kong (1933) See more »

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User Reviews

Reform and the winds of war...
21 December 2015 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This program takes up well into Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. Many of his social programs either didn't succeed or the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional...and FDR considered trying to pack the court to get around this. Social programs championed by Roosevelt during this time included creating Social Security and the Works Progress Administration.

Much of the latter part of the show had to do with the rise of Nazis and the show INCORRECTLY said that Americans were horrified by them (actually, during the 1930s many Americans thought he was AWESOME and loved him). FDR was afraid of the Nazi menace and pushed for the US to take action to prepare for war, though Congress and the American people couldn't have cared less. At the conclusion, FDR is considering running for an unprecedented third term.

All in all, aside from saying the Americans were horrified by Hitler and the Nazis, a good episode of the Burns series. Well done and worth seeing.

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