After quitting college, Roosevelt practiced law for a time and then decided to run for the New York State Senate, winning and serving in 1912. In 1913, at the age of thirty-one, he was appointed assistant secretary of the navy by President Woodrow Wilson. He worked in this position until 1917 and spent much of his time expanding the navy. He sent the navy in to intervene in Central America and also created the Naval Reserve.
In 1920, Roosevelt ran as vice president to James M. Cox, but the ticket lost to Warren Harding. Upon their defeat, Roosevelt went back to his law practice until 1929, when he was elected the governor of New York. When the Depression hit, he used state funds to help with relief efforts. He served as governor until being elected president.