Saying Goodbye to FDR

Presidential History Blog

The unfinished portrait of FDR.

Death is always private, but the death of a world figure becomes a public event.

President Roosevelt’s Health

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in April, 1945, the world was stunned. He had been US president for twelve years, just recently inaugurated to an unprecedented fourth term.

Television was still experimental, and newsreels and photographs of the President were always carefully staged. Few Americans were aware that FDR had been crippled by polio for nearly twenty-five years, and could not walk without braces, a cane and the arm of a strong man to steady him.

There was a noticeable decline in FDR at Yalta.

Even fewer noticed his visible decline during the past year. The strain of WWII had taken a huge toll. He had lost weight. His face looked drained and haggard. When he returned from his recent meeting in Yalta, he was seated while…

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