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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 9th Visit to Georgia

Ninth Visit

September 27 - December 5, 1927

Roosevelt would spend over two months in Warm Springs this visit, exercising and continuing to raise funds for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. He wrote to his mother on September 30:

“The weather continues warm and heavenly and I’m busy every minute but am doing my exercises morning and afternoon with regularity…” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 627.

Again writing to his mother, Roosevelt spoke of the literature being used to promote the Foundation. Apparently one of the doctors who had treated Roosevelt early in his illness was upset that his name was left out:

“… I do wish he could come down here to see Warm Springs. Of course I can’t be responsible for all the silly and untrue stories which gossip spreads. No circular about Warm Springs, no statement or authorized account has spoken of Warm Springs as being the only place which has helped one. You have I think a copy of the medical pamphlet, if not I enclose another. If Dr. McDonald is hurt I am sorry, but he has no cause to be. I am not giving to the public any history of my own case … . Why Dr. McDonald’s name should appear in the literature about Warm Springs I really can’t see – the literature is not about me. Furthermore Dr. M has been constantly begged by me to come down and look things over… .” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 628.

Whatever disagreement existed between Roosevelt and Dr. McDonald was smoothed over; Dr. McDonald was frequently called to the White House during FDR’s presidency, to adjust his leg braces.

On consecutive days in late November, Roosevelt wrote his mother with concerns about a distant relative who had contracted polio. Fortunately a mild lameness in one leg was the only lasting result, but the letters show the fear the disease caused, as well as the lack of understanding in how it was transmitted:

“… I’m distressed to hear about Douglas and am writing Helen. I do hope he won’t be left with much paralysis. Thank the Lord I haven’t seen him for months, otherwise some people would always feel I gave it to him… . Eleanor writes it is a mild case, but apparently both arms and one leg are hit. I shall offer no advice of course, but only wrote Helen that rest and avoidance of muscle stretching and contractions are all important for at least 3 months. We have so many cases here that come to us from the so-called leading doctors where the treatment has been criminal and left permanently bad results that could with knowledge have been avoided. We don’t of course take any cases till all soreness is gone, but we know from the history of dozens of cases what awful mistakes are made. I’m so glad the Tuxedo meeting was such a success. Forbes is a wonder… . Mr. Pope has been here for two days. Charles Peabody came today… . Very cold these past few days but we only missed one day in the pool… .” Source: F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 632-3.

The “Tuxedo meeting” referred to a meeting organized by Roosevelt’s mother and her friends to raise money for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Forbes Amory was a distant relative who was a strong advocate for the Foundation; Mr. Pope was Henry Pope of Chicago, whose daughter had polio. Amory later built a cottage at Warm Springs, while Pope became one of the Foundation’s first trustees – and ultimately donated $20,000 himself! The companions held an informal Thanksgiving dinner to mark the official closing of the season at Warm Springs. There were 80 companions in attendance. This was the beginning of what became an annual event each Thanksgiving, with the place at the head of the table reserved for Roosevelt.