America’s 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was born in Hyde Park, NY this day in 1882. Roosevelt is greatly remembered for leading the US through a depression and WWII, and his wife Eleanor’s humanitarian efforts. However, he is also known as our only physically disabled president, and founder of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now known as the March of Dimes).
This lower leg brace was one of many used by Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) after he was permanently disabled by polio in 1921. Despite paralysis of both legs, FDR was determined to walk again and sought out numerous cures, from mineral baths to braces. Heavy steel braces allowed him to “walk” short distances, and lower leg braces, such as this example, helped to prevent atrophy of his leg muscles. This leg brace came from the estate of Roosevelt’s White House Secretary, Grace Tully.
Roosevelt was also the only president to serve more than two terms, since there was no official rule saying someone couldn’t serve more than two terms (the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951). However, FDR’s third and fourth terms came with a lot of controversy, and a lot of opposition.
This pinback campaign button is from the 1944 election resulting in FDR’s third term, from the anti-Roosevelt factions. The New-York Historical Society’s museum collection has numerous buttons from the anti-Roosevelt campaigns, with witty slogans like “Roosevelt, Hide at Hyde!“, “Roosevelt for EX President“, and my personal favorite, “Sure I’ll Vote for Roosevelt ha ha ha ha ha“. However, Roosevelt won his third term with 55% of the popular vote, and his fourth with 53%, so a good percentage of Americans must have been wearing “Carry on with Roosevelt” buttons (though Roosevelt clearly didn’t spring for the wittiest slogan writer).