Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Words: Franklin Delano Roosevelt


“I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.”

-           Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) also known as FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States (133-1935).  He was a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the US out of the Great Depression and into WW2.  The only American president elected to more than two terms (the 22nd Amendment limiting Presidents to two terms came into effect in 1951), his persistent optimism and activism contributed to a renewal of the national spirit.  Having contracted polio at age 39, he was  able to walk short distances with calipers by swinging his hips but nontheless  spent most of his time in a wheelchair, making sure that this was not reported and was not photographed.  Although he worked closely with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in leading the Allies against Germany and Japan in WW2, but died just as victory was in sight.

On 29 March, 1945 Roosevelt was resting prior to a proposed appearance at the founding conference of the United Nations.  Adter speaking the above quoted words he slumped forward, unconscious in his wheelchair as a result of a massive cerebral haemorrhage, aka as a stroke.  He died shortly afterwards.

At the time of his death, he had been sitting for a portrait by Elizabeth Shoumatoff.  The work is now imaginatively known as Unfinished Portrait of FDR (above).

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