Memorializing Roosevelt and the New Deal

A Virtual Exploration of the FDR Memorial Museum at the Little White House

By Georgia Public Broadcasting

Roosevelt's Bathing Suit (2020) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Franklin Delano Roosevelt wasn't the first politician to visit Warm Springs for health benefits.

Henry Clay, who served as the senator of Kentucky and the United States secretary of state, as well as John C. Calhoun, who served as the senator of South Carolina and the United States vice president, secretary of state, and secretary of war, also came to the springs in the nineteenth century.

Roosevelt's Special Car (2019) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Because of his disability, the president required special accommodations to pursue his love of driving on the country roads around Warm Springs.

The 1939 Lincoln manufactured by Ford Motor Company, dubbed the "Sunshine Special," was Roosevelt's favorite. It featured modified hand-controlled braking and acceleration as well as wider rear doors.

Roosevelt's Collection of Canes (2019)Georgia Public Broadcasting

Determined to look as mobile as his fellow citizens, FDR and his friends and family devised a system for public appearances whereby the president would lean on a cane and a companion to give the impression of walking with minimal effort.

Evidence suggests that although their system was working, his companions felt such a strain that they often left with bruises covering their arms.

Detail of Roosevelt's Cane (2019)Georgia Public Broadcasting

A Man of the People

President Roosevelt connected well with the American people. Many Americans believed that his suffering brought him closer to understanding the realities of their own lives. To help him walk, the president had an extensive collection of canes. His collection was so vast that average citizens would write letters asking about them. In 1943, FDR received a letter from Kentucky declaring, "I have a feeling that the pride engendered by carrying one of your canes, a cane from your collection, preferably one you had carried and discarded, would vastly improve my stride."

The Walk of Flags and Stones (2015) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Walk of Flags and Stones at the Little White House VIRTUAL REALITY (2019) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

March of Dimes PosterGeorgia Public Broadcasting

To fund the ongoing rehabilitation efforts at Warm Springs and to support the newly created National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the Roosevelt administration held Birthday Balls around the president's birthday. Roosevelt himself urged supporters to make donations to his foundations.

These fundraising efforts eventually became known as the March of Dimes.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Dime (2013)Georgia Public Broadcasting

FDR was memorialized on the American 10-cent coin to commemorate his March of Dimes fundraising efforts for polio research.

During the Great Depression, 10 cents was seen as an amount that even struggling Americans could afford to donate to a worthy cause. Cleverly, the campaign was named after a popular newsreel of the day, The March of Time.

Rural Electrification Exhibit (2019)Georgia Public Broadcasting

The Day the Lights Came On

 On August 11th, 1938, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed a crowd at the Gordon Military College stadium in Barnesville, Georgia. He was officially there to dedicate newly installed power lines, but the president offered a personal story to explain his true purpose. FDR explained that "there was only one discordant note in that first stay of mine at Warm Springs: When the first-of-the-month bill came in for electric light for my little cottage, I found that the charge was 18 cents a kilowatt-hour – about four times as much as I paid in Hyde Park, New York. That started my long study of proper public-utility charges for electric current and the whole subject of getting electricity into farm houses. So it can be said that a little cottage at Warm Springs, Georgia, was the birthplace of the Rural Electrification Administration."  

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Portrait by Elizabeth ShoumatoffGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Artist Elisabeth Shoumatoff was famous for the unfinished portrait of Roosevelt that she was painting when the president collapsed from a hemorrhage.

From her memory and additional photographs, she constructed a new, finished portrait of the late president. This one featured the president in a blue tie instead of red.

How FDR's New Deal Put America Back to Work (2015) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Credits: Story

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

The Washington Post

Time Magazine. Time, Inc.

White House Historical Association

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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