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FDR’s Ties to Georgia Introduction

FDR in Car in Front of Little White House Photo: Ed Jackson

For more on FDR in Georgia, see the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a native of New York and a scion of a political family. He held several political posts at a young age, including Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I. Roosevelt was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1920; the Republican candidate (Warren G. Harding) won the election. In August of 1921 (at age 39) Roosevelt, an avid athlete and outdoorsman, was stricken with poliomyelitis, commonly called polio or infantile paralysis (since it usually attacked children), while on vacation off the coast of Maine. Despite intensive treatment, both at hospitals and at home, he never would regain full use of his legs. He was fitted with metal braces for both legs, and worked strenuously trying to learn to walk again. Roosevelt eventually returned to work at his law office, but continued to search for a means of curing his ailment and regaining his lost strength.

Roosevelt also maintained his role in politics, serving on the Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of New York. His most notable return to public life occurred in June of 1924, when he walked onto the stage at Madison Square Garden to nominate Al Smith for president. Few knew that he had practiced the walk for weeks in advance, or that his legs were braced underneath his clothing. Using the braces and just one crutch, with one arm holding onto his son James, Roosevelt walked to the lectern and acknowledged the crowd’s cheer with a head thrust and smile that would become synonymous with his political career. While at the Democratic Convention, Roosevelt met George Foster Peabody, a successful Wall Street banker from Columbus, Georgia. Peabody told Roosevelt of a small resort near his native Columbus that had mineral spring waters that theoretically had healing qualities. In a letter dated Sept. 4, 1924, Roosevelt wrote of Warm Springs, Georgia “where there is a huge outdoor pool of warm water which gushes from a hillside.” (1)

The following month, Roosevelt took the first of many trips to his “second home” of Warm Springs. In time, he would consider himself an adopted son of Georgia.

On this site you can view information on each of FDR’s trips to Georgia (see links to the right), including photos where available. The pages covering his various trips to his “second home” will also contain links to press conferences and speeches in Georgia, text of newspaper and journal articles covering his time in Georgia, text of a series of editorials FDR penned in his early days at Warm Springs, plus links to other FDR sites (at the bottom right of this page).

(1) Theo Lippman, Jr., The Squire of Warm Springs: F.D.R. in Georgia 1924-1945, (Playboy Press, Chicago, 1977), p. 27.