The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project is a university-chartered research center associated with the Department of History of The George Washington University

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Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary

[picture: ER, FDR, Elliott Roosevelt and his wife on the porch of FDR's Warm Springs home]  FDR first came to Warm Springs, Georgia, during the fall of 1924, searching for a way to combat the polio that had left his legs paralyzed. He had heard from a friend who had just moved to Warm Springs that a young man who also had polio had begun to improve after swimming in the warm salt water. Eager to try anything that might help his lame legs gain strength, FDR traveled to Georgia, rented rooms at the Merriwether Inn and swam daily in the public pool 500 yards across from the inn. Soon, for the first time since his paralysis, FDR felt life in his toes and could walk unassisted in four-feet-deep water.(1) Amazed by the water's recuperative powers, FDR stayed for three weeks and worked with a local doctor, Dr. James Johnson, to develop a training regimen they hoped would improve his muscles.

FDR so loved his time in Warm Springs that he had a simple, white, wooden cottage built overlooking a wooded, deep ravine. He moved into his vacation home May 1, 1932 and invited all the "residents of Warm Springs" and all "the patients, employees, and cottagers" to a housewarming party to be held on May 5th. After FDR won the 1932 election, the cottage quickly was dubbed "the Little White House" and President Roosevelt continued to revel in his time there. Away from the incessant glare of the press and political observers, FDR could swim, recuperate, play and work in a place he adored. As much as FDR loved to visit with the locals and show off his home to international guests, he also called his advisors down to Georgia for legislative strategy meetings. For example, the National Bank Holiday and the Rural Electrification bills were first discussed at the Little White House

After returning from the Yalta Conference and opening the United Nations conference in San Francisco, FDR decided to go to his Little White House for some rest. Arriving on March 30, 1945, tired but in good spirits, he spent time with friends, worked on his stamp collection, and tried to rest. April 12th, thirteen days after his arrival, he complained of a "terrific headache," and died from a cerebral hemorrhage. (2)
 


Notes:

  1. Freidel, Frank. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. Little, Brown and Company: New York, 1990, 46.
  2. Ibid., 605.
     

Sources:

Freidel, Frank. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1990, 110, 124, 602-607.
 

For more information on the Little White House, visit the following web site: