Skip to Main Content

UK Disability History Month

Franklin D Roosevelt

rooselvelt in a wheelchair"I myself have been through this ordeal, (polio) and I am a symbol of what can happen when people with disabilities are strongly supported."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, often known simply as FDR, was born 1882. He was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the Democratic Party, he won a record four presidential elections - actually the only president to be elected more than twice. 

In 1921 he became paralysed in both legs, using a wheelchair (which he kept concealed) and crutches. FDR believed dealing with his impairment had made him stronger politically.

He became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. 

His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II, which ended shortly after he died in office. He is rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.