1. I think people have those innate capacities or they don’t. The crisis draws it out of them. It allows them to see who they really are. And that’s why I chose the title, The Man He Became. I think he was that man before he became sick, but he only discovered who he really was through the ordeal of polio. So it gave him a kind of confidence in his own strength that perhaps no one can have until you’re tested.

    — 

    Historian James Tobin on FDR’s polio

    Roosevelt’s Polio Wasn’t A Secret: He Used It To His ‘Advantage’

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  1. [Franklin D. Roosevelt] had to persuade people to feel comfortable in his presence…. [The therapists and he] began to work on his gait, to work on the way he would walk with the canes and crutches and assistance he would use. So his walk, although slow, began to look more and more natural. And he would seat himself, and he would throw up his head, he would begin to talk — he was always talking, actually — to put people at ease. And this whole physical routine that he developed of putting people at ease was enormously effective, and it made people forget that he was disabled.

    — Historian James Tobin speaks to Fresh Air about how FDR turned his polio disability into a political advantage

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  1. Historian James Tobin, author of “The Man He Became,” talks to Fresh Air about Franklin D. Roosevelt's polio disability and how he turned it into a political advantage:

Certainly people close to him said it tempered him. Eleanor herself said it made him stronger and more courageous.
That doesn’t quite make sense to me. I think people have those innate capacities or they don’t. The crisis draws it out of them. It allows them to see who they really are. And that’s why I chose the title The Man He Became. I think he was that man before he became sick, but he only discovered who he really was through the ordeal of polio. So it gave him a kind of confidence in his own strength that perhaps no one can have until you’re tested.
I also think it inevitably gave him a kind of passion for people who are suffering that he couldn’t have had if he had not deeply suffered himself. That capacity was perfectly timed for the country’s problems in the Great Depression.



photo of FDR in his work with the March of Dimes nonprofit for kids with disabilities View in High-Res

    Historian James Tobin, author of “The Man He Became,” talks to Fresh Air about Franklin D. Roosevelt's polio disability and how he turned it into a political advantage:

    Certainly people close to him said it tempered him. Eleanor herself said it made him stronger and more courageous.

    That doesn’t quite make sense to me. I think people have those innate capacities or they don’t. The crisis draws it out of them. It allows them to see who they really are. And that’s why I chose the title The Man He Became. I think he was that man before he became sick, but he only discovered who he really was through the ordeal of polio. So it gave him a kind of confidence in his own strength that perhaps no one can have until you’re tested.

    I also think it inevitably gave him a kind of passion for people who are suffering that he couldn’t have had if he had not deeply suffered himself. That capacity was perfectly timed for the country’s problems in the Great Depression.

    photo of FDR in his work with the March of Dimes nonprofit for kids with disabilities

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  1. Philadelphia is a good city in which to write American history.

    — 

    - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936

    We couldn’t agree more. Happy Constitution Day!

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  1. Maureen Corrigan reviews Hazel Rowley’s book about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt’s unconventional marriage: "Nothing against the French, but there’s no contest here.  While Sartre  and de Beauvoir were hashing over gender roles in sequestered cafes,  Franklin and Eleanor had already forged their own cutting edge version  of a marriage, despite living for nearly four terms in the fishbowl of  the White House." View in High-Res

    Maureen Corrigan reviews Hazel Rowley’s book about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt’s unconventional marriage: "Nothing against the French, but there’s no contest here.  While Sartre and de Beauvoir were hashing over gender roles in sequestered cafes, Franklin and Eleanor had already forged their own cutting edge version of a marriage, despite living for nearly four terms in the fishbowl of the White House."

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