Date of Award


Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Thesis Advisor

Dr. J. Edward Lee

Committee Member

Dr. Jason S. Silverman

Committee Member

Dr. Virginia Williams


Franklin D. Roosevelt, Health, Death, Polio, Guillaine-Barre, Cancer


The awe of celebrity, including presidents, creates the impression of beings who are larger than life, without the problems of the common man. Franklin D. Roosevelt, unbeknownst to many Americans, had significant health issues. These health issues predate his paralytic illness and worsened during his presidency. Efforts to maintain his image as the unconquerable president of the United Sates led to concealment of these problems and, in turn, negatively impacted his medical care. While most previous studies focused on individual health issues, this research will show a continuum of medical problems that not only impacted his presidency but also were impacted by his presidency. It will also consider the role public opinion and the media played in attitudes about his health both during his life and after his death. Ultimately, it will show a mortal man, seen by many as almost mythical, whose health had a tremendous effect on his presidency and possibly history.