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  #1  
Old 04 January 2010, 08:17 AM
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Icon81 FDR committed suicide

Comment: I have seen several posts regarding the death of FDR:

Quote:
My mother always claimed that she was shopping in Bloomingdales in NYC at
the time the news of FDR's death was announced. She said that the
announcement over the store intercom that day, right after it happened,
clearly stated that he'd shot himself in the head.

She also said that not long after, the story given out by the news media
suddenly changed to his death having been of natural causes.
All I can add to this is that my mother never wavered from this account,
and had no reason whatsoever to lie about what she'd heard that day.

My Grandfather was docked in the Phillipines at the time of FDR's death.
He remembers that same announcement going over the ships intercom.
Another story mentions a gentleman who claimed to have done the autopsy
on FDR and removed a bullet from his brain.

There is another story about mortuary workers in Atlanta who saw the
presidents body with a bullet hole in his brain. The same site mentions
"FBI" agents who admitted that FDR hid a gun under his lap blanket and
then asked to be rolled in his wheelchair to a favorite spot where he shot
himself.
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  #2  
Old 04 January 2010, 10:44 AM
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No, no. According to the article I read on AOL just today, he actually died of a very rare form of skin cancer.
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  #3  
Old 04 January 2010, 01:55 PM
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And ironically, Kennedy actually died of a stroke moments before Oswald shot him.

I have trouble believing that the press at that time, who had not reported FDR's use of canes and wheelchairs, would have reported the president, in the middle of WWII, shot himself, even if he did. It doesn't seem to fit.
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Old 04 January 2010, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talk2sparky View Post
I have trouble believing that the press at that time, who had not reported FDR's use of canes and wheelchairs, would have reported the president, in the middle of WWII, shot himself, even if he did. It doesn't seem to fit.
Agreed. The press was so completely circumspect about FDR's paralysis that my mother, who was 13 when he was elected and 25 when he died, denied it for years after it became common knowledge. It was taught in my HS history class in the late 1970s, and when I mentioned it, she argued with me, insisting that he couldn't have been paralyzed because she'd seen photos of him standing at a lectern. And this was a woman whose nephew used leg braces, and who knew darn well that a person with leg braces could lock the knees and stand with a balance aid -- like a lectern. After maintaining a wall of silence that consistent and effective, why would even one reporter reveal that FDR had shot himself?

Aside from that, why would any reporter even know about it? Surely the people surrounding FDR would have hidden it.

And finally, perhaps most compelling, I simply don't believe that FDR would have shot himself at that point in the war. He'd held on that long, and I'm sure he would have held on longer if he could have.
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Old 04 January 2010, 03:32 PM
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While I could believe that someone like FDR might kill himself if he felt he was deterioating in mind, or in really intractable pain from something that wasn't likely to kill him soon, and wouldn't be able to funtion to the end of his term anyway, I have trouble believing he would have chosen that method. I think he would have taken an overdose of drugs, or used a poison, and made it look like natural causes; either that, or had a fatal "accident." This is a man who pretended for more than 20 years that he could walk, just to keep up appearances and the public trust intact.

Aside from what suicide would do to his personal legacy, it would demoralize the public in the middle of a war that he very much wanted to win.

On the other hand, it is certainly possible that some reporter mistakenly reported FDR was shot, or shot himself, and a few other reporters repeated it, before the truth got around, and the earlier reports were corrected.
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Old 04 January 2010, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
And finally, perhaps most compelling, I simply don't believe that FDR would have shot himself at that point in the war. He'd held on that long, and I'm sure he would have held on longer if he could have.
If only to stick it to Stalin, if nothing else.
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  #7  
Old 04 January 2010, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
If only to stick it to Stalin, if nothing else.
"I'll outlive that damn Bolshie if I have to do it as a decapitated head in a jar!"
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  #8  
Old 04 January 2010, 03:53 PM
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Obviously what happened is that FDR had decided against using the atomic bomb to shorten the war, so Edward Teller came to Warm Springs and shot him in the head. The government still needed Teller's genius, so they first called the death suicide and then 'natural causes.'
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Old 05 January 2010, 12:41 AM
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I had a substitute teacher once in high school who'd been an intern in DC when FDR died. She told us all about the day he died once (hardly anybody in the class paid attention, natch, but I did), and there was no mention of anything but natural causes.
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  #10  
Old 05 January 2010, 01:18 AM
Steve Eisenberg Steve Eisenberg is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
Agreed. The press was so completely circumspect about FDR's paralysis that my mother, who was 13 when he was elected and 25 when he died, denied it for years after it became common knowledge.
The press didn't emphasize it like they would nowadays, but the circumspection was incomplete. Here is how the October 16, 1936 New York Times article "Girl Cripple Would Sell Roosevelt Letter to Aid the Campaign for his Re-election" begins:

Quote:
Louise Dean, 19 years old, who hopes some day to be able to walk "with two braces, like President Roosevelt" . . .
I found the above pretty quickly with a search of a New York Times archive index, but then spent about ten minutes failing to find another clear statement concerning the president's disability being current. A search of the terms:

Roosevelt ramp

found that although they mention Roosevelt on a ramp, they don't mention why he might have been on a ramp. So you would have to read the newspapers extremely carefully to get a fair idea of the extent of his disability. Or could it just be that the New York Times was pro-Roosevelt?
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Old 05 January 2010, 01:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
...Or could it just be that the New York Times was pro-Roosevelt?
Hard to say. The endorsed him in '32, 36, and '44, but Wilkie in 1940, although their '44 endorsement seems pretty tepid. [cite]

Nick
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Old 05 January 2010, 02:06 AM
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Considering that FDR's official cause of death was a cerebral hemmorrhage, it seems like the simplest explanation is that the term was not widely known by the general public at the time and may have been misunderstood by some reporters in the initial confusion surrounding his death. Reporters of the past were just as eager to get a story out as they are today, and it was just as commonplace for erroneous reports to go out at first and be clarified later as more information came in. In addition, there was sensationalism in news reporting then just like there is now and the idea that a president committed suicide would be quite a story and worth the gamble for some news outlets, who could just retract or forget about it if it wasn't true but if it was they could trumpet themselves as being "first with the news".
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Old 05 January 2010, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post
Hard to say. The endorsed him in '32, 36, and '44, but Wilkie in 1940, although their '44 endorsement seems pretty tepid. [cite]

Nick
Considering that most newspapers were anti-Roosevelt, that qualifies as pro-Roosevelt. On the other hand, according to page 115 of this book, even the anti-Roosevelt press tended to play down his disability.

It sounds like if you were looking for evidence of the President's polio having a continuing effect, you would have come across it in the media from time to time. But most people were not looking.
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  #14  
Old 05 January 2010, 02:58 AM
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My father used to have a set of encyclopedias that were published shortly before WWII. And it mentioned that Roosevelt had become disabled as a result of polio.

From what I have read of Roosevelt, I find it hard to believe that he would have committed suicide at such a crucial time, when the end of the war in Europe was in sight.
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  #15  
Old 05 January 2010, 03:29 AM
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To be fair, Roosevelt did walk. He had braces on his legs, held another person's arm, and had a stiff gait from not bending his knees, so he was essentially using just his abdominal muscles, the way someone with two above-the-knee prostheses and a Lofstrand crutch would walk. It is in no way easy, talks practice, work, and a strong set of abs. And in the days before wheelchair ramps and wide doorways on public buildings was an important skill for paralytics and amputees to have. The fact that Roosevelt used a whhelchair most of the time to save his energy for other things does not detract from the fact that he had a hard-won skill he could use when he needed to.

It's a shame that he couldn't be honest with the public at the time, and left people with the impression that he walked all the time, but that's not really his fault. However, the fact that he used his particular method of walking in front of the public is not really lying, because he was ambulating under his own steam, and it wasn't an illusion.
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Old 09 January 2010, 12:01 AM
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Any erroneous report that FDR committed suicide is a new one to me. I've never heard of any news service accidentally reporting that he had shot himself in the head. All the ones I read confirm that he died of natural causes. A cerebral hemorrhage is also known as a stroke.

I have also heard some present-day doctors opine that he never had polio since almost all polio victims are children or teens when afflicted with the disease. Some think he had Guillame-Barre Syndrome which is excruciating painful and can leave one paralyzed.

FDR concealed his disability because in his day, handicapped people were looked upon as weak and one's disability was considered shameful. He wanted to present himself as a strong individual.

Barb Rainey
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Old 09 January 2010, 12:20 AM
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The CD I Can Hear It Now has a recording of John Daley breaking the news of FDR's death on 12 April 1945. No mention of suicide.
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  #18  
Old 09 January 2010, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barbrainey View Post
I have also heard some present-day doctors opine that he never had polio since almost all polio victims are children or teens when afflicted with the disease. Some think he had Guillame-Barre Syndrome which is excruciating painful and can leave one paralyzed.
I would be surprised to find out he had Guillain–Barré syndrome, because from what I have read, it's pretty unusual for someone to have almost no control over their lower limbs, and have not only total upper body control, but upper body strength, which FDR seems to have had. For one thing, he did a lot of swimming, and for another, when he did walk, he used his abdominal muscles, and stood behind podia during long speeches, supporting himself with his arms and abs.

Some people have full recovery from Guillain–Barré, but that wouldn't be the case with FDR, since he still had paralysis, if that is what he had, so one would expect upper body weakness as well.

Granted, I don't think Guillain–Barré syndrome had been identified when FDR was ill, but he was ill at a time when polio epidemics passed across the country every year. It mostly struck children and teenagers, probably because they were in schools together, and tended to gather in large, close groups at swimming pools and lakes. But it did sometimes affect adults.
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Old 09 January 2010, 12:56 AM
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A streaming audio that begins with the death announcement is here. This was the first announcement and Daly attributes the death to a cerebral hemorrhage (though he stumbles on the pronunciation).
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  #20  
Old 11 January 2010, 01:11 AM
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Icon104 For F.D.R. Sleuths, New Focus on an Odd Spot

That Roosevelt died of a stroke is undisputed. But what caused it is a medical mystery that has persisted to this day, a mystery heightened by the secrecy in which he, his aides and his doctors always insisted on shrouding his health.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/health/05docs.html
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