Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter on Fund Raising for Infantile Paralysis.

January 18, 1939

My dear Mr. Morgan:

Now that the work of organizing this year's fight against infantile paralysis is approaching completion, I think it would be well to make a few statements of fact about the plan and scope of the work in which we are engaged.

Sometimes when a work has been carried on over a period of years, objectives become obscured so that it is well from time to time to clarify and dispel any misapprehensions which may have grown up in the public mind.

In 1926 the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation was established. In the years that have intervened, the work of combatting the scourge of infantile paralysis has grown and steadily expanded until we have today the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

It seems to me that there may be some confusion in the public mind as a result of the evolution through which our work has passed. Indeed, General Hugh S. Johnson, who is chairman of the work for the birthday celebrations in Greater New York, has been helpful in advising us that misapprehension and misunderstanding of our aims, purposes and objectives do exist.

I wish, therefore, you would do what you can to clear up these misunderstandings by sending a copy of this letter to General Johnson and to key-workers everywhere. All who have supported and who are so loyally supporting this work are entitled to all the facts.

In the early days the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, as the institution around which the campaign against infantile paralysis became national, symbolized the work that we were doing. Today, however, the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation is only a small part of our activity because the National Foundation has put all of the work on a national basis.

This National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis is carrying on, with the cooperation of loyal volunteer workers in towns, cities and communities in every State. The Foundation is, of course, incorporated and its accounts are subject to audit and inspection.

In spite of constant efforts on the part of the National Foundation, many people still believe that all money raised goes to Warm Springs. I should like to have it widely known that the net proceeds from the birthday celebrations will be divided on a fifty-fifty basis. Half the money raised in each community stays in the community where it is raised and will be disbursed through county chapters. The plan is to set up at least one chapter in every county in the country. The other half of the money raised will go to the National Foundation to be used in directing and unifying the fight against every phase of this modern scourge of infantile paralysis—a fight on a thoroughly national basis.

Thus it will be seen that we are succeeding in a national effort to combat infantile paralysis just in the same way as there is a nationally organized effort against tuberculosis.

I should like at the same time to clarify any misunderstanding that may have arisen concerning the holding of these celebrations on my birthday. That is only an incident—and, to my way of thinking, a very unimportant incident, too. As in the case of other campaigns on a national basis, it is usual and customary to pick some week or some day as a pivotal date around which the raising of funds may gather force and direction. It has been with that thought in mind that beginning in 1934 my birthday has been loaned as a convenient pivotal date.

I have considered my own personal part small indeed, although my personal interest in the national work of driving out a national scourge could not be exaggerated.

Politics or partisanship have, of course, played no part in any of the campaigns. Nor is there room for any petty spirit or narrow consideration in the splendid work to which the nation has responded with such generosity and magnanimity.

A glance at the list of the officers and trustees of the Foundation will eliminate any possible doubt any one could have on this point.

If I have written somewhat at length it is because of my desire for frankness and candor and to appeal to my fellow countrymen everywhere to maintain a broad perspective, with all emphasis directed toward one objective: the elimination of infantile paralysis as a national peril. The fight must go on.

Very sincerely yours,

Keith Morgan, Esq., Chairman,

Executive Committee for the Celebration of the President's Birthday for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Inc.,

50 East 42nd Street,

New York City, N. Y.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on Fund Raising for Infantile Paralysis. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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