Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks to Orthopedic Surgeons, Warm Springs, Georgia.

December 07, 1935

I wish you had seen this building ten years ago. It was a perfectly good down-at-the-heel summer resort and nothing else.

Did you ever hear the story of how the first patients came down here? In the summer or spring before I came down my doctor had told me that he was finding that his patients who were swimming in Long Island Sound and in places where they could stay in the water a longer time, were showing a little more improvement than those who went up further North in places where they could not swim for long periods on account of the cold water. He told me that he was going to try the effect of exercising in warm water.

Well, he went abroad and died on the other side that summer. That fall I heard about Warm Springs. I heard some very good reports about it, and I thought I would try it out and at least come down for a rest. I found that I could move about and exercise a good deal better in this water than any other place.

The following spring a couple of newspaper men came down here from Atlanta; and they wanted a political story. One of them wrote a special feature story that went all through the country, in the Sunday papers. It was headed, "Annette Kellerman and Franklin Roosevelt swim their way back to health." Within two weeks they began to arrive. Twenty-one Polio cases came down; but there wasn't a doctor—there wasn't anything down here. The place wasn't open in the spring of 1925. We were all upset by it. At the time the place was run by a Georgia editor, Tom Loyless. It was in an awful condition.

In the following spring, 1926, the Orthopedic Association met in Atlanta. Dr. Hoke was President that year and I went up there; and I asked their permission to suggest the appointment of an advisory committee. As a result of the appointment of that Advisory Committee, we started to experiment down here in the summer.

We did not know much; we did not know how to go about the thing. So we got Dr. Hubbard to come down here, and also one physio-therapist.

Well, we ran that experiment in the summer of 1926. It was terribly crowded. All we could do was to check on nourishment, and do a certain amount of plaster-cast work. From that time on, which is somewhat less than ten years ago, see what has happened!

But the important point is that people all over the country know about what we are doing and are following our example in their own communities. My whole objective was to make the country as conscious about Polio as it is about T.B. Everything that you people can do and have done to help spread the gospel is all right.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks to Orthopedic Surgeons, Warm Springs, Georgia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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