Lot 118: Pres. FD Roosevelt to Polio Victim and Inventor: The brave fight you are making
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: FDR to a Victim of Polio: “The brave fight you are making” ********** ROOSEVELT, FRANKLIN D. (1882-1945). Thirty-second president of the United States. TLS. (“Franklin D. Roosevelt”). 1p. Small 4to. Washington, D.C., December 19, 1934. On White House stationery. To fellow polio victim EDWARD H. BARKER (1904-1964) namesake of the Barker Feeder, the earliest device to allow victims of paralysis to feed themselves. ********** “One of our mutual friends has told me of the brave fight you are making, and at this season I want to send you a word of cheer and to express the hope that you will soon be greatly improved. My best wishes to you…”********** During a 1921 vacation at Campobello Island, at the age of 39, Roosevelt contracted polio, threatening the future of his public career. Despite paralysis from the waist down, Roosevelt refused to succumb to the disease and its physical limitations. In his continuing search for a cure FDR visited a spa at Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1924. While there FDR took daily swims in the therapeutic waters, a regimen that developed his upper body and offered him increased mobility. Impressed with both the results and the facility Roosevelt purchased the spa in 1926 and the facility still exists today as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. Roosevelt triumphantly returned to public life with his New York gubernatorial victory in 1928, and, in 1932, he was elected to the first of four terms as U.S. president. ********** Despite the demands of his political career, Roosevelt was committed to helping those afflicted by paralysis. On the president’s birthday in 1938, he and his law partner founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (also known as the “March of Dimes”) which, one dime at a time, funded research into the prevention and cure of polio. ********** Barker fell ill with polio in 1931 at the age of 27 and was left seriously crippled. In 1936 at Warm Springs, he was fitted with a device that allowed him to bring his hand toward his mouth. The resulting balanced forearm orthosis was dubbed the “Barker feeder,” in his honor and the innovative instrument served as the prototype for future similar devices. ********** Folded once with light wear and in very good condition. References to polio by FDR are rare.