Today In History: FDR Dies

April 12, 1945


Today in 1945, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away. He was the only president to be elected for more than two terms – he was elected for four. He is best remembered for his leadership during WWII and for instituting the New Deal policies that helped assuage the devastating effects of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt had recently returned from the Yalta Conference. Observers noticed that he was noticeably frail looking. He was set to appear at the founding conference of the United Nations, but he would, tragically, never attend. On March 29, 1945, he traveled to the Little White House at Warm Springs for rest and relaxation. On April 12, he remarked, “I have a terrific headache,” and then passed out in his chair.


His cardiologist, Dr. Howard Bruenn, diagnosed him with a cerebral hemmorhage. Roosevelt died at 3:35 pm. He was only 63 years old.

The following morning, he was put in a coffin and put on a train back to Washington. The train tracks were buttressed by huge crowds, gathered to grieve the president. A funeral was held for him at the White House on April 14, and Roosevelt’s body was then brought to Hyde Park, where he was born. He was buried in the Rose Garden at his Springwood estate.

FDR had contracted a paralytic illness in 1921, believed at the time to be Polio but more likely Guillain–Barré syndrome, which he kept strictly hidden from the public. Most people around the world were totally unaware of his poor health when he died.

Roosevelt is considered one of the country’s greatest presidents, with historians often mentioning his name in league with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

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