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Why did President Roosevelt use a wheelchair? 

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President Roosevelt led the United States through two great crises. What were they?

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What are some words that could be used to describe President Roosevelt?


President Roosevelt 

Overcoming a disability

Franklin Roosevelt was President of the United States from 1933 to 1945. During all that time, he used a wheelchair. What happened to him? Let’s read to find out!

When Franklin Roosevelt was just seven years old, he met the President of the United States. The President made a wish for Franklin. “Little man,” the President told him, “I wish that you never become the President of the United States.”

“Why not, sir?” asked Franklin.

“Because many people won’t like you anymore,” said the President.


Luckily for the United States, that wish did not come true. Franklin Roosevelt did become president. He led the country through two very difficult times. In the 1930s, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and the money they had saved. This was called the Great Depression.


Then came World War II. Millions more people lost their lives. Franklin Roosevelt helped Americans get through the Great Depression and World War II.


But let’s get back to the wheelchair.

In 1921, Franklin Roosevelt was 39 years old. One morning, he woke up and started to get out of bed, but he couldn’t move his legs! Would you feel scared? Franklin felt scared. What’s wrong with me? he wondered.

The doctors told Franklin that he had a disease called polio.  In those years, polio was a terrible disease. Many people who got polio never walked again. Franklin often needed help to stand; he could not walk on his own.


Franklin was scared, but he wanted to work! He wanted to work for the government like his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, had done. Theodore had been President of the United States from 1901 to 1909.


Franklin wanted to look strong. He wore braces on his legs and practiced standing up without crutches. He worked hard every day, and he learned an important lesson. “I have polio. It’s a very serious problem, but I can face a serious problem if I have hope and courage.”


In 1933, he was rewarded for all his hard work. The people of the United States elected him President. He would use the lesson of his polio to help other people, too.

As president, Franklin was the leader of the United States and a world leader. People in the United States needed a strong President who could find them jobs and give them hope.


President Roosevelt came into people’s homes on the radio. He talked to them as if he was their friend and neighbor.

These talks became known as ‘fireside chats’. People trusted him when he told them how the government would help them.


Leaders around the world trusted him as well. They needed a strong American President who could help them win World War II.  President Franklin Roosevelt was just that man. He met with them, listened to them, and helped them win the war.

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