Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    FDR writes in 1927, "...I, myself, have been on crutches for the last five years..."

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed.
    -January 19, 1927. New York City. One page. 7" x 10.5". Vice President Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland letterhead.
    -To: Major Renato Tittoni, Headquarters of the United States Marine Corps.
    -Folds, light toning, paper clip impression at top, else near fine.

    FDR writes to a former military acquaintance from his days as assistant navy secretary, in full, My dear Major Tittoni:/ It is good indeed to see your smiling face on the card which you were good enough to remember us with and I trust that all goes as well as it looks!/ As you know I, myself, have been on crutches for the last five years and some day we must meet and swap experiences./ Mrs. Roosevelt joins me in cordial greetings./ Very sincerely yours..." Roosevelt's mention of his personal experience in battling poliomyelitis makes this a very desirable missive.


    More Information:

    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.

     

    An extremely rare example of FDR writing about his personal experiences of battling poliomyelitis to a former military acquaintance when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Woodrow Wilson Administration, on  one page, quarto, Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland letterhead Major Renato Tittoni, Headquarters of the United States Marine Corps in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 1927. FDR writes: "My dear Major Tittoni:/ It is good indeed to see your smiling face on the card which you were good enough to remember us with and I trust that all goes as well as it looks!/ As you know I, myself, have been on crutches for the last five years and some day we must meet and swap experiences./ Mrs. Roosevelt joins me in cordial greetings./ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." FDR offers a rare and candid assessment of his own battle with poliomyelitis during the past five years in this 1927 letter to Major Tittoni, focusing on his own continuing battle to walk again, conceding to his old military acquaintance the fact that he is still on crutches five years after his contracting poliomyelitis. This admission to Major Tittoni occurred at a time when FDR was on the precipice of making his return to the political world. Shortly after FDR wrote this letter to Major Tittoni he started receiving significant pressure from Alfred E. Smith and other Democratic Party leaders to run for Governor of New York, and he finally agreed in 1928. FDR campaigned energetically and buoyantly, partly to dispel the persistent rumors of weakness and poor health. Although Smith lost his home state to Herbert Hoover in the Presidential contest by 100,000 votes, FDR won his own race by a narrow margin. This letter is one of the rarest examples of FDR's own admissions of his continuing need to use crutches as he was emerging back into the world of politics that is currently in existence. What makes this letter so wonderful is that FDR almost never talked about his own feelings, least of all about the impact of paralysis on him; but contracting poliomyelitis was clearly one of the most important events of his life. His determination to hide his condition from those around him probably strengthened what was already his natural inclination to dissemble, to hide behind an aggressive public geniality, and to reveal as little about himself as possible. Eleanor Roosevelt later claimed that poliomyelitis also gave him patience and increased his understanding of "what suffering meant." The ordeal certainly made him more serious and determined, and gradually he transferred his steely new resolve away from his efforts to walk and toward an attempt to resume a public career. In an address given by FDR as President, six years later at Thanksgiving dinner in Warm Springs, November 30, 1933, FDR stated: "You have all heard a lot about the story of Warm Springs. In those old days, in the spring of 1926, everything depended on the way the experiment was started and, as you all know, it wasn't just a question of medical care, it isn't just a question of the exercises we all take, but it is a question of the spirit of Warm Springs, and there is nobody in this room now who is more responsible for the spirit of Warm Springs than our old friend, Dr. Leroy W. Hubbard." In 1926, having observed that other patients, who too, thought they had benefitted by their sojourns at Warm Springs, FDR invited Dr. LeRoy W. Hubbard, orthopedic surgeon of the New York State Health Department, to come down and take a professional look. Dr. Hubbard observed twenty-three patients for periods of from five to seven weeks each between June and December of 1926. At the close of the session, a detailed report of each case was sent to three prominent surgeons, all of whom had sent patients to Warm Springs. Each patient seemed to improve, and some showed marked improvement. That convinced the man from Hyde Park. His dream of a center for after-care of poliomyelitis at Warm Springs has been growing – now professional opinion gave sinews to the dream. With four other men whose interest he obtained, he formed the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit institution. The incorporators were FDR, George Foster Peabody, Basil O'Connor and Louis McHenry Howe. Major Renato Tittoni was born in Rome, Italy, on June 10, 1882 and met FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt when FDR was Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Woodrow Wilson Administration. A one of a kind, rare, fascinating and personally revealing letter.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 344

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 February 22 - 23 Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential &  Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential & Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $648,838