Two of America’s best-loved Presidents have filled the annals of history with great oration, innovative governing and decisions that would affect generations to come. They shared not only a last name but also a love for the state of Georgia.
In this two-part series, we will explore both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt’s affiliations with and affections for the state of Georgia. Today, President Franklin Roosevelt.
Franklin Roosevelt- A Georgia History:
Unlike Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt’s association with Georgia began not through his ancestors, but directly from Franklin himself. After contracting polio in August of 1921, Roosevelt sought therapies that could help him overcome his paralysis. Columbus, Georgia native and Democratic party power player George Foster Peabody urged Roosevelt to visit Warm Springs, Georgia. On October 3, 1924 Roosevelt arrived in Warm Springs for the first time. Over the next 21 years Mr. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs on over 40 occasions staying for extended periods of time.
Commercial air travel from Atlanta to New York with service by Eastern Air Transport began on December 10, 1930 with an inaugural flight including then- New York Governor Roosevelt, Georgia Governor-elect Richard B. Russell, U.S. Senator Walter George (Georgia), and Ernie Pyle.
May 22, 1932 Roosevelt addressed the Class of 1932 at Oglethorpe University just outside of Atlanta where he delivered stirring commentary on the state of the economy and where graduates fit in, saying, “We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!”
He returned to the state a few months later on October 25, 1932 and at a campaign stop at Union Station in Atlanta saying, “This is a day I shall never forget. I will see the eager faces and the lighted eyes of my fellow Georgians as long as I live. There are no words that can describe how I feel. I can just only imagine. I am deeply and everlastingly grateful to the people of this great state. I am proud to call it home.”
On March 4, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt took office at the nation’s 32nd president. Eight months later, on November 18, 1933, Roosevelt traveled to and spoke in Savannah in celebration of the 200 year anniversary of the establishment of Georgia. Saying there that, “I am glad to be back on Georgia soil. I am hurrying to Warm Springs with special interest, for I shall find there a splendid new building, given to the cause of helping crippled children by the citizens of the State of Georgia.”
While President, Roosevelt continued his visits between New York, Washington D.C. and Warm Springs. In April of 1936, an F4 tornado plowed through downtown Gainesville, causing catastrophic damage. On April 9, Roosevelt stopped in Gainesville on his way from Washington D.C. to Warm Springs noting the “great loss of life that has occurred here.”
FDR was instrumental in continuing the habitat of Georgia’s wildlife, creating two National Wildlife Refuges in the state- Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in 1937 and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in 1939.
Roosevelt’s final years in officer were involved more with the United States relationships with other nations involved in World War II. He continued to visit his home in Warm Springs and on April 12, 1945 FDR collapsed at his desk there, dying a short time later.
Following his death, his body would make one last trip through Georgia as his funeral train brought his body from Warm Springs through Atlanta on its way to Washington D.C.
See President Franklin Roosevelt’s History in Georgia:
Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site- Located in Warm Springs, this home is where Roosevelt lived when in Warm Springs and where he died. It is currently operated as a museum by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge- Located on the Florida-Georgia border, the Refuge is made up of 402,000 acres which offer visitors boating, hiking and fishing.
Union Station- Located over the tracks on Spring and Fosyth Streets before being razed in 1972, Union Station was the smaller of Atlanta’s two train stations and serviced several passenger rail companies. Today, Underground Atlanta sits on much of the old Union Station site. Click here to see images of the station.
Oglethorpe University- The campus of Oglethorpe University is located in the new city of Brookhaven. It’s gothic campus contains the Crypt of Civilization which contains a time capsule that was sealed in 1940 and is set to be opened in 8113.
Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is a digital marketing professional based in Atlanta who first visited Georgia in 1994 and decided that when she graduated from college she would make Georgia her home. Since 2007 that dream has been a reality. She is the founder and executive director of Occupy My Family.