Roosevelt Myth - John T. Flynn

The President's Death

The story of any man's decline into disease and death naturally excites the sympathy of the human heart. The illness which caused Roosevelt's death was a personal misfortune. It was, in another sense, a misfortune for those who held power by virtue of his position. But it was an act of immeasurable gravity to involve the nation and, perhaps, the world, in that misfortune. The million young men in our armed forces who were killed or who were crippled, blinded or ruined for life in the war were no less the victims of misfortune and their plight, too, touches deeply the sympathies of the human heart. Did the nation not owe to them too, something, at least to the extent of not throwing away the fruits of their sufferings in order to gratify the ambitions of one man, even though he might be sick and dying?

It is, of course, easy to say that Roosevelt, broken on the wheel of service, was with tremendous courage giving the last ounce of his waning strength in the service of his country. But after all, his country in that critical moment of history was entitled to something more in a leader than the last ineffectual ounces of his strength.

Throughout the war momentous decisions had to be made on military matters. But there were military leaders capable of making them. Once made, they had to be carried out on the field by fighting men. But the moment was close at hand when the decisions to be made were in the field of diplomacy and they would have to be made by Roosevelt himself; and when made would have to be carried out by him in conference with, and to some extent against, our allies.

As I write a judge who is blind is being subjected to proceedings for his removal because, though he may be a good man, he is incapable of discharging his functions. A president, too ill to do more than few hours work a day, whose hands trembled, whose energies were feeble, whose mind was weary and who, at times, was only partially conscious of his surroundings, was not the kind of representative America needed to confront the far more experienced and subtle Churchill and Stalin in the disposition of the affairs of the world. A chief of staff in Roosevelt's condition would have been summarily removed if he did not have the decency to resign. A department head in peacetime as feeble as Roosevelt would have been promptly relieved. Yet this America, so powerful in her economic energies, so tremendous upon the seas, in the air, upon the battlefield, whose might astonished the world, now, in the crucial moment of victory when she would capture or lose the fruits of the victory, put her fortunes into the hands of a drooping, jaded and haggard man, a mere shell, drifting wearily to the grave. But America did not know this.

The people of the United States are generous. We were at war and the President was the leader. A generous and patriotic disposition of the people is to submerge their critical feelings and to give the leader unquestioning loyalty. It was a sin of the first order to take advantage of this generous attitude to deceive the people. There were, to sensitive eyes, obvious evidences of Roosevelt's illness during the campaign for the presidency in 1944, despite all the devices to conceal them. But when the people were told that he was well and strong and active, that "he was in tip-top condition," that he was enjoying "excellent health for a man of his age," that he was a bit tired, to be sure, under the galling burdens of the war—as who would not be—the people believed these untruths. And when these guarantees of his health came from an admiral in the Navy delegated to watch over the President's health, they resented the suggestions of those who told them the truth. They did not suspect that the admiral was, if telling the truth, doing so, as Merriam Smith, United Press correspondent, says in the admiral's defense, in such a way as to be "misleading."

The truth is that Roosevelt was a dying man when he was elected, that many of those around him knew it, that the most elaborate care was exercised to conceal the fact from the people and that the misgivings of those who observed it were justified by events, since he died less than three months after his fourth inauguration. The progress of that illness and the means employed to deceive the people must be examined.

So much speculation followed Roosevelt's death and so much criticism was leveled against his official family that Rear Admiral Ross T. McIntire, his official physician, felt called upon to put in a book his formal apologia. The volume offers a connected account of Roosevelt's illness and pretends to be the candid statement of a man of science. During the campaign of 1944, Admiral McIntire made three public statements that the President was in perfect health. He was severely criticized for this. He was a naval officer employed by the people to watch over the President's health and these statements had the effect of deceiving the employers of the President and of the Admiral—namely the people.

Fairness to McIntire calls for some scrutiny of this charge. He was the President's physician employed by the government in that role. But he was not the President's personal physician in the sense in which one understands that relationship in private life. He was the President's physician but not the President's employee. However, it must be conceded that he could not discharge his functions as physician unless he enjoyed completely the President's confidence about his health. He could not hope to have this and discharge his functions intelligently if he issued statements disclosing the diseases and infirmities from which the President suffered. He would be within his rights, therefore, if, when queried about the President's health, he refused to make any disclosures. However, if it was proper for him to remain silent about the President's ailments, it was equally his duty to his employers—the people—not to issue statements in order to influence the course of a political campaign and advance the political ambitions of the President.

Mr. Merriam Smith, the correspondent who covered the White House for the United Press, says in defense of McIntire that: "To his credit, McIntire never lied about Roosevelt's condition. He told the truth but in language that could easily be misleading." The object of an artfully devised statement that contained technically the truth but which was designed to mislead becomes a grave matter when we reflect that the persons to be misled were the Admiral's employers, the people.

As far as we know, Roosevelt's descent into that condition which took his life began after he returned from the Teheran conference in December, 1943. He went to Hyde Park for the Christmas holidays. There, according to Dr. McIntire, he suffered a brief attack of influenza followed by a bronchial infection. Whatever laid him low that Christmas week, the fact remains that from that time on he spent, until the day he died, less than half his time in the White House. During the year 1944 he was absent from the White House 175 days. Thirty of these were on a trip to the Pacific lasting something over 30 days. There were perhaps two weeks consumed by the campaign. There was less than a week at the Quebec conference. The balance—much over 100 days—were spent at Hobcaw Barony in South Carolina recuperating or at Hyde Park or at a hide-out the President had in Maryland.

We have seen how, following the illness at Hyde Park in Christmas week, 1943, Roosevelt was indisposed continuously until finally doctors called into consultation advised that he go into the sun of the South and he went to Baruch's estate on the ocean in South Carolina, where he spent a full month in an effort to recuperate. And we have seen how, before he returned to the White House, Dr. McIntire put him on a daily schedule which limited him to four hours' work a day, ten hours of sleep at night, an hour and a half for meals in his private room and the balance of the time lying down, getting treatments or resting. This, we must recall, was the essential condition not until he recovered his health, but for the rest of his life if he wished to live—a program suited only to a man in semi-retirement at most. But Dr. McIntire never disclosed this until after Roosevelt's death, and for some strange reason did not even then realize that no man could discharge the grave responsibilities of the war on such a schedule and that the very necessity of such a schedule rendered him incapable of continuing in his high office.

What disease Roosevelt suffered from at Hyde Park and later, that produced such grave consequences, we do not know save upon the statements of Dr. McIntire. Many other doctors were called in to examine the patient, but none of these men has ever made any statements. However, while the illness seemingly began at Hyde Park after the return from Teheran, there is at least some evidence that he was far from sound before that time. Three men have written about the trip to Cairo and Teheran—Dr. McIntire, Mike Reilly, chief of the President's Secret Service guard, and Elliott Roosevelt. The President went to Cairo by sea. But he wanted to fly from there to Teheran. Reilly tells us that Admiral McIntire "did not want to submit some of the members of the party to the rigors of high altitude flight" but that "the President was not one of these members." And McIntire volunteers the information that Roosevelt suffered no discomfort on high altitude flights and had shown no signs of anoxemia when flying at altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet. You might suppose from this Roosevelt was quite a flier. Yet he had never been in a plane since he flew to Chicago for his first acceptance speech 11 years before until he made the trip to Casablanca—his only flight while President before Teheran.

However, Elliott Roosevelt in his book defeats these yarns. He tells how McIntire was worried about Father's projected flight. "I'm serious, Elliott," said McIntire. "I think he could fly only as far as Basra and then go on by train." Elliott wanted to know what height his father might fly, to which McIntire replied: "Nothing over 7500 feet—and that's tops."

Elliott talked to the President's proposed pilot, Major Otis Bryan who, with Mike Reilly, made an inspection flight from Teheran to Basra and back and reported that the trip could be made without going higher than 7000 feet, which, says Elliott, "pleased Father very much." 115 Thus McIntire and Reilly are both caught red-handed misleading their readers. This was before Teheran.

Whatever malady struck Roosevelt down at Hyde Park in December and kept him pretty much out of circulation until nearly the middle of May, 1944, we know that McIntire at that time caused a heart specialist from Boston to be inducted into the service to remain continuously at Roosevelt's side and that this heart specialist, Dr. Howard Bruenn, said a year later at Warm Springs that he "never let Roosevelt get out of his sight," which is a most unusual performance in the case of a patient whose "stout heart never failed him." as Dr. McIntire puts it.

A great mystery surrounded this illness. Secretary Frances Perkins says that all "the cabinet knew about it was that it was not an ordinary cold." As cabinet meetings were skipped "they became concerned." When he did return it was understood that he had had a cold, "perhaps a touch of pneumonia, although one was not told and did not ask." Why this secrecy even with the cabinet? He spent little time in the White House but that fact was not revealed.

All during March he practically disappeared from the news, save once on March 17 when he emerged to call upon the Finns to quit fighting our noble ally Russia. On April 7, he appeared at his office and next day left for Hobcaw Barony for a month's rest. He was examined by two specialists before going there. McIntire says they found "a moderate degree of arteriosclerosis and some changes in the cardiac tracings." Since McIntire brought in a heart specialist as Roosevelt's constant attendant and since it was arteriosclerosis which turned him into an old man who looked ten years older than the 69-year-old Churchill and which killed him a year later, we have a right to assume that the admiral-doctor was not dealing fairly with the American people in the rosy statements he issued about the President's health.

As a matter of fact, Dr. McIntire admits that while he was issuing these misleading statements to the American people, he was talking very differently to Roosevelt in private. He told the President, according to his book: "You may feel fine but you don't look it. Your neck is scrawny and your face is gulled by a lot of lines that have aged you ten years." What did McIntire think had made Roosevelt's neck so scrawny, his face so thin and had imprinted on it those lines that "aged him ten years"? It was certainly not attributable to that "tip-top" condition, that "excellent health" which he was reporting to the public. He had Roosevelt examined by five specialists before he permitted him to leave the Hobcaw Barony retreat and, to be certain, he called in two more.

When Roosevelt did go back to Washington on his four-hour day he spent little time at the White House. He wanted a retreat close by Washington and caused to be built a settlement for himself in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland. There was a large cabin for him, one for the Secret Service guards, a guest cabin, a cottage for the secretaries and staff, a mess hall for the hired help, and a pool. The existence and location of this retreat were never made known. Roosevelt referred to it among the correspondents as Shangri-La. And it was to this isolated hideaway he went to escape the pressing duties of the presidency. It was here, perhaps, unknown to the public, he spent much of his time. This was the condition of the invalided President who was now preparing for a fourth try at the presidency on the theory that he was the only man in America capable of representing us in the peace negotiations and of standing up to the iron man in the Kremlin.

We must recall how, as the Democratic Convention was assembling in Chicago in July, Roosevelt started on his trip to the Pacific, stopping at Chicago to confer with Hannegan and at San Diego to make his acceptance speech. It was the picture taken of him as he spoke at San Diego that shocked the people. McIntire blamed this revealing photograph upon the photographers, as if they had committed some offense in not touching it up to suppress the truth.

We are asked to believe that Roosevelt exposed himself to the "rigors" of this trip as part of his duty as Commander-in-chief. An executive who had been forced to remain away from his desk so long, now absented himself for another month just to inspect troops, hospitals and island bases, far from the only place where, as executive, he could make decisions—namely in Washington where all the military, naval and diplomatic services were centered. His conference with MacArthur and Nimitz lasted only a few hours. This whole trip was a long vacation for Roosevelt, aside from the purely theatrical and incidental emphasis upon the Commander-in-chief out in the thick of the battle-torn Pacific. However, on this trip his appalling physical condition was revealed to the commanders in Honolulu. They were shocked at his appearance, despite the long, restful sea trip. Here for the first time we hear of his conversation falling into intervals of irrelevance. Here at a dinner he sat reading a short speech. Suddenly he faltered and paused, his eyes became glassy, consciousness drifted from him. The man at his side nudged him, shook him a little, pointed to the place in the manuscript at which he broke off and said: "Here, Mr. President, is your place." With an effort he resumed. As he was wheeled from his quarters, officers noticed his head drooping forward, his jaw hanging loosely. He returned to Washington on August 18. It was a long, restful interlude. Yet, though he was mentally refreshed, Merriam Smith, the UP correspondent, said "he was physically tired." But all this was concealed from the voters.

Roosevelt planned to take little part in the campaign because he was unequal to it, but he decided to make a few speeches at Washington, New York, Boston and Chicago and a few short ones at way stations. The speeches at Washington and New York convinced some of the doctors with whom I talked that he was approaching the end of his life. The brain is the control room of the body. From some compartment in that extraordinary instrument-room every part of the body is controlled. The face is one of the most complex muscular organisms in the body. It is capable of performing a great number of complex muscular operations simultaneously—sneering, smiling, wrinkling the brows, moving the eyes, and with the aid of the lips and the tongue, forming our entire vocabulary. And all these several functions are directed from various separate sections of the brain. A specialist looking at such a face in the movies and hearing its speech there or over the air can detect the difficulty or failure with which the brain obeys the commands of the will, the mumbled syllables, and uncompleted words, the flaccid and unresponding facial muscles, all of which signify to the expert that there is a cerebral disturbance of some kind. Physicians, and particularly neurologists, who saw these pictures of Roosevelt or heard his voice over the air predicted he would be dead within a year. But Dr. McIntire seemed to be blind to these warnings. Certainly Sidney Hillman and Henry Wallace knew it. And thus we saw that cabal to seize the Presidency of the United States for Wallace by way of his renomination for Vice-President—a scheme which, with Roosevelt's aid, came very near to success.

Everything that was done in the campaign was designed, while taxing Roosevelt's brain and heart the least, to create the impression that he was well and strong. The speech at the Teamsters' dinner was prepared by Robert Sherwood and was a dramatist's maneuver to cast Roosevelt in the role of a happy, merry, carefree jokester. The trip to New York around the streets was to exhibit him as a rugged campaigner. The rain which drenched it was not planned, but it added to the effect. Of course he sat the entire time in a large limousine, wrapped in heavy furs, with an electric heater under the seat and another at his feet. Whether the rain did him any good or not we cannot say. But it was quite successful in lulling the populace into supposing that the President was hale and hearty.

On election night he was, as usual, at Hyde Park. Merriam Smith writes that as he came onto the porch after the returns indicated the result "he looked older than I had ever seen him and he made an irrelevant speech." At the Nelson House in Poughkeepsie that night the reporters sat around talking politics. Smith says they were "arguing entirely about the chances of his living out his fourth term. Those who believed he would were in the decided minority."

After the election, Roosevelt dropped out of the news for some time. A story is told that shortly before election he had had another one of those lapses of complete consciousness much the same as happened to him at Honolulu. He remained at Hyde Park until November 10 and then dropped out of the news until November 28. That day he went to Warm Springs for another rest until December 23 and then to Hyde Park for the Christmas holidays. Dr. McIntire attempts to convince us that all the trouble stemmed from his refusal to adhere to the semi-retirement schedule worked out for him. From election day to January 1, he was in almost complete retirement. He was not even up to the meager routine prescribed by McIntire.

As the fourth inauguration approached, one or two cabinet meetings were omitted. Secretary Perkins says it was understood the President was very much occupied. As he was about to absent himself for the conference at Yalta, it was assumed he was putting in much time preparing himself. Dr. McIntire remonstrated with him, but he says Roosevelt would not listen. Dr. McIntire kept in mind the advice that if his patient wanted to live he could work only four hours a day. It did not occur to him, apparently, that if he wanted to be President he could not do that.

The day before the inauguration a cabinet meeting was held. Secretary Perkins says Roosevelt didn't look well. His clothes seemed too big for him, his face was thin, his color gray, his eyes dull. Everyone in the room sensed it and felt they must not tire him. After the cabinet meeting, Miss Perkins asked to see him. She had told him she intended to retire and had packed her papers for departure. She wanted a farewell talk. As she entered his room "he looked awful." He had the "pallor, the deep gray color of a man who had been long ill." He sat in an office chair with his hands to his head as if to hold it up. The two hour cabinet meeting had wrecked him. His hands shook. He begged her piteously not to leave the cabinet yet. As she left she whispered to an attendant to bring his chair and to make him lie down. She tells how she went to her office frightened. She called her secretary to her office and closed the door. She said: "Don't tell a soul . . . I can't stand it. The President looks horrible. I am afraid he is ill." Some days later Henry Wallace's wife told Frances Perkins that she too was frightened. They agreed to keep quiet about it.

The spectacle of this dying man was naturally enough to crush a woman who was among his oldest friends, who had had great honors at his hands and who was devoted to him. It was enough to frighten her. But this man was about to be sworn in, within 24 hours, as President of the United States for another four years. It was this gray and fading ghost of a man who was about to be re-endowed with the authority and duty of going, within 48 hours, to meet the grim and resolute dictator of the Russians to rearrange the affairs of the world.

He left for Yalta the day after the inauguration. On the way over he was confined to his room. He was, as we have seen, unable to have any conferences with Mr. Byrnes, who was going as his adviser. He emerged from his room only for meals or a movie to which he was wheeled. Yet McIntire says he "reached Yalta in fine fettle."

Pictures taken there and published shocked the nation. It was all the fault of the photographers, says McIntire. But why didn't the same pictures reveal Churchill, seven years older, and Stalin, two years older than Roosevelt, as gray, wan and ill? When the conference ended, Roosevelt started home. McIntire said: "Vital was the word for Roosevelt." He described the President on the way home as spending most of the day with Sam Rosenman in the "drudging business" of preparing his speech to Congress. But the UP reporter Smith said he spent much of the day sitting on the deck in the sun, playing solitaire and reading detective stories.

McIntire admits that while delivering the Yalta speech, Roosevelt exhibited signs of fatigue. When it was over he went to Warm Springs to rest. But he was planning more trips—more grueling trips, as McIntire thought of them when he was interested in explaining Roosevelt's rugged life. He planned to go to San Francisco for the inaugural meeting of the United Nations and then on to the Pacific and into China. Obviously there was no important duty of the presidency that required him to go to the Pacific or to travel in China. His duties were at home. But these trips, despite the ballyhoo, were planned as escape voyages, expedients to avoid the drudgery of the Presidency which he was utterly incapable of facing, long restful days on shipboard in rest, idleness and sleep.

Roosevelt got to Warm Springs on March 30. On April 12 he was dead. But his doctors never flagged in their determination to exhibit him as a well man. McIntire says that by April 5 he "was feeling fine." Yet on that very day the correspondents, admitted to his cottage when he was receiving President Osmena of the Philippines in a purely formal call, described him as being in a sad way.

His hands shook "more than ever," which implies that they habitually trembled but this day worse than before. He could hardly get a cigarette out of the package because of this trembling. Smith writes that in the last six months his hearing had become gravely affected and that his voice, once so strong that it could shake the windows, was now so thin that he could not always be understood.

Yet when he died and the reporters reached his cottage, Dr. Bruenn's first words were: "He'd been feeling fine. He was awfully tired when he first came down here. But you saw him the other day (April 5)—wasn't he in fine spirits?" Smith answered: "Yes, he was in fine spirits. But he didn't look healthy." Only his doctors seemingly were blind to that fact.

Admiral McIntire in his book bears down heavily on the terrible ordeal of travel to which Roosevelt was subjected. After describing the trips and shrewdly exaggerating their rigors, he says: "I submit that a sick and failing man could not have withstood these journeys, calling for mental and physical effort."

The doctor plays upon the average reader's conception of travel as he does it himself—rushing for trains, standing in line for tickets, jostling depot crowds. The President didn't travel that way. Without a thought about arrangements, his limousine took him to a specially constructed private station, then into his wheel-chair and onto an elevator built into the private car fitted with a large staff and every luxury. The car was specially built for him and presented by the railroads whose managers he loved to castigate as economic royalists. Then to a great war vessel specially outfitted with ramps and elevators for him at the cost of a hundred thousand dollars or more and with a numerous staff to answer his every call. These trips, involving long days on the ocean and only a few days at the destinations, afforded him time for complete rest and sleep in his cabin and on the deck in the sun. No sick man could ask for a more delightful form of rest—ten days across the Pacific and as many back, doctors watching over him, masseurs to give him exercise without any effort on his part, every whim anticipated and satisfied. The chief purpose of the long trips was rest. He might have flown, as he did to Casablanca, but the long ocean voyages were chosen as restoratives and not as harrying drafts upon his energies.

One of the rumors about Roosevelt that had wide currency was that he had had a heart attack or a stroke. McIntire writes: "The President never had a stroke, never had a serious heart condition and never underwent other operations than the removal of a wen and the extraction of an infected tooth." Similarly Mike Reilly, head of his Secret Service detail, writes: "I will swear on everything I love or believe that the Boss never had a heart attack and that he was never seriously ill in the ten years that I worked for him until the day he died."

Let us scrutinize these statements. I think it is true that Roosevelt never had a heart attack. As to having a stroke, that is another matter. The word "stroke" has a technical meaning. It may be used to describe an extensive cerebral thrombosis or clot in one of the important vessels of the brain, or a hemorrhage by rupture of a vessel—and cause death or paralysis in some part of the body. However, a man in Roosevelt's condition could suffer a condition that would be less serious—a blood vessel spasm which produces a sudden and transient semi-unconsciousness, such as Roosevelt had at the dinner in Honolulu and which only those very close to him perceived. He had a similar condition in the White House in the presence of an eminent visitor only a few days before the New York campaign trip. This would be called, not a stroke, but a cerebral vascular spasm. In the case of a cerebral hemorrhage a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain occurs, flooding the adjacent tissues and putting out of business the sections thus affected and hence paralyzing the functions of those areas of the body served by the flooded portions.

If sufficiently severe or continuous it will produce death. An intermittent claudification or cerebral occlusion is the result not of a rupture but of the narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain—usually with lime deposits—diminishing the flow of the blood or shutting it off entirely to a section of the brain for a moment or two or even a few minutes and producing an interval of mental vagueness or semi-consciousness or full unconsciousness until the spasm ceases and the blood resumes its course. It is similar to what is known as angina pectoris in which the vessels supplying the heart are shut off or occluded. But the heart cannot go without blood for more than two minutes without death and such attacks as Roosevelt suffered in the brain from cerebral occlusion would have been fatal in the heart.

Roosevelt may not have had a stroke, but he certainly suffered more than once a cerebral occlusion as distinguished from a hemorrhage. He may not have had an anginal attack but he did have something that threatened his heart, that produced a rapid physical deterioration and that led Dr. McIntire to put him for more than a year under the constant surveillance of a heart specialist.

Admiral McIntire puts much faith in a series of check-ups, some of which he publishes in his book and which, he assures us, revealed Roosevelt in a generally sound organic condition. But of what value were these check-ups when before his eyes his patient was gradually withering away, losing weight, growing pallid, drifting occasionally into irrelevance in his talk, becoming ever more listless and glassy-eyed? Everybody who came near Roosevelt saw this. Reporters commented on it. Miss Perkins was horrified at his inauguration.

Ed Flynn, his campaign manager, writes that he had noticed Roosevelt's mental deterioration before his election for a third term, his delayed reactions for instance. Merriam Smith noticed his trembling hands, his halting speech, his irrelevant talks, his weak voice.

There is in fact no escape for the men immediately around Roosevelt. He was utterly unfit for his high office long before the election. He was dying slowly at first, rapidly later. And at his side as his chief adviser was another dying man—Harry Hopkins. Hopkins had had a portion of his stomach removed for ulcers and what was known as a gastro-enterotomy performed. After this his liver troubled him and the gall bladder failed to supply satisfactorily the essential bile necessary to digestion. He depended on tablets to supply bile by mouth. A second operation was performed and an attempt made to remedy the condition. Cancer of the plyorus was the most likely diagnosis, but it was never found, and the final opinion was that he actually died of sprue. At any rate, after the second operation he was slowly starving to death and sitting at times in a condition when he was only half conscious of his environment.

These two dying men, floating slowly out of life, were deliberately put into power through a fourth-term election by a carefully arranged deception practiced upon the American people and upon some, at least, of the party leaders. Here was a crime committed against a great nation which had made tremendous sacrifices and against the peace and security of the world in a moment of the gravest danger. History will pronounce its verdict upon all who were guilty.

After Roosevelt's death a whole train of rumors began to circulate about the causes. And these rumors still persist. He was stricken at 1:15 P.M. and died at 4:35 P.M. Dr. McIntire was immediately notified of the stroke in Washington and he, Mrs. Roosevelt and Steve Early left at once by plane for Warm Springs, arriving there at 11 P.M. They immediately decided to have no autopsy. The body was consigned to its coffin and orders issued not to open it. It was taken from Warm Springs next morning at 9 o'clock. It reached Washington next day—the 14th—and after lying for a few hours without ever being opened was taken that night to Hyde Park for interment next day.

It has been the custom in the past for the remains of deceased Presidents to lie in state in the Capitol. This was not done. Present in the cottage when the President was stricken were the artist, Mrs. Schoumatoff, who was painting his portrait, his two cousins, his valet and several others. The artist, a Russian, was ordered to leave at once. She took train without delay and was not located until two days later at Locust Valley, L. I. Being a Russian, weird stories that the President had been shot were built upon this circumstance. Other tales are to the effect that he shot himself, that he took poison or was poisoned and still another that he drove to the top of a nearby cliff and off to his death and that the body was reclaimed and brought back into the house, that the undertaker when he arrived found a bloody bandage on his head, and so on.

There is, of course, no truth in these stories. There were three persons in the room when the President suffered the final cerebral hemorrhage. His Negro valet saw him immediately after and carried him to his room. Later Dr. Howard Bruenn, Dr. James Paullin and Major George Fox, his masseur were at his bedside and at one time Mike Reilly was there. There were three in the room when the President died. There is no reason whatever to suppose that the circumstances and cause of his death were not precisely as they have been officially described. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage caused by arteriosclerosis which had been slowly progressing during the preceding year and a half. The stroke was merely the final episode of an illness which had manifested every usual symptom and which was concealed from the American people.

Admiral McIntire is not the first physician to get himself into a stew about his distinguished patient and find it necessary to write a book in his own defense. At St. Helena the British government provided its illustrious prisoner, Napoleon I, with a physician. He was Dr. Francesco Antomarchi, a Corsican, who however, did not seem particularly fond of his fallen countryman and who failed signally to win Napoleon's confidence. Dr. Antomarchi persisted to the end in the belief that his royal patient was not seriously ill. Napoleon convinced himself that his physician did not know what he was doing and that the medicines he was prescribing were actually injuring him. Napoleon watched his chance and when the doctor's back was turned, handed the mixture just prepared for him to an aide who swallowed it and was immediately taken with a violent internal disturbance. The Emperor denounced Antomarchi as an assassin. Dr. MacLaurin, who has written interestingly of this case, observes that from the symptoms now known to be present and even in the then state of medical knowledge at that period, the veriest blockhead would have known that the Emperor was seriously ill. Napoleon died shortly after the incident described above of cancer of the stomach. In this case, instead of passing up the autopsy, Antomarchi performed one himself in order to prove that there were no symptoms present to inform him of the presence of cancer and he wrote a book upon the subject.

Roosevelt died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage resulting from a progressive arteriosclerosis which Dr. McIntire says he did not observe and he insists that medical knowledge has not advanced to the point where an impending cerebral hemorrhage can be forecast. He tells us he discussed the matter with many excellent pathologists and that he has yet to find one willing to say "that one can tell when a man will have a cerebral hemorrhage or when he will not." A careful analysis of this statement makes it very clear that the doctor is depending upon the hurried reading which the casual person will give his words. Of course few doctors will say they can tell "when" a man will have a cerebral hemorrhage and "when" he will not. That is not the point. Few doctors can tell how long the blood vessels will hold out against the strain put upon them in cases of arteriosclerosis. They cannot forecast the time when a hemorrhage will occur. But they can tell that a man will have such an attack at some unpredictable time, and they can make a reasonable estimate of the so-called prognosis. They cannot, as the doctor artfully infers, say that it will not happen tomorrow or next week or next month. But they can say that the conditions making for such a disaster at some undetermined time are present.

Even in January, 1944, the doctors found what McIntire called a "moderate degree" of arteriosclerosis. And it is certain that this was the disease which produced the stroke of April 12, 1945. And it is certain that there were obvious, even to casual observers, evidences of great deterioration both physically and mentally—the trembling hands, the loss of weight and the shocking emaciation, the terrible fatigue, the lack of ability to coordinate the muscles of the face, the intervals of irrelevance in the talk, and more than one instance of cerebral occlusion. Certainly there was something critically wrong with this patient and certainly he died from the very disease and cause which doctors who merely saw Roosevelt occasionally or in the pictures or heard him over the air predicted he would. McIntire, like Antomarchi, wrote a book about his patient and his death, but unlike Antomarchi he did not perform an autopsy. An autopsy might have disclosed other prior attacks.

It is not merely a question as to the disease that ended Roosevelt's life. Roosevelt's death is not the serious point. After all, when a president dies there is a vice-president to succeed him. The serious offense lay in palming off upon the country a hopeless invalid, by McIntire's own account incapable of discharging the duties of the presidency in a great and terrible national emergency.