"Did President Roosevelt know that he was an ill man?"
Roosevelt Knew Death Near, Friends Declare (Editor's Note: The author of the following special feature has been chief of the White House staff of the United Press since before Pearl Harbor. He has accompanied accompanied the late president on all of his domestic inspection trips, his visits to Quebec and Hawaii, all of his fourth-term campaign tours, and met him in North Africa after Yalta.) By Merriman Smith (Copyright, 1945, by United Press.) WARM SPRINGS, Ga., April (UP) -- Did President Roosevelt know that he Â·was an il'. man and that the time had come to husband his strength? Many of us Â·who saw him often and travelled with him believe did. There was nothing wrong with him organically. But the tremendous tremendous pressure of the toughest job on earth had begun to take its in nervous energy. This was first noticeable last year after the Teheran conference. For two months he suffered from sinus trouble and bronchitis, and it was then that he decided to to Bernard M. Baruch's estate near Georgetown, S. C., and fight it out for himself. Fights for Campaign He was fighting more than bronchitis. bronchitis. He was, I think, trying to decide whether he was able to through the rigors of another presidential presidential campaign. He thought he had won. He took it easy in Carolina for a month and came back to Washington, confident that he was in tip-top shape. But he did not snap back as used to do. His voice was weaker. his tan faded faster and he began spending almost every week-end the restful atmosphere of Hyde Park. Then came the fourth-term campaign, campaign, a terrific physical beating. He spent hours touring cities in open car, often in miserable weather. He delivered a speech at Ebbets Ebbets field in Brooklyn standing bare-headed in a cold, driving rain. Next day at Hyde Park he laughed at those in his party who had sniffles and told them he felt fine. But the Yalta conference was ahead of him and that trip, I was a serious drain on his vitality. It was probably the hardest 10 days he ever went through in his life. On the ship coming back I saw more of him than I had seen in the same length of time. seemed he had aged ten years in ten days. He sat all day in the i sun on the boat trip back. He lost \veight. but he refused to take it seriously, said he would gain it ; back at Warm Springs. Reports On Health On March 1 he made this on his own health in his speech ! to congress on the Yalta conference: conference: I "I hope you will pardon me for the unusual posture of sitting during the presentation of what I wish to say. but I know you realize that it makes it a lot easier for me not having to carry about 10 pounds of steel around the bottom bottom of my legs and also because of the fact that I have just completed completed a 14.000-mile trip. * * I am returning from this trip that took me f a r , refreshed and inspired. I was well the en- tire time. Was not ill for a second until I arrived back in Washington and here I heard all the rumors which had occurred in my absence. absence. Yes. I returned from the trip refreshed and inspired. The Roosevelts are not. as you may suspect, averse to travel. "We seem to t h r i v e on it." That was the first time he ever had referred publicly to his affliction affliction of infantile paralysis. It also was the first time he had taken official notice of rumors that swept the country occasionally--especially occasionally--especially when he was r u n n i n g reelection--that he was seriously or. in extreme cases, that he had : died. Last fall some of the people a r o u n d him became concerned about his loss of weight and his slowness in snapping back from periods of fatigue. One of the jobs assigned to his daughter. Mrs Boettiger, was to see that he was protected as much as possible from persons who placed a drain upon his time and energy. Vice Admiral Ross T. Mclntire. his physician ordered Mr. Roosevelt to quit holding holding conferences- at luncheon. That lasted for about three months and then the president went back to his practice of discussing affairs of state while he ate from a tray his desk. However, he did agree to take a nap afterwards--a big concession from a man who liked to work at top speed all day. Reporters Note Change Reporters who attended his press conferences noticed a change. His voice used to boom through the office as he answered our questions. questions. Toward the end his voice was low. at times almost inaudible to those far back in the room. His hearing had become impaired by sinus trouble and after many days of hard work his hands had a tendency to tremble. Perhaps he noticed these things himself, for he began to get away from Washington at more frequent intervals. Just before coming here Mr. Roosevelt had been to Hyde Park where he always seemed able to relax.