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WATCH: Rare footage shows FDR using a wheelchair
A serendipitous discovery may have turned up the first video of the former president's close-kept secret
 

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt used a wheelchair in private, a secret he and his staff kept hidden until his death.

An Indiana college professor has now uncovered rare footage that appears to show Roosevelt moving in a wheelchair during a visit to the U.S.S. Baltimore, then stationed at Pearl Harbor, in July 1944. Ray Begovich, a journalism professor at Franklin College, said he found the footage by chance in the National Archives while researching an unrelated subject.

In the eleven-second clip, Roosevelt can be seen exiting a doorway and moving along a row of sailors. He's mostly obscured by the men and a banner along a railing in the foreground, but he appears to be seated while moving smoothly along.

A spokesperson for the National Archives told the Associated Press that while it could not "definitively" confirm the footage as the earliest existing film of Roosevelt in a wheelchair, she said that "such footage is certainly rare."

Roosevelt was stricken with polio in 1921, which cost him much of the use of his legs. But the four-term president went out of his way to hide his disability from the public, fearing a backlash from voters.

 
Jon Terbush is an associate editor at TheWeek.com covering politics, sports, and other things he finds interesting. He has previously written for Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, and Business Insider.

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