April, 1945 – The death of President Roosevelt, April 12, 1945


On  April 12, 1945, the man who led the nation through the Great Depression and the calamitous years of World War II died unexpectedly at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia.  Roosevelt went there to rest before the April 25 San Francisco Conference which would be the founding of the United Nations.  Shortly before lunch as he was sitting in a leather chair signing letters, he slumped forward, lost consciousness and was carried to bed. A doctor was summoned and diagnosed a massive cerebral hemorrhage. At 3:31 p.m. he was pronounced dead.


Roosevelt’s death was greeted with profound shock and grief across the U.S. and around the world. At a time when the press did not pry into the health or private lives of presidents, his declining health was known to the general public.

Roosevelt had been President for more than 12 years, much longer than any other person, and had led the country through some of its greatest crises to the brink of its greatest triumph.

National leaders, editorial writers and cartoonists were virtually unanimous in their praise for a commander-in-chief who had been robbed by death of a victory which was only a few weeks away.

Vice President Harry S. Truman,  a former Missouri farm boy and haberdasher, was sworn in as President in at 7:09 p.m. at the White House by Chief Justice Harlan Stone.

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