Franklin Delano Roosevelt was arguably the greatest President of the United States of America. His leadership took this country out of a great depression, into prosperity and face first into the most brutal war the world had ever known. However, he felt that his abilities as a leader would be tarnished in the public eye if they knew he was disabled so he had a technique around it.
In 1921 Franklin Roosevelt contracted polio and lost most of the use of his legs. He felt that Americans would view less of his if he was not a physically capable President, so his ailments were kept secret. However, a reclusive President can also not be trusted so he took special measures to create the illusion of strength when he made public appearances.
When President Roosevelt began his day, assistants would put on his leg braces in order to keep them locked to create the illusion of standing. The braces were colored black and they were always covered with low hanging black pants as well as black socks and black shoes so they all blend to the untrained eye. Photographers had special agreements with the secret service to ensure that FDR was not photographed upon leaving vehicles more going towards stages.
Walking in public was a very physically demanding task for President Roosevelt but he developed a technique. He walks with a cane and holds the arm of an assistant then moved his upper body weight forward to create a stepping motion. The whole process in motion can be seen in this clip detailing FDR’s public appearances.