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Did FDR use cocaine before his “Infamy” speech?

Right now you are probably thinking that this is a ridiculous question. Actually, it’s not.

There is a good chance that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was given cocaine before his famous “Day of Infamy” speech.

On December 7th and 8th, FDR was suffering from a severe sinus infection. His doctor and friend Ross T. McIntire was with him to treat the problem.

Dr. McIntire’s intent was to improve his patient’s ability to breathe by decreasing the swelling of nasal mucosa without causing crusting.

It is not known exactly what procedure was that McIntire used to decrease swelling in the President’s nose. He was seen using cotton swabs, and it is likely that he also irrigated the sinuses by putting a needle up the nose and injecting saline into the sinus cavity.

At the time, it was common for doctors to use cocaine in these treatments. Cocaine was illegal for recreational use in the United States, but it was legal in medical treatments. Cocaine would shrink the tissue, giving the patient quick relief. It also numbed the area making the insertion of the needle less painful.

Again, we do not know for certain whether or not Dr. McIntire used cocaine when treating FDR’s sinus infection, but we know that he received medical treatment to ease his suffering during his “Day of Infamy” speech.

If he had used cocaine, it would have been highly diluted, most likely not having any noticeable affect or measurable impact on the President. Furthermore, it is believed that if FDR used cocaine he would not have been told.

There are two reasons why President Roosevelt would not be told of the treatments. First, it was common to not tell patients who were administered cocaine, in the belief that by not telling them they would be less likely to become addicted.

Second, being a sensitive topic, Dr. McIntire would not have wanted to expose his friend to any political controversy.

We may never know whether FDR used cocaine. But we do know that it was a great speech.

Category: History

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