December 19, 2008: Barry Cauchon


The Roosevelt dime was first issued in 1946, the year after FDR's death in 1945.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States who was elected to four consecutive terms in the White House. He became President in 1933 and served until the beginning of his 4th term when he died in office on April 12, 1945. During his entire presidency, Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down due to polio. What many people do not know is that he contracted the disease in August, 1921 (a full 12 years before he became President). Roosevelt, his family and staff did an amazing job to conceal his paralysis from the public and many citizens never even knew that he suffered from the affliction. However, this did not stop him from looking for a cure.


A rare picture of Roosevelt in a wheelchair. Very few were taken of him this way.

After he became President, Roosevelt  regularly spoke on behalf of finding a cure for polio and encouraged people to go out and collect on its behalf. He believed that if every person in the country donated just one dime, a cure could be found for the disease. He founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (which would later be called the March of Dimes due to his ‘dime collection’  program).

Roosevelt was conscious of the financial stress that the country had been under due to the Great Depression, so he encouraged the people of the United States to donate just one dime to the cause. He reasoned that if everyone in the country donated just one dime, it would help to find the cure. And his efforts paid off. The funds from the March of Dimes program were used for research that eventually lead to vaccines which completely wiped out polio throughout most of the world.

Alas, Roosevelt did not live to see the success of his campaign as the cure was not be found until 10 years after his death. Interestingly, on April 12, 1955, on the 10th anniversary of FDR’s death, Jonas Salk announced to the world that a cure for polio had been found and they would shortly begin inoculations using the new vaccines. By 1957, inoculations had begun and the fight to eradicate polio was on.

So why is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s image on the face of the US dime (10 cent piece)?
After Roosevelt’s death, the US Mint and US Government decided to commemorate his life on a coin. The reason the dime was chosen was two fold. First, the country wanted to honor the late President by remembering that he had served his country for 12 years and successfully brought them through the Great Depression and World War II. The second reason was to celebrate his efforts to find a cure for polio through the March of Dimes campaign.

Another writer put it this way. 

And that is the reason Franklin is on the dime. He’s not on the twenty-dollar bill, or something fancy. He’s on the dime. He’d love that, because a dime is something everybody can have in their pocket. It’s not a thousand-dollar bill, it’s the dime. And it connects him to polio and to the March of Dimes, which is still doing all this amazing work for spinal cord injury today all over the world. Franklin created the March of Dimes. And so his legacy is just huge”.





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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Chase woke up asking about all of the people on coins this morning. A nice little story about the dime.

  2. Very interesting article on the dime and on one of the greatest Presidents!!

  3. Good piece. Short to, the point, and full of interesting facts. Thank You

    • Hi Arnold. Thanks for your nice comment. I appreciate it very much.

  4. Thanks for celebrating this great achievement in polio eradication. However, there is still no cure, however, for polio — an important distinction from prevention. The vaccine prevents polio very effectively and only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern Nigeria have endemic polio now. Vaccine workers have been killed by extremists there….an uphill battle in the final stages of eradication. Thanks again for your article.

  5. The Roosevelt dime was based on Selma Burke’s plaque. She was an artist and member of the Harlem Renaissance.

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