An "all services" honor guard with President Roosevelt's casket in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 1945.

An "all services" honor guard with President Roosevelt's casket in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 1945. FDR Library

The death of President Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, took the world wholly by surprise. Although those close to him had feared that since his reelection campaign that his time was near, the public was not aware of the seriousness of his condition even though photographs from Yalta showed his physical deterioration. The president secretly left for the Yalta Conference after his inauguration on January 20 and later reported on that trip in a speech to Congress on March 1. Legislators were shocked by his worn and frail appearance. Six weeks later President Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia.

The Ferdinand Magellan train returned the president to Washington on April 14 and his coffin was carried on a caisson in a military procession from Union Station to the White House. At least a 500,000 people watched silently in the hot April sun. The coffin was brought into the East Room where it would remain for about five hours. Hundreds of mourners gathered in the East Room where he lay in state. Thousands more gathered outside along the iron fences. After a simple funeral service the caisson returned to Union Station and the coffin was placed aboard a train to be taken for burial at Hyde Park, New York.


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»  James A. Garfield


»  William McKinley


»  Warren G. Harding


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»  John F. Kennedy




Additional Resources  ›

»  Ceremonial Horses & Funerals [PDF]

»  Modern Mourning Observations


William Seale, The President's House, White House Historical Association, 1986.

Brian Lamb, Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb, C-SPAN, 2000.