Sunday, July 6, 2008

Founding Father Had A Disability

One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had cerebral palsy. Stephen Hopkins was active in Rhode Island politics for more than forty years. He was elected governor nine times. Hopkins was more than just another signer: he was a key leader in the revolution. As he signed, here’s what he said: “Though my hands shake, my heart does not.”

Hopkins is the man wearing a hat standing in the back of the room. You can learn more about him by clicking here.

We all know Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with polio, and dealt with its effects for much of his adult life. What you may not know is just how many of our former Presidents had disabilities of all sorts. There are several.

Here is one of only a few known pictures of FDR in a wheelchair:

There was a feeling in the country if a leader were to have a disability of some sort he would not be fit to hold office because of his disability. Hopefully, we know better now. We have had many examples of leaders with disabilities since FDR's time. From former Alabama Governor George Wallace to
former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, to name just two, we know people can carry out the duties of their elected offices and make important decisions despite their disabilities.

I find it interesting one of our Founding Fathers had a disability, and it took over two hundred years to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act that granted certain rights and protections to an entire group of about fifty million people.

I will have a job as long as disability awareness is a topic we need to address.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.



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