When it comes to expedited aging, it doesn’t get much more dramatic than that of American presidents. Pictures of President Barack Obama’s aging went viral when he emerged looking haggard at his last State of the Union Address.
While Obama has had a tumultuous and historic eight years, it’s hard to compare his lot to the man who spent 12 years in office and weathered both the Great Depression and World War II: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Even beyond his record 12 years in office, Roosevelt’s presidency was unique in many ways. He rode a wave of support based on his New Deal policies to pull the nation out of the worst economic hole the country had ever seen. He expanded government in previously unheard of, often controversial, ways.
He was also the man in charge when Pearl Harbor rocked the nation — and he reacted with one of the country’s most egregious — and too often forgotten — human rights violations. Finally, he was one of three men responsible for protecting the world from Nazi domination. And he did this all while suffering from polio.
With all that in mind, it’s easy to understand how photos of Franklin Roosevelt aging across his presidency are so striking. He went from the man in the above photo, when he entered office in 1933, to the man below in just 12 short, but very bad years.