8 Presidents Who Fell Ill While in Office

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Grover Cleveland

When Cleveland has his medical issue while serving his second term as president, he chose to hide the fact from the American public. The country was in the thralls of a depression and Cleveland was concerned that any negative diagnosis of the president might send Wall Street, and the country at large, into a panic. So a plan was hatched to deal with his problem in secret.

In the summer of 1893, he noticed a little bump on the roof of his mouth. It wouldn’t be long before that bump turned into a lump and his doctor soon diagnosed it as cancer. In order to have the tumor secretly removed, Cleveland announced that he would be going on a four day fishing trip a friend’s yacht, the Oneida.

On board the yacht was of team of six surgeons, who performed the surgical procedure in 90 minutes, successfully removing the tumor along with about five teeth and a large part of the president’s upper left jawbone. One journalist, E.J. Edwards, would publish a story at the time but was quickly discredited and ruined. It would be 24 years before one of the doctors present, William Williams Keen, would publish an article explaining what really happen, vindicating Edwards.


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Woodrow Wilson

If the reports from the doctors are to be believed, COVID-19 poses no threat to the health or life of president Trump, the same could not be said for Wilson as during the devastating Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, it nearly cost him his life. A fact that his doctors would lie about his health, which wouldn’t be the last time as the following year his doctors tried to conceal the fact he had suffered a number of strokes.

Wilson was in Paris engaged in sensitive negotiations with world leaders at the Paris Peace Talks when he contracted the deadly flu. As the presidents health grew increasingly worse his aides became increasingly worried about his condition. Contracting this deadly disease that would go on to kill an estimated 20 million worldwide, Wilson contracting it would have a knock on effect that many historians argue cost several more million lives.

The negotiations he was involved in were concerning the demilitarization of the Rhineland and French occupation of it for at least 15 years. Many believe that due to his poor health he just agreed to French leader Georges Clemenceau demands. This decision would lead to the Treaty of Versailles which many Germans felt was too harsh and may have directly (or indirectly) contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the outbreak of WWII.



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