The President of the United States may well be the most powerful person on the planet, but none are immune to the power of the mighty microbe. This blog is the first in a series on how microbes have impacted the lives and decisions of many Presidents and ultimately shaped American history. From George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and into modern times, microscopic organisms may well be the real commander-in-chief. Here are a few of the many examples of Presidents vs Microbes.

Washington caught Smallpox at the age of 19. He battled chills, aches, fever and vomiting. Unlike millions who died from this deadly virus over the centuries, Washington recovered within a month. But smallpox left our 1st President pock-marked for life. Washington went on to defeat the British in the American Revolutionary War, and he would have been proud to know the country he helped found would later play a primary role in defeating smallpox. A worldwide vaccination program in the 1960s and 1970s eradicated smallpox. For more on how smallpox influenced the decisions of George Washington and the course of the American Revolution, read our upcoming blogs in this Presidents vs. Microbes series.

FDR was another celebrated President who was dealt a microbial blow. At the age of 39, he suffered from polio and became paralyzed. Although confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, it did not prevent FDR from leading a life of public service and holding the office of President longer than anyone in history. He became a symbol of perseverance and strength.

Other Presidents weren’t as lucky. To read about how microbes killed another President and how they are effecting the current Presidential election, stay turned for more Presidents vs. Microbes blogs.