The Quick 10: 10 Leaders Who Stuttered

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You’ve probably heard about The King’s Speech, the Oscar contender about King George VI and his struggle against his stutter. A surprising number of leaders have overcome their stammers and gone on to shape history (for better or worse). Here are just a few of them, starting with Queen Elizabeth’s dad.

4. Winston Churchill. There’s been some debate over the years as to whether Churchill’s impediment was a lisp or stuttering. Recent research suggests that he may actually have had both. Whatever it was, Churchill wasn’t outwardly bothered by it, saying, “My impediment is no hindrance.”

5. Louis II the Stammerer.. I would imagine it would be any stutterer’s horror to have the affliction built right into their name, as King Louis II of France did.

6. Theodore Roosevelt. One biographer says Teddy had a “high-pitched, somewhat stuttering voice” though another said he had something “more like a shy palate than a stutter.” Roosevelt worked hard to practice and perfect his speech until whatever it was – stutter or shy palate – was barely detected in his speeches.

7. Claudius. Claudius’ (Roman Emperor from AD 41-54) stutter is now thought to have been part of his Cerebral Palsy, but he once said he exaggerated his ailments in order to appear weaker to his opponents so they wouldn’t murder him.

8. King Charles I, King of England, 1625-1649. One of Charles’ biographers said of him, “In spite of his intelligence and cultivation, Charles was curiously inept in his contacts with human beings. Socially, he was tactless and diffident, and his manner was not helped by his stutter and thick Scottish accent, while in public he was seldom able to make a happy impression.”

9. King James I of England. Charles may have been predisposed to the condition since his father also suffered from a form of stuttering. At the time, people said his tongue was simply too big for his head.

10. Joe Biden. Vice President Joe Biden came out very publicly a few years ago and said that he overcame a stutter after years of childhood teasing, including taunts from his seventh-grade teacher who mocked him in front of the whole class.

February 17, 2011 - 5:59pm
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