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This Week in AG History -- Sept. 23, 1951

William D. Upshaw, a member of the U.S. Congress, used crutches to walk for nearly six decades — until God healed him.

U.S. Congressman William D. Upshaw (1866-1952), one of the best-known physically disabled American politicians of his era, was healed in a 1951 Pentecostal revival meeting.

Upshaw was a well-known figure in American politics. The Georgia Democrat served four terms in Congress (1919-1927) and was a leading proponent of the temperance movement. He even ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932. His inability to walk without crutches did not prevent him from a life of public service.

Then, near the end of his life, something amazing happened. Upshaw testified that, at age 84, he was miraculously healed on Feb. 8, 1951, in a revival service conducted by Pentecostal evangelists William Branham and Ern Baxter. He was able to walk unassisted for the first time in 59 years, discarding his crutches. His testimony of healing was published 65 years ago in the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Upshaw related the story of the accident that led to his spinal injury and years of disability: “When I was 18 years old I fell on a crosspiece in a wagon frame, fracturing my spine.” After the accident, he was bedridden for seven years, and then for the next 59 years he was able to walk with the aid of crutches.

He longed to be instantly healed. “Every time I prayed to be immediately healed,” he wrote, “the Lord seemed to say to me, ‘Not yet! I am going to do something through you in this condition that could not be done otherwise — leave it to Me!’”

Throughout the years, Upshaw made this his motto: “Let nothing discourage you — never give up.” And he didn’t.

In an era when people with physical disabilities often had very limited opportunities, he became a noted politician and public speaker. When he ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932, he received 81,869 votes. Interestingly, he lost to Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also physically disabled. While Roosevelt hid his inability to walk from the public, Upshaw did not.

Moving to California later in life, Upshaw became vice president and a faculty member of Linda Vista Bible College in San Diego. At age 72, he was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he continued to speak and preach across the nation.

In his 1951 testimony, Upshaw wrote that two years earlier he was healed of cancer on his face after Assemblies of God evangelist Wilbur Ogilvie had prayed for him. With his faith inspired, Upshaw continued to pray for faith to walk unassisted.

Upshaw noted that when he walked into the 1951 Pentecostal meeting where he was healed, he was “leaning on my crutches that had been my ‘buddies,’ my inseparable companions, for 59 of my 66 years as a cripple.” During concerted prayer at the end of the service, the evangelist declared: “the Congressman is healed.” Upshaw recalled that, after the service, “I walked out that night leaving my crutches on the platform, a song of deliverance ringing in my heart in happy consonance with the shouts of victory from those who thronged about me.”

After 66 years, William Upshaw was healed!

Read the article, “84-Year Old Cripple Discards Crutches,” on page 12 of the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Ministry of Tears,” by Arne Vick

• “Tested but Triumphant,” by J. A. Synan

• “The General Council at a Glance”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Glenn W. Gohr

Glenn W. Gohr is the reference archivist at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri.