Article Image Dr. Phranq Tamburri

"Professor Tamburri's Homework Assignment.... Trump 1.0"

Written by Subject: Politics: Republican Campaigns

"Professor Tamburri's Homework Assignment.... Trump 1.0"

Wendell Willkie -

Wendell Lewis Willkie (born Lewis Wendell Willkie; February 18, 1892 – October 8, 1944) was an American lawyer, corporate executive, and the 1940 Republicancandidate for president. Willkie appealed to many convention delegates as the Republican field's only interventionist: although the U.S. remained neutral prior to Pearl Harbor, he favored greater U.S. involvement in World War II to support Britain and other Allies. His Democratic opponent, incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt, wonthe 1940 election with 55% of the popular vote.

Willkie was born in Indiana in 1892; both his parents were lawyers, and he also became one. He served in World War I but was not sent to France until the final days of the war, and saw no action. Willkie settled in Akron, Ohio, where he was initially employed by Firestone, but left for a law firm, becoming one of the leaders of the Akron bar. Much of his work was representing electric utilities and in 1929, Willkie accepted a job in New York City as counsel for Commonwealth & Southern Corporation (C&S), a utility holding company. He was rapidly promoted, and became corporate president in 1933. Roosevelt was sworn in as U.S. president soon after Willkie became head of C&S, and announced plans for a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that would supply power in competition with C&S. Between 1933 and 1939, Willkie fought against the TVA before Congress, in the courts, and before the public. He was ultimately unsuccessful, but sold C&S's property for a good price, and gained public esteem.

A longtime Democratic activist, Willkie changed his party registration to Republican in late 1939. He did not run in the 1940 presidential primaries, but positioned himself as an acceptable choice for a deadlocked convention. He sought backing from uncommitted delegates, while his supporters, many youthful, enthusiastically promoted his candidacy. As Hitler rampaged through Western Europe in the spring of 1940, many Republicans did not wish to nominate an isolationist such as Thomas E. Dewey, and turned to Willkie. His support for aid to Britain removed it as a major factor in his race against Roosevelt, and Willkie also backed the president on a peacetime draft. Both men took more isolationist positions in the final days of the race. Roosevelt won a third term, taking 38 of the 48 states.

After the election, Willkie made two wartime foreign trips as Roosevelt's informal envoy, and as nominal leader of the Republican Party gave the president his full support. This angered many conservatives, especially as Willkie increasingly advocated liberal or internationalist causes. Willkie ran for the Republican nomination in 1944, but bowed out after a disastrous showing in the Wisconsin primary in April. He and Roosevelt discussed the possibility of forming, after the war, a liberal political party, but Willkie died in October 1944 before the idea could bear fruit. Willkie is remembered for giving Roosevelt necessary political cover in 1940, which allowed the president to aid Britain in her hour of need.


Here are some C-Span videos on Wendell Willkie: