Roosevelt's Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War

9 Nov

Roosevelt's Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War

Roosevelt's Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War

Richard Moe

Language: English

Pages: 0

ISBN: 1522669663

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"In Roosevelt's Second Act Richard Moe has shown in superb fashion that what might seem to have been an inevitable decision of comparatively little interest was far from it." ―David McCullough

On August 31, 1939, nearing the end of his second and presumably final term in office, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was working in the Oval Office and contemplating construction of his presidential library and planning retirement. The next day German tanks had crossed the Polish border; Britain and France had declared war. Overnight the world had changed, and FDR found himself being forced to consider a dramatically different set of circumstances. In Roosevelt's Second Act, Richard Moe focuses on a turning point in American political history: FDR's decision to seek a third term. Often overlooked between the passage and implementation of the New Deal and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, that decision was far from inevitable. As the election loomed, he refused to comment, confiding in no one, scrambling the politics of his own party; but after the Republicans surprisingly nominated Wendell Willkie in July 1940, FDR became convinced that no other Democrat could both maintain the legitimacy of the New Deal and mobilize the nation for war. With Hitler on the verge of conquering Europe, Roosevelt, still hedging, began to maneuver his way to the center of the political stage. Moe offers a brilliant depiction of the duality that was FDR: The bold, perceptive, prescient and moral statesman who set lofty and principled goals, and the sometimes cautious, ambitious, arrogant and manipulative politician in pursuit of them. Immersive, insightful and written with an inside understanding of the presidency, this book challenges and illuminates our understanding of FDR and this pivotal moment in American history.

















Hutchins, the chancellor of the University of Chicago, as his vice president. After making the case for him, Ickes added, “I say also that if Hutchins does not appeal to you, I would feel honored to be considered as your running mate.”5 “Dear old Harold,” the president chuckled as he read it. “He’d get fewer votes even than Wallace in that convention.”6 More calls from Chicago arrived in the Oval Study during the afternoon. Speaker Bankhead, angry that he had been passed over for the vice

he abetted the prevailing policy of appeasement in Europe that he so loathed. “Unwilling to throw his weight into the balance,” biographer James MacGregor Burns wrote, “the President was still confined to a policy of pinpricks and righteous protest.”12 The “pinpricks” included a telegram to Hitler on September 27, suggesting a conference of interested nations to resolve the current crisis, although Roosevelt was quick to add that the United States could not participate in such a gathering nor

their spirit are secure and unafraid. … There is a great storm raging now, a storm that makes things harder for the world. And that storm is … the true reason that I would like to stick by these people of ours until we reach the clear, sure footing ahead. We will make it—we will make it before the next term is over … When that term is over there will be another President and many more Presidents in the years to come, and I think that, in the years to come, that word “President” will be a word to

chose this moment to resume his correspondence with Roosevelt, initiated by the president the previous September. It would represent the beginning of his long and relentless courtship of the president, convinced as he was that only America could provide the weaponry and other material goods that Britain would need to survive the greatest threat it had seen since the Spanish Armada appeared on the horizon 350 years earlier. Instead of identifying himself as “Naval Person,” as he had in his earlier

thousand planes a year to fifty thousand. Whether this number was any more carefully calculated than a similar number he had floated to his advisors the previous November is not known, but there can be little doubt that his intention now was the same as the one that General Marshall had suspected then: it was the president’s way of getting critical aid to the Allies. “I ask the Congress not to take any action which would in any way hamper or delay the delivery of American-made planes to foreign

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