WENDELL LEWIS WILLKIE (born LEWIS WENDELL WILLKIE; February 18, 1892
– October 8, 1944) was an American lawyer and corporate executive,
and the 1940 Republican nominee 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
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
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 German forces under
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 vital political assistance in 1940, which allowed the president to aid Britain in its time of crisis.
* 1 Youth, education and World War I service
* 2 Lawyer and executive (1919–39)
* 2.1 Akron attorney and activist
* 2.2 Commonwealth his grandparents were involved in the
unsuccessful 1848 revolutions in
Although given the first name Lewis, Willkie was known from childhood
by his middle name. Herman Willkie, who had come from Prussia with
his parents at age four, was intensely involved in progressive
politics, and in 1896 took his sons to a torchlight procession for
Democratic presidential candidate
William Jennings Bryan
By the time Willkie reached age 14 and enrolled in Elwood High School, his parents were concerned about a lack of discipline and a slight stoop, and they sent him to Culver Military Academy for a summer in an attempt to correct both. Willkie began to shine as a student in high school, inspired by his English teacher; one classmate said that Philip "Pat" Bing "fixed that boy up. He started preaching to Wendell to get to work and that kid went to town." Faced with a set of athletic brothers—Edward became an Olympic wrestler—Willkie joined the football team but had little success; he enjoyed the debate team more, but was several times disciplined for arguing with teachers. He was class president his final year, and president of the most prominent fraternity, but resigned from the latter when a sorority blackballed his girlfriend, Gwyneth Harry, as the daughter of immigrants.
During Willkie's summer vacations from high school, he worked, often
far from home. In 1909, aged 17, his journey took him from Aberdeen,
South Dakota , where he rose from dishwasher to co-owner of a
flophouse , to
Yellowstone National Park , where he was fired after
losing control of the horses drawing a tourist stagecoach . Back in
Elwood, Herman Willkie was representing striking workers at the local
tin plate factory , and in August journeyed with Wendell to Chicago in
an attempt to get liberal attorney
After graduation from Elwood High in January 1910, Willkie enrolled
Indiana University in Bloomington . There, he became a student
rebel, chewing tobacco , reading Marx , and petitioning the faculty to
add a course on socialism to the curriculum. He also involved himself
in campus politics, successfully managing the campaign of future
Paul McNutt for student office, but when Willkie ran
himself, he was defeated. He graduated in June 1913, and to earn money
for law school, taught high school history in
Willkie enrolled at Indiana School of Law in late 1915. He was a top
student, and graduated with high honors in 1916. At the commencement
ceremony, with the state supreme court present, he gave a provocative
speech criticizing his school. The faculty withheld his degree, but
granted it after two days of intense debate. Willkie joined his
parents' law firm, but volunteered for the
United States Army
LAWYER AND EXECUTIVE (1919–39)
AKRON ATTORNEY AND ACTIVIST
Discharged from the army, Willkie returned to Elwood. He considered a
run for Congress as a Democrat, but was advised that the district was
so Republican he would be unlikely to keep the seat even if he could
win it, and his chances might be better in a more urban area. Herman
Willkie wanted Wendell and Robert to rejoin the family law firm, but
Henrietta was opposed, feeling that opportunities in Elwood were too
limited for her sons. She got her way, and in May 1919 Wendell Willkie
successfully applied for a job with the Firestone Tire and Rubber
Willkie became active in the Akron Democratic Party, becoming
prominent enough while still with Firestone to introduce the
Democratic presidential nominee,
After leaving Firestone in 1920, Willkie joined leading Akron law
firm Mather & Nesbitt, which represented several local public
utilities . Although he quickly gained a reputation as a leading trial
lawyer, he was especially noted for presenting utility cases before
COMMONWEALTH & SOUTHERN EXECUTIVE
Wendell and Edith Willkie moved to New York in October 1929, only
weeks before the
Wall Street Crash of 1929
At C Willkie was brought in to help try important cases or aid in the preparation of major legal briefs . Cobb, a pioneer in the electricity transmission business, had presided over the 1929 merger of 165 utilities that made C&S the largest electric utility holding company in the country. He promoted Willkie over 50 junior executives, designating the younger man as his successor. In January 1933, Willkie became president of C&S.
Willkie maintained his interest in politics, and was a delegate to
1932 Democratic National Convention . Since the incumbent
Soon after taking office, President Roosevelt proposed legislation
Tennessee Valley Authority
Negotiations took place through the remainder of 1933 for C&S to sell assets, including a transmission line, to allow the TVA to distribute energy to retail customers, leading to an agreement on January 4, 1934. TVA head David Lilienthal was impressed by Willkie, who left him "somewhat overwhelmed" and "pretty badly scared". C&S agreed to sell some of its properties in part of the Tennessee Valley, and the government agreed that the TVA would not compete with C&S in many areas. In October 1934, holders of securities issued by a C farmers were told by corporate representatives that lines from the new Norris Dam could not carry enough power to make a light bulb glow, and the company ran "spite lines" that might not even carry power in an effort to invoke the non-compete agreement over broad areas. Willkie testifying before a congressional committee, 1939
Through 1935, as the breakup legislation wound through Congress, and litigation through the courts, Willkie was the industry's chief spokesman and lobbyist. When the Senate narrowly passed a bill for the breakup, Willkie made a series of speeches asking the public to oppose the legislation, and a storm of letters to congressmen followed. After the House of Representatives defeated the breakup clause, investigation proved that many of these communications were funded by the electric companies, signed with names taken from the telephone book , though Willkie was not implicated. Amid public anger, Roosevelt pressured Congress to pass a bill requiring the breakup to take place within three years.
In September 1936, Roosevelt and Willkie met again at the White House, and a truce followed as both sides waited to see if Roosevelt would be re-elected over the Republican, Kansas Governor Alf Landon . Willkie, who voted for Landon, expected a narrow victory for the Republican, but Roosevelt won an overwhelming landslide as Landon won only Maine and Vermont. In December, a federal district court judge granted the C&S companies an injunction against the TVA, and negotiations broke off by Roosevelt's order as the litigation continued. Willkie took his case to the people, writing columns for major publications, and proposing terms for an agreement that The New York Times described as "sensible and realistic". He received favorable press, and many invitations to speak.
The January 1938 Supreme Court ruling in Alabama Power Co. v. Ickes,
resolving the 1934 case, and the lifting of the injunction by an
appeals court, sent the parties back to the negotiating table.
Willkie kept the public pressure on: like most corporate executives,
he had not spoken out against Roosevelt's
Willkie and Lilienthal negotiated for a year, with Willkie wanting $88 million for C&S's properties in and around the Tennessee Valley, and the TVA offering $55 million. After a final, January 1939, legal defeat for C&S in the Supreme Court, the pace of the talks quickened, and on February 1, 1939, C"> Willkie on the cover of Time magazine , July 31, 1939
On the assumption Roosevelt would not seek a third term, Willkie had
been spoken of as a possible Democratic presidential candidate as
early as 1937. He raised his stock considerably when on January 3,
1938, he debated
Assistant Attorney General
Willkie never had any doubt that Roosevelt would run for a third term, and that his route to the White House would have to be through the Republican Party. In late 1939 he changed his registration from Democratic to Republican, and early in 1940 announced that he would accept the Republican nomination if it were offered to him. He blamed his allegiance shift on the Roosevelt policies that he deemed anti-business. He had voted for Landon in 1936, he said, and he felt that the Democrats no longer represented the values he advocated. As he later characterized it, "I did not leave my party. My party left me."
The start of the war in September 1939 alarmed many Americans, but
the majority thought the U.S. should not get involved. Willkie spoke
often about the threat to America and the need to aid Britain and
other Allies. Willkie biographer Steve Neal wrote that the war
"transformed Willkie from a big-business critic of the
His failure to enter primaries did not greatly disadvantage Willkie
because most were "beauty contests" serving only to show voter
preferences and not to elect delegates. The primaries were governed by
a complex set of unwritten rules about who would enter which primary
and Taft ran only in his native Ohio, where Dewey did not enter his
name. Most delegates pledged to support a candidate were not strongly
committed: what was important to most Republicans was to field a
nominee who could beat Roosevelt. The run-up to the June convention in
For further information on the procedures of American political conventions, see United States presidential nominating convention .
1940 Republican National Convention
Willkie arrived by train in
The opening night of the convention saw the keynote speech by Governor Stassen; he subsequently announced his support for Willkie and became one of the candidate's floor managers. The second night featured a speech by the only living former president, Herbert Hoover, who hoped to stampede the convention to a third nomination. His address went almost unheard in the hall because of problems with the sound system. In the meantime, the Dewey campaign, faced with the German announcement that with France taken, Hitler's forces would sail on Britain, did its best to stem the flow of delegates to Willkie. Negotiations among Dewey, Taft, and Vandenberg came to nothing because none would accept less than the presidential nomination. A blaze of publicity followed Willkie wherever he went, as he caucused with delegates and appeared at press conferences with supporters, including the entire Connecticut delegation. A strong minority of African Americans still supported the Republicans, and Willkie met with a group of them, urging those delegates to visit him in the White House in 1941.
Indiana Congressman Charles Halleck gave the nominating speech for Willkie on the evening of June 26, arguing that Willkie's recent conversion to the Republican Party was no reason not to nominate him, "is the Republican Party a closed corporation? Do you have to be born into it?" When Halleck mentioned Willkie's name, there were initially boos from some delegates, but they were quickly drowned out by those in the public balconies, who thunderously chanted, "We want Willkie!". Pryor had cut ticket allocations to delegations that were not for Willkie, and distributed thousands of standing room passes to Willkie partisans. The vocal support for Willkie among spectators led to complaints that other campaigns had been shorted in the distribution of tickets, but provided one of the convention's most dramatic moments.
Dewey had predicted he would have 400 of the 501 votes needed to be
nominated on the first ballot and he kept nothing in reserve so that
he might show momentum in future ballots. When delegates first
balloted on the afternoon of June 27, he had only 360 to 189 for Taft,
105 for Willkie, and 76 for Vandenberg. On the second ballot, Dewey
began to slip, falling to 338 to Taft's 203 and 171 for Willkie. The
losses greatly damaged Dewey's campaign, because other than the
trivial losses suffered in the early rounds of balloting by Warren G.
Harding in 1920, no Republican candidate had ever lost support from
the previous ballot and won the nomination. Dewey came under pressure
from his advisors to withdraw during the dinner break that followed
the second ballot, and when the convention resumed to chants of "We
want Willkie!" from the packed galleries, Dewey continued to slip as
the convention became a two-horse race between Taft and Willkie.
Listening by radio from his hotel room, Willkie refused to make a deal
to get support from Taft delegates in exchange for making the Ohioan
his running mate, and became convinced he would lose on the fifth
ballot. Dewey had planned to go to the convention and withdraw, hoping
to stop Willkie by endorsing Taft, but by the time he decided this,
the fifth ballot was about to begin and he could not get to the Civic
Center in time. Willkie led with 429 delegates after the fifth ballot,
while Taft held 377 and Dewey only 57. The large states whose votes
still were not committed to one of the two leaders were Pennsylvania
(Governor Arthur James was the favorite son) and Michigan, most of
whose delegates stayed with Senator Vandenberg. Although Willkie had
thus far refrained from making deals, to get Michigan he agreed to
allow the Republican organization there to pick that state's federal
judges. The sixth ballot, held at 12:20 am on June 28, saw Taft, then
Willkie take the lead. As those in the gallery continued to call for
Willkie, Vandenberg released his delegates, most of whom went to
Willkie. Pennsylvania also broke for him, making Willkie the
Republican nominee for president on a vote that was made unanimous.
Willkie (right) with running mate
Willkie had offered the vice presidential nomination to Connecticut
Raymond Baldwin , a key supporter, but scuttled those plans
after his advisors and Republican officials felt that a New
York-Connecticut ticket would not give sufficient geographic balance .
They urged Willkie to select the
Senate Minority Leader , Oregon's
Democracy and our way of life is facing the most crucial test it has ever faced in all its long history; and we here are not Republicans, alone, but Americans, to dedicate ourselves to the democratic way of life in the United States because here stands the last firm, untouched foothold of freedom in all the world.
GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN
Willkie formally accepts his nomination at a ceremony in Elwood, Indiana August 17, 1940
After the convention, Willkie returned to New York. When he went to the movies, he received a standing ovation, as he did when he went to see the play Life With Father . He resigned from C Willkie was supportive of the transfer, though he felt Congress should act, and opposed Roosevelt sending armaments to Britain by executive order . "Willkie for President" poster
Conservatives and isolationists had little enthusiasm for the Willkie
campaign, and the moderates wanted to see stronger positions on
progressive issues and foreign policy. Publisher
On September 12, Willkie began a whistle-stop tour by train, and
between then and November 2, he reached 31 of the 48 states. He did
not visit the
With polls released on October 6 showing Roosevelt well ahead,
Willkie began to sound an isolationist theme, accusing Roosevelt of
being a warmonger. Many of Willkie's speeches to that point had been
on domestic issues, but he had been advised by Martin, Hamilton, and
other advisors that the war was the issue the voters really cared
about. Willkie began to argue that Roosevelt would not keep the U.S.
out of war, but that he would. He was given room to make this argument
by the United Kingdom's increasing success in the
Battle of Britain
Willkie concluded his campaign on November 2 with a large rally at New York's Madison Square Garden . Polls showed him four points behind Roosevelt, but with a trend towards the Republicans. Many pundits expected a tight race. On Election Day, November 5, 1940, the returns were initially encouraging, but quickly turned against Willkie. By 11 pm, radio commentators were reporting that Roosevelt had won a third term. Willkie received 45 percent of the popular vote to Roosevelt's 55 percent. The president received 27.2 million votes to Willkie's 22.3 million, and won 449 to 82 in the Electoral College . Willkie won 10 states to the president's 38 though he did better than Hoover and Landon had against Roosevelt. Willkie's popular vote total of 22,348,480 set a record for a Republican not broken until Eisenhower in 1952.
The endorsement of CIO head
John L. Lewis
ACTIVIST AND STATESMAN (1940–43)
VISIT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM
Roosevelt asked Willkie to serve as his informal envoy in Britain.
Although defeated in the election, Willkie had become a major figure on the public scene, and at age 48, was deemed likely to remain one for years to come. Landon had received some 6,000 letters commiserating with him in his defeat; Willkie received over 100,000. Financially independent, he was in no hurry to decide among the many offers of employment from top law firms and major corporations. He resumed his affair with Van Doren.
While on vacation, Willkie decided his next cause should be military aid to embattled Britain, and announced support of the president's Lend-Lease program on January 13, 1941. Lend-Lease was highly unpopular in the Republican Party, and Willkie's announcement created a firestorm, with Landon and Taft decrying his actions. Former RNC chairman Hamilton wrote that of the almost 200 Republican members of the House and Senate, "Willkie couldn't dig up ten friends if his life depended on it."
Roosevelt, both appreciating Willkie's talents, and seeking to divide
and conquer his opposition, had been mulling over ways his former
opponent might be of use. The president's onetime advisor, Justice
Willkie visited the president at the White House for the first time
as an ally on January 19, 1941, the evening before Roosevelt\'s third
swearing-in . The president asked Willkie to be his informal personal
representative to Britain, and Willkie accepted. Eleanor Roosevelt
recorded that family members and White House staff found excuses to
observe Willkie, and she would have done so herself had she been aware
of the visit as it was happening. Roosevelt urged Willkie to see W.
Averell Harriman and
Harry Hopkins , both in London on missions from
Roosevelt, and gave his former rival a letter to be hand-delivered to
the British prime minister,
Upon arrival, Willkie told the press, "I want to do all I can to get
the United States to give England the utmost aid possible in her
struggle". Willkie saw the damage Nazi bombing had inflicted on
Britain, visiting bombed-out sites in London,
Although it was cut short by Roosevelt's desire to have him testify before Congress on Lend-Lease, Willkie's visit to Britain was deemed a triumph. Willkie also went to Ireland, hoping to persuade Éamon de Valera to abandon neutrality, but his urging was unavailing. Willkie left London for Washington on February 5; because of the risk of being shot down by Nazi aircraft, the roundabout journey home took four days. He testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 11, and his support was key to passing Lend-Lease.
Willkie's Senate testimony made him the leading interventionist outside the government, with Lindbergh (who had testified against Lend-Lease) the leading isolationist, and they debated in the pages of magazines. Roosevelt weighed in, backing his former opponent in a radio address on March 29. "The leader of the Republican Party himself—Mr. Wendell Willkie—in word and in action is showing what patriotic Americans mean by rising above partisanship and rallying to the common cause." That same month, a Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of Americans believed Willkie would have made a good president.
In April 1941, Willkie joined the New York law firm of Miller, Boston, and Owen as a senior partner, with the firm changing its name to Willkie, Owen, Otis, Farr, and Gallagher . Two months later, he agreed to represent motion picture producers before a Senate subcommittee which was investigating claims that Hollywood was producing pro-war propaganda. Willkie defended the rights of the studios to make films that reflected their views, and warned, "the rights of the individuals mean nothing if freedom of speech and freedom of the press are destroyed." Congress took no further action.
In late 1941, Willkie fought for the repeal of the Neutrality Act .
In September, Lindbergh accused American
Willkie with Admiral Sir
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor , Willkie offered his full
support to Roosevelt. Willkie was interested in the post of war
production czar, but that position went to
Donald M. Nelson . Labor
Secretary Perkins offered to have Willkie arbitrate between management
and labor in war industries, but Willkie declined after White House
officials informed the press. In early 1942, Willkie considered a run
Governor of New York
According to Dunn, Willkie's mission was to be Roosevelt's personal
representative, "demonstrating American unity, gathering information,
and discussing with key heads of state plans for the postwar future".
After leaving the U.S. on August 26, Willkie's first stop was in North
Africa , where he met General Montgomery and toured the front at El
Alamein . In
We both came in amity,
Wartime allies of the KMT
While you were feted at the seat of honor
I was fettered in this penal horror.
Diplomatic affections may run hot and cold,
Such is the way of the world,
Or as the French say, C'est la vie,
All waters flow down to the sea.
Ho Chi Minh
While in the USSR, Willkie urged the opening of a second front against the Germans; when reporters asked Roosevelt about those comments, the president responded flippantly by saying that he had read the headlines but had not considered the speculative comments worth the reading. This angered Willkie, and on his return from his 49-day trip, he confronted Roosevelt about it when making his report at the White House.
On October 26, 1942, Willkie made a "Report to the People", telling Americans about his trip in a radio speech heard by about 36 million people. The following April, he published One World , a book Van Doren edited, in which he recounted his travels and urged America to join a worldwide organization after the war was successfully concluded. The book was an immediate bestseller, selling a million copies in its first month. It was especially influential because Willkie was seen by many as having transcended partisan politics.
CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISM
During his 1940 campaign, Willkie had pledged to integrate the civil
service and armed forces, and proudly pointed to what he deemed the
strongest civil rights plank in history in the Republican platform. He
also promised to end racial segregation in Washington, D.C. He gained
the endorsements of the two largest African American newspapers, the
Willkie warned Republicans that only a full commitment to equal rights for minorities would woo African Americans back to the party, and he criticized Roosevelt for yielding to Southern racists among the Democrats. Willkie addressed a convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1942, one of the most prominent politicians to do so up to that point. He urged integration of the armed forces, and when a violent race riot broke out in Detroit in June 1943, he went on national radio in order to criticize both parties for ignoring racial issues. When the movie hearings of 1941 ended without further action, Willkie had been made chairman of the board of Twentieth-Century Fox . In 1943, he worked with Walter White , executive secretary of the NAACP, to try to convince Hollywood to give blacks better treatment in films. Movie moguls promised changes, and some films featured blacks in major roles, but faced with objections from white Southerners, they reverted to giving blacks stereotyped roles after Willkie's death in 1944, such as servants. After his death, the NAACP named its headquarters the Wendell Willkie Memorial Building.
On November 9, 1942, soon after making his reports to Roosevelt and
the American people, Willkie argued the case of Schneiderman v. United
States before the Supreme Court. William Schneiderman, secretary of
the California Communist Party, was a naturalized American until the
government revoked his citizenship, stating that he had concealed his
membership on his application for naturalization in 1927. Two lower
federal courts upheld the denaturalization. Representing a communist,
even in wartime, did nothing to shore up Willkie's diminishing support
in the Republican Party, but he wrote to a friend saying, "I am sure I
am right in representing Schneiderman. Of all the times when civil
liberties should be defended, it is now." In his argument Willkie
quoted Lincoln and Jefferson by saying that the people could, if they
deemed it necessary, remake the government, and he stated that Marx's
view of revolution was mild by comparison. In 1943, the Supreme Court
ruled for Schneiderman, 5—3, restoring his citizenship. Although
Willkie refrained from criticizing Roosevelt's internment of Japanese
Americans , he stated in a speech that war was no excuse for depriving
groups of people of their rights. He spoke out against those who
Willkie spent much of 1943 preparing for a second presidential run,
addressing Republican and nonpartisan groups. He did not meet with
Roosevelt; with the presidential election approaching and with both
men likely to run in it as candidates, their continued association
would have been awkward. Although they differed with him on many
issues, Republican leaders recognized Willkie's appeal and they had
wanted him to campaign for the party in the 1942 midterm elections,
but he went around the world instead. The huge publicity received by
the titular head of the Republican Party as an emissary for a
Democratic president frustrated leading Republicans. In spite of
this, the Republicans gained seats in both the House and the Senate ,
though they still remained in the minority. Few Republican members of
Congress were by then willing to support Willkie, and he dropped to
second place behind General
Willkie made his candidacy clear in an interview with Look magazine
in early October 1943, arguing that a return to isolationism would
lead the party to disaster. He decided to enter several presidential
primaries in order to demonstrate his public support of the party, and
On March 16, his first day of campaigning in Wisconsin, Willkie made
eight speeches, and the pace took a toll on his voice. The weather did
not cooperate, and he travelled 200 miles (320 km) through a blizzard
to reach a rally in the northern part of the state. Willkie attracted
large crowds in most places, and he told them that the Republican
party would fail unless it accepted the
I quite deliberately entered the
FINAL MONTHS AND DEATH
Willkie's home in Rushville, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993
Defeated in his second bid for the White House, Willkie announced
that he was returning to the practice of law, but his friends doubted
that he would be content there. Roosevelt was anxious to dump Vice
President Wallace from the ticket in his bid for a fourth term, and he
had an intermediary sound out Willkie about running in Wallace's
place. Willkie was reluctant even to respond, knowing that Roosevelt
had made promises to potential running mates which he did not follow
through on. There were further discussions between Willkie and the
White House, of which third parties were aware though the details are
not known; the vice presidential nomination went to
Harry S Truman
In spite of their breach, Roosevelt continued to try to conciliate
Willkie. Roosevelt's son Elliott later stated that his father hoped to
have Willkie be the first
Secretary General of the United Nations
Willkie had long been neglectful of his health and diet, smoking
heavily, and rarely exercising. His heavy drinking had charmed the
Willkie's condition only worsened as the weeks went on. He went to New York by rail in mid-September, but on the trip he was stricken with another heart attack. Although his advisors told him to seek treatment and abandon the trip, Willkie pressed on. When he arrived in New York, Willkie was in great pain and his press secretary called an ambulance to take him to Lenox Hill Hospital . He recovered to some extent, enough so that his friends expected him to be discharged. He spent time working on the galleys of his second book, An American Program, and planned future projects. On October 4, Willkie caught a throat infection , which was treated with penicillin. As he was recovering, Willkie's now chronic heart attacks struck again and he suffered three more attacks on October 7. The hospital, which had been issuing reassuring bulletins to the public, was now forced to inform the public that Willkie's condition had worsened and that he was critically ill. The next morning, Willkie suffered one last attack which proved fatal. From the time he checked into Lenox Hill Hospital, he was said to have suffered over a dozen heart attacks.
Roosevelt released a statement applauding Willkie's "tremendous
courage" which "prompted him more than once to stand alone ... In this
hour of grave crisis the nation loses a great citizen." War Secretary
Stimson offered to have Willkie buried in Arlington National Cemetery
, but Edith Willkie wanted her husband to be buried in his native
Indiana, at Rushville. His casket was placed in the center aisle of
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church ; 60,000 people filed by his
casket, and 35,000 crowded around the church during the service,
including many blacks—as,
LEGACY AND REMEMBRANCE
Plaque dedicated to Willkie outside the main branch of the New York Public Library
Soon after the 1940 convention, Roosevelt described Willkie's
nomination as a "Godsend to our country", because it ensured that the
presidential race would not turn on the issue of aid to Britain.
Walter Lippmann believed Willkie's nomination to have been crucial to
Britain's survival, "second only to the Battle of Britain, the sudden
rise and nomination of Willkie was the decisive event, perhaps
providential, which made it possible to rally the free world when was
almost conquered. Under any other leadership but his the Republican
party in 1940 would have turned its back on Great Britain, causing all
Historian Hugh Ross argued that in gaining the nomination, Willkie
"gave exceptional promise of being a winner. There were ample
precedents from American political history in which a minority party,
queasy over prospects for survival, bypassed professional leadership
in order to entrust its political fortunes to a man without political
experience. In most of the previous instances, the nomination had gone
to a military man. In 1940, it went to a businessman."
Richard Moe ,
in his book on the 1940 election, suggested that the nomination of
Willkie left long-lasting scars on the Republican Party, with
conservatives angered by the success of its Eastern Establishment
wing; "whatever else it did,
Correspondent and author Warren Moscow wrote that after 1940, Willkie helped Roosevelt, who was always careful not to go too far in front of public opinion, "as a pace-setter with the President's blessing". Willkie's global trip and the publication of One World increased public support for the idea that the United States should remain active internationally once the war was won, and should not withdraw into a new isolationism. Indiana University president Herman B Wells noted that One World "has had such a profound influence on the thinking of Americans". Zipp noted, "He launched the most successful and unprecedented challenge to conventional nationalism in modern American history ... He urged to imagine and feel a new form of reciprocity with the world, one that millions of Americans responded to with unprecedented urgency."
His advocacy came at a cost to his standing in the Republican Party. According to Moscow, "his appeal for the party to be the party of the Loyal Opposition, supporting the President, was treason to the diehards; his trip around the world marked him as a Presidential agent seeking to infiltrate the Republican Party". This decline was accelerated as it became apparent that Willkie was a liberal, standing to the left of Roosevelt and proposing even higher taxes than the president was willing to stomach.
In 1965, Indiana University completed Willkie Quadrangle, a 11-story undergraduate residence hall, on the Bloomington campus that was named after Willkie.
In 1992, the
United States Postal Service
Though he never became President, he had won something much more
important, a lasting place in American history. Along with Henry Clay
, William Jennings Bryan, and
* State of the Union , play believed to be based on Willkie's presidential run.
* ^ At the time, more commonly known as Convention Hall * ^ Stassen was then deemed the "Boy Wonder" of the Republican Party; at age 33, he was constitutionally too young to seek the presidency. Age would not in future restrain him from running for president; he would seek the Republican nomination so many times and with so little hope of winning that he became a national joke. See Peters , p. 75
* ^ Ellsworth, Barnard (1966). Wendell Willkie, Fighter for
Freedom. University of Massachusetts. p. 8. ISBN 0-87023-088-3 .
* ^ A B C D E F G Madison, James H. (February 2000l). "Willkie,
Wendell Lewis". American National Biography. Retrieved November 5,
* ^ Peters , p. 25.
* ^ Neal , p. 2.
* ^ Neal , p. 3.
* ^ A B Neal , pp. 4–5.
* ^ Neal , pp. 6–7.
* ^ Neal , p. 7.
* ^ Peters , pp. 26–27.
* ^ Neal , pp. 8–12.
* ^ Neal , p. 13.
* ^ Neal , pp. 17–19.
* ^ Neal , pp. 17–18.
* ^ Peters , p. 30.
* ^ A B Peters , pp. 30–31.
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