1940 Democratic National Convention

The 1940 Democratic National Convention was held at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois from July 15 to July 18, 1940. The convention resulted in the nomination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term. Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace from Iowa was nominated for Vice President.

Despite the unprecedented bid for a third term, Roosevelt was nominated on the first ballot. Roosevelt's most formidable challengers were his former campaign manager James Farley and his Vice President, John Nance Garner. Both had sought the nomination for the presidency and soundly lost to Roosevelt who would be "drafted" at the convention. Henry Wallace was Roosevelt's preferred choice for the Vice-Presidency. His candidacy was opposed vehemently by some delegates, particularly the conservative wing of the party which had been unenthusiastic about Wallace's liberal positions. Nonetheless, Wallace was ultimately nominated with the votes of 59% of the delegates.[1]

1940 Democratic National Convention
1940 presidential election
Roosevelt and Wallace
Date(s)July 15–18, 1940
CityChicago, Illinois
VenueChicago Stadium
Presidential nomineeFranklin D. Roosevelt of New York
Vice Presidential nomineeHenry A. Wallace of Iowa
Total delegates1093
Votes needed for nomination547 (majority)
Results (President)Roosevelt (NY): 946 (86.32%)
Farley (NY): 72 (6.57%)
Garner (TX): 61 (5.57%)
Tydings (MD): 9 (0.82%)
Cordell Hull (TN): 5 (0.47%)
Results (Vice President)Wallace (IA): 626 (59.3%)
Bankhead (AL): 329 (31.17%)
McNutt (IN): 68 (6.44%)
Others: 32.5 (3.07%)
Eleanor Roosevelt addresses Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois. July 18, 1940
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt speaking on the final day of the convention

Democratic candidates

By late 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt's plans regarding a possible third term in 1940 affected national politics. A Republican leader told H. V. Kaltenborn in September 1939, for example, that Congressional distrust of the president was a cause of the controversy over revising the Neutrality Acts of 1930s. The politician, who supported selling weapons to Britain and France, claimed that Roosevelt could "regain the complete confidence of Congress and the country" by announcing that he would not run for a third term. An unnamed Roosevelt advisor said, however, that doing so would reduce the president's influence on Congress and the Democratic party. Roosevelt would not announce his intentions until spring 1940, the advisor said.[2]

Throughout the winter, spring, and summer of 1940 whether Roosevelt would run again remained unknown. The "two-term" tradition, although not yet enshrined in the U.S. Constitution as the 22nd Amendment, had been established by President George Washington when he refused to run for a third term in 1796, and the tradition was further supported by Thomas Jefferson.[1] Roosevelt, however, refused to give a definitive statement as to his willingness to be a candidate, even indicating to his old friend and political kingmaker James Farley[3] that he would not be a candidate again and that he could seek the nomination; Farley thus began his campaign.[4]

Roosevelt told others of his plans not to run, including Cordell Hull, Frances Perkins, and Daniel J. Tobin. His wife Eleanor was opposed to a third term. Perhaps the most definitive evidence of Roosevelt's intention to not run for a third term is that in January 1940 he signed a contract to write 26 articles a year for Collier's for three years after leaving the presidency in January 1941. However, as Nazi Germany defeated France and threatened Britain in the summer of 1940, Roosevelt decided that only he had the necessary experience and skills to see the nation safely through the Nazi threat. His belief that no other Democrat who would continue the New Deal could win was likely also a reason.[4] He was aided by the party's political bosses, who feared that no Democrat except Roosevelt could defeat the charismatic Wendell Willkie, the Republican candidate.

The "voice from the sewers"

By the convention Farley and Vice President John Nance Garner were declared candidates, and Paul McNutt was a possibility.[4] Roosevelt still did not want to declare openly for re-nomination, so his backers arranged a stunt at the convention. Roosevelt dictated a message on the phone to Kentucky Senator Alben Barkley, which Barkley read out to the convention during the first day's proceedings. It concluded

The President has never had, and has not today, any desire or purpose to continue in the office of President, to be a candidate for that office, or to be nominated by the convention for that office. He wishes in earnestness and sincerity to make it clear that all of the delegates in this convention are free to vote for any candidate.[4]

One biographer wrote that Barkley's message "can scarcely be said to have conveyed the whole or literal truth".[4] When it ended, the convention sat in shocked silence for a moment. The silence was then broken by a voice thundering over the stadium loudspeakers: "We want Roosevelt! We want Roosevelt!" The voice was Thomas D. Garry, Superintendent of Chicago's Department of Sanitation (the sewers department), a trusted henchman of Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly. Garry was stationed in a basement room with a microphone, waiting for that moment. Kelly had posted hundreds of Chicago city workers and precinct captains around the hall; other Democratic bosses had brought followers from their home territories. All of them joined Garry's chant. Within a few seconds, hundreds of delegates joined in. Many poured into the aisles, carrying state delegation standards for impromptu demonstrations. Whenever the chant began to die down, state chairmen, who also had microphones connected to the speakers, added their own endorsements: "New Jersey wants Roosevelt! Arizona wants Roosevelt! Iowa wants Roosevelt!"[5]

The effect of the "voice from the sewers" was overwhelming. The next day Roosevelt was nominated by an 86% majority.

The balloting


Presidential ballot[6]


Vice-Presidential ballot[7]

Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
Franklin D. Roosevelt
946 (86.32%) Henry A. Wallace 626
James A. Farley 72 (6.57%) William B. Bankhead 329
John Nance Garner 61 (5.57%) Paul V. McNutt 68
Millard E. Tydings 9 (0.82%) Alva B. Adams 11
Cordell Hull 5 (0.47%) James A. Farley 7
Jesse H. Jones 5
Joseph C. O'Mahoney 3
Alben W. Barkley 2
Prentiss M. Brown 1
Louis A. Johnson 1
Scott W. Lucas 1
Bascom N. Timmons 1
David I. Walsh 0.5

Vice-presidential selection

Incumbent Vice President John Nance Garner opposed Roosevelt's re-election, so the party had to choose a new vice presidential nominee.[8] Though national delegates usually played the dominant role in choosing running mate, Roosevelt decided that the choice of running mate should be his prerogative.[9] Roosevelt asked Secretary of State Cordell Hull to serve as his running mate, but Hull preferred to remain in his Cabinet position.[9] Roosevelt also strongly considered South Carolina Senator James F. Byrnes, but the president instead settled on Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace.[9] Roosevelt chose Wallace because of Wallace's positions on the New Deal and aid to Britain, and because he hoped that Wallace would appeal to agricultural voters.[9] Though many Democrats disliked being forced to select Roosevelt's running mate of choice, Wallace won the vice presidential nomination on the first ballot over Speaker of the United States House of Representatives William B. Bankhead.[10] The Roosevelt-Wallace ticket defeated the Republican ticket to win the 1940 election. Wallace was successfully nominated after First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt flew to Chicago to campaign,[11] and gave what came to be known as her "No Ordinary Time" speech.[12][13] Wallace was replaced by Missouri Senator Harry Truman for Roosevelt's successful 1944 re-election bid, and Wallace later ran a third party campaign in 1948.[14] Roosevelt's decision to select his own running mate set a powerful precedent, and presidential candidates after 1940 became much more influential in the choice of running mates.[9] James Farley could not be on the ticket as Vice-President, because both he and Roosevelt were from New York State, and if they had run together, the electors of the State of New York, pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, could not have voted for them both.[12] Others considered were Kentucky Senator Alben Barkley,[15] South Carolina Senator James F. Byrnes,[15] Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas,[15] and Speaker of the House William B. Bankhead of Alabama.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b "The 1940 Democratic National Convention". Chicago Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  2. ^ Kaltenborn, H. V. (1939-09-22). CBS H. V. Kaltenborn Commentary (Radio). Event occurs at 8:45.
  3. ^ "Farley Dies -- Jun 10, 1976 -- NBC -- Vanderbilt Television News Archive". Archived from the original on 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  4. ^ a b c d e Gunther, John (1950). Roosevelt in Retrospect. Harper & Brothers. pp. 308–309.
  5. ^ Edward Joseph Kelly obituary, Time
  6. ^ "The Only Ballot". The New York Times. July 18, 1940.
  7. ^ "For Vice President". The New York Times. July 19, 1940.
  8. ^ "VP John Garner". US Senate. US Senate. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e Moe, Richard (12 August 2013). Roosevelt's Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War. Oxford University Press. pp. 199–205. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  10. ^ a b Dunn, Susan (4 June 2013). 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler-the Election Amid the Storm. Yale University Press. pp. 143–148. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  11. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (1994). No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0684804484.
  12. ^ a b Boller, Paul (2004). Presidential Campaigns. Oxford University Press. p. 252.
  13. ^ Roosevelt, Eleanor - "This Is No Ordinary Time", Speech to the 1940 Democratic National Convention, July 1940, FDR Library Archives. Accessed 2016-01-01
  14. ^ Ross, Alex (14 October 2013). "Uncommon Man". New Yorker. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  15. ^ a b c Sigelman, Lee; Wahlbeck, Paul (December 1997). "The "Veepstakes": Strategic Choice in Presidential Running Mate Selection". The American Political Science Review. 91 (4): 858. JSTOR 2952169.

External links

Preceded by
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Democratic National Conventions Succeeded by
Chicago, Illinois
1940 Democratic Party presidential primaries

The 1940 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1940 U.S. presidential election. Incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the 1940 Democratic National Convention held from July 15 to July 18, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois.

1940 United States elections

The 1940 United States elections was held on November 5. The Democratic Party continued to dominate national politics, as it defended its Congressional majorities and retained the presidency. It was the last election prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II.

In the presidential election, Democratic incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to serve an unprecedented third term, defeating Republican businessman Wendell Willkie of New York. Although Willkie fared better than the previous two Republican presidential candidates, Roosevelt crushed Willkie in the electoral college and won the popular vote by ten points. At the 1940 Democratic National Convention, Roosevelt overcame opposition from Vice President John Nance Garner and Postmaster General James Farley to win on the first ballot. Willkie won the Republican nomination on the sixth ballot, defeating Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft and Manhattan District Attorney Thomas Dewey.The Democrats gained five seats in the House of Representatives, furthering their majority over the Republicans. The Democrats also maintained a majority in the U.S. Senate; however, they lost three seats to the Republicans in that house.

1940 United States presidential election

The 1940 United States presidential election was the 39th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 5, 1940. The election was contested in the shadow of World War II in Europe, as the United States was emerging from the Great Depression. Incumbent Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican businessman Wendell Willkie to be reelected for an unprecedented third term in office.

Roosevelt did not openly campaign for re-nomination, but he and his allies sought to defuse challenges from other party leaders like James Farley and Vice President John Nance Garner. The 1940 Democratic National Convention re-nominated Roosevelt on the first ballot, while Garner was replaced on the ticket by Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace. Willkie, a dark horse candidate, defeated conservative Senator Robert A. Taft and prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey on the sixth presidential ballot of the 1940 Republican National Convention.

Roosevelt, acutely aware of strong isolationist and non-interventionism sentiment, promised there would be no involvement in foreign wars if he were re-elected. Willkie, who had not previously run for public office, conducted an energetic campaign and managed to revive Republican strength in areas of the Midwest and Northeast. He criticized perceived incompetence and waste in the New Deal, warned of the dangers of breaking the two-term tradition, and accused Roosevelt of secretly planning to take the country into World War II. Willkie was damaged by his association with big business, as many working class voters blamed business leaders for the onset of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt led in all pre-election polls and won a comfortable victory, though his margins were less decisive than they had been in 1932 and 1936. He maintained his strong support from labor unions, urban political machines, ethnic minority voters, and the traditionally Democratic Solid South.

Ashton Dovell

Grover Ashton Dovell (June 8, 1885 – October 28, 1949) was an American politician and lawyer. A Democrat, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates 1924–42 and was its Speaker 1936–42.

Carl M. Weideman

Carl May Weideman (March 5, 1898 – March 5, 1972) was a naval officer, politician and jurist from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Cecil R. King

Cecil Rhodes King (January 13, 1898 – March 17, 1974) was an American businessman and politician. King, a Democrat, served as the first member of the United States House of Representatives from California's 17th congressional district for fourteen terms, serving from August 1942 to January 1969. King was first elected by special election on August 25, 1942 after previously serving out the term of Lee E. Geyer who had died in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 1941.

Cornelius T. Young

Cornelius Thomas Young (July 27, 1908 – July 25, 1980) was a politician in Wisconsin. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he graduated from St. John's Military Academy. He received his law degree from University of Wisconsin Law School and practiced law. Young was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1931 to 1937, where he served as speaker, and a member of the Wisconsin State Senate from 1939 to 1941. He was also a delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention.

Edward J. Voke

Edward John Voke (February 24, 1889 – April 10, 1965) was the 36th mayor of Chelsea, Massachusetts from 1936 to 1941. In 1946, he was nominated as Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Judicial Court by then-governor Maurice J. Tobin, a position he served until his death in 1965. He was a member of the prominent Chelsea political family, having been the brother of Fire Chief Charles G. Voke and City Clerk Richard A. Voke. Voke also served as a delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. He was also a Triple-A (baseball) pitcher in his youth and a close friend of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.

Electoral history of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Electoral history of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945); 44th Governor of New York (1929–1932).

Henry A. Wallace

Henry Agard Wallace (October 7, 1888 – November 18, 1965) was an American politician, journalist, and farmer who served as the 11th U.S. secretary of agriculture, the 33rd vice president of the United States, and the 10th U.S. secretary of commerce. He was also the presidential nominee of the left-wing Progressive Party in the 1948 election.

The oldest son of Henry Cantwell Wallace, who served as the U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1921 to 1924, Henry A. Wallace was born in Adair County, Iowa in 1888. After graduating from Iowa State University in 1910, Wallace worked as a writer and editor for his family's farm journal, Wallace's Farmer. He also founded the Hi-Bred Corn Company, a hybrid corn company that eventually became extremely successful. Wallace displayed an intellectual curiosity about a wide array of subjects, including statistics and economics, and he explored various religious and spiritual movements, including Theosophy. After the death of his father in 1924, Wallace increasingly drifted away from the Republican Party, and he supported Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 election.

Wallace served as secretary of agriculture under President Roosevelt from 1933 to 1940. He strongly supported Roosevelt's New Deal and presided over a major shift in federal agricultural policy, implementing measures designed to curtail agricultural surpluses and ameliorate rural poverty. Overcoming strong opposition from conservative party leaders, Wallace was nominated for vice president at the 1940 Democratic National Convention. The Democratic ticket of Roosevelt and Wallace triumphed in the 1940 presidential election, and Wallace continued to play an important role in the Roosevelt administration before and during World War II. At the 1944 Democratic National Convention, conservative party leaders defeated Wallace's bid for re-nomination, replacing him on the Democratic ticket with Harry S. Truman. The ticket of Roosevelt and Truman won the 1944 presidential election, and in early 1945 Roosevelt appointed Wallace as secretary of commerce.

Roosevelt died in April 1945 and was succeeded by Truman. Wallace continued to serve as secretary of commerce until September 1946, when Truman fired him for delivering a speech urging conciliatory policies towards the Soviet Union. Wallace and his supporters established the Progressive Party and launched a third party campaign for president. The Progressive party platform called for conciliatory policies towards the Soviet Union, desegregation of public schools, gender equality, free trade, a national health insurance program, and other left-wing policies. Accusations of Communist influences and Wallace's association with controversial Theosophist figure Nicholas Roerich undermined his campaign, and he received just 2.4 percent of the nationwide popular vote. Wallace broke with the Progressive Party in 1950 over the Korean War, and in 1952 he published Where I Was Wrong, in which he declared the Soviet Union to be "utterly evil." Wallace largely fell into political obscurity after the early 1950s, though he continued to make public appearances until the year before his death in 1965.

John D. Ewing

John Dunbrack Ewing, Sr. (February 13, 1892 – May 18, 1952), was a Louisiana journalist who served as editor and publisher of both the Shreveport Times and the Monroe News-Star-World (since the Monroe News-Star) from 1931 until his death. He was also affiliated with radio station KWKH in Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish in northwestern Louisiana. KWKH was founded in 1922 and named in 1925 for its founder, W. K. Henderson.

Ewing was born in New Orleans to Robert W. Ewing, I, and the former Catherine May Dunbrack, originally from Meaghers Grant, Nova Scotia, Canada. Ewing's mother died December 30, 1904, when he was 12 years old. He was educated at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, from which he obtained his bachelor's degree in 1913. He was a captain in the 32nd Division (Red Arrow) in France during World War I. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Star and the Purple Heart.

After two years as the circulation manager of the former New Orleans Daily States, he moved to Shreveport in 1915 to become associate publisher of the Shreveport Times. In 1927, Ewing and former Shreveport mayor and businessman Andrew Querbes co-chaired a committee of prominent Shreveport citizens that began correspondence with the United States Department of War in Washington D. C. to sell Shreveport as the sight for a planned Army airfield that would serve as an expansion of the Third Attack Group, then located in Galveston, Texas. The group originally proposed land adjacent to Cross Lake but this location was deemed unsuitable by the War Department. Instead, approval was given for unincorporated land located in nearby Bossier Parish, which the City of Shreveport annexed through a municipal bond and donated to the federal government for construction of the facility, now known as Barksdale Air Force Base.When his father died in 1931, Ewing became publisher of both The Times and the two Monroe newspapers. The three newspapers were known for their conservative editorials. Ewing was a delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention, which met in Chicago to nominate U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt for a third term.

From 1938 to 1939, Ewing was president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. He headed the International Broadcasting Corp., the owners and operators of KWKH. He was a director of the Kansas City Southern and the Louisiana and Arkansas railroads.

Ewing married the former Helen Hamilton Gray on December 27, 1919. They had two children, John D. Ewing, Jr., and Helen May Ewing Clay.

One of Ewing's nephews, Robert Ewing, III (1935–2007), was a nature photographer and a board member of the Monroe News-Star, formerly owned by the Ewing family.

Another relative was Edmund Graves Brown, an executive at the Monroe News-Star from 1952 until the paper was sold in 1977 to the Gannett Company.

John J. Bennett Jr.

John James Bennett (March 2, 1894 Brooklyn, Kings County, New York – October 4, 1967, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York) was an American Lawyer and politician.

John Nance Garner

John Nance Garner III (November 22, 1868 – November 7, 1967), known among his contemporaries as "Cactus Jack", was an American Democratic politician and lawyer from Texas. He was the 32nd vice president of the United States, serving from 1933 to 1941. He was also the 39th speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1931 to 1933. Along with Schuyler Colfax, Garner is one of only two individuals to serve as Vice President of the United States and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Garner began his political career as the county judge of Uvalde County, Texas. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1898 to 1902 and won election to represent Texas in the United States House of Representatives in 1902. He represented Texas's 15th congressional district from 1903 to 1933. Garner served as House Minority Leader from 1929 to 1931, and was elevated to Speaker of the House when Democrats won control of the House following the 1930 elections.

Garner sought the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1932 presidential election, but he agreed to serve as Franklin D. Roosevelt's running mate at the 1932 Democratic National Convention. Roosevelt and Garner won the 1932 election and were re-elected in 1936. A conservative Southerner, Garner opposed the sit-down strikes of the labor unions and the New Deal's deficit spending. He broke with Roosevelt in early 1937 over the issue of enlarging the Supreme Court, and helped defeat it on the grounds that it centralized too much power in the President's hands. Garner again sought the presidency in the 1940 presidential election, but Roosevelt won the party's presidential nomination at the 1940 Democratic National Convention. Garner was replaced as Vice President by Henry A. Wallace and retired from public office in 1941.

John T. McCall

John T. McCall (August 25, 1863 – February 13, 1950) was an American politician from New York.

Leo Aloysius Pursley

Leo Aloysius Pursley (March 12, 1902 – November 15, 1998) was an American clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend from 1956 to 1976.

No Ordinary Time

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II is a historical, biographical book by American author and presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, published by Simon & Schuster in 1994.

Based on interviews with 86 people who knew them personally, the book chronicles the lives of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, focusing particularly on the period between May 10, 1940 (the end of the so-called "Phoney War" stage of World War II) and President Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945. The title is taken from the speech Eleanor Roosevelt gave at the 1940 Democratic National Convention in hopes of unifying the, at the time, divided Democratic party.No Ordinary Time was awarded the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for History.Alan J. Pakula was working on a screenplay based upon the book at the time of his death in 1998

Norris C. Williamson

Norris Charles Craft Williamson (July 31, 1874 – 1949) was a Democrat who served from 1924 to 1932 in the Louisiana State Senate. A resident of Lake Providence, Williamson represented the delta parishes: Tensas, Madison, East Carroll, and Concordia, a rich farming region along the Mississippi River. Included in his district were Vidalia, Ferriday, St. Joseph, and Tallulah. At the time, two state senators represented the four-parish district.

Office of Civilian Defense

Office of Civilian Defense was a United States federal emergency war agency set up May 20, 1941, by Executive Order 8757 to co-ordinate state and federal measures for protection of civilians in case of war emergency. Its two branches supervised protective functions such as blackouts and special fire protection and "war service" functions such as child care, health, housing, and transportation. It also created the Civil Air Patrol. The agency was terminated by EO 9562 of June 4, 1945. The Office of Civil Defense with similar duties was established later.

Women in Defense

Women in Defense is a 1941 short film produced by the Office of Emergency Management shortly before the United States entered the Second World War.

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