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THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1940 AND ITS AFTERMATH

No president in American history had ever served more than two consecutive terms. Just before the Democratic National Convention, Roosevelt quietly stated that if he was nominated, he would accept. Roosevelt was quickly nominated; his Republican opponent was Wendell Wilkie, an ex- Democrat. Roosevelt emerged victorious, but by a smaller margin than in his two previous victories. Most historians say that more Americans voted against Roosevelt was mostly a commentary by the voters on the lingering effects of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt interpreted his victory as a mandate to continue preparations for the eventual U.S. entry into World War II. By early 1941 Roosevelt proposed giving the British aid for the war effort without getting cash in return (it was stated that payment could be made after the war). By the terms of the Lend-Lease Act, Congress gave the president the ability to send immediate aid to Britain; Roosevelt immediately authorized nearly $7 billion in aid. As Roosevelt had stated in a 1940 speech, the Linked States had became an “arsenal of democracy.”

In August of 1941 Roosevelt secretly met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill off the coast of Newfoundland. The two agreed that America would, in all probability, soon be in the war and that the war should be fought for the principles of democracy. Roosevelt and Churchill authorized the publication of their commonly held beliefs in a document called the Atlantic Charter. Tn this document the two leaders proclaimed that they were opposed to territorial expansion for either country, and they were for free trade and self-determination. They also agreed that another world organization would have to be created to replace the League of Nations and that this new world body would have the power to guarantee the “security” of the world, Roosevelt also agreed that the United States would ship lend-lease materials hound for Britain as far as Iceland; this brought the United States one step closer to full support for the Allied cause.

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