Willkie, Wendell, 1892-1944

Willkie was notable both as ROOSEVELT’s opponent in the 1940 election and as his goodwill envoy to the world. As a former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party in opposition to the New Deal in 1938, Willkie was a surprise candidate in 1940. However he did surprisingly well at the polls. He was a visionary and idealistic internationalist in opposition to America’s habitual isolationism and wrote a book advocating these views, One World, which turned out to be a best seller. He called for a postwar world which was a union or commonwealth of free nations. Such ideas laid the groundwork for the founding of the United Nations. In January 1941 Willkie went to the United Kingdom, met with its leaders and brought back messages for Roosevelt. He followed this up in August 1942 with a 31,000 mile trip which took him as far as the Near East, USSR and China. Again he met with leaders and kept in very close contact with Roosevelt. Willkie announced that he would again run for the Presidency in 1944, but withdrew after being heavily defeated in the Wisconsin primary in April. He died a few months later in October 1944.

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