Friday, November 6, 2020

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Unprecedented Fourth Term

During these fractious times, the national election is at the forefront of most people’s minds. But let’s go back seventy-five years, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his intention to seek a fourth term in office. Up until that time, presidents had either voluntarily followed George Washington’s example of serving a maximum of two terms or were unsuccessful in winning a third. (Franklin’s cousin, Theodore Roosevelt ran for a third non-consecutive term in 1912, but lost.) 
In 1944, World War II was still raging, but the Allies were getting the upper hand over the Axis powers, winning more battles than they were losing and out producing their enemies in war materiel. Roosevelt decided the U.S. would best be served with consistency in the executive branch and announced his intention to run for president on July 11, 1944. 
Selecting a vice president became an exercise in compromise (and similar to Goldilock’s conundrum). Roosevelt’s first choice was his current vice president, Henry A. Wallace, but the conservative members of his party objected, claiming Wallace was too liberal. James Byrnes was then suggested as a possible running mate, but the liberal wing didn’t want him. FDR’s third and final choice was a middle-of-the-road option, Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman, a WWI vet and owner of a failed men’s clothing store prior to his public service. 
Roosevelt’s opponent was New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey. A colorful man,
Dewey became famous in the mid-1930s during his career as a prosecutor and the District Attorney for New York, working to wipe out extortion, prostitution, and racketeering against organized crime. He was known as a “gangbuster,” bringing down anyone suspected of wrongdoing, including an elite member of the New York Stock Exchange. 
He ran for the governorship in 1938, but lost, subsequently losing the Republican presidential nomination to Wendell Wilkie in 1940. His election as governor in 1942 gave him a stronger platform, enabling him to receive the party’s presidential nomination in 1944. He chose Ohio Governor John W. Bricker as his running mate. Their ticket supported the United Nations, U.S. engagement in international affairs, and much of FDR’s New Deal legislation. He refrained from criticizing the conduct of the war so as not to be accused of undermining morale, instead claiming there was Communist infiltration of the government and suggested FDR was tired and too old to continue. 

Roosevelt won the election, but it was not the landslide he’d experienced previously. He gained 53% of the popular vote, with Dewey securing 46%. Because of the austerity measures in effect during the war, the inauguration was held on the South Portico of the White House, rather than at the Capitol as was the custom. The parade and other festivities were also canceled. The oath was administered by Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone, and the subsequent address was one of the briefest on record. 
President Roosevelt’s victory was short lived. He died just eighty-two days after taking office. In 1947, Congress proposed a law that would limit presidents to two consecutive terms; however, four years would elapse before the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was passed, officially limiting a president’s tenure in office to two terms of four years each. 

Linda Shenton Matchett
writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors. Visit her at

A Doctor in the House

They’re supposed to be allies, but mutual distrust puts this pair on opposite sides. 
Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart? 
Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she? 
Purchase Link:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the interesting post. I always appreciate the history refreshers.