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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Five Days in Philadelphia: The Amazing "We Want Willkie!" Convention of 1940 and How It Freed FDR to Save the Western World » User review

A segment of history that should be more widely understood, when political courage dominated political expediency

  • May 13, 2010
Wendell Willkie, the Republican nominee for the U. S. presidency in 1940, is a man that history has generally forgotten. That is unfortunate, for his actions had a great deal to do with England surviving against the German onslaught in 1940 and '41 and with the United States being somewhat prepared for war when Japan attacked in 1941. It is largely lost to the American national memory that as the war clouds gathered in Europe and Asia, the Republican Party was strongly isolationist. In fact, as the recent comments of a noted conservative indicate, even some Republicans have forgotten that fact.
This isolationist mentality was so strong that leading candidates for the Republican nomination still held the position that the United States should let England fall, even after German armies had taken over nearly all of Europe. President Franklin Roosevelt was determined to do all he could to aid England, but risked a serious backlash if he went beyond what were very narrow bounds.
It was at this point where Wendell Willkie demonstrated the traits of a real patriot and the Republican Party demonstrated a collective genius. Going from almost nowhere to becoming the Republican nominee in 1940, Wendell Willkie made no secret of his support for the internationalist actions of President Roosevelt. He supported the destroyers for bases swap with Great Britain and even after he lost the election to Roosevelt, Willkie came out strongly in favor of the Lend Lease program. Some argue that it was his open and tacit support during and after the 1940 presidential campaign that allowed Roosevelt to send Britain the aid that kept it fighting.
Some history is made over years, but at times a lot is made in only a few days. That is what happened when the strongly isolationist presidential contenders in the Republican party were cast aside by the delegates to the convention in favor of a man that put country over personal ambition. This is an excellent story and one that the current crop of political crud could learn a great deal from.

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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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The author's forebears left Italy, Poland, and Russia more than a century ago and settled in Jersey City, then a flourishing industrial center and transportation hub. They found work but met prejudice: the Irish, who, with the help of a brutal police force, controlled the corrupt political machine, despised the newcomers. Many of Stapinski's relatives became criminals, and in this candid, unsentimental memoir she suggests that boss rule created a climate for the "crimes and immoral acts" they committed. As Jersey City decays, family members go to college, leave the ethnic ghetto, and no longer find felony amusing.
Copyright © 2005The New Yorker
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ISBN-10: 1586481126
ISBN-13: 978-1586481124
Author: Charles Peters
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: PublicAffairs
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