from Presidential Courage 1 Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989
by Michael Beschloss
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Editor's notes: 1) Presidents elected on even decades like 1990, 2000,
off year elections of 1992, 2014...

2) Pictures are from Wikipedia and the Internet can often be enlarged with a click.

3) Editorial comments are in red font.


On November 5th, 1940, Roosevelt saw signs that voters were turning him out of office after two terms. Adolph Hitler was crushing Europe and lurking behind his opponent, Senator Willkie, according to the FBI and other intelligence services, was Nazi money that wanted him to push Winston Churchill into a quick peace with Hitler. FDR wanted a military buildup. Convinced Wilson's decision to enter WWI was a ruinous mistake, many voters did not want to be dragged into another European war."  In September of 1939, after Britain declared war against Hitler, FDR began secret corresponding with Winston Churchill the new First Lord of the Britain Navy. This raised the suspicions of U.S. Ambassador to Britan Kennedy.   Rare photograph of FDR in a wheelchair, with Fala and Ruthie Bie, the daughter of caretakers at his Hyde Park estate. Photo taken by his cousin Margaret Suckley (2/ 1941  click to enlarge

The Politics

In London Joseph Kennedy was determined to stop another fruitless war that could threatened his three sons, Joe, Jack, and Bobby. Tyler Kent, a clerk in Kennedy's operation, discovered the secret messages between the two leaders.  Convinced they were dragging the U.S. into the war on behalf of the Communists and Jews he planned to make the messages public right before the FDR's reelection. His apartment was raided by Scotland Yard. They found many documents including that morning message from Churchill to Roosevelt and Kent's Jewish mistress in the bedroom. Kent was tried in London where the matter of their official communication could be kept quiet under the Officials Secrets Act.

Roosevelt was pondering what to do about a Supreme Court ruling that had stopped the FBI from wireless wiretapping.  J. Hoover argued that such an action would stop the FBI from listening to Nazi plans to blow up the Queen Mary and other such dangers.  President  Roosevelt was interested other information like what the Nazi's knew of Kent's information. Roosevelt signed the secret orders giving Hoover blanket authority " ' to secure information by listening  devices" '. Attorney General Robert Jackson thought the order was illegal but he did not resign. He later wrote that Roosevelt usually acted in terms of ' "right and wrong" ' not ' " legal and illegal." '

Lucy Mercer.jpg

22) GLOOM PERSONIFIED FDR's  wife Eleanor almost divorced in 1918 when she found his love letters to her social secretary Lucy Mercer. FDR needing more adoration than Eleanor would or could provide and with no close male friends Franklin by 1940 relied on two women. Others were suspected. Lucy made Time magazine's Top Ten Mistresses list. Click to enlarge.  'Hoover widened his net to include anti-Roosevelt Senators and bitter isolationist Charles Lindberg."  Joe Kennedy thought Lindberg views ' "honest" ',  FDR was convinced Charles was a Nazi.  see which side was correct

' "By the end of his second term FDR's Hyde Park branch of the Roosevelt's was no longer on speaking terms with those from Oyster Bay." ' Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. had wanted to follow his father to the Presidency. He and his sister Alice Longworth were members of the isolationist lobby and not happy with President Roosevelt.

FDR defeated Republican Wendell Willkie who was estranged from his Indian wife Billie and living with New York Tribune book editor Irita Bradford Van Doren. Billie agreed to campaign foe Wendell and share his hotel room. Asked about it she said, '" Politics makes strange bedfellows." ' 


FDR asked Hoover to investigate Willkie.

Hoover refused. 

Getting lend lease of fifty destroyers for Britain through Congress was proving difficult so FDR asked Attorney General Robert Jackson if he could just do it and again Jackson said OK to a difficult issue. It was announced on September 3, 1940. Willkie said it was dictatorial and FDR said Jefferson didn't ask Congress when he made the Louisiana purchase. By the end of September Japan had joined Hitler and Mussolini. Pictured here President Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease bill to give aid to Britain and China (1941) source

Roosevelt's Democratic nomination was apposed by 148 delegates including Joe Kennedy who like many opposed the U. S. entering the war.  The Democratic platform opposed entry but FDR got them to add unless attacked. Both McKinley and Wilson had used attacks to enter a world war. Hitler's chief diplomat was funneling money to isolationists on Capital Hill.  Roosevelt had a recorder installed in the Oval Office hoping to stop leaks like the false claim he would defend Europe form Germany. The recorder was playing when Roosevelt was slinging mud about Willkie's affair with Van Doren.

By October the expected Republican surge came as Hitler was stalled. Willkey was gaining because of Republican charges that Roosevelt was making secret deals to get America into the war. Powerful union leader John L. Lewis used radio to tell America that  Roosevelt was scheming and would make "cannon fodder" out of their sons. Joe Kennedy's family returned to America as German bombs were hitting London and Kennedy..." was ready to put "twenty-five million Catholics votes behind Willkie ..."



Joe Kennedy was extremely successful at a young age and was extremely patriotic. Obsessed with leaving each of his nine children with millions of dollars, he felt his small capitalistic class was safer under Hitler than under Churchill or the communists.
Kennedy was an Intimate and close friend of writer/politician Clare Boothe Luce. In a letter before his planned radio Presidential campaign endorsement of one of the candidates  she begged Kennedy not to indorse Roosevelt as she was "terribly frightened for this country..." 

Gallop 1940 polls revealed Americans felt the most pressing problem facing the country by far(47%) was staying out of the war. But Roosevelt knew that especially in a time of crisis he was to lead and not to follow the American public. "Roosevelt was inspired by an almost mystical belief in the glory and power of Presidential leadership...." Pictured here Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of China (left),  Roosevelt (middle), and Winston Churchill (right) at the 1943 Cairo Conference.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  It was the anti-private property anti religion  foundation of Communism that stopped the West from joining Russia in a sincere attempt to stop Hitler in the late 1930's. People like Joe Kennedy disliked Communism much more than thy disliked Fascism.

Upon returning to Washington the Summer in 1940,  Kennedy  entered the Oval Office and found the President using a cocktail shaker. Kennedy was upset at being shut out from the destroyer lend lease deal but FDR blamed it on the State Department. 

People wanted Willkie to bargain with Hitler and they weren't happy with the lottery for the America's first peace time draft involving men twenty-one to thirty-five. Isolationist said those who voted for the draft would lose reelection. Roosevelt was relieved when Republican opponent Willkie endorsed some form of military service. 

Kennedy endorsed FDR saying the war involvement charges were false. Germany was very upset because they felt FDR could mold America's  ' " easily excitable character" ' and bring the United States into the war.

After the election, FDR enlisted Willkie's public support  to help England. His supporters feared hire taxes and loss of their businesses and they threatened Willkie who, ' " hurt and worried" ' agreed to help Roosevelt.

Kennedy felt he deserved an important post after the attack on Pearl Harbor had gotten America into war. But his old reputation of being anti-Semitic and his pro-appeasement  of Hitler kept the President at arms length. By 1944 Joe Kennedy was agonizing over the heroic death eldest son Joe who died while flying over the English Channel. Secretly supporting FDR's Republican opponent Thomas Dewey, Kennedy  still went to tell the President that Irish-Americans feared FDR was ' "Jewish Controlled." ' See Presidential Elections 1932-1972

This Is How FDR Tried to Pack the Supreme Court

"But in the late 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to put restrictions on the court when it came to age. Largely seen as a political ploy to change the court for favorable rulings on New Deal legislation, the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, commonly referred to as the “court-packing plan,” was Roosevelt’s attempt to appoint up to six additional justices to the Supreme Court for every justice older than 70 years, 6 months, who had served 10 years or more."

"Over the course of the depression, Roosevelt was pushing through legislation and, beginning in May 1935, the Supreme Court began to strike down a number of the New Deal laws. “Over the next 13 months, the court struck down more pieces of legislation than at any other time in U.S. history,” Woolner says.+