133 Facts About Wendell Willkie

1.

Wendell Lewis Willkie was born on Lewis Wendell Willkie; February 18, 1892 – October 8, 1944 and was an American lawyer, corporate executive and the 1940 Republican nominee for President.

FactSnippet No. 469,926
2.

Wendell Willkie was born in Elwood, Indiana, in 1892; both his parents were lawyers, and he became one.

FactSnippet No. 469,927
3.

Wendell Willkie served in World War I but was not sent to France until the final days of the war, and saw no action.

FactSnippet No. 469,928
4.

Wendell Willkie settled in Akron, Ohio, where he was initially employed by Firestone, but left for a law firm, becoming one of the leaders of the Akron Bar Association.

FactSnippet No. 469,929
5.

Wendell Willkie was rapidly promoted, and became corporate president in 1933.

FactSnippet No. 469,930
6.

Between 1933 and 1939, Wendell Willkie fought against the TVA before Congress, in the courts, and before the public.

FactSnippet No. 469,931
7.

Longtime Democratic activist, Wendell Willkie changed his party registration to Republican in late 1939.

FactSnippet No. 469,932
8.

Wendell Willkie did not run in the 1940 presidential primaries, but positioned himself as an acceptable choice for a deadlocked convention.

FactSnippet No. 469,933
9.

Wendell Willkie sought backing from uncommitted delegates, while his supporters—many youthful—enthusiastically promoted his candidacy.

FactSnippet No. 469,934
10.

Wendell Willkie ran for the Republican nomination in 1944, but bowed out after a disastrous showing in the Wisconsin primary in April.

FactSnippet No. 469,935
11.

Wendell Willkie is remembered for giving Roosevelt vital political assistance in 1941, which helped the president to pass Lend-Lease to send supplies to the United Kingdom and other Allied nations.

FactSnippet No. 469,936
12.

Lewis Wendell Willkie was born in Elwood, Indiana, on February 18, 1892, the son of Henrietta and Herman Francis Willkie.

FactSnippet No. 469,937
13.

Wendell Willkie's father was born in Germany, son of Joseph Wilhelm Willecke or Willcke, born 1826.

FactSnippet No. 469,938
14.

Wendell Willkie's mother was born in Indiana, to German parents; his grandparents were involved in the unsuccessful 1848 revolutions in Germany.

FactSnippet No. 469,939
15.

Wendell Willkie was the fourth of six children, all intelligent, and learned skills during the nightly debates around the dinner table that would later serve him well.

FactSnippet No. 469,940
16.

Wendell Willkie began to shine as a student in high school, inspired by his English teacher; one classmate said that Philip "Pat" Bing "fixed that boy up.

FactSnippet No. 469,941
17.

Wendell Willkie started preaching to Wendell to get to work and that kid went to town.

FactSnippet No. 469,942
18.

Wendell Willkie was class president his final year, and president of the most prominent fraternity, but resigned from the latter when a sorority blackballed his girlfriend, Gwyneth Harry, as the daughter of immigrants.

FactSnippet No. 469,943
19.

Wendell Willkie involved himself in campus politics, successfully managing the campaign of future Indiana governor Paul McNutt for student office, but when Willkie ran himself, he was defeated.

FactSnippet No. 469,944
20.

Wendell Willkie graduated in June 1913, and to earn money for law school, taught high school history in Coffeyville, Kansas, coaching debaters and several sports teams.

FactSnippet No. 469,945
21.

Wendell Willkie was a top student, and graduated with high honors in 1916.

FactSnippet No. 469,946
22.

Wendell Willkie joined his parents' law firm, but volunteered for the United States Army on April 2, 1917, the day President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.

FactSnippet No. 469,947
23.

Wendell Willkie arrived in France as the war was ending and did not see combat.

FactSnippet No. 469,948
24.

In France, Wendell Willkie was assigned to defending soldiers who had slipped away for time in Paris against orders.

FactSnippet No. 469,949
25.

Wendell Willkie was recommended for promotion to captain, but was discharged in early 1919 before the paperwork went through.

FactSnippet No. 469,950
26.

Wendell Willkie considered a run for Congress as a Democrat, but was advised that the district was so Republican he would be unlikely to keep the seat even if he could win it, and his chances might be better in a more urban area.

FactSnippet No. 469,951
27.

Wendell Willkie's got her way, and in May 1919 Wendell Willkie successfully applied for a job with the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio as head of the legal office that advised workers on wills and other personal matters.

FactSnippet No. 469,952
28.

Wendell Willkie was bored there, and on the advice of his wife, left for a law firm despite an offer from Harvey Firestone to double his salary.

FactSnippet No. 469,953
29.

Wendell Willkie was a delegate to the 1924 Democratic National Convention, and supported New York Governor Al Smith through the record 103 ballots, when the nomination fell to former West Virginia congressman John W Davis.

FactSnippet No. 469,954
30.

Wendell Willkie backed a proposed plank in support of the League of Nations that ultimately failed.

FactSnippet No. 469,955
31.

In 1925, Wendell Willkie led a successful effort to oust Klan members on the Akron school board.

FactSnippet No. 469,956
32.

Cobb wrote to the senior partner of Wendell Willkie's firm, "I think he is a comer and we should keep an eye on him.

FactSnippet No. 469,957
33.

Wendell and Edith Willkie moved to New York in October 1929, only weeks before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and found an apartment overlooking Central Park.

FactSnippet No. 469,958
34.

Wendell Willkie attended the Broadway theatre, and read through ten newspapers each day.

FactSnippet No. 469,959
35.

Unlike Van Doren, Wendell Willkie was indiscreet about their relationship, and their affair was well known to the reporters covering him during his 1940 presidential campaign.

FactSnippet No. 469,960
36.

Much of his work was outside New York City; Wendell Willkie was brought in to help try important cases or aid in the preparation of major legal briefs.

FactSnippet No. 469,961
37.

Wendell Willkie promoted Willkie over 50 junior executives, designating the younger man as his successor.

FactSnippet No. 469,962
38.

Wendell Willkie maintained his interest in politics, and was a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention.

FactSnippet No. 469,963
39.

Wendell Willkie backed Baker, and was an assistant floor manager for his campaign.

FactSnippet No. 469,964
40.

Wendell Willkie appeared before the House Military Affairs Committee on April 14, 1933.

FactSnippet No. 469,965
41.

Wendell Willkie approved of the ideas for development of the Tennessee Valley, but felt that the government role should be limited to selling power generated by dams.

FactSnippet No. 469,966
42.

TVA head David Lilienthal was impressed by Wendell Willkie, who left him "somewhat overwhelmed" and "pretty badly scared".

FactSnippet No. 469,967
43.

Wendell Willkie angrily denied that he had prompted the lawsuit, though plaintiffs' counsel proved later to have been paid by the Edison Electric Institute, of which Wendell Willkie was a board member.

FactSnippet No. 469,968
44.

Wendell Willkie warned that New York capital might avoid Tennessee if the TVA experiment continued, and when Roosevelt gave a speech in praise of the agency, issued a statement rebutting him.

FactSnippet No. 469,969
45.

In September 1936, Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie met again at the White House, and a truce followed as both sides waited to see if Roosevelt would be re-elected over the Republican, Kansas Governor Alf Landon.

FactSnippet No. 469,970
46.

Wendell Willkie, who voted for Landon, expected a narrow victory for the Republican, but Roosevelt won an overwhelming landslide as Landon won only Maine and Vermont.

FactSnippet No. 469,971
47.

Wendell Willkie took his case to the people, writing columns for major publications, and proposing terms for an agreement that The New York Times described as "sensible and realistic".

FactSnippet No. 469,972
48.

Wendell Willkie received favorable press, and many invitations to speak.

FactSnippet No. 469,973
49.

Wendell Willkie had long contemplated one, but made no announcement.

FactSnippet No. 469,974
50.

Wendell Willkie raised his stock considerably when on January 3, 1938, he debated Assistant Attorney General Robert H Jackson on the radio show Town Meeting of the Air.

FactSnippet No. 469,975
51.

Wendell Willkie was initially dismissive of the many letters he received urging him to run for president, but soon changed his mind.

FactSnippet No. 469,976
52.

Van Doren thought Wendell Willkie could be president, and worked to persuade her contacts.

FactSnippet No. 469,977
53.

In that issue, Wendell Willkie wrote an article, "We The People: A Foundation for a Political Platform for Recovery, " urging both major parties to omit anti-business policies from their party platforms, protect individual rights, and oppose foreign aggression while supporting world trade.

FactSnippet No. 469,978
54.

Wendell Willkie never had any doubt that Roosevelt would run for a third term, and that his route to the White House would have to be through the Republican Party.

FactSnippet No. 469,979
55.

Wendell Willkie blamed his allegiance shift on the Roosevelt policies that he deemed anti-business.

FactSnippet No. 469,980
56.

Wendell Willkie had voted for Landon in 1936, he said, and he felt that the Democrats no longer represented the values he advocated.

FactSnippet No. 469,981
57.

Wendell Willkie spoke often about the threat to America and the need to aid Britain and other Allies.

FactSnippet No. 469,982
58.

Wendell Willkie did not enter the Republican primaries, placing his hope in a deadlocked convention.

FactSnippet No. 469,983
59.

Wendell Willkie especially appealed to liberal, Eastern Establishment Republicans who saw none of the declared candidates to their liking.

FactSnippet No. 469,984
60.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth stated that the Wendell Willkie campaign came "from the grass roots of ten thousand country clubs".

FactSnippet No. 469,985
61.

Wendell Willkie, who had spoken out against isolationism, and who was a successful executive, was an attractive possibility.

FactSnippet No. 469,986
62.

Wendell Willkie made speeches widely, including in a tour of New England that paid off with promises of support, though delegates might first support a favorite son candidate for a ballot or two.

FactSnippet No. 469,987
63.

Important converts to Wendell Willkie's cause included Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen and Massachusetts Governor Leverett Saltonstall.

FactSnippet No. 469,988
64.

The move to Wendell Willkie was reflected in polls; he went from 3 to 29 percent in the seven weeks before the convention, while Dewey, the frontrunner, fell from 67 to 47 percent.

FactSnippet No. 469,989
65.

Dewey, Vandenberg and Taft had large public headquarters, but Wendell Willkie's campaign was run from clandestine rooms at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel.

FactSnippet No. 469,990
66.

Wendell Willkie's address went almost unheard in the hall because of problems with the sound system.

FactSnippet No. 469,991
67.

Pryor had cut ticket allocations to delegations that were not for Wendell Willkie, and distributed thousands of standing room passes to Wendell Willkie partisans.

FactSnippet No. 469,992
68.

Dewey had planned to go to the convention and withdraw, hoping to stop Wendell Willkie by endorsing Taft, but by the time he decided this, the fifth ballot was about to begin and he could not get to the Civic Center in time.

FactSnippet No. 469,993
69.

Wendell Willkie led with 429 delegates after the fifth ballot, while Taft held 377 and Dewey only 57.

FactSnippet No. 469,994
70.

Wendell Willkie had offered the vice presidential nomination to Connecticut Governor Raymond Baldwin, a key supporter, but scuttled those plans after his advisors and Republican officials felt that a New York-Connecticut ticket would not give sufficient geographic balance.

FactSnippet No. 469,995
71.

Wendell Willkie agreed, and got Baldwin to withdraw as others persuaded McNary, who had called Wendell Willkie a tool of Wall Street after arriving in Philadelphia.

FactSnippet No. 469,996
72.

Wendell Willkie had Republican National Committee chairman John Hamilton dismissed on the advice of some of his advisors, who felt Hamilton was too conservative and isolationist, though the former chairman was given the post of executive director with partial responsibility for the Willkie campaign.

FactSnippet No. 469,997
73.

At a time when little campaigning was done until after Labor Day, Wendell Willkie left on a five-week working vacation to The Broadmoor, a resort in Colorado Springs, but found neither peace nor privacy.

FactSnippet No. 469,998
74.

Wendell Willkie remained in Rushville, where he owned farmland, over the next month, trying to become more associated with his native state than with Wall Street.

FactSnippet No. 469,999
75.

Wendell Willkie gave interviews to reporters there, and his firm support of Roosevelt's aid to the Allies led Congressman Martin and Senator McNary to support a peacetime draft despite the strident objections of many Republicans and some Democrats.

FactSnippet No. 470,000
76.

Publisher Henry Luce decried both Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie for failing to be honest with the American people, "America will never be ready for any war until she makes her mind up there is going to be a war.

FactSnippet No. 470,001
77.

Wendell Willkie promised to keep New Deal social welfare programs intact, expand Social Security, and provide full employment, a job for everyone: "I pledge a new world".

FactSnippet No. 470,002
78.

Wendell Willkie did not visit the Solid South, though he spoke in Texas, hoping to win it as Hoover had in 1928.

FactSnippet No. 470,003
79.

Wendell Willkie filled the Los Angeles Coliseum with 70, 000 middle-class supporters, but reporters saw few working-class people at his rallies, and he cancelled some appearances at auto plants in the Midwest.

FactSnippet No. 470,004
80.

Wendell Willkie was given room to make this argument by the United Kingdom's increasing success in the Battle of Britain, as it was clear a German invasion was not imminent.

FactSnippet No. 470,005
81.

The polls showed voters responding positively to this new tack, and Wendell Willkie kept on this course for the remainder of the campaign.

FactSnippet No. 470,006
82.

Wendell Willkie received 45 percent of the popular vote to Roosevelt's 55 percent.

FactSnippet No. 470,007
83.

Wendell Willkie won 10 states to the president's 38 though he did better than Hoover and Landon had against Roosevelt.

FactSnippet No. 470,008
84.

Lend-Lease was highly unpopular in the Republican Party, and Wendell Willkie's announcement created a firestorm, with Landon and Taft decrying his actions.

FactSnippet No. 470,009
85.

Wendell Willkie had already been planning a visit in support for Britain.

FactSnippet No. 470,010
86.

Wendell Willkie visited the president at the White House for the first time as an ally on January 19, 1941, the evening before Roosevelt's third swearing-in.

FactSnippet No. 470,011
87.

The president asked Wendell Willkie to be his informal personal representative to Britain, and Wendell Willkie accepted.

FactSnippet No. 470,012
88.

Wendell Willkie saw the damage Nazi bombing had inflicted on Britain, visiting bombed-out sites in London, Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester and Liverpool.

FactSnippet No. 470,013
89.

Wendell Willkie went to Ireland, hoping to persuade Eamon de Valera to abandon neutrality, but his urging was unavailing.

FactSnippet No. 470,014
90.

Wendell Willkie defended the rights of the studios to make films that reflected their views, and warned, "the rights of the individuals mean nothing if freedom of speech and freedom of the press are destroyed.

FactSnippet No. 470,015
91.

Roosevelt invited Wendell Willkie to dedicate Mount Rushmore, but because of other commitments, Wendell Willkie could not.

FactSnippet No. 470,016
92.

Roosevelt sought to have Wendell Willkie join his administration, which the Republican was reluctant to do, wishing to preserve independence of word and action.

FactSnippet No. 470,017
93.

Wendell Willkie later stated that Roosevelt had been willing to endorse him, but Willkie ultimately concluded that the Dewey forces were too strong and a defeat might eliminate him from a possible run for president in 1944.

FactSnippet No. 470,018
94.

In Jerusalem, Wendell Willkie met with Jews and Arabs, told the British rulers of Palestine that both peoples should be brought into the government, and he later wrote that the conflict there was so ancient, it was unrealistic to think that it could "be solved by good will and simple honesty".

FactSnippet No. 470,019
95.

Wendell Willkie had been moved to add the Soviet Union to his itinerary when three Western reporters there urged him by telegram to do so.

FactSnippet No. 470,020
96.

In China, Wendell Willkie was hosted by Chiang Kai-shek and was deeply fascinated by Madame Chiang.

FactSnippet No. 470,021
97.

Wendell Willkie was taken to the front in order to observe the Chinese military forces in their fight against the Japanese, and he spoke out against colonialism, in China and elsewhere.

FactSnippet No. 470,022
98.

Wendell Willkie's statements were reported widely in Britain, angering Churchill, who responded by saying, "We mean to hold our own.

FactSnippet No. 470,023
99.

On October 26, 1942, Wendell Willkie made a "Report to the People", telling Americans about his trip in a radio speech heard by about 36 million people.

FactSnippet No. 470,024
100.

Wendell Willkie promised to end racial segregation in Washington, D C Wendell Willkie gained the endorsements of the two largest African American newspapers, the Pittsburgh Courier and the Baltimore Afro-American.

FactSnippet No. 470,025
101.

Wendell Willkie warned Republicans that only a full commitment to equal rights for minorities would woo African Americans back to the party, and he criticized Roosevelt for yielding to Southern racists among the Democrats.

FactSnippet No. 470,026
102.

Wendell Willkie addressed a convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1942, one of the most prominent politicians to do so up to that point.

FactSnippet No. 470,027
103.

Wendell Willkie urged integration of the armed forces, and when a violent race riot broke out in Detroit in June 1943, he went on national radio in order to criticize both parties for ignoring racial issues.

FactSnippet No. 470,028
104.

On November 9, 1942, soon after making his reports to Roosevelt and the American people, Willkie argued the case of Schneiderman v United States before the Supreme Court.

FactSnippet No. 470,029
105.

Wendell Willkie spoke out against those who blamed the Jews for the war, warning against "witch-hanging and mob-baiting".

FactSnippet No. 470,030
106.

Wendell Willkie spent much of 1943 preparing for a second presidential run, addressing Republican and nonpartisan groups.

FactSnippet No. 470,031
107.

Wendell Willkie did not meet with Roosevelt; with the presidential election approaching and with both men likely to run in it as candidates, their continued association would have been awkward.

FactSnippet No. 470,032
108.

Wendell Willkie spoke of appointing an African American to either the cabinet or the Supreme Court, and he warned California's Republican committee that the New Deal was irreversible and he stated that all they would get by opposing it was oblivion.

FactSnippet No. 470,033
109.

Wendell Willkie made his candidacy clear in an interview with Look magazine in early October 1943, arguing that a return to isolationism would lead the party to disaster.

FactSnippet No. 470,034
110.

Wendell Willkie decided to enter several presidential primaries in order to demonstrate his public support of the party, and he chose Wisconsin, with a primary on April 4, 1944, as the first major test.

FactSnippet No. 470,035
111.

Wendell Willkie had not taken Wisconsin's electoral votes in 1940, though he had won in all parts of the state except Milwaukee.

FactSnippet No. 470,036
112.

Wendell Willkie's advisors feared the large German-American vote in Wisconsin, which had contributed to the state being firmly isolationist until Pearl Harbor.

FactSnippet No. 470,037
113.

Wendell Willkie stated that if he did badly in Wisconsin, he would end his campaign.

FactSnippet No. 470,038
114.

In Wisconsin, Willkie ran a slate of delegates led by future governor Vernon W Thomson, and he devoted two weeks to campaigning there.

FactSnippet No. 470,039
115.

Wendell Willkie was endorsed by most newspapers, but polls showed him well behind Dewey both in the state and nationwide.

FactSnippet No. 470,040
116.

Wendell Willkie was reluctant even to respond, knowing that Roosevelt had made promises to potential running mates which he did not follow through on.

FactSnippet No. 470,041
117.

Wendell Willkie got Roosevelt interested in a new liberal party which would be formed once peace came that would combine the left of the two existing major parties, but Wendell Willkie broke off contact with the White House after there were leaks of this to the press, because he felt that Roosevelt had used him for political gain.

FactSnippet No. 470,042
118.

Roosevelt's son Elliott later stated that his father hoped to have Wendell Willkie be the first Secretary General of the United Nations, and the two men agreed to meet later in the year.

FactSnippet No. 470,043
119.

Wendell Willkie had not been invited to speak at the 1944 Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated Dewey for president, and he declined a pass as an "honored guest".

FactSnippet No. 470,044
120.

Wendell Willkie wrote two articles for Collier's, one urging an internationalist foreign policy, and the other demanding advances in civil rights for African Americans.

FactSnippet No. 470,045
121.

Wendell Willkie had long been neglectful of his health and diet, smoking heavily and rarely exercising.

FactSnippet No. 470,046
122.

Wendell Willkie's heavy drinking had charmed the reporters in Philadelphia in 1940, but by 1944 it was becoming a problem.

FactSnippet No. 470,047
123.

When he arrived in New York, Wendell Willkie was in great pain and his press secretary called an ambulance to take him to Lenox Hill Hospital.

FactSnippet No. 470,048
124.

Wendell Willkie recovered to some extent, enough so that his friends expected him to be discharged.

FactSnippet No. 470,049
125.

Wendell Willkie spent time working on the galleys of his second book, An American Program, and planned future projects.

FactSnippet No. 470,050
126.

The hospital, which had been issuing reassuring bulletins to the public, was now forced to inform the public that Wendell Willkie's condition had worsened and that he was critically ill.

FactSnippet No. 470,051
127.

Wendell Willkie had suffered over a dozen heart attacks in Lenox Hill Hospital.

FactSnippet No. 470,052
128.

Wendell Willkie's casket was placed in the center aisle of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church; 60, 000 people filed by his casket, and 35, 000 crowded around the church during the service, including many blacks—as, Eleanor Roosevelt noted in her column, was fitting.

FactSnippet No. 470,053
129.

Wendell Willkie's 1940 running mate, McNary, died eight months before him, on February 25.

FactSnippet No. 470,054
130.

Correspondent and author Warren Moscow wrote that after 1940, Wendell Willkie helped Roosevelt, who was always careful not to go too far in front of public opinion, "as a pace-setter with the President's blessing".

FactSnippet No. 470,055
131.

Wendell Willkie urged [Americans] to imagine and feel a new form of reciprocity with the world, one that millions of Americans responded to with unprecedented urgency.

FactSnippet No. 470,056
132.

Wendell Willkie's advocacy came at a cost to his standing in the Republican Party.

FactSnippet No. 470,057
133.

Dunn concluded that Wendell Willkie "died as he had lived, an idealist, a humanitarian—and a lone wolf".

FactSnippet No. 470,058