Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 2, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Yesterday’s post contained a diary entry of Harold Nicolson, who served during WW II in Parliament and as a junior member of Churchill’s government. Although Nicolson may be familiar to you because his diary for the years just before the war and during it are so often referred to by historians, he may be better known for something else.

Nicolson and his wife, the writer Vita Sackville-West, purchased and restored Sissinghurst Castle; and created there one of England’s most famous and beautiful gardens. Both the castle and garden are now maintained by The National Trust. You can learn more about Nicolson here and the castle and garden here and here.

The diary entry in yesterday’s post was for November 6, 1940. Nicolson confided his relief and joy that President Roosevelt had been re-elected to an unprecedented third term.

I want to end this post with a very plausible and momentous “might have been” had Roosevelt’s opponent, Wendell Willkie, won the 1940 election.

Willkie’s Vice-presidential running mate was Senator Charles McNary from Oregon. He died February 25, 1944.

Under the Presidential Succession Act then in force, the Vice-presidency would have remained unfilled and the Secretary of State would have been next in line to succeed the President.

Wendell Willkie died October 8, 1944, and would have been succeeded as President by whoever was Secretary of State at that time.

It’s extraordinary to think about, isn’t it?


Locomotive Breath said...

The thing that FDR did that was really horrible was when they were doing the nominations for the 1944 election, he knew he was sick and would not be able to complete another 4 year term. Yet he ran anyway.

Furthermore, he didn't participate in the nomination process for VP when he knew it would be a future president. Truman was selected as the compromise candidate by the horse-trading pols at the Dem convention. Then, having been elected a fourth time, FDR completely ignored his Truman.

Over to you Harry. Good luck with that President thing. Fortunately, Truman did OK but I wonder how the postwar negotiations in Europe would have gone if there were a more-experienced man in charge.

Anonymous said...

Name: Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.
State of Residency: Virginia
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 30, 1944
Entry on Duty: Dec 1, 1944
Termination of Appointment: Jun 27, 1945

Anonymous said...

Of course Willkie would not have appointed Stettinius, but someone else. But consider that had Willkie won in 1940, he likely would have run for re-election in 1944. What a mess if a candidate dies one month before the election. And in the middle of a war. Who knows how that would have affected the war effort.--Buddy