This collection includes approximately 180 campaign buttons, badges, and pendants from Wendell L. Willkie's failed 1940 presidential campaign with running mate Charles McNary. The materials were obtained from an exhibit that was dismantled.
The collection exhibits the tenacity in which Willkie and his suppporters opposed President Roosevelt's third term, referring to him as a tyrant and a self-imposed monarch. Others buttons attack Roosevelt's New Deal and his international policies.
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Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.
Lewis Wendell Willkie was born in Elwood, Indiana, on February 18, 1892. Although he was born Lewis Wendell, he went by Wendell Lewis after a clerical error transposed his first and middle names upon enlisting in the army. In his early adult life, Willkie became a successful lawyer in both Indiana and Ohio. His political career began in 1932 when he sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Willkie lost the nomination to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who went on to win the presidential election against the incumbent Herbert Hoover.
In 1933, Willkie was elected president of the Commonwealth and Southern Corporation, becoming a major opponent of President Roosevelt's Tennessee Valley Authority. Willkie believed that his own company and other private businesses would be wiped out by the federal government. In opposition to Roosevelt's New Deal, Willkie switched to the Republican Party in 1939, just in time to secure the Republican Party's nomination in 1940. In the presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Willkie by five million votes.
With World War II's outbreak, Willkie became a strong supporter of Roosevelt's wartime policies, traveling on numerous diplomatic missions to help build support for the war effort. Willkie went on to become close friends with Roosevelt and his wife. Despite their newfound friendship, Willkie did seek the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1944 to unseat Roosevelt, but the party's brokers objected to Willkie's earlier support for Roosevelt. The nomination went to Thomas Dewey.
After the 1944 nomination was announced, Willkie sought to form a new political party. Before this could happen, he suffered a heart attack while traveling from Indianapolis to New York City and died on October 8, 1944.
Part of the Special Collections, Gee Library, Texas A&M University-Commerce Repository
Please cite as: The Wendell L. Willkie Campaign Button Collection, collection 2009.08, James G. Gee Library Special Collections, Texas A&M University-Commerce. http://archives.tamuc.edu/repositories/2/resources/9 Accessed September 20, 2017.
Special Collections Department
James G. Gee Library Texas A&M University-Commerce