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1940: Exploration and settlement; wars; government; civil rights; statistics.

With the outbreak of war in Europe in Sept. 1939, the key political question facing the U.S. became how to stay out of the conflict and still help the forces of democracy. Realizing that America was facing a crisis, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to run for an unprecedented third term. His rival was a political newcomer, Wendell L. Willkie, whose plainspoken manner made him a powerful contender. Roosevelt won, largely because people felt it was better not to change administrations in dangerous times. This year Germany would invade Norway, overrun Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and defeat France. In August Adolf Hitler launched the Battle of Britain, a brutal air assault intended to destroy the Royal Air Force and enable invasion of England.

The U.S. population was 131,669,275, according to Census Bureau figures. The center of population was two miles southeast by east of Carlisle, Sullivan County, Ind.

Apr. 7

The Socialist Party nominated Norman Thomas of New York for the fourth time as its candidate for the presidency. Maynard C. Krueger was nominated for the vice presidency.

Apr. 12

The Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act was signed by Pres. Roosevelt. It extended the life of the Trade Agreements Act of 1937 for three more years.

Apr. 28

The Socialist Labor Party nominated John W. Aiken of Massachusetts for the presidency and Aaron M. Orange of New York for the vice presidency.

May 10

The Prohibition Party nominated Roger W. Babson of Massachusetts for the presidency and Edgar V. Moorman of Illinois for the vice presidency.

June 2

The Communist Party nominated Earl Browder of Kansas for the presidency and James W. Ford for the vice presidency.

June 24-28

The Republican National Convention nominated Wendell L. Willkie of Indiana for the presidency and Charles L. McNary of Oregon for the vice presidency.

June 28

The Alien Registration Act, also known as the Smith Act, was passed by Congress. It was signed into law on the next day by Pres. Roosevelt. It required registration and fingerprinting of aliens and made it unlawful to belong to any organization advocating overthrow of the U.S. government. Subsequent registration showed approximately 5,000,000 aliens living in the U.S.

July 15-19

The Democratic National Convention nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt for the presidency on the first ballot. Henry A. Wallace of Iowa was nominated for the vice presidency.

Sept. 3

The U.S. gave 50 outdated destroyers to Great Britain in exchange for 99-year leases on naval and air bases in Newfoundland and the West Indies.

Sept. 16

The Selective Service Act was passed by Congress. The law, the first U.S. peacetime draft, provided for 900,000 selectees to be taken each year. All men between the ages of 20 and 36 were required to register. Length of military service was one year, but this was extended to 18 months in Aug. 1941.

Nov. 5

Franklin D. Roosevelt was reelected president of the United States. Henry A. Wallace was elected vice president. The electoral vote was Roosevelt, 449, Wendell L. Willkie, Republican of Indiana, 82. The popular vote was Roosevelt, 27,244,160; Willkie, 22,305,198; Norman Thomas, Socialist candidate, 100,264; Roger W. Babson, Prohibition candidate, 57,812; Earl Browder, Communist, 48,579; John W. Aiken, Socialist Labor candidate, 14,861. In congressional elections the Democrats lost three Senate seats but kept a 66-28 majority, with two seats going to minor parties. In the House the Democrats gained seven seats for a 268-162 lead, with five seats going to minor parties.
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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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