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Stanley Weintraub Discusses FDR's "Final Victory"

  • Broadcast in History
The Organic View

The Organic View


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In the last months of 1943, in the midst of World War II, journalists were already calling for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s reelection. Unsure of his physical capacity to run for a fourth term, Roosevelt confided to his cousin that he planned to nominate another in place of himself. Yet no other Democrat dared announce his candidacy and the USA needed a formidable leader to see it safely through the war in Europe and the Pacific Rim. In Final Victory, Stanley Weintraub traces FDR’s last presidential campaign—a campaign not unlike the one today, in which domestic concerns and nostalgia for pre-war days dominated the American mindset. For many, another term for Roosevelt would satisfy the need for continuity during trying times. However, the polio-stricken president feared the illness he disguised from the public would render his task impossible. Meanwhile, the Republicans were determined to oust Roosevelt, accusing him of running an ineffectual government and suggesting he should have ceded power after his second term. Even politicians in his own party had their doubts about his ability to lead. As Roosevelt battled heart disease, Democrats suspecting succession to the White House vied for the vice-presidential spot on the ticket, which eventually went to Harry Truman. 
Weintraub chronicles FDR’s historic bid for a fourth term by piecing together the perspectives of political rivals like Republican opponent Thomas Dewey and the near-insubordinate General Douglas MacArthur, allies like Democratic National Chairman Robert Hannegan and adviser Harry Hopkins, and, of course, the incumbent president himself, bringing to light one man’s struggle against adversity—and dedication to duty—during a crucial period of American history. In this segment of The Organic View, host June Stoyer talks to preeminent historian and award-winning author, Stanley Weintraub.