Wendell Willkie for President

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Photograph of Wendell Willkie bordered by black text on a white background, and an outer border of flag illustrations.

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Produced in support of Wendell Willkie's 1940 presidential bid, this particular button features a rare black and white photograph of the dark horse candidate. Prior to the election, Willkie was a corporate lawyer, employed by the Commonwealth Southern Corporation, a company that distributed electricity in eleven states. He became the company president in the mid-1930s.

Before his campaign, Willkie had no experience as an elected public official. He had also never once run for public office before his presidential bid. Once a former Democrat and Wall Street industrialist, Willkie became one of the three major isolationist candidates fighting for the Republican nomination in 1940.

Although Willkie lost the election to incubent Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, Roosevelt offered him the opportunity to serve as a US representative abroad. Willkie traveled to the Middle East, Britain, and the Soviet Union during the early 1940s. A few years later, in October, 1944, at the age of 52, Willkie suffered a major heart attack and died.

Catalog ID PO0052