President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Reelection, Fourth Term, and Vetoes

About the reelection and fourth term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt n the United States, World War II in effect, conference at Yalta, vetoes and death.



Fourth Term: November 7, 1944...

With the U.S. in the middle of the war, Roosevelt was not about to retire; though his health had deteriorated, he was determined to see the war through to its conclusion and play the leading role in forging international peace. His renomination by his party was, of course, a foregone conclusion, but once again the vice-presidential slot was a subject of controversy. Conservatives were intent on dumping Vice President Wallace from the ticket, and in order to avoid a convention floor fight, FDR personally selected a compromise candidate--a little-known senator from Missouri named Harry S Truman.

The Republicans, behind Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York, waged a particularly bitter and personal campaign, charging that "communist influences" had taken over the Administration and whispering about the President's failing health. Stung by these charges, Roosevelt was determined to show some of his old mettle. In October, he greeted more than 3 million New Yorkers, campaigning in an open car in a blinding rain. In the end, the Republicans were unable to shake Roosevelt's image as a war leader of international stature. Dewey was beaten by 3 1/2 million votes and lost the Electoral College, 432 to 99.

January 20, 1945....

Roosevelt took the oath of office for the 4th time in an austere, sparsely attended ceremony on the south portico of the White House. A light snow had fallen the night before and the thermometer registered only one degree above freezing; nevertheless, the President appeared bareheaded and without an overcoat to deliver a 6-minute address.

Two weeks later he traveled 14,000 mi. to confer with Churchill and Stalin at Yalta. When he spoke to Congress after his return, he did so from a sitting position--the 1st time he had delivered a major speech without standing up. "I hope that you will pardon me for the unusual posture of sitting down," he said. "It makes it a lot easier for me not having to carry about 10 lbs. of steel around on the bottom of my legs." It was also the 1st time the President had ever referred to his braces in public.

Five weeks later, Roosevelt was dead.

Vetoes: Roosevelt dominated Congress more completely than any other President in history, and he used his veto power with unparalleled zest. His 635 vetoes set an all-time record. Only 9 of his vetoes were overridden by Congress. Old New Dealers tell the story that Roosevelt used to ask his aides to find something he could veto in order to remind Congress not to get "uppity."

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