United States and American History: 1940
About the history of the United States in 1940, population, first black to win an Oscar, first electron microscope, World War II continues, FDR reelected, Grandma Moses art show.
Feb. 29 Hattie McDaniel won the "Best Supporting Actress" award for her mammy role in Gone With the Wind, the 1st black ever to win an Oscar.
Apr. 20 Dr. Ladislaus Morton demonstrated a new research tool in Philadelphia, Pa.: the electron microscope. Invented by Dr. Vladimir Zworkin, the original model was 10' high, weighed over 1,000 lbs., and gave a magnification of 100,000 diameters.
May 15 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, smarting over serious Royal Navy losses in the war, wrote to President Roosevelt, asking for U.S. aid. In negotiations ending on September 3, the U.S. delivered 50 overage destroyers, receiving in exchange 99-year leases on 8 military bases in Newfoundland and the West Indies.
May 15 Nylons were placed on public sale throughout the country. In New York, the 72,000-pair allotment was sold out in 8 hours. Limit: 2 pairs per customer. Du Pont's initial production could satisfy only a fraction of the prewar demand for women's silk stockings, estimated at 6 million pairs in the U.S. The synthetic replacement for silk was invented by Dr. Wallace Carothers in 1937 as patent #2071250.
June 28 The Smith Act was passed, requiring aliens to be fingerprinted and outlawing organizations which advocated the overthrow of the U.S. Government. Five million registered. The Act was the 1st to condone and support "guilt by association."
July 18 Igor Ivan Sikorsky flew the VS-300 helicopter successfully for 15 minutes at Stratford, Conn. His radical new concept for aircraft was powered by a single main rotor with 3 auxiliary tailrotors.
Aug. The Republican presidential candidate, Wendell L. Willkie, addressed 200,000 at Elwood, Ind., the largest number ever to gather for a political rally. Unknown 6 months before, he captured a record 22 million votes in November, but it was not enough to defeat Roosevelt's 3rd-term bid. An appealing speaker, he might have won but for his indecisive barnstorming. He attacked--and supported--Roosevelt's anti-Hitler position. He attacked Roosevelt's "New Deal" program--but supported its major reforms.
Sept. 9 W.E.B. Du Bois's autobiographical Dusk of Dawn was published. Rejected by blacks for accepting racial segregation and by whites for his Marxist philosophies, Du Bois was grudgingly given credit by the NAACP for being the creator of a black "intelligentsia."
Oct. Mrs. Thomas Solomon "Grandma" Moses held her 1st art show at the Galerie St. Etienne, exhibiting 35 of her New England "primitives." Using Sears, Roebuck paint and scraps of threshing canvas from her farm, the 80-ish gray-haired widow displayed scenes of carefully stippled, speckled Green Mountains farm life--taken from around her familiar Eagle Bridge, N.Y., home--in old mirror frames found in her attic.
Nov. 21 John L. Lewis, outspoken labor chief of the Congress of Industrial Organization--the CIO--carried out his threat to resign if Roosevelt were elected.
Dec. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, returned to office for an unprecedented 3rd term, called upon the U.S. to become the "great arsenal of democracy" in the fight against Hitlerism.
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