Dan Centinello’s Look at Past Politics in the 1940s

When most people think of the 1940s, World War II is probably the first thing that comes to mind, and rightly so. As the most widespread and deadliest war in history, it lasted from 1939-1945 and encroached upon virtually all aspects of American life, even pop culture. America was still recovering from the Great Depression when suddenly the country had to shift all of its resources into the war effort, which ultimately ended the Depression once and for all.

As you can expect, politics of the decade were largely influenced by the War. Here, I take a look at some of the important events that occurred in American politics between 1940 and 1949.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Elected for Third Term

On November 5, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first man to hold office for three terms, after his efforts to rescue America from Depression with his New Deal policies the previous decade. He had a 449 to 82 Electoral College Victory over Republican candidate Wendell Wilkie. Roosevelt went on to be elected for four terms, but it was after his death that Congress passed an amendment that no president should serve more than two terms.

Atlantic Charter is Issued

On August 14, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed a joint agreement between the U.S. and British War Aims, as allies against Axis forces. The Charter was significant in solidifying the alliance between the U.S. and Britain, setting forth Roosevelt’s vision of a postwar world with freer exchanges of trade between nations, and serving as an inspiration for Third World colonists fighting for independence.

G.I. Bill of Rights Goes Into Effect

On June 22, 1944, the G.I. Bill of Rights went into effect, granting a variety of benefits, such as education and unemployment compensation, to veterans returning from war.

Executive Order 9981

Harry S. Truman, who became president in April 1945 following FDR’s sudden death, passed Executive Order 998, ending segregation in the United States military; of course, America still had a long way to go before the end of segregation entirely.