Willkie, Wendell Lewis

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Willkie, Wendell Lewis

Wendell Lewis Willkie, 1892–1944, American industrialist and political leader, b. Elwood, Ind. He practiced law in Ohio (1914–23) and in New York (1923–33) before he became president (1933) of the Commonwealth and Southern Corp., a giant utility holding company. Although a Democrat, Willkie became a leading spokesman of business interests opposed to the New Deal. He finally enrolled as a Republican in 1940 and in that year was nominated by the Republican party for the presidency. In his campaign he endorsed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's foreign policy but attacked the New Deal at home. Although defeated in the election, he polled more than 22 million votes (the largest popular vote received by a defeated candidate up to that time). He later (1941–42) visited England, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, and China as the President's personal representative. He led the fight (1942–44) to liberalize the Republican party, mainly attacking isolationism. He wrote One World (1943) and An American Program (1944).

See biographies by W. Severn (1967) and S. Neal (1984); study by W. Moscow (1968).

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