THE LAST WORDS of the presidential oath of office had hardly been uttered in January 1937 before speculation started on who would be the next President. Many Democratic hopefuls, convinced there would be no third term, made plans either to enlist Franklin D. Roosevelt's support or to strengthen their own positions sufficiently to seize the succession. What was a usual phenomenon of American politics now had some novel aspects. FDR wanted to install someone who would continue New Deal policies. But there was none among the possible contenders who did not, in the words of the architect of the New Deal, have some "fatal weakness." And as the second term grew older, the prospect of war in Europe increased greatly. Consequently, even though he was now entering his second full term, many considered Roosevelt his party's and his country's strongest choice.
In 1937 Roosevelt was on the crest of his popularity. Only Maine and Vermont had failed to acknowledge his ascendancy. Already