THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT TOYED WITH the idea of a third term from the moment of his second inauguration. It was impossible that a man who took so much satisfaction from breaking so many comparatively unimportant precedents should fail to feel the urge to break this one.
However, it is possible that with the economic crash of 1937-38, he put the idea out of his mind. Henry Morgenthau has made it quite clear that Roosevelt had the hope that he could get through the remaining years of his second administration without balancing the budget and then go out of power to await the inevitable crash that would follow his departure and be the prologue to another Roosevelt term. The disastrous Court fight, the hopeless purge defeat, the deep cleavage within his party and inside his own cabinet, the failure of all his policies beyond doubt led him to look forward to a period of peace and he actually discussed with a magazine a proposal to write for them at a very large honorarium.
After the arrival in Washington of the academic champions of government spending and the rise of the war fever in Europe, which presented him almost like a fairy gift with the means of spending on a most elaborate scale, the sense of frustration that had extinguished in his breast the ambition for a third term was now gone. Now he knew he had the perfect project for spending--national defense. Now he knew, because the economists from Harvard and Tufts had assured him, that all his fears about the unbalanced budget were just old-fashioned horse-and-buggy bogies. There is not the slightest doubt, from the accounts of all who saw him fre-