“Happy Days are Here Again,” announced Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s song. as he took over the presidency and the Great Depression. Immediately, Roosevelt rolled up his figurative sleeves and went to work, drafting his New Deal legislation to help the unemployed find work, the working to unionize for better conditions, and everyone, regardless of creed or color, benefit from his Social Security program – and that was just his first two terms. As the Nazis were gaining power in Germany, FDR started making the case that the circumstances of the world were so extraordinary as to dictate a third term.
On this day, July 18, in 1940, the Democratic party nominated Roosevelt for a third term, the first — and only — time in history such an event occurred. No president, not even George Washington, who was publicly enjoined to run for a third term, served more than two; yet no constitutional amendment existed yet to bar it.
Roosevelt argued only he had the requisite experience to deal with the Nazi menace, but even many of his supporters disagreed with his decision to run. His opponent in the general election Wendell Wilkie made much of the third-term run, but ultimately lost the vote to FDR 54% to 44%.