1940 in the United States
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Events from the year 1940 in the United States.
- President: Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York)
- Vice President: John Nance Garner (D-Texas)
- Chief Justice: Charles Evans Hughes (New York)
- Speaker of the House of Representatives: William B. Bankhead (D-Alabama) (until September 15), Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) (starting September 16)
- Senate Majority Leader: Alben W. Barkley (D-Kentucky)
- Congress: 76th
- February 7 – RKO release Walt Disney's second full-length animated film, Pinocchio.
- February 20 – Tom and Jerry make their debut in Puss Gets the Boot.
- February 27 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14.
- March – Truth or Consequences debuts on NBC Radio.
- March 2 – Cartoon character Elmer Fudd makes his debut in the animated short Elmer's Candid Camera.
- April – Dick Grayson (AKA as Robin, the Boy Wonder) first appears with Batman.
- April 1 – April Fools' Day is also the census date for the 16th U.S. Census.
- April 7 – Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
- April 12 – Opening day at Jamaica Racetrack features the use of pari-mutuel betting equipment, a departure from bookmaking heretofore used exclusively throughout New York state. Other NY tracks follow suit later in 1940.
- April 21 – Take It or Leave It makes it debut on CBS Radio, with Bob Hawk as host.
- April 23 – A fire at the Rhythm Night Club in Natchez, Mississippi kills 209.
- May 15
- May 16 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, addressing a joint session of Congress, asks for an extraordinary credit of approximately $900 million to finance construction of at least 50,000 airplanes per year.
- May 18 – The 6.9 Mw El Centro earthquake affects California's Imperial Valley with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme), causing nine deaths and twenty injuries. Financial losses are around $6 million. Significant damage also occurs in Mexicali, Mexico.
- May 25 – The Crypt of Civilization at Oglethorpe University is sealed.
- May 29 – The Vought XF4U-1, prototype of the F4U Corsair U.S. fighter later used in WWII, makes its first flight.
- June 10 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounces Italy's actions with his "Stab in the Back"[permanent dead link] speech during the graduation ceremonies of the University of Virginia.
- June 14 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Naval Expansion Act into law, which aims to increase the United States Navy's tonnage by 11%.
- June 16 – The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held for the first time in Sturgis, South Dakota.
- June 24 – U.S. politics: The Republican Party begins its national convention in Philadelphia and nominates Wendell Willkie as its candidate for president.
- July 1 – The doomed first Tacoma Narrows Bridge opens for business, built with an 8-foot (2.4 m) girder and 190 feet (58 m) above the water, as the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
- July 15 – U.S. politics: The Democratic Party begins its national convention in Chicago and nominates Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term as president.
- July 20 – The Arroyo Seco Parkway, one of the first freeways built in the U.S., opens to traffic, connecting downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena, California.
- July 27 – Bugs Bunny makes his debut in the Oscar-nominated cartoon short, A Wild Hare.
- August 4 – Gen. John J. Pershing, in a nationwide radio broadcast, urges all-out aid to Britain in order to defend the Americas, while Charles Lindbergh speaks to an isolationist rally at Soldier Field in Chicago.
- September – The U.S. Army 45th Infantry Division (previously a National Guard Division in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma), is activated and ordered into federal service for 1 year, to engage in a training program in Ft. Sill and Louisiana, prior to serving in World War II.
- September 2 – WWII: An agreement between America and Great Britain is announced to the effect that 50 U.S. destroyers needed for escort work will be transferred to Great Britain. In return, America gains 99-year leases on British bases in the North Atlantic, West Indies and Bermuda.
- September 12 – The Hercules Munitions Plant in Succasunna-Kenvil, New Jersey explodes, killing 55 people.
- September 16 – WWII: The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 is signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt, creating the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.
- September 26 – WWII: The United States imposes a total embargo on all scrap metal shipments to Japan.
- October 1 – The first section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the country's first long-distance controlled-access highway, is opened between Irwin and Carlisle.
- October 8 – The Cincinnati Reds defeat the Detroit Tigers, 4 games to 3, to win their 2nd World Series Title.
- October 16 – The draft registration of approximately 16 million men begins in the United States.
- October 29 – The Selective Service System lottery is held in Washington, D.C..
- November 5 – U.S. presidential election, 1940: Democrat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Republican challenger Wendell Willkie and becomes the nation's first and only third-term president.
- November 7 – In Tacoma, Washington, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (nicknamed the "Galloping Gertie") collapses in a 42-mile-per-hour (68 km/h) wind storm, causing the center span of the bridge to sway. When it collapses, a 600-foot-long (180 m) design of the center span falls 190 feet above the water, killing Tubby, a black male cocker spaniel dog.
- November 11 – Armistice Day Blizzard: An unexpected blizzard kills 144 in the Midwest.
- November 12 – Case of Hansberry v. Lee, 311 U.S. 32 (1940), decided, allowing a racially restrictive covenant to be lifted.
- November 13 – Walt Disney's Fantasia is released. It is the first box office failure for Disney, though it recoups its cost years later and becomes one of the most highly regarded of Disney's films.
- November 16 – An unexploded pipe bomb is found in the Consolidated Edison office building (only years later is the culprit, George Metesky, apprehended).
- December 8 – The Chicago Bears, in what will become the most one-sided victory in National Football League history, defeat the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game.
- December 17 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt, at his regular press conference, first sets forth the outline of his plan to send aid to Great Britain that will become known as Lend-Lease.
- December 29 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a fireside chat to the nation, declares that the United States must become "the great arsenal of democracy."
- December 20 – The 5.3 Mw New Hampshire earthquake shakes New England with a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII (Very strong). This first event in a doublet earthquake is followed four days later by a 5.6 Mw shock. Total damage from the events is light.
- December 30 – California's first modern freeway, the future State Route 110, opens to traffic in Pasadena, California, as the Arroyo Seco Parkway (now the Pasadena Freeway).
- April 13 – New York Rangers win their Third Stanley Cup (and last until 1994) by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 2.
- January 2 – Jim Bakker, American televangelist, sometime husband of Tammy Faye
- January 4 – Helmut Jahn, German-American architect
- January 6 – Penny Lernoux, American journalist and author (d. 1989)
- January 14 – Julian Bond, African-American civil rights activist (d. 2015)
- January 20 – Carol Heiss, American figure skater
- January 21
- January 23 – Jimmy Castor, African-American funk, R&B, and soul saxophonist (d. 2012)
- January 27 – James Cromwell, American actor
- January 29 – Katharine Ross, American actress
- February 2 – Odell Brown, American jazz organist (d. 2011)
- February 3 – Fran Tarkenton, American football player
- February 4 – George A. Romero, American film writer and director (d. 2017)
- February 6 – Tom Brokaw, American television news reporter
- February 8
- February 12 – Hank Brown, American politician
- February 17
- February 19 – Smokey Robinson, African-American musician
- February 21 – John Lewis, African-American politician, civil rights leader
- February 22 – Billy Name, born William G. Linich, photographer and Warhol archivist
- February 23 – Peter Fonda, American actor (d. 2019)
- February 24
- February 25 – Ron Santo, American baseball player (d. 2010)
- February 27 – Howard Hesseman, American actor
- February 28
- March 6 – Willie Stargell, African American baseball player (d. 2001)
- March 10
- March 12 – Al Jarreau, African-American singer (d. 2017)
- March 13 – Candi Staton, American singer
- March 15 – Phil Lesh, American rock guitarist (Grateful Dead)
- March 17 – Mark White, American politician (d. 2017)
- March 18 – Mark Medoff, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 2019)
- March 20 – Mary Ellen Mark, American photographer (d. 2015)
- March 21 – Solomon Burke, African-American singer, songwriter (d. 2010)
- March 25 – Anita Bryant, American entertainer
- March 26
- March 27 – Cale Yarborough, American race car driver
- March 29 – Ray Davis, American bass musician (P-Funk) (d. 2005)
- March 31
- April 8 – John Havlicek, American basketball player (d. 2019)
- April 12
- April 15 – Willie Davis, American baseball player (d. 2010)
- April 17 – Chuck Menville, American animator, writer (d. 1992)
- April 18 – Joseph L. Goldstein, American biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- April 24
- April 25 – Al Pacino, American actor and film director
- April 30 – Burt Young, American actor, author and painter
- May 3 – David Koch, American billionaire businessman, philanthropist and political activist (d. 2019)
- May 5 – Lance Henriksen, American actor
- May 7 – Jim Connors, American radio personality (d. 1987)
- May 8
- May 9 – James L. Brooks, American film producer, writer
- May 10 – Wayne A. Downing, American U.S. general (d. 2007)
- May 15
- May 17 – Alan Kay, American computer scientist
- May 18 – Lenny Lipton, American inventor
- May 20 – Shorty Long, African-American soul music singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer (Here Comes The Judge) (d. 1969)
- May 22 – Bernard Shaw, African-American journalist and television news reporter
- June 1
- June 3 – Connie Saylor, American race car driver (d. 1993)
- June 7
- June 8
- June 11 – Wayne Kemp, American country music singer (d. 2015)
- June 13 – Bobby Freeman, American singer, songwriter (d. 2017)
- June 16
- June 19 – Shirley Muldowney, American race car driver
- June 21 – Mariette Hartley, American actress
- June 23 – Wilma Rudolph, American track & field athlete and 3-time Olympic winner (d. 1994)
- June 24 – Hope Cooke, American socialite, Queen Consort of Sikkim
- June 26 – Lucinda Childs, American actress, postmodern dancer and choreographer
- July 2 – Joshua Bryant, American actor, director, author and speaker
- July 3
- July 4 – Gene McDowell, American college football coach
- July 6 – Jeannie Seely, American singer, songwriter
- July 10
- July 13 – Paul Prudhomme, Louisiana Creole cuisine American chef (d. 2015)
- July 15 – Johnny Seay, American country music singer (d. 2016)
- July 16 – Tom Metcalf, American baseball pitcher
- July 17 – Verne Lundquist, American sportscaster
- July 18
- July 21 – Jim Clyburn, African-American politician
- July 24
- July 26
- July 27 – Gary Kurtz, American filmmaker (d. 2018)
- July 28 – Philip Proctor, American actor
- July 29 – Bernard Lafayette, African-American civil rights activist
- August 3 – Martin Sheen, American actor
- August 7 – Thomas Barlow, American politician (d. 2017)
- August 10 – Bobby Hatfield, American singer (The Righteous Brothers) (d. 2003)
- August 13 – Tony Cloninger, American baseball player (d. 2018)
- August 14 – Galen Hall, American football coach
- August 19 – Jill St. John, American actress
- August 20 – Rubén Hinojosa, American politician
- August 23 – Thomas A. Steitz, American biochemist (d. 2018)
- August 27 – Fernest Arceneaux, Zydeco accordionist (d. 2008)
- August 28 – William Cohen, American politician
- August 29 – James Brady, American politician, 17th White House Press Secretary (d. 2014)
- August 31 – Wilton Felder, African American jazz saxophonist (d. 2015)
- September 3 – Joseph C. Strasser, American admiral
- September 5 – Raquel Welch, American actress
- September 10 – David Mann, American artist (d. 2004
- September 11 – Brian De Palma, American film director
- September 12
- September 14 – Larry Brown, American basketball player and coach
- September 15 – Merlin Olsen, American football player, announcer, and actor (d. 2010)
- September 18 – Frankie Avalon, American pop singer and actor
- October 3 – Alan O'Day, American singer, songwriter (d. 2013)
- October 6 – Wyche Fowler, American politician
- October 9 – Gordon J. Humphrey, American politician
- October 13 – Pharoah Sanders, American saxophonist
- October 16 – Barry Corbin, American actor
- October 20 – Robert Pinsky, American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator
- October 25 – Bob Knight, American basketball player and coach
- October 27 – John Gotti, American gangster (d. 2002)
- October 29 – Connie Mack III, American politician
- November 11 – Barbara Boxer, American politician
- November 12 – Donald Wuerl, American archbishop
- November 15 – Sam Waterston, American actor
- November 21 – Richard Marcinko, U.S. Navy SEAL team member, author
- November 22 – Terry Gilliam, American-born British screenwriter, director and animator
- November 23 – Rockin' Robin Roberts, American rock and roll singer (d. 1967)
- November 25
- November 27 – Bruce Lee, Chinese-American martial artist, actor (d. 1973)
- November 29 – Chuck Mangione, American flugelhorn player
- December 1 – Richard Pryor, African-American actor, comedian (d. 2005)
- December 4
- December 11
- December 12 – Dionne Warwick, African-American singer and actress
- December 19 – Phil Ochs, American singer and songwriter (d. 1976)
- December 21
- December 23 – Jorma Kaukonen, American musician (Jefferson Airplane)
- December 24 – Janet Carroll, American actress, singer (d. 2012)
- December 26 – Edward C. Prescott, American economist, Nobel Prize laureate
- December 29 – Fred Hansen, American Olympic athlete
- January 4 – Flora Finch, silent film actress and comedian (born 1869 in the United Kingdom)
- January 19 – William Borah, U.S. Senator from Idaho from 1907 to 1940 (born 1865)
- February 1 – Philip Francis Nowlan, science fiction writer, creator of Buck Rogers (born 1888)
- February 4 – Samuel M. Vauclain, steam locomotive engineer (born 1856)
- February 9 – William Edward Dodd, diplomat and historian (born 1869)
- March 11 – John Monk Saunders, screenwriter (born 1897)
- July 1 – Ben Turpin, comic silent film actor (born 1869)
- July 15 – Robert Wadlow, tallest man ever (born 1918)
- July 30 – Spencer S. Wood, U.S. Navy rear admiral (born 1861)
- September 1 – Lillian Wald, nurse and humanitarian (born 1867)
- December 21 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, fiction writer, author of the novel The Great Gatsby (born 1896)
- December 22 – Nathanael West, fiction writer (born 1903)
- December 23 – Eddie August Schneider, aviator (born 1911)
- December 25 – Agnes Ayres, silent film actress (born 1898)
- December 26 – Daniel Frohman, theater producer (born 1851)
- December 31 – John T. Thompson, U.S. Army officer, inventor of the Thompson submachine gun (born 1860)
- Trossarelli, L. (2010). "The history of nylon". Club Alpino Italiano, Centro Studi Materiali e Tecniche. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
- Bloch, Leon Bryce and Lamar Middleton, ed. The World Over in 1940 (1941) detailed coverage of world events online free; 914pp
- Media related to 1940 in the United States at Wikimedia Commons