Talk:Wendell Willkie

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Initial comments[edit]

The intro could use some rewording. It says he was born in Virginia but is the only nominee from Indiana.. Zdv 04:41, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

This page needs more info about Willkie's opposition to the new deal, especially the TVA. It also needs rewording in the first body paragraph, which mentions the TVA very early on. Bonus Onus 18:42, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

For an alternative view of the emergence of Willkie on the national political scene, see Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States 1939-44 by Thomas E. Mahl. The following observation comes from a review of the Mahl book by Dr. Stephen Sniegoski at :

British intelligence, as Mahl aptly illustrates, had the ability to destroy, transform, or advance American political figures, according to the dictates of British military policy. For example, he shows how British intelligence tried to destroy staunch non-interventionist congressman Hamilton Fish of New York by concocting bogus scandal stories. Seductive female British agents were used to transmute the political position of the influential Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg from non-interventionist to interventionist. And the nomination of Wendell Willkie as the 1940 Republican presidential candidate was the collaborative work of British intelligence, American interventionists, and the Roosevelt White House. Making Willkie the Republican nominee required Herculean effort since he had never before held public office and had actually been a Democrat. The purpose of his nomination was not to defeat Roosevelt but to make sure that no non-interventionist alternative existed. Willkie himself consciously participated in this deception, maintaining close ties with British agents and the White House.

Additional reviews of Mahl's book can be found at and Oct. 21, 2005 (GDM)

Willkie and the TVA[edit]

The page indicates that the TVA had access to unlimited government funding, which enabled it to buy out the privately held C&S Corp. The TVA did not recieve Federal funding; rather it had to subsidize its acquisitions through its own profits, and then hand the excess over to the Treasury.

Fascist Influence[edit]

Willkie was the German Nazi candidate of choice against FDR. German money, $15 Million Dollars worth, was funneled through William Rhodes Davis, Texas Oil Man and registered German spy agency, into the Republican Party.

While the Nazis may have supported Willkie, I have a problem with the insinuation that Willkie knowingly accepted Nazi support or sympathized in any way with their objectives. To the contrary, Willkie repeatedly denounced Hitler and the Nazis, and many Republican isolationists opposed Willkie because of his strong stand on aid for the Allies. The historian William Manchester, a liberal Democrat, noted in his book The Glory and the Dream that "Friends of Britain could hardly have picked a better man" than Willkie, and "above all, he [Willkie] should never had been subjected to the accusation from Henry Wallace, FDR's running mate, that Willkie was the Nazi's choice." I believe the article as written unfairly implies that Willkie was secretly and deliberately taking Nazi support in the 1940 campaign, or at least held pro-Nazi views. The most respected books on Willkie's 1940 campaign - Herbert Parmet's Never Again: A President Runs for a Third Term and Steve Neal's biography Dark Horse, simply do not support those accusations. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:14, 3 February 2008 (UTC)


Could anybody find a better image of Willkie?--Southern Texas 03:19, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

I agree, the picture of Willkie used in the article is of low quality. I checked google and found several photos of Willkie that, IMO, are of much better quality. Perhaps someone who knows how could place a better photo with the article? Just a thought. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:48, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

More, please?[edit]

I would like to read more of this:

In a humorous reference in the Bugs Bunny animated cartoon Falling Hare, Bugs is pestered by a gremlin while trying to fly a World War II bomber. When Bugs realizes what the gremlin is, he timidly asks, "Could it be a - [whispering] gremlin?" In a foreign accent, the gremlin shouts in Bugs' ear, "It ain't Vendell Villkie!" This recalls an incident at the 1940 Republican National Convention when the head of a state delegation from the Midwest announced "two votes for Villkie" in a Scandinavian accent. This sound bite, broadcast on nationwide radio, enjoyed a brief vogue as a humorous catchphrase.

As an example, Midwest? What? Whom? There is likely a record of whom, from where.

I would, further, like more of his connection[s] to freedomhouse:

< >.

Thank You,

[[ hopiakuta Please do sign your signature on your message. ~~ Thank You. -]] 21:00, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

What IF History[edit]

What kind of information belongs in a Wikipedia biographical sketch?

In 1942 Wendell Willkie got in the face of Gen. Charles DeGaulle and told him that the defeat of Japan would not be followed by the return of Indochina to France. The General of the Fighting French gave his countervailing opinion, and stormed off. This exhange was recorded by Willkie in his 1943 book "One World". A best guess is that John F. Kennedy read "One World" while recovering from injuries received in the sinking of PT 109. JFK knew what Willkie would have done if elected President in 1944. When JFK was a Freshman in Congress he visited Saigon with his brother Robert and expressed Willkie's POV to the French Military Commander. JFK did not forget either Willkie or his Vietnam visit when he became President in 1961. In effect: the book "One World" is OPUS ONE of the American literature of the Vietnam War. People who inquire about Wendell Willkie perhaps deserve to know this.

After studying the life and times and personality of Wendell Willkie for one decade I created a Willkie Website. The year was 1998. I knew then of his assignation with Mei Ling Soog, Mme. Chaing Kai-Shek. I knew that Wendell Willkie was a Presidential candidate who did not wear a wrist watch nor carry a pocket watch. He could have been the first 20th century President who did not have a driver's licence because he did not know how to drive a car. He never cared to learn.

Wikipedia is not a free Encyclopaedia Britanica. It is a PEOPLE'S encyclopedia. As of May 2009 the Willkie article is replete with errors and shortcomings. It is salvaged only by the link to the superb website of Timothy Walker, a "descendant" of Wendell.

Ed Chilton - —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:44, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Twenty-seven months have passed since I made the above comments. As the article reads today, it is a disservice to American history and to the memory of Wendell Willkie. It would be better for Wikipedia not to have an article than to perpetuate error and misunderstanding of this remarkable American - whose life I have studied more than 20 years.

Ed Chilton


The article mentions Wilkie's German stock, and in fact, according to AN Wilson in his book "After the Victorians", Democrat rivals claimed that his name was Wilcke. Ausseagull (talk) 09:53, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

the candidate's grandparents were born in Germany; they all immigrated to America before the Civil War. The notion that Willkie was tied to Nazi Germany was a nasty smear used in the campaign, see p. 9 from Barnard bio</ref>

Bad grammar and POV in the header[edit]

Language like "he waffled on this issue" is POV. Header has one giant run-on sentence: "Wendell Lewis Willkie (pronounced /ˈwɪlki/; February 18, 1892 – October 8, 1944) was a corporate lawyer in the United States and was the dark horse Republican Party nominee for the 1940 presidential election, where he crusaded against the policies of the New Deal, which he thought were inefficient and anti-business, but waffled on the issue of intervention or isolation in the world war that Nazi Germany was winning." I would ask that the article be reviewed in entirety for similar problems. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 16:20, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

I divided the offending sentence--something that IronMaidenRocks could just as well have done. As for POV, the word "waffle" is in current normal English and is appropriate in this case according to the RS; the dictionary says it means: Fail to make up one's mind: "Joseph had been waffling over where to go". Willkie was personally an interventionist but the party demanded he be isolationist so he could not make up his mind. Rjensen (talk) 20:11, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Alleged relations with Soong May-ling[edit]

This section begins: "According to uncorroborated reports by Gardner Cowles, Willkie's visit to the China had a bizarre I mentioned." This must be in error, but I must defer to another to correct it.--Peter Caffrey (talk) 03:33, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

I cleaned it up. Historians are unsure whether anything happened. (Cowles also says Madame Soong physically attacked him and scratched his face.) I also fixed the NPOV issueRjensen (talk) 05:43, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Isolationis vs. Non-Interventionist[edit]

Today (5/17/11) I reverted an unregistered IP editor who had switched all use of Isolationist to non-intervenionists. I don't want to make a big fight over this, but Isolationist is the more accepted term, or certainly was in the 1930s and 1940s America. Anything else just strikes me as runaway political correctness revisionism. Waddaya say folks? Thoughts please! Sector001 (talk) 06:51, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

I agree; for a standard encyclopedia article I think that "isolationist" works better than the less-descriptive and more vague "non-interventionist." Those who are interested in the subject can always read the Wiki articles on these terms. At the time nearly everyone used the term isolationist, including those who supported such policies.

Order of his given names[edit]

He was named Lewis Wendell Willkie, but at home and among friends in Elwood he was called by his middle name, Wendell.

To me, this says his legal name was Lewis Wendell Willkie, but, like many people, he was generally known by his middle name. Yet, the lede reverses his given names to Wendell Lewis. Is there any authority for this? -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 04:35, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Removal of unverified story[edit]

I removed the following:

Alleged relations with Soong May-ling[edit]

According to recollections by newspaper publisher Gardner "Mike" Cowles, Jr. in the book Mike Looks Back, Willkie's visit to China involved a bizarre episode in which Soong May-ling, wife of Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, allegedly seduced Willkie. Cowles claimed she planned to use China's wealth to help Willkie become President in 1944. Cowles' "evidence" was that Willkie and Soong both went missing during a dinner party. Cowles claimed she later told him, "If Wendell could be elected, then he and I would rule the world. I would rule the Orient and Wendell would rule the western world." Nothing has ever been found to support Cowles' claims, and Cowles did not report the alleged romantic interlude in his newspapers.[1]

Wendell Willkie was a political public figure, a celebrity of his time. The above, without any corroboration of this event or any verified pattern of this behavior, does not belong in a serious reference work. With fame comes the temptation to create scandal out of whole cloth. Wikipedia must exercise some editorial discretion, and while this may be a judgement call, neither Cowles original claim, or it being reported in a magazine with no further verification, brings it to the level of inclusion in this biographical article. Arodb (talk) 03:44, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

agreed. Cowles memoirs were self-published and do not meet the RS standards regarding Willkie. Jay Taylor's bio of Chiang rejected the story as very improbable: Willkie was very closely guarded/watched at all times by Chiang's agents because an assassination would be a disaster for China. Cowles says that Chiang conducted a wide search for the couple but no one else ever saw any signs of the search. No one--including Cowles--ever said they saw the two together. Years later Cowles admitted that any affair was "impossible" and he apologized. [Taylor The Generalissimo p 218] Rjensen (talk) 14:39, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Disagree -- Although it's only one source, American History is a pretty reliabe source. I've seen other articles with even more controversial subject withstand scrutiny without nearly as good a backing ref. Should we try to find a second source for corroboration? Absolutely if possible. However since WP:BLP and its stricter guidelines don't really seem to fit I vote we leave the subsection in for now. Perhaps slightly rewitten to indicate that only one source supports the claim or something, if that would make everyone more comfortable. Just my thoughts...Sector001 (talk) 15:51, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
let's wait for a consensus before putting it back in. Peter Walker article is not a Reliable Source -- this is the history magazine that is sold only in grocery stores; Walker is a popular writer who specializes in bizarre stories. There seem to be no citations or references in google to the Walker article (which comes straight out of Cowles with nothing added from the RS on Willkie or Madam Chiang or China.) The scholars (like Taylor) dismiss the bizarre story. Cowles (under the threat of a lawsuit) backtracked because he had no evidence besides the locker-room-style boasting of his drunken roommate Willkie. Rjensen (talk) 16:46, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

I sent the removed paragraph to Susan Dunn, a history professor at Williams College whose recent book, 1940 was largely about Wilkie. She disagreed with me also providing another source as follows,

Dear Mr. Rodbell, Many thanks for your very interesting message. I just checked Steve Neal's book, "Dark Horse: A Biography of Wendell Willkie" and on page 255 and 256 he certainly suggests a very close and probably romantic relationship between Willkie and Madame Chiang. I don't contribute to Wikipedia, but have found virtually all their articles superb. I also never found any problem whatsoever in Steve Neal's book. So, personally, I would accept what Neal wrote. With best wishes, Susan N.

I now have learned that Cowles was accompanying Wilkie on his international trip, so is a serious source. And then there is this from a Chinese source: I suggest not reverting what I removed but expanding on it. I don't know how to fit it into the existing article, but his "womanizing" or "relationships" are a part of his life, specifically his long term, well known to insiders, living relationship with Irita Van Doren. So, I suggest a rewriting of this removed paragraph since it is so loaded with qualifications of it's veracity that it stops the flow of reading. I suggest incorporating it into a new heading, perhaps, something like "Personal Life" All our terms for such activities have an implied smirk,smile or value judgement of some kind. Yet, for a unique political figure such Wilkie it should be included. If this is agreed, I could write a draft here for comments by those interested. There is this NY Times article about "Womanizing" being O.K. mentioning Wilkie that could set the tone Arodb (talk) 16:34, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Party switch[edit]

When did he witch parties? --Jerchel (talk) 18:09, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ Peter Carlson,"Wendell Willkie Romances Madame Chiang Kai-shek," American History, Aug 2010, Vol. 45 Issue 3, pp. 20–21.