When did President Franklin Roosevelt announce he was running again for a 3rd term? And was there any shock or outrage at this?

I noticed the Vice President, John Garner, actually ran against FDR in the primary. That's what led to Henry Wallace on the ticket. I also noticed that the Republican candidate, Wendell Willkie, did make some criticism of the 3rd term but it didn't seem that strong.

There appears to be a lack of serious or strong criticism and I'm trying to understand why. It appears people trusted FDR for a war, and yet America was supposedly very isolationist, so I am having trouble why most Americans would vote for FDR when he appears, to me, very vulnerable to these criticism.

Edit: Another way of saying this: Most of the country was isolationist. Therefore, if the war in Europe is heating up, why tolerate a hawk for a 3rd term?

  • 4
    Another reason would be that Presidents not serving more than 2 terms was a tradition as old as the country, one that had been established by Washington himself. This tradition had not been broken prior to FDR. And there was enough unease about FDR's subsequent elections that a Constitutional amendment was passed shortly after his death term-limiting the President to 2 terms.
    – reirab
    Mar 25, 2018 at 19:18
  • 5
    @reirab Teddy Roosevelt sought a third term decades before FDR. FDR is the first to successfully get a third term, but in terms of announcing a run as the question asked, he was not the first to break the tradition.
    – Semaphore
    Mar 26, 2018 at 1:07
  • 3
    @Semaphore - To be fair though, TR didn't try to run for a third consecutive term, and he'd only been elected once. However, he'd served enough of McKinley's term to count as a term as far as the 22nd Amendment is concerned, and he personally would have considered it a third term, so its still a fair point.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 26, 2018 at 13:35
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    – MCW
    Jan 29, 2021 at 10:00
  • 1
    @Semaphore Grant sought a nonconsecutive third term in 1880. Like TR, he didn't get his party's nomination; unlike TR, he didn't go third party.
    – bof
    Feb 2, 2021 at 6:26

3 Answers 3



We can't be sure when FDR decided to stand for a third term but the evidence suggests it was not long before the Democratic National Convention (15th to 18th July 1940).

Concerning breaking tradition by running for a 3rd term, reaction from his opponents was vociferous but from the country at large it was mostly fairly muted.



According to Richard Moe in Roosevelt's Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War,

In early July 1940, with the Democratic National Convention scheduled to convene in less than two weeks, the president was moving towards a decision. He likely saw it as perhaps the most important decision of his presidency to date, perhaps even of lifetime. We will never know how he saw it because he faced it alone

Thus we can't be sure. FDR's

practice of solitary decision making...continued through his youth and early adulthood until it became deeply ingrained.

Jean Edward Smith, in FDR, cites Eleanor Roosevelt as also being unsure as to husband's intentions:

"I think my husband was torn" said Eleanor years later. "He would often talk about the reasons against a third term, but there was a great sense of responsibility for what was happening."

However, on July 3rd (12 days before the Democratic National Convention) the then Secretary of State Cordell Hull lunched with FDR. During the course of the meal, he came to the conclusion the President had likely already made up his mind. Hull relates that at a previous meeting 10 days before, FDR had advocated his (Hull's) candidacy, but that at the July 3rd meeting FDR was listing reasons why Hull should not be the candidate. Thus, if Hull read the situation correctly, FDR made up his mind sometime during the ten days before July 3rd.

This runs somewhat contrary to opinion at the time and later:

Many close observers believed at the time that FDR had long before decided to run again; it was obvious, they concluded, that this man of outsized ambition would find a way to remain in the job he loved. Many historians and biographers have concluded as well that the decision was inevitable.

Richard Moe argues otherwise, pointing out that

...in fact the decision was far from inevitable. President Roosevelt never challenged the wisdom of the sacrosanct two-term tradition. On the contrary, as his second term wound down, he made specific plans to retire to his beloved Hyde Park in January of 1941...Colliers magazine had persuaded him to sign a lucrative three-year contract to write regular articles

(The contract with Collier's was signed in January 1940.) Smith concurs with Moe that FDR's decision was not inevitable; Roosevelt was concerned about his health, was already transferring papers to his library and his retirement home was nearing completion. FDR also stated he didn't want to run unless "things get very, very much worse in Europe."

According to both Smith and Moe, FDR did not take the decision to run for an unprecedented 3rd term lightly but was swayed by the situation in Europe; the collapse of France in June 1940 left Britain as the only European power still resisting Hitler. Roosevelt felt that he was the only one with the experience to deal with the situation.

The Democratic Party wanted FDR to run as they felt that none of the other prospective candidates would be able to defeat the strong (though politically inexperienced) Republican candidate, Wendell Willkie. The decision of his vice-President, John Garner, to seek the Democratic nomination stemmed at least partly from strong disagreements with the President on some key policies; how much he was influenced by his reading of FDR's intentions is hard to tell. For the record, Roosevelt made his decision public on the 11th of July 1940.


On the reaction to FDR's decision, fdrlibrary says

The 1940 election was the most challenging and divisive of FDR’s political career. The President’s decision to seek an unprecedented third term inflamed his opponents—and some former supporters—who charged he wanted to become a dictator. And his efforts to aid countries fighting the Axis Powers led to charges he would drag America into war.

The Republicans certainly made much of the 3rd term, and they were joined by some democrats, even though there was at that time no bar in the constitution. Teddy Roosevelt (as noted by Pieter Geerkens in his comment) regretted his comment about two terms being enough, and Ulysses S. Grant had wanted a third term but lacked the support of his party. However, the weakness of Vice-President Garner's candidacy and FDR's economic record were enough to get him the nomination and win the election. Some of the badges below, though, give a good idea as to how Republicans - and some democrats - felt about a third term.

enter image description here

Image source: Kentucky Historical Society

badges Source: https://fdrlibrary.wordpress.com/tag/third-term/

As you noted in your question, Willkie's criticism was somewhat muted, and he wasn't much of a campaigner:

Willkie proved lackluster on the stump and he seemed to agree with much of FDR's domestic and foreign agenda. In late September, though, Willkie began to tighten the race, largely by charging that if FDR won a third term, "you may expect that we will be at war." Roosevelt countered that he would not send Americans to fight in "any foreign war." Over its last month, the campaign degenerated into a series of outrageous accusations and mud-slinging, if not by the two candidates themselves then by their respective parties.

Source: William E. Leuchtenburg, 'Franklin D. Roosevelt: Campaigns and Elections'

Wilkie, in fact, worked with FDR after the election, sharing the President's concern about the situation in Europe (and certainly a proportion of the electorate shared that concern, even if not a majority).

Despite the noise made by FDR's opponents, a majority of the electorate did not in fact favour limiting a president to two terms if a Gallup poll conducted in 1939 is to be believed. According to this poll, 37% were in favour of a two-term limit while 51% were against such a limit (12% no opinion). Interestingly, George Gallup was a republican and Roosevelt suspected that Gallups polls in the lead up to the election would do him no favours - this poll, though, did.


Analysis of polls conducted on issues relating to American policy on Europe indicate that America was not as isolationist as many believe. Bear F. Braumoeller, then Assistant Professor at Harvard University, has labelled it a 'myth'. In his article The Myth of American Isolationism, his abstract states:

American policy in the years leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor was in fact quite responsive to events on the European continent. Isolationists did exist, of course, but they never came close to constituting a majority. In short, American isolationism is a myth.

Perhaps 'myth' is a little strong for polling shows that there certainly were millions of Americans who wanted to keep their country out of the European conflict. The America First Committee had 800,000 members at its peak and congress was strongly isolationist throughout the 1930s. Nonetheless, as Braumoeller states later in his article,

The events of May and June 1940, especially the surrender of France on June 22, produced a drastic change in American perceptions of the European balance.

Even so, newspaper headlines such the one below (on July 11, the day Roosevelt formally announced his intention to run) show that opposition to entering the war was still vociferous in some quarters.

enter image description here

Source: Labor Press Project, University of Washington

Polling data indicates that two months before the election on November 5th, around 50% of Americans favoured helping Britain, and this figure continued to rise. Berinsky et al in Revisiting Public Opinion in the 1930s and 1940s write that

Majority support for the policy of helping England, even at the risk of war with Germany, was attained during the 1940 election

Another poll found that, even in September 1939, 38% of Americans thought the US should Help Allies with Food and Materials, as opposed to 36% who thought the US should sell food to anyone and 21% who favoured strict neutrality. By March 1940, around 65% of Americans felt that the help given to Britain and France by the then current Cash and carry policy was 'about right'.

Roosevelt was avid follower of polls (though he distrusted Gallup in particular) and would have been aware of the general direction in which American public opinion was going, even though early polling data was far from reliable. His political instincts weren't wrong; by October 1941, two months before Pearl Harbor, support for helping England had already reached 70%.

Other source:

Steven Casey, Cautious Crusade: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Public Opinion, and the War against Nazi Germany

  • 2
    Also The Roosevelt Myth by John T. Flynn, written 1948. p 176ff: “Roosevelt knew that war was coming, with a great probability that America might get into it. ... It must be very clear to anyone that Roosevelt could not bear the thought of surrendering the glorious experience of managing America's part in that war into other hands. It is fairly certain now that early in 1939, if not a little sooner, he made up his mind to seek a third election." Mar 24, 2018 at 23:34
  • 3
    @DavidTonhofer Flynn was a prominent critic of FDR from at least 1936 and his account leaves out (or perhaps Flynn was unaware of) key facts so I wouldn't put too much store by his book. That is not say, though, that FDR wasn't perhaps considering running again in 1939, but there is no evidence that he had already decided by then. Mar 25, 2018 at 1:34
  • 1
    @Taladris It was probably more an accumulation of events. The timeline of events (see, for example, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_World_War_II_(1940)#June_1940) probably led FDR to become more and more convinced that he should stand again. The bombing of the Channel Islands on June 28th (and their occupation on July 1st) may have had some psychological impact even though they weren't of any great significance militarily and weren't defended by the British. Mar 25, 2018 at 1:41
  • 1
    @bof The poll I cited showed a majority in 1939 against limiting the presidency to two terms. This, however, had changed by 1945 - perhaps because FDR had stood a fourth time. Opposition to a 3rd term seems to have come mostly from FDR's opponents (not surprising really). In the case of Teddy Roosevelt running on the Progressive Party ticket, it was used against him but he still out-polled his by then bitter rival Taft on the Republican ticket. Much more on this can be found here library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/… Mar 25, 2018 at 7:42
  • 2
    @bof: On the eve of his election victory in 1904 Teddy Roosevelt announced words to the effect of "two terms are enough for any man". He regretted that hasty comment for the rest of his life, as his honour now demanded that he not run for a (consecutive) third term. Mar 25, 2018 at 11:38

When did FDR announce he was running for a third term and was their any outrage.

There appears to be a lack of serious or strong criticism and I'm trying to understand why. It appears people trusted FDR for a war, and yet America was supposedly very isolationist, so I am having trouble why most Americans would vote for FDR when he appears, to me, very vulnerable to these criticism.

Short Answer:

The New York Times had endorsed FDR in 1932 and in 1936 but did not in 1940 and the stated reason was over his Breaking with George Washington's moratorium on a third Term.

New York Times Editorial Page
The doctrine of one man's indispensability is a new doctrine for this country. It is a doctrine which less scrupulous men in Europe have used to root themselves in power. It is a doctrine which we in the United States have good reason to question...

Important Dates:

  • May 10th, 1940 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain Resigns
  • June 4th, 1940 the end of the Battle of DunKirk, collapse of British forces on the Continent.
  • June 11, 1940, Italy enter war on side of Axis powers
  • June 22, 1940, France surrenders to Nazi Germany
  • June 28, 1940, Hitler Tours Paris
  • July 10, 1940, Battle of Britain begins
  • July 11, 1940, FDR announces he is standing for a third term in office.
  • July 15, 1940, The Democratic Convention in Chicago begins

No there was no impactful criticism of FDR for standing for a third term. In 1932 and 1936 elections FDR won with 57.4% and 60.8% of the popular vote respectively in 1940 he won with 54.7% So the criticism he received did not seriously impact his third nomination.

enter image description here ** 1932 Election Map, Roosevelt lost 6 states**

enter image description here ** 1936 Election Map, Roosevelt lost 2 states**

enter image description here ** 1940 Election Map Roosevelt lost 10 states**

Long before FDR announced global events had proven the United States would require strong leadership to chart the waters before her, and FDR was widely perceived as the nations strongest, most experienced option.

enter image description here Picture 1: Hitler Tours Paris, June 28, 1940, Shocking the World with an amazing and intimidating quick victory against what was perceived to be a formidable foe

FDR put off his announcement for a third term until nearly the last minute, July 11, 1940. (4 days before the Democratic National Convention in Chicago). He publically refused to campaign for the office. Relying on his overwhelming popularity, local political machines, and unions to carry the day.

The nation was facing a pending crisis with WW II. Germany had shocked the world with their Blitzkrieg attack in Poland and France. More shocking though was when France surrendered June 22, 1940. By pre-war metrics France had the greatest army in the world and when Germany defeated them so quickly WWII took on a new and ominous perspective.

Roosevelt would portray himself as a reluctant victim of extraordinary times who would sacrifice and remain in office for another term. The extraordinary times including the just weeks old fall of Paris became the justification for the extraordinary act. The argument against a third term was handled effectively by Roosevelt own silence on re-election until nearly the last moment, the extraordinary times, and Roosevelt's own considerable popularity. The people who brought it up were Republicans and Liberal Democrats who's voices were not as supported or trusted by main stream voters. Wendell Wilkie the Republican nominee in 1940 chose not to use the third term issue during the campaign and thus it never got much traction.

The most serious opposition to Roosevelt's third term came from within the Democratic Party over his VP nominatee and had more to do with an FDR ultimatum after having painted himself into a corner than it did to opposition to a third term.

More detailed Answer:

This might be a technicality but Roosevelt didn't technically run for a third term, rather he stood for a third term. Roosevelt was approached by the Democratic Party to Run for a third term because with WWII raging in Europe, and Imperial Japan threatening in the Pacific, Democratic Party leaders believed the Nation needed FDR's experienced hand at the wheel. Having a new President come in to face these challenges while learning the ropes, they deemed potentially existentially catastrophic for the nation.

By outward appearances Roosevelt had been preparing for retirement in 1940.

Why and How, FDR Ran for his third term in office
- He never spoken out against the prohibition on a third term.
- He begun work on his Presidential library
- He had also begun work on a Presidential retreat with offices near his library.
- He had personally begun transferring his papers and momentous to his Library from the white house
- He had agreed to a lucrative contract to write articles for Colliers magazine after his second term concluded.
- He was preparing to write his memoirs and had gotten his two closest aids to agree to move to Hyde Park to assist him (Harry Hopkins and Sam Rosenman)
- His health was not very good, FDR had experienced a heart attack in Feb of 1940, which was not public knowledge.

Roosevelt took some time to think about it. At first he was non committal, he even told leading Democratic candidates that they should get into the race as he would not be seeking a third term. Then he went silent refusing to answer any questions on a third term. Political cartoonists portrayed him as a Sphinx, remaining quiet and deflecting any inquiries on a third term. Ultimately though Roosevelt did commit to seeking a third term, 4 days before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and about two weeks after the surrender of France to the Nazi's in Europe.

enter image description here Picture 2: FDR widely portrayed as silent as an Egyptian Sphinx in the press on a third term

enter image description here Picture 3: Another FDR as Sphinx, referring to his silence on standing for a third term until Days before the National Democratic Convention, July 15, 1940.

FDR could ultimately not find another Democratic Candidate who he believed could win, who also supported his positions with respect to the raging War in Europe and in China. So FDR froze the Democratic Field for more than a year, with his silence, had a long (2 hour conversation) with Supreme Court Judge Felix Frankfurter on the legality.. and plunged in.

FDR's response to Democratic Party bosses who had been trying to get him to run, was that he would stand for re-election if that's what the Democratic Party wanted, but he would not campaign for re-election. If his third term was done for national necessity then the nation would have to support it without him campaigning which he deemed unseemly. Roosevelt portrayed himself as a reluctant candidate, who was responding to the nations needs in extraordinary times. Roosevelt was one of the most popular presidents in history and he had no rival on the Republican side so this concession(not campaigning) was not deemed significant on the part of Democratic Leadership. The thought was if he showed up he would win handily. Still FDR did work behind the scenes to "manage" challengers in the democratic party. He also received daily even hourly reports on such important meetings like the DNC Chicago convention, which he refused to attend.

The Republican opposing FDR in 1940 was a business leader called Wendell Wilkie who shared more issues in common with Rosevelt than issues they disagreed on. Wilkie had been a Democrat all his life and had only changed parties in 1939. Wilkie had come to national fame representing (lawyer for) Commonwealth and Southern Corporation (C&SC) which owned important land where Rosevelt wanted to build the Tennessee Valley Authority(a centerpiece of the New Deal). Through Wilkie's negotiations with the government he was able to nearly double the price the government was offering for the land which brought him to national prominence in the Republican Party. In the 1940 campaign while Roosevelt wasn't outwardly campaigning, Wendel Wilkie came at Roosevelt on two core issues.

(1) That Roosevelt was trying to get the United States into WWII. (used late in the campaign)
(2) That Roosevelt's new deal did not go far enough to end the Great Depression.

The first issue gained enough traction during the campaign season that it forced Roosevelt to pledge famously that he would not send American Boys to fight in a Foreign war. Which of coarse was a difficult statement for Roosevelt to make with what we know today. FDR was actively taking steps behind the scenes to support Britain some moves which were frankly illegal. After Pearl Harbor, when Japan and Germany declared war on the United States before any such declaration was made by the United States, Roosevelt took political heat for breaking his pledge. FDR responded that once the US was attacked and war was declared by the opposition it was no longer a foreign war. FDR explained he thus did not break his pledge. This subtlety was not entirely accepted at the time or by history; but the country was in nationalistic fever after Pearl Harbor and for the most part the country moved on to the business of defeating the axis. That controversial pledge though was a result of Wendle Wilkie's traction on non interventionism campaign issue.

The second issue was more nuanced. While Roosevelt's New Deal was able to get the GDP growing again in his first 12 months in office thus ending the great depression in 1934, high unemployment and sluggish economic numbers still plagued the nation. These factors are what Wilkie tried to exploit in his criticism of FDR's economic policies. They weren't entirely effective for Wilkie though because he was a business leader, and businessmen like himself were widely believed by the public to have been part of the problem and obstacles to the solution. Roosevelt's new deal was wildly popular, and while some on the left felt it didn't go far enough, this was not a criticism which folks to the left could hear from a Republican businessman who had become famous for opposing the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The final and largest Crisis for FDR's re-election in 1940 came at the Convention. FDR who was not technically / actively campaigning for office elected not to appear at the Democratic Convention. He stayed away although he followed the convention through proxies actively. FDR was renominated for the Presidency on the first ballot which was impressive. But then FDR got a little a head of himself. FDR's most serious challenge inside the party came from the left who had agreed with Wilkie on the New Deal not going far enough. So FDR nominated the very liberal Henry Wallace to the Vice Presidency which enraged many of his more centrist party supporters. When opposition to Wallace became apparent FDR doubled down and said unless Wallace was on the ticket he would not accept the Parties nomination. This further enraged the convention. If FDR was able to address the convention it's perhaps something which he could have placated, but because he had also said he would not address the convention, and would not attend the convention as it would be unseemly given he was "reluctantly" breaking with tradition seeking his third term, this option was blocked from him. Ultimately he sent Eleanor Roosevelt to Chicago in 1940. Eleanore, the first wife of a Presidential Candidate to give an address to the Convention was able to settle things down. She also was able to meet with offended democratic party delegates off the floor and also assure them the President had heard their concerns. And thus Eleanor Roosevelt was able to fix the most serious Democratic objections and obstacle to FDR's third Term. George Wallace would be dropped from the ticket in favor of Harry Truman in 1944 election in which FDR would win his unprecedented 4th term.


On France widely believed to be stronger army than Germany in Sept 1939

In the Battle of France, France had a larger, more experienced and arguable better equipped army than did Nazi Germany.

French Army's Perceived Advantages over the German Army in 1939

  • Prestige
  • Experience
  • Size of Army
  • Number of tanks
  • Tank Armor
  • Tank gun
  • Number of Artillery tubes
  • Defensive Fortifications

The National Interest
The fall of France in 1940, one of the 20th century’s most consequential disasters, wasn’t supposed to have happened. The French military was larger — on paper — and technologically superior to its German enemy.


Battle of France article
France had spent a higher percentage of its GNP from 1918 to 1935 on its military than other great powers and the government had added a large rearmament effort in 1936.

Size of the Armies

The German Army in the Second World War
When the German Army mounted its Western Offensive in 1940, it had had 2.5 million men and 2,500 tanks. Whereas the French Army had the ability to mobilize 5 million men,

French Armed Forces 1939
The French Army was mobilized on 1 September 1939: about 5,000,000 reservists were to be added to the standing army of 900,000 men.

The French Army outnumbered the Wehrmacht by well over a million troops.

French Tank Superiority

Battle of France article
The French army was also more motorized than its opponent, which still relied on horses. Although the Belgians, British and Dutch had few tanks, the French had 3,254 tanks, larger than the German tank fleet.

  • French tanks outnumbering the Wehrmacht.
  • French top tanks were heavier, better armored with bigger guns than the German top tanks

The National Interest The French S35 and the heavier Char B1 were heavier armed — and armored — than equivalent German tanks, most of them light Panzer Is and IIs and augmented by a smaller number of medium Panzer III and IVs.


A 47-millimeter cannon was its main armament(On French Char B1 Tank). That was formidable in 1940.


Tanks in France
In the Battle of France, despite an advantage in number and armor against the Germans, the French tanks were not used to good enough effect. Ironically, cooperation with the infantry was poor. The Cavalry units alone were too few in number.

In armour and firepower, French tanks were generally not inferior to their German counterparts. In one incident, a single Char B1 "Eure" was able to destroy thirteen German tanks within a few minutes in Stonne on 16 May 1940, all of them Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks. The 37mm and 20mm guns the Germans used were ineffective at penetrating the thick armour of the B1, which was able to return safely despite being hit a large number of times.5 Even German General Rommel was surprised at how the French tanks withstood the German tank shells and had to resort to using the German 88 artillery as antitank guns against the French tanks to knock them out.

Setbacks the French military suffered were more related to strategy, tactics and organisation than technology and design. Almost 80 percent of French tanks did not have radios, since the battle doctrine employed by the French military was more a slow-paced, deliberate conformance to planned maneuvers.9 French tank warfare was often restricted with tanks being assigned for infantry support. Unlike Germany, which had special Panzerwaffe divisions, France did not separate tanks from the Infantry arm, and were unable to respond quickly to the Blitzkrieg tactics employed by the Germans, which involved rapid movement, mission-type orders and combined-arms tactics.10


  • After the victory of WWI, the French army enjoyed great prestige. They were widely perceived as the backbone of the allies in WWI and widely perceived to be the most professional military in the world during the interwar period, right up until the battle of France in 1940.


  • French army has seen action putting down several rebellions across Africa, the middle east and Asia in the interwar period,
  • French military leadership was experienced, many having fought in WWI and in other smaller actions.


Battle of France article
British artillery strength amounted to 1,280 guns, Belgium fielded 1,338 guns, the Dutch 656 guns and France 10,700 guns, giving an Allied total of about 14,000 guns, 45 percent more than the German total.

  • France had 10.700 artillery pieces alone, more than Germany.
  • France also had the strongest fortress ever built, at the time: the maginot line.


  • French Airforce had over 2900 planes(1,114 fighters, 1,002 bombers). All modern most were built after 1934. Some historians believe Germans only advantage was superior air, but even this is not a consensus opinion.

So how did France lose and lose so big? French leadership was trying to fix mistakes they had made in WWI and believed any new war would play out as the last war had. France expected a slow moving defensive war, while the Germans were strategizing for a war of mobility with integrated air, armor and infantry. In WWII french leadership had built the strongest fortifications ever which they deemed would give them a further edge in any war. Only the Germans bypassed the Maginot line and used a new tactic called Blitzkrieg which combined air, armor, and infantry in tandem to out maneuver their enemy. It's basically the same tactics the American general Shwartzkauf used in the first gulf war. This new type of warfare caught the French entirely off guard and they had no answer for it.

  • Yeah I know the war heated up around this time, especially with France falling. That's why I wondered why no outrage at a Hawk running for the first 3rd term. But your detailed answer started explaining things. +1
    – DrZ214
    Mar 25, 2018 at 4:11
  • 3
    The comment "By pre-war metrics France had the greatest army in the world" is palpably false. With a intra-war birth rate only half that of Germany, French politicians knew by the late-1920's that their only hope in a next war was massive defensive fortifications - hence the Maginot Line. The French Army was barely two-third's the size of Germany's in Spring 1940. Mar 25, 2018 at 11:45
  • France declared War on Germany Sept 3, 1939. France arguable had a larger ( by more than 1 million soldiers), more experienced( had fought during the interwar period where Germany had not) and better equipped army than did Nazi Germany in 1939. France had more tanks, better tanks, more artillery, more soldiers, and the best fortifications in the world in 1939. It's not a stretch to say conventional wisdom was France was more than a match for Germany before the fighting actually began.
    – user27618
    Mar 25, 2018 at 23:24
  • 1
    Germany won because they had a better plan, better tactics, and used their mechanized, air, and ground forces in tandem better than anybody had ever done before.. Blitzkrieg.... Germany won because france was trying to refight WWI, while German leadership had invented new tactics to avoid the stalemate of WWI... ( I added a blurb to the end of my answer to better back up my statement)
    – user27618
    Mar 25, 2018 at 23:26
  • 5
    The size of the French army is a bit tangential to this excellent answer.
    – user15620
    Mar 26, 2018 at 16:01

Yeah. They passed the 22nd amendment in response.

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

41 states ratified it.


  • 10
    The 22nd amendment wasn't officially proposed by the Congress until 1947, approximately seven years after FDR announced he was running for a third term, and two years after his death. While motivated by a desire to prevent other presidents from matching the feat, it doesn't directly speak to there being any outrage at FDR himself running for a third term, particularly not regarding contemporaneous outrage.
    – R.M.
    Mar 24, 2018 at 22:45
  • 3
    Maybe, but if a president wore only a purple coat, and only he ever wore a purple coat, and then he dies while wearing the purple coat in office, and two years later Congress passes an amendment to the Constitution saying, "No president shall wear purple coats", it isn't a leap to suggest that the purple coat wearing president caused the reaction. What I concede is on the point of outrage. Perhaps it was more just fear or a reaction to the idea that a pretty sacred tradition was being broken.
    – drpooper
    Mar 25, 2018 at 14:12
  • There's not much doubt that unease with FDR's 3rd (and 4th) elections motivated the 22nd Amendment, but it would be good to include in the answer that this happened several years later, not when he first announced his candidacy for the 3rd term, which is what this question is asking about.
    – reirab
    Mar 25, 2018 at 19:15
  • 2
    @R.M. The fact that it took four years to ratify also speaks against any sense of outrage. Of all the Amendments proposed during the 20th Century and subsequently ratified (i.e., the 16th through 26th), only the 21st and 18th took longer: 15 and 4.5 years, respectively. Of course, there were amendments that were proposed and never ratified: for example, the Child Labor Amendment was last voted on by a state in 1937, 13.5 years after Congress proposed it. Mar 25, 2018 at 20:13
  • I was born after the War, but even fifteen years after FDR's death there were still FDR-haters who hated him and everything he stood for...and would tell you so. (Perhaps somewhat like the more extreme Trump-haters today.) As far as I can tell, there was outrage, but it was a distinctly minority opinion.
    – Mark Olson
    Jan 31, 2021 at 12:45

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