Wendell Lewis Willkie was an American lawyer and corporate executive, and the 1940 Republican nominee for President. Willkie appealed to many convention delegates as the Republican field's only interventionist: although the U.S. remained neutral prior to Pearl Harbor, he favored greater U.S. involvement in World War II to support Britain and other Allies. His Democratic opponent, incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt, won the 1940 election with about 55% of the popular vote and took the electoral college vote by a wide margin.
Willkie was born in Elwood, Indiana, in 1892; both his parents were lawyers, and he also became one. He served in World War I but was not sent to France until the final days of the war, and saw no action. Willkie settled in Akron, Ohio, where he was initially employed by Firestone, but left for a law firm, becoming one of the leaders of the Akron bar. Much of his work was representing electric utilities, and in 1929 Willkie accepted a job in New York City as counsel for Commonwealth & Southern Corporation, a utility holding company. He was rapidly promoted, and became corporate president in 1933.