May~Election Year 1940

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The so-called phony war which has raged in Europe since last September turns into a very hot shooting war with parts of the continent overrun by German forces and British and Allied soldiers forced to evacuate. The Olympic Committee cancels the summer games. Churchill becomes Prime Minister of England. The difficulties of the war will add pressure upon President Roosevelt as he weighs seeking an unprecedented third term. The Prohibition Party puts forward a slate of candidates.

May 3– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave who became a soldier, engineer, author and the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, dies at 84 years of age.

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Henry Ossian Flipper, circa 1900

 

May 6– Monday– New York City– Columbia University announces the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes. The public service award goes to the Waterbury Republican-American. Other journalism awards go to a reporter for the New York World-Telegram, a reporter from the New York Times, an editor from the St Louis Post-Dispatch and a cartoonist from the Baltimore Sun. Book awards go to John Steinbeck for The Grapes of Wrath, Carl Sandburg for Abraham Lincoln: the War Years and Ray Stannard Baker for volumes 7 and 8 of Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters.

May 6– Monday– Lausanne, Switzerland– The International Olympic Committee announces the cancellation of the Summer Olympic Games.

May 10– Friday– Chicago, Illinois– The Prohibition Party nominates Roger W Babson for president and Edgar V Moorman for Vice-President. [Babson, 1875– 1967, was born in Massachusetts and became a successful statistician, business executive and author. Until 1938 he was active in the Republican Party. Moorman is a business executive from Illinois. On this election, see Babson’s own recollections in Our Campaign for the Presidency in 1940; America and the Churches (1941); on the party and its politics, see Ardent Spirits: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition (1993) by John Kobler; Partisan Prophets; a History of the Prohibition Party, 1854-1972 (1972) by Roger C Storms; Women and Gender in the New South: 1865-1945 (2009) by Elizabeth Hayes Turner.

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Roger W Babson, circa 1919

 

May 10– Friday– London, England– Winston Churchill, age 65, becomes Prime Minister as King George VI officially invites him to form a government.

May11– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas a state of war unhappily exists between Germany, on the one hand, and Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands, on the other hand; Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States and of its citizens and of persons within its territory and jurisdiction, and to enforce its laws and treaties, and in order that all persons, being warned of the general tenor of the laws and treaties of the United States in this behalf, and of the law of nations, may thus be prevented from any violation of the same, do hereby declare and proclaim that all of the provisions of my proclamation of September 5, 1939, proclaiming the neutrality of the United States in a war between Germany and France; Poland; and the United Kingdom, India, Australia and New Zealand apply equally in respect to Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands.”

May 12– Sunday– Sedan, France– In a massive thrust, German forces invade France as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.

May 14– Tuesday– Toronto, Ontario, Canada– Emma Goldman, anarchist, feminist, political activist, author and orator, dies of complications from a stroke, six weeks away from her 71st birthday.

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grave of Emma Goldman

 

May 14– Tuesday– London, England– Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, age 59, and her government arrive. [She leads the government in exile until she can return to her home in March, 1945.]

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Queen Wilhelmina, 1942

 

May 15– Wednesday– London, England– Winston Churchill sends a private telegram, the first of many, to President Roosevelt requesting American aid and asking the United States to join the Allied effort.

May 22– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– “When Reorganization Plan No. IV was submitted to Congress, I did not contemplate the transmittal of any additional plans during the current session. However, the startling sequence of international events which has occurred since then has necessitated a review of the measures required for the nation’s safety. This has revealed a pressing need for the transfer of the immigration and naturalization functions from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. I had considered such an interdepartmental transfer for some time but did not include it in the previous reorganization plans since much can be said for the retention of these functions in the Department of Labor during normal times. I am convinced, however, that under existing conditions the immigration and naturalization activities can best contribute to the national well-being only if they are closely integrated with the activities of the Department of Justice.” ~ Message from President Roosevelt to Congress.

May 26– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “For more than three centuries we Americans have been building on this continent a free society, a society in which the promise of the human spirit may find fulfillment. Commingled here are the blood and genius of all the peoples of the world who have sought this promise. We have built well. We are continuing our efforts to bring the blessings of a free society, of a free and productive economic system, to every family in the land. This is the promise of America. It is this that we must continue to build—this that we must continue to defend. It is the task of our generation, yours and mine. But we build and defend not for our generation alone. We defend the foundations laid down by our fathers. We build a life for generations yet unborn. We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind. Ours is a high duty, a noble task. Day and night I pray for the restoration of peace in this mad world of ours. It is not necessary that I, the President, ask the American people to pray in behalf of such a cause—for I know you are praying with me. I am certain that out of the heart of every man, woman and child in this land, in every waking minute, a supplication goes up to Almighty God; that all of us beg that suffering and starving, that death and destruction may end—and that peace may return to the world. In common affection for all mankind, your prayers join with mine—that God will heal the wounds and the hearts of humanity.” ~ President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chat” with the American people via radio.

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Dunkirk evacuation

 

May 26– Sunday– Dunkirk, France– The British begin the evacuation of their own and allied troops.

May 29– Wednesday– New York City– “In various places I have moved about recently, I have been confronted with red poppies. I hurriedly look in my bag to see if I still have the last one to show, but finding it gone each time, I fish out more money and buy a new one. Veterans of the last World War are still in the hospitals and it is fitting that we should make their lot pleasanter by remembering them in this week before Memorial Day and by paying our share to the veterans’ fund. I want to congratulate the Amalgamated Clothing Workers on their silver jubilee, which they have just celebrated. This union has pioneered in many fields. Of course, their primary purpose has been to obtain the best possible wages and working conditions for the workers in the clothing and related industries, but they have undertaken labor banking, cooperative housing, unemployment insurance, life insurance and a real program of cultural activities.” ~ My Day column by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, age55 [written today it will appear in newspapers tomorrow]

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First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

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