Alben W. Barkley
With World War II coming to a close, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did what no man had ever done before: he sought a fourth term in office. Though his health was clearly declining, President Roosevelt was still incredibly popular, and would easily be able to win in 1944. However, many of the higher-ups in the Democratic Party felt that Henry Wallace was too left-wing and sympathetic to the Soviet Union to lead a post-war America if Roosevelt died in office. Reluctantly, Roosevelt agreed, and chose his former ally-turned-rival Alben Barkley as Wallace's replacement. The Roosevelt/Barkley ticket won easily, defeating their Republican candidates.
However, within a few months, Roosevelt died of a heart attack, and Barkley was now president. At 67 years old, Barkley was the second oldest president in American history, only a few months behind the record holder, William Henry Harrison. Barkley's term in office would be defined by the end of World War II, the beginning of the Cold War, and the return of economic stability to America.
As Senate majority leader, Barkley had had a great influence over domestic affairs while Roosevelt's attention was occupied by the war effort. As president, he hoped to use his experience and the Democratic-controlled Congress to continue Roosevelt's New Deal policies, but was, like his predecessor, occupied by the rebuilding process in both Europe and Asia.
Barkley worked with British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to contain Stalin and the Soviet Union's influence in Europe, and sent millions of dollars in aid not only to the actual wartime Western Allies (Britain, France, and many smaller countries in Western Europe), but also to neutral countries, such as Turkey and Spain to keep them out of the Soviet Union's sphere of influence, as well as the defeated Axis nations of Japan, Italy, and the WAllied occupation zones in Germany.
By 1948, Barkley ran for reelection, and hoped to use his successes in foreign policy, as well as the continuation of the New Deal and Roosevelt's popularity to help him towards victory. However, the post-war economic slump, as well as the costs of occupying and rebuilding the Axis nations, had taken a toll on Barkley's popularity. The American people had gotten tired of nearly 20 years of Democratic dominance, and wanted change...