Lundeen's death paved the way for Minnesota to elect Internationalists

Published by carolyn on Fri, 2018-11-30 20:37

By Carolyn Yeager

WHEN MINNESOTA SENATOR ERNEST LUNDEEN WAS KILLED IN A PLANE CRASH over Virginia on August 31, 1940, the Republican governor was able, according to the rules, to appoint a fellow Republican to fill the senator's seat. Though Lundeen had begun his political career as a Republican, he had run for office as a Farmer-Labor "Democrat" since 1933.

Governor Harold Stassen (left) had been the keynote speaker at the 1940 Republican National Convention in June that nominated Wendell Willkie as it's presidential candidate. Stassen threw his support to Willkie and even became his official floor manager. The circumstances of the 1940 Republican convention were unusual, from beginning to end.

Willkie was a New York lawyer, corporate executive, Democrat activist and 'interventionist' who only switched to the Republican party in late 1939! He had not run in any primaries but positioned himself as an acceptable choice for a deadlocked convention. Front runners for the nomination, Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, Michigan Sen Arthur Vandenberg, and New York District Attorney Tom Dewey, were all non-interventionist, as was Senator Lundeen of Stassen's state of Minnesota. The east-coast Republicans tended to be the internationalists who wanted to take sides in the European conflicts, and that's who Stassen seemed to be representing.

It's important to know that at this time a sophisticated British intelligence network was operating illegally and secretly in the United States with the full approval of the Roosevelt administration. (See Desperate Deception) It's goal was to break down the resistance of the American people to active participation in the current war Britain was waging against Germany, which Germany was winning. Fear-mongering about potential “Nazi” domination of North and South America was in full swing.

With this in the background, it's not hard to believe that the very surprising outcome of the Republican convention, with the collapse of support for the leading contenders and the sudden surge of enthusiasm for the internationalist dark horse Wendell Willkie was at least partially stage-managed by British Intelligence. As the leading contenders failed to get a winning number of votes on succeeding ballots, hundreds of thousands, perhaps as many as one million, telegrams urging support for Willkie poured in, many from "Willkie Clubs" that had suddenly sprung up across the country. Millions more signed petitions that were circulating everywhere. A group in the convention balcony (later said not to have been recognized as convention passholders) began chanting “We want Willkie. We want Willkie.” On the sixth roll call, at 1 a.m., Willkie went over the top and secured the nomination.

Willkie ran an anti-New Deal (though he promised to expand Social Security and keep welfare programs intact), pro-foreign interventionist campaign. One of the first things he did was to replace the RNC chair for being too conservative and isolationist. However, the conservatives and isolationists in the party had little enthusiasm for the Willkie campaign. When Roosevelt won his 3rd term, he invited the defeated Wilkie to become his “informal personal representative” to Britain, and Willke accepted! He departed for London on Jan. 22, 1941. On Jan. 13 he had announced support of the president's Lend-Lease program, a highly unpopular move in the Republican party at the time.

In 1943, Willkie published his book One World, a manifesto and travelogue about his seven-week, 31,000 miles world tour. It advocated for world government, an end to colonialism, and complete equality for non-whites in the United States. We know how that has turned out, but incredibly it spent four months atop the New York Times bestseller list and sold over 1.5 million copies during that 4 months alone!

Joe Ball - surprise choice

Gov. Stassen was full of surprises, and he now surprised again with his selection to fill the vacant senate seat of Ernest Lundeen after his death on August 31. He chose a 34 year-old political writer for the St. Paul Dispatch, Joseph H. Ball (right), a friend of his who had never held a political office! Ball had already been critical of isolationism in foreign policy in his journalism. After being sworn in on October 14, 1940, Ball stunned anti-interventionnist Republicans in his first speech on the Senate floor, calling for the United States to aid Britain as "a barrier between us and whatever designs Hitler and his allies may have on this continent."

Ernest Lundeen would have already been rolling in his grave, but it only got worse.

On March 8, 1941 Ball voted in favor of the lend-lease program in spite of letters from his constituents that ran "25 to 1 against the bill," according to Current Biography.

In 1942 Ball won election to a full six-year term, competing among four candidates, one of which was Ernest Lundeen's widow. Politically he was unpredictable, supporting legislation many Republicans opposed, including the Lend-Lease Act, repeal of the Neutrality Act, extension of the Selective Service Act and wage and price controls.

Starting in 1943, he was among the first nationally known Republicans to campaign for the creation of what was to become the United Nations.

Ball and Stassen had a bitter falling out in 1944 when Ball campaigned for the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a fourth term! Ball was definitely a Republican in the mold of Wendell Willkie and the Rockefellers.

Ball was defeated by Farm-Laborite Hubert Humphery for a 2nd full term in 1948, and spent the next decade as a 'merchant shipping executive'. (The benefits of experience in Washington DC, including friendship with lobbyists?) He was then able to retire to his farm in Virginia, where he spent the last 30 years of his life with no worries.

In his NYTimes obituary, there is mention of two daughters, but no mention anywhere of a wife. That too, like so much about Joseph Ball, remains a mystery.

One thing we can learn from this is that we are so much better informed today than the people were in 1940. We still get the same fake news, but we know and call it 'fake news' now, and we have many alternative sources that were not available in 1940. Unfortunately, most do not take advantage of it.

UPDATE - Watch this video.



 From Reinhold Sommerstedt comes a very interesting email:

There are more reports about Senator Lundeen like this:

Death of senator from Minnesota still shrouded in mystery

By Albert Eisele | 09/03/2009

Quote from this article:

The report noted “the fact that all-metal airplanes are frequently struck by lightning with no injurious results, and that the character of the lightning discharge, as well as its effect on the airplane and crew, in the present instance must be regarded as an extremely unusual occurrence.” It added, “Nothing within the ordinary range of experience and no combination of events of which the occurrence could be regarded as at all likely, would have sufficed to have produced this accident.”

The plane hit the ground at 300 miles per hour! This is not usual from a lightning strike.