The focus was on the Vice Presidency during the 1944 Democratic National Convention. "It was in the minds of many delegates that whoever was nominated for Vice President could very well become President within the next four years," said Senator Harry Byrd.
Narrator: As the convention got underway, the Democrats prepared to give their nomination for the fourth time to Franklin Roosevelt. Many of them already knew it would be the last.
The President was ill. Diagnosed with heart disease, he had never asked, and was never told, the extent of his illness. But those close to him were frightened by the deathlike pallor that shadowed the once ebullient face.
Pat Hannegan, Daughter of Democratic Party Chairman: It was not spoken of. The fact that Roosevelt might die. That was a deep, dark secret.
It was war time and no one wanted to talk about the President failing in any way....[but] I think that had to be behind everybody's minds.
Harry Byrd, Senator: It was in the minds of many delegates that whoever was nominated for Vice President could very well become President within the next 4 years. The entire focus of that convention was on who would be nominated for the Vice Presidency.
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Franklin Roosevelt restored hope after the Great Depression and led the nation during World War II. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.