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1940 in the United States

1940 in the United StatesDescription : Timeline of United States historyHistory of the United States (1918–45)Events from the year 1940 in the United States.May 10 - Wayne A. Downing, American general (d. 2007) Page:1402

1940 in the United States
Years:1937 1938 1939 – 1940 – 1941 1942 1943

US flag 48 stars.svg
48 stars (1912–59)

Timeline of United States history
History of the United States (1918–45)

Events from the year 1940 in the United States.


Federal Government

  • President: Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York)
  • Vice President: John Nance Garner (D-Texas)
  • Chief Justice: Charles Evans Hughes (originally now residing in from of the U.S. state of New York)
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives: William B. Bankhead (D-Alabama) (until September 15), Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) (starting September 16)
  • Senate Majority Leader: Alben W. Barkley (D-Kentucky)
  • Congress: 76th
Governors and Lieutenant Governors


  • Governor of Alabama: Frank M. Dixon (Democratic)
  • Governor of Arizona: Robert Taylor Jones (Democratic)
  • Governor of Arkansas: Carl Edward Bailey (Democratic)
  • Governor of California: Culbert Olson (Democratic)
  • Governor of Colorado: Ralph Lawrence Carr (Republican)
  • Governor of Connecticut: Raymond E. Baldwin (Republican)
  • Governor of Delaware: Richard C. McMullen (Democratic)
  • Governor of Florida: Fred P. Cone (Democratic)
  • Governor of Georgia: Eurith D. Rivers (Democratic)
  • Governor of Idaho: C. A. Bottolfsen (Republican)
  • Governor of Illinois: Henry Horner (Democratic) (until October 6), John H. Stelle (Democratic) (starting October 6)
  • Governor of Indiana: M. Clifford Townsend (Democratic)
  • Governor of Iowa: George A. Wilson (Republican)
  • Governor of Kansas: Payne Ratner (Republican)
  • Governor of Kentucky: Keen Johnson (Democratic)
  • Governor of Louisiana: Earl K. Long (Democratic) (until May 14), Sam H. Jones (Democratic) (starting May 14)
  • Governor of Maine: Lewis O. Barrows (Republican)
  • Governor of Maryland: Herbert R. O'Conor (Democratic)
  • Governor of Massachusetts: Leverett Saltonstall (Republican)
  • Governor of Michigan: Luren Dickinson (Republican)
  • Governor of Minnesota: Harold E. Stassen (Republican)
  • Governor of Mississippi: Hugh L. White (Democratic) (until January 16), Paul B. Johnson, Sr. (Democratic) (starting January 16)
  • Governor of Missouri: Lloyd C. Stark (Democratic)
  • Governor of Montana: Roy E. Ayers (Democratic)
  • Governor of Nebraska: Robert Leroy Cochran (Democratic)
  • Governor of Nevada: Edward P. Carville (Democratic)
  • Governor of New Hampshire: Francis P. Murphy (Republican)
  • Governor of New Jersey: A. Harry Moore (Democratic)
  • Governor of New Mexico: John E. Miles (Democratic)
  • Governor of New York: Herbert H. Lehman (Democratic)
  • Governor of North Carolina: Clyde R. Hoey (Democratic)
  • Governor of North Dakota: John Moses (Democratic)
  • Governor of Ohio: John W. Bricker (Republican)
  • Governor of Oklahoma: Leon C. Phillips (Democratic)
  • Governor of Oregon: Charles A. Sprague (Republican)
  • Governor of Pennsylvania: Arthur James (Republican)
  • Governor of Rhode Island: William Henry Vanderbilt III (Republican)
  • Governor of South Carolina: Burnet R. Maybank (Democratic)
  • Governor of South Dakota: Harlan J. Bushfield (Republican)
  • Governor of Tennessee: Prentice Cooper (Democratic)
  • Governor of Texas: W. Lee O'Daniel (Democratic)
  • Governor of Utah: Henry H. Blood (Democratic)
  • Governor of Vermont: George David Aiken (Republican)
  • Governor of Virginia: James H. Price (Democratic)
  • Governor of Washington: Clarence D. Martin (Democratic)
  • Governor of West Virginia: Homer A. Holt (Democratic)
  • Governor of Wisconsin: Julius P. Heil (Republican)
  • Governor of Wyoming: Nels H. Smith (Republican)

Lieutenant Governors

  • Lieutenant Governor of Alabama: Albert A. Carmichael (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas: Robert L. Bailey (political party unknown)
  • Lieutenant Governor of California: Ellis E. Patterson (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Colorado: John Charles Vivian (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut: James L. McConaughy (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Delaware: Edward W. Cooch (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Idaho: Donald S. Whitehead (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Illinois: John H. Stelle (Democratic) (until October 6), vacant (starting October 6)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Indiana: Henry F. Schricker (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Iowa: Bourke B. Hickenlooper (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Kansas: Carl E. Friend (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky: Rodes K. Myers (political party unknown)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana: Coleman Lindsey (Democratic) (until month and day unknown), Marc M. Mouton (Democratic) (starting month and day unknown)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts: Horace T. Cahill (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Michigan: vacant (until month and day unknown), Matilda Dodge Wilson (Republican) (starting month and day unknown)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota: C. Elmer Anderson (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi: Jacob Buehler Snider (Democratic) (until month and day unknown), Dennis Murphree (Democratic) (starting month and day unknown)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Missouri: Frank Gaines Harris (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Montana: Hugh R. Adair (political party unknown)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska: William E. Johnson (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Nevada: Maurice J. Sullivan (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico: James Murray, Sr. (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of New York: Charles Poletti (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina: Wilkins P. Horton (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota: Jack A. Patterson (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Ohio: Paul M. Herbert (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma: James E. Berry (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania: Samuel S. Lewis (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island: James O. McManus (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina: Joseph Emile Harley (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota: Donald McMurchie (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee: Blan R. Maxwell (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Texas: Coke Robert Stevenson (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Vermont: William H. Wills (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Virginia: Saxon W. Holt (Democratic) (until March 31), vacant (starting March 31)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Washington: Victor A. Meyers (Democratic)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin: Walter S. Goodland (Republican)



  • February 7 – RKO release Walt Disney's second full-length animated film, Pinocchio.
  • February 20 – Tom and Jerry make their debut in Puss Gets the Boot.
  • February 27 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14.
  • March – Truth or Consequences debuts on NBC Radio.
  • March 2 – Cartoon character Elmer Fudd makes his debut in the animated short Elmer's Candid Camera.


May 15: The first McDonald's restaurant (photographed in 2005).
June 27: "100 Water Colors" show by Federal Arts Project opens in New York City
  • April – Dick Grayson (AKA as Robin, the Boy Wonder) first appears with Batman.
  • April 1 – April Fools' Day is also the census date for the 16th U.S. Census.
  • April 7 – Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
  • April 12 – Opening day at Jamaica Racetrack features the use of pari-mutuel betting equipment, a departure from bookmaking heretofore used exclusively throughout New York state. Other NY tracks follow suit later in 1940.
  • April 21 – Take It or Leave It makes it debut on CBS Radio, with Bob Hawk as host.
  • April 23 – A fire at the Rhythm Night Club in Natchez, Mississippi kills 198.
  • May 15
    • The very first McDonald's restaurant opens in San Bernardino, California.
    • Women's stockings made of nylon are first placed on sale across the U.S. Almost five million pairs are bought on this day.
  • May 16 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, addressing a joint session of Congress, asks for an extraordinary credit of approximately $900 million to finance construction of at least 50,000 airplanes per year.
  • May 29 – The Vought XF4U-1, prototype of the F4U Corsair U.S. fighter later used in WWII, makes its first flight.
  • June 10 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounces Italy's actions with his "Stab in the Back" speech during the graduation ceremonies of the University of Virginia.
  • June 14 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Naval Expansion Act into law, which aims to increase the United States Navy's tonnage by 11%.
  • June 16 – The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held for the first time in Sturgis, South Dakota.
  • June 24 – U.S. politics: The Republican Party begins its national convention in Philadelphia and nominates Wendell Willkie as its candidate for president.


  • July 1 – The doomed first Tacoma Narrows Bridge opens for business, built with an 8-foot (2.4 m) girder and 190 feet (58 m) above the water, as the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
  • July 15 – U.S. politics: The Democratic Party begins its national convention in Chicago, and nominates Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term as president.
  • July 20 – The Arroyo Seco Parkway, one of the first freeways built in the U.S., opens to traffic, connecting downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena, California.
  • July 27 – Bugs Bunny makes his debut in the Oscar-nominated cartoon short, A Wild Hare.
  • August 4 – Gen. John J. Pershing, in a nationwide radio broadcast, urges all-out aid to Britain in order to defend the Americas, while Charles Lindbergh speaks to an isolationist rally at Soldier Field in Chicago.
  • September – The U.S. Army 45th Infantry Division (previously a National Guard Division in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma), is activated and ordered into federal service for 1 year, to engage in a training program in Ft. Sill and Louisiana, prior to serving in World War II.
  • September 2 – WWII: An agreement between America and Great Britain is announced to the effect that 50 U.S. destroyers needed for escort work will be transferred to Great Britain. In return, America gains 99-year leases on British bases in the North Atlantic, West Indies and Bermuda.
  • September 12 – The Hercules Munitions Plant in Succasunna-Kenvil, New Jersey explodes, killing 55 people.
  • September 16 – WWII: The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 is signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt, creating the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.
  • September 26 – WWII: The United States imposes a total embargo on all scrap metal shipments to Japan.


November 5: FDR becomes the first and only President elected to a third term.
  • October 16 – The draft registration of approximately 16 million men begins in the United States.
  • October 29 – The Selective Service System lottery is held in Washington, D.C..
  • November 5 – U.S. presidential election, 1940: Democrat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Republican challenger Wendell Willkie and becomes the United States' first and only third-term president.
  • November 7 – In Tacoma, Washington, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (nicknamed the "Galloping Gertie") collapses in a 42-mile-per-hour (68 km/h) wind storm, causing the center span of the bridge to sway. When it collapses, a 600-foot-long (180 m) design of the center span falls 190 feet above the water, killing Tubby, a black male cocker spaniel dog.
  • November 11 – Armistice Day Blizzard: An unexpected blizzard kills 144 in U.S. Midwest.
  • November 12 – Case of Hansberry v. Lee, 311 U.S. 32 (1940), decided, allowing a racially restrictive covenant to be lifted.
  • November 13 – Walt Disney's Fantasia is released. It is the first box office failure for Disney, though it eventually recoups its cost years later, and becomes one of the most highly regarded of Disney's films.
  • November 16 – An unexploded pipe bomb is found in the Consolidated Edison office building (only years later is the culprit, George Metesky, apprehended).
  • December 8 – The Chicago Bears, in what will become the most one-sided victory in National Football League history, defeat the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game.
  • December 17 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt, at his regular press conference, first sets forth the outline of his plan to send aid to Great Britain that will become known as Lend-Lease.
  • December 29 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a fireside chat to the nation, declares that the United States must become "the great arsenal of democracy."
  • December 30 – California's first modern freeway, the future State Route 110, opens to traffic in Pasadena, California, as the Arroyo Seco Parkway (now the Pasadena Freeway).



  • January 2 – Jim Bakker, Televangelist and former husband of Tammy Faye
  • January 6 – Penny Lernoux, Journalist and author (d. 1989)
  • January 14 – Julian Bond, Civil rights activist
  • January 20 – Carol Heiss, Figure skater
  • January 21 – Jack Nicklaus, Golfer
  • January 27 – James Cromwell, Actor
  • January 29 – Katharine Ross, Actress


  • February 3 – Fran Tarkenton, Football player
  • February 4 – George A. Romero, Film writer and director
  • February 6 – Tom Brokaw, Television news reporter
  • February 8
    • Ted Koppel, Journalist
    • Joe South, Singer and songwriter
    • Richard Lynch, Actor
    • Donald W. Stewart, United States Senator from Alabama from 1978 till 1981.
  • February 12 – Hank Brown, United States Senator from Colorado from 1991 till 1997.
  • February 17 – Gene Pitney, Singer (d. 2006)
  • February 19 – Smokey Robinson, Musician
  • February 22 – Billy Name, Photographer and Warhol archivist
  • February 23 – Peter Fonda, Actor
  • February 24 – Pete Duel, Actor (d. 1971)
  • February 25 – Ron Santo, Baseball player (d. 2010)
  • February 28 – Mario Andretti, Race car driver


  • March 6 – Willie Stargell, African-American baseball player (d. 2001)
  • March 10
    • Dean Torrence, Singer (Jan and Dean)
    • Chuck Norris, Actor and martial artist
  • March 12 – Al Jarreau, Jazz singer
  • March 13 – Candi Staton, Singer
  • March 15 – Phil Lesh, Musician (Grateful Dead)
  • March 17 – Mark White, 43rd Governor of Texas from 1983 to 1987
  • March 20 – Mary Ellen Mark, Photographer (d. 2015)
  • March 21 – Solomon Burke, Singer-songwriter (d. 2010)
  • March 25 – Anita Bryant, Entertainer
  • March 26
    • James Caan, Actor
    • Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • March 27 – Cale Yarborough, Race car driver
  • March 29 – Ray Davis, Musician (P-Funk) (d. 2005)
  • March 31 – Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator from Vermont from 1975



May 10 - Wayne A. Downing, American general (d. 2007)


  • June 7 – Evi Nemeth, author and engineer (2013)
  • June 8
    • Arthur Elgort, photographer
    • Jim Wickwire, lawyer and mountaineer


  • July 3 – Lamar Alexander, United States Senator from Tennessee since 2003.


  • August 27 – Fernest Arceneaux, musician (d. 2008)
  • August 28 – William Cohen, United States Senator from Maine from 1979 till 1997.



  • October 6 – Wyche Fowler, United States Senator from Georgia from 1987 till 1993.
  • October 9 – Gordon J. Humphrey, United States Senator from New Hampshire from 1979 till 1990.
  • October 29 – Connie Mack III, United States Senator from Florida from 1989 till 2001.


  • November 11 – Barbara Boxer, United States Senator from California since 1993.


  • December 21 - Frank Zappa


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