Wendell Willkie was born in Elwood, Indiana. He became a lawyer, practicing law between 1916 and 1929 in both Indiana and Ohio, before moving to New York in 1929. He practiced law there until 1933, when he became president of Commonwealth and Southern Corporation, a giant utility holding company.
Willkie was plucked out of relative obscurity by the business community to run for President against the popular Franklin Roosevelt. Willkie campaigned against the economic practices of the New Deal and for more aid to the Allies. After he lost the election, he became a major ally of Roosevelt's in uniting the country to aid the Allies.