Only one President of the United States has ever served more than two terms. The two-term limit had been the tradition since George Washington refused the invitation to run for a third term. Washington didn't want to contribute to divisive politics that had emerged as the young United States sought recognition on the world stage. Even after he retired to Mount Vernon, Washington would receive pleas from his party to quell the popularity of the still-forming Democratic-Republican (Anti-federalist) party as a counter to Federal power. A two-term presidential limit would remain a tradition in practice only until 1951, when 36 states ratified the 22nd Amendment, which made the two-term limit law of the land. So, why did Franklin Roosevelt break with tradition and win four terms?
On January 20, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for an unprecedented 4th term as U.S. President. The United States was on the precipice of defeating Hitler in Germany and was exerting naval superiority in the Pacific. F.D.R. was the Commander in Chief during recovery from a devastating depression and was about to be on the winning side of World War II, accomplishments that arguably rivaled Washington's. In the minds of many Americans, it wouldn't have been beneficial to change administrations during wartime. Political divisions that had been there since Washington's two terms would have weakened the U.S.'s ability to wage war. Thus, much of the American electorate stuck to the winning President. Unfortunately, few knew how sick FDR was when he was sworn into office in January 1945. Barely four months later, he died.