Within international relations theorizing, political leaders are rarely cast as norm entrepreneurs or change agents. As heads of government, they have their own sources of legitimacy and authority, but also significant constraints. This article, based on new archival research, adds nuance to this model by exploring the leadership roles of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman on influencing global views on refugee protection. The role both presidents played at the international level was moderated by constraints at the domestic level within the congressional and executive branches. While both presidents demonstrated a strong commitment to refugees, only Truman was able to bring about change in U.S. policy by deploying the tools of norm entrepreneurship.