THE_NEW_DEAL_VOLUME_ONE.pdf - Volume One The New Deal Edited by John Braeman Robert H Bremner and David Brody $30.00 the set THE NEW DEAL Published in

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Unformatted text preview: Volume One The New Deal Edited by John Braeman, Robert H. Bremner, and David Brody $30.00 the set THE NEW DEAL Published in two volumes: I. The National Level; II. The State and Local Levels. Edited by John Braeman, Robert H. Bremner, and David Brody In spite of the decades that have intervened, the heat and intensity of the debate originally generated during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal administra­ tion remain largely undiminished. And though the number of historians who continue to ex­ coriate FDR as a demagogue and megalomaniac has been as drastically reduced as has the company of those who regard him as the Saint George who finally slew the dragon of economic royalism, the controversy still rages over such questions as: How new, in fact, was the New Deal? What alternatives, if any, were actually available to its principal policy-makers? How successful, in the last analysis, was the Roose­ velt administration in disciplining, liberalizing, and humanizing capitalism? And what, finally, has been the enduring effect of Roosevelt's policies and programs in the shaping of modern America? The papers and the authors included in the first of the two volumes into which this latest number in the Modern America series is divided are: "Lawyers and Social Change in the De­ pression Decade," by Jerold S. Auerbach; "The New Deal and World War II," by David Brody; "The New Deal and Labor," by Milton Derber; "The New Deal and Business," by Ellis W. Hawley; "The New Deal and the American AntiStatist Tradition," by James Holt; "The New Deal and Agriculture," by Richard S. Kirkendall; "The Decline of the New Deal, 1937-1940, by Richard Polenberg;" Hoover-Roosevelt and the Great Depressions Historiographic Inquiry into a Perennial Comparison," by Albert U. Romasco; "Aubrey Williams: Atypical New Dealer?", by John A. Salmond; "Fiction and the New Deal," by Eric Solomon; and "The New Deal and the Negro," by Raymond Wolters. Contributors to the second volume and the localities they treat are: Keith Bryant, (Okla­ homa), Robert Burton (Oregon), F. Alan Coombs (Wyoming), LyleW.Dorsett(KansasCity), Harold Gorvine (Massachusetts), Robert F Hunter (Virginia), Richard C. Keller (Pennsylvania), Michael P. Malone (Montana), David J. Maurer (Ohio), John Robert Moore (Louisiana), William Pickens (New Mexico), Bruce M. Stave (Pitts­ burgh), and James F. Wickens (Colorado). T H E N E W D E A L Volume One The l^cw QDeal The National Level Edited by John Braeman Robert H. Bremner David Brody OHIO STAII UNIVERSITY PRESS : COLUMBUS Copyright © 1975 by the Ohio State University Press All Rights Reserved. Manufactured in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data Braeman, John The New Deal. (Modern America; 4) CONTENTS: v. I. The national level—v. 2. The state and local levels. Includes index. 1. United States—Politics and government—1933-1945. 2. United States—Social conditions—1933-1945. I. Bremner, Robert Hamlett, 1917joint author. II. Brody, David, joint author. III. Title. IV. Series. E806.B72 32O.9'73'O9I7 74-20843 ISBN 0-8142-0200-4 (v. 1) 0-8142-0201-2 (v. 2) Contents Albert U. Romasco James Holt Ellis W. Hawley Introduction ix Hoover-Roosevelt and the Great Depression: A Historiographic Inquiry into a Perennial Comparison 3 The New Deal and the American Anti-Statist Tradition 27 The New Deal and Business 50 Richard S. Kirkendall The New Deal and Agriculture Milton Derber The New Deal and Labor Jerold S. Auerbach Lawyers and Social Change in the 83 110 Depression Decade 133 Raymond Wolters The New Deal and the Negro 170 John A. Salmond Aubrey Williams: Atypical New Dealer? 218 Richard Polenberg The Decline of the New Deal, 1937-1940 246 David Brody The New Deal and World War II 267 Eric Solomon Fiction and the New Deal 310 Notes on the Editors and Contributors 327 Index 329 Introduction Despite the passing years, debate over the New Deal continues unabated. But as the New Deal recedes farther into the past, the terms of that debate have changed. Few historians nowadays see Franklin D. Roosevelt as a power-mad demagogue who replaced the free enterprise system responsi­ ble for America's progress and greatness with a deadening creeping socialism. Not many more picture FDR as a courageous Saint George who slew the dragon of economic royalism, rescued the nation from depression, and erected a new regime of social justice. Most present-day students of the New Deal recognize its limited aims and even more limited achievements; a minority on the left even charge that the New Deal did no more than patch up and strengthen the old deal. The focus of the current debate is thus upon such questions as how new was the New Deal; what alternatives policymakers had; how successful was the Roosevelt administration in disciplin­ ing, liberalizing, and humanizing capitalism; and what was its long-term significance in shaping contemporary America. One of the more hotly argued questions is to what extent Roosevelt's policies for combatting the Depression differed from Hoover s. In his review of the existing historiography, Albert U. Romasco of New York University shows how contemporary newspapermen and associates of Roosevelt, "liberal" historians such as Basil Rauch, Richard Hofstadter, and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and even "conservative" critics of the New Deal, all, for their differing purposes, postulated a sharp contrast between the two chief executives. "Each has been made a reference point for comprehending the other." On the other side has been a "dissenting" minority who stress "the similarities in the Hoover-Roosevelt policies." X INTRODUCTION Romasco himself leans toward the contrast rather than continuity school. Hoover, he acknowledges, did break "with the stoical tradition of previous depression presidents by assuming responsibility for the prosperous func­ tioning of the economy." But his program was limited by "a well thoughtout philosophy of government." Thus, Romasco concludes, to argue "that Roosevelt's New Deal was anticipated in its essentials by President Hoover magnifies to disproportion the carefully circumscribed Hooverian policies, while minimizing the profuse outpouring that was Roosevelt's New Deal." The degree of continuity with Hoover was at its greatest during the first—or NRA—phase of the New Deal. During this phase, James Holt of New Zealand's Auckland University finds, the Roosevelt administration sought to achieve its goal of restoring "balance and coordination" in the economy through "voluntary cooperation with a minimum of governmen­ tal coercion." From 1934 on, however, "when New Dealers talked of the need for cooperative action to meet the needs of a complex 'interrelated' economy, they almost invariably meant nothing more than action by federal agencies." Accompanying this shift were vocal attacks upon "the economic royalists and their political lackeys" and "demands for social justice." At the same time, Holt points out, this apparently more radical tack had its conservative implications. "In the early days of the Roosevelt administration, New Dealers had denounced economic individualism and competitiveness as outworn creeds and had proposed to put cooperation, neighborliness, and national unity in their place." But with the collapse of the National Recovery Administration, "the case for the New Deal came to rest on the more modest claim that positive government could render an individualistic, capitalistic society more stable, more equalitarian, and more humane." Examining government-business relations, Ellis W. Hawley of the University of Iowa views the New Deal as marking a shift from Hoover's reliance upon "informal business-government cooperation" to a "more formal and coercive attempt" at managing the economy. But he underlines how the New Deal's commitment to change "was clearly limited by fixed ideological boundaries" that ruled out, on the one hand, "stabilizing arrangements involving the open avowal of a 'closed,' 'authoritarian,' or 'monopolistic' system" and, on the other, "liberalizing or democratizing reforms that would seriously jeopardize capitalist incentives, constitu­ tional safeguards, modern technology, or recovery prospects." And even within these limits, the administration shied away from programs "whose INTRODUCTION XI implementation would require excessive conflict or some radically new type of politics or administration." The result was a disposition "to adjust differences, make accommodations, and build on existing institutions." Although acknowledging that business "benefited most from the innova­ tions of the period," Hawley denies that the initiative for these policies came from the business community. On the contrary, most business leaders fought "a bitter and expensive delaying action." "What emerged," he shows, "was the creation not of an omnipotent corporate elite but of a complex interaction between conflicting interest groups, resurgent liberal ideals, and the champions of competing reform models. Looking at the New Deal from a long-term perspective, Hawley sees the Roosevelt administration as a major transitional stage in a continuing effort "to resolve the tensions between bureaucratic industrialism and a liberaldemocratic ethos." No group in American society was more affected by this tension between old ideals and new realities than the farmer. Richard S. Kirkendall, professor of history at Indiana University and executive secretary of the Organization of American Historians, shows how the New Deal cast its weight decisively toward adapting the farmer to what Kenneth E. Boulding has termed "the organizational revolution." In its agricultural policies—as in its policies toward business—the New Deal, Kirkendall finds, was committed to change within the capitalist system. Its immediate aim was "to raise farm prices and restore profits to the farm business"; its longer-range goal was "to fit the farmer into a collectivist type of capitalism." Attempts "to serve more than the business interests of the commercial farmer" were only "partially successful." More successful were the New Deal's efforts to raise prices and restore profitability. But the most significant result of the New Deal in agriculture—as in business —was "to promote further evolution along collectivist lines." "By 1940," Kirkendall concludes, "the American farmer worked in a system that was dominated by the interplay among large public and private organizations." New Deal agricultural policies accelerated developments long under way. In contrast, the Roosevelt administration's labor policies brought about what Milton Derber of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Illinois regards as "a fundamental restructuring of the industrial relations system." Although the immediate effect of New Deal policies was to benefit labor—and make possible the unionization of the mass-production industries—Derber sees their more significant long-run result as making the federal government the "rule-maker and umpire" in the labor-management process, laying down and enforcing "the rules of Xll INTRODUCTION the game for the chief actors—organized labor and management." At the same time, the federal government assumed the responsibility for setting minimum labor standards, providing "social security" for the nation's citizens, and guaranteeing—whatever the shortcomings of its efforts in practice—against unemployment. And these new roles for the federal government brought organized labor more actively than ever in­ to the political arena in a still-continuing alliance with the Democratic party. Almost as revolutionary was what Jerold S. Auerbach of Wellesley College describes as the "wrenching change" undergone by the legal profession during the Roosevelt years. On the one hand, lawyers faced sharp attack for their alleged bondage to business. On the other, the New Deal "enabled a new professional elite to ascend to power"—an elite drawn from those lawyers whose social and ethnic backgrounds had excluded them from the white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant legal establish­ ment and/or whose ambitions for public service found an outlet in the Roosevelt adminstration. "Between 1933 and 1941," Auerbach writes, "professional power in the public arena shifted from a corporate elite, served by Wall Street lawyers, to a legal elite, dominated by New Deal lawyers." The central role played by lawyers in the New Deal had its drawbacks as well as its benefits. The commitment of this new legal "counter-elite" to "flexibility, to instrumentalism, to skeptical realism and to administrative discretion freed the New Deal from the debilitating paralysis" of the Hoover years. But, Auerbach adds, the "lawyer's ob­ session with process" was a major factor in the New Deal's opportunism, its readiness to compromise, and its willingness to accept "the existing balance of power between competing interest groups." The Roosevelt administration's disposition to accept "the existing bal­ ance of power between competing interest groups" was nowhere more evident than in its treatment of the nation's most distressed group, the Negro. Raymond Wolters of the University of Delaware portrays how the two major New Deal recovery programs—the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and the National Recovery Administration—worked to the disadvantage of the Negro. Other New Deal agencies—such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Tennessee Valley Authority—prac­ ticed and enforced racial segregation and discrimination. Roosevelt him­ self shied from endorsing any civil rights legislation; he even refused to put a federal anti-lynching bill on his "must" list. And though such other New Deal agencies as the Farm Security Administration, Public Works Ad­ INTRODUCTION Xlll ministration, Works Progress Administration, and National Youth Ad­ ministration did attempt to assure blacks fair treatment, their efforts fell short of meeting the desperate needs of the country's black citizens. Part of the difficulty, Wolters explains, was southern influence in Congress; but perhaps even more important were the "fundamental and basic deficiencies of'broker leadership' " whereby the most benefits went to "those who are well organized and politically influential." Yet despite its shortcomings, Wolters concludes, "the New Deal offered Negroes more in material benefits and recognition than had any administration since the era of Reconstruction." The result was a massive shift of black voters from their traditional loyalty to the Republican party to the Democrats—a shift that subsequent developments have reinforced and solidified. There was perhaps no stauncher friend of the Negro within the ranks of the New Dealers than Aubrey Willis Williams. Williams, a social worker turned bureaucrat, was, according to John A. Salmond of Australia's La Trobe University, "a radical." Unlike, however, so many of similar views, he hoped to achieve his goal of a more just and decent social order by working within the Roosevelt administration. As an official of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and Civil Works Administra­ tion, then as deputy administrator of the Works Progress Administration and executive director of the National Youth Administration, Williams was one of the administration's leading champions of federally financed and administered work relief instead of the demoralizing and dehumaniz­ ing dole. His outspoken liberalism so outraged Capitol Hill that Roosevelt passed him over for head of the WP A to succeed Harry Hopkins. But what most outraged southern lawmakers, liberals as much as conservatives —and cost him Senate confirmation of his nomination as head of the Rural Electrification Administration in 1945—was his uncompromising advo­ cacy of Negro rights. Despite his disappointments and frustrations, Wil­ liams "never lost his faith in FDR; he never seems to have doubted for a minute that they shared the same social goals, had the same dream of what America could become." Nor was Williams atypical. "There were," Salmond reminds us, "thousands like him" in the New Deal agencies, "people who saw themselves as the local agents of general social change and who believed implicitly in its value." Williams, as late as 1945, continued to believe that "a revival and a widening of the New Deal was imminent." But the reform impulse sparked by the depression had long since waned. Richard Polenberg of Cornell University shows how the decline began paradoxically in the wake of XIV INTRODUCTION Roosevelt's landslide 1936 victory. The court-packing fight "divided the liberal coalition," "exposed Roosevelt to the charge of seeking dictatorial power," and led to the formation of a powerful bipartisan conservative coalition in Congress. At the same time, proposals such as low-cost public housing, wages and hours regulation, and civil rights legislation appealing to the northern, urban wing of the Democratic party alienated southern and rural congressmen. Perhaps even more important was the growing popular sentiment "that the Roosevelt administration follow a more conservative course"—a sentiment stimulated by the New Deal's success in improving economic conditions, but then reinforced by the disillusionment with the New Deal produced by the recession of 1937-38. Popular support for the New Deal was further weakened by "the appearance of a virulent strain of nativism." And, Polenberg points out, "the administration had itself begun to draw in its horns" by 1939 as Roosevelt's preoccupation with foreign policy and national defense led him "to court southerners" and seek "a rapprochement with the business community." Nor did the American involvement in World War II, in striking contrast with Great Britain's experience, bring "a new thrust forward" in reform legislation. David Brody of the University of California-Davis finds part of the explanation to lie in the external limitations facing the Roosevelt administration: the strength of the southern Democratic-Republican coali­ tion in Congress; the compulsion upon Roosevelt before Pearl Harbor of gaining support for his foreign and defense programs from among oppo­ nents of his domestic programs; the importance of gaining the cooperation of industry in the mobilization effort; the reliance upon executives drawn from business to run the defense program; "the conservative perspective of the military men" who came to "play a central role" within the War Production Board; the war-bred prosperity; and the satisfaction of or­ ganized agriculture and labor with the existing mechanisms established by the New Deal—"the system of price support written into the Soil Conser­ vation and Domestic Allotment Act" and the "effective protection of the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining" guaranteed by the Wagner Act—as the means of advancing their interests during wartime. But much of the blame, Brody argues, must be ascribed to the intellectual and ideological limitations of the New Deal itself: its ad hoc and "reactive" character, its lack of "a comprehensive blueprint for change," its failure to have "any clear vision of a new society"; Roosevelt's prefer­ ence for accommodation, his eagerness "to win the approval and coopera­ tion of the groups affected by his programs, his reliance "on broker INTRODUCTION XV politics, shaping policy by a close calculation of the relative power of claimant groups." One might expect the novelists of the day to have provided for a later 6 eneration insights into the meaning and impact of the New Deal. Yet, Eric Solomon of San Francisco State College shows, such was not the case. Some novelists did deal with "the facts of life in the United States" during the 1930s in their nonfiction and journalistic efforts; "a few conserv­ ative novelists," such as William Faulkner and John Dos Passos, "at­ tacked the premises of, and participants in, th...
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