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Title:      Since Yesterday (1939)
Author:     Frederick Lewis Allen
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Title:      Since Yesterday (1939)
Author:     Frederick Lewis Allen

The 1930s In America

September 3, 1929-September 3,1939


who has a wise head and a warm heart




1 & 2.  A Very Hot Day

3.  What the Headlines Said

4.  The Crest of the Wave

5.  "A Friend of Mr. Jones's"

6.  A Few People, 1929


1.  Panic!

2.  Afterglow, 1930

3.  Bathtub Gin and the Crime Wave

4.  Miniature Golf and Free Wheeling

5.  Hoover in Trouble

6.  What Did It Mean?


1.  In June, 1931

2.  The Hoover Moratorium

3.  A Dole for Corporations

4.  Oh, Yeah?

5.  Black Depression

6.  The Lindbergh Kidnap Case

7.  "Every Man Is Afraid"


1.  Roosevelt Nominated

2.  The Battle of Washington

3.  Rebellion and Ferment

4.  Technocracy

5.  Poor Hoover!

6.  The Banks Give Way

7.  Curtain


1.  The New President Speaks

2.  Off with a Rush

3.  All Roads Lead to Washington

4.  Extraordinary Session

5.  New--And Multiple--Deal

6.  Happy Days Are Here Again


1.  Marriage and Morals

2.  Fashion Parade

3.  Repeal and Drinking

4.  Play, Sports, Gambling

5.  How the Churches Fared

6.  The Social Salvationists

7.  "We Don't Know"


1.  The Honeymoon Ends

2.  Reforms, Dionnes, and Uproar

3.  Relief

4.  Dillinger, G-Men, and Dewey

5.  Huey Long and Others

6.  The Court Says No


1.  Black Blizzards

2.  Land of Promise?

3.  The Tractors Go Rolling Along

4.  Floods--and Dams

5.  Mature America


1.  The Changed World of 1936

2.  The Pump Works--Up to a Point

3.  Streamlined Trains and Trailers

4.  They Hated Roosevelt

5.  Landon, "The Kansas Coolidge"

6.  The Voice with the Smile Wins

7.  Ex-Rex


1.  Cocktail Party, 1935

2.  "Tobacco Road" and Best Sellers

3.  Social Salvationists Writing

4.  The Communists

5.  Candid Camera

6.  Benny Goodman and Bach

7.  You Can't Say That

8.  Hollywood Heaven


1.  Rainy Inaugural

2.  The CIO Sits Down

3.  Taylor, Lewis, Girdler

4.  The Supreme Court Battle

5.  1937 Montage

6.  The Recession

7.  Was the New Deal Played Out?


1.  "We Take You Now to Prague"

2.  Isolation or Intervention?

3.  Martians--and Germans--Advance

4.  The World of Tomorrow?

5.  A Royal Visit and a Summer Lull

6.  An Era Ends



Ever since, in Only Yesterday, I tried to tell the story of life in
the United States during the nineteen-twenties I have had it in the
back of my mind that some day I might make a similar attempt for
the nineteen-thirties.  I definitely began work on the project late
in 1938 and had it three-quarters done by the latter part of the
summer of 1939, though I did not yet know how the story would end.
The outbreak of war in Europe provided an obvious conclusion, since
it promised to end an era perhaps as definitely as the Panic of
1929 had ended one.  By an odd chance, the declaration of war upon
Germany by the British and French governments took place ten years
to a day after that September 3, 1929, which I had already made the
subject of my first chapter.  It gave me a turn to realize how
precisely the course of events had provided me with a decade to

The span of time covered in Only Yesterday was from the Armistice
of November 11, 1918, to the Panic of October-November, 1929, with
a concluding chapter which recited the course of events between the
Panic and the spring of 1931 and tried to suggest how the temper of
the country had altered during that post-Panic interval.  (The book
was published in December, 1931.)  When I came to plan the present
volume it was clear that some overlapping would be necessary, for
obviously the story of the nineteen-thirties should start before
the Panic and give some idea of the high place from which the
country fell during the economic collapse of 1929-32.  Hence my
decision to begin with a study of things as they were on September
3, 1929 (which I had written in somewhat different form as an
article in Harper's Magazine in 1937), and in a second chapter to
cover the Panic and the course of events up to the spring of 1931.
The story of the Panic itself, however, I have abbreviated in this
book, since I told it in considerable detail in Only Yesterday.

The problem of selection and emphasis, always difficult, is of
course doubly difficult when one is writing so close to the event.
In Only Yesterday I brought into sharp relief manners and customs,
fads and follies, and everyday circumstances of life.  In the
present volume I have done the same thing to some degree, but not
quite as much; for the heart of the story of America in the
nineteen-thirties was obviously the enormous economic and political
transformation which took place, and such trivialities as had been
of the essence of life in the United States in the nineteen-
twenties were now, it seemed to me, less significant.  Future
events may make my selection and appraisal of material look very
dated; in that case I can only hope my very miscalculations may
have a certain paradoxical value as indicating the sort of
pitfall into which one readily fell in 1939, even if one were
conscientiously intent upon presenting a fair appraisal.

F. L. A.

Chapter One



Do you remember what you were doing on September 3, 1929?

Probably not--unless you have an altogether exceptional memory.

Let me refresh your recollection.  For if we are to understand the
changes in American life during the nineteen-thirties, we must
first recall what things were like before this period began--before
the Panic which introduced the Depression.  Perhaps the most
convenient way of doing this is to imagine ourselves re-living a
single day in 1929: seeing what things look like, listening to the
talk, glancing at the newspapers and magazines and books, noticing
what are the preoccupations and assumptions and expectations in
people's minds--and doing all this with the eyes and ears and
intellectual perspective of today.

I have chosen September 3, 1929, as the day to re-visit, for it was
then that the Big Bull Market reached its peak: that the Dow-Jones
average of stock-market prices, which had been rising so long and
so furiously, made its high record for all time.  If there was any
single day when the wave of prosperity--and of speculation--which
characterized the nineteen-twenties may be said to have attained
its utmost height before it curled over and crashed, September 3,
1929, was that day.

So let us go back and look about us.


It is a very hot day, this first Tuesday in September, 1929.  Not
everywhere, to be sure: in the Far West and South the temperatures
are moderate.  But from the coast of Maine to the wheatfields of
Nebraska the sun beats down implacably.

Yesterday was Labor Day; and last night, as the long holiday week
end came to its close, the suburban highways approaching the larger
American cities were nightmares of congestion as endless lines of
cars full of sunburned, sweltering vacationists and week-enders
crept cityward through the night, inch by angry inch.  On the New
Jersey highways leading to New York the tie-up was so complete that
people by the thousands, hopeless of reaching the Holland Tunnel
for hours, parked their cars in Newark or Hoboken and finished the
journey to New York by tube.  The railroad stations, too, were
jammed with people--not only vacationists and week-enders but boy
and girl campers returning to town en masse; never had Labor Day
traffic been so overwhelming, or the collective discomfort of Labor
Day travel been greater.  (There were, of course, no air-
conditioned cars.)

As you get up on Tuesday morning, September 3, after an airless
night, the weather prediction in the morning paper offers you no
relief.  "Fair and continued warm today and tomorrow," it says.
You are in for it: for a temperature of 94.2 deg. in New York;
90 deg. in Chicago, Detroit, and Kansas City; 92 deg. in St. Louis;
94 deg. in Minneapolis; 97 deg. in Boston.

After breakfast you go out on the street.  The men you see there do
not look so very different from those of a decade later, though
more of them are wearing starched collars and waistcoats than in
subsequent years, and not nearly so many of them are going hatless.
But the women are different indeed.  The fashionable figure is
straight up and down--no breasts, no waist, no hips; and if few of
the women you see can even approximate this ideal, at least they
are visibly making the effort.  Not yet have Mae West's curves
become a national influence.  The waistline--if it can be called
one--is round the hips.  The skirts are short, reaching only two or
three inches below the knee: shorter than they will be again until
1939.  (The new evening dresses--backless and sleeveless--have
panels, godets, or drapery hanging about the ankles, but the
dresses themselves are still short.)  Every dress has a v-neck,
almost every sweater even.  If this were a wintry day, instead of
one of the hottest days of summer, you would see every woman
hugging herself energetically to hold in place her straight
wraparound coat.  The women's hats are small helmets that fit
tightly right down to the nape of the neck and so closely surround
the face that a profile view of a woman shows hardly more than an
eye, the nose, mouth, and chin, a lock or two of hair to decorate
the cheek--and the helmet.  Not all women wear their hair short,
but the approved style is to shingle it in the back and draw it
forward over the ears.

Even in a large city you may see one or two backless dresses among
the shoppers and a few pairs of stockingless legs, for the sun-tan
craze is in the full flush of novelty.  As the advertisements in
the Ladies Home Journal declare, "This is a sun-worshipping
year . . . all the world has gone in for sun-tan."  You will have
to look long and hard to detect any tinted nails, however; that
style is still in the future.

The automobiles surging by you are angular; there isn't a
streamline among them.  Horizontal and perpendicular lines;
square tops, with the upper rear angle hardly rounded at all;
perpendicular or almost perpendicular windshields; perpendicular,
flat radiator fronts.  No pointed or rounded prows, no sloping
rears, no draft ventilators.

You will not be able to go far, in the central part of any of the
big cities, without hearing the deafening clatter of riveters, for
although the Florida boom went to pieces in 1926, and the boom in
suburban developments--which has been filling up the open spaces in
the outskirts of the cities with Cotswold Terraces and Rosemont
Groves and Woodmere Drives--has been lagging a bit since 1937, the
boom in apartment-house construction and particularly in office-
building construction is still going full tilt.  Not in the poorer
districts are the riveters noisiest, but at the centers of big
business and of residential wealth, for it is the holders and
manipulators of securities who are the chief beneficiaries of this
last speculative phase of Coolidge-Hoover prosperity.  That network
of steel girders which you see rising so high above the street is
going to be a luxurious cooperative apartment house; that place
where the sidewalk is roofed over and the steam shovels are
gobbling up an immense excavation is the site for a new skyscraper
for brokers' offices and investment-trust offices and mortgage-bond

In New York they are tearing down the old Waldorf-Astoria to make
room for a skyscraper to end skyscrapers, the Empire State
Building.  John D. Rockefeller, Jr., has architects quietly at work
making preliminary plans for a big mid-town development which he
hopes will have a new Opera House as its central feature (he
doesn't know yet that the Opera will decline to come in and that
his colossal investment will have to take new shape in a Radio
City).  The Chrysler Building and several other major skyscrapers
are still shooting upward.  Most of the other cities of America are
doing their best to emulate New York's frenzy for monuments of
steel and stone ever loftier, more ambitious, and more expressive
of the era of confident speculative finance.

As you walk on, a man passes you whistling "Singin' in the Rain,"
which at the moment rivals "The Pagan Love Song" and "Vagabond
Lover" in popularity.

Here is a movie theatre advertising Al Jolson in "Say It with
Songs"; across the street another one advertises "Our Modern
Maidens," with Joan Crawford (still in her harum-scarum phase) and
Rod La Rocque.  A little further Ronald Colman may be seen in
"Bulldog Drummond."  The fact that this is advertised as Mr.
Colman's "first all-talking picture" bears witness that the
invasion of the movies by sound is not yet complete.  Even in the
big cities there are still silent pictures competing with the
talking ones.  The migration of Broadway stage celebrities to
Hollywood has been under way for some time, as movie producers
search for actors who can speak their parts acceptably, but still
the studios are fumbling uncertainly with the new medium, and still
the critics regard the "talkie" as something of an awkward parvenu.
When your local theatre, succumbing to the trend of the times, gets
itself wired for sound, the noises which blare forth are sometimes
wonderful indeed.  The actors lisp absurdly; the outbursts of song,
coming after "silent sequences," are often cacophonous; and as
Gilbert Seldes remarks in an article in the current Harper's, "The
tinkle of a glass, the shot of a revolver, a footfall on a hardwood
floor, and the noise of a pack of cards being shuffled, are all
about alike."

Steadily, however, the medium is being improved; and indeed there
are many people in this era of rapid engineering advance and bold
business enterprise who are wondering whether the talking picture
will not soon be superseded in its turn by television.  "Within
twelve months--eighteen months at the latest--the talkies will have
to meet the competition of the talkie-projector in the home,"
writes Mr. Seldes.  ". . . And within another year we shall
probably have the simple and comparatively inexpensive mechanisms,
now being perfected, which will throw on a small screen set up
beside the home radio set a moving picture projected from a central
broadcasting station."

If you are to be in New York this evening, perhaps the stage will
be more to your taste than the movies.  "Street Scene" is having a
long run there, and so is that grim reminiscence of war, "Journey's
End," which you may prefer if you have liked the current best-
selling novel, All Quiet on the Western Front.  Eddie Cantor is on
the stage in "Whoopee," you can see Bert Lahr in "Hold Everything!"
If you enjoy opening nights, you can go to the first performance of
a new musical show called "Sweet Adeline," which exemplifies a
budding tendency to turn back in nostalgic mood to the sentiments
of the gay nineties.  If you had rather sit quietly at home on such
a hot night and listen to the radio, you can hear the Fada Symphony
Orchestra, the Pure Oil Band, Whiteman's Old Gold Orchestra, or the
Freed Orchestradians.  Not yet has the technique of the radio
variety show been perfected, nor can you listen in on a world-wide
broadcast, but the crooners--led by Rudy Vallee--are on the air in
full force.  The average price of a radio set is still as high as
$135, for the low-priced small sets have not yet come on the
market.  In these prosperous times, however, radios are being
bought in quantity despite their size and price, and already some
twelve million American families own them.


Let us look at the newspapers.  They may help us to orient
ourselves.  What will tomorrow morning's headlines say about
today's events?

They will agree that the most exciting and important events of
September 3, 1929, aside from the heat wave and purely local
happenings, are a speech by the Prime Minister of England, a golf
tournament, and two incidents in aviation.

The Prime Minister is Ramsay MacDonald; his speech is delivered at
Geneva before the Assembly of the League of Nations.  (Yes, the
League, in 1929, is an important--though hardly determining--factor
in international relations.)  MacDonald announces in his speech
that negotiations between Great Britain and the United States for
the limitation of naval armaments are progressing favorably, and
that full agreement seems near.  He hopes shortly to visit the
United States to further that agreement.  (He will come, a little
later, and he and President Hoover will sit and talk on a log by
the Rapidan River near Hoover's rural camp.)

These armament negotiations of 1929 are incidents in the long post-
war struggle for agreement--and for national advantage--in a
Hitlerless world.  Germany is a republic and a member of the League
of Nations; the Dawes Plan of collecting reparations from Germany
is about to be succeeded by the less oppressive Young Plan; France,
the most powerful nation on the Continent, still occupies the
Rhineland.  Japan has not yet gone into Manchuria, let alone into
China, nor Italy into Ethiopia; Spain is not yet torn by civil war;
and Adolf Hitler is the little-regarded leader of a noisy minority
of German Brown Shirts, his name quite unknown to most Americans.

There is plenty of tension, to be sure.  National feelings run
high, and for years past the attentive students of international
affairs have been intermittently predicting a major war.  At this
very moment there is a grave threat of war between Russia and
China.  Mussolini is cherishing dreams of empire; there are Arab
riots in Palestine; and Gandhi is giving trouble to the British in
India.  But still in the main the lines drawn at Versailles in 1919
are holding, and the democratically governed nations are on top.

Much more exciting than Ramsay MacDonald's address, to most
Americans, is another front-page event of September 3: the National
Amateur Golf Championship at Pebble Beach, California.  The
incomparable Bobby Jones is there, tying for first place with Gene
Homans in the qualifying round.  Will Jones go on victoriously to
win his fifth American amateur title?  (He will not; he will be
beaten tomorrow by young Johnny Goodman, who in turn will be beaten
by nineteen-year-old Lawson Little.  Not till next year will Jones
be able to perform the feat of taking the British amateur and open
titles, and the American amateur and open, all in one season.)
Meanwhile the question whether Jones will win is in millions of
people's minds all over the country; for golf is in its heyday as
the business man's game.  For years past, aspiring executives have
been drilled in the idea that afternoons spent in plus-fours
provide not only enjoyment but useful business contacts, and
country clubs have been becoming more palatial, more expensive, and
more heavily mortgaged with membership bonds.

Of the two headlined incidents in aviation, one is a triumph, the
other a disaster.  The triumph belongs to the great German
dirigible, the Graf Zeppelin.  Having successfully circled the
world, it is now on its way home across the Atlantic from Lakehurst
to Friedrichshafen; by the evening of the third of September it has
completed the ocean crossing, and observers in little Spanish towns
see it floating overhead, its cabins brilliantly lighted against
the sky.  So impressive has been the Graf Zeppelin's demonstration
of the possibilities of lighter-than-air flying that the designers
of the Empire State Building are about to build a mooring mast on
top of the skyscraper; they will announce their decision on
December 11 with this somewhat premature prophecy:  "The directors
of Empire State, Inc., believe that in a comparatively short
time the Zeppelin airships will establish transatlantic,
transcontinental, and transpacific lines, and possibly a route to
South America from the port of New York.  Building with an eye to
the future, it has been determined to erect this mooring tower."

In striking contrast to the Graf Zeppelin's triumph is the air
disaster of September third: the crash of a Transcontinental Air
Transport plane in New Mexico during a thunderstorm, with the loss
of eight lives: a severe setback to heavier-than-air flying.

One might be misled by the word "Transcontinental."  There is no
coast-to-coast passenger service by air in 1929.  During the summer
the T.A.T., with Colonel Lindbergh as its adviser, has begun a
pioneer service in conjunction with the Pennsylvania and Santa Fe
railroads: passengers take an overnight train from New York to
Columbus, Ohio; fly by day from Columbus to Waynoke, Oklahoma; take
another overnight train to Clovis, New Mexico; and then continue by
air to the Coast.  In newspaper advertisements you may see Lionel
Barrymore as he alights from the "Airway Limited," which has
reduced the journey from New York to Los Angeles to the record-
breaking time of forty-eight hours.  No night flying is permitted.
Yet now, before the first summer is over, one of the big Ford
trimotor planes has gone smashing into Mount Taylor in New Mexico.
The disaster is an ugly blow to the fledgling air-transport
industry.  Since Lindbergh's flight to Paris in 1927 the
adventurers of the air have been crossing oceans boldly, airplane
stocks have been soaring, and the Post Office Department has been
successfully flying the mail across the country; but passenger
flying in the United States is still in its hazardous and uncertain

The newspapers which record the events of September 3, 1929,
contain other items of interest.  You will learn in them that in
Gastonia, North Carolina, a jury has been chosen for the trial of
sixteen strikers and alleged Communists for the killing of the
Chief of Police.  (Yes, there is occasionally a bitter industrial
conflict in the nineteen-twenties, even though unionism is weak,
the membership of the American Federation of Labor has dwindled,
and radicalism is almost negligible.  There is, of course, no CIO.)
You will learn that Commander Byrd--not yet an Admiral--is waiting
in the snows of Little America for his flight over the South Pole.
Babe Ruth, you will discover, is still top man in baseball: though
he has made no home run on September 3, his record for the season,
so far, stands at 40 home runs as against 31 for Jimmy Foxx and 29
for Lou Gehrig.  Bill Tilden is expected to win the amateur tennis
championship at Forest Hills (and will do so--for the seventh
time), but his era of supremacy, like Bobby Jones's and Babe
Ruth's, has not long to run.  (His seventh championship will be his
last.)  From the social columns of the newspaper you may learn that
Alfred E. Smith has wandered far enough from the torrid sidewalks
of New York to be the guest of honor at a luncheon at fashionable
Southampton.  Having been defeated by Herbert Hoover in the
national election of 1928, Smith is now preparing himself for a
loftier if narrower Presidency--that of the Empire State Building.


But the event for which September 3, 1929, will probably be longest
remembered in the United States, you will not find recorded in the
newspapers at all.  No headlines will announce tonight that the Big
Bull Market has reached its climax; for no headline writers--nor
anybody else for that matter--can see into the future.  The
financial reporters will remark, to be sure, that bullish
enthusiasm has resulted in "another in the long series of
consecutive new high records established by the share market," but
the comment will be casual.  Men do not whip themselves into
frenzies over the usual.  None of us is aware, on September 3,
1929, that the people of the United States are crossing one of the
great divides of national history.  The way ahead is hidden, as
always, by fog.  Surely, we imagine, there is higher ground just
ahead.  Yet at this very moment the path under our feet is about to
turn downward.

Suppose we go into a broker's office this morning.  It is crowded
with men and women; every seat is taken, men are standing against
the walls, and during the lunch hour there will be a dense cluster
at the door as business men on their way to lunch stop by to see
how their fortunes are faring.  All eyes are riveted on the trans-
lux screen, across which runs an endless procession of letters and
figures--the record of sales taking place on the New York Stock
Exchange.  The tickers are having a hard time to keep up with the
trading today, for the volume of transactions, though not
phenomenal for 1929, is large: the day's total will run to nearly
four and a half million shares.  Probably half the people in this
room have bought stocks on margin; in the whole United States,
probably well over a million people are thus speculating with
borrowed money, while several millions more are keeping a hopeful
eye upon the daily fluctuations in market prices.  The financing of
all these speculative borrowings has sucked into the stock market a
huge amount of credit; at this very moment the total of loans to
brokers--loans by the banks, and by business corporations acting
through the banks--comes to over eight billion dollars; yet still
the demand so far exceeds the supply that the interest rate for
loans to brokers stands today at nine per cent.

If you can interpret the symbols as they hurry across the lighted
screen, notice the prices they record.  United States Steel is
edging up to 261 3/4; Anaconda Copper is at 130 7/8; American
Telephone, at 302; General Electric, at 395; General Motors, at 71
7/8; and Radio Corporation, which recently split its shares five
for one, is quoted on the new basis at 99 (which would be 495 on
the old basis).  Absurdly high, these prices?  Not in the opinion
of most of the men in this room.  Wherever men of property gather
these days--in business offices, in the suburban club cars, at the
downtown lunch tables, in the country-club locker rooms--you will
hear that this is a new era, that the future of the blue-ribbon
stocks is dazzling, that George F. Baker never sells anything, that
you can't go far wrong if you are a Bull on America.  "These new
investment trusts are taking the best stocks out of the market;
better buy them now, while they're still within reach."  "Prices
too high?  But look at the figures that the Blue Ridge Corporation
has just announced that it'll pay!  Those fellows know what they're
doing."  "One of the biggest men in the Street told me yesterday
that he expects to see General Electric go to a thousand."  "I tell
you, Electric Bond and Share at 183 is dirt cheap when you consider
what's ahead for the public utilities."

It is not only in the places where the wealthy congregate that one
hears discussion of the market.  In these days when janitors have
put their savings into Montgomery Ward, when cowboys have margin
accounts in American Can, and when nursemaids have just bought 300
shares of Cities' Service, stock-market talk is recurrent at dinner
parties, in streetcars, on commuting trains, among filling-station
employees, among bookkeepers lunching at the automat.  The stories
about big winnings, the conjectures about foolproof methods of
stock-market forecasting, the gossip about Packard's current
earnings, form the leitmotif of the times.

In every era young intellectuals tend to be rebellious.  Do they,
in 1929, rebel against the speculative frenzy of finance
capitalism?  Very few of them do.  If most of them look askance at
American business and American business men, it is only because
they regard them as vulgar and commercial-minded.  The heaven of
the young intellectuals of 1929 is not Moscow but Montparnasse;
their gods are not radical economists or novelists of proletarian
revolt, but Proust, Cezanne, Jung, Mencken, Hemingway (as a Left
Bank author of terse disillusionment), and T. S. Eliot.

In Chicago, Samuel Insull is now at the summit of his career; he is
watching the stock of Insull Utilities Investments--that stock
which was delivered to him only a few months ago at less than $8 a
share--reach a high price for the day of $115 a share; and he is
preparing to launch yet another super-super-corporation, and to
witness the Civic Opera's first season in the mammoth building
which he has provided for it.  In Cleveland, men of vision are
betting their shirts on those wonder-boys of railroading, the
brothers Van Sweringen, who have so piled holding company upon
holding company that they now control six railroads and are
acquiring control of a seventh.  In Detroit the big bankers and
automobile executives, succumbing to the prevalent fever for
financial concentration, are discussing a movement to combine
dozens of Michigan banks into huge groups.  On the Pacific Coast,
the current financial sensation is Amadeo Giannini's Bank of
America, which seems well on its way to swallow up all California
business, if not to dominate a large part of American banking.
Charlie Mitchell's salesmen from the National City Company in New
York are selling South American bonds to the little crossroads
bank, and Anaconda Copper stock to the bank's president.  The
optimism of prosperity is everywhere.

Well, not quite everywhere.  The farmers of America are not
prospering: hard times have been almost incessant on the farms
since the post-war collapse of agricultural prices in 1921.  The
textile towns of New England are in a bad way.  In the deep South
and the uplands of the Alleghenies, and in the cut-over regions of
northern Michigan, there is much privation.  Nor can it be denied
that there is unemployment.  To paraphrase the words of F. C. Mills
in his Economic Tendencies in the United States, the displacement
of men by machines, the turnover of men within industries, and the
shifting of men from industry to industry, are making men less
secure in their jobs, and especially are making it harder for men
past the prime of life to get back into new jobs once they are
displaced.  The rewards for employed men are often high, but
mechanical improvements and a faster pace of work are making it
harder to hold on.  And it must be admitted, too, that when one
uses the word prosperity one is using a relative term.  According
to the Brookings estimates, even in this banner year of 1929 no
less than seventy-eight per cent of the American population have
family incomes of less than $3,000 or individual incomes of less
than $1,500, and something like forty per cent have family incomes
of less than $1,500 or individual incomes of less than $750.
Certainly such a state of affairs is far from Utopian.  Yet by all
current standards elsewhere in the world, and by all remembered
standards in America, the average of well-being is high; and among
the well-to-do it is glittering.

President Hoover has just returned to the blinding heat of
Washington from a week end at his Rapidan camp, and this morning he
meets with his Cabinet from 10:30 till 12.  No record will be kept
of what goes on at that meeting, but one may hazard a reasonable
guess as to some of the topics under discussion.  The talk may turn
to the armament negotiations with Great Britain, or to some thorny
questions of tariff adjustment, or to the danger of a Russo-Chinese
war over the Chinese Eastern Railroad.  Mr. Hoover may consult his
Cabinet as to whether he should denounce the shipbuilding companies
which retained William B. Shearer as an "observer" at the Geneva
arms conference, presumably to hinder naval reduction.  (He will
denounce them, three days hence.)  There are also awkward questions
relating to Prohibition, farm relief, and Mexican policy which may
come before the meeting.  Are those men gathered about the long
table in the White House offices turning their attention today to
the question whether prosperity can be maintained?  It is possible,
but unlikely.

Not that Herbert Hoover shares the widespread belief that the
speculative debauch in the stock market is a happy and healthy
phenomenon.  On the contrary, he has been supporting the Federal
Reserve Board in its unavailing efforts to check the flow of credit
into speculation, and he has done his share of worrying over the
possible consequences of a collapse of prices.  But by this time
the boom is well beyond control, except by some drastic measure
which might bring on the very crash it was intended to avert.
Otherwise the economic skies seem clear.  Business is undeniably
booming.  Perhaps the speculative storm will manage to blow itself
out and all will be well.  Prosperity, these days, has come to be
taken for granted; and busy men whose desks are piled with problems
pressing for solution do not borrow trouble by debating just when
and how it might come to an unimaginable end.

Besides, the maintenance of general prosperity is not, in 1929,
generally regarded as a presidential responsibility.  The New York
Herald Tribune is going to press tonight with a laudatory review of
Hoover's first six months in office, and nowhere in that review
will there be a word about the stock market or so much as a hint
that the maintenance of general economic stability is the
government's affair.  In every political election, of course, the
party in power, as a matter of routine, takes all credit for
whatever good times have been enjoyed, and the party out of power
excoriates it for whatever hard times have been suffered; but the
most that is really expected of the government from month to month,
in relation to the progress of the national economy, is that its
policies of taxation, regulation, subsidy, and the like, shall if
possible be helpful to business rather than hurtful, and
particularly shall be helpful to those business interests which are
able to write their wishes into legislation.  Otherwise the
government is expected to keep its hands off.  Insofar as the
economic machinery does not run of its own accord, automatically,
the citizens look less to the political chiefs in Washington for
economic leadership than to the financial chiefs in Wall Street.
Not Herbert Hoover and his Cabinet but the bankers and industrialists
and holding-company promotors are the architects and custodians
of this prosperity.


But if the maintenance of prosperity is not considered a current
problem, Prohibition emphatically is.  The Eighteenth Amendment is
in full force, and so are the bootleggers and rumrunners.  Al
Capone, as it happens, is serving a year's sentence in Philadelphia
for carrying a pistol, but he will be out soon; meanwhile his
Chicago gang and similar gangster groups in other cities are taking
an enormous toll from the illicit liquor business.  Very few people
believe that repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment is a reasonable
possibility; any well-informed student of politics will tell you
that a few dry states could block it indefinitely.  Moralists are
attributing the prevalence of crime to the dire influences of the

If your rambles this afternoon should take you through midtown New
York, you may notice well-dressed men and women descending the
steps to the basement entrances of certain brownstone houses.  They
are not calling on the cook, but making a routine entrance to a
speakeasy: standing patiently at the door till Tony or Mino,
within, has appraised them through a little barred window and
decided to unbolt the door.  The man-about-town carries in his
wallet a collection of autographed speakeasy cards, certifying to
membership in this or that "club," in case he should wish to go for
a drink to some place where he is not already well known by sight
as a patron or can identify himself as a "friend of Mr. Jones's."

President Hoover has appointed a commission to study the whole
question of law enforcement and crime; and this very day its
chairman, George W. Wickersham, is on a train from New York to
Washington, going over the agenda for tomorrow's meeting.
Prohibition is only one of the topics which this commission will
investigate; indeed, though the minutes of tomorrow's meeting will
cover five pages, only two lines will deal with liquor legislation.
But to the general public nothing in the commission's program
really matters except Prohibition.  For the wet-or-dry issue is the
hottest one in American politics.


At any moment some currents in the great stream of history are
diminishing, and other currents are gaining in volume and strength.
At any moment there are things ending, waves of popular excitement
subsiding, men moving into the twilight of their careers; and there
are also things beginning, future events being quietly prepared
for, men and women walking about unknown whose names will soon be
on everybody's lips.

On this September day of 1929, the last surviving veteran of the
Mexican War is dying. . . .  Ex-President William Howard Taft, now
the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is in declining health, and
has but a few months more to live. . . .  Thomas A. Edison's
achievements as an inventor are behind him, for he is in his eighty-
third year.  On this hot day he is convalescing from an attack of
pneumonia, but is sitting up in a chair and declaring that he
expects to go to Dearborn in a few weeks to celebrate the fiftieth
anniversary of his incandescent light.  (The expectation is
justified, for he still has two full years to live.) . . .  Calvin
Coolidge's life-work is behind him, too.  Last March he left the
White House for his simple duplex apartment on Massasoit Street,
Northampton, where the rent is $36 a month; and although he is said
to have made a hundred thousand dollars writing magazine articles
since March 4, he still uses a little second-story office with a
desk, two chairs, and a bookcase filled with old law books.  Life
is quiet for him, these days, too quiet; he longs for the days that
are done. . . .  In the day's news there is an echo of the oil
scandal of the Administration which preceded Coolidge's: Harry F.
Sinclair, serving a term in the District of Columbia jail for
contempt of the Senate during the oil investigations, has been
denied permission to leave the jail on errands as the jail
physician's "pharmaceutical assistant."

It has been said that coming events cast their shadows before.  But
if this is true, the shadows are not recognized as such.  On
September 3, 1929, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York
State, who ran for the Governorship last year at the urgent
invitation of his old friend Al Smith, is awaiting replies to a
questionnaire which he has just sent out to mayors and village
presidents throughout the State.  The questionnaire asks them on
what basis their communities buy electric power--from private
utilities or from municipal plants? and at what cost?  This inquiry
might seem prophetic, but to mortals denied the gift of prophecy it
does not seem especially significant.  The men who are pushing up
the prices of public-utility stocks to Himalayan levels are not
greatly disturbed.  For anybody in Albany will tell you that
Roosevelt is just collecting information which he thinks he needs
in order to carry out Al Smith's power policy.

If you follow the liberal weeklies carefully, you will see
occasional caustic references to that autocratic reactionary, that
stubborn member of the A F of L bureaucracy, the leader of the
United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis. . . .  Father Coughlin of Royal
Oak, outside Detroit, is well known within the range of the single
broadcasting station which transmits his sermons but almost unknown
beyond them. . . .  In Long Beach, California, there is an elderly
practicing physician named Francis E. Townsend, quite unknown save
to his patients and personal friends: the time for the Townsend
Pension Plan is still far away. . . .  Huey Long is in the midst of
a stormy term as Governor of Louisiana, but Northerners have heard
little of him yet. . . .  The people who are accustomed to sitting
in a Greenwich Village speakeasy and occasionally hearing young
Howard Scott--a none-too-successful engineer--expound his curious
economic theories, would be amazed if they were told that within
four years Technocracy will be the talk of the United States.

Broadcasters take a day off every week, and so on this September 3
Freeman F. Gosden and Charles J. Correll are getting a rest after
their first fortnight on the NBC network as "Amos 'n' Andy."  In
two months their program will be changed from a late evening hour
to 7 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, and within a year their
popularity will be so immense that one will hardly be able to walk
a block in an American town at that hour without hearing "I'se
regusted" and "Dat's de propolition" issuing from open window after
window.  Have they any inkling of what is ahead for them?  Does
Garnet Carter of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, who is today boarding
a train for Miami to install the first miniature golf course in
Florida, dream that by next summer miniature golf courses will be
springing up by every highway all over the land?  Does Walt Disney,
who, after years of adversity, is at last finding a public for his
Mickey Mouse pictures and has just brought out his first Silly
Symphony, foresee his fame and fortune as the creator of "Three
Little Pigs" and "Snow White"?

As the heat of the day begins to wane in Cazenovia, New York, a
young writer named Hervey Allen sits down to work at the second
chapter of a huge novel which will not be published for nearly four
years: Anthony Adverse. . . .  In the John Day publishing house in
New York, the editors are making up their minds to publish a novel
called East Wind, West Wind, which has been declined already by so
many publishers that its author has not even bothered to tell her
agents that she has left China for a visit to the United States.
In her mind is taking shape another novel; who guesses that this
yet unwritten book, The Good Earth, will win for Pearl Buck the
Nobel Prize? . . .  Who, for that matter, would ever pick a freckle-
faced, fourteen-year-old boy in Oakland, California, named Donald
Budge, as the future world's tennis champion?  The boy hasn't even
touched a racket since he was eleven. . . .  Recent graduates of
Cushing Academy at Ashburnham, Massachusetts, remember well their
schoolmate Ruth Elizabeth Davis, but not in connection with
Hollywood; for not until 1930 will she begin her screen career.
(Later they will see her often as Bette Davis.) . . .  In one of
the Middle Western cities, if you drop into a theatre on the
Orpheum vaudeville circuit tonight, you may be amused by a young
ventriloquist named Edgar Bergen talking to a dummy that he calls
Charlie McCarthy. . . .  If you are in New York and the heat drives
you to a roof garden for the evening, and you happen to choose the
Park Central Hotel, you may appreciate the nimbleness of a twenty-
year-old clarinetist in the band; but his name will be as
unfamiliar to you as those of Bergen and McCarthy: it is Benny
Goodman.  Does anybody think of him--does he think of himself--as
the future King of Swing?

Everybody who follows the newspapers at all closely in 1929 can
identify for you instantly Bishop Cannon, Texas Guinan, Senator
Heflin, Jimmy Walker, Hugo Eckener, Legs Diamond, Mabel Walker
Willebrandt, Dolly Gann, or "Doug and Mary."  But even your local
newspaper editor, who prides himself on knowing the names of public
characters, will probably have to go to books of reference to
identify General Hugh S. Johnson, Alf M. Landon, Harry Hopkins,
Thomas E. Dewey, or Eleanor Roosevelt.  And not in any book of
reference will he find Joe Louis, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, Robert
Taylor, the WPA, or the New Deal.

In all the country there is no such thing as a streamlined train, a
bar operating openly and legally, or a man living on Federal
relief.  Shirley Temple is a baby less than five months old, and
the Dionne quintuplets are unborn.

And so, for that matter, is the Depression.  In fact, if you wished
to be set down as the craziest of prophets by any of the men and
women whom you have watched going about their affairs in the
glaring sunlight of September 3, 1929, you would only have to tell
them that within two months they are to witness the greatest
financial panic in American history, and that it will usher in a
prolonged and desperate economic crisis.

Chapter Two



After September 3, 1929, the stock market dropped sharply, surged
up again, dropped again--and did not surge back.  Instead, as
September came to an end, it sagged lower and lower.

Even so, there was not at first much uneasiness.  Again and again,
during the Big Bull Market of the two preceding years, there had
been sharp breaks lasting several days, thousands of injudicious
and unfortunate speculators had been shaken out, and yet prices had
recovered and climbed on to new heights.  Why worry now?  Why not
take advantage of these bargain prices?  And so margin traders,
large and small, who had previously sold out at big profits came
floating in again, staking their previous winnings on the chance
that Steel would climb back from 230 to 260, or General Electric
from 370 to 395, and beyond; and accordingly the volume of brokers'
loans rose to a new--and final--peak of over eight and a half
billion dollars.  Meanwhile the chorus of financial prognosticators
assuring all and sundry that nothing was amiss, and that prices
were suffering only a temporary setback, rose louder than ever.

Yet still the market sagged.  Foreign funds were being withdrawn
from it, partly as a result of the collapse of Hatry's speculative
bubble in England, partly, perhaps, because speculation in New York
had seemed from the first a hazardous business to European
investors and many of them were now having qualms.  Some American
investors, too, were prudently withdrawing as they noticed that the
volume of industrial production was declining a little.  All the
time, as prices ebbed, insecurely margined traders were being
forced to sell.  As October continued and there was no smart
recovery, a note of uncertainty, of urgency, of stridency even,
came into the clamor that all was well.  Perhaps, after all, it was
not. . . .  The decline became more rapid.  Surely this must be the
bottom, the last chance to buy cheap.  Or was it the beginning of
the end?

The short session of Saturday, October 19, was a bad one, such
volatile stocks as Auburn and Case losing 25 points and 40 points
respectively in two hours of trading, and even General Electric
losing 9 1/4.  Monday, October 21, was worse, for by this time more
and more traders were reaching the end of their resources and being
sold out; the volume of trading reached six million shares.
Tuesday was better: did not the great Charles E. Mitchell of the
National City Bank, returning from Europe, radiate assurance?
But on Wednesday the storm broke anew and the losses were
unprecedented: Adams Express lost 96 points during the day, Auburn
lost 77, Westinghouse lost 25, and the stock-market page of the
late afternoon papers showed a startling procession of minus
figures down the column of "net change": -6 1/2, -3, -14 3/8, -7,
-2 1/2, -16 1/4, -12 and so on.  By this time the volume of selling
was so great that the supposedly almost instantaneous ticker
service was left far behind; at three o'clock, when the Exchange
was closing for the day, the figures running across the trans-lux
screens in brokers' offices all over the country were reporting
transactions which had taken place at sixteen minutes past one--an
hour and forty-four minutes before!

And on Thursday, October 24. . . .

That Thursday morning the selling came in a roaring and presently
incredible deluge.  How much of it was short selling will never be
known, for no statistical record of the total was kept, but
apparently the amount was not very great.  Some of it, of course,
was frightened selling, even at the outset: already men and women
had discovered, to their great alarm, that the slow gains of weeks
and months could be swept away in a few precipitous hours.  But
even in the first hour on Thursday the greater part of the selling
was surely forced selling.  In a market so honeycombed with credit,
the beautifully contrived system whereby the stock gambler whose
margin was exhausted by a fall in market prices was automatically
sold out, became a beautifully contrived system for wrecking the
price structure.  In poured the selling orders by hundreds and
thousands; it seemed as if nobody wanted to buy; and as prices
melted away, presently the brokers in the howling melee of the
Stock Exchange were fighting to sell before it was too late.  The
great Panic was on.

By noon that day, dismayed crowds of men and women in brokers'
branch offices everywhere saw the ticker recording unbelievable
prices, and realized furthermore that it was so hopelessly behind
the market as to be well-nigh useless as a clue to what was
actually taking place in the maelstrom of Wall Street, where
Montgomery Ward was falling headlong from 83 to 50, Radio from 68
3/4 to 44 1/2, even United States Steel from 205 1/2 to 193 1/2.

To the rescue came the big bankers.  A few minutes after noon, five
of them--Messrs. Lamont of J. P. Morgan & Co., Mitchell of the
National City Bank, Potter of the Guaranty Trust, Wiggin of the
Chase National, and Prosser of the Bankers Trust--met at the House
of Morgan and formed a pool to support prices.  So high was the
confidence of the financial world in their sagacity and power that
even before they had decided upon anything, when simply the news
went about that they were meeting, prices steadied, rallied; and by
the time Richard Whitney, as the representative of the bankers'
pool, went on the floor of the Stock Exchange at half past one to
bid for stocks, he hardly had to do more than go through the
motions: when he offered to buy 10,000 shares of Steel at 205, he
found only 200 shares for sale at that price.  The gods of Wall
Street still could make the storm to cease.

Not till eight minutes past seven that evening, when night had
darkened the windows of the brokers' offices, did the tickers stop
chattering out prices from the Exchange floor.  Nearly thirteen
million shares had changed hands.  Wild rumors had been going about
all day--that exchanges had been closed, that troops had been
called out in New York, that eleven speculators had committed
suicide.  Panic this was, and no doubt about it.  But the bankers,
it was hoped, had saved the day.

For two more days the market, struggling, nearly held its own,
while the lights burned all night in Wall Street as the brokers'
clerks struggled to get their records straight, and the telegrams
calling for more margin went out by hundreds and thousands.  Then
the avalanche began again; and this time the bankers could not
conceivably have stopped it if they had tried.  All they tried to
do was to provide bids for stock where there were no bids at all:
to give to the rout a semblance of order.

On Tuesday, October 29, came the climax.  The official statistics
of the day gave the volume of trading as 16,410,030 shares, but no
one knows how many sales went unrecorded in the yelling scramble to
sell: there are those who believe that the true volume may have
been twenty or even twenty-five million.  Big and small, insiders
and outsiders, the high-riders of the Big Bull Market were being
cleaned out: the erstwhile millionaire and his chauffeur, the all-
powerful pool operator and his suckers, the chairman of the board
with his two-thousand-share holding and the assistant bookkeeper
with his ten-share holding, the bank president and his stenographer.
Here are a few of the losses for that single day in individual
stocks--and remember that they came on top of a long succession of
previous losses: American Telephone and General Electric, 28 points
apiece; Westinghouse, 19 points; Allied Chemical, 35 points; North
American, 271 1/2 points; Auburn, 60 points; Columbian Carbon, 38
3/4 points--and these despite a sharp rally at the close!

Said the sober Commercial & Financial Chronicle in its issue of
November 2, "The present week has witnessed the greatest stock-
market catastrophe of all the ages."

Now at last there came a turn in the tide, as old John D.
Rockefeller announced that his son and he were buying common
stocks, and two big corporations declared extra dividends as a
gesture of stubborn confidence.  The Exchange declared a holiday
and shortened the hours of trading to give the haggard brokers and
sleepless clerks a chance to begin to dig themselves out from under
the mass of accumulated work.  Then prices went down once more, and
again down.  Day after day the retreat continued.  Not until
November 13 did prices reach their bottom for 1929.

The disaster which had taken place may be summed up in a single
statistic.  In a few short weeks it had blown into thin air THIRTY
BILLION DOLLARS--a sum almost as great as the entire cost to the
United States of its participation in the World War, and nearly
twice as great as the entire national debt.


President Hoover went into action.  He persuaded Secretary Mellon
to announce that he would propose to the coming Congress a
reduction in individual and corporate income taxes.  He called to
Washington groups of big bankers and industrialists, railroad and
public-utility executives, labor leaders, and farm leaders, and
obtained assurances that capital expenditures would go on, that
wage-rates would not be cut, that no claims for increased wages
other than those in negotiation would be pressed.  He urged the
governors and mayors of the country to expand public works in every
practicable direction, and showed the way by arranging to increase
the Federal public-buildings expenditure by nearly half a billion
dollars (which at that time seemed like pretty heavy government
spending).  Hoover and his associates began at every opportunity to
declare that conditions were "fundamentally sound," to predict a
revival of business in the spring, to insist that there was nothing
to be disturbed about.

Thereupon the bankers and brokers and investors and business men,
and citizens generally, caught their breath and looked about them
to take stock of the new situation.  Outwardly they became
aggressively confident, however they might be gnawed inwardly by
worry.  Why, OF COURSE everything was all right.  The newspapers
and magazines carried advertisements radiating cheer:  "Wall Street
may sell stocks, but Main Street is still buying goods."  "All
right, Mister--now that the headache is over, LET'S GO TO WORK."
It was in those days soon after the Panic that a new song rose to
quick popularity--a song copyrighted on November 7, 1929, when the
stock market was still reeling:  "Happy Days Are Here Again!"

But it was useless to declare, as many men did, that nothing more
had happened than that a lot of gamblers had lost money and a
preposterous price-structure had been salutarily deflated.  For in
the first place the individual losses, whether sustained by
millionaires or clerks, had immediate repercussions.  People began
to economize; indeed, during the worst days of the Panic some
businesses had come almost to a standstill as buyers waited for the
hurricane to blow itself out.  And if the rich, not the poor, had
been the chief immediate victims of the crash (it was not iron-
workers and sharecroppers who were throwing themselves out of
windows that autumn, but brokers and promoters), nevertheless
trouble spread fast as servants were discharged, as jewelry shops
and high-priced dress shops and other luxury businesses found their
trade ebbing and threw off now idle employees, as worried
executives decided to postpone building the extension to the
factory, or to abandon this or that unprofitable department, or to
cut down on production till the sales prospects were clearer.
Quickly the ripples of uncertainty and retrenchment widened and
unemployment spread.

Moreover, the collapse in investment values had undermined the
credit system of the country at innumerable points, endangering
loans and mortgages and corporate structures which only a few weeks
previously had seemed as safe as bedrock.  The Federal Reserve
officials reported to Hoover, "It will take perhaps months before
readjustment is accomplished."  Still more serious was the fact--
not so apparent then as later--that the smash-up of the Big Bull
Market had put out of business the powerful bellows of inflation
which had kept industry roaring when all manner of things were awry
with the national economy.  The speculative boom, by continually
pouring new funds into the economic bloodstream, had enabled
Coolidge-Hoover prosperity to continue long after its natural time.

Finally, the Panic had come as a shock--a first shock--to the
illusion that American capitalism led a charmed life.  Like a man
of rugged health suffering his first acute illness, the American
business man suddenly realized that he too was a possible prey for
forces of destruction.  Nor was the shock confined to the United
States.  All over the world, America's apparently unbeatable
prosperity had served as an advertisement of the advantages of
political democracy and economic finance capitalism.  Throughout
Europe, where the nations were loaded down with war debts and
struggling with adverse budgets and snarling at one another over
their respective shares of a trade that would not expand, men
looked at the news from the United States and thought, "And now,
perhaps, the jig is up even there." . . .

But if business was so shaken by the Panic that during the winter
of 1929-30 it responded only languidly to the faith-healing
treatment being prescribed for it by the Administration, the stock
market found its feet more readily.  Presently the old game was
going on again.  Those pool operators whose resources were at least
half intact were pushing stocks up again.  Speculators, big and
little, convinced that what had caught them was no more than a
downturn in the business cycle, that the bottom had been passed,
and that the prosperity band wagon was getting under way again,
leaped in to recoup their losses.  Prices leaped, the volume of
trading became as heavy as in 1929, and a Little Bull Market was
under way.  That zeal for mergers and combinations and holding-
company empires which had inflamed the rugged individualists of the
nineteen-twenties reasserted itself: the Van Sweringers completed
their purchase of the Missouri Pacific; the process of amalgamation
in the aviation industry and in numerous others was resumed; the
Chase National Bank in New York absorbed two of its competitors and
became the biggest bank in all the world; and the investment
salesmen reaped a new harvest selling to the suckers five hundred
million dollars' worth of the very latest thing in investments--
shares in fixed investment trusts, which would buy the very best
stocks (as of 1930) and hold on to them till hell froze.

Who noticed that there was more zeal for consolidating businesses
than for expanding them or initiating them?  In the favorite phrase
of the day, Prosperity was just around the corner.

But a new day was not dawning.  This light in the economic skies
was only the afterglow of the old one.  What if the stock ticker--
recording Steel at 198 3/4, Telephone at 274 1/4, General Motors at
103 5/8, General Electric at 95 3/8, Standard Oil of New Jersey at
84 7/8--promised fair weather?  Even at the height of the Little
Bull Market there were breadlines in the streets.  In March Miss
Frances Perkins, Industrial Commissioner for New York State, was
declaring that unemployment was worse than it had been since that
state had begun collecting figures in 1914.  In several cities,
jobless men by the hundreds or thousands were forming pathetic
processions to dramatize their plight--only to be savagely smashed
by the police.  In April the business index turned down again, and
the stock market likewise.  In May and June the market broke
severely.  While Hoover, grimly fastening a smile on his face, was
announcing, "We have now passed the worst and with continued unity
of effort we shall rapidly recover," and predicting that business
would be normal by fall--in this very season the long, grinding,
heart-breaking decline of American business was beginning once


Not yet, however, had the Depression sunk very deeply into the
general public consciousness.  Of the well-to-do, in particular,
few were gravely disturbed in 1930.  Many of them had been
grievously hurt in the Panic, but they had tried to laugh off their
losses, to grin at the jokes about brokers and speculators which
were going the rounds.  ("Did you hear about the fellow who engaged
a hotel room and the clerk asked him whether he wanted it for
sleeping or jumping?"  "No--but I heard there were two men who
jumped hand-in-hand because they'd held a joint account!")  As 1930
wore on, they were aware of the Depression chiefly as something
that made business slow and uncertain and did terrible things to
the prices of securities.  To business men in "Middletown," a
representative small mid-Western city, until 1932 "the Depression
was mainly something they read about in the newspapers"--despite
the fact that by 1930 every fourth factory worker in the city had
lost his job.  In the country at large, nearly all executive jobs
still held intact; dividends were virtually as large as in 1929;
few people guessed that the economic storm would be of long
duration.  Many men and women in the upper income brackets had
never seen a visible sign of this unemployment that they kept
reading about until, in the fall of 1930, the International Apple
Shippers' Association, faced with an oversupply of apples, had the
bright idea of selling them on credit to unemployed men, at
wholesale prices, for resale at 5 cents apiece--and suddenly there
were apple-salesmen shivering on every corner.

When the substantial and well-informed citizens who belonged to the
National Economic League (an organization whose executive council
included such notables as John Hays Hammond, James Rowland Angell,
Frank O. Lowden, David Starr Jordan, Edward A. Filene, George W.
Wickersham, and Nicholas Murray Butler) were polled in January,
1930, as to what they considered the "paramount problems of the
United States for 1930," their vote put the following problems
at the head of the list:  1.  Administration of Justice;
2.  Prohibition; 3.  Lawlessness, Disrespect for Law; 4.  Crime;
5.  Law Enforcement; 6.  World Peace--and they put Unemployment
down in EIGHTEENTH place!  Even a year later, in January, 1931,
"Unemployment, Economic Stabilization" had moved up only to fourth
place, following Prohibition, Administration of Justice, and

These polls suggest not only how well insulated were the "best
citizens" of the United States against the economic troubles of
1930, and how prone--as Thurman Arnold later remarked--to respond
to public affairs with "a set of moral reactions," but also how
deep and widespread had become the public concern over the
egregious failure of Prohibition to prohibit, and over the manifest
connection between the illicit liquor traffic and the gangsters and

Certainly the Prohibition laws were being flouted more generally
and more openly than ever before, even in what had formerly been
comparatively sober and puritanical communities.  As a "Middletown"
business man told the Lynds, "Drinking increased markedly here in
'27 and '28, and in '30 was heavy and open.  With the Depression,
there seemed to be a collapse of public morals.  I don't know
whether it was the Depression, but in the winter of '29-'30 and in
'30-'31 things were roaring here.  There was much drunkenness--
people holding bathtub gin parties.  There was a great increase in
women's drinking and drunkenness."  In Washington, in the fall of
1930, a bootlegger was discovered to have been plying his wares
even in the austere precincts of the Senate Office Building.  In
New York, by 1931, enforcement had become such a mockery that the
choice of those who wanted a drink was no longer simply between
going to a speakeasy and calling up a bootlegger; there were
"cordial and beverage shoppes" doing an open retail business, their
only concession to appearances being that bottles were not
ordinarily on display, and the show windows revealed nothing more
embarrassing to the policeman on the beat than rows of little
plaster figurines.  By the winter of 1930-31, steamship lines
operating out of New York were introducing a new attraction for the
wholeheartedly bibulous--week-end cruises outside the twelve-mile
limit, some of them with no destination at all except "the freedom
of the seas."

With every item of gangster news--the killing of "Jake" Lengle of
the Chicago Tribune; the repeated shootings of Legs Diamond in a
New York gang war; the bloody rivalry between Dutch Schultz and
Vincent Coll in the New York liquor racket; the capture of "Two-
gun" Crowley (a youth who had been emulating gangster ways) after
an exciting siege, by the police, of the house in which he was
hiding out in New York's upper West Side; the ability of Al Capone,
paroled from prison in Pennsylvania, to remain at large despite the
universal knowledge that he had long been the dictator of organized
crime in Chicago--with every such item of news the public was
freshly reminded that the gangsters were on the rise and that it
was beer-running and "alky-cooking" which provided them with their
most reliable revenue.  Preachers and commencement orators and
after-dinner speakers inveighed against the "crime wave."  District
Attorney Crain of New York said the racketeers "have their hands in
everything from the cradle to the grave--from babies' milk to
funeral coaches"; and President Hoover said that what was needed to
combat racketeering was not new laws, but enforcement of the
existing ones.

Meanwhile sentiment against Prohibition was apparently rising: when
the Literary Digest, early in 1930, took a straw vote of almost
five million people, only 30 1/2 per cent favored continuance and
strict enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment and Volstead Act; 29
per cent were for modification, and 40 1/2 per cent for repeal.
Nor was the cause of righteous enforcement aided when Bishop James
Cannon, Jr., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who had been
one of the most active of dry leaders, was discovered--to the glee
of the wets--to have been speculating in the stock market under the
auspices of a New York bucket shop.

Perhaps the Wickersham Commission, when it came out of its long
huddle over the law-enforcement problem, would throw a clear beam
of light into this confusion?  On the 19th of January, 1931, it
reported upon Prohibition--and the confusion was thereby worse
confounded.  For, in the first place, the body of the Wickersham
report contained explicit and convincing evidence that Prohibition
was not working; in the second place, the eleven members of the
Commission came to eleven separate conclusions, two of which were
in general for repeal, four for modification, and five--less than a
majority, it will be noted--for further trial of the Prohibition
experiment.  And in the third place, the commission AS A WHOLE came
out, paradoxically, for further trial.

Confronted by this welter of disagreement and contradiction, the
puzzled citizen could be sure of only one thing: that the
supposedly enlightened device of collecting innumerable facts and
trying to reason from them to an inevitable conclusion had been
turned into a farce.  The headache of the Prohibition problem
remained to vex him.


There were other diversions aplenty to take people's minds off the
Depression.  There was, for instance, the $125,000,000 boom in
miniature golf.  People had been saying that what the country
needed was a new industry; well, here it was--in travesty.  Garnet
Carter's campaign to establish miniature golf in Florida during the
winter of 1929-30 had been so sensationally successful that by the
summer hundreds of thousands of Americans were parking their sedans
by half-acre roadside courses and earnestly knocking golf balls
along cottonseed greenswards, through little mouse holes in wooden
barricades, over little bridges, and through drainpipes, while the
proprietors of these new playgrounds listened happily to the tinkle
of the cash register and decided to go in for even bigger business
in 1931--to lease the field across the way and establish a driving
range, with buckets of balls and a squad of local boys as
retrievers (armed with beach umbrellas against the white hail of
slices and hooks).

There was the incredible popularity of Amos 'n' Andy on the radio,
which made the voices of Freeman F. Gosden and Charles J. Correll
the most familiar accents in America, set millions of people to
following, evening by evening, the fortunes of the Fresh Air
Taxicab Company and the progress of Madam Queen's breach-of-promise
suit against Andy--and gave the rambunctious Huey Long, running for
the Senate in Louisiana, the notion of styling himself the
"Kingfish" as he careened about the State with two sound-trucks to
advertise him to the unterrified Democracy.  (Long won the
election, incidentally, though he had to kidnap and hold
incommunicado on Grand Isle, till primary day was past, two men who
had been threatening him with embarrassing lawsuits.)

There was Bobby Jones's quadruple triumph in golf--the British and
American amateur and open championships--which inspired more words
of cabled news than any other individual's exploits during 1930,
and quite outshone Max Schmeling's defeat of Jack Sharkey, the
World's Series victory of the Philadelphia Athletics, the success
of Enterprise in defending the America's Cup at Newport against the
last of Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrocks, and the winnings of Gallant
Fox, Whichone, and Equipoise on the turf.  Always the fliers could
command excitement: Lindbergh, the prince charming of American
aviators, inaugurated the air-mail route to the Canal Zone (and
soon afterward became the father of a son destined for a tragic
end); in September, 1930, Costes and Bellonte made the first
successful westward point-to-point flight across the Atlantic,
taking off at Paris in the "Question Mark" and landing at Long

There was the utterly fantastic epidemic of tree-sitting, which
impelled thousands of publicity-crazy boys to roost in trees by day
and night in the hope of capturing a "record," with occasional
misadventures: a boy in Fort Worth fell asleep, hit the ground, and
broke two ribs; the owner of a tree at Niagara Falls sued to have a
boy removed from its branches, whereupon the boy's friends cut a
branch from another tree, carried him to a new perch, and enabled
him to continue his vigil; a boy in Manchester, New Hampshire,
stayed aloft till a bolt of lightning knocked him down.  To this
impressive conclusion had come the mania for flagpole-sitting and
Marathon-dancing which had characterized the latter nineteen-

As the winter of 1930-31 drew on, there were other things to talk
about than the mounting unemployment relief problem and the
collapse of the speculatively managed Bank of United States in New
York.  Some of the new automobiles were equipped for "free
wheeling."  (If you pulled out a button on the dashboard, the car
would coast the moment you took your foot off the throttle.  When
you stepped on it again there was a small whirring sound and the
engine took up its labor once more without a jolt.)  The device was
good for endless discussions: was it a help? did it save gas? was
it safe?  A lively backgammon craze was bringing comfort to
department-store managers: however badly things might be going
otherwise in the Christmas season, at least backgammon boards were
moving.  While the head of the house sat at his desk miserably
contemplating the state of his finances, his eighteen-year-old son
was humming "Body and Soul" and trying to screw up his courage to
fill his hip flask with the old man's gin for the evening's dance,
where he dreamed of meeting a girl with platinum-blonde hair like
Jean Harlow's in "Hell's Angels."

Not everybody was worrying about the Depression--yet.


But Herbert Hoover worried, and worked doggedly at the Presidency,
and saw his prestige steadily declining as the downward turn in the
business index mocked his cheerful predictions, and thereupon
worried and worked the harder.  Things were not going well for the
great economic engineer.

The London Arms Conference, despite the most careful preparation--
during which Ramsay MacDonald had come to Washington to confer--had
produced a none-too-impressive agreement: it set "limitations"
which the United States could not have attained without spending a
billion dollars on new construction.

Congress, applying itself to tariff revision, had got out of hand
and had produced, not the limited changes which Hoover had half-
heartedly advocated, but a new sky-high tariff bill which (in the
words of Denna Frank Fleming) was virtually "a declaration of
economic war against the whole of the civilized world," giving
"notice to other nations that retaliatory tariffs, quotas, and
embargoes against American goods were in order . . . notice to our
war debtors that the dollar exchange with which they might make
their payments to us would not be available."  It had been obvious
to anybody beyond the infant class in economics that the United
States could neither have a flourishing export trade nor collect
the huge sums owing it from abroad unless it either lent foreign
countries the money with which to pay (which it had been doing in
the nineteen-twenties--and had now stopped doing) or else permitted
imports in quantity.  Over a thousand American economists, finding
themselves in agreement for once (and for the last time during the
nineteen-thirties) had protested against any general tariff
increase.  Hoover was no economic illiterate.  But he was by nature
and training an administrator rather than a politician, and he had
been so outmaneuvered politically during the long tariff wrangle
that when the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Bill was finally laid on his desk
in June, 1930, he signed it--presumably with an inward groan.

His Farm Board had been trying to sustain the prices of wheat and
cotton by buying them on the market, and had succeeded by the end
of the 1930 season in accumulating sixty million bushels of wheat
and a million and a third bales of cotton, without doing any more
than slow up the price decline.  As if the farm situation were not
bad enough already, a terrific drought had developed during the
summer in the belt of land running from Virginia and Maryland on
the Eastern seaboard out to Missouri and Arkansas (a precursor of
other and more dreadful droughts to come); and when wells failed
and crops withered in the fields, new lamentations arose to plague
the man in the White House.  Nor had these lamentations ceased when
it became apparent that the continuing contraction of business
threatened an ugly winter for the unemployed, whose numbers, by the
end of 1930, had increased from the three or four millions of the
spring to some five or six millions.

Since Hoover's first fever of activity after the Panic, he had been
leery of any direct governmental offensive against the Depression.
He had preferred to let economic nature take its course.  "Economic
depression," he insisted, "cannot be cured by legislative action or
executive pronouncement.  Economic wounds must be healed by the
action of the cells of the economic body--the producers and
consumers themselves."  So he stood aside and waited for the
healing process to assert itself, as according to the hallowed
principles of laissez-faire economics it should.

But he was not idle meanwhile.  For already there was a fierce
outcry for Federal aid, Federal benefits of one sort or another;
and in this outcry he saw a grave threat to the Federal budget, the
self-reliance of the American people, and the tradition of local
self-rule and local responsibility for charitable relief.  He
resolved to defeat this threat.  Although he set up a national
committee to look after the unemployment relief situation, this
committee was not to hand out Federal funds; it was simply to co-
ordinate and encourage the state and local attempts to provide for
the jobless out of state appropriations and local charitable
drives.  (Hoover was quite right, said those well-to-do people who
told one another that a "dole" like the one in England would be
"soul-destroying.")  He hotly opposed the war veterans' claim for a
Bonus--only to see the "Adjusted Compensation" bill passed over his
veto.  He vetoed pension bills.  To meet the privation and distress
caused by the drought he urged a Red Cross campaign and recommended
an appropriation to enable the Department of Agriculture to loan
money "for the purpose of seed and feed for animals," but fought
against any handouts by the Federal government to feed human

In all this Hoover was desperately sincere.  He saw himself as the
watchdog not only of the Treasury, but of America's "rugged
individualism."  "This is not an issue," he said in a statement to
the press, "as to whether people shall go hungry or cold in the
United States.  It is solely a question of the best method by which
hunger and cold shall be prevented.  It is a question as to whether
the American people, on one hand, will maintain the spirit of
charity and mutual self-help through voluntary giving and the
responsibility of local government as distinguished, on the other
hand, from appropriations out of the Federal Treasury for such
purposes. . . .  I have . . . spent much of my life in fighting
hardship and starvation both abroad and in the Southern States.  I
do not feel that I should be charged with lack of human sympathy
for those who suffer, but I recall that in all the organizations
with which I have been connected over these many years, the
foundation has been to summon the maximum of self-help. . . .  I am
willing to pledge myself that if the time should ever come that the
voluntary agencies of the country, together with the local and
State governments, are unable to find resources with which to
prevent hunger and suffering in my country, I will ask the aid of
every resource of the Federal Government because I would no more
see starvation amongst our countrymen than would any Senator or
Congressman.  I have faith in the American people that such a day
will not come."

Such were Hoover's convictions.  But to hungry farmers in Arkansas
the President who would lend them Federal money to feed their
animals, but not to feed their children, seemed callous.  Jobless
men and women in hard-hit industrial towns were unimpressed by
Hoover's tributes to self-reliance.

Even the prosperous conservatives failed him as wholehearted
allies.  Business was bad, the President seemed to be doing nothing
constructive to help them, and though they did not know themselves
what ought to be done or were hopelessly divided in their counsels,
they craved a leader and felt they were not being given one.  They
groused; some of them called Hoover a spineless jellyfish.
Meanwhile Charles Michelson, the Democratic party's publicity
director, was laying down a diabolically well-aimed barrage of
press releases and speeches for Congressional use, taking advantage
of every Hoover weakness to strengthen the Democratic opposition;
and the President, suffering from his inability to charm and cajole
the Washington correspondents, was getting a bad press.  The
Congressional and State elections of November, 1930, brought
Democratic victories, confronting Hoover with the prospect, ere
long, of a definitely hostile Congress.

Those elections brought, incidentally, a smashing victory in New
York State to Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was re-elected by
the unexpectedly large plurality of 725,000.  The afternoon
following the election, Roosevelt's State chairman, an ex-boxing
commissioner named James A. Farley, produced with the aid of
Roosevelt's political mentor, Louis McHenry Howe, a statement which
he was afraid the Governor might not like.  It said:  "I do not see
how Mr. Roosevelt can escape being the next presidential nominee of
his party, even if no one should raise a finger to bring it about."
Having issued the statement at the Hotel Biltmore in New York,
Farley telephoned the Governor in Albany to confess what he had
done.  Roosevelt laughed and said, "Whatever you said, Jim, is all
right with me."  Here too, had Hoover but known it, was another
portent for him.  But things were bad enough even without borrowing
trouble from the future.  In midwinter there was an encouraging
upturn in business, but as the spring of 1931 drew on, the retreat
began once more.  Hoover's convictions were being outrun by events.


During all this time, many men were earnestly citing the hardships
suffered in the depressions of 1857 and 1875 and 1893 as proofs
that nothing ailed America but a downswing in the business cycle.
The argument looked very reasonable--but these men were wrong.
Something far more profound than that was taking place, and not in
America alone.

The nineteenth century and the first few years of the twentieth
century had witnessed a remarkable combination of changes which
could not continue indefinitely.  Among these were:--

1.  The rapid progress of the industrial revolution--which brought
with it steam power, and then gasoline and electric power and all
manner of scientific and inventive miracles; brought factory
production on a bigger and bigger scale; drew the population off
the farms into bigger and bigger cities; transformed large numbers
of people from independent economic agents into jobholders; and
made them increasingly dependent upon the successful working of an
increasingly complex economy.

2.  A huge increase in population.  According to Henry Pratt
Fairchild, if the population of the world had continued to grow at
the rate at which it was growing during the first decade of the
present century, at the end of 10,000 years it would have reached a
figure beginning with 221,848 and followed by NO LESS THAN 45

3.  An expansion of the peoples of the Western world into vacant
and less civilized parts of the earth, with the British Empire
setting the pattern of imperialism, and the United States setting
the pattern of domestic pioneering.

4.  The opening up and using up of the natural resources of the
world--coal, oil, metals, etc.--at an unprecedented rate, not
indefinitely continuable.

5.  A rapid improvement in communication--which in effect made the
world a much smaller place, the various parts of which were far
more dependent on one another than before.

6.  The rapid development and refinement of capitalism on a bigger
and bigger scale, as new corporate and financial devices were
invented and put into practice.  These new devices (such as, for
example, the holding company), coupled with the devices added to
mitigate the cruelties of untrammeled capitalism (such as, for
example, labor unionism and labor legislation), profoundly altered
the working of the national economies, making them more rigid at
numerous points and less likely to behave according to the laws of
laissez-faire economics.

Which of these phenomena were causes, and which were effects, of
the changes in the economic world during the century which preceded
1914, is a matter of opinion.  Let us not concern ourselves with
which came first, the hen or the egg.  The point is that an immense
expansion and complication of the world economy had taken place,
that it could not have continued indefinitely at such a pace, and
that as it reached the point of diminishing returns, all manner of
stresses developed.  These stresses included both international
rivalries over colonies (now that the best ones had been exploited--
and were incidentally no longer paying their mother countries so
well) and internal social conflicts over the division of the fruits
of industry and commerce.  The World War of 1914-18, brought about
by the international rivalries, had left Europe weakened and
embittered, with hitherto strong nations internally divided and
staggering under colossal debts.

Presently there were ominous signs that the great age of inevitable
expansion was over.  The population increase was slowing up.  The
vacant places of the world were largely preempted.  The natural
resources were limited and could hardly be exploited much longer so
quickly and cheaply.  As the economic horizons narrowed, the
struggle for monopoly of what was visibly profitable became more
intense.  Nations sought for national monopoly of world resources;
corporate and financial groups sought for private monopoly of
national resources and national industries.  Meanwhile each
national economy became more complex, less flexible, and more
subject to the hazards of bankruptcy by reason of unbearable debts.

One way of expansion still remained open.  Invention did not stop;
the possibilities of increased comfort and security through
increasingly efficient mechanical production (and through
improvement in the means of communication) remained almost
limitless.  But the economic apparatus which was at hand, and men's
mental habits and outlook, were adjusted to the age of pioneering
expansion rather than to reliance on increasing efficiency alone;
and what sort of economic apparatus the new age might require no
one knew.

During the nineteen-twenties the United States, comparatively
unhurt by the war and adept at invention and mechanization, had
continued to rush ahead as if the age of pioneering expansion were
not over.  Still, however, it was a victim of the vices of its
pioneering youth--an optimistic readiness to pile up debts and
credit obligations against an expanding future, a zest for
speculation in real estate and in stocks, a tendency toward
financial and corporate monopoly or quasi-monopoly which tended to
stiffen a none-too-flexible economy.  These vices combined to undo
it.  As Roy Helton remarks in this connection, when one is grown up
one can no longer indulge with impunity in the follies of youth.
While the bellows of speculation and credit inflation blew, the
fires of prosperity burned brightly; but once the bellows stopped
blowing, the fires dimmed.  And when they dimmed in the United
States, they dimmed all the more rapidly in Europe, where since the
war they had burned only feebly.

As the contraction of one national economy after another set in,
men became frantic.  The traditional economic laws and customs no
longer seemed to work; the men of learning were as baffled as
anybody else; nobody seemed to know the answer to the economic
riddle.  Russia offered an alternative set of laws and customs, but
enthusiasm for the Marxian way as exemplified in Russia was
limited.  What else was there for men to fasten their hopes upon?
Nobody knew, for this emergency was unprecedented.  So it happened
that the world entered upon a period of bewilderment, mutual
suspicion, and readiness for desperate measures.

Nor was the United States, falling from such a pinnacle of apparent
economic success, to escape the confusion and dismay of

Chapter Three



June, 1931: twenty months after the Panic.

The department-store advertisements were beginning to display
Eugenie hats, heralding a fashion enthusiastic but brief; Wiley
Post and Harold Gatty were preparing for their flight round the
world in the monoplane "Winnie Mae"; and newspaper readers were
agog over the finding, on Long Beach near New York, of the dead
body of a pretty girl with the singularly lyrical name of Starr

On the New York stage, in June, 1931, Katharine Cornell was
languishing on a sofa in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street," de Lawd
was walking the earth in "The Green Pastures," and the other
reigning successes included "Grand Hotel" and "Once in a Lifetime."
At the movie theatres one might see African lions and hear native
tom-toms in "Trader Horn," or watch Edward G. Robinson in "Smart
Money" or Gloria Swanson in "Indiscreet."  As vacationists packed
their bags for the holidays, the novel that was most likely to be
taken along was Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, which led the best-
seller lists.  The sporting heroes of the nineteen-twenties had
nearly all passed from the scenes of their triumphs: Bobby Jones
had turned professional the preceding fall; Tilden had lost the
tennis championship the preceding summer; Dempsey and Tunney had
long since relinquished their crowns, and boxing was falling into
uncertain repute; Knute Rockne, the Notre Dame football coach, had
recently been killed in an airplane crash; and even Babe Ruth was
no longer the undisputed Sultan of Swat: Lou Gehrig was now
matching him home run for home run.

During that month of June, 1931, there was a foretaste--and a sour
one--of many a financial scandal to come, when three officers of
the Bank of United States were convicted by a jury in New York,
after shocking disclosures of the mismanagement of the bank's funds
during the speculative saturnalia of 1928 and 1929.  There was the
inception of a romance that was to shake an empire to its
foundations: on June 10 a young American woman living in London, a
Mrs. Ernest Simpson, was presented at Court and met for the first
time the Prince of Wales.  At Hopewell, New Jersey, the scene was
being unwittingly set for the most tragic crime of the decade:
Colonel Lindbergh's new house--described in newspaper captions as
"A Nest for the Lone Eagle"--was under construction, the
scaffolding up, the first floor partly completed.

During that month a young man from St. Louis came on to New York,
with arrangements all made, as he supposed, for the transfer to him
of a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.  But one detail had been
neglected: the Exchange was virtually a club, and a candidate for
membership must have a proposer and seconder.  There was some delay
before the young man from St. Louis, whose name was William McC.
Martin, Jr., could be proposed and seconded, for he did not know
anybody on the Exchange.  The gentlemen of Wall Street, having no
inkling of the changes in store for them during the next few years,
would have been thunderstruck if they had been told that before the
decade was out, this unknown youth would be President of an
Exchange operating under close governmental supervision.  The
President in 1931 was Richard Whitney, hero of the bankers' foray
against the Panic; on April 24, 1931, Mr. Whitney had made an
impressive address before the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on
"Business Honesty."  Prices on the Exchange had been going down
badly and brokers were pulling long faces, but there was still a
little gravy left for those who knew what the next move would be in
Case Threshing or Auburn Auto.

On a Sunday morning in June, 1931, two men spent some busy hours in
a small room in a very big house in Hyde Park, New York, poring
over maps of the United States and railroad timetables and lists of
names.  They were the Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
who had been so impressively re-elected the preceding November, and
the Chairman of his Democratic State Committee, James A. Farley.
Mr. Farley had conceived the idea of attending the forthcoming
Elks' Convention at Seattle, and he and Governor Roosevelt were
planning how he might make the most of the expedition, covering
eighteen states in nineteen days and talking with innumerable
Democratic leaders, with most of whom he had already been
corresponding profusely and cordially.  The object of this
prophetic journey, needless to say, was to sound out Democratic
sentiment in the West and to suggest as disarmingly as possible
that the leaders might do well to unite behind Governor Roosevelt
in 1932.

And it was during that month of June, 1931, that President Hoover
gave up waiting for economic conditions to improve of their own
accord and began his real offensive against the Depression--began
it with a statesmanlike stroke in international finance which
seemed briefly to be victorious, and which failed in the end only
because the processes of economic destruction were too powerful and
too far developed to be overcome by any weapon in the Hoover
armory.  On the hot afternoon of Saturday, June 20, Hoover proposed
an international moratorium in war reparations and war debts.


For a long time past, as business slowed up in Europe, a sort of
creeping paralysis had been afflicting European finance.  Debts--
national and private--which had once seemed bearable burdens had
now become intolerably heavy; new financial credits were hardly
being extended except to shore up the old ones; prices fell,
anxiety spread, and the whole system slowed almost to a standstill.
During the spring of 1931 the paralysis had become acute.

It is ironical, in retrospect, to note that what made it acute was
an attempt on the part of Germany and Austria to combine for
limited economic purposes--to achieve a customs union--and the
fierce opposition of the French to any such scheme.  Anything which
might bring Germany and Austria together and strengthen them was
anathema to the French, who little realized then the possible
consequences of Central European bankruptcy.

Already the biggest bank in Austria, the Credit Anstalt, had been
in a tight fix.  When the altercation over the customs union still
further increased the general uncertainty, the Credit Anstalt had
been obliged to appeal to the none-too-solvent Austrian government
for aid.  Immediately panic was under way.  Quickly it spread to
Germany.  In May and June, 1931, capital was fleeing both
countries, foreign loans were being withdrawn, and a general
collapse seemed imminent--a collapse which might cause the downfall
of Germany's democratic government.  For that cloud on the German
horizon which in 1929 had seemed no bigger than a man's hand was
now growing fast: Hitler's Brown Shirts were becoming more and more

On the sixth of May, 1931, when few Americans had the faintest idea
of how critical the European financial situation was becoming, the
American Ambassador to Germany had dined with President Hoover at
the White House; and since then the President, fearing that a
collapse in Europe might have grave consequences to the United
States, had been turning over in his mind the idea of an
international moratorium--of postponing for a year all payments on
inter-governmental debts, including the reparations which Germany
was then obliged to pay and the war debts owed to the United States
by her former European allies.  Mr. Hoover had then begun a long
period of consultation--with members of his Cabinet, with Federal
Reserve officials, with ambassadors, with bankers.  Always a
terrific worker--at his desk before eight-thirty, taking only
fifteen minutes for lunch unless he had White House guests, and
often burning the lights in the Lincoln study late into the night--
he now concentrated all the more fiercely.  Before long he had
drafted tentatively a moratorium statement, laboring over it so
grimly that he broke pencil point after pencil point in the

Yet he had delayed issuing it.  The dangers of the scheme were
apparent.  Congress might object, and this would be fatal.  Other
nations, particularly proud and jealous France, might object.  The
budget-balancing on which he had set his heart might be imperiled
by cutting off the debt payments to America.  Furthermore such a
proposal, by calling attention to the international panic, might
accentuate rather than ease it.  Meanwhile the storm in Europe
spread.  Hoover's advisers were pleading with him to act, but still
he would not.  He waited.  In mid-June he was scheduled to go on a
speaking trip through the Middle West (which included the somewhat
dubious pleasure of speaking at the dedication of a memorial to
President Harding); he went off with the proposal yet unmade, while
almost hourly the inside news was relayed to him from Washington:
the European collapse was accelerating.

By the time he got back to Washington it was clear that he must act
at once or it would be much too late.  He began telephoning
senators and representatives to get their advance approval.
Congress was not sitting, and the telephone operators had to catch
for him men widely dispersed all over the country, on speaking
trips, on motor trips, on golf courses, on fishing trips deep in
the woods; one lawmaker, hearing that the White House wanted him,
called it from a Canadian drugstore; another was reached just as he
was about to rise for an after-dinner speech.  Hour after hour the
indefatigable Hoover sat at the telephone explaining to man after
man what he wanted to do--and fearing that the news would leak
before he could act.  At last, on that broiling Saturday, June 20,
the news was already leaking and he had to give out the
announcement--with France still unconsulted.

He called the newspaper men to the White House and read them a long
statement which contained both his proposal for an international
moratorium and the names of 21 senators and 18 representatives who
had already approved it.  The newspaper men grabbed their copies
and rushed for the telephones.

When the news was flashed over the world a chorus of wild
enthusiasm arose.  The stock market in New York leaped, stock
markets in Europe rallied, bankers praised Hoover, editorial
writers cheered; the sedate London Economist came out with a
panegyric entitled "The Break in the Clouds" which called the
proposal "the gesture of a great man"; and millions of Americans
who had felt, however vaguely, that the government ought to "do
something" and who had blamed Hoover for his inactivity, joined in
the applause.  Little as they might know about the international
financial situation (which had been getting nowhere near as much
space in the press as the Starr Faithfull mystery), this was action
at last and they liked it.  To the worried President's surprise, he
had made what seemed to be a ten-strike.  It was the high moment of
his Presidency.

Only the French demurred.  Hoover sent his seventy-seven-year-old
Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, to reason with them, and
exhausted the old man with constant consultations by transatlantic
telephone.  After a long delay--over two weeks--the French agreed
to the plan with modifications, and the day appeared to have been


But it was not saved at all.

Presently panic in Germany became intensified; the big Danat Bank
was closed.  The panic spread to England.  The pound sterling was
now in danger.  A new National Government, headed by the Laborite
MacDonald but composed mostly of Tories, took office to save the
pound--and presently abandoned it.  When England went off the gold
standard, every nation still on gold felt the shock, and most of
them followed England into the new adventure of a managed currency.

In the United States this new shock of September, 1931, was sharp.
The archaic American banking system, which had never been too
strong even in more prosperous days, was gravely affected; all over
the United States banks were collapsing--banks which had invested
heavily in bonds and mortgages and now found the prices of their
foreign bonds cascading, the prices of their domestic bonds sliding
down in the general rush of liquidation, and their mortgages frozen
solid.  In the month of September, 1931, a total of 305 American
banks closed; in October, a total of 522.  Frightened capitalists
were hoarding gold now, lest the United States too should go off
the gold standard; safe-deposit boxes were being crammed full of
coins, and many a mattress was stuffed with gold certificates.

American business was weakening faster than ever.  In September the
United States Steel Corporation--whose President, James A. Farrell,
had hitherto steadfastly refused to cut the wage-rate--announced a
ten-per-cent cut; other corporations followed; during that autumn,
all over the United States, men were coming home from the office or
the factory to tell their wives that the next pay check would be a
little smaller, and that they must think up new economies.  The
ranks of the unemployed received new recruits; by the end of the
year their numbers were in the neighborhood of ten millions.

So far, in a few months, had the ripples of panic and renewed
depression spread from Vienna.

Again Hoover acted, and again his action was financial.  Something
must be done to save the American banking system, and the bankers
were not doing it; the spirit of the day was sauve qui peut.
Hoover called fifteen of the overlords of the banking world to a
secret evening meeting with him and his financial aides at
Secretary Mellon's apartment in Washington, and proposed to them
that the strong banks of the country form a credit pool to help
the weak ones.  When it became clear that this would not suffice--
for the strong banks were taking no chances and this pool, the
National Credit Corporation, lent almost no money at all--Hoover
recommended the formation of a big governmental credit agency, the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, with two billion dollars to
lend to banks, railroads, insurance companies.

As the winter of 1931-32 arrived and the run on the country's gold
continued, and it seemed as if the United States might presently be
forced off the gold standard, Hoover issued a public appeal against
hoarding and then proposed an alteration in Federal Reserve
requirements which--embodied in the Glass-Steagall Act--eased this
situation.  Again with the idea of improving credit conditions, he
urged, and secured, the creation of a chain of home-loan discount
banks, and the provision of additional capital for the Federal Land
Banks.  Steadily he fought against those measures which seemed to
him iniquitous: he appeared before the American Legion and appealed
to the members not to ask for the immediate cash payment of the
rest of their Bonus money; he vetoed a bill for the distribution of
direct Federal relief; and again and again he made clear his
opposition to any proposals for inflation or for (in his own words)
"squandering ourselves into prosperity."

Still the Depression deepened.

Already the pressure of events had pushed the apostle of rugged
individualism much further toward state socialism than any previous
president had gone in time of peace.  Hoover's Reconstruction
Finance Corporation had put the government deeply into business.
But it was state socialism of a very limited and special sort.
What was happening may perhaps be summed up in this way:--

Hoover had tried to keep hands off the economic machinery of the
country, to permit a supposedly flexible system to make its own
adjustments of supply and demand.  At two points he had intervened,
to be sure: he had tried to hold up the prices of wheat and cotton,
unsuccessfully, and he had tried to hold up wage-rates, with
partial and temporary success; but otherwise he had mainly stood
aside to let prices and profits and wages follow their natural
course.  But no natural adjustment could be reached unless the
burdens of debt could also be naturally reduced through
bankruptcies.  And in America, as in other parts of the world, the
economic system had now become so complex and interdependent that
the possible consequences of widespread bankruptcy--to the banks,
the insurance companies, the great holding-company systems, and the
multitudes of people dependent upon them--had become too appalling
to contemplate.  The theoretically necessary adjustment became a
practically unbearable adjustment.  Therefore Hoover was driven to
the point of intervening to protect the debt structure--first by
easing temporarily the pressure of international debts without
canceling them, and second by buttressing the banks and big
corporations with Federal funds.

Thus a theoretically flexible economic structure became rigid at a
vital point.  The debt burden remained almost undiminished.  Bowing
under the weight of debt--and other rigid costs--business thereupon
slowed still further.  As it slowed, it discharged workers or put
them on reduced hours, thereby reducing purchasing power and
intensifying the crisis.

It is almost useless to ask whether Hoover was right or wrong.
Probably the method he was driven by circumstances to adopt would
have brought recovery very slowly, if at all, unless devaluation of
the currency had given a fillip to recovery--and devaluation to
Hoover was unthinkable.  It is also almost useless to ask whether
Hoover was acting with a tory heartlessness in permitting financial
executives to come to Washington for a corporate dole when men and
women on the edge of starvation were denied a personal dole.  What
is certain is that at a time of such widespread suffering no
democratic government could SEEM to be aiding the financiers and
SEEM to be simultaneously disregarding the plight of its humbler
citizens without losing the confidence of the public.  For the days
had passed when men who lost their jobs could take their working
tools elsewhere and contrive an independent living, or cultivate a
garden patch and thus keep body and soul together, or go West and
begin again on the frontier.  When they lost their jobs they were
helpless.  Desperately they turned for aid to the only agency
responsible to them for righting the wrongs done them by a blindly
operating economic society: they turned to the government.  How
could they endorse a government which gave them--for all they could
see--not bread, but a stone?

The capitalist system had become so altered that it could not
function in its accustomed ways, and the consequences of its
failure to function had become too cruel to be borne by free men.
Events were marching, and Herbert Hoover was to be among their
victims, along with the traditional economic theories of which he
was the obstinate and tragic spokesman.


As the second year of the Depression drew to an end and the third
one began, a change was taking place in the mood of the American

"Depression," as Peter F. Drucker has said, "shows man as a
senseless cog in a senselessly whirling machine which is beyond
human understanding and has ceased to serve any purpose but its
own."  The worse the machine behaved, the more were men and women
driven to try to understand it.  As one by one the supposedly fixed
principles of business and economics and government went down in
ruins, people who had taken these fixed principles for granted, and
had shown little interest in politics except at election time,
began to try to educate themselves.  For not even the comparatively
prosperous could any longer deny that something momentous was

The circulation departments of the public libraries were reporting
an increased business, not only in the anodyne of fiction, but also
in books of solid fact and discussion.  As a business man of
"Middletown" later told the Lynds, "Big things were happening that
were upsetting us, our businesses, and some of our ideas, and we
wanted to try to understand them.  I took a lot of books out of the
library and sat up nights reading them."  Ideas were in flux.
There was a sharp upsurge of interest in the Russian experiment.
Lecturers on Russia were in demand; Maurice Hindus's Humanity
Uprooted and New Russia's Primer were thumbed and puzzled over; Ray
Long, editor of Hearst's usually frivolous Cosmopolitan magazine,
had gone to Moscow to sign up Soviet writers and gave a big dinner
to a Russian novelist at the massively capitalistic Metropolitan
Club in New York; gentle liberals who prided themselves on their
open-mindedness were assuring one another that "after all we had
something to learn from Russia," especially about "planning"; many
of the more forthright liberals were tumbling head over heels into

For more orthodox men and women, the consumption of Walter
Lippmann's daily analysis of events--written for the New York
Herald Tribune and syndicated all over the country--was becoming a
matutinal rite as inevitable as coffee and orange juice.  When the
New York World--famous for its liberalism and the wit of its
columnists--had ceased publication in February, 1931, Lippmann, its
editor, had gone over to the Herald Tribune and to sudden national
fame.  Clear, cool, and orderly in his thinking, he seemed to be
able to reduce a senseless sequence of events to sense; he brought
first aid to men and women groping in the dark for opinions--and
also to men and women who foresaw themselves else tongue-tied and
helpless when the conversation at the dinner party should turn from
the great Lenz-Culbertson bridge match to the Reconstruction
Finance Corporation and the gold standard.

The autumn of 1931 brought also an outburst of laughter.  When old
certainties topple, when old prophets are discredited, one can at
least enjoy their downfall.  By this time people had reached the
point of laughing at Oh, Yeah, a small book in which were collected
the glib prophecies made by bankers and statesmen at the onset of
the Depression; of relishing the gossipy irreverence of Washington
Merry-Go-Round, which deflated the reputations of the dignified
statesmen of Washington; of getting belly-laughs from a new
magazine, Ballyhoo, whose circulation rocketed to more than a
million as it ridiculed everything in business and politics, even
the sacred cow of advertising; and of applauding wildly the new
musical comedy, "Of Thee I Sing," which made a farce of the
political scene, represented a vice-president of the United States,
Alexander Throttlebottom, as getting lost in a sight-seeing party
in the White House, represented a presidential candidate as
campaigning with Love as his platform, and garbled the favorite
business slogan of 1930 into a slogan for newly-weds:  "Posterity
is just around the corner."

As Gilbert Seldes has noted, when Rudy Vallee, at the opening of
George White's "Scandals" on September 13, 1931, sang softly

     "Life is just a bowl of cherries.
     Don't make it serious.
     Life's too mysterious. . . ."

he summed up both the disillusionment and bewilderment of
Depression, and the desire to take them, if possible, lightly.


Statistics are bloodless things.

To say that during the year 1932, the cruelest year of the
Depression, the average number of unemployed people in the country
was 12 1/2 million by the estimates of the National Industrial
Conference Board, a little over 13 million by the estimates of the
American Federation of Labor, and by other estimates (differently
arrived at, and defining unemployment in various ways) anywhere
from 8 1/2 to 17 million--to say this is to give no living
impression of the jobless men going from office to office or from
factory gate to factory gate; of the disheartening inevitability of
the phrase, "We'll let you know if anything shows up"; of men
thumbing the want ads in cold tenements, spending fruitless hours,
day after day and week after week, in the sidewalk crowds before
the employment offices; using up the money in the savings bank,
borrowing on their life insurance, selling whatever possessions
could be sold, borrowing from relatives less and less able to lend,
tasting the bitterness of inadequacy, and at last swallowing their
pride and going to apply for relief--if there was any to be got.
(Relief money was scarce, for charitable organizations were hard
beset and cities and towns had either used up their available funds
or were on the point of doing so.)

A few statistical facts and estimates are necessary, however, to an
understanding of the scope and impact of the Depression.  For

Although the amount of money paid out in interest during the year
1932 was only 3.5 per cent less than in 1929, according to the
computations of Dr. Simon Kuznets for the National Bureau of
Economic Research, on the other hand the amount of money paid out
in salaries had dropped 40 per cent, dividends had dropped 56.6 per
cent, and wages had dropped 60 per cent.  (Thus had the debt
structure remained comparatively rigid while other elements in the
economy were subjected to fierce deflation.)

Do not imagine, however, that the continuation of interest payments
and the partial continuation of dividend payments meant that
business as a whole was making money.  Business as a whole lost
between five and six billion dollars in 1932.  (The government
figure for all the corporations in the country--451,800 of them--
was a net deficit of $5,640,000,000.)  To be sure, most of the
larger and better-managed companies did much better than that.  E.
D. Kennedy's figures for the 960 concerns whose earnings were
tabulated by Standard Statistics--mostly big ones whose stock was
active on the Stock Exchange--show that these 960 leaders had a
collective profit of over a third of a billion.  Yet one must add
that "better managed" is here used in a special sense.  Not only
had labor-saving devices and speed-ups increased the output per man-
hour in manufacturing industries by an estimated 18 per cent since
1929, but employees had been laid off in quantity.  Every time one
of the giants of industry, to keep its financial head above water,
threw off a new group of workers, many little corporations
roundabout sank further into the red.

While existing businesses shrank, new ones were not being
undertaken.  The total of domestic corporate issues--issues of
securities floated to provide capital for American corporations--
had dropped in 1932 to just about ONE TWENTY-FOURTH of the 1929

But these cold statistics give us little sense of the human
realities of the economic paralysis of 1932.  Let us try another

Walking through an American city, you might find few signs of the
Depression visible--or at least conspicuous--to the casual eye.
You might notice that a great many shops were untenanted, with
dusty plate-glass windows and signs indicating that they were ready
to lease; that few factory chimneys were smoking; that the streets
were not so crowded with trucks as in earlier years, that there was
no uproar of riveters to assail the ear, that beggars and
panhandlers were on the sidewalks in unprecedented numbers (in the
Park Avenue district of New York a man might be asked for money
four or five times in a ten-block walk).  Traveling by railroad,
you might notice that the trains were shorter, the Pullman cars
fewer--and that fewer freight trains were on the line.  Traveling
overnight, you might find only two or three other passengers in
your sleeping car.  (By contrast, there were more filling stations
by the motor highways than ever before, and of all the retail
businesses in "Middletown" only the filling stations showed no
large drop in business during the black years; for although few new
automobiles were being bought, those which would still stand up
were being used more than ever--to the dismay of the railroads.)

Otherwise things might seem to you to be going on much as usual.
The major phenomena of the Depression were mostly negative and did
not assail the eye.

But if you knew where to look, some of them would begin to appear.
First, the breadlines in the poorer districts.  Second, those bleak
settlements ironically known as "Hoovervilles" in the outskirts of
the cities and on vacant lots--groups of makeshift shacks
constructed out of packing boxes, scrap iron, anything that could
be picked up free in a diligent combing of the city dumps: shacks
in which men and sometimes whole families of evicted people were
sleeping on automobile seats carried from auto-graveyards, warming
themselves before fires of rubbish in grease drums.  Third, the
homeless people sleeping in doorways or on park benches, and going
the rounds of the restaurants for leftover half-eaten biscuits,
piecrusts, anything to keep the fires of life burning.  Fourth, the
vastly increased number of thumbers on the highways, and
particularly of freight-car transients on the railroads: a huge
army of drifters ever on the move, searching half-aimlessly for a
place where there might be a job.  According to Jonathan Norton
Leonard, the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1929 had "taken official
cognizance" of 13,745 migrants; by 1931 the figure had already
jumped to 186,028.  It was estimated that by the beginning of 1933,
the country over, there were a million of these transients on the
move.  Forty-five thousand had passed through El Paso in the space
of six months; 1,500 were passing through Kansas City every day.
Among them were large numbers of young boys, and girls disguised as
boys.  According to the Children's Bureau, there were 200,000
children thus drifting about the United States.  So huge was the
number of freight-car hoppers in the Southwest that in a number of
places the railroad police simply had to give up trying to remove
them from the trains: there were far too many of them.

Among the comparatively well-to-do people of the country (those,
let us say, whose pre-Depression incomes had been over $5,000 a
year) the great majority were living on a reduced scale, for salary
cuts had been extensive, especially since 1931, and dividends were
dwindling.  These people were discharging servants, or cutting
servants' wages to a minimum, or in some cases "letting" a servant
stay on without other compensation than board and lodging.  In many
pretty houses, wives who had never before--in the revealing current
phrase--"done their own work" were cooking and scrubbing.  Husbands
were wearing the old suit longer, resigning from the golf club,
deciding, perhaps, that this year the family couldn't afford to go
to the beach for the summer, paying seventy-five cents for lunch
instead of a dollar at the restaurant or thirty-five instead of
fifty at the lunch counter.  When those who had flown high with the
stock market in 1929 looked at the stock-market page of the
newspapers nowadays their only consoling thought (if they still had
any stock left) was that a judicious sale or two would result in
such a capital loss that they need pay no income tax at all this

Alongside these men and women of the well-to-do classes whose
fortunes had been merely reduced by the Depression were others
whose fortunes had been shattered.  The crowd of men waiting for
the 8:14 train at the prosperous suburb included many who had lost
their jobs, and were going to town as usual not merely to look
stubbornly and almost hopelessly for other work but also to keep up
a bold front of activity.  (In this latter effort they usually
succeeded: one would never have guessed, seeing them chatting with
their friends as train-time approached, how close to desperation
some of them had come.)  There were architects and engineers bound
for offices to which no clients had come in weeks.  There were
doctors who thought themselves lucky when a patient paid a bill.
Mrs. Jones, who went daily to her stenographic job, was now the
economic mainstay of her family, for Mr. Jones was jobless and was
doing the cooking and looking after the children (with singular
distaste and inefficiency).  Next door to the Joneses lived Mrs.
Smith, the widow of a successful lawyer: she had always had a
comfortable income, she prided herself on her "nice things," she
was pathetically unfitted to earn a dollar even if jobs were to be
had; her capital had been invested in South American bonds and
United Founders stock and other similarly misnamed "securities,"
and now she was completely dependent upon hand-outs from her
relatives, and didn't even have carfare in her imported pocketbook.

The Browns had retreated to their "farmhouse" in the country and
were trying to raise crops on its stony acres; they talked warmly
about primal simplicities but couldn't help longing sometimes for
electric light and running hot water, and couldn't cope with the
potato bugs.  (Large numbers of city dwellers thus moved to the
country, but not enough of them engaged in real farming to do more
than partially check the long-term movement from the farms of
America to the cities and towns.)  It was being whispered about the
community that the Robinson family, though they lived in a $40,000
house and had always spent money freely, were in desperate
straights: Mr. Robinson had lost his job, the house could not be
sold, they had realized on every asset at their command, and now
they were actually going hungry--though their house still looked
like the abode of affluence.

Further down in the economic scale, particularly in those
industrial communities in which the factories were running at
twenty per cent of capacity or had closed down altogether,
conditions were infinitely worse.  Frederick E. Croxton's figures,
taken in Buffalo, show what was happening in such communities: out
of 14,909 persons of both sexes willing and able to work, his house-
to-house canvassers found in November, 1932, that 46.3 per cent
were fully employed, 22.5 per cent were working part time, and as
many as 31.2 per cent were unable to find jobs.  In every American
city, quantities of families were being evicted from their
inadequate apartments; moving in with other families till ten or
twelve people would be sharing three or four rooms; or shivering
through the winter in heatless houses because they could afford no
coal, eating meat once a week or not at all.  If employers
sometimes found that former employees who had been discharged did
not seem eager for re-employment ("They won't take a job if you
offer them one!"), often the reason was panic: a dreadful fear of
inadequacy which was one of the Depression's commonest psycho-
pathological results.  A woman clerk, offered piecework after being
jobless for a year, confessed that she almost had not dared to come
to the office, she had been in such terror lest she wouldn't know
where to hang her coat, wouldn't know how to find the washroom,
wouldn't understand the boss's directions for her job.

For perhaps the worst thing about this Depression was its
inexorable continuance year after year.  Men who have been sturdy
and self-respecting workers can take unemployment without flinching
for a few weeks, a few months, even if they have to see their
families suffer; but it is different after a year . . . two
years . . . three years. . . .  Among the miserable creatures curled
up on park benches or standing in dreary lines before the soup
kitchens in 1932 were men who had been jobless since the end of

At the very bottom of the economic scale the conditions may perhaps
best be suggested by two brief quotations.  The first, from
Jonathan Norton Leonard's Three Years Down, describes the plight of
Pennsylvania miners who had been put out of company villages after
a blind and hopeless strike in 1931:  "Reporters from the more
liberal metropolitan papers found thousands of them huddled on the
mountainsides, crowded three or four families together in one-room
shacks, living on dandelions and wild weed-roots.  Half of them
were sick, but no local doctor would care for the evicted strikers.
All of them were hungry and many were dying of those providential
diseases which enable welfare authorities to claim that no one has
starved."  The other quotation is from Louise V. Armstrong's We Too
Are the People, and the scene is Chicago in the late spring of

"One vivid, gruesome moment of those dark days we shall never
forget.  We saw a crowd of some fifty men fighting over a barrel of
garbage which had been set outside the back door of a restaurant.
American citizens fighting for scraps of food like animals!"

Human behavior under unaccustomed conditions is always various.
One thinks of the corporation executive to whom was delegated the
job of discharging several hundred men: he insisted on seeing every
one of them personally and taking an interest in each man's
predicament, and at the end of a few months his hair had turned
prematurely gray. . . .  The Junior League girl who reported with
pride a Depression economy: she had cut a piece out of an old fur
coat in the attic and bound it to serve as a bathmat. . . .  The
banker who had been plunged deeply into debt by the collapse of his
bank: he got a $30,000 job with another bank, lived on $3,000 a
year, and honorably paid $27,000 a year to his creditors. . . .
The wealthy family who lost most of their money but announced
bravely that they had "solved their Depression problem" by
discharging fifteen of their twenty servants, and showed no signs
of curiosity as to what would happen to these fifteen. . . .  The
little knot of corporation officials in a magnificent skyscraper
office doctoring the books of the company to dodge bankruptcy. . . .
The crowd of Chicago Negroes standing tight-packed before a
tenement-house door to prevent the landlord's agents from evicting
a neighbor family: as they stood there, hour by hour, they sang
hymns. . . .  The onetime clerk carefully cutting out pieces of
cardboard to put inside his shoes before setting out on his endless
job-hunting round, and telling his wife the shoes were now better
than ever. . . .  The man in the little apartment next door who had
given up hunting for jobs, given up all interest, all activity, and
sat hour by hour in staring apathy. . . .

It was a strange time in which to graduate from school or college.
High schools had a larger attendance than ever before, especially
in the upper grades, because there were few jobs to tempt any one
away.  Likewise college graduates who could afford to go on to
graduate school were continuing their studies--after a hopeless
hunt for jobs--rather than be idle.  Look, for example, at a sample
page of the first report of the Harvard College Class of 1932, made
up in the spring of 1933.  At first glance it would seem to testify
to a remarkable thirst for further knowledge (I quote it verbatim,
omitting only the names):

--does not give his occupation

--is studying abroad

--is a student at the Harvard Law School, 1st year

--is at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N. C.

--is a student in the Harvard Medical School, 1st year

--has not been heard from

--is a student in the Harvard Engineering School, 4th year

--is interested in the Communist movement

--is a student in the Harvard Law School, 1st year

--is a student in Harvard College

--is a student in the Harvard School of Architecture, 1st year

--is with the Cleveland Twist Drill Co.

--is a student in the Harvard School of Business Administration,
1st year

--is manufacturing neckwear

--is a student in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences,
1st year

--is a student in the Harvard Law School, 1st year

--is a student in the Harvard Graduate School of Business
Administration, 1st year

--is a student in Manhattan College

The effects of the economic dislocation were ubiquitous.  Not
business alone was disturbed, but churches, museums, theatres,
schools, colleges, charitable organizations, clubs, lodges, sports
organizations, and so on clear through the list of human
enterprises; one and all they felt the effects of dwindling gifts,
declining memberships, decreasing box-office returns, uncollectible
bills, revenue insufficient to pay the interest on the mortgage.

Furthermore, as the tide of business receded, it laid bare the
evidence of many an unsavory incident of the past.  The political
scandals which were being investigated in New York City by Samuel
Seabury, for instance, came to light only partly as a result of a
new crusading spirit among the citizenry, a wave of disgust for
machine graft; it was the Depression, bringing failures and
defaults and then the examination of corporate records, which had
begun the revelations.  The same sort of thing was happening in
almost every city and town.  As banks went under, as corporations
got into difficulties, the accountants learned what otherwise might
never have been discovered: that the respected family in the big
house on the hill had been hand-in-hand with gangsters; that the
benevolent company president had been living in such style only
because he placed company orders at fat prices with an associated
company which he personally controlled; that the corporation lawyer
who passed the plate at the Presbyterian church had been falsifying
his income-tax returns.  And with every such disclosure came a new


On the evening of the first of March, 1932, an event took place
which instantly thrust everything else, even the grim processes of
Depression, into the background of American thought--and which
seemed to many observers to epitomize cruelly the demoralization
into which the country had fallen.  The baby son of Colonel and
Mrs. Charles A. Lindbergh was kidnapped--taken out of his bed in a
second-story room of the new house at Hopewell, New Jersey, never
to be seen again alive.

Since Lindbergh's flight to Paris nearly five years before, he had
occupied a unique and unprecedented position in American life.
Admired almost to the point of worship by millions of people, he
was like a sort of uncrowned prince; and although he fiercely
shunned publicity, everything he did was so inevitably news that
the harder he tried to dodge the limelight, the more surely it
pursued him.  Word that he had been seen anywhere was enough to
bring a crowd running; he was said to have been driven at times to
disguise himself in order to be free of mobbing admirers.  He now
occupied himself as a consultant in aviation; late the preceding
summer he and his wife, the former Anne Morrow, had made a "flight
to the Orient" which Mrs. Lindbergh later described in lovely
prose; and since his meeting with Dr. Alexis Carrel late in 1930 he
had begun experiments in the construction of perfusion pumps which
were to bring him a high reputation as a biological technician.
His new house at Hopewell, remote and surrounded by woods, had been
built largely as a retreat in which the Lindberghs could be at
peace from an intrusive world.

And now, suddenly, this peace was shattered.  Within a few hours of
the discovery that the Lindbergh baby's bed was empty--the blankets
still held in place by their safety pins--a swarm of police and
newspaper men had reached the house and were trampling about the
muddy grounds, obliterating clues.  And when the news broke in the
next morning's newspapers, the American people went into a long
paroxysm of excitement.

More police and reporters arrived; the nearest railroad station was
transformed into a newspaper headquarters; news from Hopewell
crowded everything else to the back pages of the papers; President
Hoover issued a statement, the Governor of New Jersey held police
conferences, anti-kidnapping bills were prepared by legislators in
several states, the New York Times reported the receipt on a single
day of 3,331 telephone calls asking for the latest news.  Bishop
Manning of New York sent his clergy a special prayer for immediate
use, declaring, "In a case like this we cannot wait till Sunday."
William Green asked members of the American Federation of Labor to
aid in the hunt for the criminal.  Commander Evangeline Booth urged
all commanding officers of the Salvation Army to help, and referred
to "the miraculous accomplishments with which God has honored our
movement along these very lines through our lost and found bureau."
Clergymen of three denominations prayed over the radio for the
baby's deliverance.  Wild rumors went about.  Babies resembling the
Lindbergh child were reported seen in automobiles all over the
country.  The proprietor of a cigar store in Jersey City brought
the police on the run by reporting that he had heard a man in a
telephone booth say something that sounded like a kidnapper's
message.  And the Lindberghs received endless letters of advice and
suggestion--the total running, in a few weeks, to one hundred

From day to day the drama of the search went on--the Lindberghs
offering immunity to the kidnapper in a signed statement, giving
out the pathetic details of the baby's accustomed diet, asking two
racketeering bootleggers named Spitale and Bitz to serve as
intermediaries with the underworld; and soon the chief actors in
the Hopewell drama became as familiar to the American newspaper-
reading public as if the whole country had been engaged in reading
the same detective story.  Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Whateley, the butler
and his wife; Betty Gow, the nurse; Arthur Johnson, her sailor
friend; Colonel Schwarzkopf of the New Jersey State Police; Violet
Sharpe, the maid at the Morrows' house, who committed suicide; and
Dr. John F. Condon ("Jafsie"), the old gentleman in the Bronx who
made the first personal contact with the kidnapper--these men and
women became the subjects of endless conjectures and theorizings.
When a stranger asked one, "Have they found the baby?" there was
never an instant's doubt as to what baby was meant, whether the
question was asked in New Jersey or in Oregon.  One would hear a
hotel elevator man saying out of the blue, to an ascending guest,
"Well, I believe it was an inside job"--to which the guest would
reply heatedly, "Nonsense, it was that gang in Detroit."  If the
American people had needed to have their minds taken off the
Depression, the kidnapping had briefly done it.

On March 8, a week after the crime, old Dr. Condon--college
lecturer and welfare worker in "the most beautiful borough in the
world," as he called the Bronx--conceived the odd idea of putting
an advertisement in the Bronx Home News, to the effect that he
would be glad to serve as an intermediary for the return of the
Lindbergh child.  The next day he received a letter, misspelled in
an odd Germanic way, containing an enclosure addressed to Colonel
Lindbergh.  He called up the house at Hopewell, was asked to open
the enclosure, described some curious markings on it, and at once
was asked to come and see Colonel Lindbergh--for those markings
were identical with the code symbols on a ransom note which had
been left on the window sill of the baby's room!  On March 12, Dr.
Condon received a note which told him to go to a hot-dog stand at
the end of the Jerome Avenue elevated railroad.  He found there a
note directing him to the entrance of Woodlawn Cemetery.  He
presently saw a man in the shrubbery of the cemetery, and he went
with this man to a bench near by, where they sat and talked.  The
kidnapper had a German or Scandinavian accent, called himself
"John," and said he was only one of a gang.

Further negotiations--which left no doubt that "John" was indeed
the kidnapper, or one of the kidnappers--led to the payment of
$50,000 in bills to "John" by Dr. Condon (accompanied by Colonel
Lindbergh) in St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx on April 2--
whereupon "John" handed Dr. Condon a note which said that the baby
would be found safe on a "boad" (meaning boat) near Gay Head on
Martha's Vineyard.  The Colonel made two flights there by plane and
found no "boad"; clearly the information given was false.

Then on the evening of May 12, 1932, about six weeks after the
kidnapping, the newsboys chanted extras in the streets once more:
the child's body had been found by chance in a thicket near a road
five and a half miles from the Lindbergh place.  Whether he had
been killed deliberately or accidentally would never be known; in
any event, the kidnapper had chosen that spot to half-bury the
little body.

"BABY DEAD" announced the tabloid headlines: those two words

A great many Americans whose memories of other events of the decade
are vague can recall just where and under what circumstances they
first heard that piece of news.

The story seemed to have reached its end, but still the
reverberations of horror continued.  Soon it was clear, not only
that the kidnapper had added the cruelty of Lindbergh's hopeless
search by plane to the barbarity of the original crime; not only
that Gaston B. Means had wangled $100,000 out of Mrs. McLean of
Washington on the criminally false pretense that he could get the
child back; but also that John Hughes Curtis of Norfolk, Virginia,
who had induced Colonel Lindbergh to go out on a boat in Chesapeake
Bay to make contact with the kidnappers, had concocted--for
whatever reason--one of the most contemptible hoaxes ever
conceived.  These revelations, coming on top of the shock of seeing
the Lindberghs forced to deal with representatives of the
underworld (as if the underworld were quite beyond the law),
brought thunders of dismay from preachers, orators, editorial-
writers, columnists: there was something very rotten indeed in the
State of Denmark.  And the tragic sense that things were awry was

There the Lindbergh case rested in 1932.  But we must go ahead of
our history to recount the sequel.  It came over twenty-eight
months later, on September 19, 1934, when the kidnapper was
arrested.  Ironically, one of the things which facilitated his
capture was that in the meantime the New Deal had come in, the
United States had gone off the gold standard, and the gold
certificates which had been handed over to the kidnapper had become
noticeable rarities.

The kidnapper proved to be not a member of the organized underworld
but a lone criminal--a fugitive felon from Germany, illegally in
the United States--one Bruno Richard Hauptmann.  He was arrested in
the Bronx, was tried at the beginning of 1935 at the Hunterdon
County Court House at Flemington, New Jersey, was convicted, and--
after an unsuccessful appeal and a delay brought about by the
inexplicable unwillingness of Governor Harold Hoffman of New Jersey
to believe in his guilt--was electrocuted on April 3, 1936.

The evidence against Hauptmann was overwhelming.  Leaving aside the
possibly debatable identifications of him and other dubious bits of
evidence, consider these items alone:  1.  Hauptmann lived in the
Bronx, where Dr. Condon's advertisement had appeared, where Dr.
Condon had met "John" and where "John" had received the ransom
money.  2.  The numbers of the ransom bills had been recorded: many
of these bills had been passed in parts of New York City accessible
to a resident of the Bronx; it was the passing of one by Hauptmann
in a Bronx garage which led to his arrest.  3.  When arrested,
Hauptmann had a $20 ransom bill on his person.  4.  No less than
$14,600 in ransom bills was found secreted in his garage.  5.  He
was a German, his tricks of speech corresponded roughly to those in
the ransom letters, he had once used in an account book the
spelling "boad," and he used other misspellings and foreign
locutions like those in the ransom notes.  6.  His handwriting was
similar to those in the notes.  7.  He had had no regular means of
support after March 1, 1932, but had nevertheless spent money
freely and had had a brokerage account of some dimensions (with
which he was quite unsuccessful).  8.  His story of how he got his
money, through an alleged partnership in a fur business with one
Frisch, and how he kept it in a shoe box on a shelf, was vague and
unconvincing.  9.  Furthermore, the kidnapper had left behind, at
Hopewell, a ladder of odd construction.  An expert from the
Department of Agriculture, Arthur Koehler, not only found, from the
sort of wood used in the making of this ladder and from
peculiarities in its cutting, that it had been a part of a shipment
to a Bronx firm, but also that irregularities in the planing of it
corresponded to irregularities in a plane in Hauptmann's
possession.  10.  Finally, one piece of the wood used in the ladder
fitted precisely a piece missing from a floor board in Hauptmann's
attic, even the old nail holes in it matching to a fraction of an


Down, down, down went business.

Calvin Coolidge, who had been the chief patron saint of the
prosperity of the nineteen-twenties, paced in unhappy bewilderment
about the lawn at "The Beeches," his Northampton estate.  One day
he dropped in at his barber's for his monthly haircut.  "Mr.
Coolidge," said the barber deferentially, "how about this
depression?  When is it going to end?"  "Well, George," said the ex-
President, "the big men of the country have got to get together and
do something about it.  It isn't going to end itself.  We all hope
it will end, but we don't see it yet."

Andrew Mellon, who had been shunted into the Ambassadorship to the
Court of St. James's to give Ogden Mills, a younger and livelier
man, a chance to run the Treasury, no longer wore the halo in Wall
Street which had once been his; when he left the Treasury the stock
market--which in other years would have expressed itself sharply--
never wavered; yet Mellon had been one of those "big men" of the
country to whom Coolidge presumably referred, a man of vast wealth,
financial acumen, financial prestige.  What did he have to say?  In
the spring of 1932 he spoke in London.  "None of us has any means
of knowing," said he, "when and how we shall emerge from the valley
of depression in which the world is traveling.  But I do know that,
as in the past, the day will come when we shall find ourselves on a
more solid economic foundation and the onward march of progress
will be resumed."  And again, before the International Chamber of
Commerce:  "I do not believe in any quick or spectacular remedies
for the ills from which the world is suffering, nor do I share
the belief that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the
social system under which we have achieved, in this and other
industrialized countries, a degree of economic well-being
unprecedented in the history of the world. . . ."

Not much satisfaction there for men and women in trouble!

A few months later another great man of finance spoke in London--
Montagu Norman, governor of the Bank of England.  Even making
allowance for the hopeful passages in his address, and for British
self-deprecation, those who read his cabled remarks got a shock
from them.  Speaking of the world-wide economic crisis, he said:
"The difficulties are so vast, the forces so unlimited, so novel,
and precedents are so lacking, that I approach this whole subject
not only in ignorance but in humility.  It is too great for me."

Didn't HE know either?

Nor did Wall Street seem to have any answer.  The men of Wall
Street were complaining that the trouble lay in a "lack of
confidence" (how often had we all heard, how often were we all to
hear those hoary words parroted!); and that this lack of confidence
arose from fear of inflation and from the unpredictable and
dangerous behavior of Congress, which was all-too-lukewarm about
balancing the Federal budget and was full of unsound notions.  The
defenders of the old order seemed as bewildered as any one else;
they didn't know what had hit them.  Said a banker noted for his
astuteness, in a newsreel talk, "As for the cause of the
Depression, or the way out, you know as much as I do."  And Charles
M. Schwab of Bethlehem Steel, who had once been unfailingly
optimistic, was quoted as saying at a luncheon in New York,
". . . . I'm afraid, every man is afraid.  I don't know, we don't
know, whether the values we have are going to be real next month
or not."

The astrologers and fortunetellers were in clover; Evangeline Adams
and Dolores were getting letters by the basketful--and from
financiers as well as from those of humbler station.  When all
other prophets failed, why not try the stars?

The spring of 1932 was a bad season for financial reputations.  On
that very March 12 when "Jafsie" met Hauptmann and talked with him
beside Woodlawn Cemetery, a strange thing happened in Paris: one of
the supposed miracle workers of international industry and finance,
the Swedish match king, Ivar Kreuger, carefully drew the blinds of
the bedroom in his apartment in the Avenue Victor Emmanuel III,
smoothed the covers of the unmade bed, lay down, and shot himself
an inch below the heart.  During the following weeks, out trickled
the story behind the suicide: that Kreuger's operations had been
fraudulent, and that he had readily deceived with false figures and
airy lies the honorable members of one of the most esteemed
American financial houses.  On April 8 Samuel Insull, builder of a
lofty pyramid of public-utility holding companies--that same Insull
of whom it had been said, only a few years before, that it was
worth a million dollars to anybody to be seen talking with him in
front of the Continental Bank--went to Owen D. Young's office in
New York, confronted there Mr. Young and a group of New York
bankers, was told that the jig was up for him, and said sadly, "I
wish my time on earth had already come"; Insull's house of cards,
too, had gone down.  A Senate investigation was beginning to show
up the cold-blooded manipulations by which stocks had been pushed
up and down in the stock market by corporate insiders of wealth and
prominence and supposed responsibility.  The president of Hoover's
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Charles G. Dawes, had to resign
and hurry to Chicago in order that the Corporation might authorize
the lending of ninety million dollars to save his bank, caught in a
Chicago banking panic.  Rumors of all sorts of imminent collapses
were going about.  Of whom and of what could one be sure?

By the middle of 1932 industry was operating at less than half its
maximum 1929 volume, according to the Federal Reserve Board's
Adjusted Index of Industrial Production: the figure had fallen all
the way from 125 to 58.  Cotton was selling below 5 cents, wheat
below 50 cents, corn at 31 cents; bond prices had taken a headlong
tumble; and as for the stock market, once the harbinger of so many
economic blessings, it had plumbed such depths as to make the
prices reached at the end of the Panic of 1929 look lofty by
comparison.  Here are a few comparisons in tabular form:--

                     High Price     Low Price on
                     on Sept. 3,    Nov. 13, 1929      Low Price
                     1929           after the Panic    for 1932

American Telephone.... 304             197 1/4          70 1/4

General Electric...... 396 1/4         168 1/2          34*

General Motors......... 72 3/4          36               7 5/8

New York Central...... 256 3/8         160               8 3/4

Radio................. 101              26               2 1/2

U. S. Steel........... 261 3/4         150              21 1/4

*Adjusted to take account of a split-up in the meantime.  The
actual price was 8 1/2.

Thus spoke the stock market, that "sensitive barometer" of the
country's economic prospects.  Thus had departed the hopes of
yesteryear.  Was there no savior anywhere in sight?

Chapter Four



It began to look as if the job of saving the United States would
fall into the willing hands of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Early in June, 1932, the Republicans held a dull convention with
their Old Guard in full control, wrote a dull and verbose platform,
and nominated Herbert Hoover for re-election because they had to.
Considering what was going on in the world, the general aspect of
the Republican deliberations was ichthyosaurian.

When the Democrats went to Chicago for their convention--to a
Chicago still reeling from a local panic in which nearly forty
banks had gone under and the Dawes bank had been hard hit--
Roosevelt had a long lead for the Democratic nomination.  For his
aides had been doing hard and effective work.  Jim Farley--large,
amiable, energetic, shrewd in the politics of friendships and
favors--had been rushing about the country with glad hand
outstretched and had been using to the utmost his incredible
capacity for mass production of personal correspondence.  He
sometimes called in six stenographers at a time, spent eight
consecutive hours signing letters in green ink; at night, when safe
from interruption, he could sign at the rate of nearly two thousand
letters an hour.  While Farley commanded the Roosevelt forces in
the field, the Roosevelt chief-of-staff was Louis McHenry Howe, a
little wizened invalid with protruding eyes and unkempt clothes who
worshipped Roosevelt and lived to further his career.  Remaining in
a shabby office in Madison Avenue, New York, sitting at a desk
littered with newspapers and pamphlets, or lying on an old day bed
when his chronic asthma exhausted him, Howe studied the political
map and gave Farley sage advice.  "Louis would sit in front of me
in his favorite pose," writes Farley, "his elbows resting on his
knees, and his face cupped in his hands so that practically nothing
was visible of his features except his eyes."  A masterly
strategist of politics, Howe thought out the plan of campaign.

While these men gathered delegates for Roosevelt, others gathered
ideas for him.  In March, 1932--the month of the Lindbergh
kidnapping and the Kreuger suicide--Roosevelt's friend and adviser
Samuel I. Rosenman had suggested to him that it might be a good
idea to get a group of university professors to help him formulate
his program; and, when Roosevelt smilingly agreed that it might,
Rosenman had invited Professor Raymond Moley of Columbia to dinner
and had thrashed the matter out with him over coffee and cigars.
Moley had been working with Roosevelt for months on various New
York problems and thus naturally became the recruiting officer and
unofficial chairman of a group of advisers which included (in
addition to Moley and Rosenman) Rexford Guy Tugwell and Adolph A.
Berle, Jr., both of Columbia, and Basil O'Connor, Roosevelt's law
partner.  Roosevelt at first dubbed the group his "privy council";
in July, James Kieran of the New York Times christened it the
"brains trust"; the general public took over this name but
inevitably changed the awkward plural into a singular and spoke of
the "brain trust."  Members of the group would go to Albany, dine
with Governor Roosevelt, talk with vast excitement for hours, and
return to New York to study and report on national problems for the
candidate and to draft memoranda and rough out speeches for him.

But at first Roosevelt was very cautious in his use of such
material or in taking a definite position upon anything.  He was
handsome, friendly, attractive; he had the smiling magnetism, the
agreeable voice which Hoover so dismally lacked; he had not only
had political and administrative experience as Governor of New
York, but knew Washington as a former Assistant Secretary of the
Navy.  With Farley and Howe to help him, and with delegates
flocking to him because of his political "availability," all he
apparently needed in order to win the nomination--and the election,
for that matter--was to exercise his charm, look just conservative
enough to fall heir to the votes of Republicans who were sick of
Hoover, look just radical enough to keep the rebellious from
turning socialist or communist, and not make enemies.  So he spoke
kindly of "the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid"
but failed to specify exactly how this man should be remembered; he
said that "the country demands bold, persistent experimentation"
but engaged, in his speeches, chiefly in the sort of experimentation
practiced by the chameleon.  So gentle was he with the Tammany graft
being disclosed by Samuel Seabury, and so tentative was he in
expressing economic ideas, that Walter Lippmann warned those Western
Democrats who regarded Roosevelt as a courageous progressive and an
"enemy of evil influences" that they did not know their man.

"Franklin D. Roosevelt," wrote Lippmann, "is an amiable man with
many philanthropic impulses, but he is not the dangerous enemy of
anything.  He is too eager to please. . . .  Franklin D. Roosevelt
is no crusader.  He is no tribune of the people.  He is no enemy of
entrenched privilege.  He is a pleasant man who, without any
important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be

On the first ballot for the nomination, taken in the Chicago
Stadium in a sweltering all-night session after interminable
nominating speeches, Roosevelt already had a majority of the
delegates.  The only obstacles now remaining were the ancient rule
which required a two-thirds vote for the nomination, and the
possibility that the opposition forces of John Nance Garner of
Texas or of Roosevelt's former friend and mentor, Al Smith, might
be unbreakable.  Two more ballots followed without important change
as night gave way to day, and at 9:15 on the morning of July 1st
the delegates--"stupefied by oratory, brass bands, bad air,
perspiration, sleeplessness, and soft drinks," as Walter Lippmann
said--stumbled out of the Stadium into the sunshine with no
decision taken.

Only Huey Long, the Louisiana Kingfish, had seemed unwilted during
that exhausting night: Heywood Broun saw him dash down to the
aisles to soothe a swaying delegation, pause to greet a blonde
stenographer with "How are you, baby?" and continue energetically
on his political errand.  When Farley got back to Louis Howe's room
to report, he found Howe lying on the floor in his shirt sleeves,
his head on a pillow, two electric fans blowing on him; Farley
sprawled on the carpet beside him to confer on the strategy of the
hour.  The two men decided that Farley should look for Sam Rayburn
of Texas and see if the Texas delegation could be persuaded to
forsake Garner for Roosevelt, in return for aid in getting Garner
the vice-presidential nomination.  Farley then dragged himself to
Pat Harrison's rooms in search of Rayburn; and when he found that
Rayburn had not yet arrived, Farley sat down to wait and presently
was snoring in his chair.  Under such conditions do our statesmen
make their vital choices.

But soon it was all over.  Rayburn arrived at the Harrison suite.
He did not commit himself definitely but said, "We'll see what can
be done"; and Farley felt that victory was on the way.  That
afternoon Garner telephoned from Washington to recommend that his
leaders should release their delegations.  (What part Hearst, who
had been backing Garner, had in this surrender is uncertain.)  When
that night, the delegates assembled once more, the opposition lines
had broken.  On the first ballot that night--the fourth for the
nomination--Roosevelt was chosen.  Garner thereupon got the vice-
presidential nomination.

Dramatically, Roosevelt refused to wait weeks for a notification
ceremony.  Throwing aside tradition, he chartered a plane, flew to
Chicago, and made an immediate speech of acceptance promising a
"new deal."  (This was the first public appearance of the phrase.
Moley, perhaps thinking of Stuart Chase's book, A New Deal, had
used it in a memorandum to Roosevelt six weeks before, and
Roosevelt had seized upon it.)

The origin of this acceptance speech was a little drama in itself.
For weeks Roosevelt and the Brain Trust had been working on a draft
of the address.  During the plane trip Roosevelt had made a few
last-minute revisions.  But at the airport at Chicago he was met by
Louis Howe, who thrust another manuscript into his hand.  Howe, in
Chicago, had been shown a copy of the Brain Trust draft by Moley,
had disliked it, and had written a revised version: it was this new
version which he was now handing to the nominee.  As Roosevelt rode
to the Stadium through roaring crowds he had no chance to compare
the two documents; not until he was on the platform, facing the
Convention, could he lay them side by side.  During the cheering he
glanced them over.  Then he began to speak.  The beginning of his
address was his faithful Howe's first page; the rest was the
original Brain Trust draft!

Nothing in the speech was as bold as Roosevelt's flight to make it.
"Taking note, apparently, of the charges of straddling that had
been flung at him," wrote Elmer Davis, "he promised to make his
position clear; and he did--upon the Prohibition plank [demanding
Repeal] which the party had adopted by a vote of five to one.  For
the rest, you could not quarrel with a single one of his
generalities; you seldom can.  But what they mean (if anything) is
known only to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his God."

In the speech there were many passages which foreshadowed the
subsequent vigorous measures of his Presidency, but they were vague
in phrasing.  In only one place, where he suggested that a force of
unemployed men be put at conservation work, did he seem to have a
really novel plan (this was the germ of the CCC).  He endorsed some
ideas which he was later to forsake, as when he said that
government "costs too much" and that the Federal government should
set an example of solvency.  And he accepted "one hundred per cent"
the new Democratic platform: a short specific document which,
though it called for financial reforms such as Roosevelt was later
to push through Congress, and called also for "control of crop
surpluses," represented in the main an old-fashioned liberalism--a
return to the days of small and simple business units and modest
and frugal governmental units--and certainly gave no hint of any
intention to expand enormously the Federal power.

Events were moving fast in that summer of 1932, ideas were boiling,
and counsels were divided.  The Democratic candidate was astute: he
had less to lose by facing two ways than by standing fast; by
talking about candor than by exercising it.


Not only were ideas boiling; the country was losing patience with
adversity.  That instinct of desperate men to rebel which was
swelling the radical parties in a dozen Depression-hit countries
and was gathering stormily behind Hitler in Germany was working in
the United States also.  It was anything but unified, it was as yet
little organized, and only in scattered places did it assume the
customary European shape of communism.  It had been slow to develop--
partly because Americans had been used to prosperity and had
expected it to return automatically, partly because when jobs were
vanishing those men who were still employed were too scared to be
rebellious, and simply hung on to what they had and waited and
hoped.  (It is not usually during a collapse that men rebel, but
after it.)  There had been riots and hunger-marches here and there
but on the whole the orderliness of the country had been striking,
all things considered.  Yet men could not be expected to sit still
forever in the expectation that an economic system which they did
not understand would right itself.  The ferment of dissatisfaction
was working in many places and taking many forms, and here and
there it was beginning to break sharply through the orderly surface
of society.

In the summer of 1932 the city of Washington was to see an exciting
example of this ferment--and a spectacular demonstration of how not
to deal with it.

All through June thousands of war veterans had been streaming into
Washington, coming from all over the country by boxcar and by
truck.  These veterans wanted the government to pay them now the
"adjusted compensation" which Congress had already voted to pay
them in 1945.  They set up a camp--a shanty-town, a sort of big-
scale "Hooverville"--on the Anacostia flats near the city, and they
occupied some vacant land with disused buildings on it on
Pennsylvania Avenue just below the Capitol.  More and more of them
straggled to Washington until their number had reached fifteen or
twenty thousand.

Among such a great crowd there were inevitably men of many sorts.
The Hoover Administration later charged that many had had criminal
records, or were communists.  But unquestionably the great majority
of them were genuine veterans; though there was one small communist
group, it was regarded with hostility by the rest; in the main this
"Bonus Expeditionary Force" consisted of ordinary Americans out of
luck.  They were under at least a semblance of military discipline
and were on the whole well-behaved.  Many brought their wives and
children along, and as time went on the Anacostia camp took on an
air half military and half domestic, with the family wash hanging
on the line outside the miserable shacks, and entertainers getting
up impromptu vaudeville shows.

General Pelham D. Glassford, the Washington superintendent of
police, sensibly regarded these invaders as citizens who had every
right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  He
helped them to get equipment for their camp and treated them with
unfailing consideration.  But to some Washingtonians their presence
was ominous.  A group of the veterans--under a leader who wore a
steel neck-brace and a helmet with straps under the chin, to
support a broken back--picketed the Capitol for days while the
Bonus bill was being considered; and on the evening when the bill
was to come to a vote, the great plaza before the Capitol was
packed with veterans.  The Senate voted No.  What would the men do?
There were people looking out the windows of the brightly lighted
Senate wing who wondered breathlessly if those thousands of ragged
men would try to rush the building.  But when their leader
announced the news, a band struck up "America" and the men
dispersed quietly.  So far, so good.

Some of them left Washington during the next few days, but several
thousand stayed on, hopelessly, obstinately.  (Where had they to
go?)  Officialdom became more and more uneasy.  The White House was
put under guard, its gates closed and chained, the streets about it
cleared, as if the man there did not dare face the unrest among the
least fortunate of the citizenry.  It was decided to clear the
veterans out of the disused buildings below the Capitol (to make
way for the government's building program); and on the morning of
July 28, 1932, General Glassford was told that the evacuation must
be immediate.  He set about his task.

It began peacefully, but at noon somebody threw a brick and there
was a scuffle between the veterans and the police, which quickly
subsided.  Two hours later there was more serious trouble as a
policeman at whom the veterans had thrown stones pulled his gun;
two veterans were killed before Glassford could get the police to
stop shooting.  Even this battle subsided.  All Glassford wanted
was time to complete the evacuation peacefully and without needless
affront.  But he was not to get it.

Earlier in the day he had told the District Commissioners that if
the evacuation was to be carried out speedily, troops would be
required.  This statement had been needlessly interpreted as a
request for military aid, which Glassford did not want at all.
President Hoover had ordered the United States Army to the rescue.

Down Pennsylvania Avenue, late that hot afternoon, came an
impressive parade--four troops of cavalry, four companies of
infantry, a machine-gun squadron, and several tanks.  As they
approached the disputed area they were met with cheers from the
veterans sitting on the curb and from the large crowd which had
assembled.  Then suddenly there was chaos: cavalrymen were riding
into the crowd, infantrymen were throwing tear-gas bombs, women and
children were being trampled and were choking from the gas; a crowd
of three thousand or more spectators who had gathered in a vacant
lot across the way were being pursued by the cavalry and were
running wildly, pell-mell, across the uneven ground, screaming as
they stumbled and fell.

The troops moved slowly on, scattering before them veterans and
homegoing government clerks alike.  When they reached the other end
of the Anacostia bridge and met a crowd of spectators who booed
them and were slow to "move on," they threw more gas bombs.  They
began burning the shacks of the Anacostia camp--a task which the
veterans themselves helped them accomplish.  That evening the
Washington sky glowed with fire.  Even after midnight the troops
were still on their way with bayonets and tear-gas bombs, driving
people ahead of them into the streets of Anacostia.

The Bonus Expeditionary Force had been dispersed, to merge itself
with that greater army of homeless people who were drifting about
the country in search of an ever-retreating fortune.  The United
States Army had completed its operation "successfully" without
killing anybody--though the list of injured was long.  The incident
was over.  But it had left a bitter taste in the mouth.  Bayonets
drawn in Washington to rout the dispossessed--was this the best
that American statesmanship could offer hungry citizens?


The farmers were rebellious--and no wonder.  For the gross income
of American agriculture had declined from nearly 12 billion dollars
in 1929--when it had already for years been suffering from a
decline in export sales--to only 5 1/4 billions in 1932.  While
most manufacturing businesses dropped their prices only a little
and met slackened demand with slackened production, the farmer
could not do this, and the prices he got went right down to the
cellar.  Men who found themselves utterly unable to meet their
costs of production could not all be expected to be philosophical
about it.

Angry Iowans, organized by Milo Reno into a Farmers' Holiday
Association, were refusing to bring food into Sioux City for thirty
days or "until the cost of production had been obtained"; they
blockaded the highways with spiked telegraph poles and logs,
stopped milk trucks and emptied the milk into roadside ditches.
Said an elderly Iowa farmer with a white mustache to Mary Heaton
Vorse, "They say blockading the highway's illegal.  I says, 'Seems
to me there was a Tea Party in Boston that was illegal too.'"

Elsewhere farmers were taking the obvious direct means to stop the
tidal wave of mortgage foreclosure sales.  All through the prairie
country there were quantities of farmers who not only had heavy
mortgages on their property but had gone deeply into debt for the
purchase of farm machinery or to meet the emergencies of years of
falling prices; when their corn and wheat brought to even the most
industrious of them not enough money to meet their obligations,
they lost patience with the laws of bankruptcy.  If a man sees a
neighbor of his, a formerly successful farmer, a substantial, hard-
working citizen with a family, coming out of the office of the
referee in bankruptcy stripped of everything but an old team of
horses, a wagon, a few dogs and hogs, and a few sticks of
furniture, he is likely to see red.  Marching to the scene of the
next foreclosure sale, these farmers would drive off prospective
bidders, gather densely about the auctioneer, bid in horses at 25
cents apiece, cows at 10 cents, fat hogs at a nickel--and the next
morning would return their purchases to the former owner.

In a quiet county seat, handbills would appear:  "Farmers and
workers!  Help protect your neighbors from being driven off their
property.  Now is the time to act.  For the past three and a half
years we have waited for our masters, who are responsible for the
situation, to find a way out. . . .  On Friday the property of ----
is to be sold at a forced auction at the courthouse. . . .  The
Farmers Committee has called a mass protest meeting to stop the
above-mentioned sale."  And on Friday the trucks would drive up to
the courthouse and men by the hundreds, quiet, grim-faced, would
fill the corridors outside the sheriff's office while their leaders
demanded that the sale be not held.

They threatened judges in bankruptcy cases; in one case a mob
dragged a judge from his courtroom, beat him, hanged him by the
neck till he fainted--and all because he was carrying out the law.

These farmers were not revolutionists.  On the contrary, most of
them were by habit conservative men.  They were simply striking
back in rage at the impersonal forces which had brought them to
their present pass.

All through the summer and autumn of 1932--when the Olympic Games
were being held with high pageantry at Los Angeles, when people
were gathering in the open fields of Maine and New Hampshire to
witness as much of a total eclipse of the sun as drifting clouds
would permit, when Mayor Jimmy Walker of New York was being tried
before Governor Roosevelt for misconduct in office and was
resigning to seek a temporary exile in the south of France, when
the report that a nudist camp had been established anywhere was
enough to bring the reporters on the dead run, and when Roosevelt
was campaigning against Hoover--all through that summer and autumn
the ferment of ideas, plans, notions for defeating the Depression

In July and August, barter schemes were going into effect in Dayton
and Yellow Springs, Ohio, and soon they were being set up in
numerous communities: men and women were organizing the
dispossessed to pool their various abilities and make goods for one
another--only to discover, after months or even years of heroic
effort, that "mutual exchanges" and attempts to set up little
systems of production within the existing system could be only
makeshifts at best.  Towns from which money had almost disappeared
were adopting scrip currency--issuing local money good in the local
shops.  Huey Long, who had arrived in Washington as a Senator in
January and had electrified the gentlemen of the press by receiving
them in lavender pajamas, had proposed a Share-our-Wealth scheme in
March; and although Huey now occupied an ostentatious position on
the Roosevelt band wagon, he had not forgotten his slogan: the time
was ripe for it.  Father Coughlin's big radio audience heard him
excoriating both the New York financiers and the Hoover
Administration and calling Morgan, Mellon, Meyer, and Mills the
"Four Horsemen"; the radio priest was getting ready to come out for
revaluation of the currency.

Magazine editors were being inundated with manuscripts explaining
how the Depression could be ended--manuscripts proposing huge bond
issues for public works, recommending inflation, recommending all
sorts of other expedients, rational or ridiculous: "hot money"
which would decline in value if unspent; the Douglas credit plan;
other complex improvements in the banking and credit system;
schemes for the general reduction of debts; "work-sharing" schemes
for shorter hours of labor to soak up unemployment; proposals for
the seizure and operation of industries by the government.
Communism was notably gaining strength, both among the unemployed
workers and--more rapidly--among the urban intellectuals: Edmund
Wilson, John Dos Passos, Malcolm Cowley, V. F. Calverton, Theodore
Dreiser, and other able writers were fighting the good fight for
Marx, and young novelists by the dozens were sitting down to write
proletarian fiction.

The yeast was slowly working, and with the advent of winter it
suddenly produced an astonishing and significant phenomenon: the
frenzy of interest in Technocracy.


To nobody was this frenzy more bewildering than to Howard Scott,
the father of the Technocratic idea.  He was an eccentric,
boastful, haphazard young man who claimed to have had an important
career in engineering and certainly had conducted a small paint and
floor-wax business.  For years he had been buttonholing people at
The Meeting Place or Van's Place or other Greenwich Village
speakeasies and restaurants to expound his strange economic
theories--and had been finding it difficult to get people to
listen.  But when the Depression routed economic orthodoxy,
heterodox notions began to look less crazy; Scott got enough
backing to put a squad of unemployed architects to work at Columbia
University on an "Energy Survey of North America."  Then the Living
Age came out with an article about Technocracy; and then, abruptly--
in December, 1932--the thing was everywhere: in the newspapers, in
the magazines, in sermons, in radio-actors' gags, in street-corner
conversation.  The amazed Scott, who a little while before had been
jubilant when a newspaper gave a few lines to Technocracy, was now
pursued by interviewers ready to hang upon his lightest word.

Scott's theory--developed partly from the writings of Veblen and
Soddy--had a basis of good hard sense.  He argued that it was not
necessary for our economic system to falter and slow down; our
enormous scientific and technical progress and the vast
potentialities of machine power offered a basis for unparalleled
prosperity--if only our money and credit arrangements could be
prevented from jamming the works.  The trouble with the system,
argued Scott, was that discoveries and improvements which should
cause us to be able to enjoy the affluence of plenty did not do so,
but added to the debt burden and stalled the economic machinery.

At this point the argument became more difficult.  What was wrong,
insisted Scott, was the price system.  What we needed was a price
system based on energy--in units like ergs and joules.  And the
people who could put such a system into effect and operate it were
the technologists--the scientists and engineers.

To try to put into effect a new price system seemed a sufficiently
hazardous proceeding--considering the vast number of changes it
would necessitate in everyday transactions--even if Scott and his
disciples had been able to explain how this very difficult
change was to be brought about.  (No adequate explanation was
forthcoming.)  Practical men boggled at such a proposal.  Practical
men also smiled at putting the vital decisions in a society into
the hands of scientific specialists.  They remembered that
politicians are always needed in the making of social decisions,
because they know how to take account of human nature.  Other
critics of Technocracy pointed out that Scott's statements about
the great potentialities of new engineering devices like the
electric eye were optimistic at best.  Still others were irritated
by the abstruse language and the complicated mathematical formulae
in which the Technocrats expressed themselves: when Scott himself
wrote for publication he said of Technocracy that "its methods are
the result of a synthetic integration of the physical sciences that
pertain to the determination of all functional sequences of social
phenomena," and he defined science as "the methodology of the
determination of the most probable."

But the Technocratic idea fitted precisely the American mood of the
moment.  It offered an answer to the pervasive riddle of the times.
This answer was new; it did not--as did communism--run head on into
ingrained prejudices and emotional conflicts.  It seemed to be
scientific, and thus commended itself to a people who venerated
science as the source of progress.  As a new fad, it was as much
fun as a round-the-world flight or Amos 'n' Andy.  The very fact
that it was abstruse, that it broke clean away from the world of
practical problems and intelligible statements, gave it a mystical
irresistibility to a nation searching for a magic key to recovery,
for something which would both bring prosperity and serve as a
religion.  Technocracy was hopeful, too, looking forward as it did
to an era of possible plenty; this fact helped to make it palatable
to a public of habitual optimists.  And its vogue came at the
moment when millions of Americans had decided that they were sick
of the old order and were ready for a new one--they didn't know

During the last month of 1932 and the first month of 1933 America
took up the idea with a whoop.  The columns of newspapers and
magazines were full of it; bankers and taxi drivers alike argued
its merits and fallacies; The ABC of Technocracy leaped into the
best-seller lists, half-forgotten volumes by Soddy and Veblen
suddenly met a lively demand, and several new books on Technocracy
were hurriedly announced.  When ship-news reporters boarded an
incoming liner, the first question they asked a returning banker or
movie star was "What do you think of Technocracy?"  Howard Scott
was invited by the largest apartment house in New York to act as
Santa Claus at its Christmas tree celebration, quite as if he were
a Channel swimmer or a nonstop flyer.  A rift between Scott and his
Columbia associates became a front-page news sensation.

Then the interest almost as quickly waned.  Technocracy was too far
removed from the practical issues of the day to remain in the
forefront of attention.  By the time the New Deal arrived, it was
already vieux jeu to most Americans--like a memory of a half-
forgotten folly.

Yet in the meantime it had offered an object-lesson in the
readiness of the American people for a new messiah and a new credo.
In a lesser degree they were exhibiting the same emotional
willingness to get up and go, they knew not where, that was being
exhibited in Germany by multitudes of men and women who were not
convinced by Hitler but followed him because he was marching and
seemed sure of his destination, and because they could face a
hopeless future no longer.


Poor Hoover!

In June he had made a bold disarmament proposal in the hope of
ending a long European deadlock over arms limitations, a deadlock
which was deepening the bitterness in Germany--but French and
British opposition brought it to nought, and the move had come too
late anyhow.  He labored with a recalcitrant Congress in the
fervent hope of balancing the budget--and won only a partial
victory.  Anxiety sat heavy upon him.  As he hurried from his desk
to a quick luncheon and back again, he hardly spoke to members of
the White House staff in the corridors, but passed them half-
unseeing, a frown upon his face.  Democrats like Garner who gave
him scant co-operation he regarded with wrath; the White House
correspondents found him suspicious, unwilling to hold press
conferences, resentful of attacks upon him in the press.  No man in
the White House had ever struggled harder and seen his efforts so
scantily rewarded.

In August things seemed to be looking better.  The Bonus Army--that
hateful reminder of a bitterness and distress of which he was
already painfully conscious--had been driven from the city.  Better
still, the business index had turned upward.  A conference in
Lausanne, which had ended German reparations, appeared to have
eased the financial tension in Europe.  Gold was no longer leaving
the United States; indeed, by the end of August over a third of the
gold that had been frightened away in the latter months of 1931 and
the early months of 1932 had returned.  The RFC had slowed up the
rate of bank failures.  And once again the stock market was showing
healthy plus signs.  Perhaps at last the corner to prosperity had
been turned, and even if Hoover lost the election he might go down
in history as the man who had seen the United States through the

Already, however, the campaign was upon him, and to the terrific
burdens of the Presidential office he had to add the burden of
drafting long speeches in self-defense--dictating them in the
Lincoln study to relays of stenographers, correcting the
typewritten copy, rushing it to the printer, and then laboriously
going over the proofs sentence by sentence with his advisers.
Every statistical evidence of improvement in the economic situation
must be used to the utmost; every Hoover move against the
Depression must be dramatized as a battle in a winning war; he must
defend even the Smoot-Hawley tariff and warn his audience that if a
Democratic tariff were put into effect "the grass will grow in the
streets of a hundred cities" and "weeds will overrun the fields of
millions of farms."

Sometimes, on his speech-making tours, he was heartened by roars of
vigorous applause--but again there would be evidences of hostility,
as when a group of jeering demonstrators gathered opposite a
station when his train stopped and threw into a group of his aides
a 150-watt electric-light bulb which exploded with a startlingly
bomblike sound.  So near was Hoover to complete exhaustion that on
one of the last nights of the campaign, when he was on his way
across the country to vote at Palo Alto, he lost his place
repeatedly in his address at St. Paul, and throughout the address a
man sat behind him gripping the arms of a chair and ready to push
it under the President if he should collapse.

More debonair was Roosevelt as he went about the country preaching
his New Deal.  The Democratic candidate was less vague, now, than
he had been.  For his Brain Trust, now much enlarged and
established in a suite in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, was
strenuously rounding out a program for him--or rather, a series of
programs which sometimes conflicted with the plans of his more
conservative advisers, if not with one another.

Roosevelt was explicit in his promise of financial reforms such as
the regulation of securities and commodity exchanges, the
regulation of holding companies, the separation of commercial and
investment banking, the protection of investors through demands for
full publicity about issues of securities.  He was explicit about
the need for a "competitive tariff" and for reciprocal tariff
negotiations.  He demanded that the Federal government develop
power projects on the Columbia and Tennessee Rivers, and elsewhere,
and use them as "yardsticks" with which to measure the service
given by private utilities.  Calling for control of crop surpluses,
he defined the objectives of what was later to be the AAA, and he
promised that the Federal government would lighten the load of farm
mortgages.  He insisted that it owed its citizens the positive duty
of stepping into the breach when the states were unable to meet the
burdens of relief.  He came out for old-age insurance and
unemployment insurance.  At the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco
he gave a real indication of the attitude he was to take during his
Presidency when he insisted that "private economic power is . . . a
public trust," and that "continued enjoyment of that power by any
individual or group must depend upon the fulfillment of that
trust."  Yet at the instance of his more conservative advisers he
came out also for a "definite balancing of the budget," berated the
Hoover Administration for its extravagance, and promised drastic
Federal economies.  Furthermore, he said definitely, when
questioned, that he was for "sound money"--which was generally
taken to mean the gold standard; he said that "no responsible
government would have sold to the country securities payable in
gold if it knew that the promise--yes, the covenant-embodied in
these securities was . . . dubious. . . ."  Needless to say, he was
explicit about repeal of the Prohibition Amendment; on this point
opinion had so clearly swung his way that there was next to no
danger in being positive.

Those critics who had earlier been uneasy at Roosevelt's light-
footedness were still uneasy.  There were still ambiguities and
contradictions in the program: how, for example, could a Federal
government assume so many duties and obligations and simultaneously
reduce expenses?  And just what did "sound money" mean?  It was
difficult to judge the real significance of a program which
contained so many potential contradictions.  But Roosevelt's
confidence was infectious, his smile was winning, and the times
were on his side.  The business upturn which had so encouraged
Hoover in the late summer was flattening out, the stock market was
definitely turning down after its sally, and with every month of
continued hard times the general desire for change became more

Election Day came--and that night the rejoicing was not in Palo
Alto but at the Democratic headquarters at the Biltmore Hotel in
New York, where Roosevelt and Farley and one or two others heard
the good news in a secluded room while happy crowds of Democrats
milled about outside.  For Roosevelt had won 472 electoral votes to
Hoover's 59--had carried every state but Connecticut, Delaware,
Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

So Franklin D. Roosevelt was to be President.  But what sort of
President?  That depended upon events to come as well as upon
himself--upon circumstances which neither he nor anybody else could


There followed a strange interregnum.  Business recovery was
stalled again (from fears of what Roosevelt might do, claimed the
Republicans).  Congress, meeting in December, was more definitely
insurgent than ever, and turned a deaf ear to the defeated
President.  Nor was the President-elect co-operative.  Hoover
wished to make preparations for a world economic conference, and
also to set up a debt-funding commission to deal with European
requests for revision of the war debts, and he felt that he could
not fairly do either of these things without the approval of
Governor Roosevelt as the incoming President.  He invited Roosevelt
to a conference; Roosevelt politely came to the White House, where
he and Hoover sparred conversationally, each man being attended by
a second as if for a verbal battle.  But nothing came of the
conference, nor of a second one, nor of other Hoover suggestions
for joint action in "restoring confidence."  Hoover suggested that
Roosevelt issue a statement assuring the country that "there will
be no tampering or inflation of the currency," and Roosevelt--after
a long delay--replied that he doubted if a mere statement would do
much good.  The President-elect wouldn't play ball.

To Hoover it seemed perfectly clear that a recovery which he had
helped to start was being dissipated through Roosevelt's refusal to
co-operate.  And his anger was all the more vehement because he
believed that the bank panic which was developing was due to
Roosevelt's silence (now that the campaign was over) about
inflation of the currency, and to a general fear of what the wild
men of the Democracy might do after March 4.  There were explicit
stories going about to the effect that Roosevelt had said he
favored inflation.  Hoover was told that Professor Tugwell had
spoken jauntily of the danger of a general bank closing and had
said, "We should worry about anything except rehabilitating the
country after March 4," adding that one of the first Roosevelt
moves might be "reflation if necessary."  ("Reflation" was a
current euphemism for inflation.)  This was too much: Hoover wrote
furiously to his informant that Tugwell "breathes with infamous
politics devoid of every atom of patriotism."  The unhappy
President believed that Roosevelt was irresponsibly ready to see
the country go to pot in order to get the credit for rescuing it.

On the other hand, Roosevelt felt that as a private citizen until
March 4, he himself must not join in Presidential action; and also
that it was unreasonable to expect him to tie himself to the
policies of an unsympathetic and already discredited administration--
especially when the situation was changing fast and his own plans,
different from Hoover's at many points, were still in flux.  Both
positions were natural under the circumstances; one need only add
that the real villain of the piece was the antiquated political
arrangement by which an administration had to remain in nominal
power for nearly four months after it had been rejected at the

Slowly and uncertainly the drama of Presidential frustration
proceeded--and then suddenly, about the middle of February, 1933,
when Hoover's term of office had less than three weeks to run, it
went into double-quick time.  The banking system gave way.

Again and again during the preceding year or two there had been
local bank panics; the Federal Reserve had come to the rescue, RFC
money had been poured in, and a total collapse had been averted.
Now a new panic was beginning, and it was beyond the power of these
agencies to stop.  Perhaps the newspaper publication of the facts
about RFC loans was a factor in bringing about this panic--though
to say this is to beg the question whether a banking system
dependent upon secret loans from a democratic government is not
already in an indefensible position.  Probably the banks would have
collapsed anyhow, so widely had their funds been invested in
questionable bonds and mortgages, so widely had they been
mismanaged through holding companies and through affiliation with
investment companies, so lax were the standards imposed upon them
in many states, and so great was the strain upon the national
economy of sustaining the weight of obligations which rested in
their hands.  At any rate, here at the heart of the national debt-
and-credit structure a great rift appeared--and quickly widened.

On the 14th of February the condition of some of the banks in and
about Detroit had become so critical that Governor Comstock of
Michigan ordered an eight-day bank holiday for the State.  All over
the country there began a whispering, barely audible at first, then
louder and louder:  "Trouble's coming.  They say there's a run on
the trust company down the street.  Better get your money out of
the bank."  The murmur ran among the bankers:  "Trouble's coming.
Better sell some bonds and get cash before it's too late.  Better
withdraw your balances on deposit in New York."  It ran among the
men of wealth:  "Better put everything into cash.  Get gold if you
can."  It spread to Europe:  "Better get gold out of the United
States.  Better sell the dollar."  The financial machinery of the
country began to freeze into rigidity, the industrial and
commercial machinery to slow down.  Nor was there anything that
Hoover could do to stop the panic.  Laboring ceaselessly, sleeping
no more than five hours a night, he saw all the ground he had
gained since June being lost.


Faster moved the clock of history.

On the 15th of February--the day after the Michigan bank closing--
the whole course of events in America was nearly altered by an
assassin.  In Miami a man named Zangara fired several shots at
Roosevelt in a crowd, missed him, fatally wounded Mayor Cermak of

The next day--the 16th--the Senate voted to repeal the Prohibition
Amendment.  Four days later--on the 20th--the House followed, and
the issue of repeal went to the States for their action, which by
the following December was to make the country legally wet again.
(This change in the Constitution required not only a two-thirds
vote in both Senate and House--which had been secured--but the
approval of conventions in three-quarters of the states.)  The
supposedly impossible was happening, with consequences to be felt
in every American community; another landmark was being quickly
swept away by the tide of change.

During all these days there were continuous and feverish attempts
to set the Michigan banking situation straight.  In Detroit the
bankers and motor manufacturers labored over rescue plans; the
wires between Detroit and New York and Washington hummed with
anxious talk between the President, the RFC officials, the Federal
Reserve officials, Ford and Chrysler and Sloan, Senator Couzens,
and the Michigan bankers and officials--and no solution was found.
Meanwhile armored trucks were running by night from city to city,
carrying cash for beleaguered banks.  The Federal Reserve figures
were showing sharp increases in hoarding, sharp losses of gold by
the United States, as the panic became intensified.

On Tuesday, February 21, Roosevelt announced that his Secretary of
State would be Cordell Hull of Tennessee and his Secretary of the
Treasury would be the smiling little manufacturer, William H.
Woodin of New York.  (Roosevelt had wanted Carter Glass for the
Treasury, but Glass had realized that Roosevelt was ready if
necessary to leave the gold standard and inflate the currency, and
would not accept; Woodin, a comparatively unknown man, was a second

On the same day began the disclosure, by witnesses before a Senate
committee, of some of the most disturbing facts yet revealed about
the behavior of the lords of American finance during the preceding
years.  Charles E. Mitchell, chairman of the big National City Bank
in New York, admitted under the questioning of Ferdinand Pecora
that he had received bonuses totaling over three million dollars
from his bank and its affiliates during 1927, 1928, and 1929--and
yet, by selling some bank stock to a member of his family at a
loss, he had avoided paying any income tax in 1929, even though he
later repurchased the stock.  The next day it was learned that
after the Panic of 1929 the bank had protected its high officials
who had been trading in its own stock, but that underlings in the
bank's employ had had to pay in full, in installments, for stock
which had meanwhile lost most of its value.  Though there was
nothing criminal about these operations--there were worse things
brought out by Pecora later--they were peculiarly infuriating to
the sense of democratic fair play.  The effect of such disclosures
as these, at such a time, upon the attitude of the country toward
the big bankers was profound; it was as if a smouldering fire of
distrust and disapproval had burst suddenly into flame.

On Friday, the 24th, there were runs on Baltimore banks and
Governor Ritchie declared a Maryland bank holiday.  On Saturday and
Sunday the panic became serious in three Ohio cities.  On Monday,
the 27th, Mitchell resigned from the chairmanship of the National
City Bank; the champion of bull market banking had abdicated before
a rising public opinion.  The panic was now spreading through Ohio
and Indiana into Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Nor were the only dramatic changes in America.  On the evening of
the 27th the Nazis burned the German Reichstag, attributing the
fire to the Communists; in that conflagration German democracy was
effectively destroyed.  The new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, was now
swiftly on his way to supreme dictatorship.  At the other side of
the world, the Japanese government, which had invaded Manchuria in
1931 when the Western world was distracted with financial panic,
was marching on into Jehol in complete defiance of the disapproval
of the League of Nations.  Internationally as well as within the
United States, an old order was giving place to new.

Faster, faster.

On Wednesday, the first of March, two more states declared state
bank holidays; that evening another four were added to the list.
On March 2, ten more fell in line.  In numerous cities outside the
bank-holiday states, banks were by this time remaining open only on
a restricted basis.  That same day Roosevelt went by special train
from New York to Washington--and spent most of the journey talking
with Farley about men's need of religion in the crises of their
lives.  Jaunty and carefree as he seemed, he knew that he was
riding into a hurricane which would presently confront him with the
responsibility, not only for making instant and unprecedented
decisions, but also for directing in America that insurgency which,
the world over, was following upon economic collapse.  The unrest
which was spreading among the farmers and the unemployed; the anger
which was rising against the financial overlords; the longing for a
magic formula, manifested in the excitement over Technocracy--these
resentments and hopes were his to satisfy.  If he could not satisfy
them . . .

By March 3--the eve of inauguration--the financial storm was
battering at Chicago and New York, the financial strongholds of the
country.  The tie-up was almost complete.  Hoover was making
desperate last-minute efforts to work out a solution, but they were
unavailing.  And at 4:30 in the morning of March 4, the strongholds
surrendered: Governor Lehman of New York proclaimed a state bank
holiday, and almost simultaneously Governor Horner proclaimed one
in Illinois.  At 6 o'clock a worn and haggard Hoover got up to
perform the last routine tasks of his Presidency.  He was told that
on his last morning of office the banking system of the United
States had stopped functioning.

"We are at the end of our string," said he.  "There is nothing more
we can do."

The stage manager of history had been too cruelly precise.  For all
Hoover's asperities, his awkwardness, his political ineptitudes, he
had been a resourceful and resolute soldier of a doomed order, and
deserved no such personal humiliation.  But now the curtain was
coming down and he could do no more.

Chapter Five



Saturday, March 4, 1933.

Turn on the radio.  It's time for the inauguration.

There is a tension in the air today--a sense of momentousness and
of expectation.  When you went downtown this morning you found the
banks shut; if you lived in New York State or in Illinois this may
have been your first inkling of the general bank closing, since the
closing orders in those states had come too late for the early
editions of the morning papers of March 4.  On the door of each
bank was pasted a little typewritten notice that it had been closed
at the Governor's order; people by twos and threes went up and read
the sign and walked away.  Your first thought, perhaps, was that
you had only a little money in the house--five dollars, was it? ten
dollars?--and you wondered how you would manage when this was used
up, and what would happen next.  Then you began to realize the
significance of this financial stoppage.

Well, it's come at last, you thought.  Here is that day of doom
that people have been dreading.  Just now it isn't so bad; there is
a tingle of excitement, the sort of thrill you get from a three-
alarm fire.  But what next?  This may be only the beginning of the
crack-up.  The one thing you want to hear, that everybody wants to
hear, is the inaugural address.  All over the country people are
huddled round their radios, wondering what Roosevelt's answer to
disaster will be.

Here's the voice of a radio reporter describing the preparations
for the inauguration ceremony at the east front of the Capitol in
Washington--the notables coming to their places on the platform,
the dense crowds flooding the Capitol square below under a chill,
cloudy sky.  The reporter is talking with all the synthetic good
cheer of his kind--bearing down hard on the note of optimism, in
fact, for he knows that worried and frightened people are listening
to him.  He describes Hoover coming alone, gravely, to his place on
the platform; then Roosevelt coming up a ramp on the arm of his son
James.  The ceremony begins.  You hear Chief Justice Hughes
administer the oath of office; you hear Roosevelt's reply, phrase
by phrase, uttered clearly and firmly.  Then comes the inaugural.

The new President's voice is resolute.  It comes into your living
room sharply.

"President Hoover, Mr. Chief Justice, my friends," the voice
begins.  "This is a day of national consecration, and I am certain
that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the
Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which
the present situation of the nation impels.  This is pre-eminently
the time to speak the truth, frankly and boldly.  Nor need we
shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today.  This
great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will
prosper.  So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the
only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning,
unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert
retreat into advance."

This doesn't sound like "prosperity is just around the corner"
talk.  It sounds like real confidence.

The voice goes on to blame "the rulers of the exchange of mankind's
goods" for the troubles of the country.  "True, they have tried,
but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn
tradition. . . .  The money changers have fled from their high
seats in the temple of our civilization."  Through the radio comes
a burst of applause: after the bank smash-ups and scandals, this
condemnation of the big financiers expresses the mood of millions
of Americans.

The voice speaks of the primary need of putting people to work; of
the need for "making income balance outgo"; of the need for an
"adequate but sound currency" (sharp applause for that!); promises
a "good neighbor" policy in foreign affairs, but says domestic
affairs must come first.  Most striking of all, however, is the
constant emphasis upon the need for action.  Again and again comes
the word "action."  And after the new President has said he
believes that the sort of action which is needed may be taken under
the Constitution, the loudest applause of all comes for his
declaration that if the occasion warrants he will not hesitate to
ask for "broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency,
as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact
invaded by a foreign foe."

A ten-strike, this declaration.  For the people have been sick of
watching an Executive devote his strongest energies to opposing
action, however questionable: they want a positive policy.

"We do not distrust the future of essential democracy," the
President continues.  "The people of the United States have not
failed.  In their need they have registered a mandate that they
want direct, vigorous action.  They have asked for discipline and
direction under leadership.  They have made me the present
instrument of their wishes.  In the spirit of the gift I take it."

You can turn off the radio now.  You have heard what you wanted to
hear.  This man sounds no longer cautious, evasive.  For he has
seen that a tortured and bewildered people want to throw overboard
the old and welcome something new; that they are sick of waiting,
they want somebody who will FIGHT this Depression for them and with
them; they want leadership, the thrill of bold decision.  And not
only in his words but in the challenge of the very accents of his
voice he has promised them what they want.

If only the performance measures up to the promise!


Action there was, in abundance; and it came fast.

On Sunday, March 5, the day after the inauguration, the new
President not only called Congress to meet in special session on
Thursday, but also issued a proclamation putting the bank holiday
on a national basis and prohibiting the export of gold and all
dealings in foreign exchange.  (Thus the country went at least part
way off the gold standard--on a temporary basis.)

On Thursday Congress met and passed with a whoop a law validating
everything that the executive had done to date and tightening still
further its control over banking operations, gold, silver,
currency, and foreign exchange.

On Friday the President asked Congress for immediate action to cut
Federal expenses to the bone--and Congress rushed at the task,
despite the political distastefulness of slashing the veterans'

On Saturday--after a week of furious activity at the Treasury,
during which regulations were devised and altered, plans for the
issue of clearing-house certificates were made and abandoned, plans
for the issue of new currency were promulgated, and a rough
classification of banks into more and less sound was made with the
aid of advice from Federal Reserve Banks and chief national bank
examiners--the President announced that most of the banks of the
country would open the following Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

On Sunday night the President, in his first "fireside chat,"
explained to the people of the country with admirable simplicity,
clarity, and persuasiveness just how the re-opening of the banks
would be managed and how his hearers could help to make the process

On Monday, the 13th of March, the banks began to open.  And on the
same day the President asked Congress to legalize beer--thus
closing his tremendous first ten days of office on a note of

Such were the bare facts of those ten days.  But the mere catalogue
of them gives little idea of their overtones of significance, or of
what those ten days were like to the American people.

The predicament of the incoming Administration was staggering.  A
new President and new Cabinet, unaccustomed even to the ordinary
routine of their positions, largely unacquainted with their staffs,
and forced to rely heavily upon the services of Hoover officials
who stayed on to help them, had to deal with an unprecedented
emergency which confronted them with unforeseen problems.
Everything had to be done at top speed.  Nobody could tell what
might be the future cost of mistakes made under such pressure.
Nobody could be sure, for that matter, that this was not just the
first of a progressive series of emergencies which would bring
conditions infinitely worse.  Never did a green Administration seem
to be walking into such a potential hornet's nest of difficulties.

But other circumstances aided them.  In the first place, the
accident of fate which had been so cruel to Hoover gave the country
an Administration which could start from scratch in its race
against panic, unhandicapped by memories of previous failures.  It
is traditional for the American people to feel kindly toward a new
administration and support its first moves; in this case the
friendly feeling was not only ready-made but intense.  An enormous
majority of the population desperately wanted the New Deal to
succeed.  Even the Wall Street bankers were ready to give Roosevelt
full powers and wish him well, wince though they might at being
called money changers who had "fled from their high seats in the
temple."  They were badly frightened, their institutions were
demoralized, their collective reputation was besmirched anyhow,
their only hope lay in Roosevelt's success.  The newspapers, too,
were loud now with enthusiasm.  For weeks they had been burying
bank-panic news in the back pages; now they could let go--and out
gushed, on the news pages and in the editorials, all that zest for
whooping it up, for boosting, for delivering optimistic fight
talks, that was innate and habitual in the American temperament.
Congress, usually divided in opinion and intractable, became almost
as unanimous and enthusiastic as a cheering section--because public
opinion told them to.  The Congressmen's mail was heavy, and the
burden of it was "Support the President."  It was as if a people
rent by discords suddenly found themselves marching in step.

There was another favorable circumstance.  In The Folklore of
Capitalism, Thurman W. Arnold tells of a conversation he had,
before the bank panic, with a group of bankers, lawyers, and
economists.  They were one and all aghast at the possibility of a
general bank closing.  "My mind," said one of them, "fails to
function when I think of the extent of the catastrophe that will
follow when the Chase National Bank closes its doors."  Mr. Arnold
told his friend Professor Edward S. Robinson about this
conversation, and found him unaccountably cheerful.  "Do you
think," asked Professor Robinson, "that when the banks all close
people will climb trees and throw coconuts at each other?"  Mr.
Arnold replied that this seemed to him a little unlikely but that a
bank crash of such magnitude suggested to him rioting and perhaps
revolution.  Whereupon Professor Robinson said, "I will venture a
prediction. . . .  When the banks close, everyone will feel
relieved.  It will be a sort of national holiday.  There will be
general excitement and a feeling of great interest.  Travel will
not stop; hotels will not close; everyone will have a lot of fun,
though they will not admit that it's fun at the time."

Despite the fact that indirectly the bank holiday brought new
distress, through new curtailments of business and new layoffs, and
intensified the suffering of many people who were already hard hit,
Professor Robinson was essentially right.  The majority of
Americans felt a sense of relief at having the lid of secrecy blown
off.  Now everything was out in the open.  They felt that this
trouble was temporary.  They felt no shame now in being short of
money--everybody seemed to be.  They were all in the same boat.
And they responded to one another's difficulties good-naturedly.

The grocer lent credit (what else could he do?), most hotels were
glad to honor checks, shops were cordial about charge accounts.
The diminished advertising columns of the newspapers contained such
cheerful announcements as "IN PAYMENT FOR PASSAGE WE WILL ACCEPT
CHECKS OR PROPERLY AUTHORIZED SCRIP" (this was in the early days of
the bank holiday, when the issue of clearing-house scrip appeared
until scrip becomes available our box offices will accept checks";
months' supply of Pepsodent for yourself and your family."

True, the shopping districts were half deserted; on the upper
floors of department stores, clerks were standing about with no
customers at all; there was a Saturday air about the business
offices, trains were sparsely filled, stock exchanges and commodity
exchanges were closed.  But in the talk that buzzed everywhere
there was less of foreboding than of eager and friendly excitement.
"Are they going to put out scrip?--and how do we use it?"  "What's
a 'conservator'--is that a new word?"  "You say you had thirty
dollars on you when the banks closed?  Well, you're in luck.  I had
only three-fifty--I'd planned to go to the bank that morning."
"They say the Smiths stocked their cellar with canned goods last
week--three months' supply; they thought there was going to be a
revolution!"  "Did you see those pictures of the gold hoarders
bringing bags full of gold back to the Federal Reserve Bank?  Those
birds are getting off easy, if you ask me."  "Mrs. Dodge beat the
bank holiday all right--overdrew her account last Friday.  No, not
intentionally.  Just a mistake, she says.  Shot with luck, I call
it."  "Stop me if you've heard this banker story: it seems that a
banker died and when he got to the gates, St. Peter said. . . ."

To this public mood President Roosevelt's first fireside chat was
perfectly attuned.  Quiet, uncondescending, clear, and confident,
it was an incredibly skillful performance.  (According to Raymond
Moley's After Seven Years, the first draft of this chat was written
by Charles Michelson of the Democratic publicity staff; Arthur
Ballantine, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Hoover, completely
rewrote it; Roosevelt revised it.)  The banks opened without any
such renewed panic as had been feared.  They might not have done so
had people realized that it was impossible, in a few days, to
separate the sound banks from the unsound with any certainty, and
that errors were bound to be made.  The story goes that one bank
had been in such bad shape that its directors decided not even to
put in an application to reopen; through a clerical slip this bank
was put on the wrong list, received a clean bill of health, and
opened with flying colors!  In some places, to be sure, there were
bank runs even after the opening--runs which had to be met
unquestioningly with Federal funds, lest the whole trouble begin
over again.  And so many banks had to be kept shut anyhow that ten
per cent or more of the deposits of the country were still tied up
after March 15, and the national economic machinery thus remained
partially crippled.  On the whole, however, the opening was an
immense success.  Confidence had come back with a rush; for the
people had been captivated and persuaded by a President who seemed
to believe in them and was giving them action, action, action.

The New Deal had made a brilliant beginning.


The next few months in Washington provided a spectacle unprecedented
in American history.  The pace at which the New Deal had started its
career slackened hardly at all.  The administrative hopper produced
bill after bill, the President passed the bills on to Congress with
terse recommendations for passage, and Congress--almost as if
mesmerized--passed them, often with scant debate, sometimes without
an opportunity for all the members to read them, much less
comprehend their full significance.  Never before except in wartime
had the Executive been so dominant over Congress.  Never before,
even in wartime, had a legislative program been pushed through with
such terrific speed and daring.

The very air of Washington crackled.  Suddenly this city had become
unquestionably the economic as well as the political capital of the
country, the focus of public attention.  The press associations had
to double their staffs to fill the demand for explanatory
dispatches about the New Deal bills.  And into Washington descended
a multitude of men and women from all over the country.

First there were bankers by the thousands, thronging the corridors
of the Treasury, buttonholing their Senators to explain just why
their banks should be permitted to re-open, and converging upon an
emergency office set up in the Washington Building by the Acting
Comptroller of the Currency--an office in which four men found
themselves the bottleneck of communication between the banking
system and the government.  Amid the hammering of workmen putting
up partitions, these men were trying simultaneously to hire
stenographers and clerks, to draft regulations and letters, to
interview importunate bankers, and to deal with incoming telephone
calls which were backed up two and three days by the congestion of
appeals from all over the country.  Every banker had his own story
to tell--his own account of how his mortgages had been undervalued
by the bank examiners, or an entire community was dependent upon
his institution.  Some of them brought their directors along.  Who
could deal with these men?  So terrific was the strain of those
first days that on at least two nights the Acting Comptroller of
the Currency went home only to take a shower, change his clothes,
and go back to work; when he did snatch a few hours' sleep, his
wife had to sit by a constantly ringing telephone and explain that
he might not be disturbed.  Another high official would lie down on
a couch in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury, go to
sleep, be awakened by a question, answer it, and drop off to sleep

In that GHQ at the Treasury during the bank holiday there was an
almost continuous executive conference, day and night.  Woodin and
Moley, Democrats; Mills, Ballantine, and Awalt, Republicans, were
the nucleus of a group which labored without thought of party.
Even in their brief intervals of rest the problems remained with
them; at breakfast on the Tuesday morning after the Inauguration
little Woodin reported to Moley how he had solved the knotty
question of whether and how to issue scrip:  "I played my guitar a
little while and then read a while and then slept a little while
and then awakened and then thought about this scrip thing and then
played some more and read some more and slept some more and thought
some more.  And, by gum, if I didn't hit on the answer that
way! . . .  We don't have to issue scrip!"  The ordeal of twenty-
hour days was too much for Secretary Woodin; his health had not been
good, and there are those who think that it was the labor and
responsibility of those weeks in March which killed him; he died the
following year.

Droves of Democratic office-seekers, too, were descending upon
Washington: so many of them that Postmaster-General Farley,
whom they knew to be the chief patronage dispenser of the
Administration, found them haunting the corridors of his hotel; he
"virtually had to slip back and forth to his office like a man
dodging a sheriff's writ," and he found that the only way to get
rid of the hordes that packed his reception room at the Old Post
Office Building was to make the rounds of the room five or six
times a day with his secretary, taking down the name of each
individual and a brief description of the sort of job he sought.

Experts and specialists of all sorts were coming into town to help
in the framing of new laws and regulations and in the setting up of
new government agencies.  Financiers and their lawyers and brief-
case-toting assistants were coming to take the witness stand in
Ferdinand Pecora's intermittently sensational investigation of the
scandals of the banking world.  Special emissaries from Great
Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Argentina, Germany, Mexico, China,
Brazil, Japan, and Chile arrived in quick succession, each with his
entourage, to consult with the President and his advisers on
economic and diplomatic problems; from Great Britain came Ramsay
MacDonald, the Prime Minister; from France came Edouard Herriot,
the Premier; there were receptions, conferences, dinners, long
discussions between groups of experts, in endless and fatiguing

To Washington as by a magnet were drawn, too, innumerable
idealists, enthusiasts, radical national-planners, world-savers of
all degrees of hard- and soft-headedness, each with his infallible
prescription for ending the Depression.

Meanwhile into the White House poured thousands of plans for
recovery, for the great American public wanted to help.  They
ranged, these plans, from semi-literate scrawls on ruled paper to
175-page mimeographed booklets with graphs and statistical tables,
and they displayed a touching confidence that the President himself
would carefully consider their suggestions.  (All these plans were
read, considered, and politely acknowledged--but not by him.)  "In
the present national emergency," began a characteristic letter,
"surely I will be pardoned if it is presumptuous to bring views to
your attention.  If the ideas are in the least beneficial then the
end will justify the beginning."  And another:  "Being one of those
Americans who love their country and having a sort of an idea which
may have some merit, I am taking the presumptuous liberty of
passing it along to you in this letter."  Business men, bankers,
students, housewives, unemployed laborers, they had ideas and threw
them into the hopper.

Furious work was being done in Washington in that spring of 1933.
The lights burned late in government offices as the architects of
the New Deal, official and unofficial, drafted bills and
regulations and memoranda, tore their drafts to pieces and began
all over again, and then rushed off to consult other groups and
revise and revise again.  In the vast new office buildings along
the Mall there was sublime confusion as new jobholders arrived and
began searching for their offices, for desks, for people who could
tell them what they were supposed to do.  Government departments
were overflowing into office buildings everywhere; and the streets
were full of apartment-hunters, while the real-estate men of
Washington rubbed their hands at the sudden boom in the housing


Out of all this pandemonium emerged in short order an extraordinary
array of new legislative measures.  To summarize the chief ones
very briefly:--

1.  Devaluation.

After the banks opened there was a prompt improvement in business,
but during the first few weeks it was only moderate.  The President
became impatient; and Congress, likewise impatient, became so
enamoured of the idea of inflating the currency that a bill
sponsored by Senator Wheeler of Montana, providing for the free
coinage of silver on the old Bryan basis of 16 to 1, almost passed
the Senate despite Roosevelt's opposition.  Under these
circumstances Roosevelt took the plunge off the gold standard.
Half convinced that some sort of inflation was necessary anyhow as
a shot in the arm for the American economy; unwilling to let
Congress take the initiative away from him and force the country
into some ill-devised inflation scheme; and convinced that if it
were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly,
Roosevelt on April 19th placed an embargo on gold--thus serving
notice that the gold standard had been definitely abandoned.  Then
he laid before Congress a bill--which was passed--giving him
permissive authority to inflate in any one of five ways if he saw
the need to do so.

Shortly afterward there followed a law which forbade the issue of
bonds, governmental or corporate, payable in gold, and which
abrogated all existing contractual obligations to pay bonds in
gold.  Still later, when the World Economic Conference, assembling
in London, turned to the international stabilization of currencies
as its first important task, Roosevelt heaved a bombshell into it--
with distressing damage to the prestige of his own delegation--by
refusing to let the United States be a party to even a vague and
general stabilization agreement at that juncture.  And from time to
time, while these moves were going on, he declared his intention to
raise American prices "to such an extent that those who have
borrowed money will, on the average, be able to repay that money in
the same kind of dollar which they borrowed."  (It was not until
later in 1933 that he devalued the American dollar progressively to
59.06 cents, in terms of its former gold value, through the amazing--
and none too successful--scheme of progressively raising the price
which the United States would bid for gold.)

The result of these various orders, laws, and statements in the
spring of 1933 was to bring about a quick jump in prices, a burst
of upward activity on the stock exchanges and commodity exchanges,
a hurried buying of supplies by business men for their inventories
in expectation of further rises in prices, and a much sharper
recovery of business than had previously seemed likely.  It is
difficult to disentangle causes and effects when a government is
doing everything at once, but the evidence would seem to show that
the shot in the arm administered in the spring of 1933 had a
definitely stimulating effect.  (In fact, there would seem to be
room for the somewhat cynical comment that of all the economic
medicines applied to the United States as a whole during the
nineteen-thirties, only two have been of proved general
effectiveness, and both of these have a habit-forming tendency and
may be lethal if too often repeated: these two medicines are
devaluation and spending.)

2.  Crop Control.

The New Deal came to the rescue of the farm population with a bill
which aimed to raise the prices of the major American farm crops by
offering payments to farmers to leave part of their acreage
unplanted.  The money for the payments was to be raised by a
processing tax, which in effect was a light sales tax on the
consumption of these crops--penalizing everybody a little in order
to help the hard-hit farm population.  (With cotton the method was
different: the crop having already been planted, rewards were
offered for plowing up part of it.)  The complicated business of
administering this Act was entrusted to an Agricultural Adjustment
Administration--AAA for short.

The promise of the AAA program, along with the promise of
inflation, lifted farm prices sharply in the spring of 1933, and
thus brought early and substantial relief to the farmers; the
effect of the AAA after it went into full operation in 1934 was
more debatable, and was obscured anyhow by subsequent droughts.

3.  Stimulating Employment.

Roosevelt's pet scheme for putting a quarter of a million young men
into the woods for conservation work was quickly approved by
Congress, and presently the young men of the CCC were off to army
camps and then to the forests.  There was also passed a bill
providing $3,300,000,000 for public works--a staggering sum by
Hoover standards.  (Roosevelt's heart was not in the public-works
program, it was difficult to spend any large amount of money
quickly and yet wisely on dams, bridges, and other major works, and
therefore slow progress was made; a good deal of the $3,300,000,000
was diverted into relief and national defense.)

4.  Federal Relief.

To aid the unemployed--whose condition was desperate--the Federal
government went for the first time on a large scale into the
distribution of relief funds.  These, in the early months of the
New Deal, were mostly dispensed through state and local machinery;
but the new assumption of responsibility was nevertheless

5.  The Tennessee Valley Experiment.

Not only did a bill passed in May, 1933, provide for the Federal
operation of that subject of long previous argument, the dam at
Muscle Shoals; it provided also for an ambitious development of the
whole Tennessee Valley through the building of other Federal dams,
through the sale of power from them at low prices, and through
Federal subsidizing of conservation measures in the Valley.  This
bill--which went considerably beyond Roosevelt's campaign proposals--
was perhaps the most revolutionary measure of the early New Deal
in its long-term significance, for it put the government directly
into industry and into a dominating position in developing a whole
section of the country.

6.  Lightening the Debt Burden.

Federal agencies were set up to refinance farm and home mortgages,
lowering the interest rate on them and putting a Federal guarantee
behind them, thus easing the back-breaking pressure of debt on
farmers and other householders--and, incidentally, further freezing
the debt-structure of the country.

7.  Financial Reforms.

A Securities Act was passed which provided that those who issued
securities must provide the government with full--in fact
voluminous--information about the enterprises to be financed.  And
a banking act was passed which, though it did not grapple with the
knotty problem of unifying the banking system of the country,
struck at certain conspicuous abuses: it provided that no banking
house might both accept deposits and issue securities, and it
forbade commercial banks to have securities affiliates.  (These
reforms were the forerunners of others to come.)

Last in our list, but far from least, there was set up

8.  The NRA.

The genesis and motivation of the NRA provide a beautiful example
of the wild confusion of those honeymoon days of the New Deal, and
deserve special mention.  The NRA's paternity was multiple, to say
the least.

Soon after the bank holiday Senator Hugo Black (of subsequent
Supreme Court fame) pushed through the Senate a bill decreeing a
thirty-hour week in all businesses engaged in interstate commerce;
and although the measure was held up by a motion to reconsider, the
size of the Senate vote and the fact that the House was giving a
favorable reception to a similar measure (the Connery Bill), showed
that Congress meant business.  (Here was NRA idea No. 1: spread
employment by shortening hours of labor.)  Thereupon Secretary of
Labor Frances Perkins insisted any such bill must contain a minimum-
wage provision.  (Here was idea No. 2: "put a floor under wages.")
By this time the President and various members of his Administration
had become worried over the possibility that wholesale and
inflexible legislation on hours and wages might prove a Pandora's
box of troubles, and had begun to wrestle with ideas for a more
flexible and comprehensive Administration measure, which could be
substituted somewhat as the discretionary inflation bill had been
substituted for the Wheeler Bill.

A number of business men also swung into action.  For a long time
the Chamber of Commerce of the United States had been opposing what
it called "cut-throat competition" and had wanted the Sherman Anti-
Trust Act modified so that trade associations might set wages and
adopt "codes of practice" with governmental permission.  Hoover had
flatly opposed any such scheme as monopolistic--as allowing
established companies to combine to prevent, not only "cutthroat
competition," but all real competition of any sort.  Roosevelt
seemed to have no such fears--and the business men saw their
opportunity.  (Thus arose idea No. 3: "self-government for
business," with the trade associations doing the governing under
government auspices.)

Meanwhile there was also much enthusiasm among the young liberals
in Washington for the idea of "national planning" for industry.
Impressed by the Russian Five-Year Plan, they wanted the government
to regulate the functioning of the helter-skelter American business
system.  (Here was idea No. 4.)  There was a widespread hope, too,
chiefly among these same liberals, that purchasing power might be
expanded by a concerted raising of wages--on the theory that if the
raising were general no business would suffer and all would
benefit.  (Idea No. 5.)

Each of these ideas was represented in the framing of the National
Industrial Recovery Act.

After numerous conferences of various groups of men of diverse
economic philosophies, there emerged as the principal artificer of
the project a man whose own central interest was in the Chamber of
Commerce idea: a former Army officer, former plow manufacturer, and
protg of Bernard Baruch named General Hugh S. Johnson, who had
worked in the Brain Trust group during the campaign and now had a
desk in the office of Raymond Moley, the new Assistant Secretary of
State.  And there emerged a bill which provided that each industry,
through its trade association, would write for itself a "code"
prescribing maximum hours and minimum wages and rules of fair
competition for that industry, subject to the approval of the
government.  What was thus prescribed and approved might be done
regardless of the Sherman Act, and in fact might not be
transgressed under penalty of the law.  Since the men who were thus
to be allowed to organize and write their own codes were the
employers, the Department of Labor insisted that their employees
should also be permitted to organize; and so was written into the
National Industrial Recovery Act the famous Section 7a, which
stated that "employees shall have the right to organize and bargain
collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and
shall be free from the interference, coercion, or restraint of
employers of labor or their agents." For further protection for
labor and for consumers there were elaborate provisions for setting
up Labor Advisory Boards and Consumers' Advisory Boards, to make
sure that every interest was consulted.

On June 16, 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act was signed
amid much fanfare.  Said President Roosevelt, "History probably
will record the National Industrial Recovery Act as the most
important and far-reaching legislation ever enacted by the
American Congress."  On that same day General Johnson was named
Administrator of the NRA.  And it became obvious that this
unprecedented organization was to be the focal point of the whole
New Deal program of 1933.

Having produced the NRA, Congress adjourned, bringing to an end
what was indeed an extraordinary session.


The contrasts between this 1933 New Deal program and the Hoover
program were sharp.  It was not a program of defense but of
multiple and headlong attack.  In most of the laws and certainly in
the intent behind them there was a new emphasis on the welfare of
the common man; a new attempt, as was often said, to build
prosperity from the bottom up rather than from the top down.  There
was a new willingness to expand the scope of government operations;
for a long time past these had been expanding out of sheer
political and economic necessity, as the inevitable long-term
tendency toward centralization took effect upon government as well
as upon business, but now the brakes were removed and the expansion
was abrupt.  Also in contrast was the visible distrust by Roosevelt
of the bankers and corporate insiders of Wall Street; Hoover had
leaned upon them for advice and assistance (which was not always
forthcoming), Roosevelt disregarded them.  He preferred the
assistance of supposedly impartial (if impractical) professors to
that of supposedly practical (if partial) business men.  There was
a new encouragement of labor unions, a new hospitality to liberal
and radical ideas which would reduce the power of the owning class.
The governmental center of gravity had moved to the left.

At the same time the program represented a strange jumble of
theories.  For example, the Economy Act--and to a certain extent
the financial reform measures--had a deflationary effect; whereas
devaluation--and to a certain extent the public-works plan and the
Federal relief plan--had an inflationary effect.  The AAA bill
tried to bring recovery by inducing scarcity--as did much of the
NRA as it later developed; whereas the public-works and TVA plans
operated on the abundance theory.  The conferences with foreign
emissaries and the plans for international economic cooperation ran
head on into the devaluation policy--with a resounding explosion in
London.  The financial reform measures sought to discourage
concentrations of economic power; the NRA--in practice--tended to
encourage them.

In addition to these conflicts of theory, there were numerous
collisions between governmental organizations trying to do the same
thing, between organizations trying to do opposite things, between
old policies being pursued as a matter of habit and new ones being

Some of these conflicts were due, of course, to the sheer
impossibility of achieving legislative and administrative
perfection at a hand gallop.  Some were due to the fact that
Washington was full of able and eager men with contrasting ideas:
in a multitude of counselors there is confusion.  Some were due to
the political necessity of devising measures which could win the
support of diverse interests.  And some were due to the fact that
the New Deal program of those first few months was like a
geological formation built up in several layers.  At the bottom
were the old-fashioned liberal measures, the economy and reform
measures, of the 1932 platform.  On top of these were the more
ambitious programs adumbrated by the Brain Trust during the
campaign and after, and other measures hustled into action when the
bank panic produced a much graver crisis than had been foreseen in
early 1932.  Then there were the measures which grew, perforce, out
of the bank panic itself--including, if you wish, devaluation.  On
top were the bright ideas that bloomed in the fertile spring of
1933; chief among these was the NRA, which was a whole plum pudding
of contrasting elements in itself.  Yet even if one took account of
all these reasons for inconsistency, there remained something in
Roosevelt's try-everything attitude which reminded one of the man
who, feeling unwell, took in quick succession all the tonics on the

But if the President preferred bold action to careful deliberation,
so too did the country.  The sickness of the economic system was
infinitely complicated and little understood.  Now a physician had
come along who had a lot of medicines in his bag, who had an air of
authority and an agreeable bedside manner; and the American people
hailed him with delight.  His medicines were better than most which
were currently suggested, and certainly the patient's morale was
improved by having a friendly physician who was willing to do
something and not just wait for nature to effect a cure.  In the
spring and summer of 1933 the American economic system took its new
medicines cheerfully, sat up in bed, and said, "I feel better


What a flood tide of returning hope was running in those first six
months of the New Deal!

That was the season when the Chicago Fair opened--that Fair whose
intention to chronicle "A Century of Progress" had seemed only a
few months before so unmitigatedly ironical.  What did Chicagoans
care if Sally Rand stole the show with her fan dance?  She too had
been a victim of the Depression, earning a precarious living
dancing in smalltime cabarets in Western cities, and her fortunes
had sunk low in 1932; in her own reported words, she had "never
made any money until she took off her pants"; but now the crowds
surged to see her come down the velvet-covered steps with her
waving fans (and apparently nothing else) before her, and Chicago
profited.  General Balbo's armada of Italian airplanes flew to the
fair; and in that same summer of 1933 Charles and Anne Lindbergh,
leaving behind them for a time the scenes of their tragedy, flew to
Greenland, to proceed thence to Europe and Africa and--Listen!  The
Wind--to South America.

That was the season when the Senate Banking Committee drew from the
Morgan partners the story of the "preferred lists" of subscribers
to the stock of their corporations; and when the orderly processes
of financial exemplification were interrupted, to everybody's
dismay, by a circus promoter who placed a midget in J. P. Morgan's
lap.  It was the season when the country first became wonderingly
aware of the extent to which the amiable First Lady of the land
embodied the law of perpetual motion; and when her husband, after
putting his name to the National Industrial Recovery Act, climbed
aboard the little Amberjack II, put on his oilskins, and went
sailing up the New England coast to Campobello.

That was the season when Max Baer knocked out Schmeling in the
tenth, and the massive Primo Camera knocked out champion Jack
Sharkey in the sixth, and an unidentified man almost knocked out
Huey Long in the Sands Point washroom, and Glenn Cunningham began
breaking the running records for the mile, and Anthony Adverse
began breaking records for fiction sales as it enthralled lovers of
vicarious adventure on thousands of summer porches.

Once more the business men of the country began to know hope.  The
Federal Reserve Board's adjusted index figure for Industrial
Production in the bank-holiday month of March, 1933, had been 59
(as against 58 for the preceding July, the month of the Bonus
March).  In April it jumped from 59 to 66; in May it jumped to 78;
in June, to 91; in July, to 100 (as against a 1929 high of 125).
There was no such proportionate gain in employment, to be sure; for
as the pace of business increased, there was much slack to be taken
up simply by working factories full time that had been working part
time, by working office clerks overtime, by keeping shopgirls on
the run.  Still there remained millions of unemployed men, whose
poverty was as yet unrelieved by any Federal expenditures for their
aid.  So greatly had the Depression stimulated working efficiency
and the installation of labor-saving devices that a far sharper
increase in production than this would be needed to give jobs to
those men.  Nor were the men who went back to work any too
tractable.  They had suffered, they had become embittered, and as
hope returned, anger rose with it: strikes began to increase in
number.  The mood of the farm population was still rebellious, for
until their crops were harvested the rise in farm prices would do
them little good; the speculators would get the money.  There
were still riots and disorders in the farm belt.  But the prospects
were promising.  "Give us just a few months more of this
improvement . . ." men said to themselves.

The speculators leaped into action.  As the stock market spurted,
out of the highways and byways came the little stock gamblers.  For
three and a half years they had been telling themselves--if they
had any money left--that speculation was no more for them.  During
the past few months they had been in the grip, most of them, of a
mounting distrust of Wall Street bankers in particular and all
bankers in general, and had been telling and re-telling derisive
anecdotes in which bankers figured.  But when they began to see the
plus signs among the stock quotations, back to the brokers' offices
they thronged, ready to stake their last savings on Commercial
Solvents and Standard Brands and the alcohol stocks; and meanwhile
as cold-blooded a lot of pool operators as had ever been seen in
the unregenerate days of 1929 manipulated and unloaded, manipulated
and unloaded.  The Securities Act had been signed, reform was the
order of the New Deal day, one might have expected these gentry to
be newly cautious; but all such considerations apparently meant
nothing to them.  So violently did the stock market boil, so
frequently were there five- and six-million-share days, that the
total volume of trading in the month of June, 1933, and again in
the month of July, 1933, was greater than it had been in any single
month in the Big Bull Market of 1929--with the sole exception of
the Panic month of October.  Meanwhile the grain market and the
other commodity markets boiled too.  Who could lose? argued the
little speculators.  "If we don't have prosperity we'll at least
have inflation."  (In 1932 the thought of inflation had prompted
selling, now it prompted buying: the mood had changed.)

Late in July the stock and commodity markets broke badly, and day
after day the speculators' favorites tumbled; one of these
favorites, American Commercial Alcohol, actually collapsed from 89
7/8 to 29 1/8 in four days.  But at that very moment the President
was having distributed to business men all over the country the
blanket NRA code that would "start the wheels turning."  It was
difficult to find a daily paper which did not contain somebody's
glowing tribute to the NRA.  It had "abolished child labor," it was
introducing "a new era of co-operation between industry and
government," it was "an attempt to substitute constructive co-
operation for destructive competition," it would cause "management
and labor to join hands," it would "end the flat-wallet era," and
it held out "the promise of a new day."  The break in the markets
checked confidence a bit; but was it not predicted that millions of
men would go back to work "before the snow flies"?

In Washington the excitement was still feverish.  Congress had
adjourned, but now the business men were there by the bewildered
thousands to draw up NRA codes.  Up and down the interminable
corridors of the Commerce Building they tramped, buttonholing any
hatless man to ask their way, under the impression that he must be
a high official.  They wanted their own codes, industry by
industry, and each of them had his own idea of what ought to go
into his code to stop the particular kind of "cut-throat
competition" that his company hated.  But first these men had to
find out what industry they belonged to.  Was candlewick-bedspread-
making a part of the cotton-textile industry, or should it have a
code of its own?  Shouldn't the dog-food industry insist on special
treatment?  And where should the academic costume men go to solve
their code problems?  And the fly-swatter manufacturers?  Where was
General Johnson's office?  And who was this "Robbie" whose ear it
was considered so valuable to get?  And might it not be better to
go back to the Mayflower and confer there, even though the hotel
telephone service was so jammed that you couldn't get a connection?

In the center of this wild confusion--as Jonathan Mitchell wrote--
General Johnson "sat at ease, coat off, blue shirt open at the
neck, red-faced, and looking uncannily like Captain Stagg in
Stallings and Anderson's 'What Price Glory.'  Like captured
peasants, squads of sweating business men . . . were led in before
him."  Part cavalry officer, part veteran business man, part
economic seer, part government administrator (he could assume any
of these roles at will, said Mitchell), the General coaxed or
prophesied or wisecracked or thundered as the occasion seemed to
warrant, and the business men would go forth obediently--or so they
felt at the moment--to do his bidding.  So completely did the
General captivate the Washington newspaper men that they began to
regard the NRA as the center of the government exhibit and the
White House as a side show.  His vehement oratory, his references
to "cracking down on the chiselers" and to the "dead cats" of
criticism, his torrential enthusiasm, held the country spellbound.
General Johnson had become the personification of Recovery.

When you went to the movies to see "Cavalcade" (that life-preserver
with TITANIC on it!), or "Mdchen in Uniform," or "Reunion in
Vienna," you would see also a short picture, accompanied by a voice
thrilling with patriotism, telling how America was marching on to
prosperity under the slogan "We do our part."  The Blue Eagle
appeared in shop windows, in advertisements.  There were splendid
NRA parades, with thousands marching and airplanes droning
overhead.  Grover Whalen organized a New York compliance campaign
enlivened by the appearance of Miss Nira (short for National
Industrial Recovery Act) and Miss Liberty; 150 women from the Bronx
marched to NRA headquarters bearing 250,000 pledges and accompanied
by a brass band; it was estimated that a quarter of a million
people marched in New York and a million and a half looked on, and
it cost $4,980.70 to clean up the streets afterwards.

Yes, America was on its way.  Though the stock market looked ragged
as the summer came to an end, and the business indices had slipped
back from the pinnacle of July, and doubts and disagreements were
beginning to cloud the brightness of the economic and political
skies, still the prevailing mood of the general public was aptly
reflected in the song of the three little pigs in Disney's new
picture, then going the rounds of the movie houses: America had
learned to sing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"

Chapter Six



The processes of social change are continuous and endlessly
complex.  To contrast the manners and morals and customs of one
historical "period" with those of another is surely to over-
simplify and almost surely to exaggerate.  Yet the social climate
does alter, just as the seasons do change--even though the shifts
in temperature from day to day may be highly spasmodic and Detroit
may be enjoying its "first day of spring" while Philadelphia is
being swept by a blizzard.  Looking back, one notices various
contrasts between the social climate of the nineteen-twenties and
that of the nineteen-thirties; and one notices, too, that most of
these changes did not become clearly marked until about the year
1933, when the New Deal came in and the Eighteenth Amendment was
repealed.  It is almost as if the people of the United States had
walked backward into the Depression, holding for dear life to the
customs and ideals and assumptions of the time that was gone, even
while these were one by one slipping out of reach; and then, in
1933, had given up their vain effort, turned about, and walked face-
forward into the new world of the nineteen-thirties.

The post-war decade had brought to America a sharp revolution in
manners and morals--a revolution the shock troops of which were a
younger generation addicted to knee-length skirts, hip flasks,
mixed drinking in the speakeasy, petting in the parked car,
uninhibited language, a secondhand knowledge of Freudian complexes,
and a disposition to defy their more puritanical parents and
ridicule the whole Puritan tradition.  Already by the end of the
nineteen-twenties the revolution was playing itself out, at least
in the centers of population where Puritanism had been most readily
undermined.  The older generation were gradually becoming
accustomed to the outlandish ways of their progeny and relaxing
somewhat their own codes of conduct, and the younger generation
were getting older and learning the practical advantages of
moderation.  By the time of the Panic, the "Flaming Mamie" of the
coeducational campus, though she still won admirers, was a little
less likely to be regarded as a portent of the future than as a
relic of the past.  As the nineteen-thirties got under way, the
change in the climate became clearly discernible.

Not that there was any measurable increase in abstinence,
continence, or modesty; indeed there were some areas--some Middle-
Western towns, many country villages--where the proprieties of an
earlier day had been only slowly broken down and the sound of
breakage was still loud; where the behavior of the "young married
set" at the Saturday night rout at the local country club was more
abandoned than ever, and where parents were comparing horrified
notes about that appalling "new" phenomenon, the tendency of girls
of fifteen and sixteen to come back from high-school parties
smelling of gin and disturbingly rumpled.  Said the Lynds of their
findings in "Middletown," ". . . one got in 1935 a sense of sharp,
free behavior between the sexes (patterned on the movies), and of
less disguise among the young.  A high-school graduate of eight
years ago, now in close touch professionally with the young people
of the city, was emphatic as regards the change: 'They've been
getting more and more knowing and bold.  The fellows regard necking
as a taken-for-granted part of a date.  We fellows used
occasionally to get slapped for doing things, but the girls don't
do that much any more.'"

Yet in the country at large there was a change of mood, a change of
emphasis.  The revolution was being consolidated.  The shock troops
were digging in in the positions they had won.

A neat measure of this change was offered in Hornell Hart's study
of social attitudes in Recent Social Trends, which appeared at the
beginning of 1933.  Mr. Hart set forth the results of a careful
statistical study of the beliefs and points of view reflected in
the magazines of the country at various times.  This study showed
that the rebellion against the traditional code of sex morals--or,
to put it another way, the rush of sentiment in favor of sex
freedom--had reached its peak in the years 1923-1927; and although
the magazines contained more discussions of family and sex problems
during 1930 and 1931 than at any time during the preceding years,
the tone was on the whole more conservative.  In the year 1930 the
magazines expressed more approval of marriage and family life, more
approval of "comradeship, understanding, affection, sympathy,
facilitation, accommodation, integration, co-operation" than in

If the change of mood became more striking as the years rolled by
and the Depression deepened, one may ascribe this to a number of
causes: the fact that any idea palls after a time, any bright new
revolution begets doubts and questionings; the fact that young Mr.
X, whose alcoholic and amorous verve had seemed so brilliantly
daring in 1925, was now beginning to show not altogether attractive
signs of wear and tear; the fact that Mrs. Y, who had so stoutly
believed in her right to sleep where she pleased and had been sure
that she didn't care with whom Mr. Y slept, had found she couldn't
take it after all and had marched off to Reno; the fact that the Z
children were having nightmares which the school psychiatrist
attributed to the broken home from which they came; and the fact
that the younger brothers and sisters of the X's and Y's and Z's
were tired of seeing their elders carom against the furniture and
make passes at one another, and concluded that these old people
were a messy lot.  But the most important reason for the change was
probably the Depression.

Hundreds of thousands of young people who wanted to get married
could not afford to.  The song "I Can't Give You Anything But Love,
Baby" dated from 1928, but it might well have been the theme-song
of the nineteen-thirties.  The marriage rate per thousand
population fell from 10.14 in 1929 to 7.87 in 1932.  (Likewise the
birth rate per thousand population also fell, from 18.9 in 1929 to
17.4 in 1932 and 16.5 in 1933--the 1933 figure reflecting, of
course, largely the economic conditions of 1932.)  When it was so
difficult to marry, an increase in pre-marital sex relations was
almost inevitable.  "A confidential check-up of one group of more
than two dozen young business-class persons in their twenties,"
reported the Lynds, "showed seven out of every ten of them, evenly
balanced as to sex, to have had sexual relations prior to
marriage."  The huge sales of contraceptives--totaling, annually,
according to various authorities, from an eighth to a quarter of a
billion dollars, and transacted not only in drugstores but in
filling stations, tobacco stores, and all sorts of other
establishments--were certainly not made only to the married.

Yet the new state of affairs was hardly conducive to a frivolous or
cynical attitude toward marriage and the family; and it pushed into
the forefront of attention a relatively new problem: what was to be
the future of the jobless young man and his girl, who loved each
other deeply and really wanted to marry?  Were they to postpone
marriage and live resolutely apart?  Or prevail upon their families
to support them, perhaps letting them live in the spare room or the
attic or some other corner of a parental home?

Often the elders could ill afford to feed another mouth; and many a
father who had slaved and scrimped for years, dreaming of
retirement, and who now wondered how long his own job would last,
blazed with anger to hear that young Harry had brought home a bride
to consume the family savings.  There were other elders who could
well afford to shelter a young couple but who had been brought up
to believe that no self-respecting young man married until he could
support a wife, and who would cling to this idea, talk about a
spoiled generation, tell how THEY hadn't THOUGHT of marrying till
they were making forty dollars a week, and refuse to countenance
any such nonsense.  As a result, many young couples accepted as an
alternative to immediate marriage an occasional night in a cheap
hotel room or an auto-tourist cabin (many of these tourist cabins
accepted, knowingly or innocently, a large proportion of local
traffic).  Hating the furtiveness of such meetings, hating the
conventions which made them furtive, these young couples
nevertheless felt their behavior was right--a response to

To many others, even less fortunate, the jobless children of
jobless parents, the wandering nomads of the Depression, hitch-
hiking through the country, riding the freight cars, sex became
something that you took when you could; marriage was too remote to
think about.  Yet even here there was something new about the mood.
There was little sense of a change in the moral code being
willfully made, little sense that stolen love was "modern"
adventure.  The dilemma was practical.  One managed as best one
could, was continent or incontinent according to one's individual
need and one's individual code, whether of morals or aesthetics or
prudence or convenience.  If the conventions were in abeyance, it
was simply because the times were out of joint and no longer made
sense; but that did not mean that one might not long for wedded

Among the hatless and waistcoatless young men of the college
campuses, with their tweed coats and flannel slacks, and among the
college girls in their sweaters and tweed skirts and ankle socks,
there was little of the rebellious talk about sex and marriage that
had characterized the nineteen-twenties, little of the buzz of
excitement that had accompanied the discussion of Freud and
Havelock Ellis and Dora Russell.  Whether there was less actual
promiscuity is doubtful: a study of 1364 juniors and seniors in 46
colleges and universities of all types from coast to coast--made by
Dorothy Dunbar Bromley and Florence Haxton Britten--showed that
half the young men and a quarter of the girls had had pre-marital
sex intercourse.  The striking thing was that there was less to-do
about sex.  One's personal affairs were one's personal affair.  As
the editors of Fortune said in their account of the college youth
of 1936:  "As for sex, it is, of course, still with us.  But the
campus takes it more casually than it did ten years ago.  Sex is no
longer news.  And the fact that it is no longer news is news."

The Depression also cut the divorce rate sharply: it dropped from
1.66 per thousand population in 1929 to only 1.28 per thousand
population in 1932.  Divorces cost money; and besides, in times of
stress the fancy is likely to be less free.  There was a good deal
of pious talk about the way in which couples were re-united in love
by hardship, but it is likely that in most cases what the hardship
did was to subordinate everything to the stark necessity for
getting along, love or no love.  After the worst years the divorce
rate rose again; no great reform had been effected; people who
couldn't get on still separated when they must and could.  Yet here
again there was a change in emphasis: a more widespread sense of
the damage inevitably done by a wrecked marriage to the children
and to the separated partners themselves.  It was perhaps
significant that a public-opinion poll taken by Fortune in 1937
showed a majority against easy divorce.  A similar poll in 1936
showed 63 per cent in favor of the teaching and practice of birth
control, and in 1937 as many as 22.3 per cent approved of pre-
marital experience FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN: there was no return to
the old Puritan code.  Yet there was a strong disposition to
protect going marriages.

In short, although there was considerable public acceptance of pre-
marital sex relations as inevitable and not sinful, and a tendency
to approve of what one observer had called "a single standard, and
that a low one," nevertheless marriage seemed to have become more
highly prized as an institution than in the nineteen-twenties.  The
family seemed to have become more highly prized as an institution.
"Sixty per cent of the college girls and fifty per cent of the men
would like to get married within a year or two of graduation, and
fifty per cent of each sex would like to have children soon after
marriage," reported the editors of Fortune in their 1936 survey.
The fact that the college girls of the nineteen-thirties were more
eager for early marriage than those of the nineteen-twenties was
noted by many college administrators.  These same undergraduates
and their contemporaries were on the whole less scornful of their
parents and of parental ideas, less likely to feel that family life
was a mockery, than the young people of ten years before.

Not only had the Depression made them more respectful of a meal
ticket and of security; they had become preoccupied with other
things besides intimate personal relationships, as we shall
presently see.


The vagaries of fashion are so haphazard and are influenced by so
many business expediencies that one cannot ascribe them wholly to
changes in the social climate.  Yet in their main outlines they at
least provide suggestions worth correlating with other evidences of
the social trend.

If, for example, the women's fashions of the nineteen-twenties
called for short skirts, a great reduction in the weight and
cumbersomeness of clothes, a long-waisted, flat-fronted figure,
and short hair cut in a Dutch bob or shingled almost like a
boy's, surely here was a hint that women had become tired of the
restrictions and responsibilities of conventional maturity and
wanted a freedom and gaiety that they associated with immaturity:
not the freedom of an old-fashioned little girl, sheltered and
innocently pretty, but of an aggressively "modern" one--hard-
boiled, "sophisticated" (to use a favorite complimentary term of
that day), and ready to carry on with the boys.  If the mannikins
in the shop-windows and the sketches in the department-store
advertisements gave the well-dressed woman a hard, blank, world-
weary expression, here again was a hint as to the feminine ideal of
the nineteen-twenties: she was a girl who, even before her figure
had ripened, had become old in experience, had passed beyond the
possibility of shock or enduring enthusiasm.  And if, during the
early years of that decade, the tail coat was a rarity among men
and the dinner jacket was the standard wear even for the most
formal occasions, here was a hint that the men, as well as the
women, were in revolt against dignity and formality.  In the
nineteen-twenties, Americans wanted to be boys and girls together,
equipped for a wild party but refusing to let it be thought that
even the wildest party would arouse in them more than a fleeting

Now notice what happened later.  Already before the end of the
nineteen-twenties the tail coat was coming in again, with all the
dignity that it conveyed.  By 1929 the women's evening dresses were
tentatively reaching for the floor--and for an effect of
graciousness impossible to achieve with a knee-length gown.  By
1930 they definitely were long--to remain thus, actually or
virtually sweeping the floor, for the rest of the decade.  And the
women's daytime dresses gradually lengthened too until by 1933 they
reached to within a foot or even nine inches of the ground.  The
severe helmet hat of 1929, pulled down on the back of the head,
gave way to a variety of styles all of which sought at prettiness,
pertness, a gentler or more whimsical effect than had been aimed at
in the 'twenties.  Women's hair, too, became less severe, was
curled at the back of the head more gaily.  Ruffles came in, bows,
furbelows, with nostalgic hints of the prettiments of long-dead
days.  Gone was the little-girl long-waisted effect; the waist
returned where it belonged.

As for the flat figure, that was abandoned too.  Said Vogue in
April, 1932, "Spring styles say 'CURVES'!"  By 1933, when the amply
contoured Mae West was packing the motion-picture theatres in "She
Done Him Wrong," Lily of France was advertising "the new boneless
Duo-Sette," saying, "It beautifully emphasizes the uplift bust,"
and Formfit, illustrating a new creation with pictures of young
women whose breasts were separately and sharply conspicuous, was
calling attention to "the youthful, pointed, uplifted lines it will
give you."  The flat-breasted little girl of the nineteen-twenties
had attained maturity and was proud of it; indeed so striking was
the change between the ideal figure of 1929 and that of 1933 that
one might almost have thought a new anatomical species had come
into being.

There was a subtle change, too, in the approved type of femininity
as represented in the department-store advertisements and the shop-
window mannikins.  The new type of the early nineteen-thirties was
alert-looking rather than bored-looking.  She had a pert, uptilted
nose and an agreeably intelligent expression; she appeared alive to
what was going on about her, ready to make an effort to give the
company a good time.  She conveyed a sense of competence.  This was
the sort of girl who might be able to go out and get a job, help
shoulder the family responsibilities when her father's or husband's
income stopped; who would remind them, in her hours of ease, of the
good old days before there were all-determining booms and
depressions, the sentimental old days which Repeal itself reminded
them of; and who would look, not hard, demanding, difficult to move
deeply, but piquantly pretty, gentle, amenable, thus restoring
their shaken masculine pride.

Nothing stands still, and as the years went on new changes took
place.  So many more women of the upper and middle classes were
working now than had worked in the pre-Depression years that in
their daytime costumes simplicity and practicality were in demand.
The prevailing style of hairdress for younger women (a shoulder-
length or almost shoulder-length page-boy or curled bob) was
likewise simple--and incidentally very lovely: in years to come it
may be that one of the most charming recollections of the nineteen-
thirties will be of hatless girls striding along like young blond
goddesses, their hair tossing behind them.  (One recalls the
complaint of a young man that almost every girl appeared good-
looking from behind: it was only when he overtook her that
disillusionment came.)  When in the fall of 1938 an attempt was
made to get women to put their short hair up, it only half-
succeeded: it was too hard to manage.

Yet the impulse toward old-fashioned decoration, frivolity, and
impractical eccentricity was all the time at work.  There were
attempts to re-introduce, in evening dresses, such ancient
encumbrances as the bustle and the hoop skirt.  Ruffled and pleated
shirtwaists--with jabots--reappeared.  The sandal idea, winning a
rational approval for evening wear, was carried over irrationally
into daytime wear, so that during the latter years of the decade
half the younger women in the country were equipped with shoes with
a small hole in front, which presented a stockinged toe to the eye
and offered easy entrance to dust, gravel, and snow.  As for the
hats of those same latter years, here the modern principle of
standardized functional utility surrendered utterly to the modern
principle of surrealist oddity.

There were huge hats, tiny hats, hats with vast brims and
microscopic crowns, hats which were not hats at all but wreaths
about the hair; high fezzes perched atop the head; flat hats,
dinner-plate size, which apparently had been thrown at the wearer
from somewhere out in front and had been lashed where they landed
with a sort of halter about the back of the head; straw birds'
nests full of spring flowers, hats with a single long feather
pointing anywhere--but why continue the interminable catalogue of
variations?  It was characteristic of the times that a woman
lunching at a New York tearoom in 1938 took the bread-basket off
the table, inverted it on her head, and attracted no attention

Maturity, too, began to pall.  Gradually the skirts became shorter
and shorter (except in the evening); by 1939 they had retreated
almost to the knees.  "Little-girl" costumes, "girlish ginghams,"
"swing" outfits "adapted from skating skirts" were bidding for
attention, and the massive president of the woman's club was
wondering whether she should try to insert herself into a bolero
suit and put one of those bows in her hair.  Apparently the old-
fashioned little girl was becoming the standard type of the new day--
unless the fashion makers should succeed in their attempt, late in
1939, to make her a grown-up old-fashioned woman (at least after
nightfall), with a bustle, a wasp waist, and a boned corset
startlingly like that in which her grandmother had suffered.
Whether the new fashions would last or not, and just what they
signified, it was still too early to predict.


At thirty-two and a half minutes past three (Mountain Time) in the
afternoon of the 5th of December, 1933, the roll call in the
ratification convention in Utah was completed, and Utah became the
36th State to ratify the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution,
repealing the Prohibition Amendment.  A telegram went off to
Washington, and presently the Acting Secretary of State and the
President declared that Prohibition was at an end, after a reign of
nearly fourteen years.

Crowds of men and women thronged the hotels and restaurants waiting
for the word to come through that the lid was off, and when at last
it did, drank happily to the new era of legal liquor.  They
thronged, too, to those urban speakeasies which had succeeded in
getting licenses, and remarked how readily the front door swung
open wide at the touch of the doorbell.  But the celebration of the
coming of Repeal was no riot, if only because in most places the
supply of liquor was speedily exhausted: it took time for the
processes of distribution to get into motion.  And as for the
processes of legal manufacture--which for distilled liquors are
supposed to include a long period of aging--these were so unready
that an anomalous situation developed.  The available liquor was
mostly in the hands of bootleggers; even the legal liquor was
mostly immature.  Among the people who, during the first days and
months of repeal, rejoiced in at last being able to take a
respectable drink of "good liquor" instead of depending upon "this
bootleg stuff," thousands were consuming whisky which consisted
simply of alcohol acceptably tinted and flavored.  To a public
whose taste had been conditioned for years by bootleg liquor, good
bush needed no wine.

Drinking, to be sure, did not become legal everywhere.  Eight
States remained dry--all of them Southern except North Dakota,
Kansas, and Oklahoma.  (These states received--at least in the
years immediately following repeal--very little assistance from the
Federal government in protecting their aridity.)  Fifteen States
made the selling of liquor a State monopoly--though seven of these
permitted private sale under varying regulations, most of which, in
a determined effort to prevent "the return of the saloon," forbade
perpendicular drinking and insisted--at least for a time--that
drinkers be seated at restaurant tables.

Despite these qualifications, the change in the American mores
which began in 1933 was tremendous.

Hotels and restaurants blossomed with cocktail lounges and taprooms
and bars, replete with chromium fittings, mirrors, bright-colored
modern furniture, Venetian blinds, bartenders taken over from the
speakeasies, and bartenders who for years had been serving at the
oyster bar or waiting on table, and now, restored to their youthful
occupation, persuaded the management to put on the wine list such
half-forgotten triumphs of their ancient skill as Bronx and Jack
Rose cocktails.  So little building had been going on during the
Depression that the architects and decorators had had almost no
chance for years to try out the new principles of functional design
and bright color and simplified furniture; now at last they had it,
in the designing of cocktail lounges--with the odd result that
throughout the nineteen-thirties most Americans instinctively
associated modernist decoration with eating and drinking.

Hotels in cities which in days gone by would have frowned upon the
very notion of a night club now somewhat hesitantly opened night
clubs with floor shows--and found they were a howling success.
Neat new liquor stores opened--in some States operated by
government authority, in others under private ownership.  It took
some time for customers to realize that it was no longer necessary
for a man carrying home a package of rum to act the part of a man
carrying home a shoe box; and in some towns where the dry sentiment
was still strong, there were men who continued to patronize
bootleggers rather than subject themselves to the embarrassment of
walking into the State liquor shop.

Restaurants which in pre-prohibition days would never have dreamed
of selling liquor installed bars and made prodigious sales; the
tearoom proprietor wrestled with her conscience and applied for a
license; and even the Childs' restaurants, unmindful of their
traditional consecration to dairy products, pancakes, and calories,
opened up slick circular bars and sold Manhattans and old-
fashioneds.  And if most of the metropolitan speakeasies withered
and died, if the speakeasy tickets grew dog-eared in the pocketbook
of the man-about-town and at last were thrown away, if the hip
flask became a rarity, if the making of bathtub gin became a lost
art in metropolitan apartment houses, and the business executive no
longer sallied forth to the trade convention with two bottles of
Scotch in his golf bag, so many bright new bars appeared along the
city streets that drinking seemed to have become not only
respectable but ubiquitous.

For a time there was a wishful thought among those of gentle tastes
that when good wines became more accessible a good many Americans
would acquire fastidious palates.  G. Selmer Fougner, Julian
Street, Frank Schoonmaker, and other experts in the detection and
savoring of rare vintages preached their gospel of deference to the
right wine of the right year, and for a time ladies and gentlemen
felt themselves to be nothing better than boors if they did not
warm inwardly to the story of how somebody found a little French
inn where the Chateau Latour 1929 was incomparable.  But the crass
American nature triumphed; pretty soon it was clear that even in
the politest circles whisky was going to be the drink in greatest

Whether there was more drinking after repeal than before cannot be
determined statistically, owing to the obvious fact that the
illicit sale of liquor was not measured.  The consensus of opinion
would seem to be that drinking pretty surely increased during the
first year or two, and probably increased in quantity thereafter,
but that on the whole it decreased in stridency.

"Less flamboyant drinking is the present-day rule," said the
Fortune survey of youth in college in 1936; "there is no
prohibition law to defy, hence one can drink in peace."  There were
signs here and there of a reaction against drinking among the boys
and girls of college age; observers reported some of them, at
least, to be less interested in alcohol than their elders, and were
amazed at the volume of their consumption of Coca-Cola and milk
(Coca-Cola, long the standard soft drink of the South, had followed
its invasion of the campuses of the Middle West by extending its
popularity among the young people in the Northeast as well).  The
American Institute of Public Opinion, taking a poll in 1936 as to
whether conditions were "better" or "worse" since repeal, or showed
no significant change, arrived at a singularly inconclusive result:
36 per cent of the voters thought things were better, 33 per cent
thought they were worse, 31 per cent saw no significant change: not
only was the division almost even, but there was no way of knowing
what each voter may have meant in his heart by "conditions" being

One change was manifest: there was now more mixed drinking than
ever, just as there was more smoking by both sexes.  (In the six
years from 1930 to 1936 the production of cigarettes went up from
123 billion to 158 billion, while the production of cigars
decreased a little and that of smoking tobacco increased a little.)
In fact, a phenomenon which had been conspicuous during the
nineteen-twenties, when women smokers invaded the club cars of
trains and women drinkers invaded the speakeasies, appeared to be
continuing: there were fewer and fewer bars, restaurants, smoking
cars, and other haunts set apart for men only: on the whole men and
women were spending more of their time in one another's company and
less of their time segregated from one another.  Perhaps it was not
an altogether unrelated fact that most men's clubs were still
somewhat anxiously seeking members throughout the nineteen-thirties
and that many of the lodges were in dire straits.  Was it not
possible to infer that the male sex, for one, was enjoying mixed
company too well to want very urgently to get away from it?
Possibly the cause of feminism was triumphing in a way which the
earnest suffragists of a generation before would never have
expected--and at which they might have been dismayed.

And what became of the bootleggers?  Some of them went into the
legitimate liquor business or other legitimate occupations, some of
them went into business rackets and gambling rackets, some joined
the ranks of the unemployed--and a large number of them went right
on bootlegging.  For one of the most curious facts about the post-
Repeal situation was that the manufacture and smuggling and
wholesaling of illicit liquor continued in great volume.  The
Federal government and the States, in their zeal to acquire revenue
from the sale of liquor, had clapped upon it such high taxes that
the inducement to dodge them was great.  Year after year the
Internal Revenue agents continued to seize and destroy stills at
the rate of something like 15,000 a year, and straightway new ones
sprang up.  In his report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1938,
the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, reporting that only 11,407
stills had been seized, noted, "This is the first year since the
enactment of the Twenty-first Amendment that there has been a
decline in illicit distillery seizures."  Likewise rumrunning--or,
to be more accurate, the smuggling of alcohol--continued to provide
a headache for the customs officers and the Coast Guard; in
February, 1935, more than a year after Repeal, the Coast Guard
found twenty-two foreign vessels lying at sea AT ONE TIME beyond
our customs waters, waiting for a chance to sneak in.

So easy was it to operate illicit stills, to store bottles and
counterfeit labels and counterfeit revenue stamps and alcohol cans
in separate places, bottle the illicit liquor, transport it in
trucks or automobiles equipped with traps, and offer a liquor store
or saloonkeeper a consignment of spurious liquor at a bargain, that
a year or two after repeal the best expert opinion was that
anywhere from fifteen to sixty per cent of the liquor consumed in
the United States was bootleg.

Were the American people glad that they had ended Prohibition?
Apparently they were.  A Fortune Quarterly Survey made late in 1937
showed that only 15.1 per cent of the men of the country and 29.7
per cent of the women wanted complete Prohibition back again.  Even
combining with this dry group those who were in favor of
prohibition of hard liquors but would permit the sale of wine and
beer, there was still approximately a two-thirds majority in favor
of a wet regime.  Americans might or might not think "conditions"
were "better," but they did not--most of them--want to reopen the

Here and there a new wave of dry sentiment appeared to be forming.
In Virginia, for instance, a scholarly book on the effects of
alcohol, which was to have been distributed to the schools as a
public document, came to the shocked attention of the WCTU at the
end of 1937.  Because the book contained such statements as, "It
has been proved that we cannot abolish drinking by legislation nor
frighten a person into sobriety" and "small quantities [of alcohol]
may favor digestive activities," the WCTU exerted pressure on the
legislature and the whole edition was solemnly burned in the
Capitol furnace.  In most communities, however, what had been a
lively issue till 1933 had dropped almost completely out of the
focus of general public attention, as if settled once and for all.

Could it really have been true, the men and women of 1939 asked
themselves, that in 1929 Prohibition had been the topic of hottest
debate in American public life?


We come now to a series of changes in everyday American life during
the nineteen-thirties which might seem at first glance to have been
unrelated, but which combine, perhaps, into a sort of pattern--a
pattern of relaxation.

1.  The five-day week.  During 1931 and 1932, when factories and
business offices were short of work, there were very general
reductions in hours--intended partly to "spread the work" and
partly to appease workers whose pay must be reduced.  When the NRA
codes came into being in 1933 and 1934 these reductions were
continued or extended.  After the NRA was abolished most of them--
though not all--were continued.  The result was that millions of
people, rich and poor, found themselves with Saturdays free during
part of the year if not all of it.  A study made by the National
Industrial Conference Board in 1937 showed the extent of the five-
day week: out of 2,452 companies (mostly manufacturing companies)
reporting, 57.3 per cent had a five-day week for their wage
earners, 45.3 per cent had a five-day week for their clerical
workers, and 7.5 per cent reported a five-day week but did not
specify what types of workers were included.  "While five years ago
the five-day week was exceptional," summarized the report, "it has
now become quite general."  Business offices followed a similar
pattern in the larger cities (especially New York); and although
few shops were closed on Saturdays, there was an increasing
tendency among them to stagger the hours of their employees.

Perhaps no change that took place during the decade more sharply
altered the weekly routine of millions of men and women.  It
altered the pattern of automobile and train traffic too, increasing
the Friday rush out of the cities, decreasing the Saturday rush.  I
recall a certain train which until the Depression used to leave New
York for Westchester County in two crowded sections every Saturday
noon; by 1933 it was running in one modest section, so thin was the
Saturday traffic--and presently a second section was added to one
of the Friday evening trains.  The two-day week end was supplanting
the day-and-a-half week end.  On Saturday mornings, especially in
summer, the business districts of the larger cities were coming to
wear a Sunday aspect.  Quantities of people had gained new leisure--
quite apart from those millions upon whom an unwelcome idleness
had been thrust.  The long slow trend toward shorter work periods
and longer play periods, a trend which had been under way in
America for as long as any living man could remember, had been
sharply accelerated.

2.  A democratization of sport.  To the aid of men and women who
had more leisure and less money came the relief and public-works
agencies, putting millions of unemployed men to work building motor
parkways, public bathing beaches, playgrounds, and other
conveniences for people who were looking for sport.  According to
the 1935 Year Book of National Recreation the number of public
bathing beaches, public golf courses, ice-skating areas, and
swimming pools in 2,204 communities had already DOUBLED since 1925.
Some of these new facilities were built on a modest scale, but
others were huge: Jones Beach on Long Island, for example, as
magnificent an example of enlightened public planning as the decade
produced, could and did comfortably accommodate one hundred
thousand people or more on a sunny Sunday in midsummer.

Consider what happened to the game of golf.  The Depression hit the
private golf clubs hard.  As many as 1,155 clubs had belonged to
the United States Golf Association in 1930; by 1936 the number had
been reduced to 763--and this despite frantic drives for new
members, special summer-membership schemes, and other rescue
devices.  The golf clubs of the country were said to have lost
something like a million members since 1929.  But the number of
municipal golf courses grew from 184 in 1925 to 576 in 1935, and
there were over a thousand courses--most of them probably private-
club courses which had gone bankrupt--now operating on a daily-fee
basis.  In short, expensive golf had lost ground; inexpensive golf
had gained.

In general the simpler and less pretentious sports made the best
headway.  Although school and college basketball, professional
baseball, and college football were still preeminent as sports to
watch, nevertheless in the older colleges and schools they
attracted a somewhat less devout interest than in earlier years.
Let the editors of Fortune (writing in 1936) summarize one element
in the change:  "The football star, the crew captain, the 'muscular
Christian' from the college Y.M.C.A., the smoothie from the big
prep school who becomes track manager, the socially graceful prom
leader--these still have honor and respect.  But the intellectually
curious person, who used to be considered queer or 'wet' unless he
had extra-intellectual characteristics to recommend him, is
climbing past the conventional big man.  Englishmen, long
accustomed to spotting future undersecretaries of the Foreign
Office . . . on visits to Cambridge and Oxford, have remarked on
this mutation in American campus leadership, and are inclined to
set 1932 as the date at which the mutation became apparent."
Meanwhile there was a significant increase, in many colleges and
schools, in the interest taken in PLAYING games such as soccer,
lacrosse, rugby, squash racquets, and tennis, which existed without
benefit of massive stadia.

In the country at large, the game which made the biggest gain in
popularity was softball--that small-scale version of baseball which
had once been known chiefly as "indoor baseball."  Coming into its
own at about the beginning of the decade, it grew so fast that by
1939 there were said to be half a million teams and more than five
million players of all ages; there were numerous semi-professional
teams, there were world's series matches, and among the semi-
professionals were girls' teams, the members of which delighted the
crowds by wearing very abbreviated shorts but occasionally sliding
to bases nonetheless.  The Depression also brought minor booms in
such sports as bicycling and roller skating.  The bicycling boom
began as a fad in the Hollywood area in the winter of 1932-33 (when
it gave California girls a fine excuse for putting on "trousers
like Dietrich's") and spread widely during the next two or three
years, chiefly, perhaps, because it was inexpensive.

The simultaneous skiing craze was a more complex phenomenon.  For
country dwellers who lived where the terrain and winter temperature
were suitable it was inexpensive; for city dwellers who had to
carry their equipment long distances, it was not.  Perhaps one
secret of its rise was the increasing vogue of winter holidaying,
which itself had a complex ancestry (the discovery of the delights
of winter holidaying in the warmth of Florida or California, the
rising popularity of winter-cruising and of motoring outside the
country to escape from Prohibition, the shortening of the work
week, the secularization of Sunday and the rise of the week-end
habit, etc.).  At any rate the skiing craze grew rapidly during the
Depression, stimulated in 1932 by the holding at Lake Placid, New
York, of the winter Olympics.  The Boston & Maine Railroad had made
such a success of the experiment of running Sunday "snow trains"
into the comparatively wide open spaces north of Boston that by
1937 snow trains or snow busses were running out of New York,
Pittsburgh, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles;
department stores were importing Norwegian specialists and building
ski-slides; the Grand Central Station in New York was posting
prominently in its concourse the daily temperature and snow data
for a dozen skiing centers in New England and New York, and rural
hotelkeepers in icy latitudes were advertising their unequaled
skiing facilities and praying nightly throughout the winter for the
snowfall upon which their fortunes depended.

The skiing craze was beyond the means of the urban poor and was
geographically limited; nevertheless it confirmed in one respect
the general trend.  More Americans were getting out into the sun
and air; learning to play themselves instead of simply paying to
see others play.

Women were purchasing strange new play garments, ranging from
shorts to beach pajamas, overalls, slacks, and "play suits."  More
and more men were going hatless in summer, to the anguish of the
hatters.  For that matter, more and more men were going
waistcoatless and soft-collared and garterless and undershirtless;
it is said that when Clark Gable, in the undressing scene in "It
Happened One Night" (1935), disclosed that he wore no undershirt,
the knitwear manufacturers reeled from the shock to their sales.
The bathing suit top had been generally discarded.  Men at play
were even beginning to break out into bright-colored play-shirts,
slacks, and shorts.  By 1939 one saw men of conservative taste
strolling unabashed through summer-resort villages in costumes
whose greens and blues and reds would have drawn stares of
amazement in 1929.

In short, so far as the tension of the times would permit,
Americans were apparently learning to relax.

3.  An increase in bridge playing.  If one superimposes upon a
graph of business conditions during the decade a graph showing the
taxes collected on playing cards, one notices an odd variation.
While the business index was plunging into the depths from 1929 to
1932, the index of playing cards manufactured, after dropping
between 1929 and 1930, actually ROSE between 1930 and 1931, only to
sag thereafter and never recover to its 1931 point.  The year 1931,
it will be recalled, was the year when Mr. and Mrs. Ely Culbertson
played contract against Sidney S. Lenz and Oswald Jacoby in a green-
and-rose drawing-room at the Hotel Chatham in New York, with
favored spectators peeking at them through a screen, star reporters
clustering in a neighboring room to study the play-by-play
bulletins, and direct news wires flashing to an eager public the
narrative of some rather indifferent play.  Throughout the
following year Culbertson's books on bridge ranked high among the
best sellers.

For a long time bridge had been a standard after-dinner sport among
the adult prosperous; but now its vogue was spreading.  The Lynds
reported that in "Middletown" there was much more bridge played in
1935 than in 1925; there was more playing for money; the game had
reached down through the high school to children in the sixth
grade; and it was invading the working class, "spreading there
first through the women's groups and then more slowly to a more
resistant group of men, who prefer their pinochle and poker."

4.  An increase in gambling.  Allied, perhaps, to the increase in
bridge playing was a notable increase in the number of gambling
devices made accessible to the American people.  Most of these were
devices for wagering a small amount of money in the hope of a big
return, and their rise may have been due largely to Depression
desperation--the wild hope of winning in a gamble what the ordinary
processes of the economic system stubbornly withheld.  But they
bore witness also to that weakening of the Puritan traditions which
helped bring Repeal, the week end of motoring or sport, and the
bridge vogue.

According to Samuel Lubell, the business of manufacturing and
operating slot machines, punchboards, pinball games, jar deals, and
other similar contrivances for separating the public from its
nickels grew during the Depression to giant proportions, and in
1939 "its annual take was somewhere between one half and three
quarters of a billion dollars--between ten and fifteen billion
nickels"--as much money as was spent annually in the shoe stores.
There was nothing new in principle about the slot machine, the
improved model of which looked like a cash register and was known
as a "one-armed bandit": the founder of the leading company engaged
in manufacturing them had begun business in 1889 and had died in
1929, a millionaire.  Slot machines had had a bad reputation,
having been widely in the control of gangs and dependent for
operation upon political "fix," yet they continued to flourish
widely, sometimes one jump ahead of the police, sometimes with
police connivance.  And in 1932 a new game, pinball, was introduced
which could be played simply for fun, at a nickel a turn, as well
as with gambling intent, and it swept the country: pinball boards
were to be found in unmolested operation in drugstores, tobacco
stores, hotel corridors, cafs, and all sorts of other places.  It
was based upon the old game of bagatelle: the player shot marbles
out of a chute and watched them run down a slope into holes
partially protected by pins.  The punchboard and jar games--the
latter invented in 1933--also prospered; between 1933 and 1939 some
two million jar games were sold.

A quite different kind of gamble was represented in the tremendous
American participation in the Irish Sweepstakes, a lottery
inaugurated in 1930 on behalf of a group of Irish hospitals, and
conducted with such honesty and efficiency that within five years
it had become the most successful lottery in the world.  Although a
Federal statute made lottery information unmailable in the United
States and this at first prevented newspapers from printing
accounts of the Sweeps in their mail editions, the ban on news
publication was later relaxed, every Sweeps drawing became a front-
page story, and Americans grew used to reading of janitors and
unemployed chefs into whose astonished hands a hundred and fifty
thousand dollars had dropped.  Many of the tickets sold in the
United States never reached Ireland; but if, in the drawing for the
1933 Derby, over six and a half million tickets were in the drum
(as was estimated) and 214 of the 2,404 winners (or more than one
in fifteen) were American, one may reasonably guess that there may
have been over four hundred thousand Americans whose tickets
actually got into that particular draw.

Nor should we forget, in any survey of the trend, the relaxation in
many States of the laws against race-track betting; the "Bank
Night" device of drawing for cash prizes in the movie theatres--a
device introduced by Charles Urban Yeager in the Egyptian Theatre
at Delta, Colorado, and the Oriental Theatre at Montrose, Colorado,
in the winter of 1932-33, and subsequently copyrighted by him as it
spread to thousands of other theatres, which by 1937 were paying
Yeager's firm a total of $30,000 to $65,000 a week; the game of
bingo (or beano, or keno), which became immensely popular as a
money-making entertainment for churches, and in various forms was
widely played in movie theatres and elsewhere, till in 1938 some
people were referring to it as the most popular money game in the
country; and possibly the pathetic epidemic of chain-letter writing
which spread from Denver all over the United States in 1934-35
("Scratch out the top name and send a dime").  Nor has this brief
survey taken account of various older gambling devices which
persisted, sometimes in new guises and under new sponsorship--as
did the numbers racket when Dutch Schultz, the liquor racketeer,
took over its management in the Harlem section of New York and
systematized it during the last days of Prohibition.

In 1938 a Gallup poll revealed that during the preceding year an
estimated 29 per cent of the American people--meaning, one
supposes, adults--had taken part in church lotteries (presumably
including bingo parties), 26 per cent had played punch boards, 23
per cent had played slot machines, 21 per cent had played cards for
money, 19 per cent had bet on elections, 13 per cent had taken
sweepstakes tickets, 10 per cent had bet on horse races, and 9 per
cent had indulged in numbers games.  There were no Gallup polls in
the preceding decade, but one wonders if any score even approaching
that would have been made in the nineteen-twenties--unless,
perhaps, playing the stock market and buying Florida real estate
had been included in the gambles.


Yet despite all these manifestations of gaiety, relaxation, and
sport there was a new tension, a disquiet.  For the Depression had
wrecked so many of the assumptions upon which the American people
had depended that millions of them were inwardly shaken.

Let us look for a moment at the pile of wreckage.  In it we find
the assumption that well-favored young men and women, coming out of
school or college, could presently get jobs as a matter of course;
the assumption that ambition, hard work, loyalty to the firm, and
the knack of salesmanship would bring personal success; the
assumption that poverty (outside of the farm belt and a few
distressed communities) was pretty surely the result of
incompetence, ignorance, or very special misfortune, and should be
attended to chiefly by local charities; the assumption that one
could invest one's savings in "good bonds" and be assured of a
stable income thereafter, or invest them in the "blue-chip" stocks
of "our leading American corporations" with a dizzying chance of
appreciation; the assumption that the big men of Wall Street were
economic seers, business forecasters could forecast, and business
cycles followed nice orderly rhythms; and the assumption that the
American economic system was sure of a great and inspiring growth.

Not everybody, of course, had believed all of these things.  Yet so
many people had based upon one or more of them their personal
conceptions of their status and function in society that the shock
of seeing them go to smash was terrific.  Consider what happened to
the pride of the business executive who had instinctively valued
himself, as a person, by his salary and position--only to see both
of them go; to the banker who found that the advice he had been
giving for years was made ridiculous by the turn of events, and
that the code of conduct he had lived by was now under attack as
crooked; to the clerk or laborer who had given his deepest loyalty
to "the company"--only to be thrown out on the street; to the
family who had saved their pennies, decade after decade, against a
"rainy day"--only to see a torrent of rain sweep every penny away;
to the housewife whose ideal picture of herself had been of a
person who "had nice things" and was giving her children
"advantages," economic and social--and who now saw this picture
smashed beyond recognition; and to the men and women of all
stations in life who had believed that if you were virtuous and
industrious you would of course be rewarded with plenty--and who
now were driven to the wall.  On what could they now rely?  In what
could they now believe?

One might have expected that in such a crisis great numbers of
these people would have turned to the consolations and inspirations
of religion.  Yet this did not happen--at least in the sense in
which the clergy, in innumerable sermons, had predicted it.  The
long slow retreat of the churches into less and less significance
in the life of the country, and even in the lives of the majority
of their members, continued almost unabated.

The membership rolls of most of the larger denominations, to be
sure, showed increases.  Between 1929 and 1937-38, for example, the
Roman Catholic population increased from 20,203,702 to 21,322,608--
a modest gain.  The Methodist, Baptist, and Lutheran churches also
grew in numbers.  Yet membership figures are a notoriously
uncertain measure of religious vitality.  As regards the large
Protestant--or nominally Protestant--population of the country, the
observations of the Lynds, returning to "Middletown" in 1935 and
contrasting the religious life of the city then with what it had
been in 1925, offer probably a fairer measure.

The Lynds found some imposing new churches in "Middletown"--
products of the hopeful days of the Big Bull Market--but inside the
churches they saw little visible change.  "Here, scattered through
the pews," they reported, "is the same serious and numerically
sparse Gideon's band--two-thirds or more of them women, and few of
them under thirty--with the same stark ring of empty pews 'down
front.'"  The congregations seemed to the Lynds to be older than in
1925, the sermon topics interchangeable.  Consulting the ministers,
they gathered such comments as these:--

"The Depression has brought a resurgence of earnest religious
fundamentalism among the weak working-class sects . . . but the
uptown churches have seen little similar revival of interest."

"There has been some turning to religion during the Depression, but
it has been very slight and not permanent."

From a local editor they gleaned the possibly revealing comment
that "All the churches in town, save a few denominations like the
Seventh Day Adventists, are more liberal today than in 1925.  Any
of them will take you no matter what you believe doctrinally."
They quoted as typical of the attitude of the "Middletown" young
people toward formal religion the comment of a college boy on
Christianity:  "I believe these things but they don't take a large
place in my life."  Their analysis concluded with the judgment that
religion, in "Middletown," appeared to be "an emotionally
stabilizing agent, relinquishing to other agencies leadership in
the defining of values."

The preponderance of evidence from other parts of the country would
seem to sustain this judgment.  Put on one side of the balance such
phenomena as the upsurge of intense interest, here and there, in
the refined evangelism of the Oxford Groups led by Dr. Frank
Buchman, and their "Moral Rearmament" campaign in 1938-39; put on
the other side the intensified hostility of radicals who regarded
the churches as institutions run for the comfort of the rich and
the appeasement of the poor; recall how briefly the stream of
Sunday-pleasuring automobiles was halted by the men and women
straggling at noontime out of the church on Main Street; compare
the number of people to whom Sunday evening was the hour of vespers
with the number of people to whom it was the evening when Charlie
McCarthy was on the air--and one can hardly deny that the shock of
the Depression did not find the churches, by and large, able to
give what people thought they needed.


Yet in the broader sense of the word religion--meaning the values
by which people live, the loyalties which stir them most deeply,
the aspirations which seem to them central to their beings--no such
shock could have failed to have a religious effect.  One thinks of
the remark of a young man during the dark days of 1932:  "If
someone came along with a line of stuff in which I could really
believe, I'd follow him pretty nearly anywhere."  That remark was
made, as it happens, in a speakeasy, and the young man was not
thinking in terms of puritan morality or even of Christian piety,
but in terms of economic and political and social policy.  For such
as he the times produced new creeds, new devotions.

But these were secular.

Their common denominator was social-mindedness; by which I mean
that they were movements toward economic or social salvation--
whether conceived in terms of prosperity or of justice or of mercy--
not so much for individuals as such but for groups of people or
for the whole nation, and also that they sought this salvation
through organized action.

In political complexion these secular religionists ranged all the
way from the communists at one end of the spectrum to the more
fervent members of the Liberty League at the other.  They included
the ardent devotees of technocracy, Upton Sinclair's "Epic," Huey
Long's "Share-Our-Wealth," Father Coughlin's economic program, the
Townsend Plan, the CIO, and, of course, the New Deal.  Of the way
in which the battles between them raged--and the whole battlefield
gradually moved to the left, so to speak--we shall hear more in
chapters to come.  At this point it need only be remarked that most
of the new religions of social salvation did not gather their
maximum momentum until after the New Deal Honeymoon was over; or
perhaps it is more accurate to say that the New Deal, during its
Honeymoon, gathered up or overshadowed nearly all of them.  It was
during the next two or three years that the fires of zeal burned
most intensely: that one man in three at a literary party in New
York would be a communist sympathizer, passionately ready to join
hands, in proletarian comradeship, with the factory hand or
sharecropper whom a few years before he had scorned as a member of
Mencken's "booboisie"; that daughters of patrician families were
defiantly marching to the aid of striking garment workers, or
raising money for the defense of Haywood Patterson in the long-
drawn-out Scottsboro case; that college intellectuals were nibbling
at Marx, picketing Hearst newsreels, and--with a flash of humor--
forming the "Veterans of Future Wars."

How completely the focus of public attention had become political,
economic, and social, and how fully the rebelliousness of the
rebellious had turned into these channels, may be suggested by the
fact that H. L. Mencken, whose American Mercury magazine had been
the darling of the young intellectuals of the 'twenties, lost
ground as it became evident that Mr. Mencken, though liberal in
matters of literature and morals, was a tory in matters of politics
and economics--until by 1933, when he resigned his editorship, the
new highbrows were dismissing him airily as a back number.  Nor did
the intellectuals rise in furious defense of freedom of expression
when the Catholic Legion of Decency imposed a censorship upon the
movies in 1934-35.  They were tired of all that, and their protests
were faint.  They had turned to fresh woods and pastures new.


Underneath the tumult and the shouting of argument, underneath the
ardor for this cause or that, there remained, however, gnawing
doubts.  The problems were so bewildering, so huge.  The
unsettlement of ideas had been so shaking.  Things changed so
frightfully fast.  This plan, this social creed, looked all right
today--but would it hold tomorrow?  To many Americans, if not most,
the complexity of the problems, the hopelessness of arriving at
sure solutions, were so great that no social ardor could really
move them.  While the social Salvationists marched in earnest
procession toward their various goals of revolution or reforms,
these others stood silent and bewildered by the roadside.
Something had gone wrong with the country but they didn't know
what, couldn't figure it out, wondered if anybody could figure it

Toward the end of the decade, when Archibald MacLeish published his
Land of the Free, through the poem he introduced the recurring
words, "We don't know--we can't say--we're wondering. . . ." and
observers who had talked with numbers of the drought refugees said
that these very words were constantly on the refugees' lips.  So it
was with innumerable others whose lives had been overturned by the
Depression, and with still others who had suffered no bitter hurt
themselves but realized that something queer and incomprehensible
was happening to the community.  They didn't know; and they were
likely to fall back into apathy or fatalism, into a longing for a
safe refuge from the storm of events.

To quote the editors of Fortune once more (speaking of the majority
of college students, not the intellectual minority):  "The present-
day college generation is fatalistic . . . the investigator is
struck by the dominant and pervasive color of a generation that
will not stick its neck out.  It keeps its shirt on, its pants
buttoned, its chin up, and its mouth shut.  If we take the mean
average to be the truth, it is a cautious, subdued, unadventurous
generation, unwilling to storm heaven, afraid to make a fool of
itself, unable to dramatize its predicament. . . .  Security is the
summum bonum of the present college generation."  This sort of
caution was not confined to the campuses.  One saw it in business
men:  "We used to feel pretty sure about what would happen.  Now we
don't know what will happen."  One felt it in the constant
iteration, in economic discussions, of the word "confidence"--which
enters the vocabulary only when confidence is lacking.  One
detected it in the strength of the movements for old people's
pensions, in the push for social security.  The sons and daughters
of the pioneers might hazard their small change on bingo or the one-
armed bandit, but they did not want life to be a gamble.

Except during the hopeful interval of the New Deal Honeymoon, when
hope suddenly and briefly rode high, through the shifting moods of
the American people ran an undercurrent of fear.  They wanted to
feel certainty and security firm as a rock under their feet--and
they did not, and were afraid.

Chapter Seven



The New Deal Honeymoon ended in the latter months of 1933--not
abruptly but (like many a marital infatuation) in a series of
annoyances and disappointments and discords.

The upsurge of business, which in the spring of 1933 had carried
the Federal Reserve Board's Adjusted Index of Industrial Production
all the way from 59 in March up to 100 in July, was followed by a
bad setback--the result of over-speculation and over-purchasing for
inventories.  In August the index receded from 100 to 91; in
September it slipped to 84, in October to 76; by November it had
reached 72.  Two-thirds of the ground which had been gained during
that wonderful springtime rise had now been lost--and during the
very months when the NRA, vehicle of so many high hopes, was
accumulating momentum!  No wonder people began to ask themselves
whether this New Deal recovery had been just a flash in the pan; to
note how the hurriedly devised New Deal machinery was creaking; to
turn a more skeptical ear to the President's optimistic assurances
and to General Johnson's mighty tub-thumping.

Already the NRA was producing friction and evasion.  Henry Ford was
refusing to sign the automobile code.  William Randolph Hearst, in
full-page newspaper advertisements, was attacking the Recovery Act
as "a measure of absolute state socialism" and "a menace to
political rights and constitutional liberties," and was proclaiming
that the letters NRA stood for "No Recovery Allowed."  As the
various industrial codes were at last worked out and approved,
after endless arguments and confusions, some employers were
planning to comply with their provisions fairly and honorably;
others were welcoming the chance given them to gather round a table
and quietly fix prices, but were resolving to evade the wage and
hour clauses and to make a dead letter of Section 7a of the
Recovery Act, which guaranteed collective bargaining.  These
companies were piously introducing company unions which looked like
the real thing but weren't, or were deciding to have no truck with
unions at all and to trust to the courts to uphold them in their
defense of their "liberties."  Simultaneously the large-waisted
officials of the American Federation of Labor were being stirred to
unwonted activity, chartering new unions by the hundreds, and
workmen who took Section 7a at its face value were striking
fiercely for their government-guaranteed rights.  From industrial
centers came reports of bloody fighting along the picket lines, of
tear gas drenching angry crowds, of National Guardsmen marching to

Late in the autumn of 1933, George R. Leighton, investigating for
Harper's Magazine the facts behind the Blue Eagle ballyhoo in four
Eastern states, came back with the report that "the spirit and
intent of the National Industrial Recovery Act and the codes are
being frustrated, openly or in secret."  He found that the
government's aim to raise wages was being defeated, either by the
sheer refusal of employers to obey the minimum-wage provisions of
the blanket code, or by their raising some wages up to the minimum
and lowering others down to it.  He found employees too scared to
peep about what was happening.  "For God's sake," cried one
workman, "don't tell anybody that you've been here. . . .  There
are men in cement plants near here who have complained and now
they're out in the cold."  Compliance boards--which were supposed
to enforce the codes--were sometimes, Mr. Leighton found, packed
with men who saw eye to eye with hard-boiled employers and had no
notion of protecting labor or the consumers.  He found local NRA
officials timid in dealing with powerful industrialists; one
official spoke of a big factory owner in his town in revealing
words:  "It is so hard to get an audience with him."

The evidence was fast accumulating: the Administration's great
experiment in "business self-rule" had come into full collision
with the ingrained determination of business executives to hold
down their costs of doing business, to push up prices if they
could, and in general to run their companies as they pleased, come
hell, high water, or General Johnson.  Where they could turn the
machinery of the NRA to their own ends, they did so--and it was
they, not labor or the consumers, who held the initiative in
framing the codes.  Where they could not turn this machinery to
their own ends, some of them complied, others fought the law or
nullified it.  Certain benefits accrued from the NRA experiment: a
virtual ending of child labor; some increases in wages, reductions
of over-long hours, and elimination of demoralizing practices,
especially in the more enlightened industries; some stabilizing of
business.  But there seemed to be no increase in employment beyond
what sprang directly from the shortening of hours, and prices to
the ultimate consumer tended to rise along with wages--in some
cases faster than wages.  Meanwhile as business lagged and strike
threats multiplied, the business community in general was becoming
more and more antagonistic toward the new dispensation.

Roosevelt himself was deeply concerned by the loss of business
momentum and by the downward drift of farm prices.  He who had once
referred to himself as the quarterback of the offensive against the
Depression now saw the game going against him and decided to try a
forward pass.  He had been listening to the advice of Professor
George F. Warren of Cornell, who had persuaded Farm Credit
Administrator Henry Morgenthau that if the government deliberately
raised the price at which it could buy gold, the dollar might be
cheapened not only in terms of gold, but in terms of other goods as
well: in short, that prices should rise.  William H. Woodin, the
Secretary of the Treasury, was gravely ill, and Dean G. Acheson,
who as Under Secretary was in active charge of the Treasury
Department, had no use for the Warren gold-buying scheme; but the
President, full of his new idea, went ahead regardless, and on
October 22, 1933, announced that the Reconstruction Finance
Corporation was going to buy gold for the government.

So it happened that at nine o'clock each morning during the late
autumn of 1933, two or three men gathered in the President's
bedroom at the White House: usually Professor Warren, Henry
Morgenthau, and Jesse Jones of the Reconstruction Finance
Corporation.  While the President breakfasted in bed, they decided
what the day's price for gold would be.  The President would
scribble a couple of "chits"--one for Jones, authorizing the day's
gold price; the other for Acheson, breaking the news to the
Treasury Department.  Presently Acheson left his untenable position
at the Treasury and Morgenthau took his place (to succeed to the
Secretaryship upon Woodin's resignation); Professor O. M. W.
Sprague, financial adviser to the government, also left the
Treasury in indignation at such monetary high-jinks; Al Smith was
heaping ridicule upon the President's "baloney dollar"; and Wall
Street resounded with angry cries: the United States was on its way
to the sort of uncontrolled inflation which had run wild in Germany
in 1923; over-spending and "rubber-dollar" experimentation would
soon result in ruining the government's credit.

Not until the end of January, 1934, did the gold-buying episode
come to an end.  By that time the dollar had been devalued (in
terms of gold) to 59.06 cents.  Prices had risen somewhat, but
nowhere near proportionately.  The great experiment was a failure.
Moreover the financial community--which had long since quite
recovered from its sheer panic of the preceding spring, and now
felt, with rising indignation, that it was being made the scapegoat
of the Depression--had become an almost solid anti-Roosevelt

(Footnote upon the prophecies of the wise men of Wall Street:
Within the following five and a half years there took place no
uncontrolled inflation, no collapse of the credit of the
government.  What did take place was an embarrassingly huge
accumulation of gold in the underground vaults of Fort Knox in
Kentucky: over fourteen billion dollars' worth of it, at the $35-an-
ounce price which the United States was willing to pay and others
did not care to pay because most of the nations of the world had
gone off the gold standard.)

As the winter of 1933-34 set in, the New Deal's once-solid support
was falling into fragments.  Most of the radicals had become
impatient with Roosevelt: he was moving too slowly, they charged,
he was proposing mere palliatives instead of revolutionary
remedies.  Thousands of farmers were angry at the failure of the
AAA thus far to bring them high prices for their crops, and
disorder still flared along the highways of the corn belt and the
wheat belt.  Laboring men, though they credited the government with
an intention to let them organize and to be generous with
unemployment relief, resented its inability to enforce Section 7a
and the capture of the NRA machinery by the employers.  Business
men who had imagined that Roosevelt, after putting through his
rapid-fire program of reforms and recovery measures in the spring
of 1933, would rest on his oars, were discovering to their dismay
that he had no such intention; what wild scheme, they asked one
another, would this man hatch next?

Already he had set up the Civil Works Administration, a vast and
unwieldy--and expensive--system of Federal work relief for the
unemployed.  In his budget message to Congress at the beginning of
1934, he calmly stated that during the fiscal year 1933-34 the
excess of government expenditures over government receipts would be
over seven billion dollars and that during the fiscal year 1934-35
it would probably be two billion dollars.  "This excess of
expenditures over revenues, amounting to over nine billion dollars
during two fiscal years," announced the President, '"has been
rendered necessary to bring the country back to a sound condition
after the unexampled crisis which we encountered last spring.  It
is a large amount, but the immeasurable benefits justify the cost."
The words were confident, but what economy-minded business man
struggling with his year-end accounts could fail to ask himself
just how "immeasurable" the benefits TO HIM had turned out to be,
or whether this man who contemplated so coolly a nine-billion-
dollar increase in the Federal deficit could be the same Franklin
Roosevelt who in 1932 had berated the Republicans for gross
extravagance and in March, 1933, had introduced the Economy Bill?

The truth was that a major deflation, if it should occur, would be
even more damaging to Franklin Roosevelt than it would have been to
Herbert Hoover.  Under the existing debt structure Roosevelt had
now placed, at many new points, the credit of the government
itself.  He had committed himself to recovery through rising prices
and large-scale business expansion, rather than through falling
prices and the writing-off of debts.  He must keep his foot pressed
down on the accelerator, not on the brake.  Dark though the road
might look ahead, he must drive on.  A costly course to take?
Perhaps.  But it was too late to turn back now.


Intermittently throughout the year 1933 the Senate Committee on
Banking and Currency, with the aid of its inexorable counsel,
Ferdinand Pecora, had been putting on one of the most extraordinary
shows ever produced in a Washington committee room: a sort of
protracted coroner's inquest upon American finance.  One by one, a
long line of financial overlords--commercial bankers, investment
bankers, railroad and public-utility holding-company promoters,
stockbrokers, and big speculators--had filed up to the witness
table; and from these unwilling gentlemen, and from their office
files, had been extracted a sorry story of public irresponsibility
and private greed.  Day by day this story had been spread upon the
front pages of the newspapers.

The investigation showed how pool operators in Wall Street had
manipulated the prices of stocks on the Exchange, with the
assistance of men inside the companies with whose securities they
toyed.  It showed how they had made huge profits (which represented
the exercise of no socially useful function) at the expense of the
little speculators and of investors generally, and had fostered a
speculative mania which had racked the whole economic system of the
country--and this not only in 1928 and 1929, but as recently as the
spring of 1933, when Roosevelt was in the White House and Wall
Street had supposedly been wearing the sackcloth and ashes of
repentance.  The investigation showed, too, how powerful bankers
had unloaded stocks and bonds upon the unwary through high-pressure
salesmanship and had made millions trading in the securities of
their own banks, at the expense of stockholders whose interests
they claimed to be serving.  It showed how the issuing of new
securities had been so organized as to yield rich fruits to those
on the inside, and how opportunities to taste these fruits had been
offered to gentlemen of political influence.  It showed how that
modern engine of financial power, the holding company, had been
misused by promoters: how some of these promoters had piled company
upon company till their structures of corporate influence were
seven or eight stories high; how these structures had become so
complex that they were readily looted by unscrupulous men, and so
unstable that many of them came crashing down during the
Depression.  It showed how grave could be the results when the
holding-company technic was applied to banking.  It showed how men
of wealth had used devices like the personal holding company and
tricks like the sale of stock (at a loss) to members of their
families to dodge the tax collector--at the very moment when men of
humbler station had been paying the taxes which supported the
government.  Again and again it showed how men occupying fiduciary
positions in the financial world had been false to their trust.

Naturally the composite picture blocked out by these revelations
was not fair to the financiers generally.  The worst scandals got
the biggest headlines.  Yet the amount of black in the picture was
shocking even to the most judicial observer, and the way in which
the severity of the Depression had been intensified by greedy and
shortsighted financial practices seemed blindingly plain.  So high
did the public anger mount that the New Deal was sure of strong
support as it drove on to new measures of reform.

The first move was into Wall Street.  The Securities Act of 1933
was followed by the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, which put
the stock exchanges of the country under Federal regulation, lest
the next boom (if it ever came) end in another speculative crash.
This Act gave the Federal Reserve Board the authority to limit
speculative margins; required all directors, officers, and
principal stockholders of big corporations to report all their
transactions in the securities of their companies; and created a
Securities and Exchange Commission--to be known familiarly as the
SEC--which was intended to act as chaperon and policeman of the
stock exchanges and the investment market generally, and by slow
degrees subdue them to the useful and the good.

The next year the New Deal moved against the misuse of the holding
company in the area where its performances had been most egregious--
in the public utilities.  The Public Utility Holding Company Act
provided that holding-company structures must not be more than two
stories high, that they must be simplified, and that they must
limit themselves to the management of economically integrated
groups of operating companies.

Turning to the banking system of the country, the New Deal made no
attempt to unify it (bringing the national banks and the forty-
eight groups of state banks into one system) but in 1935 increased
the supervisory power of the Federal Reserve Board over the various
Federal Reserve Banks, centering a more effective authority in
Washington, and incidentally made permanent the insurance by the
government of small bank deposits, as temporarily arranged in 1933.

Other new powers of regulation and compulsion were assumed by the
Federal government.  For example, the power of the Interstate
Commerce Commission was extended to cover not only railroads, as of
yore, but interstate bus and truck traffic as well; and for the old
Radio Commission was substituted a new Communications Commission
which was not only to police the air waves but also to supervise
the telegraph and telephone systems.  Not until September 2, 1935,
did the President announce--in a letter to Roy W. Howard of the
Scripps-Howard newspapers--that the New Deal's legislative program
had "reached substantial completion" and that business might expect
a "breathing spell."

Throughout a large part of the years 1934 and 1935 the hue and cry
over these reform measures of the New Deal reverberated across the

No longer, to be sure, did the news from Washington still make the
front pages of the newspapers as automatically as it had in the
first wild days of the new Administration.  Other events, important
and unimportant, now claimed a fresher attention.  During the
winter of 1933-34--a piercingly cold winter in the North, when the
Atlantic Ocean was blocked with ice all the way from Nantucket
Island to the mainland, and Army fliers, hastily ordered to carry
the air mails after Roosevelt's mistakenly sudden termination of
the air-mail contracts, were flying to their deaths in ice and fog--
there was foreign news to contest for front-page space with
General Johnson's latest admonitions and expletives and with
Roosevelt's monetary experiments and reform proposals.  There were
riots in Paris which seemed for a time to presage civil war in
France.  Foreign excitements continued during the summer of 1934:
there came Hitler's blood purge and the assassination of little
Chancellor Dollfuss of Austria, which threatened a general European
war (with Italy opposed to Germany!).  That spring there took place
in a humble Canadian home an event which for sheer human interest
was the feature-editor's answer to prayer: on May 28, Mrs. Oliva
Dionne gave birth to five little girls--and incidentally to a major
Canadian industry, the exploitation of the Quintuplets as five
modern wonders of the world.

As the summer of 1934 drew to its close the country supped on
horror: the Ward Liner Morro Castle was burned, with a loss of 137
lives, off the coast of New Jersey.  Men and women who were hardly
aware what the letters SEC stood for could have told you in detail
how the Morro Castle fire was first discovered in a locker off the
port-side writing room; how Chief Officer William F. Warms had
found himself in precarious command of the vessel owing to the
death of the captain from indigestion a few hours previously; how
the fire could not be stopped and the passengers took to the boats--
or to the open Atlantic; and how the red-hot hulk of the ship was
later beached right beside the convention hall at Asbury Park,
where it boomed briefly a grim sight-seeing trade.

While the visitors to Asbury Park were still staring at the Morro
Castle, the most exciting detective-and-trial-scene story of the
decade began to unfold itself, as Bruno Richard Hauptmann was
captured in the Bronx and was put on trial for the kidnapping of
the Lindbergh baby.  The furiously ballyhooed trial at Flemington
brought once again to everybody's lips the names of Dr. Condon and
the Whateleys and Betty Gow, and lifted into brief public
prominence new names such as those of Attorney General Wilentz of
New Jersey, Justice Trenchard, counsel Reilly for the defense, and
the mysterious German of Hauptmann's incredible testimony, Isidor

It was during the following summer--the summer of 1935--that public
attention was diverted from the debate over the Holding-Company
Bill and other Administrative measures by Jim Braddock's capture of
the heavyweight boxing championship from Max Baer; by the deaths of
Will Rogers and Wiley Post in an airplane crash in Alaska; and by
the slow gathering of war clouds over unhappy Ethiopia.  All
through 1934 and 1935, furthermore, an event of major importance to
America--of which we shall hear more in the next chapter of this
book--was taking place on the Great Plains: the farms of the Dust
Bowl were blowing away.

Yet never quite inaudible, during all the time when these events
were taking place, was the rumble of battle over the New Deal
financial reforms.  The outcry of protest from Wall Street--which
was echoed generally in the conservative press--was terrific.  The
Securities and Exchange Bill, if passed, would end the liquidity of
the investment markets and bring general economic ruin!  Roosevelt
was taking the high road to communism!  Had not Dr. William A. Wirt
of Gary, Indiana, told of being at a "brain trust" dinner party
where, he insisted, government employees had spoken of Roosevelt as
merely the Kerensky of a new American revolution?  Did not Rexford
Tugwell, the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, appear to be
practically a communist--especially to those newspaper proprietors
who feared that his proposed bill to regulate food and drug
advertising might cut into their revenues?  The government was out
to ruin all investors in public utilities: it was enlarging the
TVA's sphere of competition with Southern private utilities, it was
subsidizing municipalities which wanted to have municipal power and
light systems and take their power from the TVA, it was building
new dams at Grand Coulee and Bonneville in the West, which would
enlarge the area served by public power--and now it was proposing,
through the Holding-Company Bill, to apply a "death-sentence" to a
lot of helpless holding companies!  The issue was clear, shouted
the conservatives: it was economic dictatorship versus democracy.

Back from the New Dealers came the reply:  Wall Street's record of
mismanagement had been spread upon the books of the Senate
Committee.  "The people of the United States will not restore that
ancient order."  The New Deal intended to protect the average man
against "the selfish interests of Wall Street."

Thus the thunder of battle rolled--while Franklin Roosevelt, still
overwhelmingly in command of Congress, pushed the reforms through
to enactment.


Not only did the New Deal try to restore prosperity through the
NRA, the AAA, currency changes, and other measures, and to prevent
the recurrence of economic disaster through its reform measures; it
also tried to protect individual citizens against the hardships of
economic adversity, past, present, and future.  It set up so many
agencies to lend money to organizations and individuals that the
mere listing of them would be wearisome.  Through an enactment of
major importance in 1935, the Social Security Act, it set up a vast
system of unemployment insurance and of old-age assistance for the
greater part of the working population of the country--taxing pay
rolls to set up a colossal fund out of which might be paid old-age
benefits in the long future.  Year after year it struggled, too,
with the problem of unemployment relief.

The attack upon this desperate problem threw into sharp outline the
essential strength of the New Deal, its essential weakness, and the
dilemma of the national economy as a whole.

When in the spring of 1933 the Federal government had assumed the
responsibility for seeing that men and women and children did not
go hungry or shelterless in the United States, it had set aside
half a billion dollars out of the public-works fund to aid the
states in carrying the burden of unemployment relief; and President
Roosevelt had appointed as Federal Emergency Relief Administrator a
thin, narrow-faced, alert-looking young Iowan named Harry Hopkins,
who had been a zealous and idealistic social worker and had
served as relief administrator in New York during Roosevelt's
governorship.  The distribution of this fund appeared to be simply
a temporary expedient, for in those hopeful days recovery was
seemingly on its way at the double-quick.  Then came the downturn
of the fall of 1933, and the prospect of another dreadful winter.
Most of the cities and states of the country were on the verge of
bankruptcy and quite unable to bear the relief burden unaided--and
unemployment during the winter of 1933-34 was pretty surely going
to be almost as severe as during that of 1932-33!  Another
"temporary" plan was needed, and on no niggardly scale.

So the Civil Works Administration was set up and Harry Hopkins
found himself in command of a huge and hasty organization of mercy;
and Roosevelt, as we have seen, asked Congress for billions to meet
this new need.  Surely things would be better next year.  In the
spring of 1934 the Civil Works Administration--which was proving
terrifically expensive--was abandoned, and the organization of
relief was altered again.

But things did not prove much better the next year.  And so once
more the President called for billions of dollars and once more the
organization was overhauled: early in 1935 the Works Progress
Administration--the WPA--came into being.

Although the WPA was destined to remain throughout the rest of
the decade, it was destined also to be subject to constant
reorganization and revision.  In essence, the history of those
first years was to be repeated again and again.  Year after year
the Administration found the number of unemployed men unexpectedly
large, found its funds running out, confronted the new crisis with
a new appeal to Congress for more billions, and hastily improvised
new and glowing plans.  The prevailing pattern was one of
administrative makeshift.

The principle upon which Federal relief operated was magnificent.
The government said in effect:  "These millions of men who are out
of work are not to be considered paupers.  They are not to be
subjected to any humiliation which we can spare them.  They are to
be regarded as citizens and friends who are the temporary victims
of an unfortunate economic situation for which the nation as a
whole is responsible.  Not only is it far too late in the day, now,
to follow the Hoover principle that the acceptance of Federal money
undermines men's self-respect; it is even too late in the day to be
content with giving handouts.  These men want to WORK for the money
they receive.  Very well, we shall put them to work--as many of
them as we possibly can.  We shall put them at useful work which
will not compete with private business.  They shall become
government employees, able to hold up their heads again.  If
putting them to work costs more than a cash dole, the benefits in
morale restored will outweigh the expense."

But these things were easier said than done, on the scale on which
the government had to operate.  Stop for a minute to feel the
impact of these figures:  The CWA at its peak employed OVER FOUR
MILLION WORKERS--enough to man some twenty General Motors
Corporations.  The WPA began operations with the aim of employing
THREE AND A HALF MILLION.  (The total number of people dependent
upon Federal, state, or local relief--including the families of
those to whom payments were made--was variously estimated at
various times at from TWENTY TO TWENTY-FIVE MILLION.)  How to put
this vast horde to work?

First of all, there was the difficulty of finding work that had
value, and would not compete with private business, and was fitted
to the endlessly varied abilities and experience of millions of
individuals.  It was decided that the reliefers were not to work on
private property, engage in manufacturing, or set up rival
merchandising systems.  The money went at first mostly into such
projects as the repair and building of roads (especially farm-to-
market roads), repairs on public buildings and schools, the
construction of parks and playgrounds; and--for the professional
and clerical workers, the white-collar class--into research
projects for the government and for universities, and into engaging
reliefers who had some special skill or knowledge to teach it to
others who did not have it.  Some of the jobs were trivial, or too
many men were assigned to them, or these men were conspicuously
inexpert; hence the criticisms one constantly heard of "leaf-
raking" and of men idling on the job.

During an aldermanic inquiry into New York City relief early in
1935--in which it was discovered that money was being spent for the
teaching of tap dancing and the manipulation of shadow puppets, and
for such academic enterprises as "a study of the predominating
non-professional interests of teachers in nursery schools,
kindergarten, and first grade" and "a study of the relative
effectiveness of a supervised correspondence course in elementary
Latin"--one Robert Marshall testified that he was a "training
specialist" who taught the reliefers "boon doggies," explaining
that this was an old pioneer term for useful everyday tricks of
handicraft such as making belts by weaving ropes.  The strange term
entranced newspaper-readers, and presently the conservative press
everywhere was referring to relief projects of questionable value
as "boondoggling."

Another great difficulty was that of enrolling and investigating
and assigning workers.  Should a job go to the person who could do
it best, or to the person in the direst need?  If need was to be
the criterion, how could any standards of work be maintained?  The
determination of wage scales offered another series of headaches.
Presumably the wages should be lower than those for private
business--but what if local wages were on the starvation level?
These were only a few of the practical questions for which there
seemed to be no possible answer which did not produce either
injustice or inefficiency.

Again, there was the grave difficulty of setting up a proper
organization, of keeping the control of relief out of the hands of
grafters and political hacks, of resolving the endless conflicts
between Federal and local agencies.  Though the division of
authority between Federal and state and local governments varied
bewilderingly in different places and at different times, the whip
hand was held in the main by the Hopkins organization in
Washington, which was vigilant against graft and--at least in the
early years--pretty independent of politics.  As time went on, the
taint of politics became somewhat more noticeable: the relief
system was all too valuable to the Democratic party, relief
expenditures had a way of rising to a maximum as Election Day
approached, and there was ugly evidence here and there of the gross
misuse of funds, as in Pennsylvania; but on the whole the record
was astonishingly clean considering the vastness of the funds
disbursed and the generally low level of political ethics in
American local government.

Beyond all these difficulties was the final, inescapable one.  Try
as Hopkins and his aides might to make the work vital and
prideworthy, the fact remained that it was made work, ill-paid,
uncertain, undemanding of real quality of workmanship; and that the
reliefers became perforce, by degrees, a sort of pariah class,
unwelcomed by private industry, dwelling in an economic twilight.

That is a generalization.  Against it should be set some high
triumphs, including notably those of the Federal Theatre, Music,
and Arts projects.  Who would have believed, during the Hoover
period, that within a few years, under the WPA, orchestras would be
getting relief aid for playing to enthusiastic audiences,
government-subsidized theatre groups would be packing the
playhouses with excellent shows, and able painters who had not sold
a picture for months or even years would be getting government
assignments to paint post-office murals?

Of all the forms which Federal relief took there is not space here
to speak.  Yet a word at least should be said of the Transient
Camps which offered shelter to those hundreds of thousands of
Americans who were traveling about in search of work and could not
qualify for regular relief after they left their home towns (who
wants to support a non-resident?); of the National Youth
Administration, which helped to pay for the education and training
of young people who would otherwise have gone without; and of the
WPA's purchase of surplus commodities--especially farm products--
and their distribution to the needy.  (Nor should it be forgotten
that the great enterprises--bridges, dams, public buildings, etc.--
constructed by the Public Works Administration, and the forest-
conservation work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, while not
administratively a part of Federal relief, supplemented the relief

Two more generalizations must be made, however, before we leave
this twilight zone.  The first is that, despite all the
inefficiencies of the relief system, its frequent upheavals of
organization, its confusion, and its occasional political
subversion, it commended itself to the bulk of the American people
because of its essential friendliness, of the human decency of its
prevailing attitude toward those whom the Depression had thrust
into want.  Possibly those privileged people who denounced the
system as a coddling and spoiling of the unfit may have owed their
security from civil revolution during the nineteen-thirties to the
fact that the government in power treated the reliefers as citizens
worthy of respect.

The second generalization is that the terrific cost of such a
relief system bore down upon the working and income-receiving past
of the population, even while the expenditures were helping to keep
trade going; and that that part of the cost which was not met by
current taxes remained, in the form of Federal debt, to bear down
upon the job-holding and income-receiving Americans for long years
to come.  Human decency came very high.

Here was the essential dilemma of the New Deal.  Just as it wanted,
reasonably enough, to apply the lessons of the 1929-33 dbcle and
reform the financial system, but apparently could not do this
without setting up a Federal supervisory bureaucracy, without
inflicting upon the financial world endless rules and regulations,
endless tasks of questionnaire-answering, report-writing, and
prospectus-writing, and filling Wall Street with paralyzing fears,
rational and irrational, thus delaying recovery; so also it
apparently could not deal humanely with the unemployed men and
women of the country without imposing heavy taxes, incurring heavy
deficits, raising very natural qualms as to its ability to carry on
indefinitely with a mounting debt, and thus once again delaying
recovery.  It had to march toward its goal under a veritable
Christian's pack--the burden of the very inadequacies which it was
trying to resolve.


Early in the evening of July 22, 1934, a group of agents of the
Department of Justice, armed with pistols, gathered unobtrusively
about a movie theatre on Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.  The leader of
the group, Melvin H. Purvis, parked his car near the theatre door
and carefully scanned the faces of the men and women who entered.
At length Purvis recognized the man he wanted--though this man had
dyed his hair, had had his face lifted, had grown a mustache, and
had put on gold-rimmed glasses.

For two hours Purvis waited in his car, until the man came out of
the theatre.  Then Purvis signaled to his aides by thrusting an arm
out of the car, dropping his hand, and closing it.  The aides
closed in on the movie-goer, and when he started to draw an
automatic they shot him down.  The next morning the headlines
shouted that John Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1, had been

Another offensive of the reform spirit against things-as-they-had-
been was well under way.

During the early years of the decade, as we have seen, there had
been immense indignation at the prevalence of crime in America and
the inability of the police to cope with it.  This indignation had
been sharpened by the Lindbergh kidnapping early in 1932.  From
that time on, every kidnapping case leaped into such prominence in
the newspaper dispatches that most Americans imagined that a wave
of kidnapping was sweeping the country.  The public indignation
took an ugly form at San Jose, California, late in 1933, when two
men who had kidnapped young Brooke Hart, and had shot him, weighted
his body, and thrown it into San Francisco Bay, were taken out of
the San Jose jail by an angry mob and hanged on trees near by--
whereupon the Governor of California, who had a curious notion of
law and order, commented that the lynchers had done "a good job."

Proceeding upon the theory that the states could not be sure of
catching criminals (any more than they could be sure of stopping
undesirable business practices) without Federal aid, Congress
had passed laws giving the Federal authorities a limited
jurisdiction over crimes which had hitherto been wholly under state
jurisdiction.  J. Edgar Hoover, the resourceful head of the Bureau
of Investigation of the Department of Justice, saw his chance.
When John Dillinger, a bank robber and hold-up man of the Middle
West, proved to have a remarkable ability to shoot his way out of
difficulty, Hoover sent his Federal men on the trail--though
Dillinger's only Federal offense up to that time was said to have
been the interstate transportation of a stolen car.  Dillinger was
labeled "Public Enemy No. 1" (now that Al Capone was in prison),
and the public began to take notice.

The Federal agents caught up to Dillinger at St. Paul but he
escaped, wounded.  A few days later he appeared in a surgeon's
office, leveled a gun, compelled the surgeon to give him treatment
for his wound, and got away safely.  Again he was found, at a
summer resort in Northern Wisconsin; but although agents surrounded
the building where he was staying, he escaped after a battle in
which two men were killed and two were wounded.  At last Purvis
caught him in Chicago, as we have seen, and the story of John
Dillinger came to an end.

But not the story of J. Edgar Hoover and his Federal agents.  For
these Federal sleuths now proceeded to capture, dead or alive,
"Pretty Boy" Floyd, "Baby Face" Nelson, and so many other public
enemies, one after another, that after Alvin Karpis was taken alive
in 1936 the public quite lost track of the promotions in the Public
Enemy class.

Hoover and his men became heroes of the day.  The movies took them
up, taught people to call them G-men, and presented James Cagney in
the role of a bounding young G-man, trained in the law, in
scientific detection, in target practice, and incidentally in
wrestling.  Presently mothers who had been noting with alarm that
their small sons liked to play gangster on the street corner were
relieved to observe that the favored part in these juvenile dramas
was now that of the intrepid G-man, whose machine gun mowed down
kidnappers and bank robbers by the score.  The real G-men--with the
not-quite-so-heavily-advertised aid of state and local police--
continued to follow up their triumphs until by the end of 1936 they
could claim that every kidnapping case in the country since the
passage of the Lindbergh law in 1932 had been closed.

But kidnapping and bank robbery, sensational as they were, were
hardly the most menacing of crimes.  The depredations of
professional gangster-racketeers were more far-reaching and
infinitely more difficult to combat.  During the nineteen-twenties
various gangster mobs, the most notorious of which was Al Capone's
in Chicago, had built up larger, better organized, and more
profitable systems of business-by-intimidation than the country had
ever seen before.  The foundation of these rackets was usually beer-
running, but a successful beer-runner could readily handle most of
the bootlegging trade in whisky and gin as a sideline, branch out
to take over the gambling and prostitution rackets, and also
develop systems of terrorization in otherwise legitimate
businesses, by using what purported to be an employer's association
or a labor union but was really a scheme for extortion backed by
threats to destroy the members' business--or kill them--if they did
not pay.  The pattern was different in every city and usually there
were many rival gangs at work, muscling in on one another's
territory from time to time to the accompaniment of machine-gun

During the early nineteen-thirties the racketeers--like legitimate
business men--found business bad.  The coming of Repeal, by
breaking the back of the illicit liquor business, deprived these
gentry of a vital source of revenue.  But the technique of
politically protected intimidation had been so well learned that
racketeering went right on in many cities.  Even in New York--a
city which had never been so racket-ridden as Chicago and had
elected in 1933 an honest and effective mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia--
dozens of businesses were in the grip of rackets and their victims
were too terrified to testify to what was going on.

But New York was to provide a classic demonstration of what the new
reform spirit, properly directed, could do.

The story of the demonstration really began on November 21, 1933--
when Roosevelt was engaged in his breakfast-in-bed gold-buying
plan, and General Johnson was approving NRA codes, and Mae West was
appearing on the screen in "I'm No Angel," and Katharine Hepburn in
"Little Women," and copies of Anthony Adverse were everywhere, and
the first bad dust storm had just raged in the Dust Bowl, and the
Century of Progress Fair at Chicago had just ended its first year,
and the CWA had just been organized, and the United States had just
recognized Soviet Russia.  On that day the New York papers had
carried on their inside pages an item of local news: the
appointment as local Federal Attorney of one Thomas E. Dewey, who
was only thirty-one years old.  During the next year and a half
young Dewey did well at this job.  In the spring of 1935 a grand
jury in New York, investigating racketeering, became so
dissatisfied with the way in which the evidence was presented to it
by the Tammany District Attorney that it rose up in wrath and asked
Governor Lehman to appoint a special prosecutor.  Governor Lehman
appointed the valiant Dewey and on July 29, 1935, he set to work.

There followed one of the most extraordinary performances in the
history of criminal detection and prosecution.  Dewey mobilized an
able staff of young lawyers and accountants in a highly protected
office in the Woolworth Building, sent them out to get the evidence
about racketeering, and to everybody's amazement got it, despite
the terrified insistence of the very people whom he was trying to
protect that they knew nothing at all.  This evidence Dewey
marshaled so brilliantly that presently he began a series of
monotonously successful prosecutions.  He put out of business the
restaurant racket, to which at least 240 restaurants had paid
tribute.  He sent to prison Toots Herbert, who in the guise of a
labor leader, head of Local 167, had collected large sums from the
poultry business.  He convicted Lucky Luciano, who had levied toll
upon the prostitutes and madams of New York (with such smooth-
running political protection that although during 1935 no less than
147 girls who worked for this combination had been arrested, not
one of them had got a jail sentence).  Within two years Dewey had
indicted 73 racketeers and convicted 71 of them: and all this
despite the unwillingness of witnesses to talk, the constant need
of protecting against violence those who agreed to talk, and
constant attempts at bribery and intimidation.  Elected District
Attorney in 1937, Dewey continued his onslaught, and in 1939 he
secured the conviction of an important Tammany leader, James J.
Hines.  (Hines appealed, and at the end of the decade his case was
still pending.)

The intimidation industry was not destroyed, of course, any more
than kidnapping and bank robbery had been ended; but Dewey, like
the G-men, had shown that crime could be successfully combated, and
the lesson was widely noted.  When the worthy members of the
National Economic League, who in 1930 and 1931, as we have
previously seen, voted that "Administration of Justice" and "Crime"
and "Lawlessness" were--along with Prohibition--the important
issues before the country, voted again in 1937, they decided that
"Crime" offered a less important problem than "Labor," "Efficiency
and Economy in Government," "Taxation," or "The Federal

The drive against crime had won at least a temporary victory.


Through the years 1934 and 1935, President Roosevelt was sore

Economic recovery was lagging badly.  For a measure of what was
happening, let us return once more to the Federal Reserve Board's
Adjusted Index of Industrial Production, which gives perhaps the
best general indication of economic health.  We have seen that the
index figure had dropped from its prosperity peak of 125 in 1929
all the way to 58 in the summer of 1932, and again to 59 in the
bank-panic month of March, 1933; that it had then bounded to 100
during the New Deal Honeymoon, and slid down to 72 in November,
1933, as the Honeymoon came to an end.  Slowly it crept up again,
but only to 86 in the spring of 1934.  Back it slipped to a
discouraging 71 in the fall of 1934.  Once more it gained, till at
the beginning of 1935 it had reached 90.  Then during the spring of
1935 it receded to 85.  Not until the last month of 1935 had it
fought its way up again to the hundred mark it had attained during
those first frenzied months of the New Deal--and this despite the
pouring of billions of dollars of relief money into the bloodstream
of trade.

The President's confident proposals for new legislation could not
altogether distract public attention from the administrative
difficulties which tangled the agencies he had already set up.  The
NRA appeared to be stimulating dissension rather than production.
On the one hand it had virtually invited labor to organize; on the
other hand it had turned over the formulation and administration of
its hundreds of codes mainly to employers, and was unable to
require these employers to recognize the rapidly mushrooming
unions, dominated in many cases by inexperienced and over-
combative leaders; hence it could not make good on its promise.
Disillusioned auto workers were saying that NRA stood for "National
Run Around."  A fierce dock strike on the Pacific Coast grew into
an attempt to tie up the whole city of San Francisco by a general
strike in July, 1934.  When the textile code authority called for a
cut in production that same summer--a cut which meant grievous
reductions in hard-driven textile workers' wages--another great
strike began, with flying squadrons of strikers driving from mill
town to mill town in the South, with National guardsmen called out
in seven states, and with a list of dead and wounded growing
ominously day by day.  That fall General Johnson left the NRA under
a storm of criticism--or, as he delicately put it himself, a "hail
of dead cats."

The AAA was a storm center too, and its effect upon the farmers'
income was a matter of dispute, since the rise in farm prices in
1934 might be partly attributed to the deadly drought which was
blighting the prairies and the Great Plains.  Unemployment and the
resulting drain upon the national budget continued almost unabated.

Politically, the President came through the Congressional elections
of 1934 with flying colors; the Democrats gained nine seats in the
Senate and even enlarged slightly their big majority in the House.
But how long would this supremacy last?  Cannon were being
unlimbered not only to the right of Roosevelt, but to the left of
him too.  That the forces of capital and management--bankers,
investors, big business men, and their sympathizers--should have
closed ranks against him was natural in view of his reform
legislation, his monetary unorthodoxy, his huge spendings for
relief, his intermittent hostility to big business, and his
expansion of the area of government authority.  But what if he
could not hold the support of the have-nots, and found himself the
leader of a centrist minority, raked by a cross fire from both

On the left Roosevelt must reckon with Huey Long, the Kingfish of
Louisiana, who had always been a maverick in national politics and
had definitely quit the New Deal since that day in June, 1933, when
he had called at the White House, had kept his jaunty straw hat on
throughout most of his interview with the President, had been told
that the Administration could not appoint some of his nominees for
office, and had remarked to Jim Farley as he left, "What the hell
is the use of coming down to see this fellow?  I can't win any
decision over him."  Long was one of the most extraordinary figures
in all American political history.  He was of the stuff of which
dictators are made, and he ruled Louisiana with an iron hand,
smashing opposition as ruthlessly as a racketeer.  Blatant,
profane, witty, unscrupulous, violent; possessed of the demagogue's
habit of promising the impossible, together with the statesman's
ability to provide good roads, better schools, free schoolbooks,
and a generally better standard of living among the poor, both
black and white, and at the same time to keep the state government
solvent--Huey had blustered and bludgeoned his way into a stormy
national prominence.

No use for Senators to try to silence him in Washington by leaving
the Senate Chamber when he began to speak; his invective was the
one thing the crowds in the galleries wanted most to hear.

When Huey toured the South in the spring of 1935, ten thousand
people gathered in Atlanta to hear him denounce the Administration.
"Pour it on 'em, Kingfish!" they yelled in delight.  He was getting
the headlines that spring by calling for an investigation of
Postmaster General Jim Farley, of whom he said later, by way of
explanation, "Jim was the biggest rooster in the yard, and I
thought that if I could break his legs the rest would be easy."
Radio audiences chuckled with delight at Huey's barnyard wit, as
when he said, commenting on Herbert Hoover's call for a militant
Republicanism, "Hoover is a hoot owl.  Roosevelt is a scrootch owl.
A hoot owl bangs into the roost and knocks the hen clean off and
catches her while she's falling.  But a scrootch owl slips into the
roost and scrootches up to the hen and talks softly to her.  And
the hen just falls in love with him, and the next thing you know,
there ain't no hen."  Had there ever been before, in American
political life, a man who could rule a state with machine guns,
subdue a legislature completely to his will, and yet produce the
sort of hilarity represented by a remark in the course of his
comment on the Mardi Gras:  "Once I got invited to one of their
balls.  I went down to a pawn shop and bought a silk shirt for six
dollars with a collar so high I had to climb up on a stump to

Huey Long had a fantastic, Utopian "Share Our Wealth" program for
the country, very explicit as to objectives but very vague as to
methods.  It began with "Every family to be furnished by the
government a homestead allowance, free of debt, of not less than
one-third the average family wealth of the country, which means, at
the lowest, that every family shall have the reasonable comforts of
life up to a value of from $5,000 to $6,000."  It ended with a
clause proclaiming, "The raising of revenue for the support of this
program to come from the reduction of swollen fortunes from the
top."  No wonder the New Deal, champion of the "forgotten man,"
feared Huey's rising power!  When during 1935 the Democratic
National Committee conducted a secret poll on a national scale, it
found that on a third-party ticket Long would be able to command
between three and four million votes for the Presidency.  And
nobody could tell how much further he might go.

Roosevelt must reckon also with another one-time ally who, like
Long, had left the New Deal reservation: Father Coughlin of the
Shrine of the Little Flower, whose eloquence over the radio had
gained for his National Union for Social Justice an immense
following, somewhat similar to Huey Long's.  Father Coughlin's
voice was raised in behalf not only of "a living annual wage" but
of "nationalization of banking and currency and of national
resources."  How much strength might this prophet of the air waves
command by 1936, if recovery continued to lag, and how would he
dispose it?

Even more portentous, for a time, seemed the incredible
organization headed by Dr. Francis E. Townsend of Long Beach,
California.  Not until the first of January, 1934, had this elderly
physician announced his plan for a government allowance of $200 a
month to every citizen 60 years of age or older, the pension to be
financed by a sales tax--and to be spent by each recipient within
30 days, thus assuring (so the argument ran) such a wave of
spending that business would boom and the sales tax would easily be
borne.  Yet so glowing was the appeal of the Townsend Old Age
Revolving Pensions plan, and so clever was Townsend's aide Robert
L. Clements in organizing Townsend Clubs, welding them into a
hierarchic national system, and providing the faithful with a
Townsend National Weekly and with speakers' manuals, Townsend
buttons, stickers, tire covers, and automobile plates, that within
a year the Townsend planners were said to possess the balance of
political power in eleven states west of the Mississippi and were
entrenched even in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

Smile as one might at the nave devotion of these embattled old
folks, in their annual convention, as they heard Townsend and
Clements likened to George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, and
rose to sing

          Onward, Townsend soldiers,
          Marching as to war,
          With the Townsend banner
          Going on before.
          Our devoted soldiers
          Bid depression go;
          Join them in the battle,
          Help them fight the foe!

it was no smiling matter for the Democratic general staff that the
number of Townsend Club members was conservatively estimated at
three million, and that the movement, by the end of 1935, had
gained at least ten million supporters.  Old age, it appeared, must
be served.

And what of the communists?  They were few in number compared with
these other groups, but the influence of their scattered agents in
provoking labor disputes and offering aggressive labor leadership
was disproportionately great, the intellectual offensive waged by
their journalists and writers was powerful, and they formed the
spearhead for a wide-ranging attack upon the New Deal from the left--
an attack epitomized in such books as The Economic Consequences of
the New Deal, by Benjamin Stolberg and Warren Jay Vinton, which
denounced Roosevelt for trying to "organize scarcity" instead of
"organizing abundance" and for trying merely to shore up the
vicious and doomed system of capitalism, instead of wholeheartedly
siding with the proletariat in the coming "irreconcilable conflict
between capital and labor."  To the communists and their allies, in
1934 and early 1935, a liberal who did not stand for unrelenting
war in this conflict was a fascist in sheep's clothing.  Alien to
the American temper and American habits of thought as the communist
credo was, it had a boldness, a last-resort ferocity, that might
commend itself to millions of desperate men.

What of the future possibilities of some such movement as Upton
Sinclair's EPIC (End Poverty in California) campaign?  Sinclair had
recommended that the unemployed be set to work producing for one
another, setting up--by an extension of the barter plans which had
been so hopefully tried at the bottom of the Depression--a sort of
economy-within-the-going-economy.  Sinclair had scared prosperous
Californians half to death in the elections of 1934, and had been
defeated only with the aid of motion pictures faked by the
Hollywood studios, showing dreadful-looking bums arriving in
California by the carload to enjoy the new Eden that Sinclair

And what of the farmer-labor movement in the Northwest, and of the
aggressive Governor Floyd Olson of Minnesota as a possible leader?

In dealing with these various political menaces on the left the
quarterback showed himself to be a brilliant broken-field runner.
Roosevelt smiled upon Sinclair--without embracing him.  Pushing
forward the Social Security Bill, he gave implicit assurance to the
Townsendites that he intended to secure for them at least half a
loaf.  Not without a side glance at Huey Long and Father Coughlin,
he suddenly produced in the summer of 1935 a proposal to increase
the taxes upon the rich--to levy a big toll upon inheritances and
large incomes and a graduated tax upon corporation incomes.  The
tax did not produce much revenue and its effect upon the wealthy
was apoplectic; but Huey was so delighted that he moved back on the
New Deal reservation--for how long, nobody could predict.

Yet all the broken-field dodging in the world could hardly have got
Roosevelt past all these captains of dissent had not luck, too,
intervened on his side.  The luck assumed strange guises.  Who
would have guessed that Stalin, fearing the rise to power of Hitler
and Mussolini, would have called upon good communists everywhere to
join forces with liberal democrats in Popular Fronts--as he did in
the summer of 1935--and that the advice from Moscow would soon
spike the guns which the communists had been leveling at Roosevelt?
Or that the powerful Olson of Minnesota would fall fatally ill and
be unable to head a third party?  Or that Huey Long, walking down
the corridor of his own State Capitol in Baton Rouge in the evening
of September 8, 1935, would be shot by a young physician, Carl
Austin Weiss, Jr., and fatally wounded--while Huey's bodyguards,
leaping too late to his defense, drilled the assassin with sixty-
one bullets?


While these assorted threats were still menacing the New Deal from
the left, there fell from the right such a body blow that almost
its whole program seemed in danger of annihilation.  In a unanimous
decision on May 27, 1935, the United States Supreme Court
invalidated the NRA.

By implication, furthermore, the Court did much more than that.
Had it struck down the NRA alone, the blow would not have been
staggering; for the NRA, as we have seen, had long since been
recognized as the problem child of the New Deal.  Had the Court's
objection simply been to the drafting of the statute, the blow
would not have been staggering; for Congress and the Executive were
accustomed to being reminded that he who legislates in haste must
expect to be invalidated at leisure.  Had the Court even been
content with objecting--as it did object--to the way in which the
National Industrial Recovery Act had delegated lawmaking powers to
trade associations, the blow would not have been staggering.  What
was lethal about the decision was that--as Charles and Mary Beard
have put it--"In the opinion that supported the decision, the Chief
Justice seemed to block every loophole for the regulation of
procedures, hours, and wages in industries by Federal law."

The decision implied that it would be unconstitutional for the
Federal government to deal with a national industrial or social or
agricultural problem by dictating to individual factories, stores,
or farmers what they should do.  For the operation of a factory,
according to the Court's reasoning, was an intrastate operation--
even if the raw materials which it manufactured came from another
state, and the factory competed with factories in other states.
The operation of a store was intrastate, even if this store was
operated by a national chain incorporated in another state, sold
goods made in other states, and was at a hundred other points
affected by the economic conditions in other states.  The growing
of crops was an intrastate process, even if when grown they moved
into interstate commerce and the price which the farmer received
was dependent upon a national market.  No, said the Court: under
the Constitution the Federal government may regulate only
interstate commerce, and none of these things are interstate
commerce as we interpret it.  Not even in a national emergency may
the Federal government deal with them.  "Extraordinary conditions
do not create or enlarge constitutional power."

If the decision of May 27, 1935, was remarkable, so was the
President's manner of replying to it.  Four days later, more than
two hundred newspaper men crowded into the Executive Offices at the
White House to hear what he had to say.  Jammed shoulder to
shoulder in the hot room--for it was a warm day outside--and too
cramped for ready note-taking, they listened to a discussion of the
decision which lasted for an hour and twenty-five minutes.  While
Mrs. Roosevelt, sitting beside the President, knitted steadily on a
blue sock, Roosevelt began by reading a few of the telegrams that
had reached him since the decision--telegrams asking whether there
wasn't something he could do to "save the people"--and then,
placing a fresh cigarette in his holder, began a measured and
carefully thought-out, if informal, analysis of the meaning of the
decision, which he said was "more important than any decision
probably since the Dred Scott case."  Only two or three times did
his voice rise in anger, but it thrilled with intensity throughout,
and the reporters could have no doubt that he was profoundly moved.

"The big issue," said the President, "is this:  Does this decision
mean that the United States Government has no control over any
economic problem?"  And again--after a long analysis of the changes
in the nature of the national economy since the Interstate Commerce
Clause was written, and of the increase in economic interdependence
since the days of the early Court decisions interpreting that
clause strictly--"We have been relegated to the horse-and-buggy
definition of interstate commerce."  A great question, he said, had
been raised for national decision--"The biggest question that has
come before this country outside of time of war, and it has to be
decided.  And, as I say, it may take five years or ten years."

Before the correspondents filed out, there came a question from one
of them:  "You made a reference to the necessity of the people
deciding within the next five or ten years.  Is there any way of
deciding that question without voting on a constitutional amendment
or the passing of one?"

"Oh, yes, I think so," said the President.  "But it has got to
come, in the final analysis."

"Any suggestion as to how it might be made, except by a
constitutional amendment?"

"No; we haven't got to that yet."

Nor was he to get to it for nearly two years.

Chapter Eight



It was on Armistice Day of 1933 that the first of the great dust
storms swept across South Dakota.

"By mid-morning a gale was blowing, cold and black.  By noon it was
blacker than night, because one can see through night and this was
an opaque black.  It was a wall of dirt one's eyes could not
penetrate, but it could penetrate the eyes and ears and nose.  It
could penetrate to the lungs until one coughed up black.  If a
person was outside, he tied his handkerchief around his face, but
he still coughed up black; and inside the house the Karnstrums
soaked sheets and towels and stuffed them around the window ledges,
but these didn't help much.

"They were afraid, because they had never seen anything like this
before. . . .

"When the wind died and the sun shone forth again, it was on a
different world.  There were no fields, only sand drifting into
mounds and eddies that swirled in what was now but an autumn
breeze.  There was no longer a section-line road fifty feet from
the front door.  It was obliterated.  In the farmyard, fences,
machinery, and trees were gone, buried.  The roofs of sheds stuck
out through drifts deeper than a man is tall."

I quote from an account by R. D. Lusk, in the Saturday Evening
Post, of the way in which that first great storm of blowing dust
hit the 470-acre Karnstrum farm in Beadle County, South Dakota.
But the description might apply equally well to thousands of other
farms on the Great Plains all the way from the Texas Panhandle up
to the Canadian border, and to any one of numberless storms that
swept the Plains during the next two years.  For the "great black
blizzard" of November 11, 1933--which darkened the sky in Chicago
the following day and as far east as Albany, New York, the day
after that--was only a prelude to disaster.  During 1934 and 1935
thousands of square miles were to be laid waste and their
inhabitants set adrift upon desperate migrations across the land.

Long afterward, an elderly farm woman from the Dust Bowl--one of
that straggling army of refugees whose predicament has been made
vivid to hundreds of thousands of readers in Steinbeck's The Grapes
of Wrath--told her story to Paul Taylor and Dorothea Lange in
California.  She described how her family had done pretty well on
their Arkansas farm until the Depression, when prices had fallen
and they had found themselves in hard straits.  "And then," said
she, "the Lord taken a hand."

To many others it must have seemed as if the Lord had taken a hand
in bringing the dust storms: as if, not content with visiting upon
the country a man-made crisis--a Depression caused by men's
inability to manage their economic affairs farsightedly--an
omnipotent power had followed it with a visitation of nature: the
very land itself had risen in revolt.  (To other people,
omnipotence may have seemed to be enjoying a sardonic joke at the
expense of the New Deal's Agricultural Adjustment program:  "So
it's crop-reduction you want, is it?  Well, I'll show you.")  Yet
this was no blind stroke of nature such as that of the hurricane
which, wandering far from the paths usually followed by hurricanes,
tore across New England in the fall of 1938, swamping towns,
ripping up forests, and taking nearly seven hundred lives.  There
was a long story of human error behind it.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century the Great Plains--
a region of light rainfall, of sun and high winds, of waving
grasses, "where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies
are not cloudy all day"--had been the great cattle country of the
nation: a vast open area, unfenced at first, where the cowboys
tended the cattle-kings' herds.  Before the end of the century this
range had been badly damaged by over-grazing, according to
contemporary Federal reports, and the land was being heavily
invaded by homesteaders, who tried manfully to wring a living from
the semi-arid soil.  But it was not until the Great War brought a
huge demand for wheat, and tractors for large-scale machine farming
became available, that the Plains began to come into their own as a
crop-producing country, and the sod-covering which had protected
them was plowed up on the grand scale.  Throughout the nineteen-
twenties the area devoted to big wheat farms expanded.  A new power
era had come, it was said, to revolutionize American agriculture;
factory methods were being triumphantly applied to the land.

To be sure, there wasn't much rain.  The mean annual rainfall was
only between 10 and 20 inches on the Plains (as compared with, for
example, 20 to 40 in the Mississippi Valley region, 40 to 50 in the
North Atlantic region, 40 to 60 in the Ohio and Tennessee basins,
and 75 and more in the Pacific Northwest).  But there was a pretty
favorable series of years during the nineteen-twenties and the
farmers were not much disturbed.

In a recent report of the National Resources Committee there is a
revealing map.  It shows--by means of black dots scattered over the
United States--the regions where there was an increase, between
1919 and 1929, in the acreage of land in harvested crops: in short,
it shows the regions newly invaded by the crop farmer.  Easily the
most conspicuous feature of the map is an irregular blur of those
black dots running from north to south just a little east of the
Rocky Mountains--running from the Canadian border at the northern
edge of Montana and North Dakota, down through the Dakotas, western
Kansas and Nebraska and eastern Colorado, and then into Oklahoma
and northern Texas.  This, very roughly, was the next region of
promise--and the region of future tragedy.

Nineteen-thirty was a bad year in parts of this territory--and
worse elsewhere; it was then, you may recall, that President Hoover
was agitated over the question whether Federal money should be
granted to drought-distressed farmers.  Nineteen-thirty-one was
worse in the Dakotas; 1932 was better.  Then came 1933: it was a
swinger, hot and dry.  During that first summer of the New Deal,
farmers in South Dakota were finding that they couldn't raise even
enough corn to feed the livestock.  In western Kansas not a drop of
rain fell for months.  Already the topsoil was blowing; there were
places in Kansas where it was said that farmers had to excavate
their tractors before they could begin to plow.  That fall came the
Armistice Day black blizzard.

But it was during 1934 and 1935--the years when Roosevelt was
pushing through his financial reforms, and Huey Long was a national
portent, and the languishing NRA was put out of its misery by the
Supreme Court--that the thermometer in Kansas stayed week after
week at 108 or above and the black storms raged again and again.
The drought continued acute during much of 1936.  Oklahoma farms
became great dunes of shifting sand (so like seashore dunes, said
one observer, that one almost expected to smell the salt).
Housewives in the drought belt kept oiled cloths on the window
sills and between the upper and lower sashes of the windows, and
some of them tried to seal up every aperture in their houses with
the gummed paper strips used in wrapping parcels, yet still the
choking dust filtered in and lay in ripples on the kitchen floor,
while outside it blew blindingly across a No Man's Land; roads and
farm buildings and once green thickets half-buried in the sand.  It
was in those days that a farmer, sitting at his window during a
dust storm, remarked that he was counting the Kansas farms as they
came by.

Retribution for the very human error of breaking the sod of the
Plains had come in full measure.  And, as often happens, it was
visited upon the innocent as well as upon the guilty--if indeed one
could single out any individuals as guilty of so pervasive an error
as social shortsightedness.


Westward fled the refugees from this new Sahara, as if obedient to
the old American tradition that westward lies the land of promise.
In 1934 and 1935 Californians became aware of an increasing influx
into their state of families and groups of families of "Okies,"
traveling in ancient family jalopies; but for years the streams of
humanity continued to run.  They came along U. S. Highway 30
through the Idaho hills, along Highway 66 across New Mexico and
Arizona, along the Old Spanish Trail through El Paso, along all the
other westward trails.  They came in decrepit, square-shouldered
1925 Dodges and 1927 La Salles; in battered 1923 Model-T Fords that
looked like relics of some antique culture; in trucks piled high
with mattresses and cooking utensils and children, with suitcases,
jugs, and sacks strapped to the running boards.  "They roll
westward like a parade," wrote Richard L. Neuberger.  "In a single
hour from a grassy meadow near an Idaho road I counted 34
automobiles with the license plates of states between Chicago and
the mountains."

They left behind them a half-depopulated countryside.  A survey of
the farmhouses in seven counties of southeastern Colorado, made in
1936, showed 2878 houses still occupied, 2811 abandoned; and there
were also, in that area, 1522 abandoned homesites.  The total
number of drought refugees who took the westward trek over the
mountains was variously estimated in 1939 at from 200,000 upwards--
with more coming all the time.

As these wanderers moved along the highways they became a part of a
vast and confused migratory movement.  When they camped by the
wayside they might find themselves next to a family of evicted
white Alabama sharecroppers who had been on the move for four
years, snatching seasonal farm-labor jobs wherever they could
through the Southwest; or next to tenant families from the Arkansas
Delta who had been "tractored off" their land--expelled in order
that the owner might consolidate two or three farms and operate
them with tractors and day labor; or next to lone wanderers who had
once held industrial jobs and had now for years been on relief or
on the road--jumping freights, hitchhiking, panhandling, shunting
back and forth across the countryside in the faint hope of a
durable job.  And when these varied streams of migrants reached the
Coast they found themselves in desperate competition for jobs with
individuals or families who for years had been "fruit tramps,"
moving northward each year with the harvests from the Imperial
Valley in southern California to the Sacramento Valley or even to
the apple-picking in the Yakima Valley in Washington.

Here in the land of promise, agriculture had long been partly
industrialized.  Huge farms were in the control of absentee owners
or banks or corporations, and were accustomed to depend upon the
labor of migratory "fruit tramps," who had formerly been mostly
Mexicans, Japanese, and other foreigners, but now were increasingly
Americans.  Those laborers who were lucky enough to get jobs
picking cotton or peas or fruit would be sheltered temporarily in
camps consisting typically of frame cabins in rows, with a water
line between every two rows; they were very likely to find in their
cabin no stove, no cots, no water pail.  Even the best of the camps
offered a way of life strikingly different from that of the
ruggedly individualist farmer of the American tradition, who owned
his farm or else was preparing, by working as a resident "hired
man," or by renting a farm, for the chance of ultimate ownership.
These pickers were homeless, voteless nomads, unwanted anywhere
save at the harvest season.

When wave after wave of the new migrants reached California, the
labor market became glutted, earnings were low, and jobs became so
scarce that groups of poverty-stricken families would be found
squatting in makeshift Hoovervilles or bunking miserably in their
awkward old Fords by the roadside.  Being Americans of native stock
and accustomed to independence, they took the meager wages and the
humiliation bitterly, sought to organize, talked of striking,
sometimes struck.  At every such threat, something like panic
seized the growers.  If this new proletariat were permitted to
organize, and were to strike at picking time, they might ruin the
whole season's output of a perishable crop.  There followed anti-
picketing ordinances; the spectacle of armed deputies dislodging
the migrants from their pitiful camps; violence by bands of
vigilantes, to whom these ragged families were not fellow-citizens
who had suffered in a great American disaster but dirty, ignorant,
superstitious outlanders, failures at life, easy dupes for "red"
agitators.  This engulfing tide of discontent must be kept moving.

Farther north the refugees were likely to be received with more
sympathy, especially in regions where the farms were small and not
industrialized; here and there one heard of instances of real
hospitality, such as that of the Oregon town which held a
canning festival for the benefit of the drought victims in the
neighborhood.  The well-managed camps set up by the Farm Security
Administration were havens of human decency.  But to the vast
majority of the refugees the promised land proved to be a place of
new and cruel tragedy.


These unhappy wanderers of the West were only a small minority of
the farmers of the United States.  What was happening to the rest
of them?

We have already seen the AAA beginning the colossal task of making
acreage-reduction agreements with millions of farmers in the hope
of jacking up the prices of crops and thus restoring American
agriculture to economic health.  We have seen it making credit
available to farmers and trying, through the Farm Mortgage
Moratorium Act and other legislation, to free them of the immediate
hazards of debt.  Just how successful the AAA program could be
considered was still, at the end of the decade, a subject of
ferocious controversy, if only because one could not separate its
effect upon prices from the effects wrought by the drought and by
the general improvement in economic conditions after 1933.  But
certainly farm prices rose.  For example, the farmer who had
received, on the average, only 33 cents a bushel for wheat in 1933
received 69 cents in 1934, 89 cents in 1935, 92 cents in 1936,
$1.24 in 1937, and 88 cents in 1938.  The cotton farmer who had
received an average price of 5.6 cents a pound for his cotton in
1933 received between 10 and 13 cents during the next four years,
and 7.9 cents in 1938.  And certainly there was a general
improvement in the condition of those farmers who owned their own
farms--and lived outside the worst drought areas.  A survey of
3,000 farms in various parts of the country--mostly better-than-
average farms--made by the Department of Agriculture in 1938 showed
a distinct gain in equipment and in comfort; more of these farms
had electricity than in 1930, more had tractors and trucks, more
had bathrooms, automobiles, and radios.  But this was not a
complete picture of what had happened.

To begin with, quantities of farmers had lost their farms during
the hideous early years of the Depression--lost them by reason of
debt.  These farms had mostly fallen into the hands of banks or
insurance companies, or of small-town investors who had held the
mortgages on them, or were being held by government bodies for non-
payment of taxes, or had been bought in at tax sales.  As early as
1934, the National Resources Board stated that nearly thirty per
cent of the total value of farm land in the West North Central
States was owned by "creditor or government agencies which have
been compelled to take over the property."  At the small prairie
city, the local representative of a big New York insurance company
was a very busy man, supervising the management of tracts of
property far and wide.  The tentacles of the octopus of
metropolitan financial control reached more deeply than ever before
into the prairie country--though one must add that this octopus was
a most unwilling one, and would have been only too glad to let go
if it could only get its money back.  (As time went on, the
Metropolitan and other insurance companies made determined efforts
to find buyers for their farm properties, financing these buyers on
easy terms.)  In the callous old Wall Street phrase, the farms of
the United States had been "passing into stronger hands"; and that
meant that more and more of them, owned by people who did not live
on them, were being operated by tenants.

For over half a century at least, farm tenancy had been on the
increase in the United States.  Back in 1880, only 25 per cent of
American farms had been run by tenants.  Slowly the percentage had
increased; now, during the Depression, it reached 42.  The growth
of tenantry caused many misgivings, for not only did it shame the
fine old Jeffersonian ideal of individual landholding--an ideal
in which most Americans firmly believed--but it had other
disadvantages.  Tenants were not likely to put down roots, did not
feel a full sense of responsibility for the land and equipment they
used, were likely to let it deteriorate, and in general were less
substantial citizens than those farmers who had a permanent share
in the community.  In 1935, less than two-thirds of the tenant
farmers in the United States had occupied their present land for
more than one year!  In the words of Charles and Mary Beard,
"Tenants wandered from farm to farm, from landlord to landlord,
from region to region, on foot, in battered wagons, or in
dilapidated automobiles, commonly dragging families with them,
usually to conditions lower in the scale of living than those from
which they had fled."

The passing of farms into "stronger hands" was accompanied by
another change.  More and more the farm owner, whether or not he
operated his own farm, was coming to think of himself as a business
man, to think of farming as a business.  He was less likely to use
his farm as a means of subsistence, more likely to use as much of
it as possible for the growing of crops for sale.  He was more
interested in bookkeeping, more alert to the advantages of farm
machinery, and especially of operating with tractors on the largest
possible scale.  A striking example of this trend was the
appearance of the "suitcase farmer"--a small-town business man who
bought a farm or two, cleared them of houses and barns, spent a few
weeks of each year planting and harvesting them (using his own
tractor or a hired one), and otherwise devoted himself to his
business, not living on the land at all.  A Kansas banker told Ladd
Haystead, toward the end of the decade, that he estimated that
between twenty and thirty per cent of the land in western Kansas
was owned by suitcase farmers.  This was what was happening to the
territory whence the victims of drought had fled!

In certain parts of the South and Southwest this trend toward
making a mechanized business of farming took a form even more
sinister in the eyes of those who believed in the Jeffersonian
tradition.  In these districts farm tenancy was becoming merely a
way station on the road to farm industrialism.  The tenants
themselves were being eliminated.  Furthermore, the AAA, strangely
enough, was unwittingly assisting the process.

How easy for an owner of farm property, when the government offered
him a check for reducing his acreage in production, to throw out
some of his tenants or sharecroppers, buy a tractor with the check,
and run his farm mechanically with the aid of hired labor--not the
sort of year-round hired labor which the old-time "hired man" had
represented, but labor engaged only by the day when there happened
to be work to be done!  During the nineteen-thirties large numbers
of renters and sharecroppers, both black and white, were being
displaced in the South--to the tune of angry protests by the
Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, equally angry retaliation by the
landlords and their allies, and a deal of the sort of barbarous
cruelty which we have noted in California.  In the areas where
large-scale cotton farming with the aid of machinery was
practicable, tenants were expelled right and left.  Fortune told of
a big Mississippi planter who bought 22 tractors and 13 4-row
cultivators, evicted no less than 130 of his 160 sharecropper
families, and kept only 30 for day laborers.  During the years 1930-
37, the sales of farm tractors in ten cotton states increased no
less than ninety per cent--and the indications were that at the end
of that period the increase was accelerating.  While the number of
farms operated by tenants was growing elsewhere in the country
between 1930 and 1935, it actually declined a little in the West
South Central States.  In two cotton counties of the Texas
Panhandle, studied by Paul S. Taylor in 1937, it declined sharply.
And here was the reason:  "Commonly, the landlord who purchases a
tractor throws two 160-acre farms operated by tenants into an
operating unit, and lets both tenants go.  Sometimes the rate of
displacement is greater, rising to 8, 10, and even 15 families of

Where did the displaced tenants go?  Into the towns, some of them.
In many rural areas, census figures showed an increased town
population and simultaneously a depopulated countryside.  Said the
man at a gas station in a Texas town, "This relief is ruining the
town.  They come in from the country to get on relief."  Some of
them got jobs running tractors on other farms at $1.25 a day.  Some
went on to California: out of farming as a settled way of life into
farming as big business dependent on a large, mobile supply of

So far this new pattern was only fragmentary and was confined
mostly to the South and West, though the number of migratory farm
workers was growing fast even along the Atlantic seaboard.  Perhaps
the onrushing agricultural industrialism would prove as short-lived
as the earlier epidemic of tractor farming which had promised so
much for the Great Plains during the nineteen-twenties--would lead
once more to depletion of the soil and thus to its own undoing as
well as the land's.  Perhaps those agrobiologists were right who
believed that the trend of the future would be toward smaller farms
and more intensive yields.  The relatively new science of farm
chemurgy was revealing all sorts of new industrial uses for farm
products; du Pont, for example, was using farm products in the
making of cellophane, Duco, motion-picture film, rayon, pyralin,
plastecele, fabrikoid, sponges, window shades, hair ornaments,
handbags, alcohols, and a lot of other things which one would
hardly associate with the old-fashioned farm.  Yet even if the
farmer of the future who applied new methods to the growing of
specialized crops for specialized uses would be able to operate
best with a small tract of land, as some people expected, would he
be able to operate without more capital than most farmers
possessed?  That question was still unanswered.

Meanwhile large-scale tractor farming was spreading fast, and was
repeating the harshnesses of mid-nineteenth century industrialism--
as if America had learned nothing in the interim.

How far would the new trend go?  Would great mechanized farm
corporations, perhaps controlled from the metropolitan cities,
gradually put out of business the smaller farms of those rolling
areas, such as abounded in the Old Cotton South, where tractors
could not readily be used?  Would the cotton picker invented by the
Rust brothers of Memphis accelerate this change?  What would
become, then, of the already miserable sharecroppers?  Were other
parts of the country destined sooner or later to go through the
same sort of transition that was taking place in the South and
West, producing a huge, roving, landless proletariat of the land,
helpless if unorganized, menacing if organized because it had no
stake in the land and its settled institutions?  These questions,
too, waited for answers.


For a generation or more the conservationists had been warning the
country that it was squandering its heritage of land and forests
and fields and minerals and animal life: that in effect it was
living riotously on its capital of national resources.  But to most
citizens the subject had seemed dull, academic.  Now, in the Dust
Bowl, the Lord had "taken a hand" in instruction.  And hardly had
the black blizzards blown themselves out when--as if distrustful
whether the country properly realized that droughts and floods were
not incompatible phenomena, but were associated results of human
misuse of the land--the Lord drove the lesson home.  The rivers
went on a rampage.

"In 1936"--I quote from Stuart Chase's summary--"the Merrimac,
Connecticut, Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, Allegheny, and
Ohio all went wild.  The Potomac was up twenty-six feet at
Washington and long barriers of sandbags protected government
buildings. . . .  Pittsburgh was under ten to twenty feet of water
and was without lights, transport, or power.  The life of 700,000
people was paralyzed.  The food supply was ruined, the steel
industry at a standstill."  The following January, the unseasonably
warm and rainy January of 1937, the Ohio River produced what was
perhaps, all things considered, the worst flood in American

The bare facts of that flood are impressive.  The Ohio rose 7.9
feet higher than it had ever risen before at Cincinnati, 6.8 feet
higher than it had ever risen before at Louisville.  Nine hundred
people were estimated to have lost their lives by drowning or by
other casualties resulting from the flood.  The number of families
driven from their homes was set at 500,000; the number still
homeless a month after the worst of the crisis was set by the Red
Cross at 299,000.

But these figures give no impression whatever of what men and women
experienced in each town during the latter days of January as the
swirling waters rose till the Ohio seemed a great rushing muddy
lake full of floating wreckage, and the cold rain drizzled
inexorably down, and every stream added its swollen contribution to
the torrent.  Railroad tracks and roads washed away.  Towns
darkened as the electric-light plants were submerged.  Business
halted, food supplies stopped, fires raging out of control, disease
threatening.  The city of Portsmouth, Ohio, opening six great sewer
valves and letting seven feet of water rush into its business
district, lest its famous concrete flood wall be destroyed.
Cincinnati giving City Manager Dykstra dictatorial powers.  The
radio being used to direct rescue work and issue warnings and
instructions to the population as other means of communication
failed: a calm voice at the microphone telling rescuers to row to
such-and-such an address and take a family off the roof, to row
somewhere else and help an old woman out of a second-story window.
Breadlines.  The Red Cross, the Coast Guard, the WPA aiding in the
work of rescue and reorganization.  Martial law.  Churches above
the water line being used as refuges.  Dead bodies of horses and
cattle--yes, and of men and women--floating through the streets,
along with tree branches, gasoline tanks, beams from collapsed
houses.  Mud everywhere, as the waters receded--mud and stench.
Most dramatic of all, perhaps, the triumphant fight to save Cairo,
Illinois: men piling more and more sandbags atop the levee,
standing guard day and night, rushing to strengthen the wall of
defense wherever it weakened, as the waters rose and rose--and did
not quite break over.

By this time everybody with any capacity for analysis was ready to
begin to understand what the government technicians had long been
saying in their monographs; what Stuart Chase and Paul B. Sears and
David Cushman Coyle, the Mississippi Valley Committee and the
National Resources Committee, and Pare Lorenz's very fine films,
"The River" and "The Plough that Broke the Plains," were repeating
in more popular terms: that floods as well as dust storms were
largely the result of reckless misuse of the land.  Indeed, as
early as the beginning of 1936, when the Supreme Court threw out
the Agricultural Adjustment Act, Congress took account of the new
understanding in revamping its farm program.  The new law was
labeled a Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, and the new
crop adjustments were called "soil-erosion adjustments."

Already at many points the government was at work restoring a
deforested and degrassed and eroded countryside.  In the CCC camps,
young men were not only getting healthy employment, but were
renewing and protecting the forest cover by planting trees,
building firebreaks, removing inflammable underbrush, and building
check dams in gullies.  The experts of the Soil Conservation
Service were showing farmers how to fight erosion by terracing,
contour plowing, rotation of crops, strip cropping, and gully
planting.  After the dust storms, for example, they demonstrated
how the shifting dunes of Dalhart, Texas, could be held in place by
planting them with milo, Sudan grass, and black amber cane.  Under
the supervision of the Forest Service, the government between 1935
and 1939 planted 127,000,000 trees to serve as windbreaks on the
Great Plains.  The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 stopped homesteading
on the great range and gave the Department of the Interior power to
prevent over-grazing on eighty million acres.

PWA funds were going into the construction of dams which would aid
in flood control (and also extend navigation), such as that at Fort
Peck in eastern Montana, which was to create a lake 175 miles long.
The TVA--that most combative and most remarkable of New Deal
agencies--was not simply creating a new electric-light and power
system in competition with privately owned utilities (though this
part of its work stirred up ten times as much excitement as all the
rest put together); its dams were also controlling floods, and it
was showing farmers how to deal with erosion, how to use
phosphates.  (In 1937, during the Ohio River flood, the Tennessee
River did not misbehave.)  Other PWA funds were providing a better
irrigation system for parts of Utah where water was running short.
The colossal dam at Grand Coulee, Washington--the biggest thing
ever built by man--was getting ready to pump water for the
irrigation of 1,200,000 acres of desert land, as well as to provide
hydroelectric power in quantity (like its sister dam at Bonneville)
for the future development of the Northwest.  These were only a few
of the numerous enterprises going ahead simultaneously.

Nor was the government undertaking these enterprises in a wholly
piecemeal manner: through its National Resources Committee and
other agencies it was making comprehensive studies of the country's
resources and equipment, so that the movement of restoration and
regeneration could proceed with a maximum of wisdom.


With the aid of these studies--and of the lessons taught by drought
and flood--more and more Americans, during the latter nineteen-
thirties, were beginning to see the problem of their country's
future in a new light.  They were beginning to realize that it had
reached maturity.  No longer was it growing hand-over-fist.

Immigration was no longer adding appreciably to its numbers:
indeed, during the years between 1931 and 1936, the number of
aliens EMIGRATING from the United States had been larger each year
than the number IMMIGRATING: the tide had actually been trickling
in reverse.  If, beginning in 1936, the incoming tide had increased
again as Europeans sought to escape from the shadow of Hitlerism,
even so the total remained tiny in comparison with those of pre-war
years.  Ellis Island was no longer a place of furious activity.
The time was at hand when the number of foreign-born people in the
United States would be sharply diminished by death, and the sound
of foreign languages would be heard less and less in the streets of
American cities.  Already the schools, the manufacturers of
children's clothing, and the toy manufacturers were beginning to
notice the effects of the diminished birth rate (accentuated by the
sharp drop during the early Depression years).  Writing in the
spring of 1938, Henry Pratt Fairchild reported that there were over
1,600,000 fewer children under 10 in the United States than there
had been five years earlier.  School principals, confronting
smaller entering classes of children, could well understand what
the population experts were talking about when they predicted a
slower and slower population growth for the country, with an
increasing proportion of old people and a decreasing proportion of
young ones.  They could see the change taking place before their
own eyes.

That the frontier was closed was not yet quite true, a generation
of historians to the contrary notwithstanding; for the Northwest
was still a land of essentially frontier possibilities.  Yet for a
long time past, young men and women bent on fortune had mostly been
going, not west, but to the cities.  If the victims of the Dust
Bowl and the tractor had pushed west, their fate had been ironic.
The brief return to the country of great numbers of jobless city
dwellers during the early Depression years had only temporarily
slowed down the movement from farm to city and town.  For a long
time past, the fastest-growing communities had been, by and large,
not Western boom towns but the suburbs which ringed the big cities--
and during the nineteen-thirties these suburbs were still adding
to their numbers.  Industry, by and large, was no longer moving
westward; the great bulk of the country's manufacturing was still
done along the north Atlantic seaboard and in the strip of
territory running thence out through Pennsylvania and Ohio to
Chicago and St. Louis--and some observers, even believed they
detected during the nineteen-thirties a slight shift back toward
the East.

American individuals and families were becoming more nomadic.  This
was partly due to the omnipresence of the automobile; there were
three million more cars on the road in 1937 than in 1929, for
though fewer cars were sold, more old ones were still in use.
Partly, as we have seen, it was due to the Depression search for
jobs and to the eviction of farm tenants.  But American
INSTITUTIONS appeared, geographically, to be settling down.

Still there was a chance for a far richer development of the
country, and the chance was most visible west of the Great Plains.
Yet if this development was to be durable, the new pioneering must
be more disciplined than the old.  The hard fact that the days were
over when Americans could plunder and move on, stripping off
forests, ripping out minerals, and plowing up grasslands without
regard to the long consequences, was now penetrating the public
consciousness--even while the men and women whose farms had blown
away were still wandering homeless through the land.

Chapter Nine



Dance orchestras were blaring forth "The Music Goes 'Round and
'Round" and one could hardly turn a radio dial without hearing the
ubiquitous refrain.  Major Bowes was the current radio sensation,
so warmly did he inquire into the life histories of the yodelers
and jews-harp-players on his Amateur Hour, and so spontaneous and
unexpected seemed the well-rehearsed programs.  At the movie houses
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were dancing nimbly in "Follow the
Fleet."  Gary Cooper was about to introduce his audiences to the
word "pixillated" in the hilarious courtroom scene of "Mr. Deeds
Goes to Town."  Seven-year-old Shirley Temple was becoming the
rising star of Hollywood.  She had no such income-tax troubles as
had Mae West, whose salary of $480,833 for the preceding year had
been second only, in all the United States, to that of William
Randolph Hearst; nor could any Shirley Temple picture attract at
its opening such crowds as greeted Charlie Chaplin's "Modern
Times"; but her curls and her childish smile made the great
American heart throb with sentiment.  (She was about to appear in
"Captain January.")

To scores of thousands of readers, Life with Father was still
offering an acquaintance with the rambunctious Clarence Day,
senior; North to the Orient, an air ride with the Lindberghs.
Among best-selling novels, Vein of Iron and It Can't Happen Here
were yielding their leadership to The Last Puritan, and people who
believed in the finer things of life were expressing pleasure that
a genuine hundred-percent philosopher like George Santayana should
have been able to hit commercial success on the nose.  In the
fastnesses of the publishing house of Macmillan the editors were
wondering whether a forthcoming novel of theirs, Margaret
Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, might possibly sell as well as
Anthony Adverse.  (It would not only do that but within its first
six months would sell over a million copies--a prodigious record--
and would set ladies' luncheon tables from coast to coast buzzing
with the question whether Scarlett O'Hara really got Rhett Butler
back--and who ought to play Scarlett on the screen.)

It was a cold winter in the North, with heavy drifts of snow.
Sales of skiing equipment were noteworthy, and the snow trains bore
away to the uplands innumerable incipient experts in the slalom--or
in the lesser art of teetering safely down a very small hill.  Over
in Germany the Olympic winter sports were being held, as a prelude
to that monstrous summer carnival of athletics in which it was to
be revealed to the eyes even of Adolf Hitler that Nordics, whatever
their transcendent virtues, could not run as fast as black Jesse
Owens.  (The Germans, however, would have their reply ready: had
not their Max Schmeling confounded the sports writers by defeating
Joe Louis at the Yankee Stadium by a technical knockout in the
twelfth round?)

If the zest of ladies and gentlemen for corporate finance was being
circumscribed by the SEC, they at least could undertake imaginary
feats of financial daring in the parlor game of "Monopoly."  The
time was approaching when a popular if short-lived diversion among
otherwise reasonable Americans would be the exchange of such
curious pleasantries as these:  "Knock, knock."  "Who's there?"
"Eskimo, Christian, and Italian."  "Eskimo, Christian, and Italian
who?"  "Eskimo, Christian, and Italian no lies."

In short, the year 1936 was getting under way--the year when
President Roosevelt's New Deal would have to face the voters.

How much water had gone under the bridge since 1932, when Roosevelt
had first been a candidate for the White House!  Gone was the
prospect of imminent financial catastrophe.  Gone was popular
distrust of the solvency of the banks: bank failures now were few
and far between.  Gone was any real hope of collecting the war
debts (except from Finland); was it possible that only five years
previously, Herbert Hoover had tried to halt the Depression by
proposing a year's delay in payments?  Gone was any hope of early
return to the traditional international gold standard: managed
currencies had become the order of the day.  Waning at least, if
not gone, was the fear of immediate headlong inflation of the
currency.  (Although the huge Federal deficits--larger than any in
Hoover's time--caused grave headshakings, nevertheless people went
right on buying government bonds.)  Yet waning also was any real
expectation of an abrupt economic upsurge which would eliminate
speedily the unemployment problem.  Although people still talked of
"the emergency" or "the crisis," clearly they were no longer
thinking of any "sudden juncture," any "moment of danger," such as
dictionary definitions of those terms would imply; this "emergency"
had become semi-permanent.  The economic system had pulled out of
its sinking spell of 1929-33 only to become a chronic invalid,
whose temperature was lower now in the mornings but showed no signs
of returning quickly to normal.  Americans were getting used to the
fact that nine or ten million of their fellow-countrymen were out
of work.

No longer was there any question, in the minds of most Americans
capable of realistic thought, that the government must carry a
heavy responsibility for the successful or unsuccessful working of
the economic system.  Having once intervened, it could not
extricate itself even if it would.  The debate was only about the
extent to which the intervention should go.  The economic
headquarters of the country had not only moved from Wall Street to
Washington, but apparently had settled down there for an indefinite
stay.  If, as we have seen, economic authority still tended to
gravitate from the countryside to the cities and from the lesser
cities to New York, until great tracts of land in the Mississippi
Valley were subject to the dictates of New York executives, no
longer did those executives issue their dictates as they pleased;
when Washington spoke, they knew they heard their master's voice.
Even the great House of Morgan--head, front, and symbol of the one-
time sovereignty of Wall Street--had been forced to divide itself
into two concerns, one for commercial banking, the other for
investment banking.  No major decision could any longer be made in
Wall Street without the question being asked, "What will Washington
say to this?"

The government was growing in size and complexity as well as in
power.  Whenever a new fever attacked the body politic, new Federal
agencies multiplied--like white corpuscles in the blood--to fight
it.  The custom of the time decreed that each agency must be known
by the initials of its title, but soon there were so many that only
an expert could identify them by these alphabetical designations.
RFC, NRA, and WPA might be easy even for the elementary class in
governmental nomenclature; AAA, CCC, SEC, and TVA for the
intermediate class; but what did HOLC stand for, and FHA, and FCA
and NYA--to mention only a few?

Because the riddles which the New Deal faced were beyond its
ability (or, probably, anybody's ability) to solve with real
success, and because anyhow it was easier to hand out subsidies to
the victims of a maladjustment than to bring the maladjustment to
an end, this swelling government establishment had become a huge
subsidizing machine--handing out Federal relief payments, farm
allotment payments, and other "emergency" benefits innumerable, to
say nothing of war bonuses and such venerable subsidies as kept the
color in the wan cheeks of the merchant marine; until by 1936 an
appropriation of a hundred million dollars looked like small
change, and even a billion seemed no bigger than a light-year seems
to an astronomer.

All this development of the Federal power the Republicans viewed
with loud alarm; yet with such an air of inevitability did the
growth take place that one wondered whether the Republicans, should
they come to power, would be able to reverse the trend.  It seemed
likely that the difference between the two parties would be that
one of them, in moving toward the concentration of power in
Washington, would move with the throttle open; the other, with the
brakes on.

In the world outside the United States the changes between 1932 and
1936 were even more striking.  No longer could France be thought of
as the pre-eminent power on the Continent.  British diplomacy was
beginning that series of surrenders and evasions which was
presently to reduce sharply the prestige of the Empire.  The League
of Nations, which had failed to make Japan regret its invasion of
Manchuria in 1931, and was now failing to make Mussolini regret his
invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, was in its death throes.  The Nazi
government of Germany, though only three years old, was already
alarming the Continent; and was about to begin, with its march into
the Rhineland, that series of bold territorial moves which were to
keep all Europe in fear of immediate general war.  Mussolini, the
father of fascism, was shifting from opposition to Hitler to
alliance with this younger and more furious disciple of the
totalitarian idea.  The European center of gravity was moving
definitely toward Berlin.

No longer were vital economic decisions made at international
conferences of bankers; now they were made only by the political
leaders of states.  That trend toward concentration of national
authority in the government which was noticeable in Washington was
noticeable almost everywhere else--even in Britain and France.
Russia was becoming less and less the exponent of a revolutionary
form of economic and social organization and more and more a nation
whose dictatorial government pursued nationalist ends in a world of
national rivalries.  In Germany, the central power was now
absolute.  National Socialism had become the most dynamic religion
of the day, and the head of the state was rapidly becoming an
object of worship.  Watching the German spectacle, American
observers were wondering whether the world was irresistibly due for
an era of political, racial, religious, and intellectual

It had been expected that the economic barriers between nations
would gradually be lifted after the worst of the Depression was
over.  But now these barriers were stronger than ever.  In Germany
the objective of the Nazi government was no longer primarily to
solve the insoluble economic problems which confronted every
government in the nineteen-thirties, but to give its people the
thrill and pride of conquest; and to achieve prosperity
incidentally by putting the unemployed to work (as in a vast public-
works campaign) at armament-making, and by controlling its inflated
currency and well-nigh every other economic activity through the
exercise of central authority.  The Nazis were defying half the
economic axioms of the days of free business enterprise and--at
least temporarily--getting away with it.  They were in fact
abolishing economics entirely, in the sense that the word implies
an organization of the decisions of free men, and were substituting
for it an organization of compulsions and conquests.

As Germany re-armed, so did the other governments.  By 1936 an
international armaments boom was in full swing.  Indeed, so
dependent were the various national economies becoming upon arms
manufacturing that some observers were beginning to wonder which
would be worse, the general war which so many people dreaded, or
the true peace which so many people longed for and which would put
out the fires in hundreds of factories and might light the fires of
rebellion in millions of hungry men.

Whenever people thought of "the danger of war," they thought of
such a general headlong conflict as had broken out in 1914.
Experts on foreign affairs had been predicting at intervals ever
since the early nineteen-twenties that such a conflict would surely
break out next month or next year or within two or three years at
the most; and now their predictions were more urgent than ever.
Yet the pattern of international relations which was being
established in Europe was a pattern neither of general war nor of
true peace.  It was a pattern of continuous half-war: of nations
remaining partially mobilized, partially on a war footing; making
quick sallies to grab this territory or that, knowing that the
dread of another 1914 would prevent anybody from stopping them
until it was too late; of nations gaining new spheres of influence
by subsidizing revolts in other countries (or even aiding these
revolts by force of arms) as the Italians and Germans were shortly
to aid Franco's revolt in Spain.  In short, it was a pattern of
shifting, localized, undeclared, unceasing conflict.  War?  Peace?
This was neither, by the vocabulary even of 1932: it was something
in between, to which the words of an earlier day no longer applied.

Truly it was a new world upon which Americans were looking in 1936:
a world full of the wreckage of the verities not merely of 1929 but
even of 1932.


At last business conditions in the United States were definitely
improving.  The Federal Reserve Board's Adjusted Index of
Industrial Production (which as you may recall had sunk as low as
58 and 59 in the crises of 1932 and early 1933, had leaped to 100
during the New Deal Honeymoon, had then slipped back to 72 by
November, 1933, and had obstinately hung in the seventies and
eighties throughout 1934) had now begun to show a pretty definite
upward trend.  By the beginning of 1935 it had risen as far as 90.
By the end of 1935 it had reached 101.  And after a brief relapse
into the nineties, it swept on during 1936 to 104 in June, 108 in
July and August, 109 in September, 110 in October, 114 in November,
and 121 in December--within striking distance of the record figure
of 125 which had been set in 1929.

A very pretty picture indeed--yet one could not appraise it rightly
without noting several disquieting facts.  One was that the
production figure would have to rise much higher than 125 to absorb
the bulk of the unemployed.  Labor saving machinery, speed-up
methods of work, and executive efficiency had now made it possible
to produce more goods with less workers.  Perhaps there was
significance also in the fact that as a result of the drop in the
birth rate and the closing down of immigration, a larger proportion
of the people of the country than ever before were of working age.
Another disquieting fact was that the improvement was being secured
at a price--the price of a rising Federal debt.  The net deficits
of the United States government had been running as follows:--

Fiscal year ending June 30, 1933 (which straddled the Hoover and
Roosevelt Administrations): $2,602,000,000

Fiscal year ending June 30, 1934: $3,630,000,000

Fiscal year ending June 30, 1935: $3,002,000,000

To which was now being added the 1936 figure of $4,361,000,000

This latter enormous figure for 1936 was by no means attributable
solely to New Deal policies; for it was not only affected by the
destruction by the Supreme Court of the processing taxes levied by
the AAA, but was also very gravely enlarged by Congress's voting of
the Bonus over Roosevelt's veto.  On June 15, 1936, the postmen
sallied forth to distribute over a billion and a half dollars in
bonds and checks.  Most of these were cashed within the next three
months.  What wonder that the deficit was larger than ever before--
and that, with these new funds being spent all over the country,
the business index was rising?

Throughout these early years of the New Deal the levels of prices
and wages and the structure of corporate and private debt were
being artificially supported by government spending--or, to put it
another way, by the failure of the government to levy high enough
taxes to take care of the spending.  If it had been possible for
the law of supply and demand to work unhindered, prices and wages--
and the volume of corporate and private debt--would theoretically
have fallen to a "natural" level and activity could have been
resumed again.  But it was not possible for the law of supply and
demand to work unhindered.  In a complex twentieth-century economy,
deflation was too painful to be endured.  Hoover had set up the RFC
because the banks couldn't take it; Roosevelt had set up the
Federal relief system because human beings couldn't take it.  Some
of Roosevelt's advisers, embracing the theory of John Maynard
Keynes (and also making a virtue of necessity), had been arguing
for some time that when the government, by over-spending, poured
new money into the economic bloodstream, business would be
stimulated and a new adjustment would be reached at a higher level,
thus rendering the anguish of deflation unnecessary.  The new money
would "prime the pump" of business; presently all sorts of new
businesses would be undertaken, there would be a boom, the
unemployed would be absorbed in industry, and all would be well.
Roosevelt hoped that this would happen, and so far the process
seemed to be beginning.  Business was picking up.  But where, oh,
where, were the new enterprises?

During the preceding year there had been a considerable volume of
capital flotations, but chiefly these flotations had been
undertaken merely to refund old issues of securities at lower
interest rates: interest rates having gone down, corporations had
been seizing the happy opportunity to substitute 3 3/4 per cent
bonds for 5 per cent bonds.  Few of the flotations had represented
the investment of money in the expansion of old businesses or in
the inauguration of new ones.  Uninvested money was piling up in
the banks instead of being spent in building and equipping new
factories.  In short, the pump was not working right.

Of course it was not working right, argued most business men.  The
trouble was that investors were frightened.  Naturally they were
distrustful of the New Deal's reformist zeal and of the very
spending policy which was supposed to entice their money into the
capital markets.  Surely the pump would work really well before
long, replied the New Dealers; and how could they cut expenses
without destroying buying power and perhaps starving their fellow-
citizens?  Eagerly they continued to prime the pump.  Year after
year, in his Budget messages, the President who had berated Hoover
in 1932 for failing to balance the Budget expressed the hope that
next year, or the year after, the balance would at last be
achieved; but like the man who swears that this little drink is
positively his last one, presently he began to sound as if he did
not convince even himself.

There were other somewhat unsettling facts about this recovery,
too.  The Lynds noticed, for example, that in "Middletown" it was
harder now for a man to start a small business than it had been
even a decade before.  "The Middletown tradition is all in favor of
an enterprising man with an idea and a shoestring of capital," they
noted.  "But it is this type of small enterprise that has gone
under in Middletown in the Depression."  Personal savings had been
eaten up, bankers were cautious, the trend in manufacturing was
toward such large and expensively equipped shops that the small
manufacturer was at a disadvantage, and the going concerns in many
lines of business were inclined, with or without the aid of their
trade associations, to make things hot for a newcomer.  It was the
big corporations, by and large, which were making the profits;
small ones were lucky indeed to break even.  Here was a barrier to
new investment (which will be noted more fully in the last chapter
of this book): the odds were against making money in fledgling

Even inside going businesses, as the Lynds also pointed out, the
ladder of opportunity was not so readily climbed as it once had
been.  The skilled laborer was finding that the higher-paid and
more important positions were going to a different class of
specially trained men.  "In other words," said the Lynds, "Andrew
Carnegie's advice to enterprising young men to begin at the bottom
no longer appears to be sound advice.  Men of his type are advising
young men today to get a toehold in one of the managerial or
technical departments halfway up the ladder."

Was this a sign of a gradual crystallization of class structure in
American society?  Certainly it was hard for reliefers to get
themselves out of the relief class.  It was hard for dispossessed
farmers to get back on the land.  If it was also harder than it had
been for the man without a higher education or influential friends
to get a job in the upper ranks of business, how would fare the
American dream of a classless democracy in which anyone could go to
the top?


But how welcome was even this modest and dubiously founded recovery
of 1936!  The railroads, to be sure, were not getting much of it;
but the automobile companies were selling more cars than in any
previous season save 1928 and 1929, the steel industry was
operating close to capacity at last, the consumers' goods
industries and chain stores were mostly going strong, and even the
building industry--which had come to a prolonged and almost
complete halt during the worst of the Depression--was climbing
briskly (with government aid) up the lower foothills of recovery.
(No longer was it inevitably embarrassing to ask an architect what
he was doing these days.)  There seemed to be plenty of free-and-
easy spending among the prosperous: Miami was having its best
season since the collapse of the Florida boom in the distant days
of Calvin Coolidge, there were lavish dbutante parties in the big
cities, the race tracks were crowded, the cash registers were
tinkling in the night clubs.  Apparently the men of means, looking
ruefully back on what had happened to their investments under
Hoover and meditating fearfully on what might happen to them under
Roosevelt, were putting their money where they could enjoy it right

There were visible promises, too, if one looked about one, of what
might prove to be a new industrial age.  A few of the more
progressively managed railroads, shaking themselves out of their
long technological nap, were running slick new streamlined trains
made of duralumin, stainless steel, or corten.  The Union Pacific
had started the new movement by completing a dural train early in
1934, the Burlington had followed with a stainless steel Zephyr,
and by the end of 1936 there were 358 cars made of these new
materials in operation or under construction for the Class I
railroads of the country.  Whenever one of the fancy new trains was
put on exhibition, crowds surged through it, entranced: here was a
symbol of the new America they wanted.  Air-conditioning was coming
in fast, too, not only in the movie theatres and railroad trains
but in restaurants and shops and offices as well.  As for
streamlining, it had become a briefly overworked fad.  In 1934 and
1935 some of the automobile companies had produced cars so bulbous,
so obesely curved as to defy the natural preference of the eye for
horizontal lines; the city streets were being invaded by new busses
streamlined against the terrific air resistance built up while
edging through urban traffic at ten miles an hour; and the
streamline idea was being applied by designers even to quite
stationary buildings and to objects of furniture which would never
have to confront a stronger draft than that of an electric fan.

New ocean liners were breaking records for size and speed.  In
June, 1935, the New York waterfront had been lined with crowds and
the harbor had resounded with tootings of welcome as the Normandie
arrived; a year later the reception was to be repeated as the Queen
Mary swept in from England.  As for airplanes, one had only to
compare the great silvery Douglas DC3 of June, 1936, which had a
cruising speed of 200 miles an hour, with the 110-mile-an-hour
transport planes of 1932.  Coast-to-coast travel in overnight air
sleepers had become a matter of routine.  In October, 1936, the
China Clipper finished its first scheduled round-trip passenger
flight across the Pacific to Manila and back.  Not yet was there
any passenger service across the Atlantic by plane, but there was
service by air nonetheless: Germany's newest dirigible, the
Hindenburg, began in 1936 a regular series of flights--nor did any
one then guess what would happen to that graceful ship of the air
on May 6, 1937.

The motorist too could get, here and there, a glimpse of the
promise of a new world when he found himself cruising at 60 miles
an hour on a huge well-banked highway, with underpasses and
majestic clover-leaf intersections--a highway which smoothly
skirted the towns in which, a few years before, his car would have
been clogged in local traffic.  It was all new and exciting, this
world of beautiful speed, as exciting as it was to follow a guide
about Rockefeller Center, New York, the one and only skyscraper
group to rise in the United States during the nineteen-thirties,
and to see how a combination of cool design and gay planting and
shining new materials could brighten the metropolitan scene.

New materials?  Why, it was beginning to seem as if the chemists
and metallurgists could produce any sort of substance that was
needed.  Lighter, tougher steels, made with nickel, chromium,
tungsten, vanadium, molybdenum.  Plastics suited to the making of
anything from automobile steering wheels to tableware, from radio
cabinets to dice.  New artificial fibers made from cellulose, and
new processes for extracting cellulose from Southern pines.
Plywood with absurdly un-woodlike qualities.  Certainly the
technical men were making ready the materials for the world of
tomorrow, however discouragingly the production of these marvels
lagged.  What boundless possibilities might be locked in the
development of tray agriculture?  What marvels of efficiency might
not the photo-electric cell make possible?  What would television
do to entertainment and news distribution in the future?  Would the
two-cycle Diesel engine revolutionize the production and
transmission of power?  And how would people live when the pre-
fabricated house moved out of the phase of experiment into the
phase of mass production?  Questions like these were running
through people's minds; the American imagination was beginning to
break loose again.

Was there, perhaps, some new machine, some new gadget the furious
demand for which would set in motion a new boom--something like the
automobile or the radio?  In the spring and summer of 1936 a great
many people thought they had found one.  Way back in the summer of
1929, just before the Panic, a bacteriologist named Arthur G.
Sherman had built for his family a little house on wheels which
could be towed behind his car on vacations.  It attracted so much
favorable attention wherever he went that he built a few more, and
exhibited one of them at the Detroit Automobile Show in 1930.
Presently he was manufacturing them on an expanding scale, other
manufacturers were leaping in, householders with a knack for tools
were building their own trailers in their backyards.  By 1936 the
number of house trailers on the road was estimated by Automotive
Daily News at 160,000.  On New Year's Day, 1937, Florida observers
reported that these contrivances were crossing the state line at
the rate of 25 an hour.  Roger Babson declared that within twenty
years half the population of the United States would be living in
them.  What more lovely vision could there be--provided one did not
focus one's attention on real-estate values, taxes, steady jobs,
schooling for the children, sanitation problems, and other such
prosy details--than the vision of the coming of a carefree era when
the restless American could sell his house, climb into his trailer,
and go forth to live the life of the open road?


The amount of money which was going into new things like the
trailer industry, however, was but a fraction of what was needed.
What was holding back the rest?

However economists might disagree upon this point, there was very
little disagreement among the potential investors themselves, the
possessors of capital, the well-to-do, and especially the very
rich.  What was wrong, they were sure, was "lack of confidence"--
and this lack of confidence was caused by the arbitrary rule of an
Administration which spent money recklessly, followed unsound and
inflationary principles of public finance, yielded to the advice of
semi-communist brain-trusters, burdened business with grievous
taxes, wasted the tax money on crazy boondoggling schemes for the
pampering and political bribing of the unenterprising poor,
harassed business men with hasty and unpredictable and paralyzing
reforms and with government competition, slaughtered little pigs to
win votes from the farmers, encouraged labor agitators to tie up
industry, generally opposed the "profit system," and threatened
American freedom by dictating to Congress, discrediting the Supreme
Court, and undermining the Constitution.

On these and other charges against the Administration endless
changes were rung in the conservative press, in the speeches of
conservative business men and political leaders, in the circulars
of such varied organizations as the Liberty League, the Crusaders,
the Defenders, and the American Nationalists, Inc., and above all
in the private conversation of the well-to-do.

That the large property owners and the managers of large businesses
should have become indignant was not at all surprising.  Buffeted
and frightened by the Depression, they had at first hailed
Roosevelt as a deliverer.  Presently they had discovered that he
did not intend the "recovery" for which he was working to be a
recovery of things as they had been in 1929; he wanted things
changed.  He not only continued to press for reforms, he tore to
bits the fiscal promises of the 1932 Democratic platform and of his
own campaign speeches.  He set out to champion the less fortunate,
to denounce such financiers and big business men as stood in his
way; and as their opposition to him hardened, so also did his
opposition to them.  Raymond Moley has told how Roosevelt, sitting
with a group of men discussing the tenor of an impending
Presidential speech, would listen to their accounts of the
derogatory Roosevelt stories that were going the rounds of Wall
Street and State Street and Chestnut Street and La Salle Street,
and how his face would stiffen, till it became clear that the
speech would be--as Moley said--"more like a thistle than an olive

It was natural, then, that men and women of means should feel that
the President had changed his course and singled them out as
objects of the enmity of the government.  It was natural that they
should have become confirmed in this feeling when, with half an eye
to undermining Huey Long's "Share Our Wealth" offensive, he backed
in the summer of 1935 a revenue bill which stepped up taxes on the
rich.  It was even natural that they should have felt so strongly
about what had happened since 1933 as to seem to forget that there
had been anything wrong with the country before 1933.

Yet the lengths to which some of them went in their opposition, and
the extent to which this opposition became concentrated, among a
great many of them, into a direct and flaming hatred of Roosevelt
himself, constituted one of the memorable curiosities of the

All the fumblings of a government seeking to extricate the country
from the world-wide Depression which had followed the slackening of
nineteenth-century expansion; all the maneuvers of an Administration
trying to set right what seemed to have gone wrong in the financial
world during the previous decade, to redress the disadvantages under
which the common man labored, and simultaneously to maintain its
political appeal to this common man--all these things were reduced,
in the minds of thousands of America's "best people," to the simple
proposition that Franklin D. Roosevelt was intent upon becoming a
dictator at their expense.  Much that Roosevelt did lent a color of
justification to this version of history; yet in reducing so much to
so little these people performed one of the most majestic feats of
simplification in all American history.

This hatred of Roosevelt was strong, though far from unanimous,
among the well-to-do in all sections of the country.  It was
strongest and most nearly unanimous among the very rich and in
those favored suburbs and resorts where people of means were best
insulated against uncomfortable facts and unorthodox opinions.  (To
live in Locust Valley or Greenwich, let us say, to work in Wall
Street, and to read only the New York Herald Tribune in the morning
and the New York Sun at night, offered excellent insulation,
especially if one concentrated devotedly upon the daily lamentations
of Mark Sullivan and the uniformly sour interpretations of
Administration policies in the financial columns of the Sun.)  In
general, the hatred was most intense in the cities along the
Atlantic seaboard, with the exception of Washington, where there
were moderating opportunities to see New Dealers in the flesh and to
discover that they were human after all.  It flared higher and
higher during 1934 and 1935 and continued at a high temperature
until about 1938, when it appeared to weaken somewhat, if only
through exhaustion.

Sometimes the anti-Roosevelt mood was humorous.  On the commuting
trains and at the downtown lunch clubs there was an epidemic of
Roosevelt stories, like that of the psychiatrist who died and
arrived in Heaven to be whisked off to attend God Himself:  "You
see, He has delusions of grandeur--He thinks He's Franklin D.
Roosevelt."  But there was nothing humorous in the attitude of the
gentlemen sitting in the big easy chairs at their wide-windowed
clubs when they agreed vehemently that Roosevelt was not only a
demagogue but a communist.  "Just another Stalin--only worse."  "We
might as well be living in Russia right now."  At the well-butlered
dinner party the company agreed, with rising indignation, that
Roosevelt was "a traitor to his class."  In the smoking compartment
of the Pullman car the traveling executives compared contemptuous
notes on the President's utter ignorance of business.  "He's never
earned a nickel in his life--what has he ever done but live off his
mother's income?"  In the cabaas at Miami Beach the sun-tanned
winter visitors said their business would be doing pretty well if
it weren't for THAT MAN.  In the country-club locker room the
golfers talked about the slow pace of the stock market as they took
off their golf shoes; and when, out of a clear sky, one man said,
"Well, let's hope somebody shoots him," the burst of agreement made
it clear that everybody knew who was meant.

There was an epidemic, too, of scurrilous Roosevelt gossip.
Educated and ordinarily responsible people not only insisted, but
sincerely believed, that "everybody in Washington knew" the whole
Roosevelt family was drunk most of the time; that the reason why
Mrs. Roosevelt was "so all over the place" was that she was
planning to succeed her husband in the Presidency "until it's time
for the sons to take over"; and that Roosevelt was insane.  Hadn't
a caller recently sat with him and tried to talk public affairs,
only to be greeted with prolonged and maniacal laughter?  From this
point the gossip ran well over the line into the unprintable.

A good deal of the bitter anti-Roosevelt talk could not, of course,
be taken at its face value.  Often it was a form of conscious self-
indulgence in the emotional satisfaction of blaming a personal
scapegoat for everything that went wrong.  When, as in a New Yorker
cartoon, a group of ladies and gentlemen sallied forth to the trans-
lux theatre "to hiss Roosevelt," they enjoyed the sort of release
that many liberals had enjoyed when they blamed all the ills of the
economic system on the personal wickedness of bankers, or that
Nazis enjoyed when they blamed all the ills of Germany on the Jews.
To find a scapegoat is to be spared, for the moment, any necessity
for further examination of the facts or for further thought.

Yet to the extent that it stopped factual inquiry and thought, the
Roosevelt-hating was costly, not only to recovery, but to the
haters themselves.  Because as a group (there were many exceptions)
the well-to-do regarded the presence of Roosevelt in the White
House as a sufficient explanation for all that was amiss and as a
sufficient excuse for not taking a more active part in new
investment, they inevitably lost prestige among the less fortunate.
For the rich and powerful could maintain their prestige only by
giving the general public what it wanted.  It wanted prosperity,
economic expansion.  It had always been ready to forgive all manner
of deficiencies in the Henry Fords who actually produced the goods,
whether or not they made millions in the process.  But it was not
disposed to sympathize unduly with people who failed to produce the
goods, no matter how heart-rending their explanations for their
failure.  Roosevelt-hating thrust the owners and managers of
business into inaction--into trying to resist the tide of affairs,
to set back the clock.  It made them conservatives in the sense
that they were trying to hold on to old things, whereas before 1929
they had been, in their own way, innovators, bringers of new
things.  It made them, as a group, sterile.  And they were soon to
learn that sterility does not stir public applause.


The Presidential campaign of 1936 was approaching.  Whom would the
Republicans nominate to embody and galvanize the widespread
indignation against the New Deal, not only among the rich but also
among the majority of business men, and a host of others who
regarded Roosevelt as dangerously radical, extravagant, or

Hoover?  No, his name recalled too many bitter memories of economic
and political defeat.  Borah?  He had strong popular backing,
especially in the West, but he was fiscally unorthodox and too old
and too much of a maverick.  Frank Knox of Chicago?  Senator
Vandenberg of Michigan?  All were passed over.  As the time for the
Cleveland convention drew near, the Republican choice settled upon
a candidate who had been virtually unknown to the country before
1936 but who seemed supremely "available"--Governor Alfred Mossman
Landon of Kansas.

A successful independent oil producer, Landon should appeal, the
Republican leaders felt, to business men.  A Governor who had
balanced his State budget in trying times, he should be a fitting
standard-bearer in a fight against Federal spending (though his
opponents pointed out that he had had to balance the budget anyhow
because the Kansas Constitution decreed it; and also that Kansas
had leaned heavily on the Federal government for relief funds).  A
former Bull Mooser, a man of generally liberal views, Landon should
invite the support of men and women in the middle of the political
road.  (The conservative die-hards were his anyhow: they would vote
for the Devil himself to beat Roosevelt.)  An adroit political
adjuster, Landon should be amenable to the suggestions of men on
the Hill who thought Roosevelt too dictatorial toward Congress.  A
friendly, likable person, with an attractive family, he should
personally be a good vote-getter.  If his record contained little
evidence of brilliance, he could be presented as an unassuming
average man, a regular fellow who didn't set himself up to be a
superman but possessed plain common sense and would stick to "the
American way."  As the delegates assembled in Cleveland, Landon was
clearly so far in the lead that no other name was even placed in
nomination.  Landon was nominated with a whoop.  The "Kansas
Coolidge," "the Careful Kansan," with a Kansas sunflower as his
emblem, was sent forth to do battle with Roosevelt.

Landon was provided with a platform likewise intended to appeal to
those in the middle of the road.  Though it bristled with
denunciations of the New Deal, in certain respects it wore a
surprisingly liberal aspect.  It did not utterly decry Federal
participation in relief, though it advocated the "return of
responsibility for relief administration to non-political local
agencies."  It did not utterly decry Federal participation in
agricultural regulation, but proposed a national land-use plan not
wholly different from the Democratic scheme--with, however, a
greater reliance upon the state governments.  It did not call for
the repeal of the Securities Act, the Stock Exchange Act, or the
Public Utility Holding Company Act, upon which the men of Wall
Street had poured such vitriol, but called for "Federal regulation,
within the Constitution, of the marketing of securities to protect
investors," and added, "We favor also Federal regulation of the
interstate activities of public utilities."  Indeed, if a visitor
from Mars had compared the two party platforms of 1936,
concentrating his attention not on the denunciations and pointings-
with-pride but merely upon the positive recommendations which they
contained, he might have wondered why feeling ran so high in this

If the Republicans demanded a balanced budget and "a sound currency
to be preserved at all hazards," the Democrats also spoke of their
"determination to achieve a balanced budget" and "approved the
objective of a permanently sound currency."  Both platforms
inveighed against monopolies, approved collective bargaining,
promised to protect civil liberties, approved the merit system in
the civil service, and spoke friendly words about old-age security
(though the Republicans proposed an altered Social Security
system).  And if the Republicans hammered at the Democrats for
"flaunting" the "integrity and authority of the Supreme Court" and
for "insisting on passage of laws contrary to the Constitution," if
they pledged themselves to "resist all attempts to impair the
authority of the Supreme Court of the United States," the Democrats
also proposed "to maintain the letter and spirit of the
Constitution," explaining that if national problems could not be
"effectively solved by legislation within the Constitution, we
shall seek such clarifying amendment as will assure to the
Legislatures of the several states and the Congress of the United
States, each within its proper jurisdiction, the power to enact
those laws which the State and Federal Legislatures, within their
respective spheres, shall find necessary. . . ."  Surely, the
visitor from Mars would have said, these parties which so denounce
each other are virtually as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The reference in the Democratic platform to the possible need of a
"clarifying" amendment to the Constitution was a master-stroke of
rhetorical precision.  For during the preceding year the Supreme
Court had emerged as the one conservative force able and ready to
withstand the New Deal offensive.  Not only had it thrown out the
NRA, unanimously; in January, 1936, it had thrown out the AAA too,
by a vote of 6 to 3; it had also vetoed the Farm Mortgage
Moratorium Act, the Guffey Coal Act, and several other measures;
and in these decisions it had interpreted so narrowly the
interstate commerce clause of the Constitution that almost every
important New Deal law seemed likely in due course to fall before
its scythe.  Only two of the Court's decisions thus far had favored
the Administration--a 5 to 4 Gold Clause verdict and an 8 to 1
verdict on certain limited phases of the TVA.  Under the
circumstances the New Dealers' opinion of the "nine old men" of the
Court--or, more particularly, of the right-wing justices--was
blistering; and by contrast the Court had become to conservatives
an object of unprecedented veneration.  (Above the rear number
plate of the conservative's Cadillac was now affixed a plate
reading SAVE THE CONSTITUTION, in the very place where, four years
before, had been affixed a plate reading REPEAL THE EIGHTEENTH

Roosevelt was deeply indignant at the Court and longed to checkmate
it, but had not yet decided how to attempt to do this.  He did not
want to propose during the campaign to amend the Constitution,
for it would have been difficult to frame any amendment of the
interstate-commerce clause which might not be represented by the
Republicans as a wide-open door to complete government regimentation
of business.  He wanted to dodge the issue of the Court for the time
being.  That word "clarifying"--so innocent-looking, so suggestive
of a mere attempt to prevent misinterpretation--helped in the

Luck helped Roosevelt, too, and in ironical fashion.  For just as
the elder Republicans were packing their bags to go to Cleveland
for the convention, the Supreme Court did a strange thing.
Previously it had thrown out Federal wages-and-hours legislation.
Now, taking the bit in its teeth, it threw out STATE wages-and-
hours legislation by ruling against a New York State minimum wage
law for women.  The result was staggering: NOBODY could legislate
on wages and hours!  Not even the Republican leaders could swallow
that and remain smiling.  As a result, after the Republicans had
declared in their platform that they would "protect women and
children with respect to maximum hours, minimum wages, and working
conditions" by state laws, adding somewhat lamely, "We believe that
this can be done within the Constitution as it now stands,"
Governor Landon felt it necessary to inform the convention that if
necessary he would seek an amendment to make this possible.
Somehow this took the edge off the Republican championship of the
Court.  Unwittingly the nine gentlemen in black had scored a point
for the embarrassed President.

In other ways fortune favored Roosevelt.  One of Landon's earliest
discoverers had been William Randolph Hearst, and by 1936 the
support of Hearst was less than an asset.  At the beginning of 1936
Al Smith, once Roosevelt's good friend and mentor, had threatened
to "take a walk" and had urged other Democrats to join him in
leaving the New Dealers; but the threat had been made at a dinner
of the Liberty League, an organization so studded with millionaire
industrialists as to become a political liability for the
Republicans.  (Even in Republican politics, millionaires are
customarily kept in the background, behind a convincing front of
small business men and "plain people.")  Adroitly seizing the
opportunity thus offered, the Democratic strategists conducted
their campaign as though they were opposed merely by the
millionaire Liberty League, not the Republican party.  When at the
close of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia--a rubber-stamp,
Roosevelt-controlled convention which was dragged out for five days
to make the merchants and hotel-keepers of Philadelphia happy and
to fill the ears of radio listeners with triumphant if vacuous New
Deal oratory--Roosevelt went to Franklin Field to accept
renomination, he made a ringing speech in which the Republicans
were not even once mentioned.  The enemy, according to this speech,
was the "economic royalists," who "complain that we seek to
overthrow the institutions of America" when "what they really
complain of is that we seek to take away their power."  Whether one
calls such a phrase good demagoguery or good politics, it scored
with the voters.  The phrase became as popular as an earlier
Roosevelt's reference to "malefactors of great wealth."

Even the elements favored the President.  During the summer of the
campaign he made an ostensibly non-political tour of inspection of
the drought-stricken Great Plains--and as he went he was preceded
by such torrents of rain that one of the reporters on the
Presidential special, waking one morning to look out a streaming
train window at a soaking countryside, remarked, "What's this?  A
flood-control trip?"

But the President's greatest advantage lay in his superior personal
appeal to the voters.  Whether or not the Republicans, succumbing
to old habit, had selected an available candidate when they needed
a crusader, the fact was that Landon did not throw out sparks.  He
spoke sensibly, thoughtfully, moderately, including among his
campaign speeches a fine defense of freedom; but his voice was
harsh compared to Roosevelt's, especially over the radio, where
Roosevelt could swing thrillingly from apparently confidential
persuasion to sharp-edged exhortation; and though Landon had an
amiable smile, it lacked the contagious expansiveness of
Roosevelt's.  Whatever may have been Landon's potential abilities,
as a campaigner--in opposition to one of the master politicians of
American history--he was hardly a man to encourage the van or to
harass the foe from the rear.


Roosevelt, by contrast, was in his element as the battle cries
began to resound.

The group of aides which surrounded him during this campaign was
different from the Brain Trust which had surrounded him in 1932.
Sam Rosenman, to be sure, was still unobtrusively at his side in
policy-making discussions.  Raymond Moley, although supposedly he
had left the New Deal as well as his office in the State Department
in the fall of 1933, had remained a confidential Presidential
adviser, though with waning influence and growing exasperation at
the President's offensive against big business.  Throughout 1934
and 1935 Moley had been a constant back-door visitor to the White
House, and he remained in close touch with Roosevelt until the time
of the Democratic convention of 1936.  But the divergence between
their views had become so patent that after the "economic
royalists" speech Moley was definitely through.  Tugwell was no
longer so close to the throne as he had been; nor was Berle.  And
although Jim Farley was still on hand to direct the political
management of the campaign, the devoted and astute Louis Howe was
not.  After a lingering illness in the White House, Howe had died
in April, 1936.

The leading newcomer to the ranks of Presidential aides and
intimate advisers was a young man named Tom Corcoran, an Irishman
from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, who had been a protg of Felix
Frankfurter's since his Harvard Law School days, had been
recommended by Frankfurter to Moley to draft the Securities Act of
1933, along with James M. Landis and Benjamin Cohen, and had
subsequently, with Cohen, drafted both the Stock Exchange Act and
the Public Utility Holding Company Act.  Corcoran's skill in bill-
drafting, his indefatigable energy, his devotion to the New Deal
and to a high ideal of public service, his gay brilliance, and his
knack for playing the accordion had all endeared him to Roosevelt,
and now within a year he had become one of the innermost circle.
His acquaintance among the liberals in the Administration was
large; he became a natural leader of the young liberal lawyers and
a sort of unofficial employment officer for them inside the
government; and already he and his close ally, the shy, rumpled,
unobtrusive, clear-headed Ben Cohen, who lived with Corcoran and
other young New Dealers at a little red house on R Street, were men
of mark in the new Washington.

They were by no means the extreme radicals which current
conservative opinion made them out to be (their draft of the Public
Utility Holding Company Act, for example, was the mildest of three
submitted to the President).  They wanted the government to hold
big business in check, to discipline it, and if necessary to take
over some of its functions, but largely in order to clear the way
for small business, which, they believed, was being crowded out of
the economic race by big business.  Corcoran and Cohen were closer
to the elder La Follette in their economic philosophy, or to
Woodrow Wilson, than to Moscow.  This philosophy, however, involved
them in hostility to the great corporations and great financial
interests; and they readily stimulated a similar hostility in
Roosevelt, who--though he had never formulated a consistent
economic policy--was angry at the rich men's hatred for him and
also believed that only by inveighing against "economic royalists"
could he hold in his own ranks the disaffected millions who had
followed leaders like Huey Long.  Moley, on the contrary, wanted no
continuing onslaught upon the power of concentrated wealth, wanted
collaboration between it and the government.  There was real
significance in the fact that during the campaign of 1936 Corcoran
succeeded Moley as one of the chief Presidential speech-drafters
(along with Stanley High, Ben Cohen, William C. Bullitt, and
others) and as an intimate (along with Relief Administrator Harry
Hopkins, Secretaries Morgenthau and Ickes, Judge Rosenman, and
others).  The apostles of ever-strict business regulation (and also
of spending for recovery) had definitely gained the Presidential

During the campaign, one or more of the inner group would prepare
drafts of a speech for Roosevelt.  At a White House conference a
number of them would argue out with him questions of policy and
epigram.  Then the President would dictate his own draft from the
others, utilizing an idea here, a telling phrase there.  The copy
would be revised, perhaps again and again, and then Roosevelt would
sally forth to deliver it.  The main themes of his speeches were
that the whole country was bound together and what benefited one
interest, one locality, benefited all; that only a beginning had
been made in the work of national conservation, not only of
physical but of human resources; that if the public debt was
rising, so also was the national income; that things were
demonstrably better in 1936 than in 1932.  On awkward points such
as budget-balancing Roosevelt was agile if not actually slippery in
his logic.  On past government measures he was explicit; on future
ones, vague--for the truth was that his legislative program, so far
as it had been thought out, had been completed.  He had no future
program but only a sense of direction.  His demeanor was generally
friendly; only in the Madison Square Garden speech at the end of
the campaign--when he had been enraged by some misguided Republican
propaganda about Social Security--did he turn to bitterness (with
no Moley or Louis Howe at hand to tone down his wrath).  It was in
that philippic that he cried, "I should like to have it said of my
first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of
lust for power met their match.  I should like to have it said of
my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."
During the rest of the campaign he appeared a happy man reporting
encouraging progress and almost completely neglecting to take
notice of Landon or the Republican party.

Nor did the long, exhausting journeys of the campaign--the
sleeping-car nights, the goldfish-bowl publicity, the incessant
speechmaking, the hand-shaking, the hurried conferences, the
incessant uproar of cheering--seem to tire Roosevelt in the least,
cripple though he was, unable to walk alone.  On the contrary, he
wore out his companions and emerged from every day of his ordeal
fresher than ever, like an Antaeus renewed in strength by every
contact with the political element.  Smiling, always smiling, the
silver voice ringing, he swung through the country in a triumph.

Where were the rivals on the left who a year or two before had
looked so menacing?  Huey Long was dead.  Father Coughlin and the
Townsendites, together with a remnant of the Huey Long following,
had joined in backing for the Presidency Representative Lemke of
North Dakota; but it was early apparent that the Lemke opposition
would be weak.  Governor Olson of Minnesota was dead.  The
socialists, nominating Norman Thomas as was their habit, were weak.
And as for the communists, though they nominated Earl Browder for
the Presidency, so anxious were they to be true to the Popular
Front principle dictated by Moscow, and so anxious to defeat
Landon, whom they called the "fascist" candidate, that one could
hardly be sure whether they were really revolutionary Marxians or
just another group of New Dealers.  The contest had become
Roosevelt against Landon, with no important third-party opposition.

Bitterly the campaign progressed.  Not since 1896, certainly, had
public feeling run so high over an election.  To hear angry
Republicans and angry Democrats talking, one would have supposed
the contest was between a tyrant determined to destroy private
property, ambition, the Constitution, democracy, and civilization
itself, and a dupe of Wall Street who would introduce a fascist

Who would win?  The Literary Digest, which for years had been
conducting election straw votes on a huge scale, predicted a Landon
victory, with Roosevelt getting only 161 electoral votes as against
Landon's 320.  Dr. George Gallup, whose American Institute of
Public Opinion had been reporting the results of its more
scientific polls since October go, 1935--thereby inaugurating a new
kind of political measurement, with unguessable possibilities for
the future--showed Roosevelt in the lead throughout the campaign,
and gaining through most of it: Gallup predicted that Roosevelt
would get 477 electoral votes, that Landon would get 42 (with two
states left in the doubtful column).  Jim Farley predicted that
Roosevelt would get 523 electoral votes, carrying every state but
Maine and Vermont--but who ever believes a campaign manager's
prophecies?  Doggedly, the Republicans held to their hope that
Landon would carry the country.

Then came Election Day, and as they gathered by their radios that
evening to hear the returns, they were thunderstruck.  For Jim
Farley had been right.  The Roosevelt landslide was overwhelming.
The old political adage had to be altered to "As Maine goes, so
goes Vermont."  The Democrats won every state but those two.
Roosevelt's popular vote was 27 3/4 millions to Landon's 16 2/3
millions.  Congress was now to be more than three-quarters
Democratic in both Houses--a terrific majority.  The New Deal had
been upheld by the great electorate, and in no uncertain terms.

Why did this happen?  Some reasons have already been suggested.
But there were two which have not hitherto been mentioned in this
account.  One was that the New Deal was a vast dispenser of
pecuniary aid to individuals, chiefly in the form of relief.  In
some areas these payments were crassly used for political
advantage.  In most, they were not.  To argue that the billions
spent for relief were in essence a vast Democratic campaign fund,
paid for by the taxpayers, was to exaggerate cynically.
Nevertheless the argument for the New Deal was implicit in every
payment, whether spoken or not:  "We are looking after you.  Maybe
these other people won't.  Better vote for us."  The momentum of
governmental subsidies is tremendous; anybody who suggests reducing
them does so at his political peril.

The other reason was that although Roosevelt was bitterly hated by
most of the well-to-do, he was genuinely admired and trusted by
most of the poorer people of the country.  Between the lines of his
speeches as well as of the legislation which he sponsored they read
a genuine friendliness toward them, a genuine desire to help them.
Part of the failure of the press (which, in the cities, was
overwhelmingly pro-Landon) either to sway the small voters or to
predict their vote undoubtedly lay in the failure of editors to
understand the impress on these people's minds of the New Deal
relief policy and of Roosevelt's own personality.  Newspaper
articles about the scandalous waste of relief funds or about
nonsensical boondoggling were discounted by these small voters, not
simply because some of them were getting money themselves and
wanted the flow of cash to continue, but because they saw in the
New Deal a badly needed angel of mercy which stood sincerely ready
to help them.  Above all, they saw in Roosevelt himself a friend
who did not talk down to them, did not patronize them, but
respected them as American citizens and wanted his Administration
to serve them.  What did they care what the papers said?  They knew
what the McGarritys in the next block, what the Nelsons on the next
farm, had been up against, and what the Federal government had done
for them; they had heard Roosevelt's friendly voice themselves,
over the radio, again and again.  They felt that they KNEW, and
they voted accordingly.


Gradually Europe was drawing nearer.

During 1936 Hitler's armies had marched unopposed into the
Rhineland.  Mussolini's armies, completing their Ethiopian
campaign, had marched into Addis Ababa.  Civil war had broken out
in Spain, and by the time of Roosevelt's re-election the forces of
Francisco Franco, backed by German and Italian support, were
drawing close to Madrid.  With more and more disquiet the American
people were taking note of an outside world whose orderly
foundations were crumbling as the aggressors of the new German-
Italian Axis moved step by threatening step toward domination.

But the event which was presently to bring the average American man
and woman closer to the European theatre than they had been since
Versailles, and which for days on end was to overshadow in interest
anything that was happening on the American continent, leaping into
the American headlines and becoming the predominant topic of
American conversation, was no affair of armies or conquests.
Though this event might be regarded as a sign of the weakness of
the British Empire--or, conversely, of the ability of that Empire
to adjust its weaknesses, close ranks, and carry on--to most
observers it was simply a personal drama on an imperial stage: the
drama of a king forced to choose between his kingdom and a woman.
That the king should be Edward VIII of Great Britain and Ireland
and of the British Dominions Beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the
Faith, Emperor of India, and that the woman should be a Baltimore
girl, Wallis Warfield Simpson, heightened the drama into what H. L.
Mencken called "the greatest news story since the Resurrection."

All through the summer and fall of 1936, while Roosevelt and Landon
had been stumping the United States, the American press had been
conspicuously aware of the royal romance.  Americans had seen
photographs of Edward and Wallis together on a Mediterranean
cruise, he (in swimming trunks) paddling in a rubber boat, she (in
a bathing suit) sitting on a pier-end above him.  When on October
27 she was granted a divorce from Ernest Simpson, the news from the
Ipswich Assizes made the front pages in the United States.  Not for
weeks thereafter were the great mass of the English people even to
learn of the existence of Mrs. Simpson, so strict was the
unofficial censorship on news uncomfortable to royalty; not, in
fact, until after the Bishop of Bradford, on December 1, spoke (at
a diocesan convention) of the King's need of God's grace, said he
hoped the King was aware of this need, and added sadly, "some of us
wish he gave more positive signs of such awareness."  This
sentence, indirect and discreet as it was, opened the way to the
revelation in England.  But in America the way did not need to be
opened.  Americans had been asking one another for weeks whether
the King and Mrs. Simpson were really to be married; and as the
drama unfolded to its climax, the dispatches from Downing Street
and Westminster and Fort Belvedere let loose a tumult of argument
from one end of the United States to the other.

"Good for him.  Best thing he's ever done.  Let him marry her.
Can't a king be a human being?"  "No, no, no.  He accepted a
responsibility and now he's chucking it.  If he was going to welsh
on his job, why did he ever take it in the first place?"  "Well, he
never was good for much but nightclub work anyhow.  Did you see the
bawling-out Westbrook Pegler gave him in his column?"  "Kind of a
sock for Wallis, I guess.  She was all set to be Queen--and now
where is she?"  "I'll bet it was the Archbishop of Canterbury that
spoiled the thing.  Those divorces of hers, you know."  "Nonsense--
they'd have swallowed the divorces all right if she hadn't been an
American.  Now if she'd been a duchess . . ."  "You have to hand it
to her at that--a Baltimore girl who can bring about an imperial
crisis single-handed."

Endlessly the talk buzzed, till Wallis Warfield Simpson had fled
England for the seclusion of the Rogers' villa at Cannes, and
Stanley Baldwin had told the House of Commons the long story of his
activities as a match-breaker, and the headlines had shrieked, THE
KING QUITS, and millions of Americans had gathered at their radios
on the afternoon of December 11, 1936, to hear, above the crackle
of static, the slow, measured words of Edward himself:

"At long last I am able to say a few words of my own.  I never
wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been
constitutionally possible for me to speak. . . .  (Try another
station--I can't hear.  What was that he said?) . . .  I have found
it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to
discharge my duties as King as I should wish to do, without the
help and support of the woman I love. . . .  (There, that's better.
No, try the other one again.) . . .  And now we all have a new
King.  I wish him and you, his people, happiness and prosperity
with all my heart.  God bless you all!  God save the King!"

With this last speech of Edward's, so perfect in its eloquent
simplicity, the curtain fell upon the drama of British royalty.
Now Americans could turn their minds again to what was happening at
home.  Their own chief of state, re-elected, had been given
virtually a blank check.  What would he write upon it?

Chapter Ten



If in the year 1925 (or thereabouts) you had gone to a cocktail
party in New York attended by writers, critics, artists, musicians,
and professional men and women interested in the newest ideas and
the newest tendencies in the arts, you would probably have heard
some of the following beliefs expressed or implied in the
conversation screamed over the Martinis:--

That there ought to be more personal freedom, particularly sex

That reformers were an abomination and there were too many laws.

That Babbitts, Rotarians, and boosters, and indeed American
business men in general, were hopelessly crass.

That the masses of the citizenry were dolts with thirteen-year-old

That most of the heroes of historical tradition, and especially of
Victorian and Puritan tradition, were vastly overrated and needed

That America was such a standardized, machine-ridden, and
convention-ridden place that people with brains and taste naturally
preferred the free atmosphere of Europe.

If after a lapse of ten years you had strayed into a similar
gathering in 1935 (or thereabouts) you would hardly have been able
to believe your ears, so sharp would have been the contrast.
It is unlikely that you would have found anybody showing any
conversational excitement over sex freedom, or the crudeness of
Babbitts, or the need for debunking Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
(It was characteristic of the nineteen-thirties that the Queen
Victoria with whom Strachey had dealt sharply in the previous
decade became a popular heroine as portrayed on the stage by Helen
Hayes, and that Longfellow himself and other worthies of Victorian
Boston were largely restored to favor in Van Wyck Brooks's The
Flowering of New England in 1936.)  In the conversation screamed
over the somewhat more palatable Martinis of 1935 you would
probably have heard some of the following beliefs expressed or

That reform--economic reform, to be sure, but nevertheless reform
by law--was badly needed, and there ought to be more stringent
laws.  (Some members of the company might even scout reform as
useless pending the clean sweep of capitalist institutions which
must be made by the inevitable Communist Revolution.)

That the masses of the citizenry were the people who really
mattered, the most fitting subjects for writer and artist, the
people on whose behalf reform must be overtaken.  (Indeed, if you
had listened carefully you might have heard a literary critic who
had been gently nurtured in the politest of environments referring
to HIMSELF as a proletarian, so belligerently did he identify
himself with the masses.)

That America was the most fascinating place of all and the chief
hope for freedom; that it was worth studying and depicting in all
its phases but particularly in those uglier phases that cried most
loudly for correction; and that it was worth working loyally to
save, though perhaps it was beyond saving and was going to collapse
along with the rest of civilization.

"What has happened in these ten years?" you might have asked.
"Have these people got religion?"

They had.  The religion, of course, was not the religion of the
churches; one of the few points of resemblance between the
prevailing attitude of such a group in 1925 and its prevailing
attitude in 1935 was that at both times its members were mostly
agnostic if not atheist.  What animated these men and women was the
secular religion of social consciousness to which a reference was
made in Chapter VI of this book.  Deeply moved by the Depression
and the suffering it had caused; convinced that the economic and
social system of the country had been broken beyond repair, that
those who had held the chief economic power before 1929 had been
proved derelict and unworthy, and that action was desperately
needed to set things right; wrung by compassion for the victims of
economic unbalance, these men and women no longer set such store as
formerly upon art as art.  They wanted it to have a social
function, to illuminate the social scene, to bring its darkest
places clearly into view.  "What's the use of being a connoisseur
of the arts when people are starving?" cried a New York woman of
means who had prided herself on her judicious purchases of modern
paintings; "I feel as if I'd been wasting my money."  "What's the
use of writing pretty novels about ladies and gentlemen?" thought
the young fiction-writers of 1935.  "If we write about the
sharecroppers we're getting at the sort of thing that matters--and
we may accomplish something."

To understand the thrust of American literature during the nineteen-
thirties one must realize how strong was this mood of social
evangelism among writers and critics and the intellectual lite


At this point careful qualification is necessary.  The new mood was
most widespread in New York, which had long been the center of
intellectual ferment in the United States and an extremely
sensitive barometer of the pressure of new and radical ideas.  It
was more widespread among the young and rising--and frequently
jobless--intellectuals than among the older and better-established.
Many successful practitioners of the craft of writing to sell were
quite untouched by it.  It was not strikingly prevalent among well-
to-do "nice people" of culture who had always been surrounded with
books and had always subscribed to the more decorous magazines, or
among academic gentry remote from the fever of new creative effort
in the arts.  It was likely to bewilder and perhaps frighten the
clubwoman who enjoyed literary lectures and wanted to beautify her
town and subscribed to all the best concerts and belonged to the
Book-of-the-Month Club.  As for the banker who was a college
trustee and helped to make up the annual deficit of the symphony
concerts and had every right to be considered a sustainer of the
arts, he was likely to be angered by it--if indeed he was aware of
it at all.

Now and again some expression of the mood leaped into wide
popularity.  There was, for example, the play "Tobacco Road,"
written by Jack Kirkland from a novel by Erskine Caldwell.
Produced in New York on December 4, 1935 (just as Prohibition gave
way to Repeal), this study of a poverty-stricken and depraved
Southern tenant family seemed at first about to fail but gradually
found its public and, to the amazement of Broadway, ran on and on,
year after year, until by the autumn of 1939 it had easily broken
the phenomenal record for successive New York performances set by
"Abie's Irish Rose" in the nineteen-twenties.  Undoubtedly the
success of "Tobacco Road" was due in part to its frank and profane
dialogue, its exhibitions of uninhibited love-making, and James
Barton's fine gift for both comic and tragic effects as Jeeter
Lester; but at least the success was not prevented by the fact that
the play showed relentlessly and compassionately the interworking
of poverty and degeneracy--showed it without blinking the fact that
the Lesters had become a dirty, irresponsible, mentally defective,
disreputable family.

Another quite different embodiment of the mood was the musical
revue "Pins and Needles," produced on November 27, 1937, by Labor
Stage, Inc., a company of garment workers (of which no actor was
paid more than $55 a week).  This revue likewise went on and on
until late in 1939 it had broken all previous musical-show
endurance records.  Playfully pleading the cause of the labor
unions and satirizing their enemies, "Pins and Needles" was
different from anything previously seen on the musical stage.  Who
would have imagined, in the nineteen-twenties, that a revue would
run for years whose catchiest air was called "Sing Me a Song of
Social Significance"?

Only one or two books which could fairly be said to reflect the
mood of social consciousness reached the top of the bestseller list
during the nineteen-thirties.  One was Sinclair Lewis's It Can't
Happen Here, published late in 1935, which showed how fascism might
come to the United States.  A still better example was John
Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, a very vivid and finely wrought
account of the plight of a family of migrant "Okies" in California,
which not only met with thunders of critical applause when it
appeared early in 1939 but jumped at one bound to the top of the
list.  Here, even more than in "Tobacco Road," the components of
the young intellectuals' credo were brought together: a sense of
the way in which economic and social forces worked together to
bring tragedy to innocent people; a deep sympathy for those people,
combined with a willingness to reveal all their ignorance, their
casual carnality, their inability to understand their own plight; a
sense of the splendor of America, its exciting challenge to artist
and to social engineer alike; and a resolve to arouse an
indifferent public by showing the worst in poverty and cruelty that
America could offer.

Otherwise an examination of the annual best-seller lists would seem
to suggest how limited in size was the public which wanted social
documents.  To command the attention of two or three hundred
thousand readers in its original full-price edition, a book
succeeded best by addressing itself to other impulses.

There was, for example, the desire to escape from the here and now
of Depression and anxiety.  May not The Good Earth, by Pearl S.
Buck, which led the fiction list in 1931 and 1932, have had an
additional appeal because it took its readers away to China?  May
not the appearance of The Fountain, by Charles Morgan, on the best-
seller list for 1932 have been partly due to the fact that it told
of a man who escaped from the outward world of ugly circumstance
into a world of inward reflection?  Surely the success of Shadows
on the Rock, by Willa Cather (1931), the even greater success of
Anthony Adverse, by Hervey Allen (which led all comers in 1933 and
1934), and the superlative success of Gone with the Wind, by
Margaret Mitchell (which was the overwhelming favorite in 1936 and
1937)--to say nothing of Stark Young's So Red the Rose (1934),
Kenneth Roberts's Northwest Passage (1937), and a number of other
books, was the greater because they offered an escape into history.
For a time the likeliest recipe for publishing profits was to
produce an 800-page romance in old-time costume.

Indeed, it is possible that The Grapes of Wrath, if it had appeared
a few years earlier, would not have been the big popular hit that
it was in 1939.  It would have seemed to many readers too painful,
too disturbing.  By 1939 they had become accustomed to unemployment--
even complacent about it--and had acquired new worries to be
diverted from (Hitler and the threat of war).  They could now take
the Steinbeck medicine with less flinching.

There were suggestions of other moods, too, in the bestseller
lists.  The fact that The Strange Death of President Harding in
1930 and Washington Merry-Go-Round in 1931 both stood high may be
regarded as an indication of the growing public disillusionment
with the government as the Hoover Administration battled vainly
with the Depression.  The Epic of America, best-selling non-fiction
book of 1932, may have appealed to a mood of inquiry into the
background and traditions of a nation which could get itself into
such a fix.  When the economic tide turned in 1933, what more
natural than that men and women whose dreams of a career had been
thwarted by the Depression and who now began to hope that they
could make a second start should have rushed to buy Life Begins at
Forty by Walter B. Pitkin (first on the non-fiction list in 1933,
second in 1934)?

Americans have always wanted guideposts to personal success and the
more rewarding life, and it might be pushing inference too far to
suggest that the big sales of Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie
Hillis in 1936, Wake Up and Live by Dorothea Brande in 1936, and
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie in 1937
had any close relation to the state of business, or that the rise
of The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang, to the top of the list
in 1938 was a sign that during the business Recession there was
once more a wish to learn how to be happy by denying the need for
worldly advancement.  But the popularity of Vincent Sheean's
Personal History (1935), Negley Farson's Way of a Transgressor
(1936), John Gunther's Inside Europe and Inside Asia (1936 and
1939), and other books on foreign affairs (not to mention It Can't
Happen Here), surely reflected the rising excitement over the news
from Europe as the Nazis and fascists advanced through crisis after
crisis to ever greater power.

Some books during the decade rode high with the aid of very special
circumstances.  The best-selling non-fiction book of 1934 was
Alexander Woollcott's While Rome Burns, a collection of anecdotes
and whimsies which would hardly have fared so well had its author
not invented a new sort of radio program well adapted to the
intelligence of bookish people, and had he not been delighting huge
audiences on the air by collecting old poems and old eyeglasses,
telling stories about Katharine Cornell, and extolling Kipling,
Harpo Marx, Laura E. Richards, and the wonderful dogs of the Seeing
Eye.  (To Mr. Woollcott's audible enthusiasm was also due in no
small measure the success of Goodbye Mr. Chips.)  North to the
Orient (1935) and Listen, the Wind (1938) sold in great volume not
simply because they were exquisitely written but also, perhaps,
because Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of an idolized hero and
was admired in her own right.  No correlation between the
successful books of any given period and the general trend of
opinion and taste during that period can be pushed far: there is
always a vast diversity of talent among the writers, a vast
diversity of taste among the readers, and an element of chance in
the whole process.  For example, throughout most of the decade
there was an undeniable public interest in economic problems and a
considerable sale of economic treatises.  Yet no book on the
economic condition of America got to the top of the best-seller
list, although there were big sales for 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs (a
diatribe for consumers on the difference between what they thought
they were buying and what the manufacturers were actually selling
them) and fairly big sales for several of Stuart Chase's lively
simplifications of the economic dilemma.  Perhaps economics was,
after all, the dismal science--or, let us say, the dismal area of
disagreement, assumption, and conjecture.


Limited in size as were their audiences, the writers who were
engaged in the search for social significance produced perhaps the
most vital and certainly the most characteristic work of the
decade.  John Dos Passos with his U.S.A. trilogy, in which he
suggested the hollowness and wastefulness of pre-Depression
American life, interlarding his passages of fiction with
impressionistic portraits of famous Americans (in which, of course,
J. P. Morgan was roundly condemned, Woodrow Wilson sharply
satirized, and Thorstein Veblen extolled), and closing the trilogy
with a word-picture of an unemployed man trying hopelessly to thumb
his way down a fine American highway; Erskine Caldwell packing his
pages with the cruelty and misery of the lower ranges of Southern
life; Ernest Hemingway trying (not very successfully) to make a
proletarian lesson out of the story of Harry Morgan, a disreputable
Key West rumrunner; James T. Farrell showing how environment got
the best of Studs Lonigan, a lower-middle-class Irish Catholic boy
of Chicago; Albert Halper presenting the factory workers of The
Foundry; Robert Cantwell dealing with striking fruit pickers; and
John Steinbeck later following the Joads from drought-ridden
Oklahoma to vigilante-ridden California--these and others like
Fielding Burke and Grace Lumpkin were the pace-setters for the
period in fiction (though of course there were very able novels
produced by writers of different intent, such as Thomas Wolfe,
Pearl Buck, Ellen Glasgow, Margaret Mitchell, and William
Faulkner).  Even Sinclair Lewis engaged in the politico-social
battle, though not on the side of rebellion; in The Prodigal
Parents his effort was to show that the Babbitt whom he had once
satirized was a kindlier and better man than the youngsters of the
radical left.

Among the poets, Archibald MacLeish and Edna St. Vincent Millay
were turning likewise to political and social themes; Carl Sandburg
was writing

     Stocks are property, yes.
     Bonds are property, yes.
     Machines, land, buildings are property, yes.
     A job is property,
     no, nix, nah, nah.

and numerous younger men and women were struggling with the almost
impossible task of writing sagas and songs of the masses in idioms
intelligible only to those who had learned to follow the abstruse
indirections of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

In the theatre, Clifford Odets made energetic use of proletarian
themes; Maxwell Anderson, in "Winterset," turned social injustice
to the uses of poetic tragedy; as the decade grew older and fascism
became more menacing, Robert E. Sherwood epitomized the democratic
faith in his moving tableaux from the life of "Abe Lincoln in
Illinois"; the Federal players dramatized current politics in
"Triple A Plowed Under" and "One Third of a Nation."

At the same time ardent historians and literary sociologists were
bringing out harsh biographies of the robber barons and Mellons and
Morgans of the American past; delving into aspects of the history
of American cities and regions which had been carefully neglected
by chambers of commerce; taking to pieces the life of American
communities and assembling their findings in statistical and
graphic profusion.  With more amiable intent, the Writers' Project
of the WPA was going over the country inch by inch for a series of
guidebooks.  Surveys supported by the Federal government or by
foundations were analyzing every public problem in exhaustive
detail.  The nineteen-thirties were a golden age of literary
sociology.  America had discovered itself to be a fascinating
subject for exploration, dissection, and horrified but hopeful


At the heart of the literary revolt against the America that had
been stood the communist intellectuals.  Numerically they were
hardly important, but from them the revolt caught the fire of
burning conviction, and from the curious nature of the communist
position it derived most of its weaknesses.  Many an author was
handicapped by his conviction that, as a Marxian, he must take for
his hero a kind of American he did not really know, or that he must
make his characters conform to a Marxian pattern and argue the
Marxian case, or that he must depict his proletarians both as men
rendered cruel and vicious by their lot and as the heroic standard-
bearers of a glorious revolution, or that he must present anybody
with more than $3,000 a year only in caricature, or that he must
preach a collective uniformity which ran counter to his own natural
instinctive preference for individual dissent.  Especially in the
early years of the decade, the Marxian pattern was a strait jacket
into which American literature could not readily be fitted.  As
Malcolm Cowley has remarked, in those early years at least six
novels and two plays were based on a single actual strike (at
Gastonia in 1929), and "strike novels began to follow a pattern
almost as rigid and conventional as that of a Petrarchan sonnet.
The hero was usually a young worker, honest, nave and politically
undeveloped.  Through intolerable mistreatment, he was driven to
take part in a strike.  Always the strike was ruthlessly
suppressed, and usually its leader was killed.  But the young
worker, conscious now of the mission that united him to the whole
working class, marched on toward new battles."  (Later, especially
after the communists accepted the idea of the Popular Front, the
bonds of doctrine became progressively less constricting.)

The truth was that many of the young rebels had embraced--or at
least dallied with--communism chiefly because they saw it as the
end-station of the road of disillusionment.  First one saw that the
going order was not working right; then one progressed to the
consideration of reforms, one read The Autobiography of Lincoln
Steffens, and decided that half-measures would not suffice to
redeem America; one went on to the idea that nothing short of
revolution would serve; and there at the terminus of one's journey
sat Karl Marx waiting to ask one's unquestioning devotion, there
was the Communist Party promising to make a clean sweep of all that
was hateful in American life.  How welcome to find the end of the
road, how easy to be able to ascribe everything one disliked to
capitalism!  (Did not Robert Forsythe, in Redder Than the Rose, a
book of left-wing comment which succeeded in being both vehement
and humorous, argue that Dillinger was a product of capitalism,
that the vulgarities of the Hauptmann trial were American
capitalism's "own narcotic to deaden its death pains," that Mae
West showed "in her frank cynical way the depths to which
capitalistic morality has come"?)  Yet how hard, nevertheless, to
swallow the belief that any deceit was justified by the cause--even
if the cause appealed to one's most generous instincts--and to
follow unquestioningly the twists and turns of the Moscow party
line, now damning Roosevelt as the best friend of the rich, now
embracing him as a partner in the Popular Front!

During the latter nineteen-thirties there appeared a crop of
autobiographies full of nostalgic memories of the Bohemian
Greenwich Village of the early nineteen-hundreds, when young
intellectuals were manning the silk strikers' picket lines, seeing
Big Bill Haywood plain, cheering for the Armory Show of independent
art, and experimenting with free verse and free love.  Perhaps the
day would come when a new crop of autobiographies would recall the
dear dead days of the nineteen-thirties when the young rebels saw
themselves as soldiers in the class war, regarded Union Square as
their G.H.Q., debated endlessly about "ideology," were lashed into
their wildest furies of controversy over the "trial" of Trotsky in
Mexico City, and were heartened every day by the knowledge that as
capitalism withered, communism was inevitably rising to take its


Through the ranks of the painters, too, swept the contagion of
social concern and of enthusiasm for putting American life on
record.  Thomas H. Benton's muscular and turbulent groups, Grant
Wood's formalized Midwestern landscapes and satirical portraits,
John Stuart Curry's scenes of farm life on the plains, Charles
Burchfield's gaunt mansions of the Rutherford B. Hayes era, Edward
Hopper's grim streets and cool New England lighthouses, Reginald
Marsh's pageants of New York slum life attracted many disciples.
The Federal government, wisely including artists among its relief
beneficiaries, put scores of them to work painting murals on post-
office walls; and presently the young painter's model found that
she was no longer simply to lie on a couch while he experimented
with the treatment of planes of color and bulges of significant
form, but was to strike a pose as a pioneer mother or embody the
spirit of America insisting upon slum clearance.  The value of the
new trend was debatable, but at least it promised to decrease the
wide gap between the artist and the general public, which at last
began to feel that it knew what was going on.  Simultaneously there
was a sharp increase in the number of young people who, at places
like the School of Fine Arts of the University of Iowa, were
actually learning to paint; and there, too, was hope for the future
of American art.

Not altogether unrelated to this change in emphasis in American
painting, perhaps, was the rise to sudden popularity of an art
hitherto seldom regarded with serious attention--the art of
photography.  It rose on the crest of a camera craze of remarkable
dimensions--a craze which otherwise served chiefly as a new and
amusing hobby, with aesthetic values and satisfactions thrown in
for good measure.

During the early years of the Depression one began to notice, here
and there, young men with what appeared to be leather-cased opera
glasses slung about their necks.  They were the pioneers of the
camera craze who had discovered that the Leicas and other tiny
German cameras, which took postage-stamp-size pictures capable of
enlargement, combined a speed, a depth of focus, and an ability to
do their work in dim light which opened all sorts of new
opportunities to the photographer.  The number of "candid camera"
addicts grew rapidly as the experts showed how easily an executive
committee or a table-full of night-club patrons might be shot
sitting.  During the eight years from 1928 to 1936 the importation
into America of cameras and parts thereof--chiefly from Germany--
increased over five-fold despite the Depression.

By 1935 and 1936 the American camera manufacturers and the
photographic supply shops found their business booming.  Candid
cameras were everywhere, until before long prominent citizens
became accustomed to having young men and women suddenly rise up
before them at public events, lift little cameras to one eye, and
snap them--of course without permission.  At intermissions during
theatrical openings and gala concerts the aisles would sometimes be
full of camera sharpshooters.  Schoolboys were pleading with their
parents for enlargers and exposure-meters.  Camera exhibitions were
attracting unprecedented crowds.

During the two years 1935-37 the production of cameras in the
United States jumped 157 per cent--from less than five million
dollars' worth in 1935 to nearly twelve and a half million dollars'
worth in 1937.  An annual collection of distinguished photographic
work, U. S. Camera, became a bestseller.  A flock of new picture
magazines appeared and a few of these jumped to wide popularity,
led by the more dignified Life and the less dignified Look.  One
had only to lay U. S. Camera beside the camera magazines of a few
years before, with their fancy studies of young women in Greek
draperies holding urns, their deliberately blurred views of
sailboats with rippled reflections, and their sentimental
depictions of cute babies, to realize how this art had grown in
range, imagination, and brilliance.

Some of the new photographers centered their interest upon snapping
friends and relatives (including, of course, their children) and
immortalizing their travels; some of them tried to capture the
sentimental loveliness of scenes that they had enjoyed; and some
went on to experiment in the making of abstract patterns of light
and shade.  But a great many others found themselves becoming
unsentimental reporters--of events, of the social scene, even of
the uglier parts of the social scene.  Able professionals like
Margaret Bourke-White, like Dorothea Lange of the Farm Security
Administration, like Walker Evans, often worked with the same sort
of sociological enthusiasm that had caught the young novelists and
was here and there catching the young painters.  When S. T.
Williamson, reviewing for the New York Times a book of Walker
Evans's uncompromising pictures (brought out by the Museum of
Modern Art in 1938), denied that Mr. Evans had revealed the
physiognomy of America and insisted that it would be "nearer the
mark to say that bumps, warts, boils, and blackheads are here," he
was saying the sort of thing that might be said about half the
novels written by the devotees of social significance.  What was
significant about this aspect of the camera craze was that
photographers like Mr. Evans with their grim portrayals of dismal
streets, tattered billboards, and gaunt, sad-eyed farm women, were
teaching the amateur--whose name was legion--that the camera need
not necessarily be shut up in its case until a beauty spot was
reached, that there was excitement in catching characteristic
glimpses even of the superficially ugly manifestations of life,
that these too could be made beautiful in their way, and that when
one began to see the everyday things about one with the eye of an
artist who was simultaneously a reporter or a sociologist, one
began to understand them.


One morning in the winter of 1937-38 a crowd began to gather
outside the Paramount Theatre in Times Square, New York, as soon as
it was light.  By 6 A. M. there were three thousand people
assembled in the otherwise empty streets--mostly high-school boys
and girls in windbreakers and leather jackets.  By 7:30 the crowd
had so swelled that ten mounted policemen were sent from the West
47th Street station to keep it under control.  At 8 o'clock the
doors of the theatre were carefully opened to admit 3,634 boys and
girls; then the fire department ordered the doors closed, leaving
two or three thousand youngsters out in the cold.

Benny Goodman and his orchestra were opening an engagement at the
Paramount.  Benny Goodman was the King of Swing, and these boys and
girls were devotees of swing, ready to dance in the aisles of the
theatre amid shouts of "Get off, Benny!  Swing it!" and "Feed it to
me, Gene!  Send me down!"  They were jitterbugs, otherwise
"alligators," equipped with the new vocabulary of swing ("in the
groove," "spank the skin," "schmaltz," "boogie-woogie," "jam
session," "killer-diller," and so on endlessly); members of that
army of young swing enthusiasts all over the country who during the
next year or two knew the names and reputations of the chief band
leaders and instrumentalists of swingdom--Goodman, Tommy Dorsey,
Artie Shaw, Gene Krupa, "Count" Basie, Teddy Wilson, Louis
Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Larry Clinton, and others without number--
as a seasoned baseball fan knows his professional ball players.

To trace fully the origins of this craze one would have to go back
very far.  Suffice it to say here that during the nineteen-
twenties, the jazz craze--which had begun long before in the honky-
tonks of New Orleans and had burst into general popularity with the
success of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and the rising vogue of the
one-step and foxtrot as dances between 1911 and 1916--had become
tamed into decorum and formality; but that even during this time
there were obscure jazz bands, mostly of Negro players, which
indulged in a mad improvisation, superimposing upon the main theme
of the dance music they were playing their own instrumental
patterns made up on the spur of the moment (and sometimes later
committed to writing).  During the early years of the Depression
there was little popular interest in this "hot jazz" in the United
States; what a worried public wanted was "sweet" music, slow in
rhythm and soothingly melodious, like "Some Day I'll Find You"
(1931) and "Star Dust" (very popular in 1932), or poignantly
haunting, like "Night and Day" (1932) and "Stormy Weather" (1933).
But Europe had acquired a belated enthusiasm for jazz rhythms and
in France there grew up something of a cult of "le jazz hot."
Phonograph records of the playing of such experts as Louis
Armstrong and his band sold well abroad.  In the fall of 1933--at
about the time of the NRA parades and the coming of Repeal--an
English company arranged with a young New Yorker who was crazy
about hot jazz to try to get some good records made by a band of
American whites; and young John Henry Hammond, Jr., persuaded the
scholarly-looking clarinetist, Benny Goodman, who was playing in a
radio orchestra, to gather a group of players for this purpose.

The resulting records not only sold well in England but made an
unexpected hit in the United States; and thus began a public
enthusiasm for "swing"--as the hot jazz full of improvisation came
to be called--which welled to its climax in the winter of 1937-38,
when the bespectacled Mr. Goodman, playing at the Paramount and
later in Boston and elsewhere, found that the boys and girls so
yelled and screamed and cavorted when his band began to "send" that
a concert became a bedlam.  When in the spring of 1938 a Carnival
of Swing was held at Randall's Island in New York, with twenty-five
bands present, over 23,000 jitterbugs listened for five hours and
forty-five minutes with such uncontrollable enthusiasm that, as a
reporter put it in the next morning's Times, the police and park
officers had all they could do to protect the players from
"destruction by admiration."

Among many of the jitterbugs--particularly among many of the boys
and girls--the appreciation of the new music was largely vertebral.
A good swing band smashing away at full speed, with the trumpeters
and clarinetists rising in turn under the spotlight to embroider
the theme with their several furious improvisations and the
drummers going into long-drawnout rhythmical frenzies, could reduce
its less inhibited auditors to sheer emotional vibration,
punctuated by howls of rapture.  Yet to dismiss the swing craze as
a pure orgy of sensation would be to miss more than half of its
significance.  For what the good bands produced--though it might
sound to the unpracticed ear like a mere blare of discordant noise--
was an extremely complex and subtle pattern, a full appreciation
of which demanded far more musical sophistication than the simpler
popular airs of a preceding period.  The true swing enthusiasts,
who collected records to the limit of their means and not only
liked Artie Shaw's rendering of "Begin the Beguine" but knew
precisely why they liked it, were receiving no mean musical
education; and if Benny Goodman could turn readily from the playing
of "Don't Be That Way" to the playing of Mozart, so could many of
his hearers turn to the hearing of Mozart.  It may not have been
quite accidental that the craze for swing accompanied the sharpest
gain in musical knowledge and musical taste that the American
people had ever achieved.

This great gain in the appreciation of good music was one of the
most remarkable phenomena of the nineteen-thirties.  Some credit
for it belongs to the WPA, which, doing valiant work in music as in
literature and the theatre and the plastic arts, not only offered
music classes and other aids to the potentially musical, but
maintained no less than 36 symphony orchestras.  But the chief
credit probably must go to the radio, which had been demonstrating
the ancient truth that if you throw at people enough of the
products of any art, good, bad, and indifferent, some of these
people will in time learn to prefer the good.

For a long time the radio had been spilling into the ears of
millions of Americans an almost continuous stream of music of all
sorts, mostly trite.  At the beginning of the nineteen-thirties it
was still accepted as axiomatic by most radio people--and
particularly by those business executives whose task it was to
approve the programs devised by advertising agencies to promote the
sale of their goods--that good music was not widely wanted.  Long
before this, however, the broadcasting companies had been
experimenting with putting music of high quality on the air, partly
for the sake of prestige, partly to convince the people who wanted
the radio to be more educational that the radio companies
themselves were hot for culture.  The National Broadcasting Company
had put on the New York Symphony Orchestra as early as 1926, the
Boston Symphony in 1927, the Philadelphia in 1929.  By 1929 the
Philadelphia Orchestra program had actually secured an advertising
sponsor: Philco took the plunge.  In 1930 the Columbia Broadcasting
System began a series of concerts of the New York Philharmonic on
Sunday afternoons, and the next year the NBC began putting the
Metropolitan Opera on the air on Saturday afternoons.  Before long
the opera broadcast, too, acquired sponsors: a cigarette company
and a mouth-wash company signified their willingness to pay for it
if only a few well chosen words about the advantages of the right
sort of smoke or gargle might accompany the works of Wagner and
Puccini.  What was happening was that these classical programs were
obviously attracting listeners and more listeners.

So the movement swept on until on the first day of February, 1937--
just a little while before President Roosevelt brought out his plan
for the enlargement of the Supreme Court--an emissary of David
Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company, calling upon Arturo
Toscanini in his native Milan, told him that the NBC wanted him to
conduct a radio orchestra the following winter.

"Did you ever hear of the NBC?" the emissary, Samuel Chotzinoff, is
said to have begun.

"No," replied Toscanini.

Some explanation was required; and then Chotzinoff handed over
a memorandum which suggested several alternative plans for
Toscanini concerts on the air.  The great conductor peered at it
nearsightedly, ran his finger down the list, and presently stopped.

"I'll do this," said he.  He was pointing at a suggestion of a
concert a week for ten weeks.

He did it--with an orchestra especially recruited to do him
justice.  When, at Christmas time of 1937, he stepped upon the
podium in the biggest broadcasting studio in the NBC Building in
New York, facing a visible audience of a thousand or so men and
women (equipped with satin programs guaranteed not to make
crackling noises) and an invisible audience of millions more at
their radios all over the country, it was clear that a milestone
had been reached.  Things had come to the point where the huge
radio public was ready to be given the best that could be got, and
given it direct--not simply granted a chance to overhear what was
intended in the first place for the musically elect.

The remarkable rise in American musical appreciation may best be
measured, perhaps, by citing a few figures collected by Dickson
Skinner in Harper's Magazine in the spring of 1939.  Here they are:--

In 1915 or thereabouts there had been 17 symphony orchestras in the
United States.  By 1939 there were over 270.

It was estimated that in 1938-39 the combined audiences on the air
for the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoon, the NBC symphony
on Saturday evening, and the New York Philharmonic and Ford hour on
Sunday, numbered 10,230,000 families EACH WEEK.  (Figure for
yourself how many families had been able--and willing--to hear
music of such calibre before 1930.)

As evidence that these audiences were increasing, it was estimated
by the Coperative Analysis of Broadcasting that the audience for
the Ford Sunday evening hour, offering the Detroit Symphony, was
118 per cent larger in 1937 than in 1935; and that by 1938 it was
fifth among all radio programs in national popularity, being
exceeded only by the news broadcast and by three other commercial

The NBC Music Appreciation Hour, conducted by Walter Damrosch, was
being heard each week in 1938 by more than seven million children
in some 70,000 schools--and probably by three or four million
adults also.

And finally, during 1938, broadcasts of symphony orchestras and of
grand opera were being carried by the two NBC networks at a rate
which averaged more than an hour a day.

After reciting these statistics, it would seem hardly necessary to
add that the biggest phonograph company reported that its sales of
records increased 600 per cent in the five years 1933-38.  The
phonograph, once threatened with virtual extinction by the radio,
had come into its own again, not only because of the swing craze
but even more importantly because of the widespread desire to hear
"classical" music of one's own choice without having to wait till a
radio orchestra got round to playing it.

Thus far very little benefit from the growth of this huge audience
had come to American composers.  But that time would presumably
arrive before long.  For the testimony of concert performers who
found that their audiences now wanted not simply the old sure-fire
favorites, but the less familiar symphonies and concertos; the
number of school and college glee clubs that now preferred to sing
valid music; the growing number of listeners to Station WQXR in New
York, which specialized in good music; the demeanor of the crowds
who came to such music festivals as that held each summer in the
Berkshires: these were among the accumulating fragments of evidence
that a great American musical public of real discrimination was
being built up.


One does not expect a piece of music to carry a political or
economic message, but one might well expect newspapers, magazines,
the radio, and the movies to do so.  These were the chief agencies
of day-to-day adult instruction and entertainment, reaching
audiences vastly bigger than even the most popular book or play
could command.  What was their function in the struggle over the
future of America?

Inevitably the influence of the newspapers tended to be
conservative.  Newspaper publishing had become a branch of big
business, obedient to the economic law which concentrated power
into fewer and fewer hands.  Although the tendency of newspapers to
be combined into chains under a single ownership seemed to have
been halted during the nineteen-thirties (during the latter years
the Hearst chain actually showed signs of weakening), the tendency
toward monopoly or duopoly of newspaper control in each city but
the very largest continued.  By 1938 a number of good-sized
American cities--such as Denver, Des Moines, Grand Rapids,
Hartford, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Omaha, Toledo, and St.
Paul--had each only one morning and one afternoon paper; several of
the biggest cities--Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas
City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Seattle--had only one morning and
two afternoon papers; and in three of these latter cities the one
morning paper was under the same ownership as one of the two
afternoon papers.  So complex and expensive an enterprise did a
city newspaper have to be to survive that its controlling owners
were perforce capitalists on a considerable scale, and their
influence was likely to be exerted on behalf of property rights, of
big business, and of the interests of important advertisers.

Not that the newspaper editors and reporters were conservative by
preference.  Many if not most of these, in fact, were aggressive
supporters of the underdog.  Indeed, the decrease in the number of
newspapers, the increasing use of syndicated material, and the
drastic economies required by the Depression had thrown so many
newspaper men out on the street that what had once been hopefully
spoken of as the "profession of journalism" had become one of the
most crowded and ill-paid of all white-collar occupations, and the
reporter might well regard HIMSELF as an underdog.  Out of these
circumstances emerged such anomalies as newspapers whose editors
and reporters were mostly New Dealers (or even communists) and
members of the Newspaper Guild affiliated with the CIO, yet whose
editorial pages warred fiercely against Roosevelt and whose news
columns were "slanted" against labor.  Where the tradition of
factual, objective reporting was strong, as on the New York Times,
the slanting was only minor and occasional; where this tradition
was weaker, as on the Chicago Tribune, it was sharp.

But if the newspapers tended toward conservatism, at least they did
not tend toward evasion of political and economic issues.  One of
the most striking phenomena of the decade was the rising importance
of the political columnist whose writings were syndicated all over
the country and whose audiences were numbered by the millions.  The
readers of a small-city newspaper might find on their breakfast
tables not only the advice of Dorothy Dix on affairs of the heart,
the gossip of Walter Winchell, the Broadway talk of O. O. McIntyre,
but also the opinions on national affairs of people like Walter
Lippmann, David Lawrence, Frank Kent, Dorothy Thompson, Drew
Pearson and Robert S. Allen, and Westbrook Pegler (and also Eleanor
Roosevelt, whose "My Day" seldom touched national issues directly
but had an indirectly persuasive effect).  Being permitted usually
more latitude of expression than a local editor, these syndicated
columnists--who incidentally were mostly conservative--became
national oracles.  When Walter Lippmann turned against the New Deal
he carried thousands of readers with him; when Westbrook Pegler
took issue with a political adversary, people from coast to coast
watched the fur fly.  Lippmann in 1932, Dorothy Thompson in 1937,
were among the most influential of all Americans.  Strange that the
old tradition of personal journalism, so nearly killed by the
transformation of the American newspaper into a standardized
corporated entity, should thus reassert itself on the grand scale!

In the magazine world--if one excepts such liberal weeklies of
small circulation as the New Republic and the Nation and such
organs of the solid intellectuals as Harper's--the tendency was
toward a very timid discretion in the treatment of public affairs.
This discretion was relaxed somewhat in 1932 and 1933, when readers
clamored to know what was wrong with the management of American
business and the upholders of the status quo were too bewildered to
offer confident resistance, but reasserted itself after the New
Deal Honeymoon.  Among the big popular magazines with circulations
of two or three million the only sort of militancy likely to be
manifest thereafter was a militancy such as that of George Horace
Lorimer of the Saturday Evening Post, who risked considerable
losses in circulation (but, of course, few losses in advertising)
by his incessant hammering at the Roosevelt Administration.
Otherwise these magazines--particularly the women's magazines--
touched controversial issues timidly if at all and confined
themselves mostly to highly expert fictional entertainment and to
the discussion of matters to which neither their owners, their
advertisers, nor their more tender-minded readers could conceivably
take exception.  When an attempt was made to provide, in Ken, a
liberal-radical periodical of large circulation, advertisers held
off and thus condemned it to an early death.  But on the whole it
would be inexact to say that direct pressure from advertisers
affected very largely the policy of the successful big-circulation
magazines.  What chiefly affected them was the desire of their
owners to see their own opinions echoed, to make money by pleasing
and flattering their advertisers, and at the same time to provide
agreeable and innocuous entertainment.

That there was money to be made nevertheless by the sharp
presentation of facts, and particularly of facts about America, was
shown by the growing success of Time--an expertly edited, newsy,
and withal irreverent (though not at all radical) weekly--and its
younger sister Fortune (founded in 1930), which although edited by
liberals for the benefit chiefly of the rich, developed such a
brilliant technic of team-research and team-authorship and trimmed
its sails so skillfully to the winds of conservatism that it not
only became a mine of factual material for future historians but
subtly broadened reactionary minds.  None of the other periodical
successes of the decade promised to have so acute an effect upon
the status of the writer as this adventure in writing a magazine
inside the office; there were those who saw in it a threat of
extinction to the free-lance journalist, a threat of the coming of
the day when the magazine writer would have to look for an office
job or be shut out from publication.  (The rise of the Reader's
Digest to huge popularity appeared to prove chiefly that readers
liked to save time, if their reading could be ably condensed and
reassuringly simplified; the rise of the picture magazines, led by
Life and Look, proved chiefly that the camera craze had produced
enough good photographers to satisfy a public that always liked
pictures.)  Yet even such new successes as these hardly affected
the basic generalization that the way of the popular magazines was
the way of evasion and sheer entertainment.

Of radio's coming-of-age during the nineteen-thirties something has
already been said.  We have noted its contribution to the cause of
music.  But it developed in other ways also.  As a news agency it
invaded more and more successfully a field in which the press had
stood alone.  During the early and middle years of the decade the
"commentators" of the air waves became rivals in influence of the
political columnists of the press: men like Edwin C. Hill, William
Hard, Lowell Thomas, Boake Carter, and H. V. Kaltenborn interpreted
national affairs to huge numbers of auditors.  Summary, explanation,
and interpretation were in demand, especially on the crises in
Europe.  But personal opinion was likely to be dampened unless
safely conservative.  The radio commentators added little to the
fires of domestic revolt.

Otherwise perhaps the most significant development in radio was the
improvement and standardization of the variety show of the air, an
hour's or half-hour's program of alternating light music and
humorous dialogue, featuring such national favorites as Jack Benny,
Rudy Vallee, Fred Allen, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bing
Crosby, and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.  Throughout most of
the decade, unless there was an election, a prize fight, a European
crisis, or a Presidential "fireside chat" to demand brief
attention, it was the variety shows which commanded the biggest
audiences.  Their chief rivals for popularity were the numerous
serial stories of the air, ranging from Amos 'n' Andy (which
reached its biggest number of listeners in 1930 but continued ad
infinitum) to the Lone Ranger, a wild West thriller, which first
was heard on January 30, 1933, and rose in favor until by 1939 it
was a three-times-a-week treat to some twenty million people who
received it from 140 stations.

Almost without exception both the variety shows and the serials
were innocent of any political or economic or social import
whatever, save for the announcer's occasional interposition with a
suave tribute to the products and policies of the corporation which
footed the bill for the entertainment.  Charlie McCarthy, for
instance, took one into a safe little world of small boys' pranks,
a world in which nothing more distressing happened than that Edgar
Bergen grew bald, a world in which there were no unemployed men, no
budget deficits, no marching dictators.  How close were the heroic
exploits of the Lone Ranger to observed reality may be suggested by
the fact that--according to J. Bryan, III, in the Saturday Evening
Post--neither Fran Striker, who wrote the innumerable scripts, nor
Earle W. Graser, whose voice made "Hi-Yo, Silver!" familiar the
country over, had ever been west of Michigan.


As for the movies, so completely did they dodge the dissensions and
controversies of the day--with a few exceptions, such as the March
of Time series, the brief newsreels, and an occasional picture like
"I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" or "They Won't Forget"--that if
a dozen or two feature pictures, selected at random, were to be
shown to an audience of 1960, that audience would probably derive
from them not the faintest idea of the ordeal through which the
United States went in the nineteen-thirties.

Upon these movies were lavished huge sums of money.  For them the
stage was robbed of half its ablest actors and playwrights; the
literary world, of many of its ablest writers--to say nothing of
the engineering and photographic skill which brought to adequacy
that cacophonous novelty of 1929, the talking picture, and which
toward the end of the decade was bringing more and more pictures in
reasonably convincing color.  A large number of excellent pictures
were produced, with capital acting--whether comedies like "It
Happened One Night," or adventure stories like "Mutiny on the
Bounty," or historical dramas like "The Life of Emile Zola," or
picturizations of fictional classics like "A Tale of Two Cities";
and there was a far greater number of pictures which, whatever
their unreality, served as rousing entertainment for an idle
evening.  But although the secular religion of social consciousness
was rampant in Hollywood--especially in 1937 and 1938, when
numerous script-writers and actors and technical men were ready to
do or die for their guilds, for Tom Mooney, for the Spanish
Loyalists, or even for the communist version of the Popular Front--
nevertheless in the pictures upon which they worked there was
hardly a glimpse of the real America.  The movies took one to a
never-never land of adventure and romance uncomplicated by thought.

The capital invested in the movies preferred to steer clear of
awkward issues, not to run the risk of offending theatre-goers
abroad or at home.  The moralists must be placated; as a result of
the campaign of the Legion of Decency in 1934, Joseph Breen had
been installed in the office of the Motion Picture Producers and
Distributors of America, ready to censor before production any
picture which showed too prolonged a kiss, which showed small boys
bathing naked, which permitted a character to say "damn" or "hell."
(The immediate effect of the Legion of Decency campaign, oddly
enough from the point of view of censorship-haters, appeared to be
salutary; it frightened the producers into launching, during 1935
and 1936, some of the best pictures yet seen.)  Foreign opinion
must be placated lest foreign sales be lost: when "Idiot's Delight"
was adapted from stage to screen, it must be set in an anonymous
country whose inhabitants spoke not Italian but Esperanto; when
"Beau Geste" was refilmed in 1939, the villains of the original
silent version must be given Russian names rather than Italian and
Belgian names because film trade with Russia was comparatively
small.  Neither capital nor labor, neither the Administration nor
its enemies, must be given any opportunity to criticize.  If one
wanted to show a crusading reformer, better to make him a Frenchman
of the past, like Emile Zola, than an American of the present: for
how could an American engage in a crusade without implying that
something was wrong?

It was significant that the pre-eminent artist of the motion
picture during the nineteen-thirties, Walt Disney, was a maker of
fantasies, and that the motion-picture event in January, 1938,
which Westbrook Pegler called "the happiest thing that has happened
in this world since the armistice" was the production of "Snow
White," a fairy story of the screen.  Only in unreality could
genius have free rein.

The Disney film was a huge popular success; it set the whole
country humming "Heigh-ho" and "Whistle While You Work" and
incidentally was a godsend to the toy business: during the bleak
first third of 1938, when the Recession was at its worst, over
$3,000,000 worth of Disney toys were sold, and that summer, when
the wheels of most factories were turning intermittently, the
Sieberling-Latex plant near Akron was three weeks behind orders
(after running 24 hours a day for months)--making rubber statuettes
of Dopey and the other dwarfs!

Not merely did the movies avoid temptations to thought about the
condition of the country; in effect their producers played, half
unwittingly, a gigantic joke upon the social Salvationists, and
particularly upon those men and women who would have liked to make
the American masses class conscious.  For the America which the
movies portrayed--like the America of popular magazine fiction and
especially of the magazine advertisements--was devoid of real
poverty or discontent, of any real conflict of interests between
owners and workers, of any real ferment of ideas.  More than that,
it was a country in which almost everybody was rich or about to be
rich, and in which the possession of a huge house and a British-
accented butler and a private swimming pool not merely raised no
embarrassing questions about the distribution of wealth, but was
accepted as the normal lot of mankind.  So completely did the
inveterate movie-goer come to take this America for granted--at
least during his two hours in the theatre--that he was unlikely to
be surprised to find a couple of stenographers pictured as
occupying an apartment with the newest built-in kitchen equipment
and a living-room 35 feet long and 20 feet wide; or to hear Bette
Davis, in "Dark Victory," expressing satisfaction that she had
given up the life in which she "had had everything" for a life in
which she "had nothing"--"nothing," in this case, being a remodeled
Vermont farmhouse which (according to the careful computations of
E. B. White in Harper's Magazine) must have cost at least $11,000
or $12,000 a year to live in.

While the writers and artists in whom burned a fierce desire to
reveal to their fellow-countrymen the inequalities and miseries of
their lot were resolutely addressing a public numbered in the
thousands, another public numbering EIGHTY-FIVE MILLIONS EACH WEEK
was at the movies watching Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Myrna Loy,
Katharine Hepburn, Ronald Colman, Carole Lombard, and the other
gods and goddesses of Hollywood disporting themselves in a
dreamland of wide-sweeping stairways, marble floors, and
magnificent drawing-room vistas.  And these eighty-five millions
were liking it.

Was not the lesson of all this that America was not--or not yet, if
you prefer--proletarian-minded?  True, its citizens were capable of
organizing hotly to redress wrongs and secure themselves benefits,
were quite ready to have these wrongs redressed and these benefits
provided by the government if no other agency would do it; and some
Americans might even fight, if need be, to get what they wanted.
Yet still in the back of their minds there was room for an Horatio
Alger paradise where young men of valour rose to the top and young
women of glamour married the millionaire's son, and lived happily
ever after.

Chapter Eleven



In a cold rain which slanted viciously down upon sodden throngs
before the Capitol, Franklin D. Roosevelt, standing with head bared
to the gusts, took the oath of office for his second term as
President of the United States and began his Inaugural Address.

It was an eloquent address.  Describing in glowing terms the
improvement in national conditions which had taken place since
1933, he went on to ask, "Shall we pause now and turn our back upon
the road that lies ahead?"  His answer, of course, was No; and he
proceeded in biting sentences to summarize the poverty and
wretchedness that still remained to be defeated.  "I see one-third
of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished," said he.  "It is
not in despair that I paint for you that picture.  I paint it for
you in hope, because the nation, seeing and understanding the
injustice in it, proposes to paint it out.  We are determined to
make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest
and concern, and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding
group within our borders as superfluous.  The test of our progress
is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much,
it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

Down in the crowd below, New Dealers tried to hold on to their
streaming umbrellas and clap simultaneously--and cheered anyhow.
This was the sort of fighting humanitarianism they liked.  Yet
everybody in the crowd, New Dealer or skeptic or opponent, was
listening intently for something more specific.  How did Roosevelt
propose to proceed along the "road that lies ahead," and in
particular how did he propose to deal with the Supreme Court, which
stood right in the middle of that road as Roosevelt saw it?  During
the almost twenty months that had elapsed since the Court had
smashed the NRA he had been biding his time.  All through the 1936
campaign he had left the Court issue severely alone.  Now, with the
seal of majority approval upon him, would he speak?

Twice already today he had drawn the minds of the crowd to the
overarching question.  When he took the oath of office he had not
been content to answer Chief Justice Hughes with a simple "I do,"
but with his left hand upon the Bible and his right hand upraised
he had repeated the whole historic oath, with sharp emphasis upon
the word "Constitution."  Early in the Inaugural Address he had
remarked, "The Constitution of 1787 did not make our democracy
impotent."  What more would there be?  The crowd waited, the rain
beating down upon them.  There was no further reference to the
Court, direct or indirect.

The deluge from the heavens on that twentieth of January, 1937,
might have been taken as an unhappy omen.  In a direct physical
sense it was indeed to be one; for that rainstorm, following
previous rains and being followed by others, was presently to set
in motion the great Ohio River flood.  Already down a thousand
hillsides from Pennsylvania to Arkansas were coursing the muddy
rivulets which would join to inundate Cincinnati, Louisville, and
many another city and town.  And in another, broader sense those
who regarded the storm as an ill omen were to be justified.
For the new year of 1937 was to be marked by discords and
disappointments.  At that very moment, in Flint, Michigan,
thousands of sit-down strikers were occupying the factories of the
General Motors Corporation in what was to prove the first major
conflict of a widespread and ugly industrial war.  By the time this
war waned, the national economy was to slide down into a new crisis
which would dash, for a long time to come, the high hopes set forth
in the Inaugural Address.  As for the President himself, even at
that moment--though only his Attorney-General and perhaps three or
four other men had an inkling of what was afoot--he had formulated
and was having drafted in detail a plan of campaign against the
Supreme Court, a plan which, although in the end it would bring him
an indirect victory, would in the meantime lead him to a painful
and damaging defeat.


The General Motors Corporation was one of the mightiest of American
economic principalities.  It employed nearly a quarter of a million
men and annually produced, in factories and assembly plants all
over the country and abroad, some two million cars and trucks--over
two-fifths of all those made in the United States, and well over a
third of all those made in the whole world.  Its management was
theoretically answerable to over a third of a million stockholders,
but was actually free from any direction or restraint by any but a
handful of the biggest of them.  (This army of stockholders wanted
dividends; when dividends are not forthcoming, the innumerable
small stockholders of such a monster corporation do not revolt--
they sell.)  The Corporation's net earnings, though they had
dwindled to the vanishing point in 1932, had swelled in 1936 to
nearly a quarter of a billion dollars--just about a thousand
dollars per employee.  The Corporation was half immune to
competition of the traditional sort, for now it shared with Ford
and Chrysler well over 90 per cent of the American automobile
business; only those two other monster organizations could combat
it.  It had become virtually independent of the banking houses of
Wall Street, since it could finance out of earnings and
depreciation allowances not only replacements and improvements and
additions to its plants, but all manner of adventures in other
economic fields; the building of ice boxes, airplane engines,
Diesel locomotives, and so on; engineering research more effective
than private inventors could manage.  All in all, the General
Motors inner management--a few men in New York and Detroit--
exercised a power in American life probably greater than that of
any state government.

Yet since the end of December, 1936, this principality had been
paralyzed by groups of employees who had seized its key plants by
simply sitting down at their jobs and defying all who would
dislodge them.  The stream of car production, dammed at these vital
points, slowed to a halt; while the little city of Flint, Michigan,
where most of the key plants were situated, became the scene of
something close to civil war.

Behind the defiance of these workers lay a long story of business
regimentation, labor insurgency, and government inefficacy.

When the New Deal, in 1933, had given to business managements the
permission to organize, it had also, as we have seen, acknowledged
the right of labor to organize.  There was nothing revolutionary
about this acknowledgement: previous laws such as the Clayton Act
and Norris-La Guardia Act had included similar provisions--though
the courts tended to whittle them down.  But the express
permission, written into Section 7a of the National Industrial
Recovery Act and into the resulting NRA codes, had started a rush
to join labor unions.

With this rush most of the leaders of the American Federation of
Labor--slow-moving, inflexible, conservative-minded men, devoted to
old-fashioned craft unionism and jealous of their jurisdictional
rights--had been quite unable to cope.  A few of them, however, had
been galvanized into sudden activity, and one in particular, John
L. Lewis, the beetle-browed boss of the United Mine Workers, had
seemed to become a new man.  In previous years Lewis had been noted
chiefly for his dictatorial and obstructive ways and had become
unpopular among the Mine Workers themselves, but now he staked
every last penny in the union treasury upon a whirlwind organizing
campaign, sent out bands of organizers to tell the miners that "The
law is on our side," and signed them up by the hundreds of

Presently the transformed Lewis became the strong leader of an
aggressive group inside the Federation, a group which stood for
industrial unionism--for collecting in a single organization all
the workers in a given industry, whatever special crafts they might
be engaged in.  Along with Lewis the group included such men as
Sidney Hillman, the astute head of the International Garment
Workers; Charles P. Howard of the International Typographers; and
David Dubinsky of the International Ladies Garment Workers.
Believing that the craft-unionists of the Federation were
consistently muffing opportunities to mobilize the workers in the
yet-unorganized mass-production industries--steel, automobiles,
rubber, and so on--these men gathered on October 9, 1935, to form a
special organization of their own, inside the A. F. of L.  They
called it the Committee for Industrial Organization: the CIO.  The
rift deepened and the next year, 1936, the CIO was read out of the
A. F. of L. and became, under Lewis's leadership, a competing
federation--more alert, more headlong, better able to undertake
rapid, large-scale organization, and quite prepared to go into
party politics: its fast-growing unions contributed nearly half a
million dollars to help Roosevelt defeat Landon.

Meanwhile the NRA had been tossed into the wastebasket by the
Supreme Court.  Congress had quickly passed a new law, the Wagner
Labor Relations Act, to supplant Section 7a and specifically
authorize collective bargaining, and had set up a National Labor
Relations Board to enforce the Act.  From the outset this Board
faced a well-nigh impossible task.  Many employers were coolly
proceeding as if there were no Wagner Act at all, driving away
union organizers and firing union members in the confident hope
that the Supreme Court would upset the new law and things would
return to the status quo ante.  Other employers were setting
up "company unions"; and though some of these were really
representative agencies for genuine conciliation and adjustment,
others were essentially fake unions, under the management's thumb.
There was an ugly temper in the industrial towns, where men who had
suffered acutely during the Depression, and had lost all respect
for the princes of industry who hired and fired them, were ready to
make trouble just as soon as they had full stomachs and a
glimmer of hope.  With labor in a rebellious mood, many unions
inexperienced and undisciplined, racketeers and adventurers making
hay as union organizers, jurisdictional disputes frequent, the
labor high command divided, the status and meaning of the law
uncertain, the attitude of the government shifting and ambiguous,
many employers openly heedless of the law, and conflicting
propagandas misrepresenting the issues, there was confusion
everywhere.  Anger deepened and strikes multiplied.

Among the automobile workers the militancy became especially hot.
They complained of their low wages, arguing that although the
hourly rates were higher than in most other industries, employment
was spasmodic and the annual wage uncertain and unsatisfactory.
They complained of the inexorable speed of the factory assembly
lines.  Especially they were angry at the way in which the
corporations spied on union members and found pretexts to discharge
them in order to break the union movement.  According to the
official summary of the report of the La Follette Committee of the
Senate, during the period of a little over two and a half years
between January 1, 1934, and July 31, 1936, the General Motors
Corporation alone "paid $994,855.68 to detective agencies for spy
services."  Union leaders were shadowed, there were stool pigeons
in the unions, and no man in the assembly line knew whether a
casual reference to the union in a conversation with a fellow-
workman might not be followed by his discharge on the ground of

An industrial union, the United Automobile Workers, had been formed
among these men.  In 1936 it was taken under the wing of the CIO
and thereafter it grew with angry speed.  In December, 1936, its
new head, an energetic ex-minister, Homer Martin, tried to arrange
a meeting with William S. Knudsen, the vice-president of General
Motors, only to be told that labor matters should be taken up with
the heads of the various plants; the vast General Motors
principality, so well integrated in many respects, preferred not to
act as if labor policy were a matter for integration.  The plant
managers were indisposed to negotiate.  Thereupon the dispute
boiled over.

John L. Lewis wanted no strike then in General Motors.  He had his
hands full organizing other industries, particularly steel.  An
automobile strike now might wreck the CIO in its infancy.  Besides,
the General Motors Corporation was far from unpopular with the
general public, which liked its cars and thought of it as paying
high wages.  But the rebellion was irrepressible.

In plant after plant the men abruptly sat down--in the Cleveland
Fisher Body plant, in Fisher Body No. 1 and Fisher Body No. 2 at
Flint, in the Fleetwood and Cadillac plants at Detroit, and
elsewhere.  They kept enough men inside each factory to hold it as
a fortress, and while these men idled, played cards, and stood
guard at doors and windows, food was sent in to them from union
kitchens outside.  Thus began one of the most gigantic industrial
conflicts in American history.

The sit-down strike was not a new phenomenon.  It had been tried,
briefly but successfully, by employees of the Hormel Packing
Company in Austin, Minnesota, as far back as 1933.  There had been
several sit-downs in Europe in 1934, and subsequently the method
had been utilized on an immense scale in France and to a limited
extent in the United States, particularly at Akron.  But the
General Motors strike was the first to bring it forcibly to the
attention of the great American public, and the country buzzed with
indignation, enthusiasm, and bewilderment, according to its various
predilections, as it read the news from Flint.

Pretty clearly the sit-down was illegal.  Liberal observers might
point out that the traditional concepts of ownership did not seem
quite applicable to a colossal corporation the ownership of which
rested, not with the management, but with a third of a million
stockholders, very few of whom were anywhere near as close to it as
the workmen whose daily lives were bound up with it; but no new
legal concepts applicable to such a principality had been
formulated.  And anyhow the angry men at Flint were beyond
bothering about the law.  They had discovered that the sit-down
gave them new strategic advantages.  Not only did it enable them to
capture and hold the corporation's productive machinery; it also
removed from them the usual temptation to violence, or the
appearance of violence, which would alienate the general public.
From the moment they sat down they were on the defensive, and the
temptation to attack rested with the management.  Behind the walls
of the great factories they had only to sit and wait while Governor
Murphy of Michigan and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins sought
tirelessly to induce the General Motors management to sit down at a
table with the United Automobile Workers.

On January 11 the management took the offensive.  It turned the
heat off in one of the besieged plants, Fisher Body No. 2, and the
police gathered to prevent food from being sent in.  The union
leaders sent a sound truck to the scene, and with the magnified
voice of an organizer to cheer them on, rushed food past the police
to their friends inside.  A few hours later the police stormed the
plant, and were beaten off in a pitched battle in which the weapons
included buckshot and tear gas (on the part of the police) and door
hinges, metal pipes, and soda-pop bottles (on the part of the
strikers).  The sit-downers remained in possession.  The National
Guard was called out; but Governor Murphy--who was willing to let
the law go unenforced if only he might prevent further violence--
forbade the troops to attack.  Still the sit-downers remained in

The management turned to the courts for aid, securing an order that
the factories must be evacuated--an order which failed of its moral
effect when the judge who had issued it was revealed to be a large
stockholder in General Motors.  Again the management secured an
evacuation order, from another judge, which threatened the strikers
with imprisonment and a fine of no less than fifteen million
dollars if they did not get out by three o'clock on the afternoon
of February 3.  The men, inflamed now by the sort of spirit which
sends soldiers over the top, had no intention of getting out; and
as three o'clock on that fiercely cold winter afternoon approached,
and thousands of CIO members and sympathizers gathered from Detroit
and Toledo and Akron and massed in the streets, armed with clubs,
pokers, and crow-bars, while the soldiers of the National Guard
waited grimly for the order to advance, one could see impending a
tragic battle the scars of which might remain for generations.

But there was no battle.  Instead, there was hilarious square
dancing on the frozen lawns outside Fisher No. 1.  For at the last
moment Governor Murphy wired that he had induced Knudsen to confer,
and told the sheriff to make no move.  After an anxious week of
conferences, the Governor was able to announce that a settlement
had been reached.  General Motors recognized the United Automobile
Workers as the exclusive bargaining agency in seventeen of its
plants, and would negotiate for a contract with it.

The strike was over--after lasting 44 days, involving 44,000
workers directly and 110,000 indirectly, and paralyzing 60
factories in 14 states.  Governor Murphy had succeeded in settling
it--at the expense of the prestige of the law--with a minimum of
bloodshed.  And the CIO had won a great victory: a chance to
participate in the government of the General Motors principality.

What wonder that after this intoxicating triumph workers all over
the country caught the sit-down fever and stopped work in
factories, ten-cent stores, restaurants, all manner of workplaces,
until the total of sit-down strikers in America from September
1936, through May, 1937, was brought to almost half a million?  Or
that partisanship for and against the CIO reached the boiling
point?  Or that John L. Lewis became the man of the hour, sagely
discussed as a looming presidential candidate for 1940--a
portentous dictator-in-the-making in the eyes of the conservatives,
a hero immaculate in those of the liberals?


Where would the next struggle come?  In United States Steel?

That was what men were asking one another.  But they were due for a
surprise.  For already the drama of the CIO and United States Steel
was far advanced--in complete secrecy.

On Saturday, January 9, 1937--when the General Motors strike was
still young--John L. Lewis had been lunching with Senator Guffey of
Pennsylvania at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington when Myron C.
Taylor, the dignified chairman of the board of United States Steel,
entered the dining-room with Mrs. Taylor.  Taylor bowed to the
Senator and the big labor leader as he threaded his way past their
table; a moment later he came back to chat with them briefly; and
after Lewis and Senator Guffey had finished lunch and the Senator
had left, Lewis went over to the Taylors' table and remained with
them for twenty minutes or so, in what appeared to be the most
affable conversation.  Other luncheon guests throughout the room
were agog at the spectacle of the leader of the CIO and the leader
of the most famous corporation in the country hobnobbing agreeably.
They would have been much more surprised had they guessed that
during the conversation the labor leader had said he would like to
have a leisurely talk with Taylor, and Taylor had suggested that
they confer the next day--Sunday--at his suite at the Mayflower.
When Lewis arrived at the Mayflower the next day and took the
elevator, nobody in that hotel lobby in news-hungry Washington had
an inkling of where he was bound.

There followed a series of conferences, most of them at Taylor's
house in New York--still without anybody's being the wiser.  The
result of these conferences was an agreement upon a formula by
which the Steel Corporation would recognize and sign contracts with
the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, a unit of the CIO.  Taylor
submitted this agreement to his astonished directors and won their
consent to it; and on Monday, March 1, the news broke that Steel
and the CIO were signing up.

"One of the steel workers just came in and said he heard over the
radio that U. S. Steel was meeting with the CIO," said an organizer
over the telephone to Philip Murray of the SWOC; "I told him he was
crazy and kicked him out of the office."  "I can't believe you!"
cried the president of one of the lesser steel companies when
President Irwin of U. S. Steel called him on the telephone to tell
him the news.  No reconciliation during the nineteen-thirties until
the reconciliation of Stalin and Hitler in 1939 caused more
amazement.  The steel industry as a whole had gone on record
against the CIO unionization drive only the preceding summer.  The
Steel Corporation had been historically noted as an implacable foe
of organized labor.  The CIO's attitude toward corporation
properties during the General Motors strike had brought most
conservative industrialists almost to the point of apoplexy.  Yet
here was the Corporation making friends with the CIO--running up
the white flag of surrender, cried the angry industrialists--
without even a struggle!  The news was too good to be true, cried
the partisans of labor; surely there must be a catch in it
somewhere!  But there was no catch.  The chairman of the Steel
Corporation had simply recognized that the SWOC had already signed
up enough workers--even out of the Corporation's own company unions--
to cause a very ugly strike; that such a strike would cost the
Corporation money, for foreign orders for steel for armaments were
booming; that it would also cost the Corporation good will, for U.
S. Steel had had a bad labor record in the past; and that the way
of conciliation was the way of prudence.

Would there, then, be peace throughout the steel industry?  There
would not.  "Little Steel"--the Bethlehem, Republic, National,
Inland, and Youngstown Sheet and Tube companies--refused to sign
contracts with the CIO.  A strike was called that spring, for the
insurgent workers could not be held back; and the companies fought
it with all the weapons at their command.  "Loyal workers" were
protected with riot guns and gas grenades.  These "loyal workers"
were fed inside company plants with supplies sent them by airplane
and by parcel post.  "Back-to-work" movements were organized and
well publicized.  Local police and deputies broke up picket lines
(a crowd of picketers in South Chicago were pursued and shot down
as they ran, leaving behind them four killed, six fatally injured,
and ninety wounded, some thirty of them by gunfire).  And there was
a barrage, throughout the strike, of persuasive publicity, which
represented the steel companies as defending the "right to work,"
as protecting men who wanted to work from the "intimidation,
coercion, and violence" of "outside agitators" sent into peaceable
and contented communities by the CIO.  "I won't have a contract,
verbal or written," said Tom M. Girdler, head of the Republic
company and leader of the managements' side in the conflict, "with
an irresponsible, racketeering, violent, communistic body like the
CIO, and until they pass a law making me do it, I am not going to
do it."

The strike was broken.  The CIO was defeated.

Already the sit-down epidemic and the strike epidemic generally
were waning, somewhat to the relief of most of the general public,
which had become sick and tired of reading about riots, plug-ugly
strikebreakers, and new strikes started by new labor factions after
settlements had been reached; sick and tired of picket lines,
vigilantes, and all the discords of industrial friction.  And
presently the ubiquitous disputes were to be almost automatically
subdued by the approach of the business Recession of 1937-38.


During the very months in the spring and summer of 1937 when the
country was most sharply divided by the disputes over the CIO, it
was torn also by another major conflict.  For on February 5--when
President Roosevelt's second term was hardly more than two weeks
old, and the receding flood waters of the Ohio were leaving
wreckage and slime in the streets of Louisville and Cincinnati, and
Governor Murphy was beginning his conferences with Knudsen and
Lewis for the settlement of the General Motors strike--the
President almost nonchalantly tossed to Congress his plan for the
liberalization of the Supreme Court.  It was like tossing a cannon
cracker into a munitions dump.

No President who was not buoyed up by a great confidence in the
willingness of the majority of Congress and of the public to follow
him wherever he might lead, and who was not by nature both daring
and impulsive, would have gambled on such a plan without a
preliminary sounding of opinion.  For nearly two years Roosevelt
had shown by his caution that he knew there was dynamite in the
Supreme Court issue.  But now he walked blithely up and set off the
charge almost single-handed.

On the afternoon of February 4 the President asked the Speaker of
the House, the Democratic leaders in the Senate and House, and the
chairman of the two judiciary committees of Congress to meet with
the Cabinet the following morning; and when, on the morning of the
5th, these gentlemen assembled in the Cabinet room at the White
House, he explained to them briefly his new proposal and dismissed
them with the word that he had a press conference to attend and
would be sending his message to Congress, together with a draft of
the proposed bill, at noon.  Nobody in the room, according to the
best evidence available at this writing, had had the least
foreknowledge of the proposal except Attorney-General Homer
Cummings, who had drafted it in consultation with the President.
To all the rest of the Cabinet, and to the Congressional leaders,
it came as a complete surprise.  In the current vernacular, the
President was not asking them, he was telling them.

It seems that some time in December, 1936, Cummings remembered that
he had once found in the files of the Department of Justice a
document drafted back in 1913 by Attorney-General McReynolds, who
subsequently had become the most violently anti-New-Deal justice on
the Supreme bench: this document was a suggestion that younger men
be provided for the Federal judiciary by appointing a new judge for
each judge who had reached the age of seventy (after serving at
least ten years) and had failed to retire.  Cummings had taken his
discovery over to the White House, suggesting to Roosevelt that
this principle might be applied now to the Federal judiciary--
INCLUDING THE SUPREME COURT.  Thus the Court would be enlarged to a
maximum of fifteen members, Roosevelt would have a chance to
nominate as the new members men who would not torpedo progressive
legislation, and there would be no necessity for a Constitutional
amendment.  The whole thing would be done simply as a part of a
mere plan for the provision of a larger and more alert judiciary.

Cummings had suggested other methods too of meeting the situation,
but this one met with Roosevelt's immediate delight--a delight not
decreased by the fact that there would be in it a well-concealed
joke on Justice McReynolds.  "That's the one, Homer!" cried the
President, and straightway Cummings went to work upon it.

Not until January was well advanced, apparently, was anyone else
except Solicitor-General Stanley Reed (and perhaps one or two
subordinates in the Department of Justice) let in on the secret;
then--according to Joseph Alsop and Turner Catledge--the plan was
shown to Judge Rosenman and Donald Richberg; a little later it was
shown to Tom Corcoran and perhaps two or three other intimate
Presidential advisers.  (Corcoran, for one, disliked it because of
the indirection with which a major matter of governmental policy
was attacked; he had been working on a quite different plan.)  The
rest of the Cabinet and the Congressional leaders, as we have seen,
were completely in the dark.  Very much on his own responsibility,
the Presidential quarterback gave the signal for the boldest of
trick forward passes.

That not all the players on the team relished making interference
for such a play was immediately apparent.  As Hatton Sumner,
chairman of the House judiciary committee, walked away from the
meeting at the White House he remarked grimly to his colleagues,
"Boys, here's where I cash in my chips."  He was thereafter in
opposition.  And although the Presidential message made public at
noon that day was innocent-looking to the last degree--it argued
that "the personnel of the Federal judiciary is insufficient to
meet the business before them," spoke of the tendency of judges to
continue on the bench "in many instances far beyond their years of
physical or mental capacity," and argued that "a constant and
systematic addition of younger blood will vitalize the courts and
better equip them to recognize and apply the essential concepts of
justice in the light of the needs and the facts of an ever-changing
world"--a previously amenable Congress began at once to show signs
of scattered but rising insurgency.  Nor did there come from the
country at large that overwhelming shout of approval which would
have swept the plan to victory.

The reason was that three minority groups of voters combined in
disapproval of the plan.  First there was the large anti-New-Deal
group who were ready to leap savagely upon any Roosevelt measure.
Second, there were people who, however adverse their opinion of the
Supreme Court of 1937, had a sharp emotional bias against
interfering with the Court as an institution.  Third, there were
those who did not mind seeing the Court interfered with but thought
the Roosevelt scheme too breezily disingenuous, and were offended
at the idea of treating a grave governmental issue as a mere matter
of arterial hardening.  Even at the outset these three groups added
up to make a majority; and they were enlarged by subsequent events.

A group of wily Republican strategists in the Senate managed to
persuade ex-President Hoover and other Republican leaders outside
Congress to muffle their protests, knowing that if the Court plan
were allowed to take on the color of a party issue the Democrats
would rally round the flag.  These Republican strategists were
happy to let Senator Burton Wheeler, a Democrat, be the shining
leader of the opposition.  Then Chief Justice Hughes was persuaded
to write a letter to Senator Wheeler explaining that the Supreme
Court was keeping up with its calendar and thus undermining the
implication that the "nine old men" could not get through their
work.  Most effective of all, the Court itself had a sharp attack
of prudence.

If anybody had supposed that the black-robed gentlemen of the Court
were not very human--that the processes of the Court were
impersonal and unpolitical, an Olympian matching of the text of an
Act with the text of the Constitution--he was due for a shock in
March and April, 1937.  Realizing that a series of rejections of
liberal laws would strengthen the Roosevelt attack, the Court
suddenly turned as mild as any sucking dove.  It upheld the Railway
Labor Act and the new version of the Frazier-Lemke Farm Mortgage
Moratorium Act.  It reversed itself upon minimum wages for women
and children, upsetting the decision which had so embarrassed
Governor Landon at the time of his nomination less than a year
before.  More remarkable still, it upheld the Wagner Labor
Relations Act by a vote of 5 to 4, Justice Roberts moving quietly
from the die-hard group into the liberal group, and thus
confounding those industrialists who had cheerfully expected the
National Labor Relations Board to be blown into oblivion.  A little
later the Court upheld the Social Security Act.  The climax came
when Justice Van Devanter resigned, thus giving Roosevelt the
chance to make his first appointment to the Court--and presumably
to convert what had been usually a narrow anti-New-Deal majority
into a narrow liberal majority.

All these moves weakened the Roosevelt side in Congress.  "Why run
for a train after you've caught it?" remarked Senator Byrnes after
he heard the news of the Van Devanter resignation.  An eloquent
fireside chat by the President over the radio early in the battle
over the bill had not started the snowball of public opinion
rolling; a Fortune poll made during the spring indicated that only
about one-third of the voters were definitely in favor of the plan.
But the President would consider no compromise.  The battle in
Congress became more bitter.  Not until June 3 did the President
give ground.  On that day he saw Senator Joseph T. Robinson, the
Democratic leader (who was in an agony of embarrassment because he
had long since been promised a seat on the Supreme bench, and the
Van Devanter seat was now vacant, and nothing had been done about
filling it) and agreed to let Robinson work out whatever compromise
seemed necessary.  But by this time the factions in Congress had
become so ugly-tempered that even a compromise would be difficult
to obtain.

Furiously, belligerently, exhaustingly, Robinson labored week after
week as June gave way to July and the Washington heat became more
sullen and Senatorial tempers became more frayed--until at last he
came to the end of his elderly strength.  On the morning of July 14
the Senator's maid became uneasy when he did not appear for
breakfast.  She looked in his bedroom and in the bathroom, did not
see him and rang for the elevator boy to ask whether the Senator
had gone out.  He had not.  The frightened maid returned with the
elevator boy to the apartment.  They found the Senator sprawled
dead upon the bedroom floor--out of sight of the door--with a copy
of the Congressional Record lying beside his outstretched hand.
Roosevelt's strongest musterer of Senatorial votes had gone down in
the battle.

Eight days later came the end of the inevitable Presidential
retreat, when Senator Logan rose and moved to recommit the Supreme
Court bill to the judiciary committee in order that this committee
might substitute for it a bill providing for certain changes in the
Federal judiciary but not touching the Supreme Court.

"Is the Supreme Court out of it?" asked Senator Johnson of

"The Supreme Court is out of it," replied Senator Logan.

"Glory be to God!" exclaimed Johnson.

Thereupon the motion to recommit was passed, 70 to 21.  The Supreme
Court bill was definitely beaten.

Still the President had not moved to fill Justice Van Devanter's
seat.  On August 12 he did so--and sprung another surprise.  For on
the nomination form which he sent by messenger to the Senate he had
filled in in his own hand the name of Hugo L. Black of Alabama--a
liberal Senator whose enthusiasm for the New Deal had been
constant.  Black's legal experience had been so limited that
leaders of the legal profession were outraged at his selection, but
Roosevelt counted on the nomination going through because Black was
a Senator and his colleagues would hesitate to oppose him.  He was
right: the Senate consented.  Many Senators, already embittered by
the Court plan fight, were further angered, however; and in a few
weeks a new storm broke.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette produced what
looked like substantial documentary proof that many years before,
when the Ku Klux Klan had been strong in Alabama, Black had joined
it.  A member of the Supreme Court, guardian of the civil liberties
of America, was shown to have been a member of an organization
whose business it had been to promote racial and religious

The outcry was terrific.  Justice Black had gone to England;
virtually besieged there by newspaper men, he refused to say a
word.  Not until the first of October, when he had returned to the
United States, did he break his silence.  On that evening he spoke
over the radio from the living room of his friend, Claude E.
Hamilton, Jr., in Chevy Chase; and millions of Americans heard him,
in his soft Southern voice, confess that he had joined the Klan
"about fifteen years ago," that he had "later resigned" and "never
rejoined," and that he had "no sympathy whatever with any
organization or group which, anywhere or at any time, arrogates to
itself the un-American power to interfere in the slightest degree
with complete religious freedom."  The new Justice's concern for
civil liberties was so apparent in his discourse that thereafter
the storm of protest at his appointment died to a rumble.

Soon afterward Black took his seat on the bench, there to occupy a
position considerably to the left, politically, of even the liberal
justices already sitting.  Now there was a definite liberal
majority on the Court--which was later to be reinforced when the
seats vacated by Justices Sutherland and Brandeis, who resigned,
and Justice Cardozo, who died, were filled by the appointment of
Solicitor-General Reed, Chairman William O. Douglas of the
Securities and Exchange Commission, and Felix Frankfurter, long a
behind-the-scenes adviser to the President.  The Court's new
inclination to look with a favorable eye upon the extension of
Federal power became a settled trend.

Had Roosevelt, then, really lost his campaign?  In one sense he had
won: the Court no longer stood in his way.  There was more than
political ingenuity to his claim, in 1939, that he had attained his
ultimate objective despite the defeat of his plan for reaching it.
Yet in another sense he had lost.  Many members of Congress
hitherto glad to meet his wishes had been left sore and vindictive
by the pressure put upon them to vote for a measure thrown at them
as the Court plan had been; and there were also Senators who were
piqued at the Black incident, feeling that they had somehow been
tricked into endorsing an appointment which later brought them
embarrassment at home.  When, a year later, Roosevelt tried to
bring about the defeat at the polls of various Senators who had
voted against the Court plan, these wounds were further inflamed.
There was nothing new about the attempt of a President to reward
his loyal supporters and eliminate his disloyal ones--although the
Roosevelt offensive of 1938, to which the opposition press attached
the opprobrious term of "purge," was unusually bold and inclusive--
but to make the vote upon the Supreme Court plan the test of
loyalty was galling.  The offensive failed.  In friendships within
Congress, in prestige within and without Congress, the President
had suffered.  In this sense the campaign over the Supreme Court
had been for him a costly defeat.


Sometimes the historian wishes that he were able to write several
stories at once, presenting them perhaps in parallel columns, and
that the human brain were so constructed that it could follow all
these stories simultaneously without vertigo, thus gaining a
livelier sense of the way in which numerous streams of events run
side by side down the channel of time.  The chronicle of American
life during the spring and summer of 1937 offers a case in point.
The drama of insurgent labor and the drama of Roosevelt against the
Court were being played simultaneously, and all the while other
disturbances and excitements were distracting our attention to
other stages, other currents of tendency were flowing alongside
these roaring torrents of change.  How to give any sense of the
multiplicity and heterogeneity of events without endless
interruptions of what must, if anybody is to be able to read it, be
an orderly and consecutive narrative?

It was on the showery evening of May 6, 1937--while the CIO was
getting ready for the strike in Little Steel and Administration
emissaries were coaxing Congressmen to vote for the Roosevelt Court
plan--that the great German airship Hindenburg, nosing toward the
mooring mast at Lakehurst to complete its first transatlantic
flight of 1937, suddenly became a torch flaming in the dusk, and
the cheerful inconsequentialities that poured out of American
radios were broken into by staccato reports of the horror on the
New Jersey plain.  Down went the hopes which had built a mooring
mast on the Empire State Building and had risen high as the
Hindenburg made crossing after crossing safely in 1936.  Now the
future of transatlantic lighter-than-air transport looked black
indeed.  Within a few weeks, as if to point the contrast, Pan-
American clippers and Imperial Airways flying boats were making
survey flights between Britain and America in preparation for the
inauguration of a regular passenger service.

During those same months of 1937 the armies of Francisco Franco
were besieging Madrid, the farce of "nonintervention" was
permitting Mussolini to help him, American liberals were "eating
lunch against Franco" (in Elmer Davis's phrase), and American
Catholics were arguing that Franco's offensive was a holy crusade
against communist hordes which burned churches and slew priests.

In midsummer (just as the Supreme Court plan was coming to defeat
in the Senate) the Japanese began a systematic attack upon China,
thus adding a new major invasion to the lengthening list of
international aggressions; soon Japanese bombs were falling in
Shanghai and Americans were wondering whether the United States
would have to choose between the loss of all its traditional
privileges in China--and perhaps the lives of oil salesmen and
missionaries--and war with Japan.  What would happen if a stray
bomb should hit Admiral Yarnell's flagship on the Whangpoo?  And
ought American women to wear lisle stockings on behalf of suffering

No picture of the America of the spring and summer of 1937 would be
fully revealing which was not a montage of innumerable and varied
scenes.  It would show Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen,
officials of the United Automobile Workers, being slugged and
kicked and thrown bodily down on the concrete floor of a street
overpass beside the Ford factory at River Rouge by "loyal
employees," who according to the testimony of observers were hired
thugs of the Ford "Service" organization.  (Thus was the "American
system" defended.)  It would show American living rooms littered
with books of reference and public librarians distracted by the
fury of contestants in the Old Gold Puzzle Contest.  (That picture
of two women saying "All London is now sporting the wide-awake
hat!" and "Do you know that Palmerston quits today as Foreign Sec?"--
could the answer to that be Jenny Lind?  And those two people
picking oxeye daisies--would that be Sitting Bull or Morgan Dix?)

It would show Leon Henderson, the burly economic adviser of the
WPA, becoming worried by the rising trend of prices, concocting a
memorandum entitled "Boom or Bust," and communicating his fears of
a business collapse to Secretary Morgenthau, who in turn
communicated them to the President; whereupon the President issued
a warning to the effect that certain prices--notably that of copper--
were too high.  (Henderson was right: trouble was coming, nor
could such a statement avert it.)

It would show Americans bent over their newspapers as they devoured
another series of installments of the royal romance that had so
entranced them the preceding December: Wallis Warfield Simpson's
divorce being declared absolute on May 3, 1937; the Duke of Windsor
rushing from his Austrian retreat to join her in France; their
wedding taking place at Monts, France, on June 3; while, during the
month's interval, the Duke's brother George was crowned King at
Westminster with pomp and circumstance.  "Yes, I set my alarm clock
for five in the morning and listened to the whole coronation on the
air and I could hear the crowds cheering as the King and Queen went
by in the golden coach."  "Wallis may not have got to be Queen, but
that trousseau was SOMETHING."

The montage of American life in the spring and summer of 1937 would
include endless other pictures: glimpses of Dust Bowl drought
victims climbing into their jalopies to seek a newer world in the
orchards of California; Joe Louis knocking out Jim Braddock at
Chicago and becoming the titular heavyweight champion of the world
(though not for another year would he bring down Max Schmeling);
Edgar Bergen leaping into national popularity as he and his dummy
Charlie McCarthy became features of the Chase and Sanborn radio
hour in May, 1937, and shortly made it the most popular program of
all.  (Bergen had been almost unknown before he appeared at the
Rainbow Room in New York on November 11, 1936.  He made such a hit
there that on December 17 he went on the air.  Within a few months
he was a national celebrity.  Was there any area of American life,
except the entertainment area, where success could come so

The montage would show Amelia Earhart Putnam flying from New Guinea
toward Howland Island, never to be seen again, though the Navy
searched the Pacific rollers long and hard; visitors to New York
running through the theatre advertisements and trying to make up
their minds whether to see "You Can't Take It With You" or "Brother
Rat" or "Room Service," or Maurice Evans in "King Richard II"; a
private car bearing northward from Ormond Beach the body of John D.
Rockefeller, dead at the age of ninety-seven; men and women in
darkened movie theatres visiting the peaceful gardens of Shangri La
with Ronald Colman in Frank Capra's screen version of Lost Horizon,
or listening to Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in "Maytime";
bright billboards (donated by Outdoor Advertising, Inc., to the
National Association of Manufacturers' campaign against labor-union
influence) flaring with pictures of happy workmen over the title,
"The American Way"; and Carolina students working out the steps of
"The Big Apple," a modified square dance which would presently
break the monotony of fox-trotting for hundreds of thousands of
their agile contemporaries.

The montage would show American women putting on the oddest-looking
peaked hats and openwork hats that had balanced on feminine heads
for many a year.  And, as the stock-market ticker stopped at noon
on Saturday, August 14, 1937, it would show brokers debating
whether Steel at 121 and Chrysler at 118 5/8 were still attractive
purchases, or whether it might be a sensible idea to play a bit
safe for a time.

It would have been a distinctly sensible idea to play safe.  For
the Recession of 1937-38 was at hand.


When it came, it came fast--and apparently out of a clear sky.

Toward the end of August, 1937, the stock market sold off and
business showed signs of slackening.  After Labor Day the retreat
became sharper.  Stocks went down fast and far.  On the morning of
October 19 the market seemed near demoralization, with support for
some stocks apparently quite lacking and selling orders pouring in
from all over the country; the tape lagged twenty-five minutes
behind the trading, and when at last the gong rang for the closing,
the total of transactions had come to 7,290,000 shares--the biggest
total since the collapse of the New Deal Honeymoon bull market in
the summer of 1933.  All through the autumn of 1937 the decline
continued.  Only the fact that speculation previous to August had
been moderate and well-margined, with the SEC watching carefully to
prevent manipulation, kept the annihilation of values from having
disastrous consequences outside the exchanges.  Meanwhile business
operations contracted steadily and rapidly.  Not until the end of
March, 1938, did the stock market touch bottom; not until May did
business do so.  Never even during the collapse of 1929-32 had the
industrial index shrunk at such a terrific rate.

Look first at what happened to the prices of some leading stocks in
the space of only seven and a half months:

                                  Closing Price on   Low Reached in
                                  August 14, 1937    March, 1938

American Telephone & Telegraph went from 170 7/8       to 111

Chrysler                            from 118 5/8       to  35 3/8

General Electric                    from  58 3/8       to  27 1/4

General Motors                      from  60 1/8       to  25 1/2

New York Central                    from  41 1/2       to  10

U. S. Steel                         from 121           to  38

Westinghouse E. & M.                from 159 1/2       to  61 3/4

Then see what happened to our familiar measure of the state of
business in general, the Federal Reserve Board's adjusted Index of
Industrial Production.  (Do you recall its previous ups and downs?
Its high of 125 in 1929, its low of 58 in 1932 and of 59 in the
bank-panic month of 1933, its rush up to 100 during the New Deal
Honeymoon, its decline to 72 as the Honeymoon ended, and its
wobbling rise thereafter?)  At the end of 1936 the index had
touched 121, which looked distinctly promising.  As late as August,
1937, it stood at 117.  Then it ran downhill, month after month,
until by May, 1938, it had sunk to 76.  _In nine months it had lost
just about two-thirds of the ground gained during all the New Deal
years of painful ascent!_

What had happened?  During the latter part of 1936 and the early
part of 1937 there had taken place sharp increases in the prices of
goods--some of them following increases in wages during the CIO's
offensive, some of them affected by armament orders from Europe,
many of them accentuated by a general impression, among business
men, that "inflation" might be coming and that one had better buy
before it was too late.  The price of copper--which you will recall
especially disturbed the President--had jumped in five months from
10 cents a pound to 16.  Business concerns had been accumulating
big inventories.  When the time came to sell these goods at retail
to the public, the purchasing power to absorb them just was not

For new investment still lagged; and what was more, the government
spending campaign, which had kept pumping new money into the
economic system, had been virtually halted.  During the summer of
1937, Henry Morgenthau, the Secretary of the Treasury, had
persuaded the President to make a real attempt to balance the
budget; and although it did not yet seem to be quite in balance,
nevertheless when one took into account the Social Security taxes
which were being levied (and were not counted on the credit side of
the budget, being set apart in a separate account), the government
was for a time actually taking in from the public more than it paid

Result: the goods which were piled up on the shelves moved slowly.
Business men became alarmed and cut production.  Two million men
were thrown out of work in the space of a few months--and became
all the less able to buy what was for sale.  The alarm increased,
for men well remembered what a depression was like and were
resolved to cherish no false hopes this time.  The vicious spiral
of deflation moved with all the more rapidity.  Thus out of that
apparently clear sky--no great speculative boom in stocks or real
estate, no tightness in credit, no overexpansion of capacity for
making capital goods (in fact, not nearly enough expansion)--came
the Recession of 1937-38.

It brought its ironies.  Precisely a year after the beginning of
the great sit-down strikes in General Motors, the president of the
Corporation announced that about 30,000 production men were to be
laid off immediately, and the remaining men would be reduced to a
three-day week.  What price CIO gains now?  (If you had visited a
General Motors dealer and seen the used cars accumulated on his
hands, you would have realized why the Corporation had to stop
glutting the market.)

Another irony was provided by the collapse of values on the New
York Stock Exchange.  Eight years before, when prices were
tumbling, Richard Whitney had walked out on the floor and stemmed
the panic by offering to buy Steel at 205; now Richard Whitney,
deeply in debt, was misappropriating trust funds in the frantic
attempt to save himself from bankruptcy.  On Tuesday, March 8,
1938, just as trading for the day was beginning, President Gay of
the Exchange mounted the rostrum and, as the gong rang to halt the
brokers, read the amazing announcement that Richard Whitney &
Company were suspended for "conduct inconsistent with just and
equitable principles of trade."  A few weeks later the hero of the
1929 panic, having confessed his all-too-obvious guilt, was on his
way to Sing Sing.

Early the following winter--in December, 1938--the metropolis
provided an even more extraordinary business scandal.  F. Donald
Coster, head of the reputable drug house of McKesson & Robbins, was
discovered not only to have doctored the books of its crude drug
department to the extent of many millions of dollars, but actually
to be an ex-convict named Philip Musica who had changed his name
and appearance and had successfully conducted a long masquerade as
a respectable corporation official.  When the police were closing
in upon him, Coster-Musica gave this almost unbelievable episode
its final touch of melodrama by committing suicide in his fine
house at Fairfield, Connecticut.  Again Wall Street was shaken, as
men asked one another how bankers and accountants could have been
so easily fooled.  The Musica scandal, however, had no such
overtones of significance as the collapse of Whitney.  For Whitney
had been the leader of the Old Guard of the Exchange.  With his
downfall during the Recession crumbled the last opposition to a
reorganization of the Exchange in accordance with the wishes of
Chairman William O. Douglas of the Securities and Exchange
Commission.  Soon the Exchange had a new paid President--a young
man who had not even been acquainted with any member of it when he
arrived in New York in 1931!  Verily the old order had changed.

There was irony, too, in the earnest effort of Administration
leaders to remain calm and hopeful-looking as they issued
statements predicting an early upturn, while the economic landslide
was roaring downhill.  Hadn't there been another Administration,
not so many years before, which they had ridiculed for doing much
the same thing?

As the Recession deepened, there rose angry voices from the
business community and the conservative press.  The whole thing was
the Administration's fault.  This was a "Roosevelt Depression."
With malicious glee they quoted a previous boast of the
President's, made while the business indices were climbing:  "We
planned it that way."  Well, this was what his planning came to.
Especially they blamed the undistributed profits tax--a curious
measure which was proving one of the less successful bright ideas
of the Administration and which stirred the business world to
particular wrath.

"Five years ago, with magnificent courage and resoluteness of
purpose, President Roosevelt gave the financial and business
communities of the nation an invigorating hope that banished fear,"
wrote David Lawrence on March 28, 1938.  "Today, the same man has
aroused in the financial and business communities a fear amounting
almost to terror and a distrust which has broken down the morale of
the whole economic machinery. . . .  What Mr. Roosevelt has done--
and I believe he has not done it intentionally--is to break down
the spirit and faith of the business and financial world in the
actual safety of a citizen's property and his savings.  To strike
down this bulwark of the whole economic system is to breed panic
and fear of indescribably dangerous proportions."

Strong words--yet they were not unrepresentative of business
opinion generally.  So obsessed had many business men become with
their ide fixe that nothing the Administration could do would
mollify them.  On November 10, 1937, Secretary Morgenthau, in a
speech before the New York Academy of Political Science, announced
that the Administration would do everything possible to balance the
budget.  His audience appeared half-pleased, half-amused, and
wholly unconvinced.  (The Morgenthau speech, as it happened, had
been carefully revised and approved by the President.)  Addressing
Congress at the beginning of 1938, Roosevelt spoke in cordial terms
of the need for co-operation between government and business.
There was no resulting uprush of "confidence."  At that moment the
President was making a deliberate effort to pursue a conservative
and conciliatory course, conferring with big business men and
calling a conference of little business men--which turned into a
virtual riot.  No friendly gesture seemed to have any real effect.

It is true that there was a contest of policy going on inside the
Administration ranks.  Certain men of the well-defined liberal
group which Joseph Alsop and Robert Kintner called the "New
Dealers"--including among others Tom Corcoran, Ben Cohen, Leon
Henderson, Herman Oliphant of the Treasury, and Solicitor-General
Robert H. Jackson--had composed speeches for delivery by Jackson in
which the blame for the Recession was laid upon "monopolies" and
"the sixty families" (meaning that they blamed the controllers and
managers of the great corporations for pushing up prices by tacit
agreement and then, when goods could no longer be sold at these
prices, slowing production and throwing off workers lest their
profits be unduly cut).  They had encouraged Secretary Ickes to
make a similar speech.  But these speeches had been written without
express Presidential authorization, and the young New Dealers had
been risking their jobs and their influence in thus expressing
their private opinions.  What happened was that jittery business
men read these New Deal speeches, listened to the calmer utterances
of the President, and decided that no blandishments from Washington
meant anything.

For this fact the impulsiveness of a President who seemed smilingly
unaware of inconsistencies among New Deal pronouncements was partly
to blame; indeed, the President commended Ickes for his "sixty
families" speech on the eve of composing his own appeal for co-
operation.  Nevertheless it was true that as 1937 turned into 1938
Roosevelt was trying to balance the budget and to refrain from
proposing measures which would frighten business men unduly; that
the conservative business community, in its wrath, seemed oblivious
of the attempts being made to appease it; and that slowly the
Administration leaders were becoming convinced that no policy of
retrenchment and appeasement would bear fruit.

All the while the New Dealers were urging a resumption of deficit
spending, and on April 2--as things were getting worse and worse--
the President threw up the sponge.  At lunch on the train from Warm
Springs to Washington he told Harry Hopkins and Aubrey Williams
that he was ready to abandon the budget-balancing effort and go in
for heavy spending again.  On April 14 he went on the air to
explain that he was asking Congress to appropriate three billion
dollars for relief, public works, housing, flood control, and other
recovery efforts.

That spring the legislation went through Congress, and
simultaneously business began to show faint signs of improvement.
In the latter half of June the stock market sprang to life.
Recovery began again.

Economists might disagree as to whether the recovery was stimulated
by the spending or was a mere coincidence, but among the young New
Dealers there was no doubt at all.  Look at the industrial index,
they argued.  It did no good to try to appease business; it did a
lot of good to spend.  Q.E.D.

The young New Dealers now rode high (so high, in fact, that in the
autumn of 1938 they ventured into the comparatively unfamiliar
field of politics and persuaded the President to make a dolefully
unsuccessful attempt to defeat the Democrats in Congress who had
voted against his Court plan).  But the Administration as a whole
had been struck a very heavy blow by the Recession.  Meeting a new
economic crisis, it had disclosed itself as neither able to
generate "confidence" in business men nor to concoct any new and
effective measures of recovery.  The best it could do was to take
down from the shelf a bottle of medicine to which it had been
addicted for years--pump-priming.


It had been a proud President who stood before the Capitol in the
rain in January, 1937, and declared his intention to paint out the
picture of "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-
nourished."  His pride had come before a fall.  During a subsequent
year and a half of friction and Recession his prestige in Congress
had been sorely weakened; his economic policies had been tried in
the balance and found wanting; the hateful picture of unemployment
and poverty had been altered, if anything, for the worse.

Was the New Deal, then, played out?

Perhaps; but if so, the fact was becoming obscured by the approach
of a new sort of crisis which would cause the citizens to look upon
their country and its government with new eyes.  For now the
American skies were being slowly darkened by storm clouds rolling
in from Europe.

Chapter Twelve



Studio Nine was a room "about the size of an average family living
room."  In it stood three desks and an old army cot with an army
blanket.  On each desk there was a microphone, and before one of
these microphones sat a gray-haired man, wearing ear-phones.  He
was talking quietly in a crisp, precise voice.  He looked tired and
a bit disheveled, as if he had just risen from the rumpled cot.  As
he talked, he kept one eye on a plate-glass window, beyond which,
in an adjoining room, sat a man watching him from behind a panel of
instruments and occasionally signaling to him with a wave of the
hand.  From time to time other men would steal into the room, shove
sheets of paper under his nose, and depart; he would glance at the
sheets of paper and talk on, his crisp articulation unimpeded.

He was talking to millions of Americans--nobody knew how many.  To
hear what he had to say, girls in strapless evening dresses stilled
their debate over whether to put their hair up for the winter
season; lawyers turned from discussing Judge Pecora's declaration
of a mistrial in the case of James J. Hines, whom District-Attorney
Thomas E. Dewey of New York was attempting to convict as the "man
higher up" in metropolitan racketeering; politicians laid aside the
fascinating topic of the failure of President Roosevelt's attempt
to "purge," in the Democratic primaries, the men who had failed to
join his offensive against the Supreme Court in 1937; literary
critics paused in their talk of what would become of Thomas Wolfe's
mountains of manuscripts, now that he was dead; families in gray
tenements stopped arguing about the chances for a reconciliation
between the still hostile CIO and AF of L; actors and actresses
interrupted their conjectures about the rising success of the
hilarious Broadway production, "Hellzapoppin."  For what the man in
Studio Nine was telling these people seemed of more vital
importance just then than anything else in the world.

The time was the latter part of September, 1938; the man was H. V.
Kaltenborn, news commentator for the Columbia Broadcasting System;
and Studio Nine was his headquarters at the center of the Columbia
plexus in New York.  He was interpreting the up-to-the-instant news
of the Czechoslovak crisis in what he called "Yirrup," that crisis
which was revealing to all the world what happens when an
irresistible force meets a conciliatory body.

Ever since September 12 Kaltenborn had kept vigil day and night in
Studio Nine, snatching sleep briefly on the army cot.  Not until
September 30--the day when Neville Chamberlain, just returned from
Munich, came to the window of No. 10 Downing Street and said to the
cheering crowd below, "I believe it is peace for our time"--would
the Kaltenborn vigil end; not until he had delivered, in 18 days, a
record total of 85 extempore broadcasts.

Kaltenborn was by no means the only interpreter of European affairs
during those September weeks; every broadcasting system, every
radio station was hurling news and interpretation into the ether.
The names of Hitler, Henlein, Benes, Hodza, Chamberlain, and
Daladier screamed persistently from front-page headlines, recurred
in page after page of newsprint, sounded in the half-intelligible
chanting of the men selling extras on the streets.  In New England
on the afternoon of September 21 a tropical hurricane struck
without warning (the New York weather prediction that morning had
been "Rain and cool today.  Tomorrow cloudy, probably rain, little
change in temperature").  The hurricane ripped seashore villages
into kindling wood or swamped them under tons of roaring water, it
laid fine groves of trees in lines on the ground, made rivers out
of the streets of cities, derailed trains, blocked highways, broke
off communication by telephone and telegraph, and took an estimated
682 lives.  Yet even in New England, when householders repaired
from their darkened houses to their automobiles to listen over
their automobile radios (uncrippled by the storm) and find out how
wide-ranging was this havoc that had separated them from the rest
of the world, the twist of the dial brought them into the midst of
the man-made hurricane that was raging in Europe.

Out of the night came the familiar refrains of "A Tisket, a Tasket"
. . . then, as the dial turned, a bit of comedy on the Rudy Vallee
hour . . . and then, as the dial was twisted again, a voice
swelling forth in the midst of a sentence: . . . "town of Godesburg
where Prime Minister Chamberlain held a second historic conference
with Chancellor Hitler.  The effects of that meeting already have
brought reactions from world news centers.  Now, tonight we'll
attempt first to receive a broadcast direct from Prague, the
capital of Czechoslovakia, where Maurice Hindus, well-known
authority on Central European affairs, has been observing the day's
happenings.  We take you now to Prague."  A pause, while the mind
leaped the Atlantic in anticipation; then another voice:  "Hello,
America, this is Prague speaking. . . ."

How the world had shrunk!  In July, 1914, when Karl von Wiegand of
the United Press had cabled a mere 138 words from Berlin to New
York on the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia--one of the grave
events which produced the World War of 1914-18--he had been
admonished for wasting cable tolls.  Now, in September, 1938, the
news of another grave event in the same part of the world--the
submission of Czechoslovakia to dismemberment--stood in the very
center of American attention.  Not until 1930 had there been such a
thing as a world-wide news broadcast; now one could hear, in quick
succession, voices from London, Paris, Berlin, and Prague, and
millions of Americans were hanging on every word.

Far back in the distance, already, seemed those lively events of
the earlier part of the summer of 1938 which had so captured the
public mind: Joe Louis knocking out Max Schmeling at the Yankee
Stadium in the first round--actually before some radio listeners
had got tuned in on the fight; Howard Hughes flying round the world
in the incredible time of 3 days, 19 hours, 8 minutes, 10 seconds;
the "wrong-way" pilot, Douglas Corrigan, starting in an antiquated
plane from Long Island "for California" and fetching up in Ireland,
to return and be feted in America, still wearing his smile and his
brown leather jacket; the demented John Warde tying New York
traffic into knots as he stood for eleven hours on a narrow ledge
on the seventeenth floor of the Hotel Gotham, contemplating his
leap to suicide.  Even American events and problems of real
significance were being thrust into the background.  The hesitant
upward progress of the business indices, as a nation still beset by
large-scale unemployment tried to come back from its Recession; the
application of the new wages-and-hours act; the still-unsolved farm
problem; the perennial headache of relief--all these things seemed
to fall away into unimportance as Hitler demanded the Sudetenland,
Chamberlain flew to Berchtesgaden and Godesburg with his furled
black umbrella, and the heads of four nations met at Munich to sign
and seal the destruction of Czechoslovakia.  The war clouds from
Europe were blotting out the American landmarks one by one.


The chain of events which had dragged foreign problems into the
forefront of American attention was a curious one, full of kinks.

At the beginning of the decade the United States had seemed to be
drifting from a policy of national isolation toward a policy of
acting in concert with other nations to maintain world peace.  To
be sure, there was no popular disposition to enter the League of
Nations or to make foreign commitments, but there was a tendency in
the State Department to come as close to doing this as public
opinion would permit.  In 1931, when Japan, seeing the European
powers preoccupied by the Depression, seized its happy opportunity
to invade Manchuria, it was Henry L. Stimson, Hoover's Secretary of
State, who led the chorus of international condemnation.  An
American representative sat at Geneva as an "observer" while the
League of Nations discussed Japan's offense; Secretary Stimson
proclaimed that the United States would not recognize the Japanese
conquest; he also sought to invoke the Nine-Power Pact against
Japan, only to be rebuffed by Sir John Simon on behalf of Britain.
Nothing that the League could or would do, none of the outcries of
disapproval from Europe or America, stopped Japan; the first great
breach in the post-war system of territorial arrangements was
successfully completed--but not for lack of active interest on the
part of the American government.  America was in the thick of the
diplomatic battle throughout.  Its policy in 1931 was far from
being isolationist.

The next great act of international aggression did not come for
several years, and in the meantime the relations between the United
States and the outside world went into a new crisis--this time
economic.  During the early Depression years, as nation after
nation in its agony had lifted tariffs, devalued currencies, and
otherwise dammed the international currents of trade and financial
exchange in its attempts to save itself, the government at
Washington had looked on in alarm.  It was true that we had laid
new bricks on top of our own tariff wall in 1930, but of course we
considered our own tariff a purely domestic matter; we felt
differently when other countries did such things.  It was axiomatic
in the minds of Hoover, the Treasury officials, the financial
experts of Wall Street, and dominant American opinion generally
that barriers to commerce must be removed, that the international
gold standard was sacrosanct, that there could be no real American
recovery without world recovery.  But then came the New Deal--and
the shoe was on the other foot.  For now WE wanted to do things
which might upset international monetary and trade relations.

At first few people foresaw the impending clash of policies.
President Roosevelt, to be sure, in his first inaugural in 1933,
said explicitly that "our international trade relations, though
vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to
the establishment of a sound national economy"--but had he not
already appointed as his Secretary of State Cordell Hull, an
inheritor of Woodrow Wilson's world-mindedness, and a passionate
devotee of the stimulation of international trade by tariff
reduction?  Roosevelt, to be sure, took the United States off the
gold standard, to the confusion of foreign currencies--but was he
not simultaneously inviting foreign delegates to come and discuss
measures of international economic co-ordination?  Not even
Roosevelt himself realized how sharp a collision he was headed for.
He cheerfully entered into the preliminary plans for an economic
conference to be held in London, in June, 1933, and sent to this
conference, with inadequate instructions, a delegation headed by
Secretary Hull which at once began arranging for the stabilization
of currencies.  A bit later, fearing that the United States might
be tied into a hard-and-fast agreement for stabilization just as
the inflation boom was lifting prices and delightfully stimulating
business in America, Roosevelt sent to London his chief brain-
truster, Assistant Secretary of State Raymond Moley, to restrain
the delegates.  But it was not until Moley had arrived in London
that Roosevelt, becoming more and more entranced with the idea of
prosperity through currency manipulation, decided abruptly that the
conversations at London must not be allowed to endanger his
domestic plans.  When Moley agreed to a rather mild statement
approving of stabilization in general principle, the President
suddenly pulled the floor out from under everybody--Hull, the
delegation, Moley, and for that matter the whole London conference--
by refusing to have anything done about stabilization at all.  An
impulsive man had resolved the conflict between economic
nationalism and economic internationalism by throwing his weight
belatedly and without notice on the national side--to the utter
discomfiture of his representatives.

After that--or rather after the experiment in gold-buying which
followed it--the United States returned gradually to the ways of
international economic facilitation.  Secretary Hull doggedly
carried on as if nothing had happened.  He was permitted to get his
reciprocal tariff bill enacted in 1934, and under it to ease the
flow of goods between the United States and various other
countries.  In due course Secretary Morgenthau and the chiefs of
British and French finance stabilized the currencies of Britain,
France, and America.  The adventure in economic isolation appeared
to be over, though it had left its scars.

In the meantime, too, an olive branch had been held out to Latin
America.  In his first inaugural Roosevelt had proclaimed a "good
neighbor" policy.  To show the Latin Americans that this was no
mere phrase, the United States took its troops out of Nicaragua,
did away with those parts of the Platt Amendment that had permitted
intervention in Cuba, and assured the nations south of the Rio
Grande that it interpreted the Monroe Doctrine as a doctrine of co-
operation and mutual aid, not as a doctrine of domination.  Such
was Secretary Hull's patent sincerity that the assurance was on the
whole well taken.  Toward the end of the decade the United States
was better liked and better trusted in most of Latin America than
ever before.

But long before that the smashing of international frontiers had
begun again.  In 1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in extremely cold
blood.  Britain and France and the League could or would do nothing
effective to discipline Italy, and Mussolini was not stopped.
Early in 1936 Adolf Hitler, whose attempt to engineer a Nazi coup
in Austria had failed in 1934, entered the Rhineland--and was not
stopped.  Later in the same year the Spanish Revolution broke out;
Mussolini, and Hitler too, began using the Spanish Revolution for
their own imperial ends--and were not stopped.  In 1937, the
Japanese attacked China--and were not stopped.  In March, 1938,
Hitler swept into Austria--and was not stopped.  And as the summer
and spring of 1938 wore on, he began confidently polishing his
knife for Czechoslovakia.

At the time when this series of crises began, American public
opinion was perhaps more isolationist than at any time since before
the World War.  By 1935 the "revisionist" view of the World War of
1914-18 had become the majority view.  According to this version
there had been guilt on both sides, not simply on the German side,
and the United States had been unhappily sucked into participation
in the war by British propaganda and by its economic stake in an
Allied victory.  As late as April, 1937, a Gallup poll on the
question "Do you think it was a mistake for the United States to
enter the World War?" drew a Yes from 71 per cent of those polled.
In 1935 Walter Millis's Road to War, which presented the American
decision of 1917 as a lamentable tragedy, became a best seller,
influential among the highbrows.  Several books and magazine
articles drew sensational attention to the part played by munitions-
makers in fomenting wars; and simultaneously the Nye committee of
the Senate embroidered the same theme in a long investigation,
showing up the unholy profits of American arms manufacturers from
1915 on, exposing the pretty little deals made by munitions
salesmen abroad, and dragging Morgan partners to Washington to
answer an implied charge that they had schemed to get the United
States to fight Germany in 1917 in order to pull their chestnuts
out of the fire.  The picture of war as a horror into which the
innocent common people were lured by the machinations of
conscienceless bankers and big business men was the more readily
accepted because the general public still had a very lively memory
of the failure of such men to lead the country out of the valley of
Depression, and of the shoddy conduct of many bankers and big
business men as laid bare in the investigations of 1933.

It must be remembered, too, that in 1935 the American radicals were
nearly all hotly anti-war.  Nor was there, then, any widespread
American fear that the dictators in Europe might actually harm the
United States from the outside; when people spoke of "the fascist
menace" in 1935, most of them meant the menace of an American
fascist movement, which they variously imagined as being led by
Roosevelt, or by somebody like Huey Long, or perhaps by an army
officer supported by big business.  So general was the belief that
America must hoe its own row, and take preventive measures in
advance so that it could not be seduced into hostilities, that in a
Gallup poll taken in the fall of 1935 no less than 75 per cent of
the voters thought Congress should get the approval of the people
in a national vote before declaring war.

In this very isolationist state of mind, the country welcomed the
passage by Congress in 1935 of a Neutrality Act which decreed that
when war broke out anywhere, Americans must not sell munitions to
either of the belligerents.  The Neutrality Act was at once applied
to the Italian-Ethiopian conflict.

But the Administration--and the permanent staff of the State
Department--did not like compulsory neutrality.  They wanted the
United States to be free to use its diplomatic influence in
international affairs and they felt that a blanket law might be
embarrassing in some unforeseen circumstance.  They liked to play
along with the British in foreign policy, and the Neutrality Act
might hobble them.  When the Spanish Revolution broke out, they
fell in with the British scheme for non-intervention (a scheme
which notoriously failed to prevent Mussolini from intervening in
behalf of Franco) and pushed through Congress a strange act which
applied the neutrality principle to the Spanish dissension, despite
the fact that this was not a war between nations but a rebellion
against a government recognized by the United States.  When, a
little later, Japan went into China, the Administration wobbled
this way and that, first telling all Americans to leave China or
remain at their own risk, then proposing to defend Americans in
able to do this by taking advantage of a loophole.  The Act as
passed in revised form in 1937 provided that the mandatory ban on
shipments of munitions should take effect either when war was
declared or when the President "found" that a state of war existed.
Neither Japan nor China declared war--and the President failed to
"find" that a state of war existed, though the Japanese were
blasting at China with everything they had.

Presently the Administration departed still further from the
isolationist idea and the idea of compulsory neutrality.  In a
speech at Chicago in October, 1937, Roosevelt said that "the moral
consciousness of the world . . . must be aroused to the cardinal
necessity . . . of putting an end to acts of aggression," added
that an "epidemic of world lawlessness" was spreading, and that
"when an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the
community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in
order to protect the health of the community against the spread of
the disease."  This looked like intervention against the aggressive
nations with a vengeance.  Later in 1937, in a letter to Governor
Landon, Roosevelt insisted that "we owe some measure of co-
operation and even leadership in maintaining standards of conduct
helpful to the ultimate goal of general peace."  When the American
gunboat Panay was sunk by Japanese bombers early in 1938, the
Administration made much of the incident, though it had occurred in
the interior of a country at war and the Panay had been convoying
Standard Oil tankers--in other words, had been engaged in just the
sort of enterprise which the neutrality advocates of 1935 had
sought to eliminate as a possible casus belli.  At about the same
time the Administration used its political influence with Congress
to bury in committee the Ludlow Resolution which would have
required a national referendum to get the United States into war;
this measure, it said, would "cripple any President in the conduct
of our foreign relations."  Clearly the intention was to give full
defense to American rights in China--even the right to convoy
tankers with our own gunboats close to a battlefront; to impress
the Japanese with the extent of American disgust at their behavior;
and in general to use American influence wherever possible to keep
aggressive nations within bounds.

Such a policy offered such a sharp contrast with what public
opinion had wanted in 1935 that it might have been expected to lead
to general public condemnation of President Roosevelt and Secretary
Hull.  It did not--though the "quarantine" speech required some
quick and deft explaining.  There was grumbling, but never enough
to prevent the continued nullification of the Neutrality Act.  The
basic reason was that American public opinion, too, was shifting
ground.  With each new crisis, American dislike of Hitler,
Mussolini, and the Japanese war lords was becoming sharper.

It is not, to be sure, clear that there was any great weakening
of the underlying preference for "keeping out of foreign
entanglements" on the part of the great mass of the American
people, particularly in the interior of the country.  A study of
the Gallup polls from 1935 to 1938 gives no sure evidence of any
such shift.  But informed and audible opinion, especially on the
Eastern seaboard, had undeniably altered.  Influential Republicans
like Governor Landon and ex-Secretary Stimson stood back of the
President in his anti-aggressor moves.  Specialists in foreign
affairs like the members of the Council on Foreign Relations felt
strongly that America must uphold the "democracies" against the
"dictatorships."  And radical opinion had changed almost

The communists had shifted from an anti-war policy to an anti-
fascist policy and had become almost as warlike as the Daughters of
the American Revolution.  Back in 1934, Earl Browder (who became
the communist candidate for President in 1936) had declared, "The
only way to fight war is to begin by fighting the war-makers in our
own land. . . .  The Roosevelt Administration is carrying on the
greatest war program ever seen in peace time."  When Roosevelt made
his "quarantine" speech in 1937, on the other hand, Browder
applauded it as a "declaration of a positive peace policy."  The
half-somersault executed by the American Student Union, a somewhat
leftist youth organization, offered a perfect illustration of the
general change in radical and liberal thought: at its meeting at
the end of 1936 it had endorsed the Oxford pledge "not to support
any war which the government may undertake"; at the end of 1937 it
called for "immediate steps to restrain fascist aggression, . . .
American leadership in naming aggressors, employing embargoes
against aggressors, and organizing these efforts through
international collaboration," and it urged "repeal or modification
of the present Neutrality Act so as to discriminate between
aggressor and attacked and to give aid to the latter."  Young men
and women who in 1934 and 1935 had spoken scornfully of war as a
device for the enrichment of capitalists were by 1937 and 1938
making bonfires of silk stockings to express their detestation of
Japan.  Still they did not want war, but they were militantly
taking sides in foreign quarrels.

In some respects, too, general public opinion was changing.  The
Gallup polls showed a swelling majority in favor of a larger
American navy, army, and air force.  When in February, 1938--just
before Hitler's conquest of Austria--the Gallup poll-takers
propounded the question, "If Germany and Italy go to war against
England and France, do you think we should do everything possible
to help England and France win, except go to war ourselves?" the
vote came out Yes, 69 per cent.  (If the issue had been differently
phrased, there might not have been such a heavy affirmative vote;
nevertheless the two-thirds majority was impressive.)

Still the great majority of Americans were earnestly anxious to
keep out of war.  But as the Hitler advance continued, crisis by
crisis, more and more people began to feel that it menaced America
too, that deliberate non-participation in foreign quarrels would be
difficult and might be morally wrong.  Then, almost on the heels of
Hitler's Austrian coup, came his Czechoslovak coup of September,
1938, and shook America from end to end.


A feeling of insecurity and apprehension, a feeling that the world
was going to pieces, that supposedly solid principles, whether of
economics or of politics or of international ethics, were giving
way under foot, had never quite left thoughtful Americans since the
collapse of Coolidge-Hoover prosperity in 1929 and 1930.  It had
been intense during the worst of the Depression, had been
alleviated somewhat as business conditions improved, and had become
more acute again as the international aggressors went on the
rampage (and as, simultaneously, the United States slid into the
Recession).  The Munich crisis of September, 1938, produced a new
attack of nerves.

Whether the strange incident of the Orson Welles broadcast should
be considered a manifestation of this attack of nerves cannot be
proved one way or the other--but at least it is significant that at
the time a great many observers thought that it was one.  On the
evening of Sunday, October 30, 1938--a month after Munich--Orson
Welles of the Mercury Theatre gave, over the Columbia Broadcasting
System, a scheduled radio dramatization of an old fantasy by H. G.
Wells, The War of the Worlds.  To make it vivid, he arranged it to
simulate a current news broadcast.  After an announcer had clearly
explained the nature of the program, a voice gave a prosaic weather
forecast; then another voice said that the program would be
continued from a hotel, with dance music; shortly this music was
interrupted by a "flash" to the effect that a professor at "Mount
Jennings Observatory," Chicago, reported seeing explosions at
regular intervals on the planet Mars; then the listeners were
"returned" in orthodox radio fashion "to the music of Ramon
Raquello . . . a tune that never loses favor, the popular 'Star
Dust'"; then came an interview with an imaginary Princeton
professor, with more information about disturbances on Mars--
whereupon a series of further "news bulletins" described the
arrival of Martians in huge metal cylinders which landed in New
Jersey.  The broadcast gathered speed, bulletin following bulletin.
More Martians landed--an army of them, which quickly defeated the
New Jersey State Militia.  Presently the Martian attack was vividly
described as being general all over the United States, with the
population of New York evacuating the city and Martian heat-rays
and flame-throwers and other diabolical devices causing terrific
destruction, till all was laid waste.

Despite the announcer's introduction, despite the fact that this
was a scheduled program, that one needed only to twist a dial to
hear the reassuring voice of Charlie McCarthy, that all names given
were fictitious, that the program was once interrupted in the
routine manner for an explanatory station identification, and that
in numerous respects the "news" given out was preposterous on its
face, the following remarkable reactions to the program took place:

All over the country, people called up newspapers or the police in
wild panic to find out what to do.  (The New York Times alone
received 875 calls; the Associated Press had to send out an
explanatory bulletin to its member papers.)  In many communities
terror-stricken people rushed out of their houses and milled about
in the streets, not quite sure whether they were being attacked by
Martians or by Germans, but sure that destruction was on the way
and they must flee somewhere.  In Newark, New Jersey, several
families, convinced that a "gas attack" had begun, put wet cloths
on their faces and tried to pack all their belongings in a car; the
traffic was jammed for blocks around.  A woman in Pittsburgh
prepared to take poison, crying, "I'd rather die this way than
that!"  A woman in Indianapolis rushed into a church screaming,
"New York destroyed; it's the end of the world.  You might as well
go home to die.  I just heard it on the radio," and the church
service came to a hurried end.  When a church service in New Jersey
was similarly interrupted, the congregation prayed for deliverance
from catastrophe.  A man in the Bronx section of New York rushed to
the roof when he heard the news and thought he saw "the smoke from
the bombs" drifting over the city.  In a town in the State of
Washington the electric-light service was interrupted during the
broadcast, convincing listeners that the terror was close at hand,
and women fainted.

So it went, with endless variations, all over the country.  Even if
only one person in twenty among those who heard the program took it
at its face value, this credulous minority--together with the
people whom they alarmed with their garbled stories of what they
thought was happening--caused enough panic to serve as a remarkable
case study in national hysteria.

But let us not argue whether the broadcast incident showed that
people's nerves had been shaken by the September war scare.
(Perhaps there was better proof of nerve strain in some of the
observations made upon the incident.  Dorothy Thompson, for
example, in her syndicated column, called the episode "the news
story of the century--an event which made a greater contribution to
an understanding of Hitlerism, Mussolinism, Stalinism, anti-
Semitism, and all the other terrorisms of our times than all the
words about them that have been written by reasonable men," and
said that it "cast a brilliant and cruel light upon the failure of
popular education."  That was pretty tall talk.)  There was other
and more reliable evidence of mounting apprehension.  Throughout
the United States in the winter of 1938-39 there was a marked
upsurge of anti-Semitism, noticeable even in Western towns where
Jews were few, and even in the behavior of men and women who had no
use for Hitler.  Father Coughlin's anti-Semitic broadcasts did much
to accelerate this sort of uneasy scapegoat-hunting.  Among many
liberals there was manifest a new and lively fear of Nazi influence
within the United States; people who all their lives had laughed at
red scares and had made light of the Russian connections of the
Communist Party saw nothing to laugh at in Nazi propaganda in
America and cried out that organizations with German connections
must be investigated and broken up.  Dinner-table conversations
turned to the alarming increase in German trade with Latin America
(which actually was no larger, relatively, than in 1913 and was
less than half as great as United States trade with Latin America)
and to the ominous question whether Nazi planes operating from
South American bases could not quickly smash the Panama Canal and
destroy American cities.  Many lovers of peace had become obsessed
with a sense that the United States, along with the rest of the
world, was on its way to an inevitable doom.  "When war breaks out
in Europe, we'll be in it in six months--nothing on earth can stop
it."  The best that sanity seemed able to offer by way of reply
was, "If in 1929 our best thinkers thought capitalism was
triumphant, and in 1933 they thought communism was becoming
triumphant, and in 1938 they think fascism is becoming triumphant,
what will they think in 1943?"

All the while the Administration was quickening its efforts to make
American influence felt by upholding the British and French,
excoriating Hitler, and trying to impress him with the idea that if
he went on he might have America against him.  When in November,
1938, there were new and cruel German attacks on Jews, the American
Ambassador at Berlin was called home "for report and consultation";
he did not return.  Roosevelt said that the news from Germany had
"deeply shocked public opinion in the United States."  The American
delegation at the Lima Conference in December sought strenuously to
line up the Latin American nations against interference by European
dictators--and met with a limited success.  In his annual message
to Congress in January, 1939, Roosevelt called for American unity
in the face of foreign threats to free institutions, and for a
heavy increase in American armaments--which was granted him.
Pointedly he said (and he might have added "Berlin papers please
copy") that there were "many ways short of war, but stronger and
more effective than mere words, of bringing home to aggressor
governments the aggregate sentiments of our own people."  Later
that month a Douglas attack plane crashed at Los Angeles, and soon
it was discovered that the passenger in this plane built to United
States Army specifications had been a Frenchman; obviously France
was being permitted, with the Administration's blessing, to order
good new American fighting planes.  Then the President held a long
secret session with the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, and
after this meeting came senatorial rumors--which were sharply
denied--that the President had said that if war came, America's
frontier would be in France.

On Easter Sunday, as he left Warm Springs, Roosevelt called out to
the crowd in the station, "I'll be back in the fall if we don't
have a war"; he afterwards made it clear to the press that "we" had
been meant to include, however vaguely, the United States.
Secretary Ickes, long famed for the deadliness of his epithets, and
other members of the Administration, were turning their rhetorical
artillery upon the German government.  When in due course Roosevelt
issued a plea for peace to Hitler and Mussolini in mid-April of
1939--an eloquent document to which Hitler replied, not in a
letter, but in a belated speech of great length, refusing
guarantees--many observers felt that the plea had been weakened in
advance by too much loose anti-Nazi talk by American officials.

Concurrently the pace of aggression in Europe was quickening.  In
January, 1939, Barcelona fell, and soon the Spanish Civil War was
over: a fascist victory.  In March Germany broke her promises at
Munich, overran the rest of Czechoslovakia, and annexed Memel.  In
April Mussolini, not to be quite outdone, seized Albania.  Then
followed a pause; the news from Europe dropped for a time out of
the American headlines.  But already there had been a new
intensification of the American dismay at these constant and
frightening disturbances.

In March, 1939, a Gallup poll on the question "In case war breaks
out, should we sell Britain and France food supplies?" had brought
a Yes from 76 per cent of those polled; in April the question was
repeated and the percentage jumped from 76 to 82.  In March the
further question "Should we sell them airplanes and other war
materials?" brought a Yes from 52 per cent; in April the figure had
gone way up to 66--a striking increase.  True, only 16 per cent of
those polled thought we should send the Army and Navy abroad to
help England and France.  But the great majority of Americans
wanted to help somehow--and more than half of the Gallup voters
expressed the ominous expectation (though not by any means the
wish) that if war broke out America would be "drawn in."

Was the United States moving along that road to war which only a
few years previously it had tried so hard to block off with red


On the morning of Sunday, April 30, 1939, the gates of the New York
World's Fair were thrown open.  The theme of the Fair was "The
World of Tomorrow"; the opening ceremonies were held in a vast
enclosure called the "Court of Peace."  Could anybody in that
throng of tens of thousands, gathered under a blue sky in which
hung mountainous clouds, fail to reflect upon the question
ironically posed by those two phrases?

Here, all about one, was the embodiment of the American dream, 1939
model.  Bold modern architecture, sometimes severe, sometimes
garish, but always devoid of the traditional classical or Gothic
decoration, and glowing with color--offering the first chance most
of the visitors had ever had to see what modern architects might do
if the economic condition of the country let them go in for large-
scale construction.  Gardens, fountains, waterfalls leaping off
buildings; music resounding everywhere; at night, the splendor of
superb lighting.  Miracles of invention and of industrial
efficiency to goggle at.  A sense of festival.  Here every man
could briefly feel himself, if not a king, at least the citizen of
a gay and friendly country, the beneficiary of spotless industrial
engineering, privileged to idle along the lagoons, to watch the
fireworks flower in orange and blue and green, to see the trylon
piercing the sky behind the young trees turned silver by the
lights.  Here General Motors and Remington Rand sat cheek by jowl
with the WPA, Soviet Russia presented her delights to people who
would presently compare them with Eastman Kodak's delights; in this
fantastic paradise there were visible no social classes, no civil
feuds, no international hates, no hints of grimy days in dreary
slums, no depression worries.  Here was a dream of wealth, luxury,
and lively beauty, with coca-cola at every corner and the horns of
the busses jauntily playing "The Sidewalks of New York."

Outside the gates was a nation one-third of whose citizens were
still "ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished," and a world from which
the hope of true peace seemed to have passed forever.  What would
the real world of tomorrow hold for America?

Still the basic economic problem of America remained unsolved.  An
uncertain climb out of the pit of the Recession brought the Federal
Reserve Board's adjusted index up to 102 in August, 1939.  But that
was only a shade higher than the point it had reached during the
New Deal Honeymoon; and still there were nine and a half million
people unemployed, according to the estimates of the National
Industrial Conference Board.  The colossal enterprise of work
relief was becoming every day more clearly a tragic makeshift,
demoralizing, as the years dragged on, to many if not to most of
those unfortunate enough to be dependent upon it.  Though it had
been generously conceived, had produced some fine achievements in
the arts and some welcome civic improvements, and had at least kept
millions of men and women from the extremities of want and despair,
nevertheless as a permanent institution the WPA offered an
intolerable prospect--and it was getting to look all too permanent.
The farm problem was still unsolved, despite Secretary Wallace's
herculean efforts; instead of an ever-normal granary the United
States seemed to be saddled with an ever-subsidized granary.  A
kindly government could alleviate the lot of families forced off
the land, but could not yet catch up with the tractor as it drove
new families, east and west, into homeless migration.  Fine things
as well as foolish things had been done in Washington, but still
the prosperity which had vanished in 1929 looked as unattainable as
a rainbow.

Must America at last be reconciled to the dictum that as its
population growth slowed up its economic growth must slow up too?
Must it accept either a continuance of this twilight-prosperity,
with the burden of carrying the unemployed becoming progressively
greater, or else a grim deflation of prices and wages and debts
till the labor surplus could become absorbed--a deflation which
might be even less endurable than that of 1929-33?  No one could
relish either of those prospects.  Well then--a war boom?  No gain
thus made could be lasting.  A speculative boom?  That, too, would
carry with it the seeds of its own destruction.  No healthy
expansion of the American economy could be achieved without a
steady flow of money into new investment (along with a maintenance
of popular purchasing power), and this flow was still dammed.

What dammed it?  That question could not be answered adequately
without taking into account one of the most significant economic
developments of the nineteen-thirties: the increased importance of
the great corporations which I have called economic principalities.
Everybody was aware that the power of the Federal government had
grown enormously during the decade, until its fingers reached into
every nook and cranny of the country.  Everybody was aware that all
manner of activities and enterprises which had been managed on an
individual or small-group basis were now becoming socialized--until
even that company of rugged individualists, the medical profession,
found itself fighting a rear-guard action against the gradual
advance of group medicine, even of state medicine.  Not everybody
was aware of the extent to which the general trend toward
centralization, toward bigger and bigger units of social and
economic action, was affecting business as well.

Gone since 1929, it was true, were the dizzy days when promoters
merged companies into super-companies and super-companies into
super-super-companies, when holding-company pyramids were built
four and six and eight stories high, and little groups of men in
Wall Street, playing with paper stock certificates, thought they
were well on their way to the control of all American enterprise.
Some of the pyramids had fallen down in the Depression, others had
been at least partly razed by a disapproving government; and as for
the rest, their days of skyscraping growth were over--for the
present at least.  The public wanted no more Insulls or Van
Sweringens to flourish.  Yet most of the great corporate structures
which had been put together in the generation before 1929, and
especially in the decade before 1929, still stood intact after the

Not only that: it was these great corporations, generally speaking,
which during the nineteen-thirties had been making whatever money
was made in business.  Look at these revealing figures from E. D.
Kennedy's Dividends to Pay.  In the year 1935 there were nearly
half a million corporations in the United States, and they made,
between them, a tidy profit of over a billion and two-thirds
dollars--but if one omitted from the reckoning 960 of the biggest
(the 960 companies, with stocks active on the New York Exchange,
for which the Standard Statistics Company tabulated earnings) that
collective profit turned into a deficit.  In short, in 1935 the 960
big companies were, collectively, making a profit; the 475,000 or
so smaller companies were, collectively, losing money.  Mr. Kennedy
was not able to show what happened in 1937 to the great mass of
corporations because the government figures had not yet appeared,
but he was able to trace the further fortunes of the 960 at the
top, and his findings provided more illumination.  Of all the money
made in 1937 by these 960 aristocrats of business, well over a half--
60 per cent--was made by just 42 of them; and nearly a quarter--24
per cent--was made by a mere six of the very biggest.  (You would
like the names of these six?  They were General Motors, American
Telephone, Standard Oil of New Jersey, United States Steel, du
Pont, and General Electric.)

Imagine yourself setting up a new company to compete against one of
these giants or even a group of lesser giants, with their huge
resources and their ability to maintain prices by mutual custom and
business understanding if by no more devious means, and you will
begin to understand one of the reasons why new investments did not
flourish.  Too many of the roads on which it might wish to proceed
were already occupied by marchers able to keep the highway to

Parenthetically it should be added that the great principalities
were now becoming less dependent upon the investment houses of Wall
Street for capital; they could maintain and modernize and even
expand their plants out of their own ample pockets.  Perhaps the
palmy days of the Wall Street bankers were over--not only
because of government restrictions but also because the great
principalities were becoming more powerful than the banks.  Was it
wholly irrelevant that during the last two or three years of the
decade several big corporations, notably U. S. Steel and General
Motors, moved in one way or another to reduce the authority of
officers and directors who represented essentially Wall Street and
the traditional power of capital, to increase the power of men who
represented the active management, or to add directors who
represented local business interests outside Wall Street?  True,
there was doubtless a political motive behind such moves.  The
managers of the principalities had waked up to the fact that they
were in politics whether they wanted to be or not.  "Public
relations" were no longer a mere press-agent's job, but demanded
the attention of at least a vice-president.  The big corporations
were spending millions to win popularity.  Wall Street was not
popular; why not go through the motions, at least, of casting it
off?  Nevertheless there may have been more to it than that.
Perhaps the day was at hand when, figuratively speaking, Mr. Sloan
would not call on Mr. Morgan; Mr. Morgan would call on Mr. Sloan.

The profits of these great principalities went into millions of
American homes, for their cohorts of stockholders had never been so
numerous.  But to only a tiny minority of wealthy stockholders did
enough money go to be potentially an important factor in new
investment.  This tiny minority, beset with taxes, were in no mood
for gambles in the areas where the great principalities did not
stifle competition.  "Why take a chance?" they would say; "if we
lose, we lose; if we win, the government will take most of it
away."  They preferred to keep their money invested in the
principalities and in tax-exempt bonds, or even to hold it
uninvested in cash.  Give us a government that will free us from
burdens and restrictions, they had been shouting, and you will see
new investment burgeon.  But the behavior of the business indices
in 1938 and 1939, when the New Deal had certainly become less
adventurous and more willing to conciliate capital, had given
little indication that such would be the case.  There was always
some good reason why the burgeoning must be postponed: the man who
in 1937 had sworn that the return of "confidence" waited only for
the repeal of the undistributed profits tax lamented in 1938 and
1939 that new investment was being held back by the fear of war.
The banks continued to be glutted with idle money.

There were other reasons, of course, why the money lay idle.  Who,
for example, would risk money in new building when costs were held
so high--by crushing real-estate taxes, high prices for materials,
high hourly wages for labor, antiquated and inefficient building
methods, etc.--that no profit could be anticipated?  Here the
difficulty was not that a few great corporations monopolized the
field, but that a multitude of suzerainties, large and small, and a
multitude of frozen debts and unresolved Depression problems,
prevented great corporations from entering the field at all with
the economies of large-scale production.  Yet on the whole the
generalization appeared to stand.  The highways of industry and
trade were well filled with going concerns with which only big,
well-heeled companies could compete, and the men who could afford
to bring such companies to birth had no enthusiasm for the battle.
They thought their troubles were mostly political; actually, the
evidence suggested that they were mostly economic.

During 1938 and 1939 the government, through a Temporary National
Economic Committee, set out to investigate the blocking of new
investment, especially by the competition-stifling practices of the
principalities (which for political reasons were referred to by the
good old fighting term "monopolies").  Some of the New Dealers were
studying the prospects for investments by the government itself to
take up the slack.  But the problem was thorny; and when in the
spring of 1939 the President made a gesture in the direction of
investment by the government--combining the idea with that of
unemployment relief in what was called the Lending-Spending Bill--
Congress threw the whole scheme out the window.  (Not content with
thus rebuffing Roosevelt, Congress cut the admirable Theatre
Project out of the WPA and decreed that wage-rates for skilled
workmen on the WPA should be cut, thus provoking a strike which the
columnist Bugs Baer called the "mutiny on the bounty.")  The 1940
elections were becoming visible to the naked political eye, ardent
New Dealers were prophesying a third term for Roosevelt,
Republicans and conservative Democrats were taking a rich delight
in demolishing his domestic proposals, and the economic issues were
becoming lost in the political shuffle.

Now at last it looked as if the New Deal was really through.  It
had played its cards and had no more new ones to offer--or, if it
had them, it could no longer induce Congress to let it play them.
The country was manifestly wearying of economic experiment; the
Republican party had taken advantage of this weariness to make
substantial gains in the 1938 elections.  The social Salvationists
were losing their zeal for legislating prosperity.  Now, like
Roosevelt himself, they had become tense with excitement about
foreign affairs and had half forgotten the dismal unsolved problems
on the domestic front; they were either forming committees for the
defense of freedom and tolerance against dictatorship, or breaking
up into new alignments over the question whether America should
stay out of war at all costs or come to the rescue of Britain and
France.  Yet still the secret of prosperity remained undiscovered.

For three and a half of the ten years since the Panic of 1929 the
Hoover Administration had fought valiantly but vainly against
disaster.  For six and a half years the Roosevelt Administration
had experimented and palliated, and had merely kept disaster at bay--
to the tune of an increase of not far from twenty billion dollars
in the public debt of the United States.

But was that all that could be said?

On the credit side of the national ledger there were certain
entries to be made.  Item 1.  No revolution, no dictatorship born
of the Depression had done away with the essential civil liberties
of Americans.  Item 2.  The government in power had never willfully
denied the principle stated in Roosevelt's second inaugural, that
"we are determined to make every American citizen the subject of
his country's interest and concern, and we will never regard any
faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous."
Whatever sins were to be charged against the New Deal, at least it
had done its task humanely.  (This item loomed large in the eyes of
men who looked abroad in 1939 and thought of the hordes of
refugees seeking footholds where they would not be "regarded as
superfluous.")  Item 3.  Despite all the miseries of the Depression
and the recurrent fears of new economic decline and of war, the
bulk of the American people had not yet quite lost their basic
asset of hopefulness.

It was still their instinct to transform a suburban swamp into a
city of magic and call it "The World of Tomorrow."  In that world
of tomorrow the show which they liked best of all and stood in hour-
long queues to enjoy was the General Motors Futurama, a picture of
the possible delights of 1960.  They still liked to build the
biggest dam in all creation and toy with the idea of the happy
farmsteads it would water, the enormous engines it would drive, the
new and better business it would stimulate.  They still liked to
stand with elbows on the fence at the edge of the farm and say,
"Sooner or later I aim to buy those forty acres over there and go
into this thing on a bigger scale."  They still scrimped to give
their sons and daughters "a better education than we ever had,"
feeling obscurely that a better education would be valued in the
years to come.

A nation tried in a long ordeal had not yet lost heart.


So one meditated as the summer of 1939 slipped by.  But always now
the meditation was interrupted by the recurring question:  What
will happen in Europe, and what will it mean to us here?

That question could hardly fail to be in the back of one's mind
when, early in June, the King and Queen of England visited the
United States.  The Roosevelts tactfully made the most of this
opportunity to cement the bonds of Anglo-American amity and erase
whatever unfavorable memories lingered from l'affaire Simpson--and
from Munich.  Their reception of their royal guests was carefully
arranged to be both dignified and heartily American, with more than
a touch of the military.

When the King and Queen arrived in Washington--on a day of terrific
heat which must have made the King's epauletted admiral's uniform
almost intolerable--ten "flying fortress" bombing planes roared
over the route of the procession to the White House, and the cars
in which rode the King and the President, and the Queen and Mrs.
Roosevelt, were preceded by sixty businesslike-looking baby tanks.
After the state dinner that evening, there was a White House
concert the program for which included Negro spirituals, cowboy
ballads, and square dances, with well-assorted solos: not only by
Lawrence Tibbett but also by Marian Anderson, the great Negro
singer--with Kate Smith contributing that perennial radio favorite,
"When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain."  Three days later, their
Royal Highnesses picnicked with the Roosevelts at Hyde Park, and
the King consumed hot dogs and beer.  (He could have dodged the hot
dogs, for the menu also included cold ham, smoked and plain turkey,
and various salads, as well as baked beans and brown bread,
doughnuts and ginger bread, cookies, coffee, and soft drinks--but
he knew well that a hot dog eaten smilingly in America might be
worth a dozen battleships.)  When the guests boarded their train at
Hyde Park that evening, the President clasped his hands together
high over his head in democratic farewell and the crowd sang "Auld
Lang Syne" and "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."

Nor did Mrs. Roosevelt, in her amiable newspaper column "My Day,"
fail to take the American public into her confidence about her
concern over the domestic arrangements for the visit--such as the
care taken to provide the guests with early morning tea and with
water chilled but not iced--and about those small mishaps which
would cause every hostess who read of them to vibrate with sympathy--
such as the fact that a butler entering the big library at Hyde
Park with a tray of drinks slipped and dropped the tray with a

The King and Queen in their turn were by universal consent cordial,
unassuming, and engaging.  The crowds both in Washington and New
York were enormous and enthusiastic; in fact, Mrs. Roosevelt
remarked in her column that during the procession in Washington she
had been quite unable to explain to the Queen what buildings they
were passing because the roars of applause drowned every word.  No
untoward incident marred the triumphal royal progress.  Altogether,
the visit was an almost incredible success.

A few weeks after this success, the President tried hard to get
Congress to rewrite the Neutrality Act and do away with the
mandatory ban on the export of arms and munitions to warring
countries.  Not yet, however, was Congress ready to take this leap.
In a matter which might determine the issue of war or peace, a
majority of the men on the Hill were still unwilling to yield to
this volatile man who so firmly believed that Hitler must be
stopped and that the United States must help stop him by making it
plain that if he did not hold his hand he would have American
planes and guns, if not American soldiers and sailors, to reckon

Wherever one turned, that summer, the thought of Europe followed.

The Transatlantic Clippers (41-ton planes with a wing-spread of 152
feet) began carrying passengers from Long Island Sound to France
and England--a potential link between allies, one asked oneself, or
between belligerency and neutrality?  The American submarine
Squalus sank off Portsmouth in 240 feet of water, and 33 of her 59
men were rescued by diving bell--was it just a coincidence that a
British submarine and a French submarine were lost at about the
same time?  The Grapes of Wrath lay upon the summer-porch table--
and beside it lay Days of Our Years, Inside Asia, and Not Peace,
But a Sword, all three of which took the American reader overseas.
The long quarrel between the TVA and the Commonwealth & Southern
utility system was moderated with the government's purchase of the
Tennessee Electric Power Company's properties--and one realized
that the hatred of Roosevelt which had burned for years in the
hearts of big business men was already dying to embers.  A salesman
could still get orders by sending in a card which said

                If You Don't Give Me An Order
                   I'll Vote For Him Again

but some of the once-indignant business men were even beginning to
like Roosevelt now--for his foreign policy.

Prospective dbutantes were wondering, that summer, who would
succeed Brenda Diana Duff Frazier as the "glamour girl" of the new
season; the idea of glamour (or "oomph" if you preferred) was now
so ubiquitous that Life was calling Thomas E. Dewey "Republican
Glamour Boy No. 1," and Attorney-General Murphy "New Deal Glamour
Boy No. 1."  The fashion experts were returning from Europe with
the news that Paris said corsets and hour-glass figures.  Summer
vacationists were bending over their Chinese checkers; trying to
emulate the swimming mermaids and mermen of Billy Rose's Aquacade;
comparing Grover Whalen's financial troubles, as he tried to
prevent the "World of Tomorrow" from going bankrupt, with the
troubles of the managers of the San Francisco Fair; discussing
Johnstown's speed on the racetracks; driving to the movies to see
Robert Donat in "Goodbye Mr. Chips," or Bette Davis in "Dark
Victory."  Would all these everyday trifles of the 1939 summer
season come back to memory, some day, as incidents of the happy
lull before the storm?

One thing was almost certain.  If war broke out in Europe, we
should look back upon the day of declaration as the day when a line
was drawn across our national life.  Whatever strange form the war
might take, whatever might be America's relation to it, it would
bring America new problems, new alignments, new hopes and fears.

But surely there wouldn't be war.  Things were really rather quiet
in Europe, on the surface, in July and early August.  And if Hitler
should make a new crisis over Danzig and the Polish corridor,
surely somebody would back down before it was too late.  Somebody
always had.


The storm moved up late in August.

First, like a rumble of premonitory thunder, came the report that
von Ribbentrop was to fly to Moscow to sign a German-Russian
agreement.  Then came the agreement itself; it was proclaimed in
streamer headlines in the papers of August 24:--


That announcement sent ideas, expectations, and assumptions reeling
the world over.  In America, the supposed experts on world affairs
stumbled for a foothold in reality as their logical premises fell
away from under them.  The communists performed quick ideological
contortions as they saw the party line coming to a hairpin turn.
Business men decided not to put in that buying order yet awhile, to
wait till the shape of things was clearer; steamship officials
debated the canceling of sailing dates; the stock market hesitated,
sold off a little, wobbled uneasily.  Americans went again to their
radios for last-minute European bulletins.

Days of negotiations, mobilizations, frantic efforts for
settlement, threats and counter-threats--then, very early on the
morning of September 1, Hitler's armies marched into Poland.

It had begun.  But still there was a question hanging in the air--
what about Britain and France?

All that day--it was a Friday--the question remained not quite
answered, and all the next day too.  It traveled along with Labor
Day week-enders departing for their three-day holiday, burned in
their minds even on the golf links and the bathing beaches.

The answer was delivered at last on Sunday morning, September 3--
ten years to a day from that hot September 3 of 1929 with which
this chronicle opened.  Over the radio came from London the voice
of Neville Chamberlain, an infinitely unmartial voice, speaking in
tones low and tired and sad:--

"This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed to the German
government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by
eleven o'clock that they were preparing at once to withdraw their
troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.  I have
to tell you that no such undertaking has been received and in
consequence this country is at war with Germany."

With those sentences, spoken so quietly thousands of miles away, an
era ended for America and another one began.



In the Appendix to Only Yesterday I spoke first of all of my debt
to Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd for "the extraordinarily
varied and precise information collected in Middletown," of which I
had "made frequent use"; and I added, "I do not see how any
conscientious historian of the Post-war Decade could afford to
neglect this mine of material."  Mutatis mutandis, I must now say
the same thing of their Middletown in Transition (Harcourt, Brace,
1937).  I have quoted from it more frequently in the present volume
than from any other source, and have leaned more upon it than the
number of quotations would suggest.

In writing my first four chapters, I have made much use of The
Hoover Administration, A Documented Narrative, by William Starr
Myers and Walter H. Newton (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936), and
Hoover Off the Record, by Theodore G. Joslin (Doubleday, Doran,
1934).  These two books, one formal, the other informal, both have
proved helpful for reference and quotation, partisan though they
are.  Similarly I have found the five volumes of The Public Papers
and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Random House, 1938) of
great value for the New Deal period.  Two other books which came
out while mine was in preparation have been useful to me at many
points and would be even more useful to writers who could take
fuller advantage of them than I was able to: the splendid America
in Midpassage, by Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard (Macmillan,
1939), and Raymond Moley's detailed and searching first-hand
account of the New Deal, After Seven Years (Harper, 1939).
Needless to say, I have made constant use of the successive volumes
of the World Almanac, and especially the Chronology which appears
in it annually and is invaluable to anyone engaged in a project of
this sort; and also the files of the New York Times in the New York
Public Library.

My other sources--books, newspapers, magazines, and ideas and
anecdotes and observations picked up throughout the decade--have
been so voluminous that it would be wearisome to recite them all.
But certain sources I should like to mention either by way of
explanation or to express special obligation, and these I shall
arrange chapter by chapter for convenience:

In Chapter I ("Prelude: September 3, 1929") the quotations from
Gilbert Seldes are from "Talkies' Progress," in Harper's Magazine,
September, 1929.  The paraphrase of F. C. Mills is based on a
quotation from him in Middletown in Transition, pp. 53-54.  The
late George W. Wickersham very kindly wrote me shortly before his
death and showed me a copy of the Commission minutes for September
4, 1929.  From newspaper data, Calvin Coolidge did not move to his
larger house in Northampton until 1930, although William Allen
White's biography of him would seem to imply an earlier move.  The
1929 data about Dr. Francis E. Townsend are based on a letter from
Old Age Revolving Pensions, Ltd.; about "Amos 'n' Andy" and Edgar
Bergen, on information kindly supplied through Julian Street, Jr.,
when he was with the NBC; about Garnet Carter and Hervey Allen, on
letters from them; about Pearl Buck, on a letter from Richard J.
Walsh.  For these letters I am grateful.

In Chapter II ("Exit Prosperity") the polls of the National
Economic League are from reproductions of them in The Folklore of
Capitalism, by Thurman W. Arnold (Yale University Press, 1937).
The quotation of Denna Frank Fleming is from his book, The United
States and World Organization, 1920-1933 (Columbia University
Press, 1938), p. 325.  The item about Roosevelt and Farley at
election time, 1930, is drawn from James A. Farley's book Behind
the Ballots (Harcourt, Brace, 1938).  Henry Pratt Fairchild's
population estimate is from an article by him, "When the Population
Levels Off," in Harper's Magazine, May, 1938.  The concluding pages
of this chapter repeat (with some revisions) passages in a talk I
gave at Bennington College, Commencement, 1938, which was printed
by the Catamount Press at North Bennington, Vt., with the title "In
a Time of Apprehension."

In Chapter III ("Down, Down, Down") the item about William McC.
Martin, Jr., he kindly gave me himself.  The Roosevelt-Farley item
is again from Farley's Behind the Ballots (see above).  The details
of my story of the Hoover moratorium are based chiefly on Myers and
Newton, Joslin, and Mark Sullivan's article on "President Hoover
and the World Depression" in the Saturday Evening Post for March
11, 1933.  The Peter F. Drucker quotation was taken from the
manuscript of his book The End of Economic Man (John Day, 1939).
The National Credit Corporation item was drawn from Three Years
Down, by Jonathan Norton Leonard (Carrick & Evans, 1939), a lively
and useful, if bitter, account of the years 1929-33 to which I am
also indebted for several items about the effects of the Depression
on individuals.  The Kuznets figures on interest payments are from
"National Income, 1929-32," by Simon Kuznets, which is Bulletin 49
of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  The E. D. Kennedy
figures are from his valuable book Dividends to Pay (Reynal &
Hitchcock, 1939), pp. 16-17.  The figures on domestic corporate
issues are from The United States, a Graphic History, by Hacker
Modley, and Taylor (Modern Age Books, 1937).  The Croxton figures
for Buffalo were cited in The Christian Century, December 28, 1932.
My account of the Lindbergh case is in large degree based upon
Sidney B. Whipple's exceptionally interesting and careful account
in The Trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann (Doubleday, Doran, 1937),
to which I am greatly indebted.

In Chapter IV ("A Change of Government") the account of the Chicago
Convention draws much from Farley's Behind the Ballots (see above);
the incident of the Acceptance Address manuscript is from Raymond
Moley's After Seven Years (see above).  The Elmer Davis quotation
is from "The Collapse of Politics" in Harper's Magazine for
September, 1932.  My account of the Bonus Army episode is based on
a comparison of many versions, including especially Paul Y.
Anderson's personal observations in The Nation for August 17, 1932.
The farmer's remark to Mary Heaton Vorse is from her article,
"Rebellion in the Corn Belt," in Harper's Magazine, December, 1932.
My description of a farmers' protest meeting follows the account of
one in We Too Are the People, Louise V. Armstrong (Little, Brown,
1938), which is helpful also to an understanding of relief
problems.  For Hoover's unsmiling demeanor see 42 Years in the
White House by Irwin Hood Hoover (Houghton Mifflin, 1934).  My
account of Hoover and Roosevelt in the interregnum is based largely
on a comparison of the versions Myers and Newton, Joslin, Moley,
Farley, and others.  In my account of the bank crisis I have used
28 Days: A History of the Banking Crisis, by C. C. Colt and N. S.
Keith (Greenberg, 1933).

In Chapter V ("New Deal Honeymoon") the beginning of Roosevelt's
Inaugural is taken from the New York Times for March 5, 1933; the
version given in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D.
Roosevelt omits the "national consecration" clause.  The quotations
from letters embodying plans for recovery are actual quotations
from letters I was kindly shown in the NRA files at the Department
of Commerce.  The genesis of the NRA is based on many accounts,
including chiefly "Whose Child is the NRA?" by John T. Flynn in
Harper's Magazine for September, 1934.  Jonathan Mitchell's
article, "The Versatility of General Johnson," appeared in Harper's
Magazine for October, 1934.

In Chapter VI ("A Change of Climate") I have made use of a study of
Youth and Sex by Dorothy Dunbar Bromley and Florence Haxton Britten
(Harper, 1938), and at several points have used an especially
interesting article on "Youth in College," Fortune, June, 1936,
which was reprinted in American Points of View, edited by William
H. Cordell and Kathryn Coe Cordell (Doubleday, Doran, 1937).  On
bootlegging after Repeal, I have used After Repeal, by Leonard V.
Harrison and Elizabeth Raine (Harper, 1936).  The Virginia book-
burning was described in Ken, August 28, 1938.  My mention of slot
machines, pinball, etc., draws heavily from Samuel Lubell's
article, "Ten Billion Nickels," in the Saturday Evening Post, May
12, 1939; of the Irish Sweepstakes, from an article by John J.
McCarthy in Harper's Magazine, June, 1934; of "Bank Night," from
"Bank Night Tonight," by Forbes Parkhill, Saturday Evening Post,
December 4, 1937; of softball, from "Baseball's Precocious Baby,"
by Ted Shane, American Magazine, June, 1939.  The Gallup poll on
gambling was cited in the New York Times for November 27, 1938.

In Chapter VII ("Reform--and Recovery?") I have quoted from George
R. Leighton's article, "In Search of the NRA," which appeared in
Harper's Magazine, January, 1934.  On relief, Spending to Save, by
Harry L. Hopkins (W. W. Norton, 1936) is the source of some facts.
On Huey Long I have drawn plentifully from Huey Long, A Candid
Biography, by Forrest Davis (Dodge, 1935); the White House incident
is from Farley's reminiscences (see above).  On the Townsend Plan,
many facts are from "The Old People's Crusade," by Richard L.
Neuberger and Kelley Loe, Harper's Magazine, March, 1936.

In Chapter VIII ("When the Farms Blew Away") the opening quotation
is from "Life and Death of 470 Acres," by R. D. Lusk, Saturday
Evening Post, August 13, 1938.  The map which I mention is in
Problems of a Changing Population, National Resources Committee
(May, 1938), p. 65.  The Neuberger quotation is from Our Promised
Land (Macmillan, 1938).  On the changes in American agriculture I
am especially indebted to Paul S. Taylor, from whose "Power Farming
and Labor Displacement in the Cotton Belt, 1937" (published by the
U. S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics, serial
No. R 737, Government Printing Office) I have quoted, and to Ladd
Haystead's memorandum for Arthur Kudner, Inc., "The Farmer Looks at
Himself."  On farm tenancy, I am indebted to (and have quoted from)
the chapter on "Labor in Evolving Economy" in the Beards' America
in Midpassage.  The Stuart Chase quotation on the flood of 1936 is
from Rich Land, Poor Land (Whittlesey House, 1936), which was a
helpful source also on government conservation measures.

In Chapter IX ("The Voice with the Smile Wins") the figures I have
given on Federal deficits are net (after subtracting the amount
paid out for statutory debt retirements); I have not attempted to
go into the very intricate and debatable question of the extent to
which the expenditures in these years represented in part money
which should come back to the Federal government.  In the
discussion of Moley and Corcoran and Cohen I have used chiefly that
illuminating little book, Men Around the President, by Joseph Alsop
and Robert Kintner (Doubleday, Doran, 1939), and also Moley's After
Seven Years (see above), checking the latter against the former.
For many details in this chapter In 1936, by Alvin C. Eurich and
Elmo C. Wilson (Henry Holt, 1937), came in handy.

In Chapter X ("With Pen and Camera Through Darkest America") the
quotation from Malcolm Cowley is from an advance proof of the New
Republic for November 8, 1939.  My passage on Benny Goodman and
swing leans heavily on "The Killer-Diller," by Frank Norris,
Saturday Evening Post, May 7, 1938, and "No. 1 Swing Man," by
Irving Kolodin, Harper's Magazine, September, 1939; the Toscanini-
Chotzinoff item is from "Toscanini on the Air," Fortune, January,
1938; the figures on music appreciation are from an excellent
summary, "Music Goes into Mass Production," by Dickson Skinner,
Harper's Magazine, April, 1939.  The data about centralized
newspaper control are taken from John Cowles's chapter on
"Journalism--Newspapers," in America Now, by 36 Americans, edited
by Harold E. Stearns (Scribner's, 1938).  On the movies, I have
taken a number of facts from advance proofs of Margaret Farrand
Thorp's fine survey, America at the Movies (Yale University Press,

In Chapter XI ("Friction and Recession") I have made extensive use,
in the labor section, of Edward Levinson's valuable Labor on the
March (Harper, 1938), and am also indebted to Herbert Harris for
his American Labor (Yale University Press, 1939), another useful
source.  The account of the meetings between Lewis and Taylor is
drawn from "It Happened in Steel," in Fortune, May, 1937.  My
account of the Supreme Court battle follows pretty closely three
fine articles by Joseph Alsop and Turner Catledge in the Saturday
Evening Post for September 18, September 25, and October 16, 1937,
entitled "The 168 Days" (later published in book form).  The Leon
Henderson item is from Men Around the President (see under Chapter
IX); and I have also leaned somewhat on that book in my account of
the Administration shifts of policy during the Recession.

In Chapter XII ("The Shadow of War") the quotation of the
international broadcast is from bound volumes of the Columbia
Broadcasting System's Broadcasts, at the New York Public Library.
As to Studio Nine, I have drawn on H. V. Kaltenborn's I Broadcast
the Crisis (Random House, 1938).  My account of the London Economic
Conference of 1933 naturally makes use of Moley's detailed
narrative in After Seven Years.  In this chapter I have made much
use of the Gallup public-opinion polls on foreign affairs, as
handily collected for reference in F. S. Wickware's "What the Polls
Say," in Harper's Magazine, September, 1939; such polls sometimes
seem to indicate more than they actually do (for much depends on
the wording of the questions) but they at least help to show
trends, especially when the same question is asked at intervals.
E. D. Kennedy's book, from which I have drawn figures on corporate
earnings, I have already cited above (under Chapter III).

I cannot list all the people who have been good enough to help me
in one way or another, but I should like especially to thank the
William Zuills of Orange Grove, Bermuda, for their thoughtful
hospitality while I was at work on the opening chapters; and, for
assistance of various sorts, Letitia C. Rogers, Oliver Ellsworth
Allen, Margaret MacMullen, Charles W. MacMullen, Cathleen Schurr,
the David Cushman Coyles, Charles C. Colt, John A. Kouwenhoven,
Paul S. Taylor, George R. Leighton, Luther H. Gulick, Remley J.
Glass, Daniel I. McNamara, Julian Street, Jr., Deems Taylor,
Florence Alonso, and the staff of the New York Public Library
(especially in the Newspaper Room and the Economics and Sociology
Division).  My wife, Agnes Rogers Allen, is to be thanked above all--
for helpful ideas and criticism and for much hard work on behalf
of this project.


New York City
November 10, 1939

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