Advanced Topics in Liberty

Liberty, the Welfare State, and the New Deal

Discussion Leader – Steve Horwitz , St. Lawrence University

The New Deal was, in vision and scope, one of the most significant programs of twentieth-century American politics. It fundamentally altered the nation’s political and economic systems. In the words of the journalist John T. Flynn, the New Deal was “the road ahead” to socialism, yet some (like Socialist party leader Norman Thomas) refused to acknowledge the New Deal’s pretensions, adamantly denying that Roosevelt’s programs were a precursor to a socialist system. There are some critics of our current welfare system who trace its origins to the New Deal period, and others who call for a return to the philosophy and practices of the New Deal, denying that “welfarism” was ever one of its objectives. The debate about the impact and the objectives of the New Deal continues, and current debates about political and economic policy dictate that those concerned with liberty should reconsider this period in American history.

 

The primary objective of this conference will be to critically examine and discuss the various interpretations of the New Deal that have been advanced during the past half century. Readings and discussion will also examine the differences between the stated political intentions and the actual economic consequences of the chief policies from 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office, until 1939, when World War II began. Not surprisingly, there is a rich body of literature from which to draw in selecting conference readings. We will use a host of important primary sources on the New Deal and the Roosevelt administration. These documents will help the participants examine the stated intentions of the framers of the New Deal and provide the foundation for a focused discussion.

 

Session 1:        The First New Deal

Graham, Otis L., Jr. and Meghan Robinson Wander, eds. Franklin D. Roosevelt: His Life and Times: An Encyclopedic View, Boston: G.K. Hall, 1985. pp 285-291

 

Lloyd, Gordon, eds. The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century, Salem: M & M Scrivener Press, 2007.

 

  • FDR: Oglethorpe University Address, May 22, 1932" pp 69-75,
  • "FDR: Commonwealth Club Address, September 23, 1932" pp 114-123,
  • "FDR: First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933" pp 160-164

 

Session 2:        Legislation and Reform

Lloyd, Gordon, eds. The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century, Salem: M & M Scrivener Press, 2007.

 

  • "The Agricultural Adjustment Act, May 12, 1933" pp 174-181,
  • "The National Industrial Recovery Act, June 16, 1933" pp 181-189,
  • "A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, May 27, 1935" pp 193-201,
  • "United States v. Butler, January 6, 1936" pp 242-257

 

Commager, Henry Steele, eds. Documents of American History, 7th Edition, New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1963.

 

  • "The Tennessee Valley Act, May 18, 1933" pp 255-257
  • "Ashwander et al. Tennessee Valley Authority" pp 257-262

 

Session 3:        Judicial Reform

 

Commager, Henry Steele, eds. Documents of American History, 7th Edition, New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1963.

 

  • "Steward Machine Co. v. Davis" pp 334-339
  • "Helvering et al. Davis" pp 339-341
  • "Carter v Carter Coal Co. et al" pp344-353
  • "Reform of the Federal Judiciary: Proposed Bill" pp382-383
  • "Reform of the Federal Judiciary: Address by the President" pp 383-387
  • "Reform of the Federal Judiciary: Adverse Report" pp 387-391

 

Lloyd, Gordon, eds. The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century, Salem: M & M Scrivener Press, 2007.

 

  • "The Social Security Act, August 14, 1935" pp 216-229
  • "Republican Party Platform, June 11, 1936" pp 280-287
  • "Democratic Party Platform, June 25, 1936" pp 287-291

 

United States Congressional Record. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office

 

  • "Appendix to the Congressional Record: Radio Discussion by Hon. Robert A. Taft, of Ohio to Hon. T.V. Smith, of Illinois,  April 11, 1939"
  • "Appendix to the Congressional Record: Radio Discussion by Hon. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, July 26, 1939"

 

Session 4:        The Second New Deal

 

Lloyd, Gordon, eds. The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century, Salem: M & M Scrivener Press, 2007.

 

  • "The National Labor Relations Act, July 5, 1935" pp 211-216
  • "N.L.R.B. v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp., April 12, 1937" pp 332-340
  • "FDR: A Message on Economic Concentration, April 29, 1938" pp 379-386

 

United States Congressional Record. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office

 

  • "Appendix to the Congressional Record: Radio Discussion by Hon. Robert A. Taft, of Ohio, and Hon. T.V. Smith, of Illinois, April 18, 1939"
  • "Appendix to the Congressional Record: Radio Discussion by Hon. Robert A. Taft, of Ohio, and Hon. T.V. Smith, of Illinois, May 16, 1939"
  • "Appendix to the Congressional Record: Radio Address by Joseph C O'Mahoney, of Wyoming, and Certain Newspaper Articles, July 25, 1939"

 

Hawley, Ellis W. The New Deal and the Problem of Monopoly: A Study in Economic Ambivalence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966. pp 472-494

 

Flynn, John T. Country Squire in the White House. New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1940. pp 90-98

 

Session 5:        New Deal Thought

 

Zinn, Howard, eds. New Deal Thought, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company., 1966. pp 1-10

 

Rozwenc, Edwin C., eds. The New Deal: Revolution or Evolution?, New York: DC Heath & Company, 1959. pp 29-34

 

Lloyd, Gordon, eds. The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century, Salem: M & M Scrivener Press, 2007.

 

  • "Herbert Hoover: Challenge to Liberty, April 8, 1938" pp 375-379

 

Lippmann, Walter. An Inquiry into the Principles of The Good Society. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1937. pp 106-130

 

Session 6:        Long-Term Consequences

 

McDonald, Forrest. The Phaeton Ride: The Crisis of American Success. Garden City: Doubleday, 1974. pp 102-125

 

Friedman, Milton. Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. pp 196-202