Jim Farley, the New Deal and the Making of Modern American Politics
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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It is a pleasure to acknowledge the many debts that I have accumulated in researching and writing this book. The seed of this book was planted more than ten years ago by John Rowett, who introduced me to the New Deal when he and Bob Dallek taught it as a special subject when I was an undergraduate at Oxford. It was John who mentioned, midtutorial, that...
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Speaking to supporters two days after his reelection as president in November 2004, George W. Bush hailed his campaign manager, Karl Rove, as “the architect” of victory. The scene and the statement were not unprecedented. Almost three-quarters of a century earlier, on election night in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt...
1. “The Art of Practical Politics in Local Affairs”
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In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Grassy Point, New York, a small, mostly Irish American settlement, tucked away in the far northeast corner of Rockland County, consisted of little more than a wide bend in the road between the towns of Haverstraw and Stony Point. On one side of the road stood...
2. Reawakening the “Rip Van Winkle Upstate Democracy”
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Tammany Hall boss Richard Croker once declared, “Up-State Democrats! Up-State Democrats! I didn’t know there was any up-State Democrats.” That was in the 1880s, when Croker and Tammany Hall were in rude health. In those days, there was little incentive for a New York City boss to concern...
3. A Traveling Elk
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The fact that Jim Farley devoted almost a third of his first autobiography, Behind the Ballots, to the story of the 1932 campaign to nominate and elect Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency strongly suggests that in 1938, when the book was published, Farley believed that this campaign was the most important period of his career. Farley’s account is...
4. A Regular Guy
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The collapse of the American economy, the Great Depression, and the Roosevelt administration’s response to it in the form of the New Deal represents one of the most appealing, fascinating, and intensively interrogated episodes in the history of the United States. The sources of conflict in New Deal historiography have shifted many times in the...
5. The Death of the Broker?
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In his hugely influential Age of Roosevelt trilogy, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. claimed that Jim Farley was “the last and one of the greatest of the classical school.” By this, he meant that Farley represented a species of politician rooted in the pre–New Deal era, that he used the techniques and operated under...
6. “As Maine Goes . . .”
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By the end of Roosevelt’s first term, Jim Farley had amassed a knowledge of the Democratic Party’s nationwide operations to rival his mastery of New York State politics in the 1910s and 1920s. His productive campaign work, patronage dealings, telephone networking, and prodigious correspondence had helped him to achieve this position of...
7. Drifting Apart
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Numerous attempts have been made, most of them unconvincing, to explain how and why, in the late 1930s, a rift developed between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Jim Farley. Somehow, by 1940, Farley had become so profoundly disenchanted with the..
8. The Breaking Point
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Of all the provocations Farley endured in the course of the New Deal’s second term, the purge campaign, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt to prevent conservative congressmen from being nominated to stand in the 1938 midterm elections, was the most galling. The purge dramatized and widened the rift between the Democratic Party’s ideological wings and...
9. The Politics of Revenge?
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Jim Farley’s acrimonious exit from the Roosevelt administration in 1940 by no means marked the end of his political career. In New York State, he stayed on as chairman of the Democratic State Committee until 1944, using the position to retain tight control over the party organization. At the national level, his skills in party management and his...
10. Mr. Democrat
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The fight for the 1942 New York gubernatorial nomination was Farley’s last major skirmish with Roosevelt and the New Deal. Increasingly, after 1942, he looked beyond the politics of elections and party organization to score points against his former boss. Initially, this meant corralling the opposition to Roosevelt’s bid for a fourth term. Once that halfhearted...
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Illustrations following page 86
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Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 10 B & W photographs
Publication Year: 2006