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Mr. Democrat

Jim Farley, the New Deal and the Making of Modern American Politics

Daniel Scroop

Publication Year: 2006

Mr. Democrat tells the story of Jim Farley, Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign manager. As party boss, Farley experienced unprecedented success in the New Deal years. And like his modern counterpart Karl Rove, Farley enjoyed unparalleled access and power. Unlike Rove, however, Farley was instrumental in the creation of an overwhelming new majority in American politics, as the emergence of the New Deal transformed the political landscape of its time. Mr. Democrat is timely and indispensable not just because Farley was a fascinating and unduly neglected figure, but also because an understanding of his career advances our knowledge of how and why he revolutionized the Democratic Party and American politics in the age of the New Deal. Daniel Scroop is Lecturer in American History, University of Liverpool School of History.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

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...

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1. “The Art of Practical Politics in Local Affairs”

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pp. 9-27

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...

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2. Reawakening the “Rip Van Winkle Upstate Democracy”

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pp. 29-52

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...

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3. A Traveling Elk

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pp. 53-78

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...

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4. A Regular Guy

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pp. 79-98

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...

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5. The Death of the Broker?

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pp. 99-122

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...

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6. “As Maine Goes . . .”

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pp. 123-142

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...

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7. Drifting Apart

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pp. 143-164

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..

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8. The Breaking Point

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pp. 165-190

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...

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9. The Politics of Revenge?

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pp. 191-214

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...

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10. Mr. Democrat

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pp. 215-229

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...

Notes

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pp. 231-256

Bibliography

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pp. 257-264

Index

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pp. 265-275

Illustrations following page 86

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pp. 98-294


E-ISBN-13: 9780472021505
E-ISBN-10: 0472021508
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472069309
Print-ISBN-10: 0472069306

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 10 B & W photographs
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Legislators -- New York (State) -- Biography.
  • Postmasters general -- United States -- Biography.
  • Farley, James A. (James Aloysius), 1888-1976.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1933-1945.
  • New Deal, 1933-1939.
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 -- Friends and associates.
  • Politics, Practical -- United States.
  • Democratic Party (N.Y.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • New York (State) -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.
  • Politicians -- United States -- Biography.
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