FDR and the Modern Presidency: Leadership and Legacy

By Mark J. Rozell; William D. Pederson | Go to book overview

this tension, but even this strategy failed to promote a more democratic labor-management system and was eventually contested. These disputes over power intensified during the Cold War, as conservative managers used a fear of communism to root out those who challenged their autonomy and authority. In response, lower-level civil servants began a renewed effort in the postwar era for union recognition. Americans hence continued to wrestle over the competing cultural values associated with professionalism, bureaucracy, and democracy. Indeed, personnel managers' effort to personalize the administ rative state at midcentury reflected an escalating debate in America over the meaning of individualism and equality in an organizational society. Subsequent social and political movements would alter the terms, but not the substance, of the debate. Nevertheless, the successful expansion of state power at midcentury would raise the stakes for all those affected by this ongoing struggle.


NOTES
1.
Kenneth Davis, FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, 1882-1928 ( New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1972), p. 86.
2.
Alan Lawson, "The Cultural Legacy of the New Deal"," in Harvard Sitkoff, ed., Fifty Years Later: The New Deal Evaluated ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985), p. 156.
3.
Leffingwell to Burlingham, 5/25/36, Papers of the National Civil Service Reform League (NCSRL), Acc. 7947, Box 86, 1936, Misc. Correspondence, A to M, American Heritage Center (AHC), Laramie Wyoming.
4.
Morgenthau to Gulick, 1/16/34, RG 56, Office of Secretary, Box 90, Personnel (General), 1933-1956, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C. The concern with recruiting the best "men" was reiterated in the commission's final report. Federal Employee20 ( Feb. 1935).

This concern with the credentials of government workers was a relatively recent development in the 1930s. From the nineteenth into the early twentieth century, government jobs were stigmatized. The general public perceived them as dull and "unsuited for men of ambition." Olivier Zunz, Making America Corporate, 1870-1920 ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 39. Cindy Sondik Aron has made a similar point, although she elaborated that many men entering government employ perceived it as a means of advancing their careers and of acquiring middle-class status. Cindy Sondik Aron, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Civil Service: Middle-Class Workers in Victorian America ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 25-39.

5.
Although Louis Brownlow, the head of the committee, felt that the study should focus primarily on altering the structure of government as a means of strengthening the president's hand in executive management, he later agreed to a

-54-

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