Public Men in and out of Office

By J. T. Salter | Go to book overview
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8
GERALD P. NYE "Essentially Negative"

BY J. L. SAYRE

IN THE FALL OF 1936 SENATOR NYE SEEMED TO HAVE. attained the rank of one of the great men of the times. He had completed the munitions investigation which aroused not only American public opinion, but also world-wide attention. Similar investigations were demanded in Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, France, and Sweden.1 He had forced admissions from J. P. Morgan, from Du Pont officials, and from a host of other important industrial leaders that led people to the conclusion that the traffic in arms was a dirty business which must be strictly controlled in order to lessen the likelihood of future wars. His name was intimately associated with the passage of the first Neutrality Act. In recognition of this work he received the Cardinal Newman award for distinguished contributions to international peace.

Three years later, in July of 1939, he was one of the senators most instrumental in defeating the request of President Roosevelt for revision of the second Neutrality Act. From then until Pearl Harbor he was a vigorous champion of American isolation. Today he is probably as thoroughly discredited as any man in the country, and he was defeated in the general election of 1944 in the state that was once proud of him.

Nye's career has been much like that of a rocket--a rapid rise accompanied by some bursts of light that give promise of what is to come, then a brilliant display followed by a burning descent. He was born December 19, 1892, in Hortonville, Wisconsin, the son of a small-town editor and the nephew of the

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1
A. Nevins: "British Munitions Inquiry," Current History, Mar., 1936, p. 619.

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Public Men in and out of Office
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