Poverty and Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Farm Security Administration

By Sidney Baldwin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
TOWARD LEGITIMACY: THE DANCE OF LEGISLATION BEGINS

Once begin the dance of legislation, and you must struggle through its mazes as best you can to its breathless end,--if any end there be.

WOODROW WILSON1. Congressional Government

The global matrix of purposes, within which the Resettlement Administration was imbedded, also served as a seedbed for the campaign to secure legislative authorization. Although the thrust for special legislation to support the assault on chronic rural poverty was essentially a desire for greater legitimacy, the movement represented an exceedingly complex set of personal and institutional motives. A decisive congressional affirmation of principle; legislative sanction of a modest program to promote small farm ownership among qualified farmers, rather than legitimization of programs already launched; promotion of political education and participation among impoverished and impotent low-income farm families in the South; congressional constraint and delimitation of programs that had evolved primarily through executive discretion; and the winning

____________________
1.
Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government ( New York: Meridian Books, 1956), p. 195. Originally published 1885.

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