Ideologies and Utopias: The Impact of the New Deal on American Thought

By Arthur A. Ekirch Jr. | Go to book overview

ONE
The Crisis in the
American Dream

Two YEARS after the fateful stock market crash of October 1929, in the midst of the deepening economic depression, a distinguished American historian published one of the most widely read books of the 1930's. The overriding question posed by James Truslow Adams in his work, to which he gave the title The Epic of America, was what the fate of the American dream, as he called it, would be.

Centuries before the birth of the United States, the special deity of the Aztec Indians was a bearded god of white skin who had promised to return and was still awaited. From this primitive hope can be dated, perhaps, the remote antecedents of the American dream, and from 1492, when Columbus and his three tiny ships were sighted off the coast of North America, its first dim realization.

Many decades later, during the American Revolution, a young patriotic poet composed a long epic entitled The Vision of Columbus. In his poem Joel Barlow depicted the consequences of Columbus' voyage in the form of a dream in which the

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Ideologies and Utopias: The Impact of the New Deal on American Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • One - The Crisis in the American Dream 3
  • Two - The Search for Solutions 36
  • Three - Roosevelt in a Word 72
  • Four - Toward a New Public Philosophy 105
  • Five - Life Can Be Beautiful 141
  • Six - A Chorus of Dissent 177
  • Seven - War and the Intellectuals 208
  • Eight - The Wave of the Future 245
  • A Note on Sources 267
  • Notes 271
  • Index 297
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