Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR

Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR

Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR

Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR

Synopsis

In this major biography of an important politician and statesman, Dean Kotlowski presents the life of Paul V. McNutt, a great understudied figure in the era of FDR. McNutt was governor of Indiana, high commissioner to the Philippines (while serving he helped 1,300 Jews flee Nazi Germany for Manila), head of the WWII Federal Security Agency, and would-be presidential candidate. Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR explores McNutt's life, his era, and his relationship with Franklin Roosevelt. It sheds light on the expansion of executive power at the state level during the Great Depression, the theory and practice of liberalism as federal administrators understood it in the 1930s and 1940s, the mobilization of the American home front during World War II, and the internal dynamics of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. McNutt's life underscores the challenges and changes Americans faced during an age of economic depression, global conflict, and decolonialization.

Excerpt

The tall, tanned, and strikingly handome man at the podium had perspiration on his face, and his mouth was tightly drawn, almost in a frown. His seriousness contrasted with the animation of his audience, who cheered him on. He appealed for calm, but the crowd would not allow him to speak. When at last he articulated his words, his brief remarks disappointed his supporters. Paul V. McNutt was withdrawing his name from consideration for vice president. It was the most dramatic moment of McNutt’s political life. The date was July 18, 1940, and the setting was America’s second-largest city—Chicago, site of many political gatherings. McNutt was standing before delegates to the national convention of the Democratic Party. The significance of that moment in 1940 would not emerge for some time. McNutt never became vice president of the United States. And the chief object of his soaring ambition— the White House—would elude him forever.

Although McNutt never became president, he was a presence on the national political stage from the late 1920s until his death in 1955. In fact, over the first half of the twentieth century, few politicians possessed a more diverse résumé. In the 1920s McNutt became a state and national commander of the American Legion. As governor of Indiana (1933–1937), he backed the New Deal . . .

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