Civilizing Capitalism: The National Consumers' League, Women's Activism, and Labor Standards in the New Deal Era

By Landon R. Y. Storrs | Go to book overview

chapter 5

Bucking the Bourbons
Lucy Mason
Organizes for the
Consumers'
League in the
South

Hire someone "with Southern accent and Northern energy," Florence Kelley had advised the NCL board in 1931 with respect to choosing her successor. 1 Kelley astutely anticipated a coming confrontation between the South's dominant forces and the national Keynesian elite who would be an important force within the New Deal. During and after the NRA years, low wages and long hours in the South persisted as a drag on national standards. The South's isolated, low-cost labor market thus hindered the New Deal objective of stimulating mass consumption. Lucy Mason was one of a group of southerners who embraced the Roosevelt administration in hopes that it would redistribute political and economic power within their region. Mason's goals meshed with those of certain national labor leaders, experts, bureaucrats, and liberal employers who sought to raise the living standard of the working class and to loosen the grip of conservative southerners on the Democratic Party. The work of the Consumers' League in the South was part of a wider struggle whose outcome would define the limits of political possibility in the United States for decades to come. 2

From the day Lucy Mason became NCL

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