West Virginia, the Mountain State

By Charles H. Ambler; Festus P. Summers | Go to book overview

Chapter XXXIII
The New Democracy

ON THE EVE of the "Great Depression," beginning in 1929, many West Virginians were speculating upon current suggestions to the effect that they were then on the verge of an era of scientifically ordered economy, in which it would no longer be necessary for them to earn their bread by the sweat of their brows. In pursuit of this utopia they spent much time in the stock markets which had sprung up in every important city of the state, and here and there day laborers found their way to the "ticker" and talked about fewer hours and more pay. When these utopias were dispelled by a depression of unprecedented severity, all parties looked to the Federal and the state governments for relief.

It was under these conditions that Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States in 1932 by an unprecedented popular vote, West Virginia giving Roosevelt, Democrat, 405,128; Hoover, Republican, 330,731. The minority party candidates and votes were Thomas, Socialist, 5,133; Upshaw, Prohibitionist, 2,342; and Foster, Communist, 444. The outstanding problem for the victor was to make the best possible use of governmental agencies to avert further economic and social disaster and to preserve for men and women their traditional liberties and dignity. During the years immediately following this was accomplished measurably through the "New Deal" which, for present purposes, is called "The New Democracy."

President Roosevelt's personality and his programs gave him a longer tenure than any of his predecessors. West Virginia's accord with this approval was indicated by her popular vote in his three re-elections: 1916, Roosevelt, 502,582, Landon, Republican, 325,388; 1940, Roosevelt, 496,530, Willkie, Republican, 373,238; 1944, Roosevelt, 392,777, Dewey, Republican, 322,819. Roosevelt's popular vote in 1936 was the largest ever given any candidate by West Virginia for President. More significant still, perhaps, the New Deal having been expanded to include "The Fair Deal," in 1948 West Virginia cast 429,188 votes for Harry S. Truman, Democrat, for

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