Leaders and Liberals in 20th Century America

By Charles A. Madison | Go to book overview

PREFACE

IN THIS BOOK: I have sought to delineate the personalities and events that have helped to change the United States from the almost classic laissez-faire economy of 1900 to the relatively well-regulated industrial society of the 1960's. Emphasis is given to the idea that the democratic welfare state is the product of large-scale corporate enterprise; that the very bigness of modern business, making most men wholly dependent on it for their livelihood, makes government regulation of economic practices an unavoidable necessity.

It has always seemed to me that historic events assume realistic vividness when fleshed with the life stories of their chief participants. With this in mind I have chosen for detailed and dramatic study the outstanding liberals in office during the first half of this century, men who have made the largest impact upon the nation's development into a democratic world power. The cumulative effect of their colorful careers -- their struggles and aspirations, their achievements and limitations, as well as the cross-currents, enmeshing incidents, and the acute crises of economic depression and world war -- provides concrete evidence of how the concept of dynamic democracy has ceased to be associated with the rugged individualism of the Gilded Age and has become synonymous with the goal of the welfare state.

The introductory chapter surveys the emergence of powerful corporations and the sporadic protests against the abuses of free enterprise. Part One depicts the struggle for social justice during

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