Historical Dictionary of the 1960s

By Samuel Freeman; James S. Olson | Go to book overview

N

NADER, RALPH. Born in Winsted, Connecticut, on February 27, 1934, Ralph Nader went on to become the father of the consumer rights movement in the United States. He attended Princeton University as an undergraduate and then matriculated at Harvard Law, where he graduated in 1958. Nader's instincts for liberal activism were first aroused at Harvard, where he edited the Harvard Record, a student magazine. He had come to the conclusion that the federal government's termination* program, which ended the government's legal protection of Indian tribes and turned them over to the vicissitudes of state and local jurisdiction, was a catastrophe, and that government policies more than anything else explained the dire poverty facing so many Indians in the late 1950s. He wrote a long article expounding his point of view for the Harvard Record. The article gained national attention in 1956 and turned the Harvard Record into an important journal for political reform. The article also gave Nader a national political profile and a personal appetite for liberal political activism.

His liberal credentials firmly established, Nader turned to the issue of automobile safety in 1959 publishing an extended article in The Nation arguing that the major automobile manufacturers often ignored their own engineering studies and consciously overlooked major safety problems in order to improve profit margins. Consumers, he claimed, were at the mercy of cost accountants, not safety engineers, when purchasing and driving American automobiles. The article made Nader persona non grata among automobile company executives, who vehemently denied his accusations. Not about to be intimidated, Nader embarked on a meticulous examination of the safety record of automobile companies. Highly suspicious of big business, Nader wrote Unsafe at Any Speed in 1965, in which he attacked the automobile industry for its lack of concern with passenger safety. He singled out General Motors and its Corvair model as examples of the industry at its worst. When it became clear that industry officials were trying to harass him and put him under the surveillance of private investigators,

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Historical Dictionary of the 1960s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • A 1
  • B 35
  • C 83
  • D 125
  • E 145
  • F 161
  • G 184
  • H 212
  • I 239
  • J 246
  • K 254
  • L 272
  • M 284
  • N 317
  • O 347
  • P 359
  • Q 378
  • R 379
  • S 402
  • T 437
  • U 455
  • V 460
  • W 470
  • X 487
  • Y 488
  • Z 490
  • Chronology of the 1960s 493
  • Selected Bibliography 507
  • Index 527
  • About the Contributors 545
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