The Exemplary Presidency: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition

By Philip Abbott | Go to book overview

6
The Jacksonian Turn

The second New Deal has become a standard interpretive concept in historical scholarship and in American political thought. Curiously, however, there is a considerable amount of disagreement as to exactly what its significance was. Nearly all commentators recognize a certain continuity between the two New Deals but insist that some sort of major departure occurred in 1935. Basil Rauch, the first scholar to make the distinction a central concept in the history of the New Deal, places the shift with Roosevelt's January 4 annual Message to Congress and argues that economic security, rather than recovery, became the "central objective" of reform. Arthur Schlesinger largely accepts this characterization, emphasizing that throughout 1934 FDR had been in a "stew of indecision" before his inauguration of the modern welfare state. Raymond Moley in his memoirs emphasizes the "left" turn of FDR and sadly reports the use of demogogic rhetoric and the abandonment of the "concert of interests" for class politics. Rexford Tugwell sees the shift as moving not to the left but to the right. The Brandeisians, the "old justice's" disciples, had "infiltrated" the New Deal apparatchik to "an almost incredible extent" and moved the president back to the progressive orthodoxy that he had always naturally gravitated toward. James MacGregor Burns, always emphasizing the "gadget" character of FDR as a thinker, attributes the change to goals almost exclusively opportunistic and political. Control of Congress now required a shift leftward, the invalidation of the NRA serendipitously moved FDR closer to labor through the salvaging of section 7a through the Wagner Act, and, most important of all for Burns, the open desertion of business personally angered the president and eliminated a right-of-center coalition as a strategy in 1936.1

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The Exemplary Presidency: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Exemplary Governance 3
  • 2 - The Story Teller and the Theorist 22
  • 3 - Is There a Jefferson on the Horizon? 47
  • 4 - The Parade 63
  • 5 - Oh, Shade of Jefferson 77
  • 6 - The Jacksonian Turn 110
  • 7 - They Have Retired into the Judiciary 132
  • 8 - Black Easter and Other Lincolns 152
  • 9 - Which Romevelt Do I Imitate? 181
  • Notes 203
  • Index 227
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