Who was Rexford G. Tugwell? Not one in a thousand randomly chosen Americans will know the name. Younger citizens have never known it; their elders have forgotten. In the twentieth century's fastpaced second half the epochal events of the first have disappeared into history like the features of the earth photographed from a satellite plunging into space. What was once prominent becomes an indistinguishable blur in an absorbing contour. The World War, the Great War, the War to End Wars, faded into World War I as American school children struggled to remember that it came after the Civil War, not before. The Great Depression, the Brains Trust, the New Deal have either disappeared from the American history taught in public schools or become a few lines in a paragraph summarizing broader events, perhaps the career of Franklin D. Roosevelt--who is increasingly confused with the earlier president of the same surname.
Rexford Tugwell, for all his current anonymity, was a public man for his times, 1891-1979. He took three economics degrees from the University of Pennsylvania--B.S., M.A., Ph.D.--and rose through the ranks at Columbia University to professor of economics. Tugwell joined the Brains Trust in 1932, and served as assistant secretary of agriculture, undersecretary of agriculture, and director of the Resettlement Administration before becoming chairman of the New York City Planning Commission in 1938, Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico in 1941, and Governor of Puerto Rico that same year. Who Tugwell was and what he thought and did have been set out in large measure by the man himself. In his able biography, Michael V. Namorato devoted ten pages to a listing of Tugwell's publications. The books and articles will serve only researchers concentrating on Rexford Tugwell. There will be few. What