The Freedom Train
Attorney General Tom Clark was a worried man. The nation's chief law enforcement officer from 1945 to 1949, he confronted the problems of war's aftermath. Similar concerns had eroded the patience and tweaked, then mocked, the political ambitions of A. Mitchell Palmer, Wilson's attorney general. Like Palmer, Clark served in a time of tumult that included labor militancy, a perceived decline in law and order, consumer shortages and inflation, and Communist agitation given poignancy by threats emergent in the Soviet Union--all in a context of clamorous interest-group politics and a plummeting civic consciousness.
Clark often stated his fears. He noted the global struggle between "one form of 'state-ism' and another. Whether it's fascism, communism, or the various degrees of socialism--it's not the American brand of democracy as we know it." Perils lurked at home too. "Dynamic forces, aided by economic and political dissentions, may well seek to undermine and discredit our system of government." War had fused the people into one, but peace brought "the disintegration of much of our American unity."
Symptoms lay all about. Idealism gave way to "the practical philosophy of 'each man for himself!'" "Characteristic cynicism, disillusionment, and