Americans who had not fared as well as he, Lehman, unlike most New Yorkers of his
class, saw "no inconsistency between being a business man, and a liberal."
19 He listened
to social workers and union leaders who presented government-sponsored remedies for
economic exploitation and dependency, and then in his unspectacular manner the
governor fought doggedly for legislative approval. Organized labor and social welfare
groups frequently carried the burden of the struggle, but Lehman lent an air of
legitimacy to radical proposals, some of which the state had rejected in the past. His
accomplishments evoked praise from the political left and right. One man wrote the
governor in 1936: "Being a socialist, I could hardly be expected to approve the acts of
your administration. . . . Yet candor compels the admission that you have given the
citizens of New York an honest, efficient, humane and enlightened administration."
"The State has made progress toward a businesslike humanitarianism," the New York
Times reflected editorially in 1938. "For much of that progress our modest,
hard-working and undramatic Governor can take credit. He has guided us in a labor and
social program transcending any ever executed in America."
HHL Address, April 25, 1936, Public Papers, 1936, p. 876. A recent history of New York
State agreed with
Lehman. "The welfare program adopted during Lehman's administration
as governor reflected a basic change in the public's attitude toward the government's
responsibility to the people of New York. Poverty, which had once been a mark of
opprobrium, was now considered a misfortune for which the individual was nor responsible.
Public relief, which many people had earlier referred to as a 'dole,' was now generally
accepted as a more equitable and efficacious method than private charity for relieving human
misery. What had once been considered 'socialistic' and 'un-American' [was] now accepted
David M. Ellis et al., A History of New York State ( Ithaca, N.Y., 1967), p. 426.
For a discussion of the concept of the Welfare State, see
Leonard Krieger, "The Idea of the
Welfare State in Europe and the United States," Journal of the History of Ideas, XXIV
( October-December 1963 ): 553-68.
Merlo J. Pusey, Charles Evans Hughes, ( 2 vols.; New York, 1951 ), 1: 216.
HHL Address, January 1, 1937, Public Papers, 1937, p. 13.
HHL Address, October 24, 1936, Public Papers, 1936, p. 984.
The Nation, January 13, 1940, p. 30.
Samuel I. Rosenman Memoir, COHC, p. 21. See also Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Memoir,
COHC, p. 2.
For studies of federalism which emphasize its cooperative elements, see Jane Perry Clark, The Rise of a New Federalism: Federal-State Cooperation in the United States ( New York, 1938); Daniel J. Elazar, American Federalism: A View from the States ( New York, 1966); Morton Grodzins, The American System: A View of Government in the United States, ed. by Daniel J. Elazar ( Chicago, 1966).
HHL Address, February 13, 1934, Public Papers, 1934, p. 699.