TO AMERICAN FARMERS in 1920-21, one of the hottest legislative issues was the Muscle Shoals question. Muscle Shoals was the new giant hydroelectric dam and nitrate plant built on the Tennessee River in Alabama under the National Defense Act in 1916 but not finished in time for use during World War I. Now the question was, what to do with it. Organized farmers wanted the government to operate Muscle Shoals as a source for manufacturing fertilizer ingredients. Arrayed against that proposal were electrical and chemical interests, the United States Steel Corporation, the Solvay Process Companies, the American Cyanamid Company, and a large number of the fertilizer interests that didn't want to see the price of fertilizer cracked. Organized farmers pitched into the battle. Perhaps for the first time in history farmers began to make their influence felt in Washington.
The final vote against the Muscle Shoals Act was taken in Congress without a roll call, reportedly to shield individual congressmen from criticism in their home territories. James Howard, president of the American Farm Bureau, polled each of the congressmen by mail, pointing out that the Bureau represented a mil