To what extent was America in danger of falling into the hands of radicals and communists in the 1930’s?
I. Radical Opposition to the New Deal
A. What about the Communist Party appealed to many
Americans during the Depression?
1. Earl Browder and William Foster
2. Preached equal division of wealth, all would be equal.
3. Attracted union leaders, intellectuals, entertainment stars.
B. Why did Sen. Huey Long of Louisiana appeal to many during the
1. Share Our Wealth crusade.
2. Tax rich, guaranteed $2500 dollar a year income, housing,
3. Long was assassinated while running for nomination to run on
the Dem. Line.
C. What was the message of Father Charles Coughlin?
1. Michigan radio priest.
2. Called for a mix of socialist and populist programs. Coughlin
often argued in favor of a benevolent dictator to run the government
without opposition. He felt unions should be destroyed as they would
be a threat to this national power.
3. Later, when ignored by Roosevelt, denounced New Deal as
4. Coughlin, despite great support from his radio listeners
eventually appeared more and more radical as he opposed Roosevelt.
D. What was the message of Francis Townsend?
1. Concocted a pension plan that would appeal to older
Americans. Under this plan older Americans would receive a set
monthly pension, approximately $200 a month.
2. Those receiving the pension would be forced to spend all or
some of the money.
3. Townsend believed that this would help all Americans by helping
older Americans to survive and by creating spending to speed up the
4. Townsend eventually joined forces with Father Coughlin and
formed the Union Party. The put up a candidate named Earl Lemke.
Lemke never gained much support despite Coughlin’s promise of 9
million votes. Lemke, Coughlin and Townsend at that point were
considered fringe element right wingers.
E. Why did Norman Thomas oppose Roosevelt.
1. Thomas was the socialist candidate and had run for
office several times.
2. He was more committed to world socialism then to eliminating
Roosevelt. He was considered a left wing radical.
F. Why didn’t these radical ever gain power?
1. While reactionary leaders took power in Germany,
Italy and Japan, America has a stronger history of democracy. These
radicals all appeared to be part of the lunatic fringe and were
eventually dismissed by the American people.
2. Roosevelt was a strong democratic leader whop inspired
confidence and trust.