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The Rise of the Public AuthorityStatebuilding and Economic Development in Twentieth-Century America$
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Gail Radford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226037691

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226037868.001.0001

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The Campaign for a Federal Fleet Corporation

The Campaign for a Federal Fleet Corporation

(p.17) ONE The Campaign for a Federal Fleet Corporation
The Rise of the Public Authority

Gail Radford

University of Chicago Press

This chapter tells the story of the creation of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, one of the first public authority-type agencies in the United States. The story illustrates how these agencies only partially reflected, and in some ways contradicted, the aims of those who first advocated their use. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson and his secretary of the treasury, William Gibbs McAdoo, proposed the creation of a federally owned merchant marine. Congress eventually authorized a federal shipping company, but under a different plan. McAdoo and Wilson proposed a separately incorporated entity, with a board consisting of cabinet members; thus, basic policy would be integrated with other executive branch plans and the administration could be held accountable for the corporation's behavior. The enacted version had an independent board on the model of a regulatory agency, insulating the fleet corporation from democratic accountability.

Keywords:   public authorities, public agencies, Emergency Fleet Corporation, Woodrow Wilson, William Gibbs McAdoo, merchant marine, fleet corporation, accountability

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