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The Sympathetic StateDisaster Relief and the Origins of the American Welfare State$
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Michele Landis Dauber

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226923482

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226923505.001.0001

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Crafting the Depression

Crafting the Depression

(p.79) Four Crafting the Depression
The Sympathetic State

Michele Landis Dauber

University of Chicago Press

This chapter shows how La Follette and later advocates for the New Deal called upon the history of social provision for disaster victims to make an argument that the Depression was a disaster that deserved, even mandated, federal relief. The Democrats' indictment of Hoover was not that he was too bound by tradition to respond to the economic disaster before him, but that he refused to take up the tools that were already at hand. A central element in the political mobilization of the New Deal was the disaster narrative writ large: the entire country was the victim of a pervasive disaster, the Depression. La Follette devoted his time on the floor of the Senate to reading hundreds of letters from public officials and businessmen from across the country to establish the point that the economic downturn was both severe and national in scope.

Keywords:   La Follette, New Deal, federal disaster relief

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