Redskins and Palefaces

The America First Committee emerged nationwide in the summer of 1940 from the initial efforts of Gerald Ford, Potter Stewart, and other Yale Law School students, seconded by law professor Edwin Borchard. It evolved amid the American political cataclysm following Franklin Roosevelt's landslide election to a second term in November 1936. The mandate to institute a social revolution in America was seized by the New Dealers. The overwhelming Democratic majority in the Senate and House was checked only by the "nine old men" of the Supreme Court. Having struck down as unconstitutional a number of key New Deal acts, this last obstacle to radical change needed to be reformed.

Roosevelt presented his court-packing bill to the new Congress in 1937. After a grueling struggle the bill was rejected when a number of Democratic senators defected from the administration. Traditionalist Democratic senators joined Western Progressive Republicans in defeating the bill. A new majority emerged in Congress in opposition to the New Deal from these former supporters among Democrats and Progressive Republicans. In the 1938 primaries, Roosevelt unsuccessfully campaigned to defeat the defecting Democrats. A new generation of Republicans, as exemplified by Robert A. Taft, defeated the New Deal Democrats, and along with those who defeated the attack on the Supreme Court formed the coalition that opposed Roosevelt's interventionist foreign policy.


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