Thursday, September 4, 2014

How the New Deal Helped Win World War II (part 1 of 10): TVA Power

(In this interesting 3-minute video, we see the TVA constructing Norris Dam in Tennessee, circa 1933-36. The video appears to have been made, in part, to highlight the durability of Chevrolet trucks. This is interesting, because it shows how government infrastructure initiatives can spur the growth of private sector business. Original YouTube link here:

In the early 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal colleagues created the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to produce power for Tennessee and surrounding areas. The TVA has been a success for over three-quarters of a century--so much of a success, in fact, that even today's Republican politicians protect it from privatization proposals (see "Obama Proposal To Sell TVA Blasted By Republicans"). And, in addition to providing much needed energy to American homes and businesses, TVA played a critical role during World War II, as was highlighted in an excellent 2008 documentary:  

"The United States learned of Germany's plans to build an atomic bomb. To win the war, the U.S. had to build the bomb first. The site for the atomic laboratory required two things: Secrecy and power. Tennessee was the answer. It had rugged mountains and, most importantly, TVA" (Built for the People: The Story of TVA, a Documentary Channel and Fine Films production).

The quote above refers to the testing & development facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It was at Oak Ridge that the Hiroshima bomb was built. The bomb caused a massive loss of life but also helped end World War II.

There were other TVA war activities:

"TVA made a number of key contributions to the war effort. Its mapping department, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, used aerial reconnaissance and techniques perfected in the course of mapping the TVA region to make crucial maps of Europe for Allied aviators. Its nitrate plants in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, supplied the raw material for thousands of tons of munitions, as well as fertilizer to help grow food in beleaguered Allied countries. But TVA’s main contribution lay in producing enormous amounts of electric power...For all its accomplishments before and since, TVA’s star may never have shone brighter than when it helped win America’s biggest war." (To learn more, see "TVA Goes to War," Tennessee Valley Authority,

Some say the New Deal was nothing but wasteful spending. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment