Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Deal Art: "Fall in the Foothills"

Above: "Fall in the Foothills," an oil painting by W. Herbert Dunton, created while he participated in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, ca. 1933-1934. Dunton was born in 1878, had a very successful art career, and was a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists (an interesting biography of Dunton can be read here). However, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, "During the Depression, suffering financially and, increasingly, from poor health, Dunton worked on the Public Works of Art Project murals..." Dunton's involvement in this art program highlights one of the core philosophies of the New Deal: Governmental assistance for people who need help, because charity is too unreliable and, in many cases, too short of resources to help. Sadly, this New Deal philosophy is mostly gone today, in favor of a cold-blooded "tough-luck-your-on-your-own" ideology (which is why, among other things, America has a record number of homeless children). Dunton passed away in 1936, a few years after he made the painting above. He was 57 years old. The New Deal helped Dunton spend his final years doing what he did best and still earn a modest paycheck. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New Deal Art: "Old Man River"

Above: "Old Man River," an oil painting by John Tazewell Robertson (1905-1989), created while he participated in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, 1933. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The White Rose, the Roosevelts, and... a warning to all cultures?

(A monument to Hans and Sophie Scholl, other members of the White Rose, and their anti-Nazi leaflets. This monument is at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

The White Rose was a small German resistance movement that distributed anti-Nazi leaflets in various parts of Germany in 1942 and 1943. Many of the members were caught, including two of the leaders - Hans and Sophie Scholl. The young siblings were 24 and 21 years old respectively. They were both convicted of crimes against the German people and beheaded.

The trials of the White Rose members and collaborators were presided over by the especially loathsome Roland Freisler, head judge of the People's Court. Freisler was a man who took delight in yelling at defendants, in his utterly gruesome voice, and once said, "The days when every man can be allowed to profess his own political 'beliefs' are past."

(If the video above does not play properly, see YouTube link below. We can get a sense of the type of trial the members of the White Rose must have went through by watching the video above, showing Roland Freisler screaming at a man on trial for participating in an assassination attempt on Hitler. The video is a small clip from the 1973-74 documentary series, "The World at War," narrated by Laurence Olivier. Original YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKiqHpbFz68.)

"Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure."

--The White Rose

Not holding back any punches, the White Rose leaflets expressed contempt for Hitler, Nazi polices, and an apathetic public (excerpts below). Their words, however, are relevant to many cultures--both past and present. For example, while not on the same level of moral depravity that existed in Nazi Germany, in America we have allowed super-wealthy Americans to purchase our democracy and turn it into an oligarchy - an oligarchy where white collar crime typically goes unpunished, wages stagnate or drop while the super-rich increase their fortunes by the billions, student loan debt reaches unsustainable levels, infrastructure crumbles, wildfires & pollution ravage the land, the number of homeless children reaches record numbers (see, e.g., here and here), personal profit drives perpetual war & mass incarceration, health insurance is withheld from the poor, regressive taxes, tolls, fees, and fines multiply, and drug-testing & public humiliation is advocated for low-income Americans who receive government assistance - but not for rich Americans who receive government assistance (e.g., public money bailouts for wealthy financial institutions, lower tax rates for the super-rich, and government subsidies for multiple homes and mansions).

But despite all the above (and outside of a few small movements) most of the American public remains in a state of apathy or, worse, stand ready to vote for political candidates who will grant even more gargantuan tax breaks to the super-wealthy Americans who have perverted our democracy, rigged the economy to their benefit, and engaged in a level of fraud, greed, and white collar crime that boggles the mind. So, while the words of the White Rose are harsh on Germans, we should not necessarily think ourselves immune from the thoughts expressed in those leaflets. Here are some of those thoughts:

"Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be 'governed' without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct."

"The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals; they give them the opportunity to carry on their depredations; and of course they do so."

"Every individual human being has a claim to a useful and just state, a state which secures the freedom of the individual as well as the good of the whole" (emphasis added).

"Why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you...until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state presided over by criminals and drunks?"

"Every word that comes out of Hitler's mouth is a lie...His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell..."

"We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience."

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

When Roland Freisler examined the case of White Rose member Christoph Probst, he was astonished by one the young man's inspirations: "He supports promises in this leaflet by citing - Roosevelt!"

Clearly, the White Rose members were familiar with happenings in America. They warned their fellow German citizens: "Mobilization in the United States has not yet reached its climax, but already it exceeds anything the world has ever seen." Roland Freisler, like many Nazis, disregarded the warnings of the White Rose and paid for it with his life. Though accounts vary on the exact details, he was likely killed by an American and British air attack on Berlin in February 1945. The members of the White Rose may have also been familiar with Roosevelt's Four Freedoms Speech (January 6, 1941) where he said, among many other things, that people should have "freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world." (Recall Freisler's declaration of the opposite, Nazi policy: "The days when every man can be allowed to profess his own political 'beliefs' are past.")
  
When Freisler sentenced Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Chrisoph Probst to death, he said, "Their honor and rights as citizens are forfeited for all time." But it's interesting how history turns out, because the members of the White Rose are now remembered as heroes and Freisler is remembered as a monster. 

After Hans and Sophie Scholl were executed in 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at an event in their honor at Hunter College in New York. She said: "I like the Germans, especially those fighting Nazism, but I hate and despise the Nazis."

The White Rose and the Roosevelts (and many New Deal policymakers) understood something fundamental about humanity that many do not: We need individual rights, but we also need a common good ("Every individual human being has a claim to a useful and just state, a state which secures the freedom of the individual as well as the good of the whole"). Indeed, the two go hand in hand. The Founding Fathers understood this as well, which is why they included individual rights and the words "general welfare" in both the preamble and Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. In Nazi Germany, however, individual rights were trampled by the state. And in America today, the common good is being trampled by a fanaticism for individual rights - a fanaticism that is so extreme that it essentially says, "If I need to pollute the environment to make a personal profit, too bad for everyone else. If more and more children become homeless as I grow richer and richer, too bad for them. If huge tax breaks for me causes our nation's infrastructure to fall apart, tough luck."

I believe the warnings of the White Rose are warnings to us all.         

(All quotes above are from the book "The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943," Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1970, 1983.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: 167 Battle Stars

(The PWA-funded U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6) was the most decorated American ship of World War II, earning 20 battle stars and other awards. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy, National Archives, and ibiblio.org.)

In 2009, Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell said: "But one of the good things about reading history is you learn a good deal. And, we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work. In 1940, unemployment was still 15%."

Actually, unemployment in 1940 was about 9.5%, less than half of what it was when Roosevelt became president. McConnell arrives at his 15% figure by not counting workers employed by the CCC, WPA, and other relief programs, as employed. This is a deceptive tactic commonly used by the political right. It is also highly insulting to the millions of workers who built or improved many of the roads, water lines, national parks, etc. that we use today. McConnell and his ilk are essentially saying to our elders & ancestors, "You weren't working when you created that state park for us. You weren't working when you installed that water line that I drink from today." How ridiculous and insulting is that?

In any event, if the "big spending programs of the New Deal did not work," how is it that 32 PWA-funded Navy vessels (see my blog posts over the past two weeks or so) earned 167 battle stars and helped us win World War II? The political right does not want you to know that thousands of tradesmen received jobs (or were spared layoffs) constructing PWA-funded Navy vessels during the early-to-mid 1930s, and that those vessels helped us win the war. In 2010, Dr. Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute wrote: "Both organizations [the WPA and PWA], but primarily the PWA, turned out to play major roles in the American victory in World War Two. It was the PWA that funded construction of the aircraft carriers Yorktown and Enterprise whose aircraft were responsible for sinking the four Japanese aircraft carriers. No stimulus money, no aircraft carriers and no victory at Midway" ("The Battle Of Midway Was Won With Stimulus Money").

Did the New Deal solve every problem under the Sun? Of course not. But did it help millions of workers and, ultimately, help us win the war? You bet it did. And those 167 battle stars--and those hundreds of soldiers who were killed or injured on those ships fighting for our freedom--proves it. Reject the lies and deception, and learn the truth. Turn off the television, and go to a library or an archives. Learn what America's greatest generation did in the CCC, the WPA, the war, etc.

Friday, September 25, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Smith and USS Preston


Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Smith (DD-378). In this photo, taken during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (October 1942), Smith can be seen in the distance, after being hit by a crashing Japanese torpedo plane. She survived this battle and earned six battle stars during the war. Photo courtesy of the National Archives, the U.S. Navy, and ibiblio.org.  


Above: The PWA also provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Preston (DD-379), seen above ca. 1938. The Preston earned two battle stars but sank during the Guadalcanal campaign after taking several hits from Japanese warships. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.


Above: The Smith and Preston, under construction at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard near San Francisco, 1935. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command

The Smith and Preston could travel at about 40 knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Cushing and USS Perkins


Above: The PWA provided funding for the U.S.S. Cushing (DD-376), seen here at San Diego Harbor, 1938. Cushing participated in the search for Amelia Earhart in 1937, made major contributions to the Guadalcanal campaign, and earned three battle stars. In November 1942 she sank after being hit several times by Japanese warships. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.


Above: The PWA also provided funds for the U.S.S. Perkins (DD-377), shown here from the stern of another ship, "Steaming through heavy seas" in 1937. Perkins engaged the enemy in several locations in the Pacific and earned four battle stars. Unfortunately, she was accidentally rammed by an Australian vessel in 1943 and sank near Papua New Guinea. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.

The Cushing and Perkins could travel at about 40 knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Tucker and USS Downes



Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Tucker (DD-374). Tucker survived Pearl Harbor (and even helped knock down two enemy airplanes) and earned a battle star. However, on August 1942 she hit an American-laid mine and sunk. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, "The minefield into which she had steamed had been laid by United States forces only the day before, on 2 August, and its existence had not yet been radioed to Tucker... Thus, Tucker's commanding officer and her crew had no idea of the dangerous waters into which they had steamed... The destroyer's only casualties were three men killed in the initial explosion and three more listed as 'missing.'" In the video above, made by DivePlanIt in 2015, we see the wreck of the Tucker at Espiritu Santo, Vanuato (South Pacific Ocean). YouTube link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9h3bKganBs.


Above: The PWA also provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Downes (DD-375), shown here at the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1937. Downes was heavily damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack, but was rebuilt and earned four battle stars during the war. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.      

The Tucker and Downes could travel at about 40 knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Cassin and USS Shaw


Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Cassin (DD-372), shown here in 1939. Cassin was badly damaged at Pearl Harbor and considered lost. However, after salvage work and two years in a repair yard, she returned to service in February 1944. And despite the late return, she made significant contributions to Pacific theater operations (especially at Iwo Jima) and earned six battle stars. Photo courtesy of the Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.


Above: The PWA also provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Shaw (DD-373). This photo shows the Shaw at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. That day she was hit with three bombs and heavily damaged. On both sides of the Shaw you can see a floating dry dock - the left hand side almost completely submerged (the two pole-like structures). Amazingly, the Shaw was salvaged, repaired, and went on to earn eleven battle stars at places like Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester (New Guinea), Saipan, Guam, and Luzon (Philippines). Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy, National Archives, and ibiblio.org.

The Cassin and Shaw could travel at about 40 knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Monday, September 21, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Case and USS Conyngham


Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Case (DD-370), shown here near the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California, in February 1942. Case saw action all over the Pacific, including Pearl Harbor, the Aleutian Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and Iwo Jima.  She received seven battle stars. Photograph courtesy of the National Archives and the Naval History and Heritage Command.


Above: The PWA also provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Conyngham (DD-371), seen here during a mail transfer in 1941. The Conyngham earned 14 battle stars, engaging the enemy at Pearl Harbor (knocking down several planes that day), Midway, Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Saipan, and other locations. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.

The Case and Conyngham could travel at about 40 knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Flusser and USS Reid


Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Flusser (DD-368). The Flusser saw a large amount of combat in the Pacific theater of the war, especially from kamikaze attacks. She also supported numerous convoys and land invasions. She earned eight battle stars. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy and ibiblio.org.


Above: The PWA also provided construction funds for the U.S.S. Reid (DD-369). This photo shows the Reid at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on September 6, 1942, transferring five prisoners from the Japanese submarine RO-61, which the Reid had helped sink near Adak Island a few days earlier. She also engaged the enemy at places like Guadalcanal, New Guinea, and Wake Island, earning a total of seven battle stars. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The Flusser and Reid could travel at 40+ knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Drayton and USS Lamson


Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Drayton (DD-366), shown here near Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California, in 1944. The barrel-shaped depth charges seen in this photograph highlight one of the primary roles of a destroyer - finding and eliminating enemy submarines. The Drayton participated in the search for Amelia Earhart in 1937, and was involved in a large number of conflicts in the Pacific during World War II, earning eleven battle stars. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and ibiblio.org.



Above: PWA funds also built the U.S.S. Lamson (DD-367). The Lamson had a particularly violent life. In late 1944, a Japanese aircraft crashed into her and caused many casualties. Then, on July 2, 1946, she was sunk by one of the atomic explosion tests at Bikini Atoll (the video above shows the wreck of the Lamson in 2012). Nevertheless, the Lamson earned five battle stars during the war, knocking out several enemy aircraft, protecting other ships, and supporting many invasions with shore bombardments. Original YouTube link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwX5bobO9U0.

The Drayton and Lamson could travel at 40+ knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Friday, September 18, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Mahan and USS Cummings


Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Mahan (DD-364), shown here in 1936. The Mahan participated in many battles in the Pacific, shot down numerous aircraft, and earned five battle stars. In late 1944 she was destroyed by a Japanese air attack. Photo courtesy of the Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.


Above: Another PWA-funded destroyer was the U.S.S. Cummings (DD-365), shown here in the late 1930s. The Cummings survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and went on to earn seven battle stars during the war. On August 12, 1944, at Puget Sound Navy Yard, President Roosevelt addressed the nation from the deck of the Cummings, saying "I cannot tell you, if I knew, when the war will be over...It will be over sooner if the people of this country will maintain the making of the necessary supplies of ships and planes and all the things that go with them. By so doing we shall hasten the day of the peace." Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.  

The Mahan and Cummings could travel at 40+ knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.    

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS McDougal and USS Winslow


Above: The PWA-built USS McDougal (DD-358), 1938. McDougal spent most of the war patrolling areas around Central and South America, helping to keep the Panama Canal zone safe, but does not appear to have been involved in any major battles. After the war, she served as a training vessel, preparing a new generation of sailors. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.


Above: The PWA-built USS Winslow (DD-359) in San Diego Harbor, ca. 1938. Winslow spent most of the war in the Atlantic, protecting convoys and patrolling for U-boats, and also helped transport President Roosevelt to Newfoundland for the Atlantic Charter Conference in August 1941. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.


Above: President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, aboard the battleship HMS Prince of Wales, at the Atlantic Charter Conference, August 1941. Other people in this photograph include Harry Hopkins (far left) and General George C. Marshall (standing in the middle, between Roosevelt and Churchill). Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Like the destroyers Porter and Selfridge (see yesterday's blog post) the McDougal and Winslow could travel at around 35 knots, had crews of about 210 men each, and were armed with eight 5-inch guns, four 1.57-inch anti-aircraft batteries, and eight 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Porter and USS Selfridge


Above: The PWA provided funding for 20 destroyers in the early-mid 1930s, one of which was the U.S.S. Porter (DD-356), shown here at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California, 1942. The Porter earned one battle star but, unfortunately, was destroyed by a Japanese torpedo in late 1942. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.


Above: Another PWA-funded destroyer was the U.S.S. Selfridge (DD-357), also shown here at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 1944. The Selfridge survived Pearl Harbor (and engaged enemy aircraft that day) and went on to earn four battle stars in various engagements in the Pacific theater. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.    

The Porter and Selfridge could travel at around 35 knots, had crews of about 210 men each, and were armed with eight 5-inch guns, four 1.57-inch anti-aircraft batteries, and eight 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York." 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Aircraft Carriers


Above: The PWA provided funding for two aircraft carriers, one of which was the U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5). The photo above shows the Yorktown at Newport News, Virginia, 1937. The Yorktown participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, helping to damage or sink four Japanese aircraft carriers, and earning three battle stars. From June 4 to June 7, 1942, the Yorktown was hit hard by aircraft assaults and torpedoes and sank. In 1998 the ship was discovered under three miles of water, near Midway Island. It was reported that "The Yorktown, immortalized in the movie 'Midway,' helped the United States win the pivotal Battle of Midway in 1942, which devastated the Japanese fleet and ended the threat of an invasion of Hawaii." Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.


Above: The other PWA-funded carrier was the U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6), shown here in Puget Sound, 1945. Earning 20 battle stars (and other awards), the Enterprise was the most decorated U.S. ship of World War II. She saw action all over the Pacific, for example, at the Marshall Islands, Wake Island, the Doolittle Raid, the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The Enterprise survived many ferocious attacks but could not survive public and/or congressional apathy. As the Naval History and Heritage Command explains: "After the failure of efforts to make her into a memorial, USS Enterprise was sold for scrapping in July 1958." How amazing would it be to step onto the Enterprise today, knowing that she had participated in some of the most famous battles in history? What a shame we let her go. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

These two PWA-built carriers were described in the following way: "Fast, long-range ships, each are capable to stow and handle 100 aircraft. They cost $19,000,000 apiece without armament. The standard tonnage of the two ships is 19,900, and their overall length is 809 feet 6 inches. Each powered with turbines totaling 120,000 horsepower, with quadruple screws, they are capable of rated speeds of 34 knots. Their main batteries are composed of eight 5-inch guns, and sixteen 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns. They carry crews of 1,788 men" (see note 1 below).    

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) "Titanic explorer finds Yorktown," CNN, June 4, 1998. (4) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/).  

Monday, September 14, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Cruisers


Above: The U.S.S. Vincennes (CA-44) in Hawaii, 1942. The Vincennes was one of four cruisers built with PWA funds in the early-mid 1930s. The others were the Savannah, Philadelphia, and Nashville (shown below). The Vincennes served as an escort ship for "Doolittle's Raid" on Japan, participated in the Battle of Midway and also the invasion of Guadalcanal, shot down many Japanese airplanes, and received two battle stars. Unfortunately, she was attacked and sunk by several Japanese ships in August 1942. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy, the National Archives, and ibiblio.org.


Above: U.S.S. Savannah (CL-42) and crew, ca. 1942-1945. The Savannah participated in Operation Torch (an allied invasion of axis-controlled North Africa) and supported many troop invasions in the Mediterranean with shore bombardments (knocking out many tanks and artillery batteries). On September 11, 1943, the Savannah was hit with a radio-controlled German glide bomb and lost 197 men. She was repaired but saw no further combat. The Savannah earned three battle stars during World War II. Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.


Above: The U.S.S. Philadelphia (CL-41) in New York Harbor, 1943, with a Liberty Ship in the background. The Philadelphia saw heavy combat action in the Mediterranean (for example, shore bombardment and defense against air attacks), in areas such as French Morocco, Sicily, Palermo, and Anzio. This PWA-built cruiser earned five battle stars. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy, the National Archives, and ibiblio.org.


Above: On board the U.S.S. Nashville (CL-43), in the South Pacific, 1943. Like the Vincennes, the Nashville provided support for "Doolittle's Raid" on Japan. She also provided convoy, transportation, and shelling support all over the Pacific theater and earned ten battle stars - the most battle stars of all the PWA-built cruisers. Photo courtesy of the Naval Historical Center and ibiblio.org.

Cruisers did it all during World War II. They fought enemy ships, engaged enemy aircraft, participated in shore bombardments, protected other vessels from attack, used their scout planes for reconnaissance missions, and more. The Vincennes was a heavy cruiser "with a standard tonnage of 9,400 and an overall length of 588 feet" and carried "a crew of 551 men." It was armed "with eight 5-inch anti-aircraft batteries...[and] nine 8-inch guns." The Savannah, Philadelphia, and Nashville were light cruisers "with a standard tonnage of 10,000 and overall lengths of 614 feet." They were armed "with eight 5-inch anti-aircraft batteries...[and] fifteen 6-inch guns." All four of these PWA-built cruisers could carry 4 planes and could travel at 32 knots.

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/).         

Sunday, September 13, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Gunboats


Above: Of the 32 PWA-funded ships of the early-mid 1930s, two were gunboats - and one of these gunboats was the U.S.S. Erie (PG-50). The Erie evacuated refugees from the Spanish Civil War, served as a training vessel, participated in the re-enactment of "the 1853 friendship visit of Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan" at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1937 (see note 1 below), and rescued about 100 shipwreck survivors during World War II. Unfortunately, the Erie was destroyed by a U-boat torpedo in 1942. Photo of Erie courtesy of Wikipedia.


Above: The second PWA-funded gunboat was the U.S.S. Charleston (PG-51). During World War II, the Charleston participated in the Battle of Attu (U.S. & Canada vs. Japan, on a remote Alaskan island in 1943) and received one battle star. The Charleston became a training ship after the war. Photo of Charleston courtesy of Wikipedia.

Gunboats were "armed with 4 6-inch guns and ten small anti-aircraft guns" and carried "crews of 201 men" (see note 2 below). According to a retired Navy captain, gunboats were "designed like small cruisers. They were built specifically to protect American lives and property in places around the world. They were never intended for major fleet actions and they conducted most of their operations alone" (see note 3 below).

Sources of information: (1) http://usserie.org/. (2) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (3) Captain George Stewart, USN (Retired), "USTS Charleston (PG 51) Massachusetts Maritime Academy Training Ship 1948-1957," Naval Historical Foundation, October 15, 2013. (4) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (5) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/).

Saturday, September 12, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Submarines


Above: New Deal funding in the early-1930s allowed the Navy to build 32 new ships, including four submarines. One of those submarines was the U.S.S Porpoise (P1, SS-172). During World War II, the Porpoise hit or sank 6 Japanese cargo ships, rescued five airmen in the East Indies, served as a training vessel, and earned five battle stars. The photo above shows the Porpoise with a submarine tender in Alaska in the 1930s. The numbers painted on these 4 New Deal-funded submarines seems to have started with P1, P2, P3, and P4, but then changed to 172, 173, 174, and 175 for the war. Photo courtesy of C. Peter Chen and the Naval History and Heritage Command.


Above: New Deal funding built the U.S.S. Pike (P2, SS-173). During World War II, the Pike provided bombing & shelling support, sank a Japanese cargo ship, and received four battle stars. After the war, she served as a training submarine. Photo of Pike courtesy of Wikipedia.  


Above: New Deal funding built the U.S.S. Shark (P3, SS-174). Before World War II, the Shark served as a training vessel and participated in military exercises. The Shark received one battle star during World War II and was probably sunk by a depth charge in Indonesia, in March, 1942 (her fate has never been conclusively determined). Photo of Shark courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.  



Above: New Deal funding built the U.S.S. Tarpon (P4, SS-175). During World War II, the Tarpon sank several Japanese vessels, including a freighter, a passenger-cargo ship, a troop transport, and a patrol ship. The Tarpon also damaged several other Japanese ships and sank the German raider Michel. She received seven battle stars and served as a training submarine after the war. In 1957 she was sunk off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, perhaps after being used for target practice, and now provides a habitat for a rich variety of marine life (including sharks) as the video above shows. Original YouTube link for video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCFOGk45Cl8.

The Porpoise-class submarines shown above were described as 300 feet long, 25 foot beam, 14 foot draft, and 1300 tons displacement. They had six 21-inch torpedo tubes, deck guns, mines, 50-men crews, and were powered by diesel-electric engines. They were built at a time when the Navy had little or no money for new construction. The New Deal changed that.  

Sources of information: (1) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/). (2) "Lay Keel of Submarine Tomorrow," The Portsmouth Herald, October 26, 1933. (3) Rodney K. Watterson, 32 in '44: Building the Portsmouth Submarine Fleet in World War II, Naval Institute Press, 2011. (4) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (5) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara.

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Deal Postage Stamps: FDR leads the nation through depression and war


When Franklin Roosevelt was on the campaign trail in 1932, he said: "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people."


In his first inaugural address, in response to the Great Depression, Roosevelt said: "The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."  


Like today, many people during Roosevelt's time thought it was wrong for government to help people (even though the Founding Fathers gave the government the right to do so with the General Welfare clause). So, the more Roosevelt tried to help Americans in need, the more they hated him. But Roosevelt stayed true to his beliefs and said: "Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference" (quote found in the book American-Made, by Nick Taylor, Bantam Books, 2008).


After Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, Roosevelt said: "Rapid and united effort by all of the peoples of the world who are determined to remain free will insure a world victory of the forces of justice and of righteousness over the forces of savagery and of barbarism." The allies won the war three-and-a-half years later.


Less than a year before he died, President Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill, which offered a range of benefits for World War II veterans. Roosevelt said that the G.I. Bill "gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down." On the back of the postage stamp pictured above, it reads "...the G.I. Bill helped approximately 2.25 million war veterans attend college. Millions of other GIs received job training; home, business, and farm loans; and unemployment benefits."    


President Franklin Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, after leading the nation through depression and war, and after setting the nation on course for a vastly improved quality of life - a quality of life that has only recently begun to crumble under the weight of trickle-down economics, tax breaks for the super-wealthy, rampant white collar crime, unrestrained political spending, and naked greed.  In other words, all those things that President Roosevelt and his fellow New Deal policymakers warned us about.

We need another FDR; and we need another, even stronger New Deal.

(All images above from personal collection.)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Deal Postage Stamps: Effective & Beneficial Policies


Above: President Roosevelt signed the National Industrial Recovery Act on June 16, 1933. The law created the National Recovery Administration (NRA). The first part of the act sought to regulate competition, but was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The second part of the act created the Public Works Administration (PWA). The PWA funded tens of thousands of infrastructure projects across the United States, many of which we still utilize today. Image from personal collection.
        

Above: From 1921 to 1933, there were nearly 15,000 bank failures in the United States. When these banks failed, Americans lost their life savings. The New Deal ushered in bank reforms such as FDIC (bank insurance) and Glass-Steagall (a law regulating the type of money that banks can gamble with). After these reforms, there were less than 600 bank failures between 1934 and 1980 (you can look up bank failure statistics here). Further, "Since the start of FDIC insurance on January 1, 1934, no depositor has lost a single cent of insured funds as a result of a failure." Many conservative politicians, pundits, talk show hosts, and think tank "researchers" believe that the New Deal was a complete failure and are desperately trying to return us to the days of the "Roaring Twenties," where, if your bank fails, tough luck, you lose all your money - even if you had nothing to do with the bank's failure. Isn't that amazing? Image from personal collection.    


Above: Despite the fact that Social Security is arguably the greatest poverty reduction program in human history, many of the conservatives I mentioned in the previous caption want to reduce it, eliminate it, or give it to Wall Street - so their wealthy funders & donors can gamble with it and carve out a nice "management fee" from it. But, considering that corporate executives & investors are actively replacing strong fixed pension plans with anemic 401k's, and letting wages stagnate for millions of American workers, and engaging in all manner of civil & criminal wrongdoing, do you really trust them with your retirement security? President Roosevelt and his fellow New Deal policymakers created Social Security because of the malignant, selfish, and incompetent behavior of many of those who work on Wall Street. To now let those type of people steal from "manage" Social Security would be the height of irresponsibility - and, if it happens, we will suffer dearly for it. Image from personal collection.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Deal Postage Stamps: FDR's Four Freedoms


Above: On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt gave a State of the Union speech that is now known as the Four Freedoms Speech. In addition to outlining four essential freedoms for all people (detailed below), Roosevelt also said "there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are: Equality of opportunity for youth and for others. Jobs for those who can work. Security for those who need it. The ending of special privilege for the few. The preservation of civil liberties for all. The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living." Image from personal collection.


Above: "In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world." - FDR. Image from personal collection.


Above: "The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way - everywhere in the world." - FDR. Image from personal collection.


Above: "The third is freedom from want - which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants - everywhere in the world." - FDR. Image from personal collection.


Above: "The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world." - FDR. Image from personal collection.

Roosevelt said that his four proposed freedoms were "no vision of a distant millennium," but "a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation." On this point he was wrong of course. Even the 60 million or more deaths of World War II could not ensure a world with these four basic freedoms. In the United States, for example, conservative politicians have fought tooth and nail to deny the expansion of affordable health insurance to low-income citizens, thereby prolonging want. Still, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms could be part of a larger, more comprehensive movement in the future - when humanity is ready to put aside anger, hatred, greed, and insinuations of laziness towards anyone who isn't rich. 

"Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere."
--FDR