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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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Organized labor, politics, Minnesota, New Deal


The militancy that helped prompt federal labor reform and the electoral incorporation of industrial workers exposed serious political fault lines within the so-called New Deal coalition. In particular, militancy and factionalism in the labor movement compromised the early electoral victories of the ruling Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota and New Deal Democrats nationally. Yet the landslide victory of Republican candidates in 1938 in Minnesota, as well as across the industrial North, was not a repudiation of the New Deal or the labor movement. These Republicans refashioned their party platform to accommodate key parts of the New Deal, including recognizing the legitimacy of collective bargaining. Liberal Republicans harnessed popular support New Deal social policy, but unlike Democrats they were free to criticize the supposed “excesses” of the New Deal- namely a militant and politicized labor movement. Minneapolis provides one case study to reconsider the impact of labor militancy on the development of New Deal liberalism.


First Advisor

Christian G. Appy