The Newsworthy and Notable
Roosevelt's Brain Trust was instrumental in the passage of his unprecedented array of social programs. The individuals forming this advisory group consisted of government outsiders, including professors, lawyers, and economic experts. The enduring legacy of the New Deal was government's increased involvement in the lives of its citizens.
Power and Politics
John L. Lewis rose to power in the organized labor movement. In 1935, he founded the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) that broke with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) to become the most radical labor organization in the country.
Huey Long, governor of Louisiana, became one of the most controversial politicians. Nicknamed “Kingfish,” he improved roads and expanded services in his state by taxing corporations and the rich. In 1931, he resigned as governor to enter the U.S. Senate, where he developed the Share-Our-Wealth program, promising to make “every man a king.” Long had planned to run for president in 1936, but was gunned down a year earlier at the height of his political influence.
In 1935, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act, known as the Wagner Act (for Senator Robert Wagner of New York, its sponsor). The act established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This law guaranteed workers the right to organize and bargain through unions. Frances Perkins, the first female cabinet member, served as secretary of labor during this time.
Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and John Dill-inger fascinated the public. Though they were all gangsters who lived and died by the gun, people couldn't learn enough about them, even attending their funerals in record numbers. Dillinger, for instance, was wanted by J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau of Investigation (today's Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI). One of his most famous acts was his 1933 escape from jail using a mock gun carved from wood. A year later, he coerced a plastic surgeon to alter his face and fingerprints, but the “feds” caught up with Dill-inger, shooting him outside a movie theater.
Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. She challenged herself and set several other records. But in 1937, she took off on an around-the-world trip with a navigator, never to return. Her plane simply vanished, and despite a massive search, no trace of her was found.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an outspoken first lady who broadened liberalism as well as her own social consciousness during her tenure in the White House.
Musicians of the times, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong, had hit songs during the 1930s. Oddly enough, the same establishments who spun their records most likely would not have served these African-Americans on account of segregation. Shunning prejudiced attitudes, Big Band leader Benny Goodman toured with a racially integrated band.