The Liberal Bloc

A congressman's career seldom inspires the historian, particularly when the congressional tenure is short. Maury Maverick, a New Dealer from San Antonio, served only four years, but his career was exceptional. A rebel in the House, he challenged its leadership; a rebel against southern and national traditions and policies that he deemed archaic and reactionary, he inspired the "liberal bloc" that was formed upon his arrival in 1935. His was often the voice of this little-noted cluster of liberals (or progressives, the terms being used interchangeably then) who sought to strengthen the New Deal's commitment to reform. His defeat in 1938 was symptomatic of the political problems that afflicted politicians whose ideas were more radical than the President's, and whose defeats that year measure the collapse of the New Deal.

Maverick was thirty-eight in February 1934, when he decided to run for Congress from Texas' newly created twentieth district. In Bexar County and San Antonio, where one fourth of the population was Mexican in origin and one tenth was Negro, he was well known for his deep concern for the under-privileged. In 1932 he had lived in the "hobo, slum, Negro, and poverty areas" of the Southwest, where he had experienced some of the tragedy wrought by the depression. Upon his return, he had organized transient relief stations and founded a cooperative colony. He was also known as a civil libertarian. During the 1920s, he had denounced lynching, the poll tax, and the Ku Klux Klan; and he had joined the American Civil Liberties Union. Most San Antonians knew that for Maverick social justice was an act of faith. A scion of the genteel, Jeffersonian Maurys of Charlottesville, Virginia, and of the freewheeling Mavericks who had fought for Texan independence, he never equivocated. Maverick felt that he entered the world "a well-dressed gentleman," yet he "plainly heard a bugle calling Texans to fight for Justice and Liberty, even though it meant Death."

Maverick's impeccable credentials as a liberal and activist and his frantic efforts to identify himself with the spirit of the New Deal and the popularity of President Franklin D. Roosevelt were important factors in his primary victory in July 1934. He received support from businessmen who suffered not only from the depression but also from a local economic slump brought on by the intense heat and drought of the 1934 summer which ruined crops in nearby fields. He secured the endorsement of the American Federation of Labor and ran extremely well among impoverished Mexican-Americans. In the Texas primaries in 1934 "support of the New Deal was definitely helpful at the polls. Yet Maverick's success cannot be attributed solely to his fervent commitment to seek national answers to the district's economic and social ills. For five years as a member of the Citizen's League, he campaigned against Bexar County officials who, he alleged, protected vice; he worked to expose corruption in the office of San Antonio's mayor; and he was elected and re-elected tax collector, earning a reputation for integrity and impartiality. Many San Antonian's whose first priority was clean government ignored or disregarded his New Dealism and voted for him in the primary because they could not stomach his opponent, Mayor Charles K. Quin.

Even before his election—he ran unopposed—Maverick went to Washington, proclaimed new projects for his district, and pledged alliance to the President. His visit attests to his mania for publicity and personal recognition by the President and a compulsion to be where the action was.

His activities were scarcely mentioned in Texas newspapers, but the New York Herald-Tribune and the Washington Post glamorized his family lineage and career—a first sign of the recognition and support that he would receive from eastern newspapers throughout his political career. A few weeks later, while he was recovering from surgery at the Mayo Clinic, he received a note from the White House addressed: "My dear Maury." In 1939, when he was mayor of San Antonio, Maverick was insulted when the President addressed him more formally.

In January 1935, Maverick took his seat in the most radical Congress since Reconstruction. Optimistic observers had predicted minimal Democratic losses in the autumn elections, believing that Roosevelt's obvious popularity would overcome both the traditional reaction against the party in power and the discontent that surged through the country in 1934, but even the most knowledgeable underestimated the President's popularity and misgauged the direction and intensity of public frustration.

Democratic strength in the Senate increased by ten seats and, in the House, from 313 to 322. But Democratic gains did not measure the extent of the leftward shift. Liberals replaced conservative Democrats, and Republican losses were greater than the Democratic increases indicated. In Pennsylvania the power of a surging labor movement combined with urban machines nourished by federal relief funds reversed the complexion of the state's delegation. In Wisconsin seven Progressives were elected. They had been Progressive Republicans until Philip LaFollette and Thomas Amlie dragged them into a new alignment. LaFollette and Amlie had been seeking the support of Socialists and of independents and farm and labor groups that were pro-Roosevelt but would not work with state Democrats that they thought hopelessly conservative. LaFollette wanted to regain the governorship he had lost in 1932, and Amlie sought to regain his congressional seat. Their success assured most of the Progressives a more radical base, and it increased their number. Minnesota also contributed to the leftward shift by electing three Farmer-Labor candidates. The lower Midwest and Washington elected many independent, often radical Republicans and Democrats who were determined to support the New Deal and to infuse it with new vigor. Maverick joined this factious group that thought the New Deal, thus far, had been much too conservative.

Democratic leaders in Congress soon noted the danger on the left. Early in the session Nevada Senator Key Pittman wrote the President:
We are faced with an unscrupulous regular Republican representation: a progressive Republican membership determined upon going farther to the left than you will go; a Democrative representation who have more sympathy for the Republican progressive policies than they have for yours. And in the midst of this disloyalty you have a regular Democratic representation that conscientiously believe they are saving you by destroying you.
House leaders had reached the same conclusion. They changed the rules, increasing the number of signatures required for discharge petitions from 145 to 218, in an obvious attempt to strengthen their control over the rank-and-file.

But the House leadership was soon challenged. On March 9, about thirty congressmen met in the office of Illinois Democrat Kent Keller to define a program that they believed truly embraced the spirit of the New Deal. Paul Kvale, a Minnesota Farmer-Laborite, called the meeting and presided. Amlie provided the group with intellectual leadership, and Maverick inspired it with fighting spirit. Amlie wanted to stress ideology in their meetings and on the House floor, but Maverick helped direct the "liberal bloc's" attention to specific programs it could influence. In this sense, he assumed Fiorello LaGuardia's place. Maverick was not the accomplished parliamentarian the experienced LaGuardia had been, and in later years some members of the "liberal bloc" would denigrate his capacity for leadership, but for four years he was clearly their leader. He was always prepared to speak to the issues, and he could handle any audience. In speaking to the House, his constituents, or the nation, he melded an economic interpretation of the issues with a "patriotic" presentation that was both passionate and sincere and that placed the New Deal squarely in line with treasured American symbols. He also wrote for the New Republic and other journals, displaying a lucid and sophisticated style. Some articles condemned southern mores and policies that he deemed archaic and contrary to the section's true interests, developing a constructive vision of a better future. He asked that southerners put aside their racial hostilities and work together to build an industrial base that would benefit whites and blacks alike. Other articles, treating national problems, displayed a keen understanding, if selective use, of the contributions that political philosophy offered. Few men were better qualified to articulate the policies of the "liberal bloc."

Maverick had other qualifications for leadership. His family background, southern origins, and distinction as the only member of the group who had never worked with his hands made him a romantic figure attractive to columnists seeking a good story. This insured wide publicity for the policies of the "liberal bloc," which the press tagged the "Mavericks." Also, as a Democrat, Maverick could gain the President's ear more readily than Progressives or Farmer-Laborites; as a southerner, he might encourage others from the region to break their conservative moorings; and, as a scion of an aristocratic family, he would provide a much-needed aura of respectability to the group's endeavors. He provided the type of leadership a band of individualists with radical ideas most needed, not direction but articulation.

After their first meeting the "Mavericks" issued a manifesto listing a sixteen point program. Basically an updated restatement of the agenda of reform enunciated by the Populists four decades before, some of the points were incorporated into that session's legislation. The most striking feature of the manifesto was its demand for a policy of planned abundance. "Production for use," was Amlie's theme as he told the House that his constituents were "demanding not that goods be destroyed but that goods be produced." They were "demanding an opportunity to contribute their efforts toward the production of goods." They believed, he went on, "that the solution for our present difficulties is not to be found in the . . . creation of artificial scarcity, but only in the operation of our production plant at full capacity." Amlie spoke for many if not all the members of the "liberal bloc." Tutored by John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, Charles Beard, and Paul Douglas, he found the New Deal philosophically hopeless. Business was recovering and the middle class was regaining its poise, but unorganized consumers found prices rising more rapidly than wages and salaries, millions were underemployed, and millions more were unemployed. These groups, powerless and desperate, engaged the sympathies of the "liberal bloc" who called their organization "The Progressive Open Forum Discussion Group."

While critical of the New Deal, the "Mavericks" did not indict the President. When Representative Claude Fuller, an Arkansas Democrat, ridiculed the Democrats among them as dupes of the Progressives who wanted to embarrass the President and form a third party, Maverick replied: "Franklin Roosevelt is a liberal and a progressive―and the fact that the progressives of the Northwest adopted the name 'progressive' as the label of their party does not make a progressive Democrat a member of the Progressive Party." He and the Progressives had supported the President, but he had never heard "the gentleman [from Arkansas] say anything progressive." In the cloakroom later, a New York Times correspondent saw the two men exchange blows.

The "liberal bloc" thought the President was sympathetic to a more thorough policy of reform and recovery. Maverick was convinced that most of the committee chairmen were "reactionaries," who had "attached themselves to the Roosevelt kite," while "trying to pull the kite down." If the problem were Congress, the group might serve the President as shock troops, spelling out progressive goals and enabling him to shape a consensus for programs slightly less radical that would be acceptable because it was moderate by comparison. It could also alert him as well as the public to conservative efforts to gut his "must" legislation. Hoping that the President was their ally, the "Mavericks" believed that their responsibility to the people was primary; and they intended to act on that premise even if it forced them to oppose him.

The legislative impact of the "Mavericks" is not easily measured. They did not consider the "work-relief" program adequate, but it received more funds than conservatives desired. They wanted a tougher "death sentence" in the Public Utilities Holding Company Act, but none would have been possible without them. And their intense commitment was a major factor in wresting the Fair Labor Standards Act from the Rules Committee. They received sharp set backs of course, notably when they backed the President's plan to enlarge the Supreme Court and when they could not secure legislation to develop planned industrial expansion that would guarantee full employment. There were unhappy compromises on taxation, also. But the "liberal bloc's" impact seems inescapable, especially in light of the conservative record of the House after its numbers were decimated by the 1938 election.

Although Maverick could not match the legislative prowess of senior members of the "liberal bloc," he had no peer when an issue demanded a tenacious, no-holds-barred readiness to take on any opponent―and that included the President. In the 1935 session he identified himself with the "neutrality" bloc in Congress. While Senators Gerald P. Nye and Bennett Champ Clark were placing "neutrality" legislation before the Senate, he was introducing similar bills in the House. Almost alone among southern members, he called for an embargo on raw materials as well as arms and munitions. In Houston he said that he "would just as soon close every port in the United States, including Houston and Galveston, if it would save the life of one human being," whatever the oil and cotton business lost. He demanded in a note to Secretary of State Cordell Hull that administration opposition to Senate and House hearings cease "Now!" The hearings began soon after. In August, when war between Italy and Ethiopia seemed imminent and the President was obstructing House consideration of an embargo, Maverick and New York Democrat Frank Sisson circulated a petition that indicated House support for the measure and led a small group to the White House to present it. There was a heated exchange. The President insisted that he must have discretionary powers respecting an embargo's application (to apply it against aggressors only if he thought it necessary, not against all participants as "neutrality" advocates demanded). Maverick retorted: "Well, you are not going to get them. The Senate has gone on record . . . and a majority of the House is opposed. We will never grant them to you." The President made no concession then, but that night he advised House leaders that he would accept an impartial embargo limited to six months. Signing the Neutrality Act, the President explained that a most distasteful policy had been forced upon him.

Maverick's distaste for war and his advocacy of "neutrality" were not unique among Progressives. The "liberal bloc" as a whole strongly opposed American involvement in conflicts abroad. But Maverick was neither a confirmed pacifist nor an isolationist, despite his conviction that American intervention in 1917 had been a grievous error. Even in the middle thirties, he differed with others of the "liberal bloc" and supported enlarged army appropriations, although he disapproved greater expenditures for the navy. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Maverick . . . believes in many of the doctrines expounded by the late General Mitchell." This is probably a sound interpretation of his behavior, especially since Maverick believed economic considerations had inspired the Great War. The picture is complete, however, only when it is noted that in 1940 he was the main speaker at the largest rally sponsored to that date by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. By then he was convinced that wars were not always inspired by economic considerations and that they might involve ideals that demanded a defense of freedom.

Freedom to Maverick demanded a readiness to fight for the civil liberties of all Americans, whatever the cost. With exceptional courage, considering that he represented a southern city, he supported anti-lynching legislation; and he did so not only in the relative privacy of the House but also in magazine articles. Also, he exposed in Congress, through his friends in the press, and by his own pen, legislation designed to curb freedom of speech and press, including the Military Disaffection bill introduced by Boston's Democratic representative, John McCormack, and a sedition bill introduced by a California congressman, Charles Kramer. Then, too, he fought the "Dies Committee"―the House Un-American Activities Committee―from its inception. He was not the only member of the "liberal bloc" or of Congress to oppose legislation that did not discriminate between "advocacy" and an "overt act," but no one else did so as consistently, forthrightly, and powerfully.

Maverick's critics insisted that his interests were prolific. They also insisted that he lacked depth. But if he did, it is not revealed in articles like "The South is Rising," "TVA Faces the Future," and "Let's Join the United States," which manifest a clear perception of the South's problems and are buttressed with facts that had to pass inspection by a sophisticated audience. He coupled his analyses with proposals that suggest an undue optimism, but never the simplistic demagoguery of Huey Long or the other panacea peddlers of the period. He attributed the South's problems mainly to homegrown reactionaries who scapegoated, preaching a martyred South persecuted by northern capitalists, to divert attention from their own entrenched interests. Maverick did not reject northern colonialism as a contributing factor. But southerners, he declared, must "leave the magnolia blossoms on the trees, and use [their] brains for . . . thinking," substituting "straight thinking" for "romance" and hard answers for a readiness to "fight for the dear old Southland." "Southerners working together, without regard for class or race, saying: 'Here! There is enough for us all to live with a fair standard, let's try doing it,' could supply the answer to the President's designation of the section as the 'Nation's Economic Problem No. 1.'"

Maverick thought southerners were moving in the right direction, but "a couple of damned Yankees" had showed them the way. Senator George Norris and President Roosevelt, "by setting up the TVA, have given the South the first real hope of revival it has known since the Civil War," he asserted; and he hoped the South would take full advantage of the "break." Recognizing that the TVA was vital to the South, visiting it often, and studying its organization and possible uses assiduously, he quickly mobilized the "liberal bloc" when pressure group politics threatened its existence or further development. In August 1935, when Pennsylvania Democrats were tempted to support restriction of its authority, he warned Senator Joe Guffey: "No TVA Bill, no Guffey Coal Bill." Both passed, as Pennsylvania Democrats organized support for the TVA, and the "liberal bloc" voted solidly for the Guffey-Snyder Coal Stabilization bill. With good reason, the Nashville Tennessean called him "an invaluable ally of TVA, of the South, and of the President."

From the end of the 1935 session to the primary the following summer, Maverick politicked at home; watched the progress of a bill to extend the Neutrality Act, complaining to the President of its inadequacy; proposed in the 1936 session a low-cost housing plan on a grand scale (twenty billion dollars); defended the President before the Texas senate calling him the best chief executive since Andrew Jackson; and traveled between the Mississippi and the Rockies making speeches. His favorite topics were "neutrality," the President, and civil liberties, which he endorsed, and the Liberty League, the Supreme Court, and the Townsend Plan, which he condemned. Wherever he spoke and whatever he said, his pithy rhetoric, replete with profanity, was worth the price of admission. Liberals loved him, and even a conservative newspaper like the New York Herald-Tribune applauded him when he said the Townsend Plan would "destroy the financial system of the country." New York Post reporters enjoyed his ability to say "printable things in an unprintable way," and the Harrisburg News said he "makes Capital life more endurable."

In 1935 Maverick denied any connection between the President's coattails and his election; but as the July 1936 primary approached, he drew closer to the White House. Loudly he proclaimed: "I'm for President Roosevelt and the New Deal. . . . I think that President Roosevelt is the greatest President we have ever had." And to make sure his constituents understood that the affection was reciprocal, he wrote the President that he was "officially and personally anxious" for him to come to San Antonio. Roosevelt not only came, embracing the congressman before the Alamo and cameramen, but also wrote a letter plainly designed as an endorsement. And when the administration received his complaint that a local FHA director was aiding one of his opponents, the problem was promptly corrected. Grateful, Maverick told a friend: "The Administration through the President are going down the line 8000% if not more." Even before his victory―he wrote Robert S. Allen that he lost only "three silk stocking and two red light" precincts―he sent the President a figurine as a token of his gratitude, "St. Jude of the Impossible, not to use on Landon (unnecessary) but on a few things like the Constitution, child labor, and lots of others. . . ."

"St. Jude" was an appropriate gift. On February 5, 1937, the President announced his plan to enlarge the Supreme Court. Senate leaders, some reluctantly, promised support, but House Judiciary Committee chairman Hatton Sumners, a Texas Democrat, refused. Maverick, however, grabbed a copy of the bill and dropped it into the hopper as H.R. 4417; then he telegraphed Roosevelt: "Best presidential message ever made." A reply came back: "I am awfully glad you liked the Message."

For Maverick the message was overdue. Four days after the decision in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (May 27, 1935), he had declared: "We can't continue to be thwarted by this Court. We must have a judicial system with a rule of reason." And in the months following he had repeatedly attacked the Court's decisions as anachronistic. The issue split the Democratic party in Congress, in Texas, and in the nation. Maverick received many critical letters, especially from lawyers who previously had supported him (one reminding him of the many cases appealed by the American Civil Liberties Union to the Court). Condemnation of the plan by the San Antonio Bar and the Texas House of Representatives (which voted 95 to 28 against endorsement) should have warned him, but he slashed at critics and assembled a group from within the "liberal bloc" to spearhead the fight.

With a modicum of discretion Maverick might have survived the Supreme Court battle, but he committed himself simultaneously to the Committee for Industrial Organization's struggle for recognition of labor's collective bargaining rights. He criticized Tom Girdler of Republic Steel; opposed a House investigation of the sit-down strikes; traded punches with a congressman who condemned CIO; and spoke in Detroit, attacking Henry Ford and defending the United Auto Workers. The San Antonio press publicized these episodes, the Evening News stating that his "full status as a leading 'left-winger' . . . was not generally recognized until this session."

Maverick's activities constituted a serious political blunder. His appearance in Detroit particularly identified him with a militancy that provoked a sharp reaction among property owners. After his 1938 primary defeat, he informed the Philadelphia that his opponents had distributed 100,000 pamphlets with cartoons depicting John L. Lewis of CIO and himself as puppets dangled by Joseph Stalin, who contained in his other hand a dagger dripping with blood. Maverick had also incurred the wrath of the American Federation of Labor. According to the Philadelphia Record, AFL president, William Green, told Maverick personally: "We will support no one who gives aid and comfort to the CIO . . . even if he has a perfect voting record." AFL opposed Maverick in the primary, and the only CIO local, the pecan shellers, was too small and impecunious to mobilize its own workers or others as a compensatory force. Maverick's identification with CIO was a rash, perhaps gratuitous gesture that cost him renomination.

Maverick was not attuned to the politics of his constituency. His support of the Fair Labor Standards Act reinforced the determination of the Texas State Manufacturers Association to prevent his renomination. His advocacy of aid to the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War must have cost him dearly in Catholic San Antonio, and his articles or favorable references in radical journals were no help. Presumably he recognized the danger after Elizabeth Dilling's charge that he was a "Pet of Moscow" was headlined in the San Antonio Evening News, for he pleaded with liberal Catholic leaders in the East to rebut the smear. But the allegations continued. His rival in the primary charged that he was a "friend and ally of Communism," which was not to say that he was a Communist, but San Antonians would remember that he had fought for the right of a Communist, Benjamin Gitlow, to speak in the city ten years before.

The margin of Maverick's defeat was extremely narrow, 493 votes out of more than 49,000 cast. The major factors, he thought, were the "CIO bogey," "anti-Roosevelt money," and the "anti-Roosevelt vote." He was essentially correct, although other factors were present. His opponent, First Assistant District Attorney Paul Kilday, who had the backing of the Quin machine, castigated him as a "rubber stamp." At the same time, however, Jim Kilday, a Houston attorney, described his brother as a New Dealer, who thought Maverick had been "embarrassing the administration with his radical tendencies. The administration," Jim Kilday told the Houston Post, "may pass the word along to give the latter the vote and the former the boot." In any event, he said, Sam Rayburn wanted Maverick out.

There is no evidence that the administration wanted to dump Maverick. A letter from Secretary of War Harry Woodring informed San Antonians that he had been "instrumental in the development of United States army posts in the . . . area." The President endorsed him and a number of other liberal congressmen at Pueblo, Colorado (the names of Senator Tom Connally and Representative Sumners, opponents of his Court plan, were omitted.) San Antonio papers reported that the President, when he arrived in Fort Worth, asked Maverick about his train, calling: "Hello Maury, Glad to see you. How's the boy?" He had the President's blessing.

Maverick had known the primary would be "very hot and dirty," and he had sought desperately to wrap the mantle of the President about him. It is questionable, however, whether it was a useful strategy that year. The Court fight and the "purge" had cost him greatly, not only among opponents of the New Deal but also in the eyes of many liberals. At a time when Americans were awakening to the ends and means of dictators abroad, some feared the President might have similar ambitions. As a corollary, many Americans recognized the value of a Congress able to check and balance executive power. Indicative of this sentiment was strong public reaction to the Government Reorganization bill the President had requested that spring. The President had felt compelled to refute charges of dictatorial ambitions, and Congress had rejected the bill. The President was not the prestigious, persuasive leader nor the nation as responsive as in earlier years.

There were other factors disrupting the New Deal coalition and Maverick's support. The President had damned both labor and management in the sit-down strikes. Many of the middle class had been attracted to the New Deal only by the urgency of their plight; having regained their poise and inherent conservatism, they deplored the President's refusal to combat this attack on property rights. Some liberals had also been critical of the strikers' means and of the President for not condemning them. Then, too, there was the rebuke administered the President by Lewis for his "plague on both your houses" remark. Maverick could not be accused of neutrality, and that was precisely the problem. His opponent had found a vulnerable spot when he warned: "Maverick has cast his lot with the CIO. . . .[He] fosters and promotes the cause of radicals and radical organizations."

There is yet another reason why the President's endorsement was less meaningful in 1938 than in previous campaigns. The New Deal could take credit for a modicum of recovery; and it enjoyed the favor of millions for whom it had provided employment or relief. But early in 1937 Roosevelt had heeded the advice of the budget-balancers; simultaneously the social security tax became operative; and the economy, drained of much-needed purchasing power, had slowed. The President's prestige as the architect of recovery had declined with it. Soon Americans were talking about the "Roosevelt Recession"; and, as the Pierre [South Dakota] Journal pointed out, it "impaled Bob LaFollette, John L. Lewis, Representative Maury Maverick, and all the other liberal leaders who had flourished under the New Deal." This need not have been the case, and the liberals knew it. They pressed the President for leadership, demanding appropriations that would provide employment and relief as well as stimulate the economy. Roosevelt did not seem to be listening that winter, however, and by April, Maverick was writing to Adolph Berle accusing the President of not leading or inspiring Congress, not showing the way, not stiffening backbones. The Washington Evening Star quoted an unnamed member of the "liberal bloc" as saying "He's deserted us." (It was a fear Maverick seems to have shared.) Liberals, the Star was told, had read their mail from home and found "bitter resentment against months of inaction in bad times."

The President's lack of leadership gave liberals profound cause for anxiety and resentment. Their compassion and philosophy of political economy dictated a resumption of federal expenditures, but so too did political expediency. They could not ignore the needs of those who comprised the base of their support and expect reelection or, in Maverick's case, renomination. Their anxiety was coupled with resentment as they remembered that they had gone down the line with the President even when it involved great political risk. Particularly in San Antonio, with its heavy concentration of Negroes and Mexican-Americans, the "Roosevelt Recession" and the President's reluctance to pry from Congress new expenditures for employment and relief, must have hurt greatly. Maverick had counted on these groups before, but, having alienated members of the San Antonio Bar by his advocacy of the Court plan, hurt by middle-class reaction to the "purge," the recession, and his identification with CIO, he needed them more than ever. Both minority groups were desperate for help from some quarter, but federal aid was not forthcoming. Just prior to the primary, Maverick complained to friends in Washington of "widespread corruption and intimidation," of various efforts to "steal" the election. He wanted an investigation by federal authorities. He knew San Antonio's staple joke: "An honest Mexican is one who stays bought," but he had neither federal money nor his own for that purpose.

A single congressman may fail of renomination or reelection for many reasons. Maverick ran his campaigns on a shoestring; he spoke and wrote too often on too many controversial issues; and he was, as even his friends admitted, "an egotist and exhibitionist of the first order . . . impossible to work with. . . ." But his loss was not an isolated case; more than eighty congressmen of a liberal persuasion were defeated in 1938. It seems fair to conclude, then, that his defeat represented more than a personal rejection of a "maverick," a rebel in the House and against southern traditions; it represented, also, the end of a liberalism that had looked to a day when one third of a nation would not be "ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." It marked the end of the New Deal.

Stuart L. Weiss, The Journal of American History

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