Skip to comments.Did Franklin Delano Roosevelt read the book Philip Dru Administrator?
Posted on 07/12/2012 2:44:33 PM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
Yesterday I made a posting with regard to FDR's dictators, with which I realized after the posting I may have been chasing a ghost, a mere media creation. I did some digging into several executive orders(dealing with the creation of said commissions), and neither Czar nor Dictator appears in any of them.(This will be a long entry, so I hope readers will stick with me and follow the bouncing ball.)
Thus, I realized that I may have went about this the wrong way around. What journalists say and do can reflect reality, but often times is spun in a way that brings the truth into irrelevancy. Realistally speaking, Czar and Dictator are practically the same word anyways, so splitting hairs about which one was the true title is a waste of time. But this is not where the story ends, because during the process of information searches all sorts of things come up.
Sadly, the book Philip Dru has been a hot topic amongst conspiracy websites for quite a long time, and I would use the term "hijacked" - Philip Dru has been hijacked by conspiracy websites. Given that Edward House was literally President Woodrow Wilson's alter ego, "Philip Dru: Administrator" goes a long way toward granting insight into the mindset of a statist progressive. Philip Dru is one of those such gems that deserves not only our consideration, but deserves to be reclaimed from the doldrums of the web of conspiracists.
Now, there are plenty of places out there which have a high degree of credibility. Like the Ludvig Von Mises Institute. Mises hosts many great pieces of literature, many of which are there free for the taking.(quite literally, Mises is against copyright AFAIK and many of these books are post-copyright)
So here we go. The Mises Institute has a book in it's Literature Library titled Fabian Freeway, written by Rose Martin. See pages 158/159:
Labor, said Dru, should "no longer be classed as an inert commodity to be bought and sold according to the law of supply and demand." The Government would give employment to all who needed it. Dru "prepared an old-age pension law and also a laborers' insurance law," and provided for certain reforms "in the study and practice of medicine." Finally, he "incorporated in the Franchise Law the right of labor to have one representative on the boards of corporations and to share a certain per cent of the earnings above wages, after a reasonable per cent upon the capital had been earned." In return, labor was to submit all grievances to compulsory arbitration.
When the newly installed Democratic Administration announced the legislative program it wished enacted, House's novel aroused even more pointed comments. Cabinet members remarked on the similarity between Dru's program and the legislation requested over the years by Woodrow Wilson. "All that book has said should be, comes about," wrote Franklin K. Lane, Wilson's Secretary of the Interior, in 1918 to a personal friend. "The President comes to Philip Dru in the end." (8)
Among the junior officials who read the novel and took it to heart was a handsome young Assistant Secretary of the Navy. His name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his doting mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, was then and always a close friend of Colonel House. The Texas Colonel was the first important Democrat to support Roosevelt's nomination for the Presidency in 1932.(9) Whether House presented a copy of Philip Dru, Administrator to the dowager Mrs. Roosevelt or to her son, (10) its contents unquestionably played a part in the political education of still another American president. It even recommended "fireside chats."
Given the close relationship between American progressives and British Fabians a century ago it doesn't surprise me at all that this information is in Martin's book. Just sitting there, locked away behind a virtual firewall of copyright waiting to be excavated like a diamond or a long forgotten Pharoah's Tomb. Full of treasures to be examined and discussed. Footnote 10 is the fascinating object here, obviously. It's an op. cit. to a historian named Arthur Douglas Howden Smith, who wrote the 1940 biography Mr. House of Texas (content blocked by copyright), which is recommended by John Dos Passos(who lived through the Wilson and FDR eras) as a source for information on Edward House.(and along with Mises/Martin, is much more credible than other sites) So we know where to look, and to what page numbers(Fabian Freeway says pages 366-367 are what we need) to reference, and knowing enough about the content by what Fabian Freeway says, I can get at the information via Google. There's some behind-the-scenes political stuff here that isn't so interesting to me, but I'm sure that some of my readers may put a higher value on. Page 366:
So the depression, when it came, with its continuous and paralyzing blows at land values, its annihilation of mortgage-holders without the provision of a new market to assume the mortgages at equivalent values, wiped out equities he could never reestablish. He lost considerable money, too, in carrying men whose plight, he felt, was not their fault.
The only beneficent feature of the depression, he considered, was its ruthless success in arousing the country to the false standards of values which had destroyed the people's ethical code, as well as their sense of proportion. He had no doubt about its effect politically; but it would be erroneous to say that he anticipated such a mood of panic and despair as swept all countries. As has been shown, he had anticipated the disastrous consequences to American finances, if an effort were not made to cooperate with European debtors to enforce a sane method of collecting Reparations and balancing the international debt structure. This, however, did not reconcile him to wholesale repudiation of debts by countries with the reputations and resources of Great Britain and France. "italy and lesser countries he could understand, but he thought that it was as regrettable for the two great democracies to resort to such steps as later he held it to have been for the Roosevelt Administration to repudiate the gold value of the contracted obligations of the United States.
This statement brings forward the story of Mr. House's connection with the sustained campaign which focused national attention upon Roosevelt and procured his nomination at Chicago a nomination adroitly and painstakingly planned, but achieved by a series of classical political trades, betrayals and plain flukes - and his impressive election, by virtue of his own personality and the country's decision to fasten upon the unfortunate Hoover complete responsibility for the economic sins of Republican predecessors.
To promote the young New Yorker's real emergence upon the national stage as running mate with Cox, of Ohio, in 1920. After Roosevelt's illness and recovery from infantile paralysis, Mr. House again had advised him in his essay in New York State politics, which - with the additional sponsorship of Al Smith - helped to carry him to the Governorship. Mr. House's interest throughout this phase of Roosevelt's career was to make him a national figure, with the White House as the prize ahead; and in this Mr. House's aid was perhaps as important as the faithful work of Roosevelt's household political adviser, Howe. Mr. House had the wisdom and experience of years, and the prestige and national connections.
After Roosevelt was nominated, with fairly certain chances of election to which Hoover had contributed by his ill-judged, but correct, statement of the preceding summer on the danger of going off the gold standard - Mr. House assumed that he was to be the new President's closest responsible adviser. He had no desire to replace Howe or to usurp the powers or authority of James A. Farley, the National Chairman. He wanted nothing to do with patronage, of course. But he did think, and say, that he expected to be consulted upon all questions of major policy, national and international. He perceived the country's plight, and the urgent need of corrective measures. His Philip Dru schedule for revision of the social and economic forces had not been carried to completion in 1913-21. He had not considered the time ripe for many of "Dru's" measures, and as the years had passed and he had ripened in experience, his doubts of the wisdom of many of them had been strengthened. But he had variations or substitutions which he considered adaptable to the United States of 1932, and he took for granted Roosevelt's willingness to agree substantially with his ideas. There were reasons to believe, after the Roosevelt triumph, that Mr. House was over-optimistic in his assumptions. It was political gossip that neither Howe nor Farley was partial to sharing influence with Mr. House. They considered that the place for an Elder Statesman was in dignified remoteness from the scene of strife - as per Prince Saionji. He should await a summons from the Palace before volunteering his advice, and not give it too often, then. The ardent young men of the Brain Trust, apostles of the New Deal, were still more firm in this conviction.
It was the ancient story of Age and Youth, and a Chief Executive who
was amused by it all, and determined to carry on his office in his own way, as the New Dealers ultimately came to realize. Roosevelt had no inclination to split his triumphs with Mr. House, after Woodrow Wilson's regretted example.
Not long after the election, I had an opportunity to discover the exact sentiments of Howe and Farley, exact sentiments in the sense that they expressed their minds so to newspapermen who had their confidence. What Farley said was: "Colonel House? Oh, no, we're not worried about him. A very nice old gentleman. We'll take care of him, but I don't think we'll need him." I thought this was authentic enough to convey to Mr. House. He was firmly skeptical. "I daresay certain people don't want the President to listen to me," he said. "But I'm sure I can influence him. He trusts me, and so does his mother. I've known him ever since he was a mere boy."
The next, and conclusive, indication of Mr. House's misplaced confidence occurred in connection with the pre-inauguration conference between President Hoover and the President-elect, which resulted in Roosevelt's refusal to cooperate with President Hoover to check the ominous run on the banks, the colossal losses of business and the impending "bank holiday." Mr. House was strongly in favor of such cooperation. He thought it was no time for one political party to exploit the mistakes of another. He had always believed, it will be remembered, that the outgoing party should cooperate in a time of crisis with the incoming party, and that a willingness to do so by the vanquished should be accepted by the victors.
I had an article in Scribner's Magazine of January, 1933, in which I said that the future policy of the Roosevelt Administration would be guided by the new President's disposition to take the advice of Mr. House or of Howe and Howe's associates. If Mr. House was heeded, the new Administration could be expected to be progressively liberal and intelligently constructive. There would be no forced radical departures from past policies. There would be an attempt to work with business so long as business was cooperative. There would be a broadening of foreign policy, and an emphasis upon naval building within treaty limits. As against this, if the advice of Howe and his friends was paramount, the country might look for a parochial attitude by the Administration, with an effort to develop every selfish political advantage.
This story was in circulation just before Christmas. President Hoover promptly telephoned Mr. House in New York, and asked him to advise Roosevelt that the President would like to meet with him in Washington as soon as possible to explore ways to work in common to avert a finan-
cial disaster. What happened is a matter of history. Who was right and who was wrong, of the conferees, is a subject of legitimate controversy. Mr. House accepted the rebuff to himself with his usual philosophy. He had tried, and failed. But he had no illusions left as to the closeness of his connection with the new President. He remained friendly, but, I believe, never gave advice unless it was sought, and then with detachment. He found himself increasingly out of sympathy with the ballyhoo and hustle policies of the New Deal. Much of what the Administration was trying to do he believed in, in principle; but he knew from experience that over-haste in legislation makes for frustration of valid accomplishment. He thought the Blue Eagle sensationalism of NRA was the sort of thing which might have been expected of a pack of Boy Scouts. He thoroughly disapproved of the attack upon the Supreme Court. He thought Mr. Roosevelt's purge politics against Senators who disagreed with him was nothing more than bad, cheap politics. He agreed with the fundamentals of the President's foreign policy, but he thought they were not too well applied, except as to Secretary of State Hull's web of trade treaties. For instance, he considered the conduct of the London Economic Conference amateurish and an aggravation of an already dangerous international situation. He was all in favor of the Administration's naval policy.
Now, an amusing aspect of the Roosevelt policies was that, according to internal evidence, Mr. House was mainly responsible for the most challenged and debated of them. He was hoist by his own petard. And the petard was Philip Dru and its radical preachments delivered two decades previously. I do not know whether Mr. House gave one of the original copies of his book to Mrs. Roosevelt, senior, or to the young man who was to become President of the United States. But he most certainly presented a copy to Professor Felix Frankfurter, of Harvard Law School, who found much to admire in Mr. House's rough conceptions for whittling out a better system of social justice. Professor Frankfurter - who is now Mr. Justice Frankfurter, of the Supreme Court - was scheduled to duplicate with Mr. Roosevelt, more than anyone else, including Howe, the part played by Mr. House with President Wilson. But whoever interested the new President in Philip Dru's ideas for remodeling th e United States, it is impossible to compare Dru's suggested legislation with Mr. Roosevelt's and not be impressed by their similarity.
Dru considered the Constitution "not only outmoded, but grotesque." He asserted that "every man or woman who desires work shall have it, even if the Government has to give it." He demanded an eight-hour, six-day week, which, of course, has been out-moded, typical of the way in which the New Deal outran Dru.
And from there, I can't find a way to get access to more. But what's being said here is pretty clear. FDR was surrounded by it. Between Edward House's(the walking and breathing Philip Dru) close presence, and Frankfurter's ownership of a copy of the book, the fact that so much of Franklin Roosevelt's policy choices mirror that of what Dru did is too convient to ignore, even if he didn't ever read the book. These are the things that House believed, and likely espoused in his advisory roles given certain known historical outcomes.
The salient point of comparison is the new redefinition of "Administrator", that is, the leader of the country appoints a group of commissioners/experts to deal with a specific issue. Not to 'administer' the government of a free people, but to be 'administrator' of the people specifically via a centrally planned society. This is right out of the pages of Dru and it's exactly what FDR did. Wilson too. And while we're at it, Obama does this as well.
Philip Dru Administrator was my first audiobook creation, and was partially chosen because it's poorly written. Now, I want to warn anybody who plans on listening to this, that it's extremely amateur. I've gotten considerably better at recording since then, but it is what it is. Just know that that's what you're getting.
For the text of the book, you can get it from Gutenberg or Google Books.
FDR wasn't much of a reader. But he and his administration were influenced by a whole wave of socialist thought and sentiment going back to Edward Bellamy. If you read and agreed with House, you probably read and agreed with a lot of similar writers, like Herbert Croly and H.G. Wells. It would be hard to separate out one book and attribute the lion's share of influence to it.
This is interesting, though:
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., has pointed out that Roosevelt was familiar with the book and that his secretary had requested a copy for him. Noted in The Crisis of the Old Order, 493-94. Source
Good stuff, please add me to the list.
How About This One?
FDR Our Communist President
The Swedish wikipedia page also has some interesting things on it that are not present on the english version.
Mainly, the reference to Herbert Tingsten's book När Churchill grep makten och andra essayer, which according to Google Translate means "When Churchill took power and other essayer" (I would think - When Churchill took power and other essays)
Roosevelt: this book is my "politiska bibel" - Political Bible. It's in there. Page 244.