Ref: MAT2_B10

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Part B -10.

B.10 Background: Policy Change from pre war reflected in 1947.

Parallel Lives : Jack and Wanda, Wanda and Jack

[Subtitled: A Davis-Keefe, Canadian-American Experience


B.10       Background: Policy Change from pre war reflected in 1947.............................. 1

1.     Introduction................................................................................................................................................ 1

2.     How things change during the 1920’s and 1930’s...................................................................... 1

3.     End of War - a change regarding realities and possibilities....................................... 3

4.     US Government’s position a few years after WWII.............................................................. 4

Charnow’s explanation of the establishment of UNICEF  5

In the President’s Mexico speech on the “Good Neighbor Policy” 6

Peace Treaties - Senate Consideration 6

President Truman's Speech on “Peace, Freedom and World Trade”              7

Speech on the UN and Collective Security           7

5.     Conclusion:  A change from surreptitious to direct advocacy for intervention            8



1.                    Introduction

Jack Keefe as noted in the interviews was a self proclaimed interventionist even before WW2. He and Wanda Davis Keefe could be expected to have undergone some changes, because of their experiences outside their native countries during this time. However, there was also a great change for most of their fellow citizens of the United States and Canada during the time period covered by the interviews. As background to Jack’s and Wanda’s parallel lives, it is important to realize that the  experience of the Depression, the recovery attempt of the New Deal and World War Two significantly changed the thinking of most North Americans. This change from before the war was reflected in their relationship with government, their willingness to accept more involvement /intervention in the wider world and the expectation that well thought out ongoing public programs could make a difference. What were some of the forces, which caused this change?  How did this influence the USA government's negotiation with other countries towards the end of the Second World War and public declarations or explanations immediately thereafter. To get a sense of the USA Government official position a few years after the WAR [1947], I review a Department of State Bulletin from that time. 


2.         How things change during the 1920’s and 1930’s


Though many people were not doing well even during the “Roaring Twenties”,  the general feeling of the “new Era” was that the least control of the commercial sector was the best approach.  This approach assumed that if successful businessmen were allowed to proceed under their own guidance eventually everyone would benefit. Over time the imbalance of the economic system demonstrated to many that more control was required. Even President Hoover, who had a [not completely deserved] reputation of not caring for people was on record as supporting government intervention when necessary.  “If  the time should ever come that the voluntary agencies of the country together with the local state governments are unable to find resources with which to prevent hunger and suffering in my country, I will ask the aid of every resource of the Federal Government….”.  [B10-N01]


There was concern that a desperate growing minority might choose radical alternatives of state fascism, communism or dictatorship.  During the great depression the average person was becoming progressively more sympathetic with drastic solutions.  “I am neither an anarchist, socialist, or communist –but by God, at times. More importantly this great experimenter knew what many Americans wanted to hear in 1932.  A few years previously they would have rejected significant structural change - but by now they had “seen enough attempts at roof repair and were anxious for some foundation work”. [B10-N02]


 The acceptance of increased government action was not the only change. It seems a subtler realization was becoming part of the common knowledge and it had to do with relationships of all kinds.  Many citizens had come to see how interdependent they were and the need for all to give something to the process. This practical experience of interconnectedness and of common need led some of the American intelligentsia of the thirties to look to various philosophical systems.  Marx’s Writings were considered. However, there were strong reservations about how a system supposedly based on Marxism was being implemented in Russia. Many appreciated the humanistic teachings of Marx because:  a) they supported their own realization that  many problems had been created by an uncontrolled marketplace and b)  they seemed  to uphold the values of  “community, justice and cooperation that many writers of the period favored.”  A number of films during this Period supported cooperative individualism “that recognized individuals could achieve a degree of independence and self respect only by cooperating.” [B10-N03]


Because of the tragic experiences of the depression, [as well as the dust bowl etc.] there was a growing realization that there must be some “subordination of personal ambition and greed to common plans and purposes.”  All this ferment led to a growing feeling by 1937 that there needed to be some redistribution of wealth. “The federal government should follow a policy of taking money from those who have much and giving money to those who have little.” As noted above this was based not on an ideology – just rejection of greed and the excesses of the business community, which led many toward values through which they could “remoralise” the American economy and society. [B10-N04]


One such effort was the increased support for fair labor standards.  When in the mid 1930’s a Fair Labor Act was passed, child labor was outlawed in interstate commerce. This was significant step in legally recognizing the special status of childhood that should not be manipulated for commercial gain. [B10-N05]


3.         End of War - a change regarding realities and possibilities

Toward the end of the war there was a sense of idealism and a public expressed belief in practical approaches to peace and justice.  As mentioned above going into the war there were a number of forces at work that had changed the general sense of isolation and limited self concern which permeated a major segment of decision makers and the general public in the USA during the 1920’s and 30’s.  Many people had a shared experience of the depression and now had had certain experiences reinforced by the war years. What had previously been isolated experiences were now made more understandable for greater numbers of people due to increased communication, newsreels and radio.    At first individuals believed these forces [economic depression and war] were beyond control.   The American belief in individual initiative and freedom was consistently supported. However it became clearer to a majority that checks were required to prevent avoidable hardships for the vulnerable. 


There was increased governmental control in support of the war effort [rationing, wage and price controls].  But there was also further legitimizing of the right of people to join together for common good. [Labor unions; volunteer organizations in support of war or alternative service and relief efforts.]  The activities during the war broadened the cosmopolitan experience of:

-                      the armed service people [most notably if they’d been stationed overseas and exposed to different cultures] and

-                      Others who had moved or changed their work in support of the war effort. 


Some of the public now understood the devastation of war more graphically via news clips etc. and personally via the stories and letters of loved ones [who did or did not return]. They understood better that war should be avoided if possible.


The New Deal and Programs during the war to stimulate production were not a total success. However, it was generally accepted that many people had been assisted and production increased.  More of the public came to believe that a minimum level of security for everyone was fair and just and governmental intervention was necessary to guarantee this goal. The rule of law in the USA had been upheld through out the depression and new deal.  It seemed sensible that the experience of the American people could be applied to the other parts of the World, which seemed in desperate in need of a better alternative.


4.         US Government’s position a few years after WWII


What was the position of the US Government after the war?   Did the promises, plans and early idealistic statements of “Dr. New Deal” and internationalism of  “Dr.Win the War” still have attraction with a new president’s administration in the late 1940’s after the war?


I wanted to review some official USA pronouncements and choose a Department of State Bulletin [DSB] from 15 years after the new deal election of 1932 [1947, the year I was born]. I was initially drawn to the 1947 DSB issue because it contained an account by John Charnow of the establishment of the International Children’s Fund during the previous year.  The DSB issue also included [B10-N06] -            The speech of the USA President in Mexico where he outlined his “Good Neighbor Policy” subtitled An Application of Democracy to International Affairs;

-           A section on Senate consideration for the Peace Treaties with Italy, Bulgaria Rumania and Hungary including the two statements from the former and new Secretary of State.

 -          The USA President’s speech on “Peace, Freedom and World Trade” at Baylor University in WACO Tex; and

-           A speech on the United Nations and “the Goal of Collective Security” by USA Representative to the UN, Warren R. Austin, to The Overseas Press club in NY.


All of the articles stressed the benefits of intervention and involvement in the issues of the world. There is awareness that America’s role has changed.  From student exchange programs, signing of treaties or visits to other nations the theme of cooperation and active understanding were repeated. It is obvious that those who had undergone the experience of the Depression and the War both did not want to forget their experience or repeat it. In 1947 the survivors were determined internationalists:


Charnow’s explanation of the establishment of UNICEF

 Jack Charnow praises theflexibility of the charter in allowing for development of new organizational forms to meet the emerging needs in the social field” and notes the practical help to be provided in promoting solutions of international social problems.  He also points out that UNICEF constitutes the first instance of the creation of a grant-in-aid program for material assistance and an organizational form in the social field.  There appears to be a parallel in design between US State relationship to US Federal Programs and UN International Programs relationship to National Programs.  Within each country the responsibility rests with appropriate [National] governmental authorities, voluntary agencies and individual citizens..The purpose [of the International e.g. UNICEF is] …providing sufficient supplementary assistance, where needed, to make national programs of child welfare a reality.  


The Economic and Social Council resolution originally limited the scope of the Fund to children and adolescents of countries, which were victims of aggression. However, as a result of United States initiative in the [UN GA] Third committee, the scope of the Fund was broadened to include children of countries receiving UNRRA aid and children in all countries. The Executive Director of the Fund, Maurice Pate,  an American businessman, was wartime director of the Prisoners of War Relief Section of the American Red Cross and accompanied Herbert Hoover on his missions to Europe after both World Wars.  It was established that governments would assure equitable and efficient distribution of assistance to children on the basis of need, without discrimination because of race, creed, nationality status or political belief. It is conceivable that some of the drafters were mindful that the USA early New Deal programs did not have such stipulations or safeguards.  The founders also noted  that plans and projects [of the Fund] would be mere empty gestures , “unless the Fund is provided with the resources it will need for its operations.” [B10-N07]


In the President’s Mexico speech on the “Good Neighbor Policy”

President Truman noted the difficulty of  achieving permanent peace and security but that  peace was a common objective to people everywhere. While addressing non-intervention, he noted that this did not mean indifference to what goes on beyond our own borders since events in one country have a profound effect in other countries. “The community of nations feels concern at the violation of accepted principles of national behavior by any one of its members. The lawlessness of one nation may threaten the very existence of the law on which all nations depend.” [B10-N08]


Peace Treaties - Senate Consideration

On the occasion of Senate consideration Peace Treaties the former and new USA Secretary of State worked together to assure passage. They point out that after a war  allies can become to an exaggerated degree conscious of differences, which were submerged during the common struggle for survival. Common sacrifices are as necessary to achieve peace as they are to achieve military victory. To support the case for international cooperation and building an enduring peace they note that this particular treaty was adopted by a two-thirds vote of nations, which actively participated in the European war.  They also note the importance of  the conclusion of a definitive peace so ex-enemy states resume their sovereign rights and thereby accept full responsibility for their own acts in the future, another important step toward the restoration of stable conditions.  The ex-enemy states can be admitted to the United Nations after subscribing  to the principles of the charter and have  the right to take an equal part in resolving problems or pose a revision of some onerous clauses. The Secretary of State is proud to point out that upon American insistence guarantees were inserted to insure the full exercise of fundamental liberties and human rights to any people transferred to alien sovereignty. The  American Delegation strongly urged  that victors should avoid ex-enemy states being placed in economic chaos. [B10-N09]


President Truman's Speech on “Peace, Freedom and World Trade”

During the USA President’s speech on “Peace, Freedom and World Trade” at Baylor University in WACO Tex; he points out that in order to live at peace , we must join other nations to organize the world for peace since science and invention have left us no alternative.  A very impressive expose of the economic causes of the war follow.  He notes that nobody won the last economic war of the thirties. The result became more apparent from the tariff policy of  Hawley-Smoot, the system of imperial preferences, and elaborate and detailed restrictions adopted by Nazi Germany. Nations strangled normal trade around the world. “Who among their peoples were the gainers? Not the depositors who lost their savings in the failures of banks. Not the farmers who lost their farms. Not the millions who walked the streets looking for work. I do not mean to say that economic conflict was the sole cause for the depression. But I do say that it was major cause.” [B10-N10]  To add depth beyond economic concerns he mentions that freedom of worship and freedom of speech have been most frequently enjoyed in those societies that have a considerable measure of freedom for individual enterprise and where power has been dispersed and not too centralized. Devotion to freedom of enterprise in the United States, he points out have deeper roots than a desire to protect the profits of  ownership. However he takes a gradual approach in assuring the listeners that the Government does not intend to eliminate tariffs or establish free trade but to reduce tariffs, remove discrimination, and have freer trade.


Speech on the UN and Collective Security

 In the speech on the United Nations and The Goal of Collective Securityby Warren R. Austin [US Representative to the Untied Nations] he explains that we must seek understanding with our allies and avoid hysteria and recrimination. Also we should seek by our policies to remove fear in others and replace it by confidence. The problem of building collective security has two inseparable parts:  first to take every measure to remove the fundamental causes of war and to establish conditions of mutual understanding and confidence and economic well-being; while also simultaneously maintaining a suitable military posture to support collective action under the UN Charter. [B10-N11]


5.         Conclusion:  A change from surreptitious to direct advocacy for intervention

The Depression and WWII caused a significant change in the American awareness. Before World War Two the President and his advisors had to devise ways to surreptitiously commit American Forces to support intervention. After the War there was a public understanding of the need to remain engaged. The institutions created after the war to assist the International community were impacted by this American experience of the Depression and both World Wars. The US Government representatives after the War made a significant contribution to building for world recovery and global security. They were direct in expressing to the USA electorate and well as other countries their intention to remain involved in the affairs beyond America's boarders.


End Notes 

End Note [EN] Part-Sect-Note


Source & Link to Bibliography in Part G

Abbreviated reference to Source



McElvaine Robert S.. 

The Great Depression: America 1929 to 1941


Pp 051


McElvaine Robert S.. 

The Great Depression: America 1929 to 1941


Pp 081, 117


McElvaine Robert S.. 

The Great Depression: America 1929 to 1941


Pp 221


McElvaine Robert S.. 

The Great Depression: America 1929 to 1941


Pp 205, 210, 223


McElvaine Robert S.. 

The Great Depression: America 1929 to 1941


Pp 304


Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government

The Department of State Bulletin, Vol XVI, No 402 Publication 2779





Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government

The Department of State Bulletin, Vol XVI, No 402 Publication 2779



Pp 492


Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government

The Department of State Bulletin, Vol XVI, No 402 Publication 2779



Pp 490


Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government

The Department of State Bulletin, Vol XVI, No 402 Publication 2779



Pp 489


Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government

The Department of State Bulletin, Vol XVI, No 402 Publication 2779



Pp 481


Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government

The Department of State Bulletin, Vol XVI, No 402 Publication 2779



Pp 475