The Long War on Welfare: Anti-Welfare Activism in Depression-era America
Fearful of the enormous gains that working and unemployed people had made over the previous decade, in the late-1930s employers sought ways of reasserting their power over low-wage labor. This article shows that one way they did so was by attacking the state and local general relief programs which served as the safety net of casual, domestic, and agricultural workers. Enlisting resentful property taxpayers in these attacks, by the late 1930s these campaigns had succeeded in devolving and defunding relief programs around the country. These organized attacks on relief not only weakened the safety net that vulnerable working people depended on, but they also established the templates which fueled the emerging war on welfare of the postwar years.
About the Labor History Seminar
The Newberry Labor History Seminar provides a forum for works in progress that explore the history of working class people, communities, and culture; class and state policy; unions and popular political movements; and other related topics. Co-coordinators are Peter Cole (Western Illinois University), Colleen Doody (DePaul University), Liesl Orenic (Dominican University), and Elizabeth Tandy Shermer (Loyola University Chicago).