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Alben BarkleyA Life in Politics$
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James K. Libbey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167138

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167138.001.0001

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Senator Barkley from Depression to the Announcement of a New Deal

Senator Barkley from Depression to the Announcement of a New Deal

(p.145) 10 Senator Barkley from Depression to the Announcement of a New Deal
Alben Barkley

James K. Libbey

University Press of Kentucky

In 1930 Barkley attended the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in London and then joined colleagues in visiting the Soviet Union. They were intrigued by the Soviet Five-Year Plan of industrialization in the midst of depression. Barkley returned to the United States furious that President Hoover refused grants to farmers suffering from a terrible drought. He also argued with the administration about the Hawley-Smoot Tariff that pummeled US foreign trade and ended German reparations and hence European payments on war loans. A terrible car accident temporarily removed him from political activity in 1931. He criticized the 1932 Reconstruction Finance Corporation because it funded businesses with no direct help to the thirteen million with no wages. Meanwhile, Hoovervilles--where unemployed lived in shacks--spread across the United States including a large one in Washington, DC. Forceful elimination of the Bonus Army and the capital’s Hooverville reduced Hoover’s chance to gain reelection in 1932. Barkley served as keynote speaker and temporary chairman of the Democratic national convention that selected Franklin D. Roosevelt as the party’s presidential nominee. FDR promised a “new deal for the American people.”

Keywords:   Barkley and family, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Soviet Five-Year Plan, Herbert C. Hoover, Hawley-Smoot Tariff, car accident, Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Hoovervilles, Bonus Army, Franklin D. Roosevelt

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