The Roosevelt Coup D´etat of 1933-40

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Of the St. Louis Bar
Originally printed in 1940


The Fruition of the Program for Governmental Responsibility for the Family

In 1934, at the dawn of the lush years for the Children’s Bureau and for professional social workers, incident to the readjustment of our "social arrangements," Miss Grace Abbott resigned as Chief of the bureau and went to the faculty of Northwestern University as professor of public welfare. She was succeeded by Miss Katharine Lenroot, who had been Deputy Industrial Commissioner of Wisconsin in 1913, before coming to Washington with her father, the late U.S. Senator Lenroot, the colleague of the elder La Follette. She obtained a position in the Children’s Bureau in 1915 as special agent at $1200 a year, at the time of the "social and economic" investigations in the homes of the poor, to prove the necessity for the now realized "nationalization of financial responsibility" toward low-income groups. Her salary as the Chief of the bureau today (1940) is $8000. Thought the bureau began with only 15 social workers and clerks, its personnel today number more than 200. The new millions for its services are permitting constant growth. A recent leaflet sets out that the bureau now maintains the following divisions: research on child development, industrial, social service, delinquency, statistical research, editorial, correspondence, maternal and child health, crippled children, public health nursing, and child welfare. The leaflet also says the bureau has sponsored the celebration nationally of May Day as Child Health Day.

During the relatively lean years for the bureau, from 1929 to 1936, it had been persistent in extending its contacts, calling conferences, forming committees, largely among office-holders in the States who are benefiting by federal grants, carrying on effective publicity, and otherwise seeking to entrench itself against any future bills in Congress to abolish it.

One of the best advertised of the many conferences the bureau calls is the White House Conference on Child Health, or on some other aspect of this most appealing subject. The conference President Hoover was induced to call in 1930, adopted a Children’s Charter. As Miss Lenroot tells us in a paper issued in 1939 entitled "The Nation’s Responsibility Toward its Children," the Children’s Charter sets out nineteen standard aims, one of which is –

"For every child the right to grow up in a family with an adequate standard of living and the security of a stable income as the surest safeguard against social handicap."

Apparently, it is intended that this is a "right" which every child may demand of its government, as is also being contended for by certain alien groups whose "demands" have been mentioned. Miss Lenroot’s paper also deals with a letter sent to all State Governors in February, 1939, by Secretary of Labor Perkins, inviting them to the first "White House Conference on Children in a Democracy," which was held in the White House April 29, of that year under President Roosevelt’s sponsorship.

The persistent use of the term "democracy" by President Roosevelt and others in his administration to characterize our government has, no doubt, been puzzling to many persons. It is historically incorrect and a departure from the common practice of all preceding administrations, in which public men characterized our system as a "Republic." But, that, of course was before the coup d’etat, that made us a Social Democracy.

The fourth article of the federal Constitution guarantees to every State in the Union, not a democratic, but a "republican" form of government. Technically, a democracy is a system of government in which the people exercise the supreme power directly, without restraint and without appeal, a rule by the majority; and it permits the exercise of unlimited power by the majority to oppress or wholly to liquidate any dissenting minority. That is why the framers of our free system introduced, not only the representative principle to prevent direct action by the people, but also written constitutional limitations upon the powers of the government itself to protect the equal rights of minorities, which constitute the essential features of a republic. It is also the reason that they divided the federal government into three co-equal, co-ordinate branches – the executive, the legislative and the judicial – as distinct and separate, as checks upon one another in the exercise of their respective limited powers.

A pure democracy is also distinguished by legal and political equality of its members, with no privileged or favored classes. And in order to develop into a safe working system, as William Graham Sumner told his Yale students over fifty years ago, it must oppose the same cold resistance to claims to favor on the grounds of poverty as on the grounds of rank and birth. For a man who can command another man’s labor and self-denial for the support of his existence is a privileged person on the highest species conceivable on earth. Princes and paupers meet on this plane, and no other men are on it at all.

A free man in a free democracy is necessarily an independent man. He cannot be both independent and dependent upon others at the same time. The central idea of freedom is that each man is protected in the full use of his powers and faculties for his own welfare exclusively, and he has the freedom of choice as to how and to what extent he will apply the products of those exertions. As he possesses rights he also is charged with reciprocal duties, requiring the contribution of his full share toward the public interests and common necessities. The status of a free man involves the practice of the rare virtues of self-control and self-reliance, the foundations of self-respect.

It is difficult to conceive of a successful democracy containing millions of mothers and children, youths, the unemployed the aged and farmers, all enjoying public pensions, which the rest of the people must pay. And this is particularly so in a society having universal male and female suffrage, where the perpetuation and expansion of the pension system is a matter of deep personal interest to the beneficiaries. It must result, sooner or later, in an authoritarian government capable of curbing excessive popular demands. This is the phase "Social Democracy" has reached in Germany.

There was a time in England when aristocrats, who held the political power, received pensions, and, being thus corrupted were made useful to government. The expectation of repayment for such favors has always been entertained and usually fulfilled. In fact, certain high government officials have not hesitated to tell our pensioned classes not "to bite the hand that feeds them."

The Communist International meeting in Moscow, in 1935, described Soviet Russia as "one of the great democracies," of which the others were Great Britain, France and the United States. And various Communist fronts have been organized in the United States ostensibly to promote "Peace and Democracy," and "Industrial Democracy," and to aid the Spanish Democracy. All this has given the term "Democracy" an added sinister meaning.

In connection with the "White House Conference on Children in a Democracy" of 1939, the Children’s Bureau issued a large number of newspaper releases, indicating an intense interest in further pensions for children and family pensions. With no apparent realization of the moral and political mischief involved, there was even an air of boastfulness in one release which cited as evidence of social progress the fact that our pension rolls are rapidly increasing, and that, in ten years they had risen from one son in a hundred, or 1,300,000, to one person in six or 22,000,000, under the new order of things." This proportion, one out of six, was the ratio of tax-exempted and pensioned aristocrats in France to the total population, reported by Jefferson, our Minister, before the Revolution. Thus, in a release, entitled "Economic Aid to Families," prepared by the Conference:

"It is estimated that, by building on present foundations of work, relief, aid to dependent children, special assistance programs, and general relief, a system that will assure suitable provision for all children in this country who families need economic aid will be possible by 1950….

"Where 1 in 100 of our total population were aided by public funds in 1929, 1 in 6 were receiving such aid in March, 1939…. Society not only must support dependents, but must support them in such a way as to hasten the transfer of as many as possible to the ranks of the self-supporting.

"Where 51 States and Territories have set up old-age assistance programs, only 42 have aid for dependent children. The aged aided in August, 1939, numbered 1,872,000; the children but 751,000…. The number of children affected by these programs was estimated as follows: in families living on W.P.A. wages, 3,000,000; in families on general relief, 2,000,000; receiving aid to dependent children grants, 751,000; receiving Farm Security subsistence grants, 150,000; receiving from private agencies, ‘a few;’ receiving no assistance, ‘many.’"

In an address delivered by Miss Lenroot on May 24, 1939, before the Washington branch of the American Association of University Women, she said:

"The amounts of money allotted for children are niggardly compared to the amounts allotted in the act for the aid of the aged. The federal government contributes 60 percent of the cost of aid to the needy aged and one-third of the cost of aid to needy dependent children, a maximum amount of $30 per individual a month for an aged person, and $30 for a family of mother and two children in the case of aid to needy dependent children. Moreover, we see that the maximum age limit specified in the Social Security Act for dependent children is too low for the general trend in this country. Under the act aid must cease at the age of 16 if the federal reimbursement is to be made…. It is necessary, if a person continues in school and is not employed between the ages of 16 and 18, that the benefit from the program continue….

"We know that one-half the families in this country have an annual income of less than $1260 a year. We know that 60 percent of the babies that will come into the world in this country in 1939 will come into homes where the income if $1000 or less…. We come to the conclusion that the burden of rearing and maintaining children must be distributed on a basis of greater justice than at the present time…."

Then Miss Lenroot turned to the subject of education, which has for long interested the bureau, saying:

"The report of the President’s Advisory Committee on Education, made public a year ago, states that… 810,000 children between the ages of 7 and 13, most of them living in the poorest rural areas, were not going to school at all…. The Advisory Committee concluded that federal aid for education was essential… Raising the age of entrance into industry through economic changes and governmental action makes the acceptance of this responsibility all the more imperative. Human beings can stand an amazing amount of pain, sorrow, frustration and disappointment, but they must have some fundamental securities and satisfactions if the body is to be kept healthy and the mind same. Democratic philosophy will give way, in time, to other philosophies if means for maintaining standards of living furnish too meager a basis for individual satisfaction or personality growth."

In another undated release, entitled "Health and Medical Care for Children," referring to a report worked out for the "White House Conference on Children in a Democracy," which met in Washington, January 18 to 20, 1940, it is stated:

"Of the 43 million children in this country, about 16 million are in families with income of less than $800 a pear or on relief, an economic condition which precludes adequate medical care. In most States there is no adequate provision for medical care of the 750,000 dependent children receiving aid under the Social Security of Mothers’ Aid Program….

"Care by a public health nurse should be made available for every infant born at home when a private duty nurse is not available, and for all newborn infants discharged from hospitals….

"Facilities and services must be provided."

In the field of public health in the States the bureau has been at work for some time on the most ambitious program for matching federal money thus far devised. It had its origin in the appointment by President Roosevelt of the so-called Technical Committee on Medical Care, which reported to him on February 14, 1938. The Committee, all public office-holders, found urgent need for "federal aid" and recommended a program for hospital construction, general medical and surgical care, maternal and child health services, and services to crippled children, involving an expenditure which, in three years, would reach an annual cost to the States and the federal government of $850,000,000. The Chairman of the Technical Committee was Martha M. Eliot, of the Children’s Bureau.

The recommendation eventuated in a bill introduced in the Senate on February 28, 1939, by Senator Wagner of New York, "to promote the general welfare," with three categories of appropriations. The first, for maternal and child health services, to be administered by the Chief of the Children’s Bureau, provided for $8,000,000 in 1944; $20,000,000 in 1941 and $35,000,000 annually thereafter, "to enable, especially in rural areas and in areas suffering from severe economic distress," the giving of medical care "and other services" in promoting the health of mothers and children.

For medical care and for services to crippled children, in the same rural and distressed areas, the Wagner bill provided for appropriations of $13,000,000 in 1940; $25,000,000 in 1941 and $35,000,000 annually thereafter. The additional sum of $2,500,000 was to be appropriated for administration expense.

These sums, reaching $70,000,000 annually in 1942, were to be allocated to the States by the Chief of the Children’s Bureau, under rules and regulations prescribed by her, on any basis she determined, taking into account "the financial resources" of the particular State. A rich State might be required to match on a fifty-fifty basis. A poor State on a basis of 1/3 to 2/3 or less; and, if the State agency spending the federal money failed to satisfy the Chief of the Bureau that it was applying the funds in accordance with her regulations, the Chief of the Bureau could discontinue supplying the money.

In the Wagner bill also was a provision for the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, in the Treasury Department, to allocate money to the States for construction of hospitals, hospitalization of the needy, medical care generally and the training of nurses, necessitating appropriations of $61,000,000 in 1940; $113,500,000 in 1941 and $199,000,000 annually thereafter, with the same powers of control proposed for the Chief of the Children’s Bureau in respect of her appropriations.

In addition, the Wagner bill provided for a matching system in introducing public disability pensions, with a starting appropriation of $10,000,000, which the Social Security Board might allot to the States, with powers comparable to those of the Chief of the Children’s Bureau and the Surgeon General, over their respective funds.

If a prize were offered for the best record in growth of power and patronage on the part of any governmental bureau, in any country, at any time since history was first recorded, it would, of course, go to the little "agricultural section," created in 1839, "to gather agricultural statistics" and placed in the Patent Office, with an appropriation of $1000. In 1889 it became the Department of Agriculture. In 1939 the appropriations under its control had risen to more than $2,300,000,000, while it provides public jobs for approximately 60,000 partisans. Yet the subjoined tabulation from the Treasury Department records, shows a much more rapid progress in the first 28 years on the part of the Children’s Bureau, with a comparable prospect for the reasonably near future, if the wealth of the country is sufficient to support its plans.


Fiscal Year Salaries & Expenses Total


$21,936.45 $21,936.45


25,640.40 25,640.40


161,265.00 161,265.00


164,640.00, 164,640.00,


214,640.00 214,640.00


273,760.00 373,760.00


268,261.00 393,261.00


280,085.22 280,085.22


268,240.00 268,640.00


242,394.85 717,825.00


343,526.75 1,068,435.59


460,048.48 1,207,625.55


358,271.31 1,287,387.61


351,628.76 1,297,714.96


339,932.91 1,241,757.62


335,479.59 1,295,236.10


392,612.00 1,193,145.00


318,072.00 318,072.00


350,848.00 350,848.00


381,172.00 381,172.00


333,462.00 333,462.00


324,765.00 324,765.00


344,563.00 344,563.00


504,623.00 2,717,511.00


681,069.00 6,648,711.00


755,539.00 8,524,330.00


879,989.00 8,912,500.00


1,242,295.64 10,663,780.00

1940 (estimated)

. 12,297,047.00

The ultimate program that the Children’s Bureau has mapped out for itself, when it becomes a great Department of Social Welfare, has never been fully disclosed, but it is sufficiently adumbrated in what has been recounted to permit of approximation.

1. There is the purpose to extend maternal and child welfare care to all who supposedly cannot afford it. It is claimed that 16,000,000 children are in families having an annual income of less than $800 a year. Figuring 3.9 children to the family gives us something over 3,000,000 families needing such care, requiring the services of thousands of public physicians. And, in view of our "nationalization of financial responsibility" for them, their incomes should be raised to $2000 a year at least, through pensions. Multiplying the added $1200 a year to be given to each family by 3,000,000 families, we have an annual family pension bill of $3,600,000,000.

2. If we are to have one public health nurse to each 2000 of population, as the bureau has contended, it must have 65,000 of them in the field, at not less than $1800 a year, which adds $117,000,000.

3. If the bureau is to have power, under the "Child Labor" Amendment, over the economic educational and recreational activities of the 43,000,000 young persons in the United States under 18 years of age, there must first be a special national censes to obtain accurate data as to age, health, schooling, family income, fitness of families to rear them, and as to other subjects. There must be an adequate number of public physicians, oculists and dentists for those in need of such services, all at a cost that cannot be guessed.

4. If all young persons under 18 are forbidden to work and are compelled to remain in school, this will cut the family budget and require more public support. Meantime, there must be an adequate number of federal truant officers to compel school attendance and a sufficient force of federal inspectors to see that employers do not permit "bootleg work." Also there must be physical directors for recreation centers in every community to supervise their play.

5. Finally there must be new hundreds of millions allocated as "federal aid" to education, which must eventuate in placing a million or more teachers on the federal payroll, with all education standardized from Washington.

With such unlimited "services" in view for the Children’s Bureau, it is justified in the boast appearing in the March-April, 1937, 25th anniversary number of its magazine, The Child, that the work of the bureau "in all phases of child life has just begun." The Chief of the Children’s Bureau is indeed becoming the "official mother" of the nation, as an article in the New York Times described Miss Abbott on November 9, 1930.

That the socialistic control of the economic life of the country has been paralleled by the most extensive and impoverishing measures to effectuate "social" control, may be read in the figures of the federal budget. While the great expenditures are not accomplishing any ideal redistribution of wealth, they are rapidly causing the dissipation of wealth, rendering the industrial system less and less able to give private employment, and making unemployment chronic among large numbers.

Thus, from 1935 to 1940, inclusive, there has been expended for "social" purposes $32,912,228,640, according to a reasonably careful computation from difficult official statistics, leaving out six or seven billions given to farmers. And they consist of the following items:

W.P.A. $24,179,059,400.00
General Relief4, 966,322,000.00
Old-Age Pensions 1,193,408,000.00
Mothers’ and Children’s Pensions 442,216,000.00
Aids to Youth, C.C.C. 1,706,333,000.00
Student Aid, N.Y.A. 337,880,240.00
Aid to the Blind 87,000,000.00

The expenditures for the same purposes in 1940 were:
W.P.A. $1,809,923,400.00
General Relief 1,125,000,000.00
Old-Age Pensions 225,000,000.00
Mothers’ and Children’s Pensions 45,000,000.00
Aids to Youth, C.C.C. 285,000,000.00
Student Aid, N.Y.A. 95,000,000.00
Aid to the Blind 8,000,000.00
Total $3,592,923,400.00

This list omits "aids to agriculture" of $1,316,841,518, Veterans’ Pensions of $550,379,400 and "unemployment compensation" of $225,000,000, coming from payroll taxes, which will be increased in the 1941 appropriation to $602,800,000.

It is as well to note here that the total taxes collected from 1932 to 1940 by the federal government amounted to $37,477,752,665, the total expenditures, $67,821,309,357, while the appropriations were $80,165,000,000, showing something over $12,000,000,000 authorized but unexpended. Meantime the federal debt rose from $19,487,009,766 in 1932 to approximately $50,000,000,000.

The federal government has no money except such as it is able to extract from the people of the States. Through plundering taxation and borrowing, which must be repaid or repudiated, part of what is taken goes back to the States in any unequal or discriminatory manner the federal government may determine. A large part goes for salaries for newly-created federal offices, filled with new federal agents and officials to the number of nearly 500,000 within the last seven years, making a total of 978,538 on the federal payroll, as of December 1939, drawing salaries alone amounting to $1,827,678,708 annually. This is now about twice the number of federal job-holders President Roosevelt found on taking office in 1932, and more than twice the sum paid in salaries. And of this almost one million federal officials in the executive departments, who are daily wielding all of the new powers of government in regulating our lives, only a single one of them, the President, has been elected by and is accountable to the people. All of the others are unelected, irresponsible and irremovable, insofar as the people are concerned.

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“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
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FEDERAL. Of or pertaining to, or founded upon and organized by a compact or act of union between separate sovereign states, aa (1) by a league for common interest and defense as regards external relations, the internal sovereignty of each member remaining unimpaired, as the Hanseatic League or the German Confederation; or (2) by a permanent act of union founded on the consent of the people duly expressed, constituting a government supreme within the sphere of the powers granted to it by that act of union, as the United States of America. – The constitution of the United States of America is of a very different nature than that of the German Confederation. It is not merely a league of sovereign States for their common defence against external and internal violence, but a supreme federal government or compositive State, acting not only upon the sovereign members of the Union, but directly upon all its citizens in their individual and corporate capacities. Wheaton Elements International Law § 52, p. 78[L. B. & CO. ‘66] – From 1776 to 1789 the United States were a confederation; after 1789 it was a federal nation. A Standard Dictionary of the English Language, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1903.

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