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  FATHER COUGHLIN, HUEY LONG, & UPTON SINCLAIR; VOICES FOR THE DISAFFECTED IN 1930s AMERICA

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INTRODUCTION

Starving workers

From the letter it's clear that pride in oneself and the 
same pioneering and optimistic spirit that drove many Americans across the vast Western wilderness was alive and well in the 1930s, even amidst the Great Depression. However, no amount of optimism would put food on the American table and men back to work, and for many, neither did the New Deal. While the search for a solution to the depression continued rather wax and wane with the New Dealers in Washington, many of the disaffected men and women found solace, and even comfort and understanding, in the populist voices of the increasingly popular Father Charles Coughlin, Huey “Kingfish” Long, and Upton Sinclair.

We RefuseWhile this trio of popular men with their populist platforms have been studied studied severally, and with Coughlin and Long often appearing linked together as if they were allies, they represent a single phenomena of 1930s Depression-era America: a popular populist voice for the disaffected.  Further, they each had regional answers to poverty and joblessness, as well as criticisms of the New Deal, yet they each yearned of taking these ideas to the national level to solve Depression-era woes. Each felt that both locally and nationally all of the wealth was concentrated with a wealthy few, and that this wealth should be distributed equitably among the masses. Each also formed a political organization to further espouse their ideas on a more national level. Each, despite their noble efforts, were dogged by criticism that their ideas rebelled against traditional democratic values and the role of capitalism in a free society, and critics often applied labels such as Fascist, Communist, and Socialist, to their ideas and to the men themselves. And, finally, each man was squelched in the end. This is the story of the these three men and their voices of populism as voices for the disaffected during the 1930s. Let's begin.

jobless men

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