The Conservative Manifesto (officially titled "An Address to the People of the United States") was a position statement drafted in 1937 by a bipartisan coalition of conservative politicians in the United States. Those involved in its creation included longtime opponents of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as well as former supporters who had come to believe its programs were proving ineffective.
The Conservative Manifesto is an economic plan that was based on a set of beliefs that were relatively universal to conservatives on both the Democrat and Republican sides of the aisle of in 1937 and heavily influenced the conservative platform going forward from this point. It was first expressed by a number of conservative Republicans and Democrats who were concerned with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal plan for solving the Great Depression believing it was steering the country towards collectivism. However, most have reportedly denied involvement and so the responsibility was taken up by Josiah Bailey, a congressman from North Carolina. The document was leaked to the public by the New York Times, in this case two reporters named Joseph Alsop and Robert Kitner  During its initial leak by the New York Times it was seen as anti-New Deal, and there is some level of truth to this. Its original intent was to convince Roosevelt that there needed to be some level of balance between enterprise and government and that there was some bipartisan opposition to Roosevelt's New Deal as it was being implemented up until this point. Ultimately the Manifesto was delivered to the people of the United States through a document called "An address to the People of the United States" on December 19, 1937.
- Immediate revision of taxes on capital gains and undistributed profits in order to free investment funds.
- Reduced expenditures to achieve a balanced budget, and thus, to still fears deterring business expansion.
- An end to coercion and violence in relations between capital and labor.
- Opposition to "unnecessary" government competition with private enterprise.
- Recognition that private investment and enterprise require a reasonable profit.
- Safeguarding the collateral upon which credit rests.
- Reduction of taxes, or if this proved impossible at the moment, firm assurance of no further increases.
- Maintenance of state rights, home rule, and local self-government, except where proved definitely inadequate.
- Economical and non-political relief to unemployed with maximum local responsibility.
- Reliance upon the American form of government and the American system of enterprise.
Josiah Bailey was the leader of the conservatives that drafted the Conservative Manifesto. He was a Senator from North Carolina from 1931 to his death in 1946 and served on the committee of commerce and the committee of claims. He was a member of the North Carolina Constitutional Commission, United States Collector of Internal Revenue for North Carolina. He was an editor with the Biblical Recorder, and was a practitioner of law that was admitted to the bar in 1908. He was the only name to actually be applied to the conservative manifesto as he was the only one to not deny his involvement and openly state his support before his official address.
The New Deal
The New Deal was an economic plan put forth by Franklin Roosevelt that was notable in the speed by which it reacted to problems but heavily criticized by opponents the method by which it went about solving those problems which could be seen as hasty. The New Deal:
- Closed many of the weaker banks in the country and halted the export of gold from the U.S.
- Created the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in 1933 in order to manipulate prices by buying and holding food, as well as providing subsidies for low production among farmers.
- Created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 to created a hydroelectric project on the Tennessee River.
- Created the National Recovery Administration in order to regulate competition amongst businesses (declared unconstitutional in 1935).
- Created the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in order to create state and local jobs.
- Created the Civilian Conservation Corps to put people to work on natural resource projects.
- Passed the Wagner Act allowing workers to collectively bargain A.K.A. form unions.
- Passed the Social Security Act in order to provide welfare for minors, the disabled, and the elderly.
- Passed the Housing Act to give funds for low income housing.
- Passed the Fair Labor Standards in order to institute the standard work week and the national minimum wage.
There were also many other pieces of legislature passed beyond these but these are the major laws passed and organizations created.
Events leading up to the Conservative Manifesto
Josiah Bailey was an influential member of the Southern Democratic Conservative Party and had been a member of the senate for North Carolina since 1931. He wished answer the growing needs of the public while adhering to the traditional values of individualism, hard work, self-help, balanced budgets, strong local governments and administrative efficiency. Bailey respected Roosevelt as a leader and recognized that while Roosevelt intended to be moderate in order to attempt to not fracture the nation but believed that the struggles of the Great Depression was causing him to abandon the conservatives of both parties out of fear of the future of the nation as after a few years of general endorsement of the New Deal among congress had led to little real economic recovery and another recession seemed to be falling into place. He also believed that Roosevelt was experimenting without much thought to economic theory and that he would go too far and cause more harm than good. Josiah Bailey started out this term in congress being a weak objector of FDR. He later claimed that this was simply an act so that he may get reelected and eventually go on the offensive. Bailey actually agreed with the idea behind the new deal: to turn towards enterprise but crack down on unconscionable profits in the extremes seen previously. It wasn't until he saw Roosevelt begin to build a new party around himself that Bailey began to start making his move with the manifesto.
Bailey's Conservative Manifesto created a marked change in how politics worked, particularly in the South. This piece consolidated conservative efforts in order to halt further New Deal legislature. This ultimately led to a downturn of Roosevelt's power in congress as more of his policy were denied as the country entered the "Roosevelt Recession", a downturn of the economy that had been looming for the better part of a year, that Roosevelt thought would blow over relatively quickly. As for the president himself, he was decidedly against the ideas of the conservative manifesto as he attempted to break through the conservative wall against the New Deal policy.
On top of that, there is an opinion amongst those that support FDR's New Deal policy even to this day that this has caused a dramatic slowing of human and civil rights that was started by many of the policies that FDR started. While it does seem that the policies have been pulled back at least a little over the course of the years, perhaps in part due to this manifesto, there is still a large amount of debate today over how much these types of policies that FDR introduced should be implemented and the evolution of this ideology still challenge them to this day.
- http://mangowebdesign.com, Website design and web development by Mango Web Design. "The Conservative Manifesto". North Carolina History Project. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
- Moore, John Robert (February 1965). "Senator Josiah W. Bailey and the "Conservative Manifesto" of 1937". The Journal of Southern History. 31 (1): 21. doi:10.2307/2205008. ISSN 0022-4642.
- Rhodes, Jesse H. (24 July 2013). "The Evolution of Roosevelt's Rhetorical Legacy: Presidential Rhetoric about Rights in Domestic and Foreign Affairs, 1933–2011". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 43 (3): 562–591. doi:10.1111/psq.12046. ISSN 0360-4918.