United States Between 1936 and 1939

With a resounding victory in the elections of November 3, 1936, President Roosevelt began his second term in presidential office with the announcement of a vast program of reforms. At a programmatic message of January 6, 1937, numerous others followed during the year inviting Congress to consider the opportunity to reform the federal administrative organization (January 12) and the judiciary (February 5), to adopt measures to solve the agricultural problems of the “great plains”, those of floods and reforestation (February 10 and June 3), to avoid the evasion of income tax (May 28), to increase shipbuilding (June 1), for the reconsideration of the main aspects of national life as a consequence of the new crisis that was foretold (15 November), for the intensification of building constructions (29 November), for the strengthening of the defense (28 January 1938). Around all these reform projects, which involved the constitutional, administrative, economic and social fields at the same time, the political struggle was fought in the United States between Roosevelt’s opponents and supporters in 1937. But especially the reforms of greater political significance, the administrative and judicial ones, raised the fierce opposition of the republicans and the dissident democratic factions against the president. for the strengthening of the defense (January 28, 1938). Around all these reform projects, which involved the constitutional, administrative, economic and social fields at the same time, the political struggle was fought in the United States between Roosevelt’s opponents and supporters in 1937. But especially the reforms of greater political significance, the administrative and judicial ones, raised the fierce opposition of the republicans and the dissident democratic factions against the president. for the strengthening of the defense (January 28, 1938). Around all these reform projects, which involved the constitutional, administrative, economic and social fields at the same time, the political struggle was fought in the United States between Roosevelt’s opponents and supporters in 1937. But especially the reforms of greater political significance, the administrative and judicial ones, raised the fierce opposition of the republicans and the dissident democratic factions against the president.

The essential point of the reform of the judiciary consisted in the attempt to enlarge the panel of judges of the Federal Supreme Court by granting the president the power to appoint an adjunct judge for each judge who was over 70 years of age. Considering that, at the time of the presidential message, as many as 6 of the 9 judges who make up the Supreme Court had exceeded that age limit, it was evident that the president, with the introduction of younger and more favorable judges, could neutralize the opposition of the Court which had wrecked, under the guise of unconstitutionality, 5 of the 7 main provisions of the New Deal.

Roosevelt’s overly manifest intention to turn the obstacle constituted by the Supreme Court’s constitutionality review on his economic and social legislation, aroused the opposition not only of the president’s opponents but also of many of his supporters, unwilling to welcome. the attempt to make an amendment to the federal constitution by cross roads rather than by the legal means provided by the constitution itself. Respect to the constitution, considered as an element of stability and balance in political life, and the desire to avoid a dangerous precedent for the country’s democratic institutions. In fact, during the period of the struggle for the reform of the Court, Roosevelt was not without accusations of dictatorial ambitions. The project, supported and opposed with equal ardor in public opinion, in the press and in Congress, fell, in its original form, during the summer, after various parliamentary events, leaving Roosevelt’s position in Congress somewhat shaken. In the first 17 months of his second term of office, Roosevelt’s popularity did not wane at all, as evidenced by the enthusiastic demonstrations that greeted the president during his trip west in September 1937. But his position in Congress and in front of circles politicians was undoubtedly shaken, as well as by the failure of the Court’s attempt to re-sign.

However, the clamor raised about the need to modernize the Supreme Court was not without consequences. And in the spring of 1937 the Court appeared to show greater goodwill towards government legislation, validating some important measures, one of the essential being the Wagner Labor Relations Act., approved by Congress in the summer of 1935 and relating to the right of workers to the trade union association and to the collective agreement, and to the recognition of the legitimacy and mandatory nature of the agreement stipulated by the trade union grouping the majority of workers. The approval of the Wagner law, which took up, by extending and clarifying it, a similar provision of the defunct NIRA, marked an undoubted success for Roosevelt in the struggle he waged against the selfishness of the productive categories and in favor of the working masses, but above all he inserted into the social struggle a new element destined to considerably influence the relationship between capital and labor. From the end of 1936 to the middle of 1937 there was a period of intense and widespread social unrest in all fields of production and traffic, in which there was no lack of serious episodes of violence on both sides. Particularly important and harmful were the strikes by seafarers of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts that followed one another from November 1936 to February 1937, those of the automobile industry in the winter of 1937 and the very serious sit down strikes that from the end of May to July paralyzed four major metallurgical companies operating in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois, which refused to enter into the collective agreement in writing with the Industrial Organization Committee (CIO) headed by the dynamic organizer John Lewis. This is an important trade union association formed in August 1936 by the split of 10 unions from the American Federation of Labor (AFL) which up to that time had constituted the main center of the labor movement in the United States. Rather than grouping skilled workers into trade or horizontal unions, like the AFL, the IOC established factory or vertical organizations, including unskilled workers as well. and he immediately showed a more aggressive and uncompromising attitude in protecting the workers, who affiliated themselves in rapidly increasing numbers. The contrast between the two powerful trade unions for the claim of both to the stipulation of the collective agreement somewhat complicated the relations between employers and workers, especially after the recognition of the constitutionality of the Wagner law, attributing to the majority union the right to stipulation of the employment contract, had exacerbated the competition of the two leagues in the hoarding of workers. However, the methods and programs of the IOC did not have a favorable impact on public opinion, which revealed communist attitudes; and the evident favor shown by Roossevelt for the IOC, that the had supported in the electoral campaign of 1936, did not prevent the formation of a current of opinion more favorable to William Green, president of the AFL, more moderate and correct than his rival John Lewis. The attempts at rapprochement between the two powerful organizations, which took place in the second half of 1937, did not lead to any concrete results, and indeed the expulsion of the AFL at the beginning of May 1938, of other 6 unions affiliated to the IOC heightened the tension. between the two tendencies of the American labor movement. Faced with the progress of the trade union movement and the government’s favorable tendency, the main industrial companies had to settle for recognizing the trade unions and entering into collective agreements with them, which recorded notable improvements in the treatment of workers. The relations between capital and labor have thus recently entered a new phase that approaches the situation that has existed for some time in Europe. American life in 1937 was therefore polarized, as far as internal issues are concerned, around the great social problems and the movement for constitutional reform. From the last months of 1937 the problem of the regression of business has become increasingly important, that is, more simply of the appearance of a new economic crisis, which poses numerous and serious problems for the defense of the resurgent prosperity of the United States.

In matters of international order, the first quarter of 1937 saw a rekindling around the law of neutrality between the proponents of isolationism and international collaboration, of the rigidity of the legislation of neutrality and of the discretion of the power of the president and in this matter. At the beginning of 1937, the gravity of the Spanish civil war made clear the opportunity to extend to it the prohibition on the export of weapons and war materials contained in the current neutrality law. And indeed, on January 6 the Congress unanimously adhered to the president’s request, proclaiming the embargo on arms destined for the two warring parties in Spain. Since the 1936 Neutrality Act would expire on April 30, 1937, at the reopening of Congress in January, discussions were resumed for the formulation of a permanent law to replace the provisional law of 1935 amended in 1936. Without prejudice to the principle of prohibiting the export of war weapons and ammunition to belligerent states, when the president proclaimed the existence of a state of war, the discussions of 1937 mainly concerned the extension of the embargo to other raw materials and products not directly intended for war use. In previous years, the criterion of limiting neutral free trade had gradually established itself in order to minimize the possibility of friction with the belligerents and the consequent dangers of war. Rejected the system to extend the embargo also to raw materials and manufactured products, cash and carry). If this criterion was adopted by all the tendencies opposing the field in this question, fierce discussions were instead taking place about the time and method of applying the cash and carry clause: because the opponents of the president’s discretionary authority wanted to follow immediately and automatically to the presidential proclamation confirming the state of war and the application of the arms embargo, while the more liberal current of Congress wanted it to be left to the president’s judgment. In fact, this was the thesis that prevailed, but the doubts existing on the validity of the method made the validity of the section of the law containing the cash and carryclause limited to 10 May 1939., while the rest has permanent validity.

In relations with American powers, the policy of the United States in 1937 and in the first months of 1938 continued to be inspired by the “good neighborhood” policy established in 1934, and by the principles of pan-Americanism that had had at the Buenos Aires conference of December 1936. the last grandiose, if not very successful, event. A certain tension with Mexico instead arose following the expropriation carried out in 1938 by the Mexican government of foreign oil properties, among which the American ones represented a value of 200 million dollars. The United States, in retaliation, placed restrictions on the purchase of silver, one of Mexico’s largest productions absorbed about two-thirds by the United States. In relations with European powers, characteristic note in the period we are dealing with was the ostentatious hostility persistently shown by Roosevelt, by the Secretary of State Cordell Hull and finally also by the Minister of War HH Woodring, for the authoritarian regimes, and of course the exaltation of the democratic ones and the solidarity between the countries governed by this political regime. Among the manifestations of this polemical attitude it is enough to recall Roosevelt’s famous speech in Chicago of October 5, 1937. Some incidents for speeches hostile to the ecclesiastical and anti-Semitic politics of Germany occurred with this nation in 1937, but without consequences. In contrast, the polls and preliminary conversations with Britain over a trade treaty, they hinted at the possibility of a fruitful economic collaboration between the two great Anglo-Saxon democracies. In the face of the Sino-Japanese conflict, public opinion took a generally hostile attitude to Japan which was expressed in an active propaganda for the anti-Japanese boycott. In political circles, even in this contingency, the contrast arose between a renunciation current which, to avoid complications, would have abandoned American citizens and interests in China to their fate, and the other current which instead supported the opportunity to promote with other interested states a direct action to arrest Japan. The government, for its part, did not apply the law of neutrality even when the conflict had assumed the proportions of a war in a grand style, he associated himself with the Genevan convictions against Japan, vigorously protested against any Japanese act damaging American interests. But on the whole, despite certain oratorical demonstrations by the president which hinted at some will for positive anti-Japanese action, the government was unwilling to take a position clearly hostile to Japan and resisted the discreet insinuations of common action coming from Great Britain which this time unlike in 1932, she seemed the most determined to do something if she could count on the support of the other powers. Thanks also to the cautious attitude of the United States, the Brussels conference of November 1937 separated without reaching any practical decisions; Panay) were able to be amicably settled with Japan, who assumed full responsibility for the incident.

The new eastern crisis and Japan’s attitude towards naval issues (refusal to accept the maximum caliber of 356 mm for battleship guns, refusal to communicate information on the characteristics of the ships to be built) led the United States to approve at the beginning of 1938 a major naval and air rearmament program. With regard to the bases in the Pacific, a project for the fortification of Midway Island and one of the Aleutians which, due to the Washington Treaty of 1922, had not been able to be fortified previously, was presented to Congress at the same time.

Religion – According to the latest census, there are approximately 44 million people over the age of 14, who belong to one of the 272 registered religious “denominations”. Of these, 104 have fewer than 7,000 members; only three have at least three churches in each of the states of the Union: the Catholic Church has 23,306,800 members; the Methodist 3,707,900. It should be remembered that many Reformed “denominations” differ much more in organization than in theology or rite. There are 2,935,000 Jews, about half of whom live in New York City.

As for the Catholic hierarchy, in 1936 the diocese of San Diego was separated from Los Angeles and created, which, with Monterey-Fresno and Tucson, is a suffragan of Los Angeles, elevated to the status of the subway.

In 1937, the diocese of Marquette (formerly Sault Sainte Marie and Marquette), and that of Lansing, both, together with Grand Rapids, given as suffragans in Detroit, were elevated to the rank of subways. Instead, the Atlanta and Savannah offices were merged.

Finally, on 9 December 1937 the two new provinces of Louisville were established, with suffragans: Covington, Nashville, Owensboro (9 December 1937) and of Newark, with suffragans Camden (9 December 1937), Paterson (9 December 1937), Trenton.

The abbey nullius of St. Mary Help of Christians in Belmont, North Carolina has yet to be added.

United States Between 1936 and 1939