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Leading up to the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a hypothetical Roosevelt dictatorship was proposed[citation needed] by some[weasel words] supporters of Franklin Roosevelt. Rhetorical support[citation needed] for the idea reached a high point from November 1932 to March 1933[citation needed] during the final months of the Presidency of Herbert Hoover, when Roosevelt was President-elect. The movement[citation needed] dissipated shortly after Roosevelt's inauguration, however, with calls[weasel words] for dictatorship largely coming to an end by the spring of 1933.[citation needed]


The 1932 United States presidential election saw Franklin Roosevelt win election as President of the United States in a lopsided and crushing victory over incumbent Republican president Herbert Hoover.[1] Roosevelt's victory came at the height of the Great Depression and was buoyed by his use of populist appeals.[1][2] Roosevelt's ascendancy occurred during an era in which the creation of totalitarian states in Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and other countries led to its characterization as an age of dictatorship by plebicite.[3] At the time, the fascist government in Italy had gained some respect from certain American commentators and the concept of dictatorship, which was subsequently to acquire many extremely negative connotations, was embraced by some.[4][5]

Media support

During the four months between Roosevelt's November 1932 election and his March 1933 inauguration, several influential voices in American political commentary called for him to assume extraordinary powers upon taking office. In his nationally syndicated newspaper column, Walter Lippmann wrote that "a mild species of dictatorship will help us over the roughest spots in the road ahead" while the New York Herald Tribune opined similar sentiment in an editorial titled "For Dictatorship, If Necessary".[6] The magazine Commonweal, meanwhile, put forth the contention that Roosevelt should assume "the powers of a virtual dictatorship to reorganize the government".[6] Business booster Roger Babson called for limitations to be imposed on the powers of Congress, including the abolition of the United States Senate, while political wit and columnist Will Rogers supported proposals to extend extraordinary powers to Roosevelt by writing that "Mussolini could take our country today and put people back to work at the rate of one million per month".[7] Roosevelt received letters from around the nation imploring him to assume extraordinary powers.[6]

Congressional rejection

The month prior to his March 1933 inauguration House Speaker John Nance Garner introduced legislation into the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow the presidency the unilateral authority to suspend congressional appropriations, abolish government departments, dismiss civil servants at his discretion, and reduce statutory appropriations and contractual payments, with Congress only able to check such measures with a two-thirds supermajority in both houses.[8] Bertrand Snell – leader of the Republican Party in the House – criticized the bill which, he said, would "make an absolute dictator of Roosevelt. It would give him more power than any executive leader in the world except Mussolini".[9] The legislation seemingly did not proceed nor come close to passing the House, with a "wild rebellion" sweeping the floor and "unalterable" Republican opposition.[10] The movement's rebuff proved to be a turning point in efforts to endow Roosevelt with extraordinary extra-Presidential powers, while Senate rejection of his 1937 "court-packing plan" scuttled efforts to use the U.S. Supreme Court to advance his administration's political agenda.

See also


  1. ^ a b "United States presidential election of 1932". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on June 3, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Woodward, Gary C. (1983). "Reagan as Roosevelt: The elasticity of pseudo‐populist appeals". Central States Speech Journal. 34 (1): 44–58. doi:10.1080/10510978309368113.
  3. ^ Cavalli, Luciano (1986). Changing Conceptions of Leadership. Springer. pp. 67–81. ISBN 978-1-4612-9342-2.
  4. ^ Matthews, Dylan (March 3, 2015). "This is how the American system of government will die". Vox. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  5. ^ Alter, Jonathan (July 1, 2006). "Author Reconstructs FDR's 'Defining Moment'". National Public Radio (NPR). Archived from the original on June 22, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "Dictatorship: The Road Not Taken" (PDF). Marist College. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 21, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  7. ^ "Babson States Why He Favors Making Roosevelt Dictator". Coschocton Tribune. February 20, 1933. Archived from the original on June 20, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019 – via
  8. ^ "Leaders Plan 'Dictator' Job for Roosevelt". Philadelphia Inquirer. February 10, 1933. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2019 – via
  9. ^ "Democratic Proposal to Make Roosevelt Dictator, Meets Bitter Opposition". Visalia Times-Delta. United Press International. February 10, 1933. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019 – via Free to read
  10. ^ "Defeat Faces Roosevelt 'Autocracy'". The Daily Times-News. United Press International. February 10, 1933. Retrieved July 14, 2019 – via Free to read