• THE CONSTITUTION IN CRISIS: THE ROLE OF THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE IN THE DEMISE OF JEFFERSONIAN CONSTITUTIONALISM

    Author(s):
    Johnny Saldana (see profile)
    Date:
    2017
    Subject(s):
    American history, Constitutional history, Constitutional law, Political science, Political theory
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    American Liberty League, Constitution, Great Depression, new deal
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6Z85G
    Abstract:
    The narrative of the American Liberty League embodies the last stand for traditional Jeffersonian Constitutionalism, marking an inflection point whereafter the tide of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal would forever change America’s understanding of the constitution. In 1816, Thomas Jefferson writing to Samuel Kercheval famously said “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property in their management.” No philosophy could better encapsulate pre-progressive American thought than this one. However, with widespread social change altering the fabric of American identity, people started to view their contract with government cast under the light of effective freedom and social responsibility. The culmination of this shift in thought was the ratification of the New Deal which undermined strict constitutionalism in order to form the proto-welfare state that would see America through the Great Depression. As with every major action in policy, an equal and opposite reaction quickly took place among conservative America. At the forefront of this reactionary movement was the American Liberty League. Its founding members, were united in their faith in American individualism and thus vehemently opposed to the changes propelled by the New Deal. The League drew its members largely from those who had thrived in the laissez-faire world of past days, and consequently was painted as a coalition of wealthy, corrupt businessman who were determined to protect their fortunes by perverting the constitution. The League’s true motivations were far more complicated than contemporary critics were led to believe. By investigating the history of the American Liberty League’s operations, we are offered a window into not only the most infamous New Deal reactionary movement, but a glimpse at the shifting interpretation of constitutionalism in American politics.
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    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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