Under FDR, WPA Workers Were Coerced to Support Democrats

(p. 87) According to Lyle Dorsett, who has studied the Hague machine in detail, “Concrete evidence shows that from the outset of the New Deal, Frank Hague was in complete control of all patronage in the state.” And Roosevelt poured patronage into New Jersey in the form of massive public works (Hague owned a construction company), which included almost 100,000 WPA jobs annually during the 1930s and the highest rate of pay in the nation for these skilled jobs. One minor drawback to the high pay was that WPA workers in New Jersey had to “tithe” 3 percent of their salaries to the Democrat Party at election time. One WPA director in New Jersey–a corrupt but candid man–answered his office phone, “Democratic headquarters!”

Hopkins received mail regularly from people all over the nation who were denied federal jobs, or fired from them, because of their (p. 88) political views. Many of these letters are available in files for each state and housed in the National Archives. The title of these files is “WPA–Political Coercion.” The hefty New Jersey file is very illuminating. One WPA worker complained about a mass-mailed postcard he received that stated, “You are either on the WPA or employed in some government department and by virtue thereof you owe a duty to the [Democrat] Party to do your part in making the canvass. Failure to do your active share will be reported to our county chairman, and you may find your position in jeopardy.”

Folsom, Burton W., Jr. New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America. New York: Threshold Editions, 2008.
(Note: italics in original; ellipsis added.)

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