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. 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 (a.k.a Socialism!).
The document was leaked to the public by the New York Times. 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 19 December 1937.
Provisions of the Manifesto:
- 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.
The 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 legislation. This ultimately led to a downturn of Roosevelt’s power in congress as more of his policy were denied as the country entered a recession in 1937.
Thanks for reading,
Douglas Carl Abrams, Conservative Constraints: North Carolina and the New Deal (Jackson, 1992); Congressional Record, 75th Congress, Second Session, 1: 934-37; John Robert Moore, Senator Josiah William Bailey of North Carolina: A Political Biography (Durham, 1968).