Document Type


Date of Award



Labor, 19th century, United States, Politics and government, Working class

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Charles B. Forcey

Second Advisor

Richard M. Dalfiume

Third Advisor

Melvyn Dubofsky


In nature, thunder cannot exist without lightning. In the political realm, however, the two are separable. Rumblings of discontent can, and often do, occur without the firebolt of revolution.

The depression of the 1930s was a decade of thunder on the left in the United States. The working class became increasingly conscious of itself and discontented with the existing socio-economic system. The peals were always there, and they often reached crescendos. Yet the full force of the tempest never broke upon America in the thirties. The pages that follow explore the thundering and seek to explain how Franklin D. Roosevelt acted as a lightning rod, helping American capitalism weather the most furious storm of working-class discontent in the twentieth century.