THE FTC DURING THE ADMINISTRATIONS OF FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1933-45)
AND HARRY S. TRUMAN (1945-53)
Selected Secondary Materials
The Early New Deal
During the first two years of FDR’s New Deal, the Commission was embroiled in three major developments of his Presidency, each of which is a subject of its own secondary literature. Some leading works are listed below.
- The FTC and the National Recovery Administration (“NRA”). The NRA was created in 1933 as an experiment that broadly rejected the country’s antitrust tradition. The FTC often had an antagonistic relation with the NRA, a key aspect of whose statutory mandate was found unconstitutional in Schechter Poultry Corp. v United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935).
ELLIS HAWLEY, THE NEW DEAL AND THE PROBLEM OF MONOPOLY (1966).
Marc Winerman, History Through Headlines, 72 ANTITRUST L.J. 871, 880-81 (2005).
- The FTC and securities regulation. The FTC, which had earlier brought cases challenging deceptive claims in the sales of securities under Section 5 of the FTC Act, was initially charged with enforcement of the Securities Act of 1933. It lost that authority when Congress created the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Two FTC Commissioners – James Landis and George Matthew – soon left the FTC to become Commissioners at the new agency.
MICHAEL E. PARRISH, SECURITIES REGULATION AND THE NEW DEAL (1970).
JOEL SELIGMAN, THE TRANSFORMATION OF WALL STREET: A HISTORY OF THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION AND MODERN CORPORATE FINANCE (2003).
- FDR’s removal of Commissioner William Humphrey without “cause.” This led to litigation by Humphrey, in which Humphrey’s position was vindicated (though Humphrey had since died) by the Supreme Court. The case, Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 495 U.S. 602 (1935), was decided the same day as Schechter Poultry.
William E. Leuchtenberg, The Case of the Contentious Commissioner, in JOHN GARRATY, ED., QUARRELS THAT SHAPED THE CONSTITUTION (rev. ed. 1987)
This period of turmoil also saw six new Commissioners join the agency, three of whom left in relatively short order (with two of those moving to the new SEC). On August 27, 1935, though, the Commission began its longest period of stability at the Commissioner level. For ten years and a day – until Charles March died in office – no Commissioner left. Further, three of the five Commissioners who served for that decade died in office.
From the Truman Years
COMMITTEE ON INDEPENDENT REGULATORY COMMISSIONS, TASK FORCE REPORT ON REGULATORY COMMISSIONS (1949), SEPARATELY BY THE HOOVER COMMISSION AS APPENDIX N TO COMMISSION ON THE ORGANIZATION OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE INDEPENDENT REGULATORY COMMISSIONS. The first “Hoover Commission,” which President Harry Truman chose former President Herbert Hoover to head, developed a series of recommendations. One of these, which came to fruition in Reorganization Plan No. 8 of 1950 centralized in the Chair the executive and administrative powers of the agency, and provided for the President to select the Chair from among the Commissioners.
Biographies of Commissioners
THOMAS K. MCCRAW, PROPHETS OF REGULATION: CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, LOUIS D. BRANDEIS, JAMES M. LANDIS, ALFRED E. KAHN (1984), Chs. 5 and 6. Landis, who had previously taught at Harvard Law School since 1926, was an FTC Commissioner from 1933 to 1934. As an FTC Commissioner, he particularly focused on the Securities Act of 1933, which was initially administered by the FTC. Landis, who played a key role in drafting the securities laws, later served as an SEC Commissioner from 1934 to 1937 and SEC Chairman from 1935 to 1937; as Dean of Harvard Law School from 1937 to 1946; as Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board from 1946 to 1947; and as a special assistant to John F. Kennedy from 1960 to 1961.
DONALD RICHIE, JAMES LANDIS: DEAN OF THE REGULATORS (1980).
Books by Commissioners
LOWELL MASON, THE LANGUAGE OF DISSENT (1959).
JAMES LANDIS, THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS (1938).
JAMES LANDIS, REPORT ON REGULATORY AGENCIES TO THE PRESIDENT-ELECT (1960). This study is discussed in greater detail below.
James Landis, interview conducted by the Columbia University Oral History Project, 1964. See biography above. (Description).
Lowell Mason, interview conducted by the Harry S. Truman Library, 1967. Mason served as a Commissioner from 1945 to 1956.
Stephen Spingarn, interview conducted by the Harry S. Truman Library, 1967. Spingarn served as a Commissioner from 1950 to 1953.
William A. Ayres Papers, Wichita State University Library, Wichita, KS. Ayres served as a Commissioner from 1934 to 1952; he was elected to the House of Representatives nine times before he became a Commissioner.
Robert E. Freer Papers, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, MO. Freer served as a Commissioner from 1935 to 1948. (Finding aid).
William E. Humphrey Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. A relatively limited and selective collection. (Finding aid).
Charles H. March Papers, West Central Minnesota Historical Research Center, Morris, MN. March served as a Commissioner from 1929 to 1945.
Lowell Mason Papers. Mason served as a Commissioner from 1945 to 1956. Collections of his papers are available in the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, MO (finding aid), at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (finding aid), and at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY (description).
Roy Prewitt Papers, National Archives, College Park, MD. Prewitt was a Commission economist, and the Archives’ description of FTC records describes his collection as “relating to international wartime materiel emergencies, and to planning postwar decartelization policy for former enemy countries . . ..”
Stephen Spingarn Papers, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, MO (finding aid) and John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, MA (finding aid). Spingarn served as a Commissioner from 1950 to 1953. Collections of his papers are available in the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, MO (finding aid) and the John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, MA (finding aid).
See also materials listed under Broad Surveys.