FDR on the American Liberty League: a tale for today?

( – promoted by Sue Prent)

After reading about Lenore Broughton, who has given $680,000 so far to her controversial right-wing superPAC, Vermonters First, I came upon some fascinating information on her family, especially her grandfather. Important disclaimer : This bears no reflection on Mrs. Broughton, but it does describe a world of historical precedent that echoes eerily of the present day political climate.

So much was I reminded of the efforts of our current batch of financiers against “the government”,such as the Koch Bros., Sheldon Adelson and many others, that I offer these links to anyone who wants to brush up on this era in our history, and to contemplate FDR’s words in a speech that to my ears, could be delivered today. He was speaking of a group in particular, the American Liberty League, that plotted a coup against him, and which was financed in part by Mrs. Broughton’s grandfather, Sewell Avery.

About Sewell Avery, Lenore Broughton’s grandfather:

 “Sewell Avery, a precocious darling of the right-wing anti-New Deal movement, came from a wealthy Michigan family of lumber barons. Avery was president of Montgomery Ward, America’s first mail-order business. Created in 1872, its first store opened in 1926. By 1929, it was the world’s top retailer, with 530 outlets. He was a director of J.P.Morgan’s U.S.Steel Corp. In 1931, Avery was president of U.S. Gypsum, America’s top supplier of plaster.”…

About the American Liberty League:  

“Lurking in the background behind the plot to oust FDR was the American Liberty League , a pro-business think-tank and ultra-right wing lobby group. Avery was a financier of the American Liberty League and a National Advisor for the Crusaders, a fascist front group for the A.L.L. He was also a University of Chicago trustee “where an anti-radical drive took a sudden spurt after the Crusaders went into active anti-labor activity.”‘….

FDR on the League:

On Jan. 3, 1936, in an unprecedented joint session of Congress, when President Roosevelt announced a ban on military exports to fascist Italy, he blasted the American Liberty League.

“They steal the livery of great national ideals to serve discredited special interests…. This minority in business and industry… engage in vast propaganda to spread fear and discord among the people. They would gang up against the people’s liberties…. They seek the restoration of their selfish power…..

Our resplendent economic aristocracy does not want to return to that individualism of which they prate, even though the advantages under that system went to the ruthless and the strong. They realize that in 34 months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a people’s government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic aristocracy, such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people. Give them their way and they will take the course of every aristocracy of the past – power for themselves, enslavement for the public.”

7 thoughts on “FDR on the American Liberty League: a tale for today?

  1.  Apparently, Lenore’s apple didn’t fall far, at all. Heck, it seems to have snugged itself right up against the trunk.

  2. Thanks for the background, Paula. Excellent analogy from the New Deal to the Affordable Health Care deal! FDR’s response is what we should be hearing from Obama and the Democrats.

    Not sure why, but I notice that all of the targeted candidates on Mike’s list are running as Democrats, although a few are Progressives running as P/Ds.


    In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. 
~ H. L. Mencken

  3. Man, it be nice to get Lenora’s ancestry out there more in the open so that more Vermonters will understand that Vermont First, Ethan Allen Institute, etc. are all part of the richest few trying to perpetuate their power over us.   This and FDR’s nice quote.  He understood them.  FDR had been one of them until he turned the other way.  The gop will only be satisfied until it inflicts misery on all of us.  

  4. Finally getting some well deserved recognition for her unselfish devotion & charity to the richest as well as to the neediest among us, the rightwing in VT & their many unworthy accomplishments such as Wendy Wilton’s junkyard dog style of campaigning. Go for the jugular Wendy, that’s where the blood is, looks like you already know this.  

    Big GOP donor in Vt. has old conservative roots


    Associated Press /  October 18, 2012


    In a brief interview at her front door, Broughton would not say what motivated her to donate $682,500 this year to Vermonters First. The money represents nearly all of the $684,861 raised by the super PAC as of Monday[..]Told that people were wondering about her motives, she said, ”They just have to go on wondering.”

    [..]”It doesn’t come out of the blue. These concerns have been handed on through the generations,” he said of his ex-wife’s political leanings.

    I don’t think anyone is ‘wondering’ but watching as ‘corporate persons’ & their wealthy patrons attempt to buy what they cannot control due to that pesky ‘democracy’ which kinda gets in the way of these neo robber barons attempt to reshape the nation & our lives.

    VT is not for sale Miz Daisy.  

  5. echoing some of the stories & sentiments expressed here on GMD:

    Perkinson: Vermont values are not for sale

    by Opinion | October 19, 2012

    This election cycle, the Republican Party and its mega-rich puppeteers have landed on the argument that even though voters soundly reject the extremist philosophy of modern Republicans like Paul LePage, Michelle Bachmann, Wendy Wilton and Allen West, they should nevertheless vote Republican so there can be a “balance” in politics. Their argument is essentially: “We know we are wrong on every major issue facing Vermonters, but you should put us in power anyway so we can continue to advance the ideas you have rejected.”


  6. The bitterest epithet used by members of the upper class against FDR was that he was “a traitor to his class.”

    And that was also why crowds of “common people” stood for hours along the train route from Georgia to Washington DC, and from there to Hyde Park, NY, in April 1945 to catch their last glimpse of the rich man who stood up for them as their president and gave them paying work to get the country’s economy going again.


    I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party. … Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *